Half of me is nearly extinct! Who knew?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I don't know if I've ever posted here before about being a First Nations person.

    Both my parents are first nations and yet I was never taught much from my mother, and of course I have no contact to my father.

    I've been sleuthing for a few days to gather as much family history as I can in order to pass along to a man who is going to piece it all together so that I can apply for my official Native Status as well as so I can make a membership application to join my families band on my mothers side.

    It is particularly hard since I have never known my dads side but have been found by an aunt in the past year, who I find it hard to ask for much info from. And I don't speak to my mother, most elders in my family have passed away. So I took what I did know, sleuthed the internet, hit the national archives online, looked up war records and obituaries and made a few calls to far flung long distance cousins I don't even know, etc.

    I've found out most all I need for my mothers side, which is perfect since in itself that is enough to get my native status card and to apply for membership to my band (and I meet criteria for membership so should be no problem). I've had not as much luck on my fathers side.

    Until today!!!

    Turns out, I'm one of only a couple hundred (max) people left from my tribe. I learned my grandmother lived until she married in her late 20's, on our reserve with her father who was the band chief and that her grandfather was the band chief before her father took over. My grandmother only left because my grandfather wasn't native and he didn't want to live in a isolated community.

    The band is really non-existant, with no official members actually residing on reservation land any longer. They've either mainstreamed or some have moved to a sister-reservation. I was stunned to read there's only a couple of hundred people left. That is shocking given it was once such a large population and a proud one.

    Im a dying breed! Who knew?? I feel a bit weird even caring, or being interested at all, and even feeling a bit nostalgic and sad that after this generation there will be likely no more of us left since any of our children are probably diluted blood line, meaning they wouldn't be acknowledged by the government or indian affairs as being native at all.

    My kids can get status since both my parents are native and the generational thing covers them (but won't cover their kids unless they marry another status indian).

    I've found out that I have a cousin who is a high up for the countries indian affairs and another is a pretty well known (hall of famer) country music guy (I'd never heard of him for the record but apparently others have at least here in Canada).

    The coolest thing? You often here how the Mi'qmak people were fierce warriors that were feared and yet revered. And apparently my people were known to be more feared and revered than them. That is pretty neat. I come from strong stock apparently lol.

    Anyhow, thought this was all pretty neat and wanted to share with you all. I feel like I should be part of the next Ice Age movie to memorialize myself or something. If I live to be old, I'll be one of that last remaining members of my band. I find that incredible to imagine!!! Me? Last of something that big? I am looking forward to some info i have coming in a few days to give more of my history.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    That is really cool. I am glad you have been able to find the information.
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks Susie :)

    Since both my parents are status indian, and both belong to different bands, I am allowed to decide which band to be a member of. Before I learned of my "endangered species" band on my fathers side, I had already known I'd be taking membership to my mothers band. It is a pretty established band and the reservation is beautiful and well run by a great council and chief. I've wanted to take this step for years so I've had lots of time to learn alot about my moms side etc. But I can't stop myself from learning about the band on my fathers side. It is quite a history I have to say, and it really is sad to feel part of a people who have such a long and impactful history who soon will cease to exist except in out of date text books.

    My big question, my burning question ... how is a woman who looks like a fresh immigrant from Italy, going to fit in with her native peers? I mean, i get mistaken for Italian nearly daily, always have. Yet both my parents are native and the blood lines are strong. Weird lol. They will probably want my indian status card for ID each time they see me, to as proof haha
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    How cool! I love history, and when it's family history, it's even more interesting. Since the band is dying out, you might want to write down everything you learn to pass on to future generations.
  5. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Hey, that's really cool! What nation? Our difficult children' biomom was married to a full blooded micmac who disappeared and left her with one son (she was 15). We have been sad that our boys have shown no interest in their native heritage (Passamaquoddy). We were really all enthusiastic about helping them explore their ancient culture.
    The end of a noble people is so tragic, it is a great loss for the human race. The ancestry page on Facebook has all kinds of info on researching First Nations roots.
    I would like you to know that I honor you for your heritage and your interest in keeping the knowledge alive.
  6. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Forgot to say that our biomom is said to look Italian, she is really quite a beauty!
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It's very different here. In Australia, you can claim Aboriginality if you have ANY Aboriginal ancestry at all. It does make it easier to hold on to the heritage.

  8. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I imagine that this is bittersweet. Learning and finding out ore of your background and heritage has to be amazing.
  9. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Very cool!
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    The other night there was a special on television about "Who really discovered America"....and it was so interesting to learn about all of the other countries that had already come to the Americas hundreds and thousands of years before Columbus. Apparantly, many of the people that we think of as "Native Americans" are actually descendants of other nations that eventually settled in this land.

    You may look "Italian" because many, many, many generations ago--Italians came to the Americas and joined communities with the other people already settled here...and became well established population groups long before America was offically "discovered".

    Isn't is amazing how inter-connected everything is?
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Fun stuff. I love geneology. I participated in the Nat'l Geo migration study and ... didn't learn much. I knew most of my ancestry, but it's still fun to see the migratory patterns. Helps to memorize the origins of certain people, migratory patterns, and timelines. I've always been awful at timelines. Now I'm much better at info about the Ice Age, for ex.

    In VA, you must be 1/8 native am to claim any status. The downside to that is that if you wish to place a child for adoption, the tribe must be considered b4 the child can be placed anywhere else. That takes away the bmom's rights.
    "Our" bmom is 1/8, which would make difficult child 1/16. She so badly wanted a private placement, and control over with whom she placed, she immediately backpedaled and told the adopt svc that she had no papers (true) and had no idea how far down the line she was. We were all sweating it out for a few min there!

    Is there a name for your tribe other than First Nations? I'm only familiar with-big names like Chocktaw, Cree, Sioux, etc.

    In reg to your Italian appearance, depending upon your mood at any given time, you may want to pull a few legs. I have a friend who is black and nat Am. He looks black, but wears a feather earring in one ear ... kind of a giveaway. Anyway, he was born in Iowa. People say, "Iowa? That's so ... white. You sure you're not from anywhere else except Iowa?"
    He deadpans, "Back in 1957, there was a secret govn't program to relocate blacks to white, suburban areas. It was a demographic response to higher education needs ... blah , blah, blah."
    I can't tell you how many people have fallen for that. The first time, I stood slack jawed. The next time my face turned red, embarrassed for the listener. The third time I walked away and had another glass of wine ...
  12. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Okay, some answers:

    On my fathers side, the nearly disappeared completely side:
    WABANAKI= Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Mi'kmaq

    We are Maliseet, particular name is: Viger Maliseet First Nation of Cacouna, Quebec

    Maliseet is the 11th Aboriginal Nation of the province of Quebec

    On my mothers side:

    We are Algonquin indian.

    My band is Pikwàkanagàn: Pick-wok-nah-gone

    Pikwàkanagàn means "beautiful hilly country covered in evergreens"

    It's informal name is Golden Lake Reserve, not really used anymore but still a commonly used way to reference the reservation.

    I will copy/paste a neat history synopsis in a post below this one, that way I don't bombard this post with tons of info that not everyone will be interested in, but sounds like some of you might think is kind of neat. Also touches on the whole European settlers issue.

    It is funny that I am often thought to be Italian, yet most other Aboriginal people clearly know me as Aboriginal. It is a oddity in my family that with us women, once we hit our 30's we tend to become more and more native in appearance. My mother and aunts didn't look aboriginal at all as I was growing up, and now you wouldn't mistake them for anything but purely native in heritage. My easy child seems to have skipped the trend and is very aboriginal looking. If I am wearing makeup, hair is not straight (when I perm it) etc I tend to still look Italian. If I pull my hair back into a ponytail and am not wearing makeup, there is not much mistaking things. I'm hitting the "age" I suppose and can see a marked difference even in only the past 5 years. When I was young I was happy to be mistaken for anything other than aboriginal. i wonder why my family didn't speak about that with me, why on earth would I feel ashamed to appear to be, well, what I am? I'm glad that passed. I'm quite happy to be aging into a appearance I carry proudly. I like it :)
  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    In September of 1856, five families petitioned the Governor General for a grant of 200 acres of land per family since their hunting grounds had been opened up for settlement and sale. Their request was denied. However on September 17, 1873, the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn received Crown Patent to a total of 1561 acres and became Golden Lake First Nation. This was the beginning of life outside of the lands we had roamed for time immemorial.

    Our community is now known as the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn. Registered membership is over 1,800 and almost 400 reside in the community. Commonly known families include: Amikons, Baptiste, Benoit, Bernard, Cooke, Commanda, Jocko, Kohoko, Lavalley, Leclaire, Meness, Sarazin, Tennisco and Whiteduck.

    Many Algonquin skills are still practiced here though assimilation with surrounding non-native communities and enforced Residential schooling has had an impact on our people. Many Algonquin were raised without their culture, language and traditions. Much of our past was lost to us. Now efforts are being made to bring culture, language and tradition into the forefront of our lives. Community members still participate in Harvesting for food and fur, an annual Pow-Wow unites people and tribes, food and crafting skills have survived and language skills though greatly diminished are being introduced into the community again.

    Despite being driven to life on a government run reserve, during times of war the community enlisted in great numbers to preserve the freedom of this country. During the First World War voluntary enlistment depleted the Pikwàkanagàn male community of age and fit to serve, to three single men.

    More than 7,000 native men and women served in the first and second world wars and the Korean War. After the wars native veterans did not have access to the same benefits, entitlements and programs as non-native veterans. On June 21, 2002, the Canadian government announced $39 million for eligible First Nations veterans. Those who settled on reserves and had their benefits administered on reserve were eligible to receive $20,000 each.

    The Canadian War Museum, now being rebuilt on unceded Algonquin Territory, plans to highlight the military contributions of aboriginal people's.

    Past History
    Archaeological information indicates that the Ottawa Valley has been inhabited by Native peoples for 8,000 years prior to the arrival of Europeans.

    The Algonquian were once the most populous and widespread North American Native groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds and speaking several related dialects. Algonquians inhabited most of the Canadian region south of Hudson Bay between the Rockies and the Atlantic Ocean.

    Algonquin (or Algonkin) are used in reference to the tribe, but Algonquian either refers to the Algonquin language or to the group of tribes that speak related dialects. The word "Algonquin" means "At the place of spearing fishes and eels".

    The name Algonquin refers to all the Native people clustered around ten communities; Pikwàkanagàn in Ontario, and in Quebec, the Pikogan, Lac Rapide, Grand-Lac-Victoria, Kebaowek, Lac-Simon, Winneway, Maniwaki, Timiskaming and Hunter's Point. Current political borders now separate the tribes into two provinces but once we all roamed freely about our traditional territory.

    In the past the Algonquin were a semi-nomadic people, moving from one place to the next in search of food. All our food sources once came from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering. We traveled on foot and by birchbark canoe in the summer months and used toboggans and snowshoes in the winter. Our clothing and tents were made from animal skins, though our tents, also known as wigwams, were sometimes made of birchbark. During the summer months we would gather in groups along the river to fish, hunt and socialize. When winter arrived we separated and spread out into small hunting camps made up of large related families. The climate was harsh and starvation was not uncommon.

    Beside a common language, most Algonquian-speaking tribes shared similar stories of creation. Many believed in a Great Spirit or Creator, and other spirits responsible for the elements. There are often stories of a hero figure who taught our people how to survive. These stories might explain how to remove sap from a tree for food or how to get fish from under the frozen rivers.

    The website of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, states:
    "The arrival of Europeans severely disrupted the life of the Algonquins, the Native people who lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time. By the mid-seventeenth century, several deadly diseases had been introduced, and great numbers of Algonquins perished. Struggles with the neighbouring Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy for control of water routes to the rich fur resources of the hinterland resulted in political intrigue and armed conflict. Together, these factors changed the way of life of the Ottawa Valley Algonquins forever."
  14. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Breaks my heart to hear that the Maliseet are so few, I never knew about them until I went to the Common Ground Fair and saw their beautiful basket weaving.. I've often wondered if a strong Passamoquoddy male figure could have guided our sons in a different direction.

    Where's Janet? She's going to love reading what you posted.
  15. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    It is sad isn't it? I've been reading about their basket weaving etc. Apparently a few elders are offering to teach the skill to anyone who would like to continue the art and learn to make them in traditional manners. I'm thinking of spending a few weeks in that area next summer and perhaps asking for a crash course.
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hey...Im part Penobscot LOL. My great, great, great Grandfather (maybe add another great!) was a French Baron who married a Penobscot Indian Princess.

    My boys are part Lumbee Indian and part my itty bitty Penobscot...lmao.