I am part Cherokee Native American. But you wouldn’t be able to tell. I have brown hair, fair skin and blue eyes. My family never celebrated Cherokee traditions or embraced this side of our heritage. Regardless, when asked a “fun fact” about myself, I typically blurted this out.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found the percentage of Cherokee that was in my blood. As my dad shuffled through our background and assembled our family tree, I waited with anticipation for the news of my percentage of Cherokee. Let me tell you, it didn’t help me stand out in my college applications.
3% Cherokee Native American. I was crushed. The once “fun fact” about myself was no longer. My heritage was dull and full of Welsh, Swedish, Russian and French: a hodgepodge of everything, a mutt.
I thought maybe somewhere, deep-down, that my Native American traits were hidden in my potentially dark hair or my easily-tanned skin. All of this was shut down when I eyed my family tree.
But, who can trace their ancestors back generation after generation? I love knowing where I came from regardless of the multi-cultural background. Seeing pictures of my great-great grandfather make me really proud of where I come from. I’m not much of a history person, but when it comes to this kind of thing, I can study it for hours upon hours. I enjoy thinking about their lives and what they were thinking during that exact moment.
I believe that regardless of your background; be proud. Whenever and whatever your ancestors accomplished in their lives has gotten you to where you are today. Initially, I was only concentrated on my Cherokee heritage. I have now learned to embrace all of my cultural history. Although I’m technically a “mutt”, this is now my new “fun fact”.