The Mutt

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.

The 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.

My Great Great Grandparents

My Other Great Great Grandparents

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”.

-Katherine

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~ by katherinennelson on April 19, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Mutt”

  1. This is really cool, I love the pictures. I too have experienced similar multicultural disillusionment, my grandfather and his sisters are full Irish. He does a lot of research into his historical background, and has stories dating back several generations, including their immigration to the US. However, I am only around 30% Irish. I feel like I know so much about this culture and feel such a part of it, yet the other parts of me are “mutt”like like you. I wish that I genetically identified more with my Irish relatives. But I still love hearing about my family history and giggling with my siblings about our crazy relatives. Although in this case my blood states that I am only a third Irish, most of the time I feel 100% there with my family.
    Stephanie Mills

  2. In relation to my own post, I guess I would ask you if you felt a proud connection to the Cherokee Native American culture. It seems like you do somewhat, and because of this, is it bad when stereotypes are formed about a people you feel a connection too? Does it make you feel looked down upon or does it strengthen the bond you feel towards the group?

  3. I believe that it somewhat strengthens the bond. Since I come from so many backgrounds, I could relate myself to many stereotypes. I don’t, however, take them too personally.

  4. I couldn’t agree more….we need to be proud of our heritage and where we came from. And all the wonderful traditions that come along with it!

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