Mystery Tree

When I was a kid at the age of 9, I felt a little like an outsider.   Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, but they were all pretty, with blonde or blondish hair.  Somehow it wasn’t just my slightly doughy exterior that made me feel this way, or my brown hair and crooked teeth. Something about me felt different but I couldn’t place my finger on it.

When I would play with dolls, it was mostly for fashion.  However, when it came to Barbies, they felt like they had a story to me.  My mother gave me her Barbies from the 1950’s for my birthday when I was quite young.  Growing up I felt like her dolls were reminiscent of high fashion and glamour.  When it came time for me to get Barbies of my own generation, someone gave me one with bleach blonde hair.

This Barbie was very much of the California kind and echoed everything every guy ever wanted according to the Beach Boys songs I heard from my father’s record collection. When we would go to a garage sale, often times I would find Barbies; with blonde hair.  Even Barbie’s sister Skipper had blonde hair. Their measurements looked like they were all an unattainable 39″, 18″, 33″.

surfergirl

As I got older and had more of the freedom of choice when it came to dolls, I tried very hard to find a Barbie that looked like me.  They didn’t have dolls who looked like they might be silly, and slightly roundish. They didn’t have any dolls at that time who resembled girls who were of Native American descent. The closest I could get was one with brown hair.  Immediately I shelled out my Christmas money to purchase the blue-eyed doll I would play with a few times and leave in her periwinkle ballerina costume.  Something inside me still wasn’t satisfied.

In my last year of playing with dolls, my grandparents took me with them to the store.  They told me I could purchase a Barbie if it was under a certain amount.  I wanted the African American Barbie.  Her name was Devon.  She was beautiful, and more importantly, she understood me and what it was like to be different.  She wasn’t dressed in all pink, she only used it as an accent color. In fact she was wearing a “rocker” dance club outfit, which meant (obviously) she understood my taste in music.  She understood, period.

devon

Fast forward to this year.  I’m now 26 years older.  Still different, but have since learned how to embrace and handle it.  For Christmas instead of getting dolls and beloved tiny tea cup sets, I get practical, useful things…and an Ancestry DNA test.

My husband decided to surprise me with this gift, to use his words, “Because you’ve been talking about wanting to do this since we’ve been married.”  My family is a bit of a mystery on my mother’s side since her parents were in the foster system. It wasn’t until recently we’ve had some confirmation of roots in Great Britain and Germany. My dad’s side has some ambiguous roots in Western Europe and Germany but one thing we were sure of is we were descended from the Choctaw.

We waited weeks for the test results to come in.  My husband decided to do the test as well to trace his ancestry back even further.  He didn’t know what to expect with his results.  I on the other hand, was expecting a high percentage in Native American and European Jewish.

The other morning as I was getting ready for work, I came in to the bedroom to see my husband staring at his phone with bleary eyes.  Being concerned I asked, “Everything Okay?”

“The test results came in.”

As we sat and looked at them together, he clicked on mine.

It was like a scene in action movies where there are loud explosions. Finally one is so deafeningly loud everything else becomes quiet and you have ringing in your ears.  As my eyes went down the list of each culture they could trace me back to, it was like mini-explosions saying, “Knew that, knew that…” Then came two very loud explosions.

“2% Spanish” boom. 

“>1% Melanesian” Ka-BOOM.

My entire life, my father and I were told we were Choctaw. For something that was to give clarity, it ended up adding more mysteries to an almost filled in family tree.

The test however, confirmed my intuition about being different.  Even though this is only 3% of me, it confirmed why I never felt like I fully fit in. Even though it gave me closure and insight on my ethnic background, it now gives myself and my family more questions as to how we got here.

It confirmed I had more in common with my Devon doll than previously thought.

 

Have you done a DNA Ancestry test? Were you surprised at what you found? How did it compare to your family tree?

 

 

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Mystery Tree

  1. No, I’ve never done a DNA test. Supposedly there is Cherokee in my ancestry and possibly Jew. My aunt on my mother’s side has traced that lineage to the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany. My grandfather on my dad’s side traced our lineage to the Norman invasion in 1066 as coming from France.
    I’m not sure how finding out for certain that I did in fact have Cherokee and/or Jew in my lineage would change things for me. I’ve always felt and seen myself as descending from European lineage. The biggest reason why is because I would still have no person to ground beliefs or traditions to. If I were to claim some kind of connection it would feel fake, as if I were an impostor. At the end of the day, I’m an American with European lineage. I know those connections and feel a membership to it.

  2. I have no words for this…I know you didn’t mean any harm but my God, do I feel belittled. I’d do a DNA test but I’m Moroccan so I imagine my reaction will be a little different from yours…namely that I’ll be finding out which ethnicities raped my people during our long history of colonization. But that’s nice for you to find out that you’re THREE PERCENT ethnic. That must be really life-changing for you to realize how different you are from all the other white people – it’s like you almost understand the struggles minorities go through.

    • Dear hsadoqi,

      I understand how this post has come across as insensitive to you. Hopefully the following explanation might put some of what I was thinking into perspective.

      By all means I didn’t mean for any of this to come off trite or inconsiderate. For starters two of my grandparents were foster kids, they never were adopted. They didn’t really have family which is the reasoning for finding out our heritage.

      For the longest time we thought our ancestry was firmly steeped in Native American culture. (Who has also had their fair share of trials and tribulations.) My whole life I grew up with the impression we were more than just 3%. It doesn’t mean we’re special. It doesn’t mean I better understand the cultural struggles of different ethnicities in America and around the world. It just solidifies in my mind an idea of where my grandparents came from. (All of this information came after their passing, and one grandparent never really knew where their parents were from.) This is why it came as such a shock. Adding to that mystery, we were lied to from the other side of the family about where we came from.

      Hopefully you can agree with me over the shock of being lied to for 37 years about something important like this?

      It wasn’t a shock of disappointment or a shock of being able to wrongly brag about something. It was the shock of realizing we had been lied to for so long.

      You mentioned colonization. Colonization IS unfair. Colonization, violence, rape…all of these things are abominable, deplorable acts. The sad truth is, because of it, that is how I wound up here.

      To ensure these crimes do not happen again, we have to be aware and acknowledge they have happened. We just have to ensure for future generations, that is not how they get here. (Difficult as that may be.)

      I’m sorry to have offended you, hopefully this will explain some things.

      Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by, read and respond.

      Sincerely,
      Quirky Girl

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