Meherrin Indian Tribe Petition for Federal Recognition Denied

The Meherrin Indian Tribe petitioned the federal government for federal recognition as an Indian tribe and was denied on January 16, 2014.  The government’s response to their petition can be seen here.

I was mortified to read their reasoning, and the sources they used.  In particular, Paul Heinegg’s work.  I am a fan of Paul’s work.  Paul is very careful to use works like “may,” “might,” and “probably.”  Paul does not set forth that his gathering and clustering of surnames is gospel and that these people are absolutely related.  He says they might be related, and he is looking for patterns.  There is a huge difference between a possibility and a conclusion and Pauls’ work, in my opinion, has been misconstrued, taken out of context and given far more weight than other more concrete evidence.

Despite the government denial of the Meherrin application, there is a plethora of great information in this document, including the list of Meherrin names on page 29.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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13 Responses to Meherrin Indian Tribe Petition for Federal Recognition Denied

  1. Not surprised, many supporting records in Virginia and North Carolina were destroyed or lost over time. That is why I am seeking recognition outside the authority of the BIA.

    • JOHN WILLS says:

      The petitioner claims Meherrin ancestry but has not provided documentary evidence that the
      historical Meherrin Indian tribe continued to exist after the 1760s. The petitioner presents no
      evidence identifying historical members of the Meherrin Indian tribe in the 1760s, about 1789, or
      at any more recent time. It makes no attempt to demonstrate the descent of its current members
      from any list of historical members, or from any individuals identified as Meherrin Indians on
      historical documents.

  2. D says:

    Anybody worried about Turkish Muslims invading reservations? Anybody aware of it?

  3. Mike Strahn says:

    Plethora of BS is what it is. Not too bright in NC

  4. D says:

    Read a little Mike: these people are making up history and invading on many fronts .

  5. sally wallers says:

    Like the fake tribe of Lumbees in north Carolina who want a casino,they are an invented tribe by state politics the lumbee Bill failed as this group has no historic proof or connection to any historic indian tribe now or then most storys have been fabricated to get benefits ,money HUD and a Casino,this group historically never formed as a tribe and has never been a sovereign nation and its connection to the Cheraw is a new invention after claiming Croatan around 1900 roots with sworn signed petitions from its members as Cherokee around 1910 until 1950 for over 40 years after the croatan claim failed to get them federal money,it was changed to Cherokee of Robeson county again with another signed petition based on oral claims and a paper written by AB Lowery and Clifton Oxendine swearing they were Cherokee before congress,after this failed they seized upon a Cheraw identity an extinct tribe based on one anthropologist Guess.Prominent genealogist have done intensive research on the lumbee core ancestors and have connected them to Free African americans and free white women only mixing and no indian tribes at all with thousands of primary source document. No indian connection has ever been found with proof for this lumbee tribe .
    Most hold the tribe to be an invented political group with no real native American history, roots or Dna.They have no indian culture or language and no indian customs of their own.

  6. Lee Canipe says:

    I am a Melton descendant. My Meltons lived in Onslow & Carteret Cos., NC; however, I have been told they originally came from Hertford or Gates Cos, NC. I’ve not been able to trace back past my 3rd Great-Grandfather, William P. Melton, who was born about 1815. I don’t know where he was born, but he shows up in the Wolf Pit district of Onslow County in the 1850s (he died in Swansboro, NC sometime after 1870). This branch of my family has strong ties to the Lake Mattamuskeet area of Hyde County– coming to Beaufort and Carteret County from Hyde County in the late 1700s.

    Growing up I always heard my Meltons were Cherokee Indian. My mother even said she heard her grandmother was a “Cherokee Indian Princess”. I knew the princess part had to be a fabrication, and I strongly doubted they were Cherokee as my ancestors had always been in coastal NC. It was interesting to me to see the documentation in the Federal Government’s response concerning the legal recognition of the Meherrin Tribe, which stated the Meltons had always claimed to be Cherokee and White.

    My mother and my maternal aunt have had DNA testing and do show some Native American ancestry (though in a very small amount). Additionally, my mother has medical documentation that she has “shovel teeth” and other dental features common among Native Americans– so I know there really is some Indian there! I just seriously doubt it is Cherokee.

    I’d like to ask some of the experts here… do you think the Melton family really is Meherrin? Or Tuscaroa? Or, perhaps Chowanoke, or descended from another Coastal Algonquian Tribe? I suspect they may have been Meherrin or Tuscaroa, and because both are related to the Cherokee (all three being Iroquoian) the Meltons could have been confused as being Cherokee. Does that seem like a feasible explanation? I do find it very hard to believe there were actual Cherokee in Northeastern NC!

    Any insights would be most appreciated. Thank you.

  7. JLH says:

    They are in the apeal process and the BIA has delayed that rulling 4 times since this article was writen. What kind of games are they playing at the BIA? Everyone please write a Letter of Support to the BIA on behalf of the Meherrin Indian people as I have.

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