Products of the Motherland

obama at door of no return

This week, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Senegal, the stepping off point for slavery, for slaves, their last step on African soil on their way to the New World, wherever that was destined to be.  It was an unspeakable journey, one they didn’t want to make but slaves had no choice in the matter.  The iconic “Door of No Return,” with President and First Lady Obama above, has come to symbolize that step, not just for the thousands of slaves who stepped through that particular door, but for all of those who stepped through any door of slavery.

President Obama is not the first President to visit this powerful location.  He was preceded by both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  Reporter April Ryan, herself a descendant of slaves, accompanied all three Presidents.   She talks candidly about this emotional experience and how this visit was different.

The New York Daily News carries a series of poignant pictures of the visit.

April Ryan said it…”We are all products of the Motherland.”  Many of us descend from enslaved ancestors, but ultimately, all of us descend from Africa.  It’s only a matter of how long ago.  She is right, we are all products of the Motherland, as illustrated by these human population genetic clan migration maps provided by Family Tree DNA.  These show haplogroup R, the most prevalent European male haplogroup, haplogroup H the most prevalent female European haplogroup and haplogroup Q, the most common male Native American haplogroup.  The path for all of us began in Africa, our Motherland.

hap r migration map

hap h migration map

hap q migration map

Posted in Education, Maps, Migration, Origins, Slaves | Leave a comment

7th Generation Returns to Tecumseh’s Memorial

tecumseh monument

It was prophecied that the 7th generation would return.  Indeed they are, 200 years later.  The Chatham, Ontario paper carried a story covering the return of about 80 Shawnee from Texas to Canada, to visit a monument honoring Chief Tecumseh who died during the War of 1812.  The monument is near the battlefield outside Thamesville, Ontario, where Tecumseh died in 1813 fighting with the British, but the location of his burial site has been long contested.

You can read about the process of constructing the Tecumseh monument here.

There is no actual portrait of Tecumseh, although George Caitlin did paint Tecumseh’s brother, Tenskwatawa, also known as “The Shawnee Prophet,” shown below.

Tecumseh brother

The following frieze on the US Capitol rotunda depicts the death battle and the death of Tecumseh.

death of tecumseh

The Tippecanoe County, Indiana courthouse also honors Tecumseh.

tippecanoe tecumseh

Posted in Military, Shawnee | Leave a comment

Big News! Probable Native American DNA Breakthrough

We are on the verge of another new and very exciting discovery, but we need funding to finish the research.  Let me tell you about what’s going on and maybe you’ll decide to be a part of this new discovery by making a contribution.

It’s not everyday that someone gets the opportunity to make a significant contribution to scientific discovery.  But you have that opportunity today.

I believe a new Native American haplogroup, or genetic clan, has been discovered.  We have strong evidence, but we need to finish testing on a group of people for the final proof.  People whose DNA results qualify for testing have been notified, and several are ready and willing to have their results upgraded, but don’t have the funding.  I’ve funded some, and I’ve used contributed funds I’ve squirreled away from past donations, and now I’m reaching out in the hopes that together we can collaboratively make this happen.

Most of you know that I’m a long time researcher in both the genetic genealogy and Native American fields, particularly where they intersect.  I’ve being involved with genetic genealogy since the beginning and am tri-racial myself, descended from multiple Native ancestors and tribes.  I write the Personal DNA Reports for Family Tree DNA, own and write the free blogs, and   You can verify anything in this article directly with Bennett Greenspan, the President of Family Tree DNA at  In fact, Bennett is both aware and supportive of this DNA testing endeavor and has offered reduced test pricing for a short time to facilitate this discovery process.

By the way, this is not the first time this has happened.  I was also involved with a similar discovery in December 2010.  You can read about that discovery at this link.

Ok, now that you know who I am and why I care, let me tell you about the discovery.

Discovery of a New Native American Haplogroup

To date, only 5 female Native American base haplogroups, or clans, have been discovered.   A, B, C, D and X.  Within these haplogroups are subgroups, and not all subgroups in each haplogroup are Native American.  Some are Asian and European.  In fact, in haplogroup A, which is the haplogroup being studied in this project, only subgroup A2 has been confirmed to be Native American – until now.

Recently, I was working with a client’s DNA, writing a Personal DNA Report, and I realized, based on her information and that of some of the people she matched, that a subgroup of haplogroup A4 is also very likely Native American.

For Native American history, this is a big discovery.  But we need more information.  We need to proof.  How can we do that?

Advanced Testing

We need to test people in haplogroup A who are predicted to fall into this new Native American haplogroup at the full sequence level.  Mitochondrial DNA testing falls into three levels.  The highest level, the full sequence level is the one that tests the entire mitochondria and is required to obtain a full haplogroup assignment.  In other words, if you don’t test the full sequence, you’ll know that you are haplogroup A, but you’ll never know if you are A2, A4 or A10 for that matter.

Of people who have tested only at the lower levels, we have identified a small group of people who we believe will test to be haplogroup A4 or a subgroup based on some specific mutations.  Bennett Greenspan has offered discount testing for the upgraded test through July 5th.

Some people have been able to pay for their own upgrade, but not all, and I certainly don’t want the lack of funds to impede the discovery and proof of a new haplogroup.  This is akin to raising the history of this group of Native people from the dead, from the dust where some of our history and people have been lost until now.

We need several hundred dollars in total.  If everyone that we’d like to test participates, it will cost more than $2000.  You can contribute directly to the haplogroup A4 mtDNA project at Family Tree DNA and the funds will be used directly for this testing.  Every little bit helps – no amount is too small.  You can contribute in memory of someone, anonymously, or however you wish.

In a few months, we’ll let you know the outcome of this testing and what we discover, right here.  I can hardly wait!

Thank you in advance for your support.

Roberta Estes

Posted in DNA | 18 Comments

The Lumbee by Many Other Names

The history of the Lumbee has been a rocky road with their official identity changing from time to time.  This “label crisis” stems from the fact that the early records of the Lumbee fail to unquestionably identify their origins, and they appear to have moved to the Robeson County area as either an offshoot or remnant of another tribe or a mixed racial group.  Tribes in that time were in a state of crisis with the encroachment of Europeans into their traditional territories.  There is no consensus within the tribe, and to say it has been and remains a hot potato would be an understatement.

Because of this, prior to 1885, they were not known by a specific name, although in the 1860s there is documentation that their members said that at least some of them were descended from the Tuscarora.

In 1885, they were given the name of the Croatan Indians by the North Carolina General Assembly as a result of the efforts of Hamilton McMillan’s to obtain a separate Indian school for their children.  To do so, he suggested that they descended from the Lost Colonists and the Croatoan Indians and in honor of that, the tribe was named the Croatan.  Today, this causes confusion, because when people see records with the name Croatan, they assume that the records refer to the Hatteras Indians on Hatteras Island.  Unfortunately, the name was shorted to Cro and became pejorative.

In 1911, the General Assembly changed the name from Croatan to the “Indians of Robeson County.”

In 1913, the name was once again changed to the “Cherokee Indians of Robeson County” which made the Cherokee tribe quite unhappy.

In 1924, there was an unsuccessful attempt to have the Lumbee recognized as “Siouian Indians.”  Although this was not successful, I do sometimes run across the tribe referred to by this name.

In 1953, the name was once again changed to the Lumbee, in honor of the Lumber River along with they were originally found, and that remains their name today.

You can view a timeline of significant Lumbee events on their Lumbee webpage.

Posted in Cherokee Indians of Robeson County (later Lumbee), Croatan (Later Lumbee), Indians of Robeson County (later Lumbee), Lumbee, Tuscarora | 6 Comments

The Meherrin in 1728

Mosely 1733 Meherrin

The 1733 Edward Moseley map of North Carolina, above, shows the Meherrin Indian Village to the left.

Around the same time, this note from William Byrd was recorded in 1728 while surveying the dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia:

In this camp three of the Meherrin Indians made us a visit. They told us that the small remains of their nation had deserted their ancient town, situated near the mouth of the Meherrin river, for fear of the Catawbas, who had killed fourteen of their people the year before; and the few that survived that calamity, had taken refuge amongst the English, on the east side of Chowan. Though, if the complaint of these Indians were true, they are hardly used by our Carolina friends. But they are the less to be pitied, because they have ever been reputed the most false and treacherous to the English of all the Indians in the neighbourhood. 

Sadly, I think this information from Byrd is the swan song for the once vibrant Meherrin.  It allows us to peer uncomfortably at the death throes of a Native nation.  It sounds like there may have been fewer in the tribe in 1728 than the 14 that were killed the year before.  While it’s easy to blame the demise of the Native tribes on the Europeans, it’s also obvious that their decimation was not entirely at European hands nor through European diseases.  However, these people could not survive multiple attacks on different fronts, reducing the number of their population and separating them from their home lands and villages.

In 1731, 20 Meherrin families were documented, so the tribe was quite small.  The current Meherrin Tribe, comprised of descendants, provides additional historic information on their website.

Hat tip to Justin for the map and Byrd info.

Posted in Catawba, Meherrin, North Carolina | 2 Comments

The Legend of Coharie

The Legend of Coharie was written by Ernest Minson Bullard who died in 1959.  It was published in a publication that I believe was called “Pitch ‘n Tar” but I can find no publication information, other than a mention at the bottom of this article in a passing way.  Given copyright restrictions, and the fact that I can’t even figure out who to ask for permission, I’ll extract the information from this article.

I must say, I’m very grateful for contributions.  Someone sent this to Anne Poole who sent it to me.  If you see something that might be of interest, please do send it our way.  I’ll share it with all and who knows where that next hint might be waiting.

Ernest Bullard was the field rep for the Farmers Home Administration.  He was born in Sampson County and lived in Cumberland County, NC when he died.  The FHA reps talked to everyone, in particular the farmers.  At the time, the FHA’s entire purpose was rural development, farm loans, loans for the installation of water systems and emergency relief.  Given who he worked with and talked to, he probably heard every legend that existed in his area, especially if people liked him.  From the looks of this article, people liked him.

Ernest does not tell this in jest.  He says he tells the tale as it was told to him.

In 1588 or 1589, the survivors of the Lost Colony took up residence with Manteo on Croatan Island.  A tidal wave had left the island ground salty and the survivors left Croatan Island for the mainland to the west of Roanoke Island.  One of the survivors was George Howe Jr., the son of George Howe who was murdered by the Indians on Roanoke Island on July 28, 1587.

A consultation was held on Croatan Island about what to do, and it was determined that some of the group would bypass Wanchese’s hostile tribe by going to the north and some would go south.  The ones who went to the north are not part of this story.

Manteo and most of the tribe chose the southern route and left about 1592.

The Indians and the colonists landed in what is now Carteret or Pamlico County.  Legend says they tried early the next year to ascend the Neus farther inland in order to reach higher land on which they could grow Indian corn.  The tidal wave had salted the land where they first settled so it would not grow corn.  Many colonists were sick due to lack of bread to each with the seafood and game that were abundant.

They were attacked  by an unfriendly tribe and some were wounded.  They turned south and dwelt “for many moons” along the coast, finally settling on the east side of the Cape Fear River where they lived peacefully “for many seasons.”

Eventually a colony of white people settled across the river, possibly the Clarendon Colony of 1664, and Manteo’s tribe began to migrate further inland until they reached the confluence of the Deep and the Haw Rivers here they settled on the eastern prong which they named the Howe River in honor of George Howe III who was the grandson of Manteo.  George Howe Jr. had married one of Manteo’s daughters.

They lived on the Haw about 170 moons when a severe drought dried the river and springs.  They then migrated downstream with the receding water supply until they encountered scattered Scotch settlements along the Cape Fear River in current day Cumberland County.

They dispatched two runners, one of which was George Howe the IV who found a clear spring and called out “co-her-ah,” “come here ah,” which eventually became Coharie.  They settled along the Coharies and the South River where many of their descendants still reside.

The legend itself ends here, but their descendants still live in that region.  This story was told to Ernest and had never been previously written and committed to paper.  It had been passed generation to generation by word of mouth.

He reports that the Manors who “have to a considerable degree” preserved their Indian blood and characteristics” and who at that time resided in the central western section of Sampson County and on both sides of and between the two Coharies claim to be the direct descendants of Manteo. Ernest says “The definition of Manor furnished a clue as to why the surname Manteo was changed to Manor after he was christened Lord of Roanoke by order of Sir Walter Raleigh and given dominion over all the Indians in that entire area.”

Ernest says that more than half of the colonist names can be found on the census of Sampson County and more than two thirds found among the people of southeast NC.  Of the remaining 25 or 30, 8 are known to have been changed to similar names.  One of those names is Howe.

The name Howe was given to the Haw River but the name evolved over time.

“Near the center of a small clearing on which these early people produced Indian corn and perhaps potatoes and collards, on top of a knoll overlooking the lowland of Big Swamp in the western part of what was known at that time as “the Territory” of Duplin County, there stood a small log cabin belonging to Enoch Hall.  Hall as said to have been a lineal descendant from George Howe of the “Lost Colony…the name having changed from Howe to Haw to Hall.”

Ernest says he believes that many descendants exist today from those 96 men, 16 women and 9 boys of the Lost Colony and have lived or were living at the time in Sampson County.  I estimate that this article was from perhaps the 1930s or 1940s.

Ernest gave us a lot of good information here, so let’s analyze it a bit based on what he said, in timeline fashion.

First, I want to say that we know that all of the Indians did not vacate Croatoan, now Hatteras Island.  Archaeology digs in combination with John Lawson’s records from 1701 that tell us that the Hatteras lived on Hatteras Island.  Lawson tells us they had grey eyes and said they descended from white people.  Other records confirm their early presence on Hatteras Island as well.  Of course, part of the group could have left and it has long been speculated that they did.

I also want to comment on the tidal wave. Hatteras Island has been routinely engulfed and flooded by ocean water, as has the mainland adjacent the sound.  Vegetation still continues to grow here.  If vegetation couldn’t survive, then neither could animals which eat vegetation.  This story mentions that corn wouldn’t grow due to the salt, but that animals were plentiful.  Those statements seem contradictory.  We do know that a severe drought was taking place when the colonists were left on Roanoke Island in 1587.  The impacts of the 16th century drought (1564-1573) on native agriculturalists in South Carolina was mentioned by Spanish colonists at Santa Elena but this record is too early for the drought mentioned in this story.  I was not able to find any records of prolonged or particularly severe droughts in the 1600s.  A drought severe enough to dry up a river would be extremely pronounced.

1592 – Colonists and Indians left Roanoke/Croatan Island. Some went North and were lost to this history and some went south.  They lived along the coast for many years and then established residence on the Cape Fear River.

1664 – A colony of whites established themselves across the river from the colonist and Indian descendants.  We don’t know when this was, but if it was the Clarendon colony, it was 1664.  They moved inland to the confluence of the Deep and Haw Rivers, naming the Haw after George Howe III, grandson of Manteo.

If George Howe Jr. was 10 years old in 1587, he would have been “marriage age” about 1597, so could have had a child about 1600, which indeed could have had another child by 1630 or so and George Howe III could indeed have been alive in 1664.

They lived “there” for 170 moons.  Ernest seems to interpret a moon as a year, but a moon is a month, so 170 moons would be equivalent to about 14 years.  We don’t know how long it took them to move up the Haw, but let’s say that it was only a few months, so we’ll ignore that, but keeping in mind it could have been a couple years or even more.

This puts us at between 1678 and 1680.

1678-1680 – In search of water, the tribe finds scattered Scotch in settlements along the Cape Fear River.

1678-1680 – George Howe IV finds the Coharie River.  Another generation of George Howes could well be alive in 1680.  They settled along the two Coharies and South River.

Here’s a problem.  The 1678-1680 dates don’t work, because the Scots did not begin to settle on the Cape Fear backcountry until in 1732.  If this story about Georg Howe IV finding the Coharie is now in 1732 instead of 1680, we are several generations off, given that an average generation is 25-30 years.

1587 – George Lowe Jr 10 years of age

1597 – George Howe marries Manteo’s daughter

1600 – George Howe III born

1620 – George Howe IIII marries

1625 – George Howe IV born

1732 – George Howe IV 107 years old when Scotch Irish begin settling Cape Fear region

1779 – Cabin belonging to Enoch Hall in Duplin County, overlooking Big Swamp in “The Territory” of Duplin County.  Hall is alleged to be a direct descendant of George Howe.

If this is the case, Enich would be very admixed and would have been listed as a free person of color in the 1790 census.

The 1790 census, 11 years after the last date given in the story, does not show an Enoch Hall living in Duplin County.  However, one Enoch Hall is shown in Robeson County along with Barnabas, Benjamin, Instance, Isaac, Lazarus, Lewis, Mary, Susannah and Bickley Hall.  In Duplin County, we show David, Isaac and two William Halls and in Sampson County, an Armager, Sampson, Moses, William and Josiah Hall. None of these families are enumerated as Free People of Color.

Hall is not recorded in Robeson, Sampson or Duplin, or elsewhere in NC for that matter, as a Free Person of Color, but Mainor is in Sampson County.  Both Howe and Hall are sporadically noted later as Native in Robeson County, but not Sampson County.  Hall has one death record and one draft registration and Howe has only a mention by Virginia DeMarce.  This is very scant evidence, and somewhat late as well.  By 1920-1930, these families should have been “of color” or Native for a long time.  Perhaps a female Native line married into the family.

I decided to take a look at the Hall DNA project.

There are two possible lines.  An Instant Hall is shown in group 18 and Barnabas Hall is shown in group 34.  I was interested to know if either of these men show any matches to a Howe.  Both of these haplogroups are European, which is what would be expected.  The Hall project administrator reports that neither of these men have any Howe matches.

There is a Maynor from Sampson County in the Lumbee DNA project.  His DNA is European, not Native American, so if the Maynor family descends from Manteo, it’s not the direct paternal line.

Posted in Croatoan, North Carolina | 6 Comments

White Buffalo Calf Birth Amid Wildfires

White Buffalo Royal Gorge 2013Amid the wildfires in Colorado this year, a sign of hope has emerged.  A white buffalo calf has been born near Colorado Springs in the Royal Gorge Park to a mother that had been very stressed by the fires and smoke.  Click on the link for the Fox News full story.

Here’s another article with 5 photos of the calf, Smoky and Mom, Brownie.  Turns out that Smoky’s Dad, Chief Silver Bullet, is white and about 25% of his offspring are white as well.

If you’d like to know more about the White Buffalo Prophecy and why it’s important to Native people, then click here.

Posted in White Buffalo | Leave a comment