A Few Tips, Cautions, & Problems For Wabanaki Researchers

I know my readers are anxious to jump into some real investigation, but there are a number of items you should be aware of before embarking on this journey

  • Learn the history of the northeastern region – both Native & non-Native.
  • Don’t get hung up on “What Tribe Am I?”, just do the research and see where it leads.
  • Many families made up romantic stories about their Native heritage to make it seem more acceptable. Other families completely refused to acknowledge any Native heritage. A third group has emerged since the 1970s – they are willing to lie and cheat their way to a fancy Native pedigree.
  • There is no “Indian Princess” in Native culture.
  • The one you think is your “full blooded” Indian ancestor seldom is.
  • Many of our “adopted Indian” ancestors prove to be the natural children of the parents that raised them.
  • The Catholic Church probably did take Native children from their parents, but so far I have found no record of this practice in the 1800s.
  • Wabanaki families may return to original “home base” mission parishes for marriages, baptisms, and burials.
  • In the mid 1800s the Wabanaki began “entertaining” the public and using stage names (i.e. Chief Rolling Thunder, Princess Red Feather, etc.) to attract non-Native audiences. These stage names have nothing to do with traditional Wabanaki culture or naming practices.
  • Wabanaki “entertainers” dressed up in “costumes” which seldom had anything to do with their own traditional clothing styles. These costumes are not the same as regalia.
  • Fraternal “Indian” groups existed such as the “Order of the Red Man”. They dressed up in costumes and performed Native-like ceremonies. These groups were not based on real Native culture and members were not real “Indians”.
  • Wabanaki families did not use family names (loosely equated to surnames) consistently until well into the 1800s.
  • Most Wabanaki were Christianized in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Many used Christian given names from a very early time. Many Christian given names have taken on new forms. Many Christian given names have become family names.
  • Wabanaki naming practices give genealogists ulcers and cause them to run around in circles chasing their tails!

Does anyone have any comments or questions?

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Categories: History-Wabanaki, Tutorials-Tips, Wabanaki

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