My mother has been working on her family tree for many years now, and part of that work also includes mine and my siblings’ family trees too. She has dug deep, very deep, and even found a long lost uncle, my Nana’s firstborn, whose trace was lost after WW2. I’ve always known that I’m a real Brit, half English, half Welsh, and my family tree confirmed that, well, right back to the early 1800’s for the Welsh side anyway, and way back into the 1600’s for the English side (maybe even further, my mother would have to confirm that). Or so I thought!
Last year my mother had her DNA testing done, and it came back with an extraordinary high amount of Northern English and The Midlands DNA, 83% to be exact, and some Scandinavian (13%). According to some research that she did this high percentage is extremely rare, although to be honest if you look at my mother and her siblings and her mother and father they are very English-looking. Piercing blue eyes, high cheek bones, pale skin... I look like my mother but with brown eyes and darker hair which I inherited from my dad’s side.
My significant other, Cesar, was born and raised in a small town in Mexico, south of Mexico City. A large amount of Mexicans are “mestizo”, a mix of Native American and European and other regions of the world, which makes a lot of sense when you look into the history of Mexico. After my mother did her DNA test we kept talking about how it would be cool to do ours, just because it would be a great way for the kids to have a better understanding of their heritage, especially as both Cesar and I are immigrants in the US and our kids were born here and therefore consider the US their home (for now).
I assumed my results would be boring and Cesar’s would be an amazing mix. Well, we both got a bit of a surprise!!
Cesar got his back first, and was so excited he woke me up when he got back from work to tell me he was actually Native American! His results came back as 92% Native American. Native American however applies to the entire northern and southern continents of America, and there is no way to find out what tribe or even region just from his DNA test right now (they continue to add regions to the tests though, so we just keep having to check back in the future to see if they have updated it at all). I would love to be able to do that, just for the kids really, but from my own personal deductions it has to be the main indigenous group from Cesar’s home area in Mexico. So, in any case, a sub-group of Aztec Indians, most likely Nahua. (All of this is super interesting to us and we need to now do a ton more research, because even those last sentences that I wrote may not be correct).
In any case such a high percentage throws no doubt on the fact that Cesar is native to these lands, and that our kids are therefore pretty much half Native American!
So, what about the other half I hear you say. Well, this was also a big surprise for us! As you can see from my results below I am 34% English, which obviously comes from my mother as the region is very defined, and 27% percent Scottish, and NOT Welsh. Also 13% Scandinavian which also must come from my mother, and 17% Western European! While I know my Nana’s side of the family (father’s mother), I don’t know anyone from his father’s side, as his father died when he was young and my father died when I was young. Also as my tree only currently goes back to the 1800’s we now have to dig deeper and see what we can find.
So what does this mean? In the grand scheme of things nothing really, apart from knowing that when I said I was going to marry a Native American as a teen (I was in love with Cloud Dancing on Doctor Quinn), it was actually a premonition. But, more seriously, it’s important for us that the kids understand their mixed heritage, now even more so. Proper representation of Native Americans is downright lacking in our present day, and pretty much non-existent when it comes to indigenous Central American people, and I would love for our children to understand their history and be proud of who they are, and where they are from.
Also in terms of representation, here is a more concrete example for you. One of my family members in England said not long ago that Cesar “didn’t look Mexican”, which I thought was strange at first, until I thought about it. If you don’t live in a country like the US where there is a large Mexican population, you probably just look at how Mexicans are represented in TV and movies. From that perspective it’s true, Cesar doesn’t look typically Mexican. But Mexico is a mix of so many different people from so many different origins that it is impossible to even begin to explain it. This is why representation is so important – we want our kids to be able to see people who look like them on TV (thank you Coco!!). I found some interesting articles that dig a lot deeper than I feel comfortable doing into the issues with Latino representation on TV and the movies HERE and HERE. Have a read if you would like a good breakdown of how badly we still need proper representation for anyone who isn’t white.
Anyway, this has all made me really interested in digging deeper into my own family tree, and starting Cesar’s too. I often feel like we are so far away from our extended family, that maybe this will help bring all or mutual background together a little more for the kids. I don’t know if that makes sense anywhere but in my head though!