I want to tell this story in the most honest and genuine way possible, so please don't @ me. My intention is not to take focus away from indigenous voices, but to try and amplify them. Please check out the links at the end of this article, and support native American culture.
As I was growing up in Western Pennsylvania, my family used to tell me that my great-great-grandmother, Anna Laura Cathell, was "Indian," and that we are descended from the Delaware people. Everyone said that Anna looked "Indian" (my grandfather pronounced it "Engine"), and my grandfather himself looked the part. I thought that was cool, but that's all the detail I ever heard about it. As a child, I would proudly boast about it, without really knowing what it meant. Of course, now I acknowledge my privilege. I did not grow up on a reservation. I did not learn the culture, etc.
Then, I did the DNA thing. Sure enough, the marker showed up - 1% Indigenous North America, but that's hardly a reason to boast, is it? I mean, I can't definitively say what my tribe or lineage is. Still, I am curious. I want to know more.
Many years ago, my mother and I visited my Great-Aunt Sarah - daughter of said great-great-grandmother, and keeper of the family lore. She said that our native American ancestor was Jane Bond - my 4th great grandmother, and I thought she said "Lakota," but she either misspoke or I misheard, because that seems very unlikely. Lenape was the word I was looking for, because that is much more likely the case. The Lenape were also called the Delaware people - Bingo.
So, who was Jane Bond? Was she Lenape? I have not been able to find any official records to prove this. All I have is my family's oral tradition, and 1% DNA to show for it. I know that's not a lot to go on. Let the googling begin!
"Facts" that I gathered from my research on Ancestry.com (I don't trust everything on there 100 percent, because some info is contributed by people without any backing records):
|From the New York Evening Post, August 9, 1820|
"Jane was born ca.1798/99 in New York, the daughter of Joshua and Jane (maiden surname unknown) Bond. "Joshua Bond brought his family [to what became Preston County] in 1814 . . . [his wife] Jane was a wonderful mother, and teacher as well (since there were no schools), and instilled in them [her children] the traits of honest hard work and becoming good citizens."
-- From Chapter 7 - Descendants of Ambrose Lipscomb (1762-1841) A Candid Family History: Fielding Lipscomb: A Tale of Two Marriages, of the unpublished book written by Jeffrey Lipscomb who is a descendant of Ambrose’s son, Levi Lipscomb (1798-1878)
|Original Lenape homeland|
|A map at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia showing the forced migration of members of the Lenape Nation.|
“The Moravians treated the Native Americans as equals,” Johnson said. “They did not attempt to exploit them and for those who wanted to become Christians, the Moravians were there to help.”Many Delawares converted to Christianity thanks to the teachings of the Moravians.According to Johnson, the Moravians taught the Delaware skills to succeed as Christians, but this forced the Delaware to abandon many of their traditions. In return, the Delaware showed the Moravians how to live off the land. A major part of the Delwares’ responsibilities was farming, taking care of livestock, hunting, and getting food."(3)
- Some colonists (looking at you, Moravians) were known to take Lenape brides.
- Indigenous status was not recorded in early census data.
- Lenape who avoided removal from their land had to integrate with the locals, and remain undetected.
"The Delaware (Lenape) Indian name for Cheat was reportedly Ach-sin-ha-nac, meaning "stony river". "Cheat River" is variously reported to have been named for (1) a French explorer (or an Indian) named Cheat or Chaet, (2) an abundance of cheat grass along its banks (possibly a misidentification of frost-killed wheat), or (3) deceptively deep sections containing whirlpools that presumably "cheated" men of their lives by drowning them. None of these theories have strong documentary support, but the latter is the most often cited."