Share this article

print logo

It's great to be part of our melting pot

I had my DNA tested. I always suspected and kind of hoped that I was part American Indian. Well, I got on the Internet, read up on it and found that I could know by sending a swabbing of my mouth and $200 or so to an Internet-advertised testing lab. My DNA results indicated my ancestors were 91 percent European and 9 percent American Indian.

So now what do I do with that? Do I really want to be an Indian? Indians have been given a pretty hard time by Europeans on this continent. Now that they have all this casino money rolling in, they are getting pretty tight about accepting long-lost brothers, so I probably don't have a chance for any kind of tribal status. Anyway, I was brought up thinking that I was Irish or sort of Irish.

Dad used to sing to us:

"I met with Napper Tandy,

and he took me by the hand,

And he said, 'How's poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?'

'She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,

For they're hanging men and women there for the Wearin' o' the Green.' "

My father's father escaped from under the British heel in the potato famine, so Grampa was as Irish as Paddy's pig. But when I asked Gramma where her folks came from, she said they were Yankees from Rhode Island. She had no idea when they came over from dear old England.

Of course, when I went to my mother's folks -- where we always ate sauerkraut and rye bread and they said gesundheit and called cottage cheese schmeer case -- I found out that they only just got over here from Deutschland in time for my mother to get born. So my ethnic identification was always cloudy. I had an Irish name but lived near all these German relatives. And now I find out that one of my Yankee grandmothers probably married an Indian a couple generations back.

I checked that out a little further. An aunt on my Irish-Yankee side agreed to get tested, too. She turned out to be 8 percent Indian, 8 percent sub-Saharan African, 1 percent Asian and 83 percent European. I'm pretty sure she had the same parents as my dad, so I presume I have in me a bit of each of what she has in her.

The Yankee grandmother may have been carried off by an Indian from the tribe that helped the Pilgrims celebrate Thanksgiving and their daughter may then have married a runaway slave, but where the Chinese guy or gal came in is anyone's guess.

I started out an Irishman and I have turned into a rainbow. Is that good? Maybe not. We whites -- if I may still presume to claim a portion of that identity -- have the world by the tail. We earn the highest salaries, we get the suburbs, they don't make us live on reservations, more of us get into Harvard and fewer of us get murdered or go to jail.

So what the heck did I want to be an Indian or anything else for, unless it turns out that it's a wolf we have by the tail? My advice to you is to leave your DNA alone, unless you've got the guts to walk in some well-worn moccasins or test the whip of a slave heritage.

Consider joining the rainbow ranks of melting-pot Americans. Up the mongrels! Up the rainbows! Come to the casino -- it's pay-back time.

There are no comments - be the first to comment