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As the sponsor of the only published study to date on the genes of Melungeons, "Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia," by Donald N. Yates and Elizabeth C. Hirschman, the owners of this blog naturally have an interest in Melungeons, a controversial American ethnic type.
Imagine our surprise at coming upon "Melungeons, A multiethnic Population," put online by the International Society for Genetic Genealogy in their Journal of Genetic Genetic Genealogy. The authors are Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Lewis Crain. It appeared sometime this year.
Roberta J. Estes, the lead author of the new article about Melungeons, was honored with the Prestigious Paul Jehu Barringer, Jr. and Sr. Award of Excellence in grateful recognition of her Dedication and Devotion to Preserving and Perpetuating North Carolina’s Rich History. This award was conferred for her academic research paper, Where Have All the Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony of Roanoke, published by the Journal of Genetic Genealogy. It can be read here: http://www.jogg.info/52/index.html
We are glad to see Melungeons receiving long-overdue attention on the Internet but cannot recommend the new "review."
"Where have all the Indians gone"?! We're all still here, thank you very much.
But consider this excerpt from the "review":
Furthermore, as having Melungeon heritage became desirable and exotic, the range of where these people were reportedly found has expanded to include nearly every state south of New England and east of the Mississippi, and in the words of Dr. Virginia DeMarce,Melungeon history has been erroneously expanded to provide "an exotic ancestry...that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States."
Concerning Melungeon heritage becoming "desirable and exotic," Estes et al., and our readers, may wish to consult the more recent study by Elizabeth Hirschman and Donald N. Yates,
“Suddenly Melungeon! Reconstructing Consumer Identity across the Color Line," Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 11), ed. Russell W. Belk and John F. Sherry, Jr. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007. Pp. 241-59.
This study is exclusively concerned with this very point and appeared many years after Estes et al's online article citing Virginia DeMarce in their review.
More fundamentally, the co-authors and Virginia DeMarce are seriously in error if they think disadvantaged people go around trying to prove themselves to be of any given ethnicity. They've got the shoe on the other foot. Their language with its condescending mention of color tones is offensive. I, for one, am offended, and any sponsoring or supporting organization, ought to be. In fact, they ought not to allow such views to be published.
And that's my two cents' worth on Melungeons writing about Melungeons who don't believe they or anybody else is Melungeon.
Melungeons -- real people in history -- suffered enough to have their memory dishonored by a coverup and misunderstandings hundreds of years later. I believe the same about Native American peoples and the descendants of slaves. No one should be able to write the history of disadvantaged and disenfranchised people for them.
More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia