Got Indian in Your Family?

Got Indian in Your Family?
Pop and Politics
September 27, 2005
by Cherryl Aldave

Growing up in the sweaty-neck, dusty leg town of Tarboro, North Carolina, I quickly learned that Bible belters don’t mince words when it comes to race.

In Southern towns like Tarboro it’s not unusual to hear the question, “Do you have Indian in your family?” especially if the person asking suspects you’re “too light to be all Black” or “too dark to be all White.”

I was asked this a lot as a child, and my mother insists that one of our ancestors was indeed Native American. But in doing research for my forthcoming book of essays I discovered that, while thousands of Americans share this history of Indian ancestry, sometimes “Indian” may have been Melungeon.

I know. What the heck is a Melungeon?

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