Friday, August 16, 2013

Alia Rose

My nephew recently became a father to a little girl who represents the newest branch of our extended family tree and who is my father's first great-grandchild.   Talking to her parents, we got into a discussion of ethnicity and it occurred to us that this child is quintessentially American, a mixture of heritages that is pretty well unique to this continent, even if not to this country. 

Her paternal grandfather was an immigrant from Venezuela, although he did not stay in the U.S.  That makes her father a first generation American on that side.  On the other hand, her mother's family and her father's maternal family can claim lineages back to the 17th century colonies.  One line even extends back to Jamestown.  That makes her both a descendent of a very new arrival and of some of the very first Europeans in this nation.  As far as we know, she is not descended from those later arrivals, the Pilgrims, but she did have ancestors in early New England (1632).

Her ancestry is largely European, with a huge chunk of British (English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh) and Spanish/Portuguese, and lesser amounts of other European nations, including France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.  She probably has some American Indian (Cherokee) but that is not proven yet and it is likely that she has some South American Indian too, through her father.   She has a tiny percentage of Jewish blood.  Among her ancestors were also African slaves as well as free persons of color, thriving in the old south despite the difficulties facing them.

Her ancestors or their siblings fought in every major war the U.S. has been in, from the Revolution forward.  They also fought against the U.S. in several Confederate states.  These predecessors weren't for the most part famous or prominent people, just farmers, workers and craftsmen, with a few teachers or professors thrown into the mix.  They came over - not legally per se since there were no legal requirements at the time - to get land and to find opportunity.  They worked hard and sometimes they prospered.  Occasionally the bigger financial crises brought them down again, often leading them to abandon where they were and to move on.  They were an integral part of that restless movement first south and then west that stole the land from those who had traditionally occupied it but also turned it into what it is today.

  In modern America, she will be considered white and may choose to call herself hispanic.   But the reality is that she is a vast mixture of the many peoples that make up this country.  She's a little American mutt and we're very proud of it. 

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