Our own story, our own history can be told in many different ways– genetically, as or how we are anchored to the land, to our ancestral homes, or in the names we use. The Icelandic people, of whom I don’t think I am genetically related, but I am certain I once lived as a Viking, have a very interesting naming convention. Everyone has their own name, but every (traditional) name honours their ancestry– or at least their paternity.
In my case, I would be the Icelandic version of: Lisa Jamesdottir. My brother’s last name, however, would be Jameson, and our dad (one and the same) would have the last name Homerson, and his sisters: Homersdottir. And so on. As it stands, my surname is the same as the rest of my immediate family’s, and my middle name is an homage to my maternal aunt, of the same name. Of course, when I married, as was the custom, I took my husband’s surname, and now do not share any legal name in common with my family of origin.
I don’t know much about my ancestry, we would all have come from the UK at some point, in most cases. Perhaps Eastern Europe. Except, except… on my dad’s side, WAY back in history, I have an anchor to the land. I have an Indigenous ancestor. We had known that she existed, but the actual facts were lost through the generations and in the retellings.
Recently, thanks to the diligent investigation into my family tree by several family members, I’d like to introduce myself in a traditional fashion.
Hello. My name is Lisa. My father was James, and he was born in the far north of the province, in a town called Pouce Coupe. His parents were Homer and Annie, and they moved their family of 5 (then 6, 7 and 8–my dad) from Texas, Washington and Alberta to homestead in the Peace River area.
My Grandmother Annie was the daughter of Arvazeen and Benjamin. Benjamin’s mother was Lavinia (who features again in a bit in this tale) and it was Lavinia’s Grandmother (my four times Great Grandmother) Mary who was a full blooded Cherokee woman from North Carolina. As I look over this branch of my family tree, I marvel at the names bestowed on my aunts and uncles, and wish I knew their connection to my story: Viola Arvazeen, Willana Ginelle, Othella Ruth, John Ross, Shirley Montez, Dorritt Lois, William Lynn, and James Franklin (my dad, and the youngest in the family).
The only details I have about Mary Lee is that she married a man by the name of Jacob Amstay, and started her family with my three times great grandmother Nancy, around 1805, in Pennsylvania. Nancy’s daughter, Lavinia, died 100 years later in Poteau, Indian Territory, Oklahoma, where she had tried, unsuccessfully, to register to the Cherokee Nation for status in 1896. Her brother, Mary Lee’s grandson, was granted status.
This is my story.