My name is Mary Kay. I descend from Pocahontas's Mattaponi tribe. So Pocahontas was a Mattaponi herself. I am Mattaponi-descended. I am related to Pocahontas through my 3rd greatgrandfather, Thomas Jefferson Cross who was born in 1822 in Huntsville, Madison county, AL.
He was 6th great grand son of Pocahontas. He was 1/512 Mattaponi (Indian blood degree). Me, I'm 1/16,384 Mattaponi blood and 15th generation. This is not much because of 350 years of intermarriages and living in white communities across the United States to now. So we had no traditinal Mattaponi upbringing. Our Mattaponi cousins did live on the reservation for 390 years, not us. There is the difference here.
I have a year 1850 photo of Thomas Jefferson Cross's wife, Eliza Edwards who looked Indian. Her Indian ancestry is not proven yet. She was born in 1828 in Tyger River, Greenville, SC. She had black hair and dark eyes. (so did my paternal grandmother, Lestra) I would be happy to e-mail the picture of my ancestor, Eliza Edwards to you if you are curious. She was the grand daughter of Court Judge Nathaniel Thomas Edwards.
When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother who had thick black hair, told me that I had her high cheekbones. We had a tradition passed down through generations in our family that our ancestor was Indian. The specific tribe was not mentioned.
But I did remember she briefly mentioned Virginia, the home of our ancestors. But I did not really see the connection between the state of Virginia and the identity of Indian ancestor until I found 20 years later that I was indeed right.
Later on when I got older and went to college, I ran into some very prominent people from the Indian communities from time to time. I had been asked again and again and again if I am part Indian. I remembered my grandmother's words but not the name of the tribe. I did remember she mentioned the state of Virginia. I was deaf so I struggled when I was reading her lips.
I will mention Indian people that asked me if I am part Indian. One was Dr. Bea Medicine who was enrolled member of Yankton Sioux tribe from North Dakota. She taught anthrology courses. She substituted my class when my teacher was absent.
That is how I met her during my freshman year. I told her that my grandmother mentioned Indian ancestor and French ancestor and high cheekbones and the state of Virginia and that was it.
When Dr. Bea Medicine heard what I just said, she immediately mentioned the Powhatan people of Virginia to my surprise. I was aware of them because Pocahontas was mentioned briefly in American history text books and that was it. I did not remember grandmother saying anything about Pocahontas. She just said we had high cheekbones and I knew she meant the Indians. And that was it.
So when Dr. Bea Medicine suddenly mentioned the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes of the Powhatan conferacy, she was very quick to criticize them. She quickly informed me that Powhatan people in 20th century had virtually lost all of their culture. She did not consider them real Indians. I was just speechless. She also added that they just borrowed Indian traditions from other tribes. I was very upset and left her office.
Later on, I heard American Indian Movement leader was coming to give a lecture at my school. I requested a sign language interpreter and went there to hear his speech. He was very passionate. I noticed he was staring at me for like 15 minutes.
I had seen Iron Eyes Cody in person at an Indian Art shows several times. I noticed his eyes following me for several minutes.
I went to the Crow pow wow in Montana and one Crow elder lady asked me if I am part Indian. I had a Navajo-Mohawk woman asking me the same question. One Shawnee drummer asked me that also. All those years, I remembered my grandmother's words but all I said was "I don't know."
It was this year that I finally found all the names going back to Pocahontas from my Cross ancestor. It has finally been verified and proven. I know I should write a storybook about me and my grandmother and my travels to many Indian reservation and my conversations with first peoples of this country.