In the News August 2020


Angela E. Watkins

Angela E. Watkins

 

Angela E. Watkins received a promotion July 1 to associate investigator and director of social media at DNA Consultants. The longtime Pensacola, Fla. resident moved back to her native state of Colorado last year with her daughter Isabella Ray, 3….

 

 

 

Dr. Martin

Future doctor and lawyer circa 1959

For the second year in a row in May, William Ayers Martin won Student of the Year at the Mississippi State University Building and Construction School Engineering School (BCS). His father is Andrew Ayers Martin, MD, JD, FCAP, Medical Laboratory Director and Owner, MidSouth Pathology, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Andy, as he is known to us, has taken a new interest since the advent of the coronavirus culture in nature photography, North Georgia genealogy and DNA testing. The dad’s favorite book remains Plagues and Peoples by historian William H. McNeill…. Georgia architect, author and historic preservationist Richard L. Thornton, whose newest book is on Cherokee chief Charles R. Hicks, and whose interesting website is The Americas Revealed, has been approached by Hollywood producers working on a new History Channel documentary series about great mysteries and lost worlds. The premier of the History Channel’s (H2) new hit series, America Unearthed, was based on Thornton’s 2012 book, Itsapa, the Itza Mayas in North America, and he was a prominent member of the cast. Thornton is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. He is a member of the Kaweta (Coweta) Creek Tribe….

 

MAKING A POINT: Pete Atkins demonstrates how to make a spearpoint capable of killing a wooly mammoth in February at Virginia museum workshop. Courtesy Ben R. Williams, Administrator of Science.

Pete Atkins

Pete Atkins

Pete Atkins of Reidsville, N.C. acted as resident flintknapper and American Indian craftsman earlier in the year at  the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s Ice Age Festival in Martinsville, Va.  Atkins is a direct male descendant of William Vortimer Adkins, born 1690 in Henrico Co., Va., died 1754 in Goochland, Va. (haplogroup I). His mitochondrial line is W….

Tammy Duncan, who maintains a very active personal Facebook page during these sheltering-at-home days, continues to sort out her descent from Oconostota. Supposedly her eighth great-grandmother was Jennie Wolf (1726-1778), a daughter of the war chief through a Shawnee or Creek marriage partner. “Cherokee genealogy is a maze,” she says. ‘I am most often what the heck really.” Duncan lives in Wake Forest, N.C….

 

Jerry Eliis

Jerry Eliis

In 1989, Jerry Ellis became the first person in modern history to walk the Trail of Tears, which he traveled in reverse, from west to east. He wrote about that journey to honor his ancestors in his book Walking the Trail (1991). Since then, Ellis has had five plays produced and has written for The New York Times. He divides his time between residences in Rome, which he calls “The Eternal City of Love,” and Ft. Payne, Ala., where he grew up. Ellis has a huge following. He is the co-founder of Tanager House, an artist retreat set on 60 wooded acres in the mountains of north Alabama, where he annually holds an all-day writing/publishing seminar and other creative workshops. On his Facebook page Ellis offers an autographed copy of his bestseller Cherokee History for Indian Lovers, plus “a Medicine Pouch with shavings from my oak staff carried when I walked the 900-mile route of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, for 23 bucks.” Order from: Jerry Ellis, 1714 Smith Gap RD NW, Fort Payne, AL 35968…. “I have worn a mask to work every day for the past four months to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” says Audalene Starr. “It’s uncomfortable but it has saved a lot of people from this deadly virus.” Starr works at Huntington Health and Rehabilitation Center and lives in South Point, Ohio. Late last year she took a mitochondrial test with us showing the rare haplotype H3b1b1, which matched only other “anomalous” Cherokees…

 

Debbi Adkins Vance

Debbi Adkins Vance

Debbi Adkins Vance (photo) and Lynda Davis-Logan were added to Phase III of the Cherokee DNA Project belatedly in July because of their new test results. Both are Adkins/Atkins relatives of Dorene Soiret. Vance’s mitochondrial line is U5a2b3, a rare haplotype fully and exactly matching no one else in the world but closest to other “anomalous” Cherokees in the study. Davis-Logan, who traces her direct maternal line back eight generations to Elizabeth Mitchell, born in 1742 in Virginia, has the rare lineage U5a1b. She also has a Cherokee line traced back to Sarah Mounts, born 1775 and married 1795 to James Wilson in Bath County, Va. “Sarah was supposed to have been at least half Cherokee,” says Davis-Logan. “She had numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren who applied for citizenship in the Eastern Band though none was ever accepted.” Both new participants live in West Virginia….  Sharon Fussell, a licensed massage therapist in Lorton, Va., took a Native American test from DNA Consultants in July after being challenged about her ancestry on a family history site. Navajos in Arizona came back as her fifth strongest forensic match, among many other American Indian results…. Robyn Kennedy of Kingsport, Tenn. is organizing her husband Brent’s voluminous papers to donate to Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Va. There they will be part of the Center for Melungeon Research Reference and Research Collection in the Wampler Library, under the direction of Mike Gilley. Brent, author of The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People: An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America (with co-author Robyn), singlehandedly precipitated and led the Melungeon movement in the 1990s. He is in moderately good physical shape with only partly impaired mental faculties after a stroke in 2005 devastated his health and forced his retirement from a career in healthcare public relations. He is on FacebookBrian Wilkes, educator, author and genealogist, published his first book in 1985 and doesn’t show signs of slowing down today, though the coronavirus has put a dent in his speaking engagements. As a news anchor and talk show host, Wilkes became nationally known for his coverage of the space program, medical research, and celebrity interviews. Since March, he has been sheltering at home in Pinckneyville, Ill. with his partner Joyce Rheal, a professional genealogist who “helps people discover history and heal families through genealogy,” as she says in the mission statement on her Facebook page. Brian and Joyce continue to burrow into Native American spirituality, culture and language, dog care, and complementary healing, including hypnosis and herbcraft. Look for their books…well, everywhere….

 

Zachary R. LaRocca-Stravalle

Zachary R. LaRocca-Stravalle. Photo by Tracey Eller.

Zachary R. LaRocca-Stravalle, who was our Cherokee poster boy in 2010, is a student researcher and junior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he is majoring in biology. “I am currently conducting research on Hox gene expression and function in the annelid Lumbriculus variegatus to expand the comparative data of Hox gene expression patterns and their possible role in annelid segment regeneration,” he told us. Got that?… Ann R. Stravalle-Schmidt, Zach’s mother and also one of our long-standing customers with Cherokee ancestry, is Assistant General Counsel in the Corporate Legal Department of Meggitt-USA, Inc., Simi Valley, Calif….

 

Zoe Helene Green

Zoe Helene Green

Zoe Helene Green, a recent customer who found linkages between the Cherokee and Greeks, is founder of Cosmic Sister, an environmental feminist educational advocacy collective. A public figure, the Massachusetts resident originated the term “Psychedelic Feminism.” She took our DNA tests late last year and got multiple Native American hits. “Women have been forced to work within a broken system with an extreme power imbalance for millennia,” Zoe says. “This imbalance has warped and continues to warp the way we are evolving as a species”….

 

Appalachian urban sophisticate Lisa Alther published her new novel Swan Song June 9th (Knopf). The celebrated American humorist and Melungeon aficionado is from Kingsport, Tenn. After majoring in English at Wellesley College she went to live in London, where she became friends with the writer Doris Lessing, who took an interest in her novel Kinflicks. Unlike many authors during America’s shutdown, Alther is appearing in some live events. On July 14th at 5 p.m. she had a “conversation” together with former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin at Northshire Bookstores in Manchester Center, Vt. and Saratoga, N.Y. Alther, who has homes in New York City and Ashe County, N.C. in the Melungeon heartland, celebrates her seventy-sixth birthday on July 23. She is a younger sister of John Shelton Reed, retired Kenan professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Happy birthday, Lisa!….

 

Pat Hooks

Pat Hooks

Pat Hooks

Echota Cherokee and Nakota/Lakota/Cheyenne tribeswoman Yvette Running Horse Collin’s recent University of Alaska Fairbanks dissertation proves the horse was long a part of American Indian culture before being dismissed by anthropologists. Now Cherokee project participant Sidney Patrick Hooks of Texhoma, Okla. is working with tribes to help recover their horsemanship skills. Hooks is a descendant of Elizabeth Ann “Annie” McQuade, born in Hopkins County, Ky. Aug. 14, 1824, died Jan. 8, 1896, the source of his rare mitochondrial haplotype U3.  His decades-long passion for the horse and study of horsemanship bore fruit in the book titled 101 Ranch Horse Tips….

 

Glen Browders

Glen Browder

Glen Browder of Jacksonville, Ala. reports that the book he co-authored with Dr. Terri Ann Ognibene—South Carolina’s Turkish People (University of South Carolina Press, 2018)—proved to be challenged by “some local folks who identified as Cheraw Indians and claimed that the ‘so-called Turks’ really were Native Americans.”  The critics had been certified by the state of South Carolina in 2013 as the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians, but according to Prof. Browder they had culturally appropriated the Turkish people in their application for state certification. “Furthermore, they attacked us and our research pretty viciously,” Browder told us.  “As you can imagine, this was not a fun experience, but I am happy that this situation has been resolved. Long story short, I thoroughly investigated and documented their improper appropriation, and the state of South Carolina recently corrected the Sumter Cheraw Tribe’s certification file and issued an annotation to the public record.” Dr. Browder was born in Sumter, S.C. and is a former member of the U.S. Congress. His 2002 book The Future of American Democracy was a provocative statement about the uncertain destiny of America’s “Great Experiment”….

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Do you have any news to contribute to Explorers Club? Send it to the editor at dpy@dnaconsultants.com.