Katy Owl

Sunday, August 12, 2018

This photo was taken at least five years ago, at a PowWow in a nearby county. I had ridden along with Ash who was there on a photo gig. I remember sitting on some bleachers when the drumming started and I suddenly felt like I was having like a panic attack. I got tunnel-vision, my heart was pounding inside my chest, and I literally had to get up and walk off to regain my composure. It felt very spiritual and ancestral. Like, the cell-memory of my ancestors sprang to life inside my body. It definitely left me a little shaken up.

Fast-forward to back in mid-June, Kaypacha mentioned that we should take the time to get in touch with our ancestors and that is exactly what has happened in the past few weeks. It all started when an old customer/friend from Natural Health showed up at the Nutrition Center. He's a gentle soul and crazier than a bedbug and I love him. The first time I met him, he walked in and said, "Holy cheekbones, Mama, you got some Indian blood in you!" He looks like a full-blooded Native American but with stunning blue eyes. We've had some real good talks over the years. We talk ancestral ways, spirit guides, and weird history. I told him I knew that my mother's mother's heritage was allegedly Cherokee. According to my grandma, her grandmother was a full-blooded Native American...half Cherokee & half Shawnee, possibly. But, during our recent talk, I shared with him a discovery that some of my father's mother's people are the Melungeons of eastern Tennessee/Western NC. They were the Goins family, one of a handful of surnames recognized to be among the Melungeons. Members of my extended family still reside in eastern Tennessee. After talking with CD, I went home inspired to do a little more digging and I hit the jackpot. Thank goodness for distant relatives, much smarter than I, who did all the heavy lifting in the genealogy department. Past the Melungeon link, I found out that my 7th great grandmother (father's mother side) was Katy/Charity Tsi na qui Owl. Her father was John Tsi na qui Chin nin quih Owl, who took on the surname Senelle. They were both born on the Cherokee reservation. What a revelation!! The Owl clan of the Cherokees were the feather keepers. And, I am forever finding and keeping feathers. Bergen threw away a bag of my feathers when we moved last and I contemplated a divorce. A few years ago, I was adopted by the red-tailed hawk and it never fails to guide my path. On a particular worrisome trip to see my dad, who was in bad health, I counted 5 on the two hour drive. It was insane.

I'm interested to know my mother's mother's side now too. I wonder what clan they were from. As a child, I stayed browned by the sun and this coarse mess of curls has always made me curious about the people they come from. I spent my childhood running wild through the woods and it always felt like home. My dad's side of the family would frequently vacation in Cherokee, NC and the Smokies. We had no idea it was the land of our ancestors. I wonder what Katy Owl thinks of her 7th great-granddaughter. As someone who has vocally protested the government's horrific treatment of indigenous people and brown-skinned immigrants, I hope she's proud.
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