I descend from first American colonizers.

Kim Looby,
Charlotte, NC

I thought I was Irish and came here during the 1850s. But I’m actually 16th generation American. My family is responsible for settling America and colonizing it. I’m equally disconnected from any ancestral culture and distinctly American? I have a few German relatives left in Germany but they’re over a hundred years back. Any other “family” left in the British Isles would be too far removed even for DNA to connect me to. Ancestry says they take their DNA from people whose families have been in one place for 500 years. My family has been in America for 400. Have we been here long enough to be a new culture? Have I been in America longer than my ancestors were in the British isles? Am I more American than English? Why do I have such dark features and easily tanned skin? My features are more Mediterranean. But it’s too far back for Ancestry DNA to pick up. If I came from there then stayed in Britain for 200 years then left for America for the last 400, am I culture less?

I have no food, language, dress, or other cultural identities outside of America. No family can remember the immigrants. Even my connection to my immigrant family has been lost in the records prior to the 1840s census.

Where are we as humans really from and where do we belong? How long must I be in a place before I can claim it as my cultural home and not colonized or an immigrant? Existential headache.

I met a Native American interpreter at a historic site many years ago. He complained about the English colonizers and I just shrugged internally saying “wasn’t me, I’m Irish”. But I’m not fully. I’m mostly English though my last name is Irish. I wish I could find him and apologize for what my ancestors were a part of.

 

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