Saturday 13 August 2011

Do we as Catudals have a Native Indian heritage or not?

The answer is yes and no. If the question is directed as such: Is the Catudal line Native in any way? then the answer is no. If you follow the pure male line back to Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean who came to New France in and around 1721 from France then it is clear in the genealogical record that the pure male line of Catudals is not Native.

The next question is did any child born a Catudal (or one of its dit names of St-Jean or St. John) marry a Native Indian or have children with a Native Indian? The answer again – as far as the historical record uncovered to date shows – is no. There is nothing in the historical record to indicate that anyone born a Catudal married a Native Indian. That is not to say that they didn’t. It is only to say that there is no baptismal record, no marriage record, no land claim, no Census record, nor any other records where this is seen to be the case.

We have to keep in mind though that pre-1900’s people did not openly admit to being a Native Indian or being a ‘half-breed’ or acknowledging on a Census that they were ‘Red’ if they didn’t have to. Now-a-days we have a romantic idea of what it is or was to be Native. Our forefathers thought different and they knew the harsh realities that came with being considered a ‘sauvage’.

There are DNA tests available, which can give conclusive proof of Native blood. The problems with those tests are that they can’t tell from which line or from how far back the Native blood is from.

The reason is that one of the genetic markers, which indicates whether one has Native blood or not, is either passed down from mother to child unchanged (but only the female child will pass this marker down to her children) or from father to son unchanged. This means that it cannot be determined from which generation the Native blood came from. The Indian bloodline could be from 2 generations back or from 1,000 years ago. There is nothing, to date, that can make that distinction.

A person who has both Native Indian blood and European blood is called a Métis. Each Métis Association and each area these Associations fall in, all have their own criterion as to when a person is considered a Métis. Generally, the main criteria is that you can prove a link to a Métis or to a Native Indian. That means that you must have primary documents, ie. Baptism records, for each generation, starting from you, back to the person who is Native. Métis status is recognized regardless of whether the Native blood comes from the paternal or maternal line.

There is DNA evidence to support and to also call into question a Native Indian tie-in for the Catudal family line. Firstly, not in support of a Native tie-in: Jean-François St-Jean ( Mélanie St-Jean’s father – another genealogist doing Catudal research) had a Y-DNA test done, which only looks at the pure male line, The results showed that his heritage is European without any Native blood. To be specific, his test showed that his paternal haplogroup is R1b.

Secondly, Michel Catudal (another researcher) wrote this in the group ‘Catudal’ on Facebook regarding us having a possible Native tie-in:

“My son, wife and myself went thru some genetic tests at McGill university when I was working on an engineering contract in Montréal and we were told that we have some genetic hearing loss traits only found so far among Iroquois. The only native information I have found in the Catudal family is in the Acadian branch of the family. As for my wife she is half Cherokee half Amish. I was told that we have Mohawks ancestors but didn't find anything to prove it. As for the hearing loss genetic traits, they were both identical in my wife, my son and I and the experts at McGill told us that they have found these only among Iroquois until they met us. Both Cherokees and Mohawks are of Iroquois descent. I do not know about the Abenakis, maybe they have common ancestors also.”

It isn’t clear exactly what tests Michel had but it does show that there is a possibility that he has some Native tie-in but from what line, paternal or maternal, is not clear.

Having said all of that, there are indirect Native Indian connections to some of the Catudal lines and here are two examples of those connections:

One of the Catudal tie-in lines to Native Indian starts at Marie Abenaquie who was a Micmac Indian , her daughter was Edmee Lajoie Briard LeJeune, her daughter was Marie Françoise Louise Gauterot, her daughter was Madeleine Terriot, her son was Pierre Robichaud, his daughter was Marie Françoise Leborgne Belisle, her daughter was Marguerite Robichaud, her daughter was Marie Josephte Pepin Lachance, her son was Pierre Chabot, his daughter was Philomene Chabot who was married to Maglorie Catudal.

The other line that has Native blood in it starts at Jean-Vincent Saint-Castin who married Marie Mathilde Pidiwamiska (also known under the name Mataconando and or Pidianske) in 1684. Their daughter was Anastasie Saint-Castine, her daughter was Marie Françoise Leborgne Belisle, her daughter was Marguerite Robichaud, her daughter was Marie-Josephte Pepin-Lachance, her son was Amable Chabot, his daughter was Philomene Chabot and her son was Barthelemy Catudal.

There are some Catudal families who have grown up with the common understanding that they have Native blood through the Catudal line, which on face value, begs the question “why would that sort of information have been passed down if it weren’t true?” Good question. I would like to give an example of how it is not always the case that what is passed down regarding Native heritage is true.

My grandmother Yvonne Catudal (née Tremblay) grew up knowing that her grandmother, Sophie Godard dit Lapointe was a Native Indian. All the grandkids grew up also having this information about our Native heritage. Close to seven years ago I met a cousin whose great great grandmother was also Sophie. She too grew up with the same information. She put me in touch with yet another cousin from another side of the family who also could trace themselves to Sophie and they too grew up with this information. So here we were, three people who had come from this particular line but who had grown up without contact to the others and all of us had been given the same information. You can imagine how surprised we were when I took a mt-DNA test, the one that tests the pure female line, and received the results showing that I did not have a Native tie-in. My Mitochondrial haplogroup is H, which means that my pure female line is European. Those people who have Native blood belong to Haplogroup A, B, C, D or X only. The story about Sophie being Native Indian is not true, at least it isn’t if the genetics can be believed.

The story could have originated because Sophie looked Native. She even had the nickname ‘Squaw’. Maybe the only reason she had this nickname was because she looked Native and not because she was.

I have come to learn that this phenomenon, of being under the impression or understanding that one has a Native heritage when in reality there is nothing to support the claim, is rather common.

Did you know?
Many people believe that having Métis status is the same as having Indian Status. It is not. The term Métis was the term given to the children who were the product of the early French fur trappers or other Europeans and Native Indian women.
If you obtain Métis status then, depending on where you are in Canada or the States, you may be allowed certain rights such as special fishing or hunting rights or perhaps be given an advantage when being considered for government grants but nothing much else. Métis do not have treaty rights – there are a few exceptions where some Métis bands have treaty rights but those are exceptions.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

I Learned a Very Good Lesson Today

In one of my blogs I had posted a picture of three soldiers saying that I thought that the middle person was Armand Donat Lucien Catudal (1919-1997). Here is that picture:

Well, after some discussion with Bettyann, Donat's daughter-in-law, I realized that the old photo that I found in my Grandmother's old photo album was of someone else, but who? There was only one other person that I thought that it could be and that was my Grandmother's brother, Jean Joseph Tremblay.

My cousin Michelle Eber told me that I should send this picture to a mutual cousin Joanne Turcotte (née Tremblay) to see if she could identify her grandfather. I sent the picture to Joanne and asked her if she recognized anyone in the picture. She wrote back saying that, yes it was a picture of her grandfather and that this picture was taken of him while in Canada.

I thought, "Bingo" I knew it had to be of someone in our immediate family and because he, at least to me, looked so much like Donat, I had falsely thought it was of him.

Then I got a second e-mail from Joanne saying that by-the-way, her grandfather was the person on the left. I had spent so much time fixated on the man in the middle that it never for a moment occurred to me that the person of interest would be anyone but the man in the middle. This is a great lesson! I really do try not to get fixated or blind-sighted and most of the time I think I manage but obviously I need to work on it.

The man on the left in the above picture was my great uncle and he was baptized as Joseph Joachim Emery Tremblay (1904-1987).  He was known as Jean to his immediate family (children and grandchildren) and as Joe to the rest of us. Why? I don't know.

Another puzzle solved.