The Mystifying Melungeons



   "In certain parts of America, however, there are small communities of people who seem, to their immediate neighbors, to be inexplicably different.  These tiny populations are not lost, even if they are isolated, but their origins are lost, either because of policy or badly fragmented oral traditions.  They may not see themselves as 'white' or 'Indian' or 'black', and it may seem likely that they originated in lands across the sea and reached America within the not-to-distant past.

    "Along the Virginia-Tennessee border, for example, there still live groups of families in the sparsely settled mountains of Hancock County, Tennessee, who have become known as Melungeons, perhaps because they look to outsiders like a racial mixture, or melange.  These rather reclusive farmers have a rich store of folktales but do not know precisely how their forebears came to the area.  Some claim Melungeons were in Tennessee long before the local Indians and certainly before the coming of the European settlers.

    "Described as having reddish-copper skin, straight hair, thin lips, and narrow-shaped faces, these people have impressed observers with their air of caution, their quick intelligence, and their handsome features.  . . . Could their ancestry go back to the Ten Lost Tribes?  . . . At least one property rights case was won in a Tennessee court when the plaintiff's lawyer argues successfully that she was not black but kin with a  'lost and hounded people, originally Phoenicians'.

    "Here, then, is a mystery of a lost tribe in reverse, and the puzzling question of its origins continues to intrigue observers. . . . It must be said, however, that certain skeptical writers are more inclined to believe that this small group of Melungeons is really a clan descended from one or two Indians or blacks who intermarried locally.  These 'white' Indians, in that case, would be of very recent origin.

    "We remain in the sphere of unresolved mystery.  Can we ever know for certain that so-called Lost Tribes did not actually travel to America and struggle to survive?  Perhaps they were massacred, or perhaps they simply succumbed to the unfamiliar hardships of the new environment.  Perhaps they made their peace with the new continent by assimilating gradually, and gratefully, so that in the end the only physical record of their having arrived would be their bluish-green eyes of a dark-skinned Indian child, or a pale cast to the skin of an entire tribe."  Mysteries of Ancient America p. 41 by Readers Digest

    To us here at Warpath Ministry we don't think it such a great mystery, the famous Bat Creek Inscription was unearthed in this very area, inscribed in ancient Hebrew characters.  Some interpret it to say "Only for Jehu", others  read "Only for Yahudim [Jews]".  Dr. Robert Stieglitz of New York reads it as  "A comet for the Hebrews", with reference to Halley's Comet, which  "hung over Jerusalem like a flaming sword" in the year 69 A.D.., during the First Revolt, begun in 68 under Nero.





      As one writer puts it;

       "I believe, with many others, that the North American Indians are a mixed people -- that they have Jewish blood in their veins, though I would not assert, as some have undertaken to prove, 'that they are Jews', or that they are 'the lost tribes of Israel'.  From the character and conformation of the heads, I am compelled to look upon them as an amalgam race, but still savages; and from many of their customs, which seem to me, to be peculiarly Jewish, as well as from the character of their heads, I am forced to believe that some part of those ancient tribes, who have been dispersed by Christians in so many ways, and in so many different eras, have found their way to this country, where they have entered amongst the native stock, and lived and intermarried with the Indians, until their identity has been swallowed up and lost in the greater numbers of their new acquaintance, save the bold and decided character which they have bequeathed to Indian races; and such of their customs as the Indians were pleased to adopt, and which they have preserved to the present day.

    "I am induced to believe thus from the very many customs which  I have witnessed amongst them, that appear to be decidedly Jewish; and many of them so peculiarly so, that it would seem almost impossible, or at all events, exceedingly improbable, that two people in a state of nature should have hit upon them, and practice them exactly alike."  North American Indians p. 464 by George Catlin