But consider this--many of our families or their friends may have had an Indian "adoption," often a kidnapping of a colonial American child who might be returned or rescued years later. In the meantime, the child learned Native American language and customs, which could be integrated into the family history later. So the great great grandma or great great uncle may have been temporarily Indian, learning language and customs that the family would learn later. Even if it wasn't a direct ancestor who had this experience, it may have or been a neighbor or friend, and still have had an impact on the family.
One example of an adoption occured in the Schell family of Herkimer County, New York. Young twins Henry and Marks Christian Schell were kidnapped by Native Americans during American and British hostilities in 1782 at age 11.They learned the native language of their captors, and learned their customs. They later came under the care of a British captain, and years later they were returned to their family in Herkimer. The twins remained friendly with Native Americans for the rest of their lives, and surely shared with their own families stories of their years with the adoptive Native American families.
Just a few examples of colonists who were kidnapped and then returned (or chose not to return) to their families:
Mary Jemison (see an online story at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5794/)
Esther Williams (see the wiki bio at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunice_Kanenstenhawi_Williams
The Shell/Schell twins (see the short bio written by a descendant of one twin at http://herkimer.nygenweb.net/regiments/shellmonument.html)
This post was commented on by IndianCountry And was posted at SNI Talks ( a blog devoted to the Seneca Nation):
Additional information on the captivity experience (addendum Aug 25, 2011): In his own words and quaint spelling, Moses Van Campen, who was taken captive by Native Americans during the Revolutionary war, said that “I was nurtured in the school of the rifle and the tomahawk.” Van Campen lived from 1757 to 1849. He was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, but grew up in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. As he grew up he spent a good deal of time with Native Americans, as was natural in that place and time. However, his family was attacked by Native Americans in 1780. He was taken prisoner, but escaped within a week that first time. He is taken prisoner a second time by Seneca Indians in 1782 at Bald Eagle Creek in Pennsylvania. After running the gauntlet, he was treated very well, and when he returned to his own community, he did not forget the Native American ways that he had learned as a child and as a captive. He remained friends with the Native Americans, and integrated their ways into his own life knowledge and experience.
Image source: nines.org