Deeply Rooted

Deeply Rooted

There’s something about one’s heritage that runs deep.  Be it genetic memory, collective unconscious, morphic fields,  or some other forthcoming mechanism, I believe we encounter intangibles like values, interests and talents with innate responsivity that tends to override our conscious efforts.

When I was a child my family joked about our heritage, blended as it is, saying we were mutts or Heinz 57. Mostly, though, my ancestors were Scots, Irish and Cherokee. The more I learn about these roots, the more I see just how deeply I’m made of their ‘stuff.’

From the  Cherokee Preservation Foundation’s website, below are cultural values recorded by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee

  • Spirituality, which creates a bond among Cherokee people in good times and bad, and is a source of hope.
  • Group harmony in community and kin relationships, and freely sharing and giving time, talent and treasures.
  • Strong individual character, with integrity, honesty, perseverance, courage, respect, trust, honor and humility.
  • Strong connection with the land and commitment to stewardship of the homelands of the Cherokee.
  • Honoring the past by knowing one’s ancestors, identifying with and belonging to the tribe, and living and preserving Cherokee culture.
  • Educating the children by providing values-oriented education and recreation, and by being strong role models for them.
  • Possessing a sense of humor, which can lighten pressure in serious situations and help people make good decisions.

As far as I know, I am only 1/8th Cherokee–yet these are my values.  I have not officially joined the tribe (I hear my ancestry records were lost in the Oklahoma bombing), but I am learning more and will be incorporating some of this treasured awareness into the book I’m writing.

Irish interactions are marked by openness and easy flow, acceptance of affection, humor, literacy and verbal acuity. When a social error occurs the Irish tend to meet it with humor or sarcasm rather than harsh criticism.

Again, an apt description of yours truly. So much so, I’ve never quite understood people who are not this way. Its as though somewhere in my psyche I think this is the only way humans should be!

Scots also value wit and intelligence. The use of proverbs to convey deeply held values travelled across the pond intact in my family: “a word is enough to the wise,” “better bend, than break,” and “there is none without a fault,” to name a few.

Though many of the traditional Scottish proverbs have fallen out of my vocabulary in daily use, the values remain. Heed a word of direction from one who has been there, collaborate, cooperate, adapt, flex, recognize your own flaws and be realistic in your expectations of yourself and others.

Now, lest I begin to sound too full of myself, let me say that I have plenty of flaws, as do my kin. These negative traits tend to pass through generations and are likewise, in my view and experience, difficult to avoid by sheer will. These shall be reserved for another post, or two, or three!

Our roots go deep. Who we are is more than a product of our genetics and environment. When I speak or write from my heart, intangibles such as values, interests and talents convey what we might call soul or spirit. This life force is the essence of who we are. This is my conviction, though science may not yet be able to prove it or describe its mechanisms. I believe we do well to learn our ancestral heritage, to learn from its flaws and to celebrate and actively pass on its strengths. I believe we do well to share from our hearts when our hearts find a safe place. I believe we do well when we create places of safety for one another.

©Joan T Warren

. . . and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:17b-20, NIV

9 responses »

  1. Hi, firstly thank you for reblogging my “Native American” post. When I read this post yesterday I really wanted to comment, but then I had so much to say, I thought I should refrain, because once I get started,.. but funnily enough one of the things I did want to say to you was “you should look at my post about Native Americans”, so I’m very glad you found it. And a lot of things you mentioned in your post are mirrored in those commandments. As for nature/nurture well…. I’m adopted, so as regards any direct lineage I only know a little bit, (I’m part Irish also), but when I hear people mentioned how they are so much like their family, it is something that I haven’t experienced. But I am aware of something deeper, I am fortunate to have found the thing I love which is play guitar, but the fact that I am fascinated by blues culture and by north African culture does often make me wonder why, it’s more than just me liking it, there is a sense of belonging and at peace when I immerse myself in it. Many thanks again, your blog is very diverse and fascinating.


    • You’re quite welcome! Actually I ran across your blog while searching for Cherokee and Native American reads in WordPress, so it was that article that led me to your space. Looking a little more into its background last night, I see that Wikipedia attributes it to a company called Viesti Associates, saying they printed it in 1989. Searching Viesti online came up blank. Another site attributes it to a Cherokee named Jasper Saunkea
      So while I am unsure if this set of commandments is true or if it part of the propaganda that sells Native American ideas, nonetheless I agree with its message and your statement that it would be nice if we all followed the spirit of its message.
      I thought it a bit ironic that my Cherokee search led me to a Scot’s site! I know very little about Scotland, its people and culture. I want to learn more.
      Thank you also for bringing to my attention the dilemma you face if you do not know your heritage after being adopted. Do you ever think about trying to trace your birth parents? I can only imagine the mixed feelings one might have about that undertaking. Perhaps an addendum to my post should address this concern? What do you think?


  2. Are we products of nature or nurture? It is nice to see a nurturing person such as yourself talking about nature. My father and I have the same genetic disposition. We look the same, talk the same, have the same mannerisms and even have the same values and goals. I agree that we get a lot from our heritage. However, I also believe that nurture has a great deal in whom we are. Are we from a hugging and affectionate family? Do we learn from our mistakes? Do other people’s opinions and society help mold us? There is no end to the nature vs. nurture debate.


    • I’ve long taken a firm stand smack dab in the middle of that debate! An unabashed “yes” to an either-or-question. Nature and nurture have so much to do with who we are. . . and both go on not only concurrently but also infinitely. Nature and nurture are at work today, will be tommorrow, and have been even before we were conceived.

      What we do today to nurture ourselves and our loved ones makes a difference. What we don’t do makes a difference, too.


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