I just received a copy of THE SCOTTISH BANNER, an international
newspaper. It's a wonderful publication, with news from Scotland,
cultural notes, and a Gaelic language column. (if anyone wants
info, I'll e-mail it)
Now here's the rub: In the back of this paper, they have whole
pages filled with "Clan" advertisements. As I understand it,
these "clans" are mostly for American, Canadian, and
Australian folk who descend from Scottish emigrants. These
"clans" accept members with certain surnames, including those
who belonging to "septs" or sub-families.
So what do they do with someone like me, who can trace their
lineage to at LEAST four clans? And what if my ancestors were
largely Scots who came to America during the early 19th
century clearances? My documentation consists of family names
- but little more. Our ancestry was largely expunged or
forgotten by the first arrivals in North America. So, while
I am quite confident that my ancestry is at least two-thirds
Scottish, I can't PROVE it. And am I a MacGregor, a MacDiarmid,
a Naesmyth, or a MacLean? And how does my Welsh ancestry
(family surname Corwyn) fit into all of this?
Let me be VERY clear that my interest is more academic than
practical. As I've said before, I'm quite happy to be an
American; I don't intend to run out and buy a kilt, or take up
the bagpipes any time soon. And, believe it or not, I haven't
seen "Rob Roy" OR "Braveheart." (We don't have a TV while
the kids are in school, and movie theatres are 50 miles away).
But I am curious as to the level of "proof" required before
someone is generally accepted as being of "Scottish" heritage.
My concern stems from experiences with Native Americans; I've
found an annoying number of non-Indians who want to join a
"tribe", based on some lineal descent from an undocumented
"Cherokee princess" or such. The rootless New Age crowd
has created or taken beliefs (often out of context) from both
Celtic and Indian religion and culture. As I hear it, Scotland
is being inundated with "Celtic wannabes" who think Mel Gibson
is just SO COOL. <grin>
I certainly don't want to end up in the "Celtic is trendy"
crowd. I'm seriously interested in my heritage, from both a
cultural and a historical perspective. If anyone here has
insights or suggestions, I'd like to hear them.
Scott Robert Ladd
[log in to unmask] 957 Empire Street
voice: +1 970 387 0271 P.O. Box 617
fax: +1 970 387 0277 Silverton, CO 81433 USA