Genealogy – James Warren “Flaming Eagle” Mooney
Proving Native American ancestry is not as simple as showing that you come from Germany or China. In the days of the Indian Holocaust, people went to great lengths to hide their heritage and ancestry. When the United States government had an extermination order out on Indians with as much as a $200 reward for their head, the Indians would naturally try to hide their race. People would even go so far as to lie about their race on birth certificates. However, by observing where a person was born, listening to the stories of the ancestors and researching through public records, a clear picture will emerge.
The important thing to note in James Mooney’s genealogy is that his Seminole tribal Chief, Chief Little Dove, sought him out. She hired Pat Smith, the most noted volunteer genealogist of Eastern Indian Tribes to search out James’ genealogy to determine his bloodlines. When Chief Little Dove realized who James’ grandparents were, she knew she had found the person she was looking for. Chief Little Dove was seeking James because she was trying to get her Indian tribe recognized by the Federal Government. She was seeking out people who had Seminole blood from their reservation in Florida. Chief Little Dove told James that he had ½ to 3/4 Native American blood flowing through his veins. The “exact” quantum of his blood cannot be proven through genealogical records, nor can it be disapproved. The important element here is that his tribal chief said it was so.
James Warren Mooney was born in Grass Valley, California on January 3, 1944. His mother was Ruth Aleta Bennett and his father Rex Warren Mooney.
Rex Mooney was born in Washburn, Missouri in 1921, the son of James Henry. Mooney and Mary Ella Pease. James and Mary Mooney were both born in Indian Territory, Missouri and were known to have Southeastern Cherokee and Creek bloodlines. Mary Ella Pease Mooney’s father, James A. Pease was from Connecticut, and was Choctaw. Her mother, Janetta Catron was Cherokee. James H. Mooney’s father came from Galway, Ireland; however it is understood that Timothy was not his actual father. It was rumored and later substantiated that his father was the famed ethnologist, James Warren Mooney. His mother, Elizabeth Copinger, was from Indian Territory, and Chief Little Dove told James that she was a granddaughter of the great Seminole leader, Osceola, and was Creek.
James’ mother, Ruth Aleta Bennett, was born in Cassville, Missouri. Her father was Harve Edward Bennett and her mother was Bernice Carolyn Gravitt. Harve Bennett was born near Soldier, Kansas in 1901. His mother, Bernice Gravitt, was born in Creston, Iowa in 1904. Ruth taught James that she had Cherokee blood in her, although the exact lineage, at this particular time, cannot be determined.
Native American Research Director, Jimmy Parker AG Letter #1
By way of explanation, I have been doing Native American research since 1965. I have visited the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on several occasions, with the express purpose of identifying and searching the records kept of the Native American population by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I have also visited and investigated the availability of Native American records in several of the regional branches of the National Archives, including the ones in Atlanta, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, San Bruno, and Los Angeles. I have searched Native American Records in the Oklahoma Historical Society and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I have also done research on several reservations, including the Rosebud Sioux, Nez Perce, Cherokee, Northern Ute, and Navajo and have visited regional offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Phoenix, Portland and in Riverside, CA.
I am an Accredited Genealogist in 3 regions of the United States – New England, Eastern States, and Midwestern States – as well as in American Indian research. The Accreditation Program has until last year, been administered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is now administered by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (CAPGen), of which I am Chair.
I have received training in Native American records and research in Washington, D.C. and in Oklahoma City, as well as having taught at several national and local conferences on this subject.
I have written articles for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and other periodicals on the subject of Native American research and records and have authored chapters in two textbooks on the subject. I have also authored a web course on Native American research for KBYU-TV in Provo.
I cite all this, not as an ego-trip, but to give you background that may help you establish my credibility as an “expert witness”.
You should also know, that while I do not agree with the use of peyote, even in religious services, I have no problem stating facts relative to the records of the Native Americans.
Native American Research Director, Jimmy Parker AG Letter #2
To Whom it may concern:
In the study of Native American genealogy, it is necessary to rely upon many different types of records and traditions kept by several jurisdictions of records keepers.
If the Native Americans were a part of the tribal groups and associated with their respective reservations, much information about those individuals was recorded by official government agents. Most of those agents had no Native American blood, but were political appointees. Some had excellent knowledge of and rapport with the tribe to which they were assigned. Others were simply appointed to be Bureau of Indian Affairs agents with little or no knowledge and background. The result was that even the official Bureau of Indian Affairs records are uneven in their accuracy and completeness.
On the other hand, if Native Americans, particularly of part-blood descent, chose to intermingle with the Anglo population, they often tried to hide their Native American ethnicity. This was particularly true in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the government was trying to concentrate the Native American population onto reservations for the respective tribes. Native Americans were often listed in the federal censuses, for example, as white or mulatto, depending upon the darkness of their skin and the “degree of Indian blood”.
In summary, it is not uncommon for Native Americans to be listed in non-BIA records as white or mulatto.
Jimmy Parker, AG