Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Turkish Connection to American Indians   
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems

There may be more of a connection between Turks and American Indians than I laid out in the first page of this site..!


Native American Genes Suggest Turkish Ancestry

Navajo and Apache DNA matched those of Tuvans

A leading Russian geneticist claims he has taken a giant step toward identifying the precise origin of native Americans, based on his genetic studies of the Tuvan Turkish people in Siberia. Ilya Zakharov, deputy director of Moscow's Vavlov Institute Of General Genetics, says an expedition he led last year proved a DNA link between American Indians and the Ak-Dovurak region 2,100 miles southeast of Moscow. Tuva today is one of Russia's poorest and most mysterious regions, with ancient cultural traditions that include shamanism. The area, bridging Siberia's huge Taiga Forest and the steppes. or plains, lies north of Mongolia. The Tuvans are mainly Turkic-speaking nomadic pastoralists who herd camels, yaks, sheep, goats, and reindeer. Tuva formed part of the Chinese empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Zakharov says his team was able to greatly narrow the focus with hair samples taken from about 430 Tuvans. DNA data from the hair roots was analyzed and then compared with that of Eskimos and Amerindian people, including the Navajo and Apache. Amerindian DNA makeup exactly matched the Tuvans — by 72 percent of one group of 30 samples and 69 percent of another group of 300.

Ahmet Toprak
Turkish Radio Hour

As reported in the December 15, 1998 issue of The Turkish Times


CRAZY HORSE AND CUSTER is a 1967 film which either introduced the 1967 American television series, "Custer," or is a compilation of a couple of episodes from the series. I'd like to use this film to illustrate the analogy I set up in the first page of this site... that Turks are now where the Indians were, known at one time as bloodthirsty savages, until the real truth became universally accepted: the ones we thought of as the heroes of the conflict turned out ironically to be the ones who acted maliciously and underhandedly.

George Armstrong Custer (Wayne Maunder)

George Armstrong Custer (Wayne Maunder)

 This film has an identity crisis. We were still at a point in American history where Custer was regarded as a genuine American hero... but the cat was now somewhat out of the bag. Americans already were hearing too much about the truth of the conflict. Not that the Indians were historically always noble, either... or that the Americans were all such black hearted fiends. Custer, for example, was an American hero... brave but impulsive, he was "only following orders" as an important instrument of the U.S. government's policy of driving the Indians out of their lands to make way for the settlers... and he was known to ruthlessly slaughter Indian villages that had no chance against superior American military might and technology. (The general-turned-colonel was reportedly promoted for bravery, for example, in burning an Indian village of 90,000 dead Indians.)

The American soldiers in this film were definitely in the "good guys" role, and the Indians were still in the role of the villains. In just a few short years, the equation would be irreversibly revised (after the road was already paved with 1964's CHEYENNE AUTUMN) with hard-hitting and uncompromising films like SOLDIER BLUE (1970) and LITTLE BIG MAN (1971). In the latter film, not keen on accuracy either, Custer was made to look like a psychopath. The Custer character in CRAZY HORSE AND CUSTER, on the other hand, is still the blond-haired noble hero made popular by films like 1941's classic THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, and that American audiences still widely accepted. (Custer was actually a redhead.) Unfortunately for those who enjoy looking at matters in a black and white way, by 1967, Indians could no longer be treated as subhumans to be shot off horses like tin soldiers (although there was still some of that going on in this very film; a major Hollywood film of the same year which this TV series likely hoped to cash in on, CUSTER OF THE WEST, was also somewhat "anti-Indian"), the way John Wayne and Errol Flynn would manage to make scores of "red men" hit the dust with one shot. Already there were troubling scenes present, such as when a gunrunner offers double-barreled rifles to give Crazy Horse's tribe a fighting chance. However, the payment of buffalo hides just won't do. Crazy Horse protests: "What is it you want? Our land? Our women? What do we have left that the white man already hasn't taken from us?" Suddenly, it was becoming harder to cast the Indians in the comfortable and traditional "Darth Vader" role. (Incidentally, the gun-runner's answer was "gold," turning the Indians into thieves.)

Crazy Horse took the words out of the mouths of Turks


Crazy Horse (Michael Dante)

Crazy Horse (Michael Dante)

  Later in the film Custer and Crazy Horse reluctantly become allies as they elude an enemy tribe. It is a "philosophical" conversation they hold that puts the identity crisis of Custer's heroism before us. Custer declares the Americans do not wish to "enslave" the Indians; while it's true the Americans did not force the Indians to work the cotton fields before slavery was abolished (not for lack of trying; it was quickly discovered the Indians did not make very good slaves), what the Americans tried to do was wipe the Indians out, dishonorably breaking every single treaty in the process. This was in the name of "progress," which Custer uses as a justification... not bothering to add the progress of his people could only be achieved at the expense of another people's demise. In the film, Custer even admits he has no answer to the harsh truths Crazy Horse confronts the "yellow hair" with. Of course... what could he say? The truth always prevails.... the only thing Custer could do is try and cover up the truth, by going off in different directions.

You can listen to the discussion here.

After Crazy Horse says with a heavy heart that the whites have attempted to make his people over in their own image, he concludes with, "You really do not understand us." Crazy Horse sure took the words out of the mouths of Turks.

Like the Indians, who failed to persevere against the onslaught of European invaders (and whose "ancient homeland" no Californian Armenian is fighting to help the Indians recover, at least by giving up their own homes), the Europeans also tried to wipe the Turks off the face of the earth. It's said the unfairness of the Versailles Treaty sowed the seeds of Hitler's rise. As bad as the Versailles Treaty was, it didn't come anywhere close to the monstrousness of the Sevres Treaty... where the right of a people's self-determination was to be taken away, and whatever little space granted to the Turks would have amounted to the kind of reservations some Indians live in today. Fortunately, the genius of one man prevented this death sentence upon the Turkish nation.

Right now in the early twenty-first century, we are in a pre-1967 stage, regarding the matter of the Armenian Falsified Genocide. The Turks' side of the story is still not as clearly heard as the Indians' in CRAZY HORSE AND CUSTER... even though the Indians were still being treated as the villains, there were already surefire signs of what was really going on. The Turks are still the bloodthirsty savages in many lazy and prejudiced thinkers' eyes. The Armenians, like the Greeks, are much too fanatical and powerful to allow "pro-Turkish" (in this case, "pro-Turkish" is synonymous to "The Truth") views to slip past.... but even they cannot stop The Truth dead in its tracks, as The Truth is all-powerful, and ultimately and inevitably it shall prevail.

You can fool a person for a very long time and many people for a short time, but you cannot fool the whole world forever. In history, no one ever did.
Kufi Seydali

Now when The Truth does slip past, since they have no real facts to back up their own claims with, the powerful Turk-haters' main defense is "Turkish lies," "Turkish Denialism," "Turkish Revisionism," and "The Turkish government says..."; since we are still in a pre-1967 stage and just a little past the "John Wayne" stage, the Turks are still seen as bloodthirsty savages, and these defenses are still effective. Woe to those dishonorable or gullible parties.... all the non-Armenian professors in Armenians' clothing, the politicians, writers and "intellectuals" who sign Armenian proclamations: the day will come when your support will reveal you to be either bigots or ignorants (if not deliberate liars). Your integrity will suffer, just like Charles Lindbergh today has a heavy black stain on his otherwise impeccable and heroic reputation, thanks to his one-time support for the views of Nazis. Ultimately, we will all be judged on our integrity. If a human being does not have honor, what else can he or she be judged by?


The Melungeons

The subject of where the Melungeons came from is still a matter of debate. They may not even be "Indian" in the traditional sense (classified "as having indeterminate origin, or as a mixture of white, Indian, and Negro heritage" at first, recent evidence indicates the "first Melungeon claims to Portuguese [6] and Turkish ancestry has merit – only later did Melungeons mix with Indians, and perhaps some Negroes."), although in the picture below, they appear to be dressed like Native Americans of old. Regardless, many of the details below are just plain fascinating.


An excerpt from "The Melungeons: An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America," By Brent Kennedy, appearing in the Nov/Dec 1994 issue of Islamic Horizons magazine:


In 1586, English pirate, Sir Francis Drake, commanding thirty English ships, made a daring raid against his Spanish and Portuguese enemies on coast of Brazil. During this raid, Drake liberated some 400 Portuguese and Spanish held prisoners, including an estimated 300 Moorish and Turkish galley slaves Muslims captured in Mediterranean sea battles as well as several dozen South American Indians, a smaller number of West African Muslims, and a few Portuguese soldiers. Drake had planned to arm and release (the) Turks and Africans on Cuba, to serve as a stronghold against Spanish but heavy storms force him to continue up the coast of North Carolina. There on Roanoke Island he was sieged by stranded English settlers pleading for a ride home to England. The English colony of Ralph B Lane had enough of the New World and wanted to go home. To fulfill their wish, Drake had to make room for them on his already crowded ships. According to English records, only 100 Turks were taken back to England where they were ransomed to the Turkish Dominions," There's no further mention of the remaining 200 Moors, Turks, West Africans, Portuguese Soldiers or the South American Indians by Drake, and records show that Sir Walter Raleigh who visited the Island two weeks later found no trace of them. Where did they go? Research indicates that Drake left them behind, assuring that he or someone would be back for them. But that was no guarantee of safety from the pursuing Spanish of Portuguese. On Roanoke Island they were little more than sitting ducks. There is little doubt they made their way the short distance e to the mainland, probably utilizing the small boats left behind by the English, and then traveled steadily inland. Along the way too intermarried with Native Americans, mostly Powhatan, Pamunkey, Nansemond and Hatters. Within the next decade or so they encountered the remanent of the Santa Elena colony, many of whom shared their Muslim heritage. And there thousands of miles away from their homelands, these two surviving groups became on people. Christians, Jews and Muslims — literally the people of the book — living and worshipping the God of Abraham together. In 1654, the English explorers learned from southeastern Indians of a colony of bearded people wearing european clothing, living in cabins smelting silver and dropping to their knees to pray many times daily, wherever they might be. A people who did not speak English, but claimed to "Portyghee" In the mid 1600'so there were people living among the Powhatans and related tribes of eastern Virginia and North Carolina who were described as dark like Indians, but called "Portugals"

Well, that's enough of that. I figure the web site this was taken from scanned this article, and there were a good number of errors. Regardless, it's all very interesting. I had no idea Turkish sailors captured from battles would have been used as slaves by the Spanish and Portugese. (Why, that sort of thing seems like it would be against the Geneva Convention..!)

Map of Turks and Caicos Islands

Do Armenians send hate mail to the
Turks Islands?

Now I have a better idea as to how the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the Caribbean and as far removed from Turkey as can be, might have gotten its name. Evidently, these islands have a history of being a refuge for slaves. The original Indian inhabitants, who seem to have settled there for 600 years, were called the Lucayans. Ponce de Leon stopped by in what would be the capital, Grand Turk, in 1512, and eight years later all the Lucayans were "dead." Could it have been.... "genocide"?



More on the Melungeons

Excerpt from "A History of Turks in America":

But not all Ottomans came to the Americas willingly. Although some Ottoman seamen, soldiers and local townsmen captured during sea battles or sieges were returned to the Ottomans or exchanged for European captives, often times they were sold as galley slaves. Those who fell into slavery were used as labor on voyages to the Americas. Whether they returned to their native land in part depended on luck. For example, when Sir Francis Drake raided several of the Spanish holdings in America during 1585-1586, he liberated several hundred Turkish, Indian, and Negro prisoners and took them with him when he sailed north towards the English colony at Roanoke. It has been suggested that Drake took this assortment people with him to reinforce the colony, and he had promised the Turks he took with him freedom and repatriation to the Ottoman Empire [5]. However, while at Roanoke a furious storm sank several of his ships, and whether any of them were able to swim ashore is not known. But, when Drake returned to England, he did bring with him about 100 Turks and many of them did return to the Ottoman Empire. At this point it should be noted that anyone who was a subject of the Ottoman Sultan was referred to as a "Turk". Drake's Turks may have come from any part of the Ottoman Empire, and been of any ethnicity, such as Turkish, Arabic, Berber, Slavic, or Greek.

The Melungeons are a mixed-ethnic population located primarily in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and southern West Virginia. No one really knows when the Melungeons were first discovered, or even when they first came to America, but the first documented encounter of Melungeons by the Anglo-Saxon settlers from Europe was by Tennessee governor John Sevier in 1774. Although Melungeons themselves claimed they were of Portuguese or Turkish origin, for many years they were listed either as having indeterminate origin, or as a mixture of white, Indian, and Negro heritage. Because of their darker skin color, American census takers refused to categorize Melungeons as white, and instead recorded them as “free persons of color” or mulatto.

Melungeons and Turks also share a common mannerism: tossing the head back with a slight vocal clicking to indicate "No" (çik).

Regardless of how they arrived, traces of the descendants of Ottoman subjects who arrived in America during the 16th-18th centuries can still be seen today. For example, the "Turks" of Sumter County, South Carolina claim descent from Joseph Benenhaly (Yusuf Ben Ali), an Arab from Northern Africa (then part of the Ottoman Empire), who came to America circa 1780. And, recent research done in the 1990s has brought to light indications that some of the ancestors of the Melungeons may have been Turkish.


The Melungeons are a mixed-ethnic population located primarily in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee, and southern West Virginia. No one really knows when the Melungeons were first discovered, or even when they first came to America, but the first documented encounter of Melungeons by the Anglo-Saxon settlers from Europe was by Tennessee governor John Sevier in 1774. Although Melungeons themselves claimed they were of Portuguese or Turkish origin, for many years they were listed either as having indeterminate origin, or as a mixture of white, Indian, and Negro heritage. Because of their darker skin color, American census takers refused to categorize Melungeons as white, and instead recorded them as “free persons of color” or mulatto.

The use of the term “free persons of color” to categorize Melungeons had more consequences than issues of identity and origin: legally only whites were allowed to vote, attend public education, and own land — colored people were not. Thus, many Melungeon families had their lands taken away from them, and their children barred from attending "white" schools. Many also shared the fate of deported Indian tribes: many Melungeon families were forced to move to Oklahoma with the Cherokee Indians in 1834 during a forced relocation that has since come to be known as the "Trail of Tears." Although during the Civil War some Melungeons fought back by forming what came to be known as the "Melungeon Marauders," an armed band that exacted revenge on those who had taken their land, such actions only lead to even greater prejudices against them after the war. Such discriminatory practices continued into the 20th century, only diminishing with the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, which legally ended the United States’ skin-color based discriminatory practices.

To avoid being categorized incorrectly as “colored,” Melungeons avoided census takers and tried to conceal their true origins as much as possible. Parents would dress their children in long-sleeve clothes, even in the heat of summer, to prevent their skin from turning black. Photos and family records were burned and past mistreatment was denied to conceal Melungeon ancestry and avoid being look down upon by white Americans. As a result, the true number of Americans with Melungeon ancestry is unknown. Indeed, some Americans may not even be aware of their true roots, and believe themselves to be Anglo-Saxon.

Increasingly, however, Melungeons have been researching their roots, genealogy, and family history. The theory that had been advanced by the establishment for so long — the mixed white, Indian, and Negro heritage of Melungeons — is being shattered by the bulk of evidence that has come forth indicating that the very first Melungeon claims to Portuguese [6] and Turkish ancestry has merit – only later did Melungeons mix with Indians, and perhaps some Negroes.

Aside from the historical evidence that indicates that some Ottomans came to the Americas, there is also a significant amount of linguistic, cultural, medical, and genetic evidence that points to a Mediterranean and Ottoman connection to Melungeons. Examples of similar linguistic and cultural attributes are too numerous to list in its entirely here, but a few examples follow:

Allegheny, a mountain range in the eastern United States, may have come from "Allah genis", meaning "God's vastness";

Alabama, a southern state in the United States, may have come from "Allah bamya", meaning "God's graveyard";

Arkansas, a southern state in the United States, may have come from "Ar Kan Sah", meaning "where shamed blood lives";

Choctow, the name of an Indian tribe, may have come from "Çok Dal" meaning "many descendants";

Kentucky, a mid-west US state, may have come from "Kan Tok", meaning "filled with blood";

Niagara, a waterfall along the US-Canadian border, may have come from "Ne Yaygara" meaning "huge noise";

Pamunkey, the name of an Indian tribe, may have come from "Pamuk Iyi", meaning "Good Cotton,” a description that makes even more sense if you consider that the Pamunkey Indians lived in an area know for its cotton farms.

The word "melungeon" itself may have Turkish or Arabic origins. "Melun can" in Turkish and "melun jinn" in Arabic both mean "damned or cursed soul." Furthermore, some Melungeons have names which are clearly Anglicized versions of Turkish names or of places in Anatolia. For example, Danize (from Deniz), Vardeman (from Var Duman), Ollie (from Ali) and Adana (a city in southern Turkey). That many Melungeons have Anglican or Irish last names does not refute the Turkish connection: at that time Turks did not carry last names, and considering the discriminatory practices prevalent during those times, any Melungeon would want to appear as white or Anglican as possible by adopting English or Western European last names. Finally, Melungeons and Turks also share a common mannerism: tossing the head back with a slight vocal clicking to indicate "No" (çik).

Additionally, Turks and Melungeons share other cultural similarities: Typical Melungeon meals are similar to old Ottoman meals; Melungeon quilts include tulip designs which were common in Ottoman kilims and carpets; patterns of Cherokee quilt designs were similar to those Ottomans incorporated in the wooden lids of backgammon boards; Turkish folk dances share similar steps to Melungeon dances; the garb of Cherokee Chief Sequoya is similar to that worn by 16th century Ottoman seamen, and included the wear of a turban; and the Creek Indians actually wore a fez, a type of headgear that was characteristic of the Ottomans during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Medical, genetic and physiological similarities also exist. Melungeons have come down with sarcoidosis, Behçet's Syndrome and Machado-Joseph Disease, which are also common to peoples of the Mediterranean Sea region. Melungeons also sport a bump on the back of the head that is common to peoples from Central Asia, and have drooping eye folds that are also common to Asians. Finally, a 1990 gene study [7] comparing the genes of Melungeons with those of other world populations show similarities between Melungeons and peoples in Spain, Portugal, North Africa, Cyprus, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon - countries of which many had been part of the Ottoman Empire - a result consistent with the Portuguese/Turkish ancestry theory of Melungeons.

We will probably never know for certain what happened specifically to the Ottomans who came to America in the 16th - 18th centuries. Perhaps some of them perished in the harshness of the American wilderness. But there are good indications that many of them in fact lived, and unable to return to their families in the Ottoman Empire, mixed with other similarly stranded or disadvantaged populations that came to America. Thus, the Melungeons include not just Spanish, Portuguese, Indians and Africans, but also Turks, Arabs, Berbers, Slavs, Greeks, and other ethnic groups from the Ottoman Empire. It is this mosaic which comprises the true ancestry of Melungeons [8].

Since the first public presentation of the possible Turkish ancestry of Melungeons in the early 1990s, research efforts have led to a new closeness and relationship between Melungeons and modern day Turks. The Melungeon Heritage Society has become a member organization of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. The University of Virginia at Wise and Dumlupinar Univeristy in Ankara have established faculty and student exchange programs. The towns of Wise, Virginia and Çesme, Turkey have become sister cities. The main street in Çesme has even been renamed to Wise, in honor the Melungeons [9]. Melungeons have visited Turkey as a group on several occasions [10], and these visits have been reciprocated by Turks visiting the Appalachian regions of America where Melungeons traditionally resided. After the devastating earthquake in 1999, some Melungeon families even offered to adopt Turkish children who were left without family or home by the earthquake [11]. Ties have even extended to economic relations, with Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia supporting an Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project [12], and moral support, with Melungeons being supportive to Turkish efforts with regards to the Armenian Question [13].

Thus, regardless of what is thought of theories concerning Melungeon ancestry, the ties of friendship between Melungeons and Turks is sure to prove valuable for all Turkish-Americans.


[6] A discussion of the history of the Portuguese aspect of Melungeon history will not be presented in this article, but for a more detailed presentation of the Portuguese and Spanish connection to the Melungeons, see Kennedy, "Melungeons", pp. 108-119.

[7] James L. Guthrie, "Melungeons: Comparisons of Gene Distributions to Those of Worldwide Populations," Tennessee Anthropologist 15/1, Spring 1990 cited in Kennedy, "Melungeons," pp. 147.

[8] It should be noted that some Turkish journalists have referred to Melungeons as the "Melungeon Turks" (Meluncan Türkleri). In fact, such terminology is incorrect, as it implies that Melungeons are some kind of Turkish tribe, like the Kazaks or Kirgiz - which is not the case.

[9] Carol Morello. "Beneath Myth, Melungeons Find Roots of Oppression." Washington Post, May 30, 2000, pp. A10.

[10] "Melungeons Visit Turkey" Office of the Prime Minister, Directorate General of Press and Information, Newspot #5, 1997 and "Meluncan Türkleri Anitkabir'de" Superhaber Online, 12 June, 1998.

[11] "Meluncan Society Wants to Adopt Child Victims of Quake." Anadolu News Agency, 4 September, 1999.

[12] "This Historical Tragedy Hits Closer Than We Think." Bristol Herald Courier, March 27, 2001.

[13] "This Historical Tragedy Hits Closer Than We Think." Bristol Herald Courier, March 27, 2001 and "Soykirim Tartismasi Yine Gündemde." Özgür Politika, March 4, 2000.


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