There may be more of a connection
between Turks and American Indians than I laid out in the first page of this site..!
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.
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.
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.)
Horse took the words out of the mouths of Turks
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.
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
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 
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
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
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
Do Armenians send hate mail
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 . 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.
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
 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
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  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 .
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 .
Melungeons have visited Turkey as a group on several occasions , 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 . Ties have even extended to economic relations, with Senator Robert C.
Byrd of West Virginia supporting an Appalachian-Turkish Trade Project , and moral
support, with Melungeons being supportive to Turkish efforts with regards to the Armenian
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
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Carol Morello. "Beneath Myth, Melungeons Find Roots of Oppression."
Washington Post, May 30, 2000, pp. A10.
 "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.
 "Meluncan Society Wants to Adopt Child Victims of Quake." Anadolu News
Agency, 4 September, 1999.
 "This Historical Tragedy Hits Closer Than We Think." Bristol Herald
Courier, March 27, 2001.
 "This Historical Tragedy Hits Closer Than We Think." Bristol Herald
Courier, March 27, 2001 and "Soykirim Tartismasi Yine Gündemde." Özgür
Politika, March 4, 2000.