Terrebonne resident digs for Native American roots
Coni Dubois poses at the site of a Manissean Indian village in Block Island, RI.
Eighteen years ago, Coni Allen Dubois’ father made a request that would become a life’s mission.
“He knew he was Native American, but back then it was a voodoo to talk about that kind of stuff,” said Dubois, who lives in Gray. “He asked me, ‘Please, find our Native American roots.’ ”
Allen’s father died in September, before she could finish her search. But his death spurred her to delve even deeper into her family’s history and discover a connection to Native American tribes in the northeastern United States. “It’s the first story of American history,” Dubois said.
Dubois said she’s traced more than 17,000 people through her family tree on both her mother and father’s sides. She traced her heritage back to the Algonquian Indians, including the Mohegan, Pequot and Narragansett tribes. She also discovered a connection to the Long Island Indians.
Dubois returned from a summer genealogy research trip this past week. She visited archaeology digs at sites connected to her ancestors, including the place that hosted King Philip’s War, a battle between Native Americans and settlers. She also viewed recently unearthed artifacts from the Pequot Massacre.
“To walk those lands that my ancestors did — I cry at every one of those sites,” Dubois said.
She visited the site of a Manissean Village in Block Island, R.I., where she was involved in a ceremony that dedicated a stone marking the site.
She also went to Barkhamsted Lighthouse in Connecticut, a village founded by James Chaugham, a Narragansett Indian and his wife, Molly, a white woman, and a new dig at a soapstone quarry where tools believed to date back 3,000 years were discovered, Dubois said.
She was shown those sites by archaeologists who admired her genealogy research, she said.
Dubois said she traced her Native American lineage to Kukkineau, or Cockenoe, an Algonquian Indian who was captured by the British in the 1600s. He helped John Eliot, an English missionary working among the Native Americans of Massecusetts, to translate the Bible into the Algonquian language.
Dubois said she got to see a copy of the Eliot Bible, the first complete Bible printed in the United States, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.
She was also invited by the Wiquapaug Pequot tribe to view and record some of their ritual dances.
Dubois said she is amazed every time she delves into her history and realizes that her family survived wars and disease.
“It took all of these generations to make me, but here I am today,” she said.
Dubois said Ancestory.com is the best place to start genealogy research because you can access thousands of records and other genealogists’ work through the site.
If you want to get serious about building a family tree, Dubois suggested buying Ancestory.com’s family tree software. She said it is the best she’s used.
The Terrebonne Parish Library has a subscription to Ancestory.com’s library edition, and you can use the site for free from any library computer or on your laptop through the library’s wireless connection.
For those with roots in Terrebonne and Lafourche, the library has civil and ecclesial records that you can use to track your family through time, said Judith Soniat, associate reference librarian for the Terrebonne Parish Main Library.
Soniat said about a half-dozen people can be found at the library doing research on any given day, and the library offers semi-regular classes on how to get started.
“It’s about the quest,” Soniat said. “For many people, it’s not just about who the ancestors are. It’s the fun of the search.”
Dubois said her quest is one she plans to continue. She’s heading to Long Island in October for another round of research.
“I’m not done, I’m just starting,” she said. “I’m learning the stories of my ancestors.”
Dubois details her research on her blog, conidubois.wordpress.com.
Staff Writer Nikki Buskey can be reached at 857-2205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Daily Comet 6/25/11 : http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20110725/ARTICLES/110729699/1212?p=3&tc=pg
Also in Houma Courier 6/25/11: http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20110725/ARTICLES/110729699/1211?Title=Terrebonne-resident-digs-for-Native-American-roots