January 08 2015

I've mentioned by now that my jewelry is influenced by Native American style, but I haven't explained that I have a personal connection to the culture as well. Growing up, people were always trying to guess my ethnicity (I was in the sun a lot, so my olive skin was fairly dark then). Coming from two completely Caucasian-looking parents – my dad has reddish hair – I was always delighted by their exotic assumptions. And then came the less exotic and significantly more boring truth..."Well, um, not exactly sure, it's pretty varied, but I think mostly Scottish and somewhere Scandinavian?"

BUT. I had one intriguing nugget to throw out at said guesser's disappointed reaction. "I'm related to a famous Comanche chief. On my mom's side." Boom. Although I knew this was one of those distant relation, everyone can claim they are somehow 1/16 Native American things, I was pretty proud of the fact.

So I'd had this little feather in my cap (purely coincidental metaphor) for my entire life, and walked around sincerely believing that my "foreign" looks were attributed this lineage. Then as I grew older and wiser, I became interested in my family history and started asking more questions about this mysterious Comanche chief. "Well..." said my mom, "I actually found out that we aren't technically related to him. Our blood relative was his Caucasion mother's sister." Fantasy shattered.

However, the story is still very interesting. The chief I've been speaking of is Quanah Parker, well known for being a fierce warrior and defender of Native American interests, who ultimately saw the dismal writing on the wall for their race and acted as a diplomat for peace relations with the US government. His mother, Cynthia Parker, was kidnapped at a young age by the Comanches, but grew up with them and became part of the tribe, even marrying the chief (who never took another wife as a testament to his affection for her.) When Quanah was still a young boy, Cynthia was recaptured by the Texas Rangers. Despite begging to be returned and making several escape attempts, she was detained and, brokenhearted, became ill from self-starvation and died. Pretty tragic stuff.

Although my relatives are the descendants of Cynthia Parker's sister, and technically have no Native American affiliation, I still feel a certain kinship to the story and Native American philosophies. Their spirituality and respect for nature is definitely inspiring. So as an homage to Cynthia Parker, I named the Nadua necklace after her given Comanche name, meaning "someone found." That's her in the top picture (nursing covers not yet invented).

desert collage / cynthia parker / necklace inspiration


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