Will you be at the 11th New England Regional Genealogical Conference in Springfield, Massachusetts come April? Sherry Gould will be. Sherry will co-present “Discovering Your Native American Roots in Northern New England” with Paul Bunnell. I spoke with Sherry recently about the conference, Native American research, and, of course, the pursuit of ancestors.
Dedication to Community
Sherry’s passion for sharing her skills, knowledge and resources with others was apparent throughout our conversation. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Wijokadoak Inc, an agency that focuses on Abenaki language instruction, child welfare, and other Native issues in New Hampshire. Sherry and her husband Bill are Abenaki basket makers. Together they run Western Abenaki Baskets, creating and selling traditional Abenaki fancy and utilitarian baskets. Adding to this busy schedule are the Native American genealogy research programs Sherry conducts throughout New Hampshire. She also invites family historians interested in pursuing their Native American roots to weekly workshops and instruction in her home.
Sherry has a varied expertise in genealogy. Besides her focus on Native American genealogy, she is a genealogist for the New Hampshire Society of Colonial Dames verifying early colonial families and lineages. She has also written more than a dozen articles for the New England Genealogical and Historical Society on New Hampshire research. These articles can be found on the Society’s website at www.americanancestors.org.
I asked Sherry about the differences and similarities between colonial and Native ancestral research. She replied that while there are many similarities in records research between the two cultures, the methodology involved in Native American research can be unique. She stresses the involvement of oral history in tracking down Northern New England Native ancestries. Because of the history between the indigenous peoples of New England and the European colonists and the associated traumas, written records for colonial era Native Americans are not always clear in matters of race. Alternative sources can sometimes best answer Native research questions. What sorts of alternative sources may be answered during her conference presentation!
Sherry’s advice for family historians searching for Native American ancestors? Don’t get discouraged! Expect twists and turns in following the paths of your ancestors. Be creative when considering alternative sources for traditional records. Be persistent, be tenacious, be thick-skinned, and, especially, keep looking.
8lsanten ak8oi (Make Peace),