The Ancestors


“We need to haunt the house of history and listen anew to the ancestors' wisdom.”  ~ Maya Angelou

My friend Sal lives in the canyon where his ancestors have lived for a thousand years and where every hill holds one of their stories. My Norwegian cousins live on the same land where our ancestors lived almost 200 years ago. Even my uncle in Massachusetts remembers a time when his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all lived within a two block radius of his family home and he was welcomed, cared for and safe wherever he wandered around the neighborhood.

Many of my generation of cousins have never lived on or near ancestral ground; nor have we lived in locations that held ancestral history; nor did we grow up surrounded by family. Yet, ours is a common story. It is a story of dislocation and disconnection that began with our ancestor’s migrations from their homelands to North America and was intensified by the post war suburban migrations of the 1950s and 60s that led to the dissolution of neighborhoods filled with extended family. Ours is a legacy that has left us without opportunities to walk ancestral ground or sit by the family hearth and listen to stories of our ancestors passed to us by our elders.

Without access to ancestral places and the opportunities for listening to ancestral stories, we have come to adulthood without knowing all of the pieces of how we came to be who we are and where we fit in an ancestral narrative that stretches back to the dawning of humankind.

The purpose of this website is to act as a virtual family hearth; a place where we, as kinfolk can gather together all of the various threads of our family story. Beyond the facts of all of our lives – the dates and places – it is a story about the moments, memories, hopes, talents, quirks and dreams that made our ancestors who they were and make us who we are.

As kinfolk we are poised between the past and the future: the pieces we gather here will help form the story of where - and how - we belong  and so that we can pass this knowledge on to our descendants so that they will know where they came from.

Angelou, Maya. 1991. "I Dare to Hope." The New York Times, 25 August, E15.