DNA Study Busts Myth that One Million Appalachians are of Turkish Descent

Harut Sassounian


For decades, Turkish pseudo-historians and propagandists have made bizarre claims about Turks being the ancestors of various ethnic groups around the world, including Native Americans, African-Americans, and the strangest of all — Melungeons — a little-known group of dark-skinned residents of Appalachia.

To counter Armenian political activities in Washington, the Turkish government regularly reaches out to anyone who could be co-opted with all-expense paid trips, special gifts, and other financial inducements, including funding studies and conferences on the alleged Turkish origin of Melungeons. Even though these one million Appalachians do not carry much political clout in Congress, Ankara is interested in claiming them to be of Turkish descent, hoping to strengthen its political and economic clout in the United States.

The Turkish initiative faced one ‘minor’ problem: there was no evidence that Melungeons were descendants of Turks. This issue was easily resolved when the Turkish government provided a “research grant” to a Melungeon named N. Brent Kennedy. In April 1995, he flew to Istanbul and wrote a book alleging that hundreds of captured Ottoman sailors were dumped on the shores of North Carolina by Sir Francis Drake in the 16th century!

Kennedy compiled a long list of “amazing” similarities between Turks and Melungeons, such as eating beef and mashed potatoes, the habit of hugging each other, Appalachian quilts having Ottoman designs, Anatolian folk dancers performing square dance, and Turkish music sounding like bluegrass! He discovered that the Turkish word “neyaygara” sounds like Niagara, “dilhah yer” is pronounced Delaware, “tenasuh” means Tennessee, “kan tok” is Kentucky, and “allah bamya” is Alabama!

Kennedy further stated that Turkish scholars have “long believed that a connection existed between themselves and eastern seaboard American Indians, based on both physical appearance and shared words and customs.” He gathered these “important facts” from Turkish “historians” during his meetings at Marmara University in Istanbul. “Several hundred Ottoman sailors could exert a powerful genetic, cultural, and linguistic influence on the sixteenth-century Native American Tribes into which they married,” Kennedy confidently concluded.

Appalachians, however, were infuriated by the distortion of Melungeons’ ethnic origin and exploitation of their history. Historian and award-winning journalist Tim Hashaw of Houston, Texas, sent a letter asking me to “investigate the tawdry connection between the ATAA (Assembly of Turkish American Associations) and the Melungeon Heritage Association.” Hashaw asserted that “Melungeons are an obscure tri-racial (white, black, and American Indian) community in Appalachia — Virginia and Tennessee. We are not now, nor have we ever been, Turkish. Yet, Melungeons are being wrongly exploited by Turkish associations to deny the Armenian Genocide and to support questionable Turkish agendas in Washington DC.”

Hashaw revealed in his letter that Turkey “sent gifts such as water fountains (cesme) to those who deny the Armenian Genocide. They have said in the press that they expect our support in Washington DC. I kept asking myself: why is the very influential Turkic World Research Foundation bothering to pay for airfare to send waves of humble Appalachian hill folk from the US to Turkey? We are not a large or affluent people. Why do the President and Prime Minister of Turkey give personal interviews to Melungeons from Appalachia when they visit? Why are the ATAA and the Istanbul Alumni group paying to send Melungeons to New York in order to honor them in recognition for their services to Turkey?”

Hashaw’s published works regarding the ethnic origins of the Melungeons were validated by a new DNA study published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy which disproved the “wild claims” that Melungeons are descendants of Turkish slaves. Instead, the research indicated that they were the offspring of “sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.” Shortly after release of this study, the red-faced leader of a Turkish-American group gave his followers the bad news: “Appalachia’s Melungeons are not Turks”!

Despite the incontestable DNA evidence, incorrigible Turkish propagandists may not be deterred by scientific studies. They will continue to claim that just about everyone on Planet Earth somehow originated from Turks! As Tim Hashaw mockingly wrote:

“Abraham Lincoln was a Turk! Elvis Presley was a Turk! American Indians are Turks! Obama’s mama was a Turk! Melungeons were born in the country of the Hatfields and McCoys. The blood feud is in our DNA. The Turks do not know yet, but they will regret bribing greedy ignorant people to deny the Armenian Genocide.”

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  1. Kevork said:

    To begin with, there is no such thing as “Turk” in the pure, or close to pure racial sense – that was lost centuries ago when the Turkish nomads assimilated all things Islamic including Arabs, Kurds and Iranians – and unfortunately non-Islamic as well who were forced into Islam before being assimilated such as the Armenians, Greeks, Albanians, etc. To claim that B is descended from A, it must be shown that A exists in the first place. In the case of the Turk, it simply does not.

    The Turkish public, despite having benefited from genocides, are perhaps the biggest dupes in the history of the world. What they grow up believing and what is true about themselves are polar opposites. Their genocidal ancestors made sure of this with their made-up history and make-believe culture which they stole from others. That’s why the average walking Turk today is a clueless ignoramus who actually believes what he was taught growing up by a fanatical, genocide perpetrating and hiding state. And when one of these brain-washed Turks starts promoting what they “learned” the end result is they make themselves out to be the laughing stock of the educated communities of the world – the denial of genocide is also intimately connected to this – although with the right amount of money, there are certain smut-peddlers and scholastic prostitutes (we all know who they are) who would aid and abet their genocide denial and delusions and make them, at the least, “presentable” to the outside world.

    As an example of Turkish lunacy, consider that in the early part of the Turkish Republic they opened graves to measure skulls to “prove” the “purity” of “great Turks” – among them the Armenian Mimar Sinan who gave the Ottoman Empire its architectural identity.

    Of course when a normal and honorable Turk comes along with scholarly integrity to bring Turkey out of the stone age, they are either jailed, killed, or exiled. When a Turk leaves Turkey, one of two things happen: 1. If the brainwashing was mild, they get liberated and join the modern world, or 2. If the brainwashing was severe, they continue their pitiful, hopeless, ignorant state of being.

  2. Albert said:

    The people of Appalachia are hard-working , good and honorable people and if i were Appalachian, I would also be insulted if the Turks tried to claim that they were my ancestors. The Turkish propagandists have also made claims that the Etruscans were originally from Turkey but I wrote a letter to the geneticist and complained to him about the inaccuracy of his claims and he agreed with me. I told him that the evidence is stronger that the Etruscans were actually either of Armenian or Greek origin and when the Armenians/Etruscans went to Italy, the Turk/Mongol savages were still living in Mongolia .The Turks only came to Anatolia in the 1200’s . One thing we can be sure of is that Satan is a Turk

  3. Albert said:

    The Etruscans went to Italy in the 8th century BC whereas the Turks came from Mongolia to Armenia and Anatolia during the 1200 and they raped our woman and unfortunately today’s Turks have Armenian and Greek genes.

  4. Arziv said:

    With that kind of logic, why should not they say that armenians are also descendandts of turks ?. Once the lie yearn is spinned and spun all kinds of permutations are admissible. The irony of the case is that the expenditure of energy in bolstering and sustaining fiction such as this is seemingly inexhaustible. Well now soon we may also hear about turks being the ” chosen race “. The only real fact is that these wild horsemen from the steppes of Asia conquered everything before their sweep up to the gates of Vienna. How was that possible ? How is it possible that turks have remained untouched and unsullied by their grossest crime of genocide ?

  5. George said:

    Very interesting, Ignorant people lack understanding Science and Logic, how EU is going to incorporate 70-80 million Turks is difficult to understand. GOOD LUCK, EU

  6. Alex Postallian said:

    melungeon-never heard of the word—never heard of n.brent kennedy,another turkee fairy tale,to cover up their despicable past.He probably went to istanbul sucked on the opium pipe with rest of his turk friends,and hallucinated.

  7. Karen said:

    Alex, how do you know what our past is ? I find you to be brazen thinking you know what my ancestors endured, you know nothing of any of us.

  8. Haykazun said:

    I have e-mail relations with Turkish children who sing Turkish songs.By looking their appearance you can tel that they are not Turqs.Only they belive they are Turks.When you are looking their antropological appearance’
    all of them are beautiful Armenian girls and boys.They are complitly ARMENOIDS.Karo Mavian

  9. Istanbulgibbs said:

    Only with Turkey do racists oppose racist but come out equally despicable. The Turkish government trying to use the Appalacchian Melungeons to deny the Armenian Genocide is bizarre and indicative of how deep their complex regarding the issue runs. It is, of course, to any thinking individual, not indicative of any unique fault or evil of being ‘Turkish’. That sort of attitude is what helps fuel the Turkish denial in the first place–it is proof that they ‘suffer’ from racism at the hands of the rest of the world. All of this is very primitive thinking–Turks are people too, with morons and geniuses, princes and cowards. And so are all their victims. And so are all the people they were victims of.