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SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Archives & Manuscripts > Family/Local History > 11152
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Chronicling America

Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11152

Title: Elaine Jetty Matlow

Dates: ca. 2012-2013

Collection Number: 11152

Quantity: .5 foot

Abstract: Digital copies of manuscripts, research, genealogical material, personal papers and photographs. The manuscript “Collection of Memories” (2007) is about the Leonard Peltier case. “Gift of History: A Winter Solstice” (2012) tells of Elaine’s family history, and includes the following sections: Jetty family genealogy, Anjou (France) ancestry, Petition of 1878 Debois Plan, Pilon Sessional Papers 1886, King Moore family genealogy, Grandpa Joe Flying Bye, St. Clair and Sinclair family genealogy, and Matlow family genealogy.

The final manuscript, “The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman” (2013), is the story of Elaine’s mother Irene Moore Jetty Gonder. The manuscript details Irene’s Native American Indian, Jewish, and African roots, and her ancestor Isaiah Dorman. Dorman was an African American man who was born free in Philadelphia in 1832, and died fighting with the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.

Because Irene’s grandchildren were denied enrollment with the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, Elaine Matlow decided to have her DNA tested. Documents in this collection document Elaine’s determination to learn about her ancestry, experiences during the process, and research and reflections on her findings.

Provenance: The records were donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Elaine Jetty Matlow on March 8, 2013.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.   

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

“Elaine Matlow: DNA Spectrum Hung the Moon,” Zoey Mapp, DNA Spectrum Highlights, 3 April 2013

Elaine Jetty Matlow, an enrolled tribal member at Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation, has a remarkable story. She uncovered a curious family secret when she had DNA Spectrum analyze her DNA. Jewish DNA. According to Don Yates, Head of Research for DNA Spectrum, she thinks “DNA Spectrum hung the moon.”  Matlow and I have been emailing back and forth, and she sent us a great deal of material to peruse. She is a Native American author of these works: A Gift of History: A Winter Solstice (her family genealogy), and two shorter works: “Collection of Memories” concerning the Leonard Peltier case, and “The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman” which reveals the secret…

Me [Zoey Mapp]: When did you first get interested in DNA and why? Was it the next step from genealogy research for you?

Matlow: As an enrolled tribal member at Spirit Lake Sioux Reservation, my children were not enrolled due to not having enough so-called “federally recognized Indian blood quantum”. I decided to have my children’s DNA tests done to prove Native American Indian ancestry for tribal records.

Me: How did you find out about DNA Spectrum?

Matlow: Google search engine.

Me: What made you choose DNA Spectrum?

Matlow: Dr. Yates is associated with DNA Spectrum. “Jews, Indians and Descendant Organizations” shows that Dr. Yates has a full understanding of the issues confronted by Jews, Indians and their descendants. Dr. Yates is a remarkable person. I have much respect for him.

Me: What DNA tests have you ordered?

Matlow: Comprehensive & Full Spectrum

Me: What was the first DNA test you decided to order?

Matlow: Comprehensive

Me: Did you have any surprises?

Matlow: Yes, Jewish DNA genetic markers.

Me: What kind of DNA testing would you like to see become available in the future?

Matlow: “18 Marker Ethnic Panel” or a similar report.

Me: What did you take away from this experience?

Matlow: Knowledge and confirmation of ancestry.

Me: Would you recommend DNA tests from DNA Spectrum and why?

Matlow: I have recommended DNA Spectrum because this company offers clear and concise interpretation of DNA testing. Affordable compared with other companies. Overall, I am very happy with the results and I have recommended your company to people interested in DNA testing.

Me: Do you have anything you would like to add?

Matlow: The Full Spectrum DNA tests provided “the map” to understanding the Jewish migrations, slave owners, plantations and Jewish surnames leading to the historic figure, Isaiah Dorman.

I am very appreciative for the reports provided by DNA Spectrum. These test results have found their way into Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Minnesota state historical society archives for historians and researchers to examine. Thanks again for providing information that cannot be found elsewhere!

Me: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your personal story with everyone!
After my correspondence with Matlow, I went back and reread her family history again. It is a colorful family history and an enjoyable read, but I especially wanted to read the part about the family secret! In her work “The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman,” Elaine Jetty Matlow describes how her grandfather, Isaiah Dorman, was an African who had Jewish ancestry and married a Sioux woman:

Throughout this time Irene’s grandchildren were denied enrollment with the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe. [Irene is Elaine’s mother]. The reason being is that one of the grandmothers on John Jetty’s side of the family, Julia Dubois Jetty was of Canadian Cree Indian descent, which is not a U. S. federally recognized tribe. In time, this decision prompted a daughter, Elaine, to have DNA testing done on herself and her children. The DNA test results were perplexing, which in turn prompted Elaine to have Irene’s DNA tested. Irene’s autosomal DNA genetic markers showed that Irene had both Native American Indian and Jewish DNA genetic markers from both her parents, Mary King Moore and Samuel Moore.

From whom did Mary King Moore inherit Jewish DNA markers? The test results prompted more genealogy research. Mary King is a direct lineal descendent of Isaiah Dorman, the only Black-African man to die at the “Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876” [“Fluent in Sioux ... he befriended Sitting Bull” and was freed by Congress, Matlow told Yates because he was a help to General Custer]. Isaiah Dorman could have been a Black-Jewish man. [His wife was Sioux]. “Dorman” is a Jewish surname and he was born a free man in 1832. His mother could have been manumitted along with her children if the children were born from their owner/master. Historically, some Jewish people were ship owners, plantation owners and slave owners.

Upon realizing this, Irene, age 84, living in a nursing home at Bremerton, Washington, would have her granddaughter, Maria, read and re-read her favorite story of her great-great grandfather, Isaiah Dorman at the “Battle of the Little Bighorn, 1876”. Irene would comment, “So, that was the secret that her three grandmothers would hush about, it was the secret of Isaiah Dorman, please, re-read that story to me again.” Irene left this world satisfied; knowing the “secret” that had been kept from her all her life. She was very proud to have come from Isaiah Dorman and wanted all her children to know about him.

But how could Matlow have Jewish DNA if she was Native American with a black grandfather? Evidently from Isaiah Dorman. According to Yates, African Americans have roughly about “30% European DNA.” Moreover, Isaiah is a common Hebrew name. Unlike today, names once were more often an indication of one’s cultural ties and were passed down in the family. They were clues left on a trail to finding one’s ancestors.

According to Donald Yates, Head of Research for DNA Spectrum, this was the secret Elaine Matlow had been looking for her entire life, and she not only discovered the secret just before her mother died, she was able to convey this to her. What a gift. First, she did a Google search and read Yates’ work, ‘Dying Campfires,’ which he presented at the Diversity Conference in Vancouver, Canada about being both Jewish and Native American. Then she ordered six DNA tests from DNA Spectrum and discovered her own family secret. This was the finishing touch to her colorful, family history. This is why, according to Yates, she thinks DNA Spectrum “hung the moon.”


Box 1:
1 Disc with files, 2013
2 “Collection of Memories: Dakota, 1795-2007,” 2007 “Gift of History,” December 21, 2012
3 Part A
4 Part Ia Jetty Family Genealogy
5 Part Ib Anjou France Ancestry
6 Part Ic Petition of 1878 Debois Plan
7 Part Id Pilon Sessional Papers 1886
8 Part IIa King Moore Family Genealogy
9 Part IIb Grandpa Joe Flying Bye

Box 2:
1 Part III St. Clair, Sinclair Family Genealogy (updated December 31, 2012)
2 Part IV Matlow Family Genealogy
3 Part Va-g (certificates, ethnicity documentation) “The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman”
4 1870 Abercrombie photograph
5 “The Story of Isaiah Dorman, Killed at the Little Big Horn,” Robert J. Ege, Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 16, No.1, January 1966
6 Photographs
7 Probate letter, 2013
8 “The Secret History of Isaiah Dorman,” 2013

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