Our ‘unbelievable’ royal, Abenaki indian ancestry

I learn that a legend is the truth: Our ‘unbelievable’ royal, Abenaki First Nation ancestry.


Although I’m no longer a spring chicken, I still vividly remember sitting squeezed in the back of our family car as a little kid with my three sisters.
We would get impatient that the drive was taking so long, and asked the typical questions heard from kids.


“Daddy, are we there yet?”

“Daddy, what’s that fer?”

“Cat fer, what do think of that?”

“Daddy, why’s a palm tree called a palm tree?”

“‘Cause you can put your palm around it.”

“Daddy, why’s a traffic light called a traffic light?”

“‘Cause there’s a little elf with a candle running up and down behind the colored glass, and it’s called a traffic light because there’s so much traffic in there.”


Needless to say, we learned over time that Dad’s stories were not to be believed – they even got us in trouble at school when reciting them as though we knew what we were talking about.

One story we heard more than once was that we were descended from an “Indian Princess.” I took this story the same as I had learned to do with all the others – with a huge grain of salt.

First French-Native American marriage

Recently, however, I’ve come to learn that for once, he was telling the absolute truth – and that truth is even more astounding than he knew.

A few days ago, I decided to tackle some brick walls in my father’s family tree and broke through a couple.

Olivier le Tardif; PlaqueThe result was that I learned we are indeed descended from an Abenaki Chief and his daughter, Marie Olivier Sylvestre Pigarouich, the “Indian Princess.”

She had been ‘adopted’ by her father’s friend Olivier le Tardif, and subsequently married another French man, Martin Prévost. This was the first recorded marriage of a Native American to a European settler.


The Abenaki (AbnakiAbinakiAlnôbak) are a Native American tribe and First Nation. They are one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples of northeastern North America. The Abenaki live in Quebec and the Maritimes of Canada and in the New England region of the United States, a region called Wabanahkik (“Dawn Land”) in the Eastern Algonquian languages. The Abenaki are one of the five members of the Wabanaki Confederacy. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abenaki)


The bonus discovery was that we are also directly descended from him through the Chief’s son Étienne Pigarouich.

This double descendancy occurred when my grandfather Henri Turmaine married Rose Amande Emery uniting both Marie (Henri) and Étienne’s (Rose) branches.


I have learned a valuable lesson.
Sometimes, those legends and fairy tales we hear may actually be rooted in truth.


Our Marie Olivier Sylvestre Pigarouich descendancy.


The following is my relationship chart to my 9th great grandfather, Abenaki Chief Roch Abenaki Manitouabeouich through his daughter (the Indian Princess) Marie Olivier Sylvestre Pigarouich, my 8th great grandmother.



Our Étienne Pigarouich descendancy.


The following is my relationship chart to my 9th great grandfather through his son Étienne Pigarouich, my 8th great grandfather.