A Joint Statement from the Vardy Community Historical Society (VCHS) and the Melungeon Heritage Association (MHA )
We the members of VCHS, in conjunction with the members of MHA, jointly issue the following statement of principles:
(1). That we have and will continue to work both independently and together to preserve the heritage, culture and artifacts of the Melungeon and Melungeon-related populations and their descendants.
(2). That we recognize the likely kinship of many of these populations that have spread throughout the Southeast and their likely shared origins at some point in the past.
(3) That we do not condone nor subscribe to any theory or position that separates any group of human beings from any other group. The Melungeons and indeed, all related populations should not be viewed as “little races” or “singular species,” but instead as what they are: human beings with cultural, genetic, and spiritual connections to one another. We believe establishing this broader kinship does not dilute our uniqueness as human beings, but enhances it as we seek to be a model for better racial and ethnic relations.
(4) We recognize and respect that each individual population, and indeed, each family, will possess its own unique heritage and family traditions, and that no two “Melungeon” families are exactly the same. A tolerance for these differences – and the oral traditions that accompany them – should not only be present but encouraged.
(5) We strongly discourage any efforts or activities that attempt to exclude others from the discovery and celebration of their heritage. The Melungeons as a people do not “belong” to anyone or any specific organization, group of families, e-mail lists, or websites. There is no “litmus” test, genetics test, or genealogical “test” that serves as an entrance ticket to being a “Melungeon.” All that we can say with certainty is that some of our early pioneer ancestors and relatives were labeled “Melungeons” by their neighbors and others. However, and importantly, we know with equal certainty that many of their brothers and sisters migrated elsewhere and avoided the stigma of being known as a Melungeon. Therefore, common sense tells us that we have cousins living all over this nation, some of whom know of their “Melungeon” heritage and many of whom probably do not.
(6) We strongly encourage all those with Melungeon heritage and all those who find the Melungeon story inspirational to join with us in celebrating our proud heritage and in working to bring people together. There is a great need in this strife torn world for increased understanding and
harmony, certainly between nations but also between races, ethnic groups,cultures, and most certainly between those who call themselves Melungeon.
R. C. Mullins, President, VCHS
Wayne Winkler, President, MHA