Shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, the Melungeons of Southwest Virginia, and East Tennessee, have oral traditions claiming Portuguese ancestry, though academicians have traditionally written them off as a 'tri-racial isolate.' Living deep in the Appalachians, some claim these people were here as early as the late 1500s, and might be descendants of Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish soldiers and sailors who intermixed with Native Americans. Others lambaste this theory as simply “a cover story for African heritage.” In this film we follow Dr. Brent Kennedy’s search for his ancestor’s true ethnicity, and see how his theories set off a firestorm of controversy. Part genealogy, part genetics, part geography, the story of the Melungeons is ultimately a story of how divergent cultures banded together to survive in the earliest days of America.
a documentary film by Julie Williams Dixon and Warren Gentry