After putting his DNA profile on Ancestry.com, Chris McDonald-Constable, of Clayton-le-Moors—a township in Hyndburn in Lancashire, England—discovered that his great-great grandfather had once been a chief of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community in Wisconsin.
According to a story posted on the Manchester Evening News website, he has been named a tribal elder and given the Native American name Waa Ban-Noodin, which means “the wind from the east.”
Willard LeRoy Ackley married a daughter of Chief Mee-gee-see sometime between 1853 and 1854, says a The Sokaogon Ojibwe: A Comprehensive Summary by Richard D. Ackley Jr.
Ackley adopted his wife’s son from her first marriage and he bore the name Ed Ackley. It was Willard LeRoy Ackley’s grandson, Willard L. Ackley, who became a chief of the Sokaogon Band. According to the summary, he was officially recognized in 1929 as chief.
“He met with John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs and was instrumental in establishing the current reservation starting with approximately 1700 acres in 1934,” states the summary. “Chief Ackley was asked by the U.S. government where he wanted to locate his reservation. After consulting with his Tribal Elders, a spot was selected adjacent to Mole Lake and including Rice Lake, Forest County Wisconsin.”
Because of his contributions, the Sokaogon Chippewa celebrate Chief Willard Ackley Day the Friday before Christmas every year.
According to the Evening News, Chief Ackley was McDonald-Constable’s first cousin twice removed.
This wasn’t McDonald-Constable’s only revelation, the 67-year-old discovered relatives in Palm Springs, California. The connection was made after he found old World War II photos of his father in a drawer that had belonged to his mother—she passed away in 1978.
Having not known his mother, McDonald-Constable sent the pictures to another Ancestry.com client who matched his DNA profile, Stuart Ackley.
“Unbelievably, Stuart and his family instantly identified their uncle, Mel McDonald,” reported the Manchester Evening News. “Mel was Chris’s father and the two are in fact cousins.”
His wife, Gillian, who bought the DNA profile for her husband as a gift was ecstatic. “I had to keep reading it again and again to understand what they were saying. Then I just burst into tears—it was the end of a long search for Chris,” she told the Manchester Evening News.
McDonald-Constable was stunned but is happy to have more family after losing both his parents—his father had died in WWII.
“I was shocked to put it mildly. The biggest thing was knowing that now I belong to somebody,” he told the Evening News.
“I was speechless when I found out. After living all my life not knowing who my father was, to find out like this was great,” he told the Lancashire Telegraph.
When Stuart visits his long lost cousin in England, he plans on bringing “bags of wild rice, which was a food staple of our Native American ancestors.”