Growing up in Virginia, I occasionally heard stories about the Melungeons, a hard-scrabble group of settlers in the Appalachian mountains. The ancestors of this group are variously attributed to Portuguese explorers, Turkish sailors, Spanish pirates, etc. Other scholars suggest that the Melungeons resulted from European settlers intermarrying with local Native Americans and African slaves.
The name "Melungeon" has been variously attributed to the Turkish Melun can ("cursed soul"), the archaic English term malengin ("guile" or "deceit"), and the Italian name for eggplant, melongena, a reference to the darker skin of the Melungeons.
So, I was happy to uncover the documentary, Melungeon Voices. The DVD version is currently available and there are also occasional showings in the Appalachian region.
Anyway, check out the trailer for this interesting film:
It's great someone took the time to do a documentary on this mysterious group of people...the older generation is passing on and a lot of history is being lost.