The Carmel Indians (pronounced Car'-mul) are a group of Melungeons who have lived in Highland County in Ohio. They are descendants and relatives of the Melungeons of Kentucky, also a group of mixed-race ancestry. Anthropologists described both groups as among the "little races" and as tri-racial isolates. The Carmel Indians migrated from Kentucky to Ohio during the 19th century.
The mixed-race Melungeons often called themselves American Indians, as did people outside the group, who tried to explain their physical characteristics. This was one way they could evade some of the racial barriers of antebellum and post-Civil War years. Outsiders called them Indians to explain aspects of the differences between their appearance and that of their mostly European neighbors. They found an adaptive way to evade some of the pressures that intensified in some areas after the Civil War of the binary division of society into black and white races.
As Paul Heinegg (1997) has delineated, the earliest ancestry of eight of the nine common names among the Melungeons in Magoffin County, Kentucky, go back to African Americans free in Virginia before the American Revolution. Most of the free African Americans were children of early unions between white women, indentured servant or free, and African men, indentured servant, free, or slave. Since the mothers were white, their children were free born. Through the years, there may have been some marriages of Native Americans into the group as they migrated to North Carolina, then into Kentucky and Ohio. One family name has been associated with the Saponi of North Carolina.
- Edgar T. Thompson, "The Little Races", American Anthropologist, 74, 5, 1295-13, Oct 1972, accessed 29 Jul 2008
- Springer, Craig, "The Saga of the Carmel Indians", Country Living, August 2006, 32-33 Archived March 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Heinegg, Paul, 1997-2005 Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia (3rd edition). Clearfield Company, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland. Also on the web at Paul Heinegg, http://www.freeafricanamericans.com
- John S. Kessler and Donald B. Ball, "North from the Mountains: The Carmel Melungeons of Ohio", Paper presented at Melungeon Third Union, May 2002, University of Virginia's College at Wise, Virginia Archived March 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Price, Edward Thomas, Jr. 1950 "The Mixed-blood Strain of Carmel, Ohio, and Magoffin County, Kentucky", Ohio Journal of Science 50(6):281-290.
- John S. Kessler and Donald B. Ball, North from the Mountains: A Folk History of the Carmel Melungeon Settlement, Highland County, Ohio, 2001