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review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

One Giant Leap for Kennewick Man

Monday, August 25, 2014

The most important human skeleton found in North America has finally been given a reprieve from legal obstacles to be studied and the resulting information published. In an article by Douglas Preston in Smithsonian Magazine titled "The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets," the amazing story of the 9,000 year-old skeleton—and the enormous lengths to which the government and tribal protesters went to block it—is told for the first time.

And what a story it is, whether you consider the astounding new evidence it provides for a completely new version of the peopling of the Americas or the shocking tale of government and Native American obstruction. In both narratives, Douglas Owsley a physical anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, is the hero. He became the key plaintiff in a decades-long legal battle that cost taxpayers "at a bare minimum . . . $5 million." And he is the lead editor in the long-awaited scientific monograph from Texas A&M University Press appearing next month, Kennewick Man:  The Scientific Investigation of an Ancient American Skeleton.

Kennewick Man appears to have resembled an Ainu or Mauri fisherman, stocky, bearded, light-skinned, belonging to an ancient sea-faring race from Southeast Asia that first colonized the Americas about 15,000 year ago. His story, replete with details on how he lived and died, turns the traditional account of American prehistory on its ear. The people we call Native Americans did not come until later, much later. "An ancient population of seafarers ... were America's original settlers," writes Preston.

Tooth and Nail

This is not an absolute get-out-of-jail-free card for Kennewick Man, however. The defenders in the suit have fought and continue to fight letting the scientists study the skeleton's teeth and DNA. And Native American tribes like the Umatilla still cling to their "deeply held religious beliefs," which would demand that the skeleton be reburied in a secret location according to the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act and completely lost to science. 

No one will ever know the exact circumstances of Kennewick Man's burial 9,000 years ago in what is now southeast Washington State because the government finessed this issue several years ago. When the scientists asked for permission to examine the site where Kennewick Man was found, even as Congress was readying a bill that would require the site's preservation, the Corps of Army Engineers dumped "a million pounds of rock and fill over the area for erosion control, ending any chance of research." 

The government was found to have engaged in many other acts of blatant bad faith. A judge in 2004, John Jelderks, awarded attorney's fees of $2,379,000 to [Owsley's lawyer Alan] Schneider and his team."

The keepers of Kennewick Man still refuse to let the scientists analyze the spearpoint that was buried in the skeleton's hip.

Perhaps if scientists declared that a search for truth was part of their "deeply held religious beliefs" they might make better headway . . . . 

If you like ancient seafaring people in the Americas, you might enjoy the following titles:


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Destination Europe

Monday, August 18, 2014

European Populations in the DNA Fingerprint Ancestry Test

In the days before standardization of railway gauges, passengers were sometimes obliged to get out of the railcar when the tracks reached a border and climb aboard a waiting train on the next set of rails, which were broader or narrower in design.

An analogy is being able to fly to certain destinations only with a connecting flight. Unfortunately, because the U.S. and Europe follow different standards for reporting DNA profiles, the same situation applies in ancestry testing.

All DNA Consultants' results are based on published studies. The two main forensic conventions are those of the FBI (CoDIS) and Europe (ENFSI). The two standards are as different as electricity at 120 volts (U.S.) and 220 (Europe).  No one converter will plug in at your hotel room in Boston and Brussels.

When we have data that conforms exclusively to one standard or another, we cannot make up the missing values or "fudge" comparisons. There are no direct flights from Phoenix to Rome.

Introduced in May of 2013, DNA Consultants' new method for giving customers matches to countries of Europe where they may have ancestry underwent some enhancements to overcome these problems as of August 15 of 2014.

All full DNA Fingerprint reports now specify European results in several different ways, while the $99 EURO report will only give one result (no. 3, ENFSI).



Possible Matches


Top 50 world populations out of 450 all together

9 Core CoDIS Markers

181 European populations, e.g. Russia - Pskov (n=62)


Top 20 extended EURO populations without other world populations

10 ENFSI standard markers derived from all published sources

71 populations, e.g., Romania - Dobruja (n = 569)


Top 10 core European countries belonging to European Union*

10 ENFSI standard markers actually reported by ENFSI

24 populations, e.g. England/Wales (n = 437)


Top 10 Megapopulations out of 22

9 Core CoDIS Markers

10 European megapopulations, e.g. Mediterranean European


Map of World Ancestry

9 Core CoDIS Markers

Intensity of green shows strength of match, as before


Certificate of Testing

Combined methods

Your ENFSI matches appear in right column, your megapops in left


Ancestry Certificate

Your Personalized Report

Any population, megapopulation or ethnic marker can be displayed

As for special certificates ordered after you get your report, the match you specify must appear in the top world, European or ethnic panel results in your personal ancestry analysis. If it does, it will be reproduced exactly according to the nomenclature adopted from the original study, e.g. Italian, Filipino, Sub-Saharan African, East Asian. Customers may choose between American Indian or Native American, whichever they prefer. Only one population match per certificate! Available in hard copy exclusively.

(*) Note:  Nineteen of the European Union's 27 countries are included in official ENFSI data:




Czech Republic+










North Ireland











Those countries marked with a + are also included in our world data on a different basis (CoDIS).

Omitted from official ENFSI calculations either because they have not been sampled by ENFSI itself or are not in the European Union are:


















Almost all of these countries are covered in our world data (using the CoDIS standard). For instance, Greek - Northern (n = 318) or Lithuania - Vilnius (n=140).

Included with ENFSI populations are two countries that are not members of the European Union:



Between one dataset or another, a customer can find at least one match for any country on the modern map of Europe they might have exotic ancestry in, even Cyprus, Malta, Iceland and Turkey, which are often grouped with Europe. Bulgaria and Ukraine, for which no data at all are available, are estimated by neighboring populations across their borders.

Remember, multiple matches do not mean multiple ancestry! For instance, if you get 10 matches to Spanish/Portuguese, that does not necessarily mean you have 10 times the amount of that ancestry than if you received only one match.

The converse is also true. Many Americans are looking for confirmation of Irish ancestry, but there are only two sets of data for Ireland:  Ireland (n=300) and Northern Ireland (n=207). Setting aside neighboring populations like Scotland/Glasgow (n=494) and England/Wales (n=437), your Irishman or Irishwoman thus only gets two "lottery tickets" to enter in the Irish Sweepstakes. If Ireland or Northern Ireland comes up, its significance is not diminished by its sole appearance since there are only two possibilities available.

We wish you didn't have to carry an electrical adapter kit for European travel, but as stated above, we can't change the conventions any more than we can change the time zones. 


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The China Wire - Part Three

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rare Chinese Allele Found Among Southwestern U.S. Hispanics and North Mexican Indians

Like about 5 percent of North Americans, Francesca Serrano was adopted and never knew her birth parents. Wishing to find out her ancestry, she took our DNA Fingerprint Plus, an autosomal test based on an analysis of STR frequencies that can suggest overall ancestry matches to world populations. The caseworker who prepared her report was amazed at all the apparent Chinese ancestry mixed with Hispanic and Native American.

Photo:  A Chinese woman.

After delivering the report recently, we nervously interviewed Serrano, who works in an East Coast DNA diagnostic center. She explained that the results made perfect sense. She grew up in Colima, Mexico, and people often asked her, "Do you have any Asian going on in you?"

Taking a closer look at her 16-locus STR profile, we noticed several unusual alleles. We will focus on one of them in this report, a value of 9 at D16S539. Admittedly, this is only one tiny ray of light into the genomic inheritance of a person, but geneticists have proved the utility of examining single STRs like this.

Sioux Need Not Apply

A rather sensational article—if genetics literature can ever be considered crowd-inciting—appeared in 2007, when Kari Schroeder and her team at the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, showed that a value of 9 at D9S1120 cropped up in sample profiles of 35.4% of North and South American Indians as well as "West Beringians." This marker was later dubbed a "private allele" shared by the members of a small hunting party that crossed the Bering Land Bridge and spread through the Americas many, many moons ago (the "single entry" theory).

STRs mutate almost as slowly as mitochondrial DNA and can therefore be useful markers for deep ancestry (see our post, "Evolution and Ancestry:  DNA Mutation Rates," October 23, 2012). One must be careful, however, not to make too much of them. For instance, the Sioux and Jemez reported 0.0% frequency of the touted allele (see Schroeder et al., "Haplotypic Background of a Private Allele at High Frequency in the Americas," Mol. Biol. Evol. 26/5 [2009] 1003), but that doesn't make them any less Indian than the others. Try telling any Lakota Sioux he is less Indian than the others.

In Hispanic people in the American Southwest, our allele (which we will call for the sake of convenience "the Serrano allele") occurs in only 8% percent of the population. It is not even among the most common possible numbers on that location; a repeat of 11 occurs in 31%.



% =9

Southwestern Hispanics


California Hispanics


Arizona Hispanics








Huichol Indians Chiapas


El Salvador


Analysis and Conclusion
From these figures, we get a general picture of the Serrano allele running relatively high, though still a minority report, in Western Hispanics, Mexicans and Indians. It is highest in the Navajos (who are rumored to have migrated from Chinese Turkistan in historical times). It is about the same in Arizona Hispanics as Mexicans from Chihuahua. We have no data from Sonora or Sinaloa, unfortunately.

Although present at an average frequency of about 12% in American Indian populations, the Serrano allele reaches its highest level among the Salishan Indians of British Columbia, where it is 30%. In neighboring regions of Canada, indigenous people have only about 8% of it (Saskatchewan aboriginals). 

Everything comes from somewhere, and the Serrano allele in terms of human history is no exception. Its frequency is low or entirely absent in European populations and extremely high in East Asian, where it is highest among the Atayal tribe of Taiwanese aborigines (52%). It is also elevated among the Evenks (one of Russia's native peoples), the Japanese, Pacific Islanders and Koreans. It is about the same level in Central, North, Chaozhou, Sichuan, Cantonese and Singapore Chinese populations, about 25%.

Like all alleles it is found in Africa, the ultimate source of all present-day humans, in modest amounts, but in even scarcer quantities in all the populations between there and North Asia. It enjoyed an enormous expansion in China.

It averages only 2.4% in all Native Americans, showing it is an extremely rare allele for American Indians to have overall. 

Serrano's No. 1 match on the basis of her entire profile (13 loci) is Chinese Hui - Ningxia. In this homeland of the Tangut people which once formed part of the Xia Xian Empire, the value of 9 on this marker is modal, with a frequency of 30%. 

What are we to make of a single allele that is relatively rare in Native Americans, even rarer in European, Middle Eastern and other populations, but modal in some Chinese populations, with an apparent ancient center of diffusion in Taiwan? We conclude that it just may be a vestige of Asian DNA from China's ancient and medieval periods of history, not deep history tracing back to Siberia.

In our next post we will see if any confirmatory evidence comes from other avenues of investigation.


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The China Wire - Part Two

Friday, August 08, 2014

Buddhist Priests in Ancient Arizona

Monument on northeast boundary of the Ironwood National Forest in the Samaniego Hills.

By and large, the genetics literature on American Indians has been confined to small, scattered samples gleaned from modern groups. This morass of information is vast, growing, and inconclusive.

Attempting to present the "peopling of the Americas" from such a reductive approach is like playing a game of Solitaire with important cards missing.

One Brazilian geneticist completely despaired of any solution as long ago as 2002. Francisco Salzano wrote in an article titled "Molecular Variability in Amerindians:  Widespread but Uneven Information, that "the present trend of favoring essentially applied research suggests that the situation will not basically improve in the future" (Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, vol. 74, no. 2, p. 1).

It hasn't, of course. We shall not attempt here anything like a synthesis of the subject, although a later installment in this series will tackle the autosomal DNA story. Only alternative approaches such as alu insertions, human lymphocyte antigens and autosomal DNA can possibly cut the Gordian knot.

Turning from DNA to Actual History
In the meantime, let us continue the thread begun with "Did the Chinese Settle in Northwest Mexico and the American Southwest" (blog post, July 30, 2014).  In Part One, we saw that the Mexicans and Chinese retain memories of Chinese settlement in the New World if most Americans do not.

The classic historical reference is a Chinese text about the Land of Fusang, an account redacted in the 14th century describing events going back to the fifth century. It occurs in the 41st Book of Chüan (or Kuen 327) in the 230th volume of the Great Chinese Encyclopedia, a vast imperial compilation known simply as The Chinese Classics. Joseph de Guignes, a learned French Orientalist, sinologist and Turkologist, brought it to the attention of the Western world in 1761.

De Guignes identified the original narrator as Hwui Shen (or Hui Shen), a Buddhist priest from Kabul (Afghanistan, then part of India), who visited ancient Mexico with four or five other priests in 458 C.E. Hui Shen appeared before the Chinese emperor in 499 and gave an exact account of his travels, surviving in several versions (see the summary in Henriette Mertz, Pale Ink, pp. 21-22).  

De Guignes' report on the Chinese in the Americas appeared in the papers of the French Academy of Inscriptions and Royal Society of London and confounded Europe.  Savants over the next two hundred years—Julius Klaproth (1831), Dominique Alexandre Godron, Joseph Needham—confirmed Hui Shen's place in history. In 1885, Edward P. Vining published the provocatively but succinctly titled Inglorious Columbus: or, Evidence that Hwui Shen and a Party of Buddhist Priests from Afghanistan Discovered America (see extensive bibliog. in Stan Steiner, Fusang, p. 240-44).

If Buddhist priests were living in sixth century Arizona, skeptics may charge, they can't have left much proof of their existence. Their landfall in the Americas was no doubt accidental. They left no enduring mark. It's as if it never happened. In fact, it probably did not happen. Hui Shen's story is a charming fairy tale, not a historical account.

Mesoamerican Religious Practices
To the contrary, there are numerous signs of a deep and lasting Asiatic imprint in Mexico. No less an authority than Hubert Howe Bancroft devotes many pages to the bewilderingly diverse forms of religion among ancient Mexican Indians. Of those in Sonora, Sinaloa and Durango, he writes:  "They had innumerable private idols, penates of all possible and impossible figures, some being stone, shaped by nature only" (Native Races, vol. 3, Myths and Languages, San Francisco, 1882, p. 179).


 Lingams and cross at San Xavier.

He notes that some Western Mexican tribes worshipped a black stone like the Kaaba in Mecca, and that Quetzalcoatl and other divinities were connected with stone-worship (p. 281). One Americanist "even explains the meaning of the name Quetzalcoatl despite the usual definition as 'twin of a precious stone.'"

If all this sounds like lingam worship, perhaps it is. In our rambles through the Ironwoods National Forest we were surprised to discover an altar we dubbed Bighead in a hidden cove (see photo). When we questioned a Papago elder he recognized the place immediately and said it was one of his people's most sacred shrines. 

The closest member of the Tohono O'odham Nation, as the Papagos are now known, lives in Tucson, thirty miles away, but certain religious leaders still know this now-empty territory like the back of their hand.

We were not completely shocked after this, when we visited the Mission of San Xavier del Bac, which serves as the parish church for the Papagos living around Tucson.There we photographed a collection of Shaivistic lingams placed beneath the giant Christian cross. The heirs of the Hohokam may have adopted the creed of the Jesuits and Franciscans but apparently they cling to some of their old forms of worship.

Some Possible Echoes in Place-Names
Mertz proposes that the very word Sinaloa (in Nahuatl Zineloque) is derived from Chinelos, "foreigners." She draws attention to the Huichol Indians, who live around Colima, a possible origin point according to a consensus of archeologists for the early Hohokam. These carriers of Arizona's first advanced native culture arrived around 400 C.E. from the south with a fully formed society, featuring, among other things, distinctive pottery, copper bells, cremation practices and irrigation knowledge.

"The religious nature of the Huichol," writes Mertz, "and their attendant religious ceremonies, had strong Buddhist characteristics . . . Some Huicholes bore such striking resemblance to the Chinese that the Mexicans called them 'Chinos'" (p. 73).

Mertz speculates that certain place-names in the Sonoran Desert and West Mexico coast commemorate Asian colonies. The name of Picacho, the hat-shaped landmark that dominates the barren lands between Phoenix and Tucson, may derive from Pi-k'iu (compare Sanskrit Bhiksu "mendicant priest").

Sacaton, an important Hohokam town, seems to bear the name of the Buddha's clan—Saka or Sakya. Prince Siddhartha Shakya (5th century BCE) was the founder of Buddhism and came to be known as Gautama Buddha. Related, according to Mertz, are the names Zacatecas and Zacatlan.

Well, that is all fine and dandy, you may say, vague legends and twisted linguistic analogies. Where's the hard evidence?

An Unusual Petroglyph
Not far from Picacho Peak and Tucson are the Santa Catalina Mountains, and on the Golden Ranch north of the Catalina State Park are the San Ysidro Ruins. Here is located what we suggest is as hard a piece of evidence as you could hope to find. It is a petroglyph of the Buddha meditating in a lotus position. Unmistakable, the iconic figure appears on a rock panel over older, conventional fertility figures and hunting scenes and can be dated to about 1500 years ago (see photo).

If Buddhist priests came to the Hohokam heartland long ago, as recounted in the Chinese Classics, they were hardly idle travelers or adventurers. They were self-described missionaries with a serious purpose. They expected to find people they could communicate with and convert. That the Hohokam and their parent populations already included a sizable Asiatic element is a given.

Asian residents, not mere visitors, are frankly implied in a Chinese poem quoted by Steiner:

Where the sun rises

In the land of Fu Sang

There is my home.

Seeking fame and riches

I came to the land

Of the eternal flowers.

So the "Land of the Eternal Flowers," Fusang, is West Mexico, from Arizona, California and Sonora to Colima, Jalisco, Nayarit and Michoacán. Hwui Chen went back to the Orient, but obviously other compatriots of his stayed and called America home. 

In Nayarit, which appears to be the center of Chinese and Buddhist influence, Bancroft reports that the ancient inhabitants conceived of heaven or paradise as filled with ministering healers "with shaved heads." After death, he writes, the good Indians "went to a place . . . where they lived under the care of men with shaved heads" (p. 529). They also believed in transmigration of souls (p. 529).

Being for the most part celibate, the men with the shaved heads cannot have left progeny, so it would be fruitless to look for their legacy in the DNA record. But that is not the case for the Chinese merchant who emigrated to Fusang to seek fame and riches. Moreover, Chinese junks were capable of transporting an entire colony numbering in the thousands, including women.

Could there be an autosomal trace of gene flow from the East, if not a Y chromosome or mitochondrial trail? Our next post will examine this possibility.


Donovan commented on 22-Sep-2014 10:12 PM

The Native Americans are the Hebrew Peleg branch. They picked up religious customs while migrating to the Americas. A few of their cousins the Chinese and other various Shemitic Island people may have joined them or assisted them in their Journey to the New World.

Robert Bridgford commented on 06-Oct-2014 02:59 PM

I believe the slanted-eyed giants of which my Cherokee ancestors speak of had been of China; "came from, ...returned to the west,...", the Priests who lead the mound-building of the Mississippi "period," likely, from my finds of connections, being that both the mound builders, & giants, had bred with the Cherokee people, indeed were those venturing to Fusang, (America). I find great truth for a man of the government on Facebook discredited, with GREAT persistence, such had been NOT so. Any information would be appreciated very much.

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The China Wire - Part One

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Did the Chinese Settle in Northern Mexico and the American Southwest?

We had just finished a meal of delicious fish tacos at what was to become our favorite Mexican restaurant on the Southside of Phoenix. The cook and owner was a lady from Sinaloa. She asked what I did for a living, and when I told her DNA testing, she immediately said, "I imagine our DNA in Mexico is a combination of Spanish, Indian and Chinese, right?"

            Her frankness took me aback. I have read all that Bancroft, Menzies, Thompson, Mertz, Stewart and others have to say on the pre-Columbian Chinese presence. Our favorite source is actually a book little read today but excellent and authoritative. Fusang: The Chinese Who Built America was published in 1979 by the impeccable American historian of multiculturalism, Stan Steiner. He covers the subject very thoroughly and definitively in Book One:  The Chinese Who Discovered America, beginning with the Buddhist missions to America in 441 C.E.

            Recent contributions by Charlotte Harris Reese continuing the scholarly work of her father Hendon M. Harris, Jr., (The Asiatic Fathers of America) have literally put Chinese exploration and settlement on the map, if not in the textbooks.

            What will it take to persuade people of the fact of Chinese visits and even colonization and influence? Evidently, more than a steady stream of respected bestsellers and blockbuster exhibitions at the nation's capital.

            Yet as Steiner notes in his introduction (p. xi), "The mysteries of history are only mysterious to those who are ignorant of them."  Perhaps DNA could help dress up an old topic and make even the willfully ignorant take notice?

            Alu insertions are short stretches of DNA implicated in the study of disease. They provide useful markers for the study of inter-population affinities and historical processes.  Data on these systems are not numerous in Native Americans and related Asiatic populations. What has been published is highly specialized and not for the faint of heart.

            Haplotype studies have occasionally found Asian types in the New World, though these anomalies are usually brushed aside. That not more attention has been paid to them is surprising in the light of ancient "Amerindian" DNA. One of the oldest and perhaps most leading pieces of evidence came from a 5,000-year-old burial in China Lake, British Columbia (!). The two individuals were both mitochondrial haplogroup M, a type that is widely distributed and even dominant in parts of Asia today. But the discoverer, a genetics professor, despite the fact that he was of Asian ancestry himself, could not bring himself to regard the individuals as having Asian ancestry. He timorously concluded only that "the founding migrants of the Americas exhibited greater genetic diversity than previously recognized" (p. 642). See "Mitochondrial Haplogroup M Discovered in Prehistoric North Americans."

            M is the single most common mtDNA haplogroup in Asia, according to Kivisild et al. ("The Emerging Limbs and Twigs of the East Asian mtDNA Tree"). It peaks in Japan and Tibet, where it represents about 70% of the maternal lineages and is pervasive in India, where it has approximately 60% frequency. Among the Chinese, haplogroup M accounts for approximately 50% of all people.

            In our own studies of Sephardic haplotypes, we found a not-insignificant number of cases of O3, a pure Asian type, for instance, Burquez (Mexico) and Ronquillo (New Mexico); see chapter 3, "Sephardim in the New World," in Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America (2012). Unbroken Chinese descent from Native American males marrying Mexican women is a more natural explanation than far-wandered Chinese merchants among the Spanish settlers.  

            We look forward to investigating the female lineages among the colonial populations especially of New Mexico, Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima and Michoacán. In the meantime, it occurs to us that perhaps autosomal DNA may harbor some of the answers.

            Stay tuned for our next post, which will report an investigation of three autosomal markers that could provide solid evidence for Chinese DNA buried in the genetic record of West Mexico and the American Southwest.

Photo above:  Greenstone figure of a youth holding a limp were-jaguar baby, found in the Mexican state of Veracruz in the Olmec heartland, is East Asian looking to most people. No one has doubted its authenticity. Wiki Commons.



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DNA Consultants Method in a Nutshell

Monday, July 21, 2014
We often are asked, "How does your ancestry analysis work," and "What makes it different from other methods?" Principal Investigator Donald Yates was recently interviewed along these lines and here are his answers.

How do DNA ancestry tests work—or not work? It is fairly simple to explain the difference between first-generation tests that looked at your sex-linked lines and the new wave of admixture and population match tests that examine your whole ancestry.  The pitfalls of Y chromosome and mitochondrial haplotying tests are well known: information limited to only two lines in your tree, irrelevant broad matches instead of valid exact matches, false results from non-paternity events, outdated genetic theories about human prehistory and historical migrations and so forth. So-called "percentage tests" did little to alleviate the situation. Now many companies are claiming to test thousands of SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). However, the inferences linked to these are mostly still based on sex-linked data, medical studies and haplotype surveys. That is not truly an autosomal method, since the meaning of autosomal is non-sex-linked.  The DNA profile method (CoDIS markers) offers the next best thing to "percentage tests." Using true autosomal data and capturing published STR values for world populations, it calculates your random match frequencies and can probabilistically predict ancestry according to several parameters, including metapopulations, megapopulations, ethnic marker affinity and rare alleles.

Above:  Each test in the DNA Fingerprint family of products starts with a 16-loci DNA fingerprint or profile from the lab. Green indicates the so-called "core CoDEX" loci, which yield the greatest coverage in population data. Yellow shows four additional ones for which there is a lesser number of populations, and blue shows two extra loci used in the European system (our EURO section). 

For more information

Autosomal DNA Set to Rewrite History of "Peopling of the Americas" (announcement)
Emerging Prehistory of Ethnic Groups (blog post)
Autosomal Testing Revalidated (blog post)


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Patrick Henry and Johnny Depp

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What Do Patrick Henry and Johnny Depp Have to Do With Each Other?

They are both mentioned in a new genealogy book....

Not everything you were told in school about the Pilgrims, George Washington and the other brave, white Christian founding fathers of America is true. In fact, according to Elizabeth Hirschman Caldwell and Donald N. Yates' new book, some of the familiar figures were not even Christian. Appearing in 2012 after many years in development, Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America ($45.00) offers a fresh perspective on the early American experience, with chapters and emigrant lists on all the original colonies, from Virginia to Georgia. Here are "tweetable" excerpts with some of the study's surprising Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish and Jewish names.

From the Introduction

"American genealogies rarely jump the Atlantic, and in Norman pedigrees there seems always to be a disconnect between the invasion of 1066 and sudden appearance of the family’s supposed ancestor on, say, the Pipe Rolls from the reign of Henry II or Magna Carta of 1215. In America we sometimes have the ships passenger list mentioning our ancestor but then a maddening interval of silence before a reliable nexus of birth, marriage and death records can be established. Oral traditions fill in the breach."

"The first president of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, once remarked America 'is a country built more on people than on territory.' He saw Jews as the ingredient that gave Americans their characteristic distinctiveness and diversity, saying they “will come from everywhere: from France, from Russia, from America, from Yemen. ... Their faith is their passport."

"We have made an effort to bring to life some of the forgotten women who shaped the Colonial American experience. These include the ancient Ur mother of European royalty, the Occitan Jewish Queen Itta, Charlemagne’s great-great-great-grandmother; Mary Lago, the Sephardic Jewish mother of the Quakers’ founder George Fox; and Malea Cooper, the Jewish Mulatto wife of Daniel Boone’s guide (whose Hebrew name is the same as one of President Barack Obama’s daughters). Some of their stories will surprise readers, running counter to traditional historical accounts. Few people realize that one of the Salem witches mounted a legal defense using the family’s professional connections and wealth. Sarah Town(e) Cloyes (or Clayes) fought her accusers and lived to become a founder of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The mother of Patrick Henry according to diarist William Byrd was “a handsome woman of the Family of Esau” whose first husband in Aberdeen, Scotland, was “of the Family of Saracens.”  The Cherokee Beloved Woman Nancy Ward bore an Arabic name.  One of the subthemes of the present study is the interaction between emigrants and American Indians. Readers will find Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw and other genealogies that reflect intermarriage between Jews or Muslims and America’s indigenous inhabitants, believed in the thinking of the day to be Abraham’s children."

"On a different level, an interlocking Presidential dynasty has been suggested with twelve patrician families at its core – Adams, Bayard, Breckbridge, Harrison, Kennedy, Lee, Livingston, Lodge, Randolph, Roosevelt, Taft and Tucker – most of which we will have recourse to mentioning in the chapters of this book."

"The footnotes in this study are intended not only to document origins and surname histories in unequivocal fashion but also to cast a sidelight on celebrated Jewish Americans who can trace back to colonial forebears and their relatives in European Jewry. These range from the Massachusetts Kennedys to the Byrds of Virginia, from actors Johnny Depp and Adrien Brody to actresses Roseanne Barr and Gwyneth Paltrow, from writers Louise Glück and Neil Simon to politicians Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders and jurists Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan."


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Rare Genes from History Revisited

Thursday, June 19, 2014
Check Out DNA Fingerprint Plus $300 

It's been a year and a half since DNA Consultants introduced Rare Genes from History. We republish here the original press release from October 2012 as a means of familiarizing new and old customers with this unique autosomal marker test, exclusive to our company. Purchase now for only $149 ($134.10 with your customer discount).

For descriptions of all 26 Rare Genes from History, visit the product page

If you have received your Rare Genes from History results, we encourage you to discuss them with others in the free forums at DNA Communities. How many did you get? Were they European, Native American, African or Asian? Do you think you got a given rare gene from your mother or father? From both?


Rare Genes from History:  DNA Consultants’ Next-Generation Ancestry Markers

PHOENIX -- (Oct. 1, 2012) -- DNA typing has gone from successes in the criminal justice system and paternity testing to new heights in mapping genetic diseases and tracing human history. John Butler in the conclusion to his textbook Fundamentals of Forensic DNA Typing raised an important question about these trends. How might genetic genealogy information intersect with forensic DNA testing in the future?

"At DNA Consultants, that new chapter in DNA testing arrived several years ago," said Donald Yates, chief research officer and founder. "As we approach our tenth anniversary, examining human population diversity continues to be the whole thrust of our research, and it just gets more and more exciting."

The company's DNA database atDNA 4.0 captures and puts to use every single published academic study on forensic STR markers, the standard CoDIS markers used in DNA profiles for paternity and personal identification. In 2009, the company introduced the first broad-scale ethnicity markers and created the DNA Fingerprint Plus.

But its innovations didn’t stop there. In October 2012, the company announced the launch of its Rare Genes from History Panel.

Why CoDIS Markers?

“Theoretically,” noted Butler in 2009, “all of the alleles (variations) that exist today for a particular STR locus have resulted from only a few ‘founder’ individuals by slowly changing over tens of thousands of years.”

How true! Hospital studies have determined that the most stable loci (marker addresses on your chromosomes) have values that mutate at a rate of only 0.01%. That means the chance of the value at that location changing from parent to progeny is once every 10,000 generations.

So the autosomal clock of human history ticks at an even slower quantum rate than mitochondrial DNA. Like “mitochondrial Eve,” its patterns were set down in Africa over 100,000 years ago when anatomically modern humans first appeared on the stage of time.

Though the face value of the cards in the deck of human diversity never changed—and all alleles can be traced back to an African origin—as humans left Africa and eventually spread throughout the world, alleles were shuffled and reshuffled. Humanity went through bottlenecks and expansions that emphasized certain alleles over others. Genetic pooling, drift and selection of mates produced regional and country-specific contours much like a geographic map. 

"These rare but robust signals of deep history can act as powerful ancestral probes into the tangled past of the human race as well as unique touchstones for the surprising stories of individuals."

By the twentieth century, when scientists began to assemble the first genetic snapshots of people, it was found that nearly all populations were mixed, some more than others. The geneticist Luigi-Luca Cavalli-Sforza at Stanford University proved that there is almost always more diversity within a population than between populations.

So if there is no such thing as a “pure” population—a control or standard—how are we to make sense of any single individual’s ancestral lines? Statistical analysis provides the answer. And rare genes are easier to trace in the genetic record than common ones. Their distinctive signature stands out.

Back Story:  It All Began with the Melungeons

About the same time as DNA Consultants' scientists were cracking the mystery of the Melungeons, a tri-racial isolate in the Appalachians, they became aware of certain very rare alleles carried by this unusual population in relatively large doses. The Starnes family, for instance, in Harriman, Tennessee, was observed to have a certain rare score repeated on one location in the profiles of members through three generations. The staff dubbed it “the Starnes gene.”

Soon, company research had characterized 26 rare autosomal ancestry markers—tiny, distinctive threads of inheritance that reflected an origin in Africa and expansion and travels through world history. Genes in this new generation of discoveries were named after some distinctive feature associated with the pattern they created in human genetic history--for instance, the Kilimanjaro Gene after its source in Central East Africa. The Thuya, Akhenaten and King Tut genes were named for the royal family of Egypt whose mummies were investigated by Zahi Hawass’ team in 2010.

The Starnes Gene” became the Helen Gene. Because of its apparent center in Troy in ancient Asia Minor and predilection for settling in island populations, it was named for "the face that launched a thousand ships," in the famous phrase by Christopher Marlowe.  

All 26 of DNA Consultants' new markers are rare. Not everyone is going to have one. But that’s what makes them interesting, according to Dr. Yates.

Coming from all sections of human diversity—African, Indian, Asian and Native American—they are like tiny gold filaments in a huge, outspread multi-colored tapestry, explains Phyllis Starnes, assistant principal investigator and wife of the namesake of the first discovery. But does that mean that her husband has a connection to Helen of Troy? The markers don’t work on such a literal level, but it does imply that Billy Starnes shares a part of his ancestral heritage with an ancient Greek/Turkish population prominent on the page of history.

Over the past two decades, geneticists have worked out the macro-history and chronology of human migrations in amazing detail and agreement. The Rare Genes from History Panel is another reminder--in the words of an American Indian ceremonial greeting--that “We Are All Related.”

These rare but robust signals of deep history can act as powerful ancestral probes into the tangled past of the human race as well as unique touchstones for the surprising stories of individuals.

For more information about the science of autosomal DNA ancestry testing, visit DNA Consultants or check out its Twitter or Facebook page. 

#  #  #  

Distribution map of the Egyptian Gene shows its African origin, partial presence in Coptic populations today (green dots in Egypt) and scattered incidence around the world. 


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Anomalous DNA in the Cherokee: The DNA Chapter from the Secret History

Friday, June 06, 2014

The third chapter of Donald Yates' history of the Cherokee (Old World Roots of the Cherokee, McFarland 2012) contains the genetic story of the Cherokee Indians based on DNA Consultants' 2009 study "Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA in the Cherokee," but it is no easy read, being written for an academic audience.

Earlier this year Yates published a condensation of his work in the series Cherokee Chapbooks, called Old Souls in a New World:  The Secret History of the Cherokee Indians (Panther's Lodge). This publication has no footnotes, bibliography or pictures; those must be sought in Old World Roots and scholarly articles Yates has written over the years. But the new chapbook is affordable, quick to read and no less groundbreaking and authentic in its research.

Here, from Old Souls in a New World, is the amazing story of Elvis Presley's DNA, Indian traders and their Cherokee brides on the Southeastern frontier, haplogroup X, Egyptian T, Berber U, Jewish J and the personal stories of a selection from the fifty-two subjects who blew the lid off Native American studies with their proof of ancient Middle Eastern and Jewish lineages.

Copyright material © 2013-2014 Donald N. Yates

From Chapter 4, "DNA," Old Souls in a New World:  The Secret History of the Cherokee Indians, by Donald N. Panther-Yates (Cherokee Chapbooks 7; Phoenix:  Panther's Lodge, 2013) 

ISBN-13: 978-0615892337

History does not repeat itself. The historians repeat one another.

—Max Beerbohm

Few people know it but Elvis Presley claimed to be Jewish and Cherokee. A DNA test run on a rare specimen of his in 2004 bore this out. Both of Elvis’ assertions were based on the ancestry of his mother, Gladys Love Smith. Growing up in Memphis, Elvis went to summer camp through the Jewish community center. When his mother died, he took care to have her grave marked with a Star of David (since removed). He studied Judaism increasingly in later years and to the end of his life wore a chai necklace, symbol of Jewish life. Published genealogies take Gladys’ strict maternal line back to great-great grandmother Nancy Burdine, a professed Jewess born in Kentucky, whose mother was White Dove, a reputed fullblood. Through his mother’s direct female line, Elvis was a Jewish Indian, an American Indian Jew.

Well, maybe not. Bracketing for the moment what makes one a Jew, we have to admit that American Indian identity is not so simple either. One factor weighing heavily in both claims, however, is DNA.

Paleo-American genetics is fraught with problems. According to a previous director of Tulane's Middle American Research Institute, the field is a notorious “battleground of the theorists,” a controversial area “which has snared to their downfall not a few crackpots, mystics, ‘linguistic acrobats,’ racists and even ‘famous institutions’ . . . [including] of course the anthropological profession itself.” The DNA landscape is strewn with racist bombshells and political dynamite.

About twenty years ago, in a work as revered as it is unreadable, Italian-born geneticist Luca Luigi Cavalli-Sforza at Stanford University unveiled a tree of man based on an analysis of 120 markers from forty-two world populations. Looking solely at female lines, he posited two main limbs, African and non-African. The latter branched off into Europeans (Caucasians) and Northeast Asians (Siberians and Mongolians). Included in Northeast Asians were so-called Amerindians. Amerinds were closest in genetic distance to Northern Turkic, Chukchi and other Arctic peoples. They shared a number of genetic markers with their ancient neighbors, including a similar frequency of female lineages. These came to be labeled mitochondrial haplogroups A, B, C, and D.

Little did Cavalli-Sforza and his team expect to encounter any snags in their research, much less defunding by the U.S. Government and the United Nations, but this is exactly what happened. The genial professor received a letter from a Canadian human rights group called the Rural Advancement Foundation International. They demanded he stop his work immediately. They accused the Human Genome Diversity Project of biopiracy. The scientists were stealing DNA.

Ever since that slippery slope, geneticists have trodden warily around the issue of Native American demographics and genetics.

Theodore Schurr’s team in 1990 had matched “Amerindian” changes in mitochondrial DNA over the last 40,000 years with those of Mongolians and Siberians. The lines were indelibly drawn. The scientific community laid down the law that the earliest Native Americans come from four primary maternal lineages. Only female haplogroups A, B, C and D are true Native American types. A fifth lineage, haplogroup X, was admitted, provisionally, in 1997.

Elvis’s American Indian mitochondrial type is B. What account can we make of this haplogroup? Certain critics of the new axiom in American Indian genetics point out that B is not associated in high frequencies with Mongolian populations. Rather, it is Southeast Asian in origin—something borne out by the Elvis sample having also a rare Asian ethnic marker. B’s center of diffusion is Taiwan and it is common, even dominant, among Polynesians, the Hopi, and Pueblo Indians like the Jemez.

Geneticists base their conclusions about ancient migrations on comparisons with population data of living peoples as reported in anthropological and forensic publications. But these are assumptions, pure and simple. Is it certain that populations in places like Mongolia and Alaska in the past—especially far distant past—were the same as they are today? Numerous genetic types become extinct in the course of time. Bottlenecks and genetic drift distort a population’s structure and composition. Early migrants can be replaced through competition or changed by gene flow from later arrivals. Genotyping to determine a Y chromosome group from paternal pedigrees or the mitochondrial DNA passed to us by our mother, looks at but two lines out of thousands in one’s heritage. The current state of genomics cannot test ancestry that crosses from a male to female or vice versa. It cannot isolate the genetic contribution passed to you, say, by your mother’s father, or maternal grandfather. Most of our genetic history lies buried in non-sex-linked lines, the province of autosomal DNA.

Schurr’s doctrine of the four ancient founding mothers of Native Americans was based entirely on small Pima, Maya, Ticuna, Mexican and South American Indian samples. A study by D. C. Wallace and colleagues inferred an Asian correlation from evidence taken solely from Arizona’s tiny tribes of Pima and Papago Indians. This 1985 article was the source of untold mischief. Four female haplogroups were later “proved” to account for over 95 percent of all contemporary American Indian populations. Geneticists fell into lockstep to show that only a small number of founding mothers migrated from Asia into the New World. In 2004, despite a much shallower time-depth for calculating mutations, scientists decided that it had to be the same story for male founders. There was a single, recent entry of Native American Y chromosomes into the Americas.

The underlying logic goes like this:  All our subjects tested out to be haplogroup A, B, C, D, E or X.

All our subjects were Indians because they were located on reservations.

Therefore, all Indians are haplogroup A, B, C, D, E or X.

It’s as though we claimed, “All men are two-legged creatures; therefore since the skeleton we dug up has two legs, it is human.” It might be a kangaroo.

About the time Rutgers professor Elizabeth Hirschman and I were concluding our study of Melungeon DNA, we decided to put together a small sample of Cherokee descendants who could trace their line back to the marriage of a Jewish merchant with the daughter of an Indian headman. Our object was to test the ethnicity of those Cherokee who blended with Melungeons. Those enrolled for the project had to be directly descended from a Cherokee woman strictly through the female line.

To our knowledge, our studies were the first to qualify participants on the basis of their family histories. Invariably, these mention Indian ancestry in the female line, usually Cherokee. Native American chiefs cemented trade agreements with intermarriage of their daughters and other female kinswomen. Early explorer John Lawson wrote about this custom in 1709:

The Indian Traders are those which travel and abide amongst the Indians for a long space of time; sometimes for a Year, two, or three. These Men have commonly their Indian Wives, whereby they soon learn the Indian Tongue, keep a Friendship with the Savages; and, besides the Satisfaction of a She-Bed-Fellow, they find these Indian Girls very serviceable to them, on Account of dressing their Victuals, and instructing 'em in the Affairs and Customs of the Country. Moreover, such a Man gets a great Trade with the Savages; for when a Person that lives amongst them, is reserv'd from the Conversation of their Women, 'tis impossible for him ever to accomplish his Designs amongst that People.

My forebear Isaac Cooper’s grandfather was the pioneer William Cooper. This son of a plantation owner was born on the James River about 1725 and became the guide and scout for Daniel Boone when the latter was hired by the firm of Cohen and Isaacs to survey lands eventually forming Kentucky and Tennessee. Cooper planted a corn crop in 1775 on the left bank of Otter Creek above Clover Bottom near Boonsboro. He was then employed by Richard Henderson to assist Boone in clearing the Wilderness Road. He died in 1781 in an Indian attack after helping the Cumberland settlers continue the road to what became Nashville, Tennessee.

Although the Coopers came from England in the seventeenth century and settled on the James River, their more distant origins were clearly Portuguese and Jewish. They were descended from Marannos, who became British citizens in the period of the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary immediately following Jews’ re-admittance into Britain. This path to Americanization is a staple feature of Cherokee genealogies.

Let us now turn to the female side of the project. Gayl Wilson traces her Wolf Clan line to Sarah Consene, a daughter of Young Dragging Canoe. She is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Her mitochondrial DNA haplogroup C proves to be one of the leading types among Cherokees. It is found sparsely in Mongolia and Siberia, and its frequency in North America is weighted toward the Northeast rather than Alaska and the Northwest, with a heavy incidence in the lower Appalachians. Wilson’s particular type of C matches nine individuals with Hispanic surnames, including Juan B. Madrid (Two Hearts), a California schoolteacher, and 26 anonymous samples from Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain and the U.S. This would appear to support the Mexican affinities of the Cherokee.

DNA that ended up being haplogroup B was contributed by a matrilineal descendant of Lucretia Parris, halfblood daughter of George Parris and granddaughter of early Cherokee Indian trader Richard Pearis, who died in the Bahamas, April 7, 1794. The Pearis or Parris family is the likely namesake of Parris Island in South Carolina. Their original name was perhaps Perez/Peres. They intermarried with the Dougherty and Cooper families.

U.S. federal Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins describes Cornelius Dougherty's residence near the town of Quanasee and calls him "an old Irish trader." He is said to have been 120 years old when he died in 1788. His original trading post was located at Seneca Old Town on the Keowee River, where William and Joseph Cooper were also situated since 1698. Cornelius’ father Alexander was a Jacobite who fled to America after the Glorious Revolution. According to Rogers and Rogers’ Cherokee history, it was Alexander who was probably the first white man to marry a Cherokee, in 1690. After 1719, Cornelius became a licensed trader out of Charleston, the British headquarters for the Indian trade, where brothers William and Joseph Cooper were commissioners, and married Ah-nee-wa-kee, a daughter of Chief Moytoy II, thus fulfilling the usual contract. She was of the Wild Potato Clan. Deerhead Cove beneath the brow of Fox Mountain in Dade County, Georgia and DeKalb County, Alabama, was named for her. The name of the mountain towering over Deerhead Cove honors Chief Black Fox, whose descendants on nearby Sand Mountain are multiply entwined with Doughertys.

Elvis’ form of B matches Chickasaws, Choctaws and Creeks. Altogether, lineage B accounts for one-half or more of Cherokee DNA and roughly a quarter of all Southeastern Indians. The Maya and Mixté in Mexico are about one-quarter B and one-half A with smaller degrees of C, D and other. The Pima are about half B, half C, with a negligible amount of A. The Boruca in Central America are as high as three-quarters B.

When first described, haplogroup B was believed to be part of a second wave of American Indian colonization from Asia dating to 15,000-12,000 years ago. This migration supposedly followed an earlier and larger influx of A. The highest frequencies of B are found along the eastern edge of China in the islands of Taiwan (34%) and the Philippines (40%). Today, it is more likely to be seen as the trail of early humans following the beachcomber route up through Japan and down the American coast.

Elvis Presley was born and grew up in Tupelo, on the edge of Chickasaw country. But his maternal ancestor Nancy Burdine came from Kentucky in Cherokee territory. His remote female ancestor could have been either Chickasaw or Cherokee. The Chickasaw and Cherokee had a common border just west of the site of Nashville along the Natchez Trace. They often exchanged female marriage partners in peace treaties and intertribal relations.

Two Cherokee female lines show a connection with the white man who founded the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Col. William Holland Thomas (1805-1893) occupies a special place in the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. He went to work at the age of twelve at the Walker trading post on Soco Creek and learned the Cherokee language as he bargained with the natives for ginseng and furs. Drowning Bear, chief of Quallatown, took a keen interest in him. When Drowning Bear learned that the boy had no father or brothers and sisters, he adopted him as a son. Will's best friend was a Cherokee boy who taught him the ancient customs, lore and religious rites.

In 1867 Thomas' health failed. The Civil War had ruined him. He eventually went into an insane asylum, where he died May 10, 1893. Without him, however, there would be no Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Col. Will Thomas was the only white chief of an Indian tribe.

While he was an apprentice for the Walkers, young Will fell in love with Catherine Hyde, a descendant of Betsy Walker, a Cherokee woman from Soco (One-Town). A direct maternal line descendant of Betsy Walker, Kimberly Hill, provided a sample of her mitochondrial DNA. It proved to be a specific type within haplogroup J. The same haplotype came to light in fellow project participant Sharon Bedzyk, a descendant of Ann Hyde, Catherine’s sister. A related haplotype was identified in a late-joining participant with ancestry traced to Myra Jarvis, a Melungeon woman born 1815 in Georgia.

Although Col. Will officially married Sarah Jane Burney Love late in life in 1857, he had several paramours. In addition to Catherine Hyde, one of them was the Polly after whom the Qualla Reservation was named. She bore him Demarius Angeline in 1827. Note that Demarius is a favorite name of Crypto-Jews. It is derived from Tamar, Hebrew for “date palm.” Here again our project was fortunate. Thanks to the Indian grapevine, a direct female-line descendant of Demarius Angeline Sherrill, nee Thomas, responded to the call. “We were most surprised to learn our Angeline came from the X lineage,” said James Riddle. He is literally the last of the line. Since he is male, Angeline’s lineage would die out with him. It is an apt illustration of the fragility of haplogroups.

Haplogroup X was first detected in North America over a decade ago. It was added to Native American lineages A, B, C and D only reluctantly. Its discovery opened the door for more minor founding mothers at the same time that it created a strong incentive among die-hard believers in existing dogma to prove it was Siberian. What is different about haplogroup X is the suspicion it might be an ancient link between Europe and North America. Some view it as a founding lineage that directly crossed the Atlantic Ocean, perhaps with the elusive Red Paint Culture. The detection of X in our study represents the first report of it among the Cherokee. Previously, it was identified only in certain northern tribes.

We have seven instances of haplogroup X. In the case of Annie L. Garrett, born 1846 in Mississippi, descendant Betty Sue Satterfield vouches for their being a tradition in the family she was Cherokee.

Michelle Baugh of Hazel Green, Alabama, traces her Cherokee female line to Agnes Weldy, born about 1707. Descendants include enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Seyinus, a Cherokee woman born on or near the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina in 1862, is the source of a similar X lineage.

Another is the sample taken from Billy Sinor, the son of Gladys Lulu Sutton, born in Indian Territory in 1906. His mother’s birth certificate lists her as “Cherokee Indian.“

My own maternal line goes back to a Cherokee woman in northern Georgia or North Carolina who had children by a trader named Jordan. He can be identified as Enoch Jordan. Trader Jordan was born about 1768 in Scotland of ancestry from Russia or the Ukraine. His Cherokee wife, my 5th great-grandmother, proves to be haplogroup U2, but a form of it with no exact matches in any databases. Given origins in Russia or the Ukraine, and an intervening generation in Scotland, Trader Jordan himself was almost certainly Jewish. The Y chromosome type of his descendants belongs to male haplogroup J, a paternal lineage that contains the genetic signature of Old Testament priests. Here is evidently another case of a Jewish trader marrying a Cherokee woman. But how to explain the Cherokee wife’s Old World haplogroup of U?   

Haplogroup U is associated with Berbers and Egyptians as well as other early Mediterranean peoples. Professor Brian Sykes in The Seven Daughters of Eve places the Ur-mother Ursula he created for his bestseller in prehistoric Greece. The resemblance of members of my mother Bessie Cooper Yates' family, who claimed to be Cherokee through the female line, to a modern-day Cyrenaic woman in the Alinari photo archives seems striking and undeniable.

In our study, U covers 13 cases or 25% of the total, second in frequency only to haplogroup T. Who are these Mediterranean descendants among the Cherokee?

One is Mary M. Garrabrant-Brower. Her great-grandmother was Clarissa Green of the Cherokee Wolf Clan, born 1846. This Wolf Clan woman’s grandfather was remembered as a Cherokee chief, as is consistent with the traditional nature of the Wolf Clan. Mary’s mother Mary M. Lounsbury maintained the Cherokee language and rituals, even though the family relocated to the Northeast.

A Scottsdale, Arizona doctor in our study, another U, matches only one other person in the world, Marie Eastman, born 1901 in Indian Territory. His own descent is documented from Jane Rose, a member of the Eastern Cherokee Band. Her family is listed on the Baker Rolls, the final arbiter of enrollment established by the U.S. government.

My wife, Teresa Panther-Yates, proves to have mtDNA that can also be designated U, the most common “European” subgroup according to genetics journals. It has no exact matches anywhere; it is unique in the world. Teresa traces her maternal line back to Hancock County, Georgia. Her female ancestor died about 1838, at the time of the Trail of Tears. There is a tradition in her family that this line was Cherokee.

One participant who learned of her U lineage in the study says that her line goes back to Ann Dreaweah, a Cherokee woman married to a half blood Cherokee man.

Another instance of U has no close matches at all but appears to have a Cherokee form of it. He was adopted in Oklahoma and knows nothing of his mother’s ancestry.

Gerald Potterf, another U, traces his mother’s line to Lillie C. Wilson-Field, born in 1857, Catawba County, North Carolina. He believes she was probably Cherokee.

In all instances of U where there are Melungeon, Cherokee and Jewish connections in the genealogy, the most frequent clan mentioned is Paint Clan.

It was the T's, however, that blew the lid off Cherokee DNA studies. Haplogroup T emerges as the largest lineage, followed by U, X, J and H. Similar proportions of these haplogroups are noted in the populations of Egypt, Israel and other parts of the East Mediterranean.

Maternal lineage T arose in Mesopotamia approximately 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. It spread northward through the Caucasus and west from Anatolia into Europe. It shares a common source with haplogroup J in the parent haplogroup JT. Ancient people bearing haplogroup T and J are viewed by geneticists as some of the first farmers, introducing agriculture to Europe with the Neolithic Revolution. Europe’s previous genetic substrate emphasized older haplogroups U and N. The T lineage includes about ten percent of modern Europeans. The closer one goes to its origin in the Fertile Crescent the more prevalent it is. 

All T’s in the Cherokee project are unmatched in Old World populations. They do, however, in some cases, match each other. Such kinship indicates we are looking at members of the same definite group, with the same set of clan mothers as their ancestors.

One T in the study fully matched four other people in the Mitosearch database, all born in the United States. One of these listed their ancestor as being Birdie Burns, born 1889 in Arkansas, the daughter of Alice Cook, a Cherokee.

Gail Lynn Dean is the wife of another participant. Both she and her husband claim Cherokee ancestries.

Linda Burckhalter is the great-great-granddaughter of Sully Firebush, the daughter of a Cherokee chief. Sully married Solomon Sutton, stowaway son of a London merchant, in what would seem to be a variation of “Jewish trader marries chief’s daughter.”

At twenty-seven percent, T types make up the leading anomalous haplogroup not corresponding to the types A, B, C, or D. Several of them evidently stem from the same Cherokee family or clan, although they have been scattered from their original home by historical circumstances. Such consistency in the findings reinforces the conclusion that this is an accurate cross-section of a population, not a random collection of DNA test subjects. No such mix could result from post-1492 European gene flow into the Cherokee Nation. To dismiss the evidence as admixture would entail assuming that there was a large influx of Middle Eastern-born women selectively marrying Cherokee men in historical times, something not even faintly suggested by the facts. Mitochondrial DNA can only come from mothers; it cannot be brought into the country by men.

If not from Siberia, Mongolia or Asia, where do our anomalous, non-Amerindian-appearing lineages come from? The comparative incidence of haplogroup T in the Cherokee mirrors the percentage for Egypt, one of the only countries where T attains a major showing among the other types. In Egypt, T is three times the frequency it is in Europe. Haplogroup U in our sample is about the same as the Middle East in general. Its frequency is similar to that of Turkey and Greece.

Far and away, however, the most explosive evidence revolves around haplogroup X, the third largest haplogroup. The only other place on earth where X is found at such a prodigious frequency is in the Druze, a people who have dwelt for thousands of years in the Hills of Galilee in northern Israel and Lebanon. The work of Liran I. Shlush in 2009 proves that the Druze, because of the high concentration as well as diversity of haplotypes, is the worldwide source and center of diffusion for X. 

As a special treat for the customers whose names and stories may be mentioned in it from the original study, this chapter in the superb narration by Mohawk-Italian New York-based voice actor Rich Crankshaw is presented here in its entirety from the audiobook version! Give it a listen!

DNA Chapter from Rich Crankshaw Audiobook


Nicole Harris commented on 09-Nov-2014 05:39 PM

You mentioned a Myra Jarvis born in 1815 in Georgia. This is my third great grandmother and we know NOTHING more than her name and year and state and who she married. You mentioned she was Melungeon... where is this information from and is it possible to get it so we can learn more about her? We have been looking for her for years and years with no luck.

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Back to the Future of DNA

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

From Teresa Yates' work-in-progress, here is a post from eight years ago that still strikes a timely note. Yates' new book is titled DNA and You and reprises fifteen years of the blogosphere from the early, heroic days of DNA testing. It is expected to appear this summer.

Wild, Wooly World of DNA May Create, As Well As Solve, Problems

Abstracted from The New York Times

The first in a series of articles in the New York Times, titled "The DNA Age" presents case histories of people whose DNA tests are turning out to be mixed blessings, arousing more expectations than may be justified. From the adopted twins who are looking for financial aid after finding out they are part African and part Native American to the man raised a gentile attempting to invoke the law of return to Israel following the revelation his DNA matched Ashkenazi Jews, the series by Amy Harmon apparently intends to explore the two sides of DNA—the answers it brings, along with the new questions it raises.

On another front, Indian tribes routinely refuse to accept DNA evidence. According to the article, though, this has not deterred prospective new enrollees. "It used to be 'someone said my grandmother was an Indian,' " says Joyce Walker, the enrollment clerk who regularly turns away DNA petitioners for the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which operates the lucrative Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. "Now it's 'my DNA says my grandmother was an Indian.'"

The title of the first of the series is "Seeking Ancestry in DNA Ties Uncovered by Tests." One of the featured DNA test takers was a customer of DNA Consultants.

April 13, 2006


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