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More Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee - Part Four

Friday, October 10, 2014

Part Four is the conclusion to our series of reports on the "anomalous Cherokees." Depicted left is author Donald Yates in Rome.

Read the full paper
More Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee


J, a Major Jewish Haplogroup

Haplogroup J, termed Jasmine in the scheme of Oxford Ancestors, is believed to have originated in the Old Near East and to have moved north and west into Europe, especially after the spread of agriculture beginning 5000-3000 BCE. It is found throughout Europe with particularly high concentrations around the eastern Baltic Sea and Russia, as well as in Bedouins and Yemeni, where it reaches frequencies of 25% or higher. J is a major Jewish female lineage (Thomas 2002), being a strong maternal contributor to Jewish, Arab, Greek and Italian populations. J is also the apparent carrier of congenital longevity and a host of “Jewish” diseases that are just beginning to be understood by medical science.

There were 6 J's in Phase II (nos. 3, 8, 32, 35, 41 and 63, composing 9%), 4 in Phase I and 17 in the CBC data, making for an aggregate of 10.7%, somewhat less than the level for the Middle East and Europe (12%).

There were multiple matches between participants. An example is James Richard Stritzel (8), whose form of J1b1 matched No. 63  on HVS1 with several mismatches on HVS2. Stritzel's grandmother, Eunice Mable, was adopted out of the Mohawk tribe and given the last name Ahern abt. 1900. His rare haplotype is similar to five J's reported in Phase I. Of these, Nadine Rosebush's type is not matched anywhere in the world. In other words, these J types seem to be specific to the micro-population in which they are found today and are not widespread. One might make an argument of inferred ancestry as follows, although other interpretations are also possible. The germ line and enclosing population may have originated in classical antiquity. Instances survived to the present in North America only because they were part of the discrete and continuous existence of a "people." This "people" had spread intact by discontinuous, long-distance migration from its point of origin, where in the course of centuries its presence became extinct.

Rarest of the Rare:  I, N, V and W

Turning now to the four haplogroups that first cropped up in Phase II, we have one or two individuals each with I (54 Swinney, 48 Francisco), N (2 Kellam), V (39 Ponder) and W (30 Carpenter, 31 Sponenburgh). Percentages, phylogeny and phylogeographic patterns are probably not meaningful. Let us note, however, that one of the I's (54) had no matches anywhere, while the other (48) matched Dicie Gray, born 1828 in North Carolina. For haplogroup N, the sole example Norma Kellam (no. 2, N1A) traces her mitochondrial line to Roanoke, Virginia. She had several unique SNPs and matched only a handful of other people. In medieval times, N gave birth to one of the four major Ashkenazi Jewish founder lineages, probably in the Rhine Basin.




Fig. 14. James Stritzel (8) was told by previous labs that in “no way” could his DNA be Native American. His mother’s line, however, was confirmed as Cherokee (or Mohawk) despite being an unusual type. Here the Manchester, Wash. resident carves a Deer Pipe after spending part of last summer training under a sixth-generation Lakota Nation Pipe Maker. 

Fig. 15. Norma Kellam (2) of Westminster, Calif. has maternal line ancestry in Virginia and matched only five Mitosearch users, two of whom also traced to Virginia. The other three pointed to Tennessee, Mississippi and unknown origins. Her maternal grandmother was Daisy Brooks (b. 1894, m. Cronk) and great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Tingery (m. John Sellars Brooks).

African L Haplotypes

Surprisingly, there were 6 L haplotypes in Phase II (9.0%). In Phase I, there were 3 (5.8%), and the CBC data include 7 (5.2%), bringing the total across all datasets to 16, or 6.3%. The most common haplogroup was L3, the oldest African lineage, associated with and most common today in East Africa. If the African DNA were the simple effect of gene flow into the Cherokee from historical-era slaves and freemen, one would expect West African centered L2 to dominate the results, as this is far and away the most prevalent type carried by African Americans (as much as 50%). L3, on the other hand, is characterized by a relatively greater presence in circum-Mediterranean and European populations. According to one authority, "L3 is more related to Eurasian haplogroups than to the most divergent African clusters L1 and L2" (Maca-Meyer et al. 2001). Sub-Saharan African L lineages account for 10% of the population in Saudi Arabia, and L3 occupies a prominent position (72% of them; Abu-Amero et al. 2008). It has also been observed in Slavic or East European populations, especially among Ukrainian Jews, possibly vestigial admixture from ancient slaves in the Roman Empire and Islam. L3 accounts for only one-third of L lineages within Africa.

We will highlight three L3's. Shelia Maria Wilson (52), who lives in New Mexico, has 20 mutations on mitochondrial control regions 1 and 2, the highest number we have ever studied. Generally, the more mutations, the more ancient the type. There was, however, not even a remote match in databases, making hers a unique type reported only in North America. Wilson knows her genealogy only as far back as her great-grandmother, Mrs. Julia Adams. The surname came from the Georgia slave master of her father Harry Adams. Harry, who called himself "Mali blasta," was kidnapped in Mali as a pre-teen shortly before the Civil War. Shelia's mother Willie Mae Adams, born in 1927, remembered seeing the whelps on her grandfather's back where he was whipped. "I had been informed by some relatives," writes Wilson, "that my great-grandmother was at least part Native American and White."  Another L3 (47, Lovancia Francisco) matched a historical Native woman, A Te Anu, Muscogee.

 

Fig. 16. Willie Mae Adams was born June 2, 1904 in Butler County, Ga. She was the youngest girl of seven children. Her mother was a mix of black, Caucasian and Native American.

Fig. 17. Shelia Maria Wilson (participant 52) carries an old and rare form of L3 that apparently left no descendants except for her and her family.

 

Gregory Damon Haynes (no. 16) has another unique and otherwise unreported L3 haplotype, with a SNP found in no other person (16163G). His father had a rare American Indian Q haplotype with relatives on two Indian census rolls. His maternal grandmother was Lily Marie Benjamin (Blythe), born October 15, 1922 in North Carolina. Could his maternal line have been Cherokee? The question remains open, as it is extremely difficult to investigate the lines of ex-slaves.

 

Fig. 10. Haplogroup Distribution versus Europe and Other Populations, Based on Richards et al. 2000.

Hg

N=

%

Europe

Egypt

Middle

East

Eastern

Med.

T

27

23.1

8.4

23.4

11.9

6.0

U

23

19.7

22.2

7.8

26.3

16.4

H

15

12.0

53.5

14.0

36.8

47.9

J

11

9.4

9.5

6.3

11.4

12.7

L

9

7.7

15.6

K

6

5.1

5.8

3.1

6.2

3.6

I

2

1.5

4.7

N

1

0.8

6.3

Total

n=117

~80%

n=1021

n=64

n=2736

n=165

Conclusions

If we are to accept our sample as valid for its purposes, several salient parameters of the study population labeled "Anomalous Cherokees" seem to leap out from the table of haplogroup frequency comparisons (Fig. 10).

1) The first striking feature is the high amount of T lineages evident in Cherokee descendants. T is the leading haplogroup (23.1%), with a frequency on a par with modern-day Egyptians (23.4%) and Arabs (24.4%). That is elevated by a factor of 4 over the East Mediterranean levels, three times that of Europe and the United States and twice that of the Middle East. T is thus a defining mark of Cherokee ancestry. Where did it come from? We can safely rule out recent European admixture.  As we have discussed again and again, there was no available source for a huge, sudden influx of female-mediated Middle Eastern DNA on the American frontier.  Even Sephardic Jews (11-14%), many of whom were also Indian traders, could hardly have accounted for such admixture. Moreover, had it occurred in the colonial period or more recently the diversity, age and unique characteristics of the T haplotypes would not have yielded the patterns noticed in this paper. Most T's would have matched people in the Old World and we would simply be looking at an effect of migration. Instead, we have a North American branch of T with peculiar SNPs which is evidently a cross-section of a very old population originating in the Old World. The thesis of Donald Yates' study of Cherokee history is that an expedition of Ptolemaic Egyptians and others in the 3rd century BCE served as the nucleus of settlers that became the Eshelokee (Cherokee). If this historical model is correct, there was a severe bottleneck of DNA accompanying the establishment of the Cherokee, with many founder effects—something suggested by the frequent cross-matches, high degree of interrelatedness and clustering of types in our data.

2) The second glaring figure is the relatively low amount of H (12%), which is the leading haplogroup in Europeans (~50%). If the admixture were attributable to European women in the colonial period we would expect it to be much higher.  

3) The third observation we can make is the similarity of haplogroups strongly associated with Jews (J, K at 14.5%) to European levels (15.3%). At whatever time period admixture occurred, whether in ancient or modern times, Jewish women likely formed part of it.  Men cannot pass mitochondrial DNA. Like other contributions to the gene pool, J and K came from a feeder population or sub-population that had families on board. In other words, JK haplotypes could not have been the result of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors, Arab or Jewish merchants, soldiers or any of the other suspects often trotted forth. Judging also from the uniqueness of JK types and their diversity, we are looking at a Jewish signal deeply embedded in the structure of Cherokee populations.

4) L haplogroup frequency (7.7%) is about half that of Egypt (15.6%). East African-centered L3 predominates, not West and Central African-oriented L1 and L2 haplogroups, which are twice as abundant, and which define the majority of slaves and their descendants in the New World. We are unsure how to read this. It may be that in the nature of things, African American lines were under-sampled. Federal regulations and the controversy embroiling the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in their on-again-off-again rejection of freedmen as citizens might have served as a disincentive to blacks' testing their DNA. Blacks are also hampered in tracing genealogies, unlike whites or Hispanics, or indeed Native Americans. 

Certainly, however, our data suggests there has always been a constant African component in Cherokee DNA, one that resembles North and East African populations rather than West and Central Africans. Beginning around the start of the Common Era, the Bantu expansion swamped all Africa with L1 and L2 genes. A high proportion of L3 could mean that admixture with the Cherokee predates that event. We have records of Phoenician colonization efforts as massive as the "30,000  desert-dwelling Moors from the hinterland of Carthage" in about 500 BCE (Yates 2012, p. 32). Mining operations then and now used a large number of women slaves, who were prized for their agility in negotiating small openings as well as their becoming inured to cruel conditions (this is still the norm in Egypt, India and Bolivia, though the workers are no longer legally considered slaves; see Del Mar 1902). The clan that specifically included black-skinned people among the Cherokee was called the Blue Paint or Panther (Ani-Sahoni; see Panther-Yates 2013, pp. 30-31). It was related to the original (Red) Paint Clan, named for the Paint People, or Phoenicians (Ani-Wodi).

5) Finally, we might remark on the minor (I, N, V, W), unknown (I 33, 36, 37, 40; II 33) and missing haplogroups (G, HV, pre-HV, M and other Asian types).  I, N, V and W are minimally adduced in Egyptian, Palestinian, Arab and Turkish populations.  They round out our picture of the original genetic inputs to the Cherokee, showing that the source of "admixture" was deep seated and diverse. The Cherokee population structure seems to be rather an effect of long-distance travel and conquest than of gradually developing encroachment, migration or genetic drift.     

Admixture, just like the word "anomalous," is a relative term. Its use depends on one's perspective. Geneticists, as we have seen, tend to privilege a rather narrow body of recent U.S. and European scientific literature. It is time to de-colonize the human past and open our eyes to the diversity of American Indian peoples. The personal genealogies of over one hundred Cherokee descendants contradict popular and professional received wisdom about Indian nations.

 

Addendum:  Begging the Question

For science to be separated from pseudoscience, its findings must obey the rule of falsifiability. This term has often been misunderstood, but what it means according to philosophers of science is that empirical statements such as "All swans are white" must be "such that to verify them and to falsify them must both be logically possible" (Popper 2005). Otherwise, as Wolfgang Pauli famously remarked, an argument "is not only not right, it is not even wrong."

In plain language, we could say that so far from barking up the wrong tree, that dog don't hunt.

"All swans are white" is a falsifiable statement. It can be tested by observation and shown to be generally true (though false in cases of black swans). But such statements as "All American Indians descend from haplogroups A-D and sometimes X" is not falsifiable. Neither this generalization nor its converse is testable in any experiential way. No amount of corollaries, exceptions to the rule or qualification will fix it.

"A woman of haplogroup A (or B, or X, or T, or W) founded a Cherokee matriline," on the other hand, is falsifiable. It is scientifically true in certain individual cases and datasets, as claimed in the present study ("experiment"), just as it is scientifically false in other instances.

Much of the surmises of science about the peopling of the Americas can be said to be on the wrong track. It can neither be proved true nor decided false that ancestors of American Indians crossed a hypothetical Bering land bridge at some time in the unknown past. Let us hope that the growing demand for truth from amateur roots-seekers and test takers will force professionals to predicate their research agendas and phrase their findings more carefully in the future. If they do not, they will be failing the public trust. There is also a need for science reporters and writers to frame their stories more responsibly. We have always said, "There are Indians and Indians."

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Project data available upon request from dpy@dnaconsultants.com.

Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee (Phase I)


  

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On the Trail of Spider Woman

Friday, December 31, 2010
Thoughts about the origin of mitochondrial haplogroup B and Mother Earth symbolism among the Hopi, Zuni, Hohokam, Fremont Indians and others

I got a holiday present from my wife of an unusual little book titled On the Trail of Spider Woman. Petroglyphs, Pictographs, and Myths of the Southwest, by Carol Patterson-Rudolph (Santa Fe:  Ancient City Press, 1997). Putting this intriguing study together with a travel book by David Hatcher Childress, my son and I took a 4-day road trip into the homeland of the Indians credited with having the first civilization in the Southwest, a settled town life marked by desert agriculture, canals, pottery, baskets, ballcourts, plazas and adobe pueblos, pithouses and kivas. Previous occupants of the area were non-sedentary hunter-gatherers considered to be "paleo-Indians."

We visited Painted Rock Petroglyph Site outside Gila Bend, in the middle of nowhere, and ended the trip in the barren sands outside Phoenix, where we began it, visiting the Hohokam Pima National Archeological Monument, also known as Snaketown. The former is little seen, and the latter cannot seen, because the Pima (now Gila River Indians) had the ballcourt and other ruins reburied by backhoes in the 1970s. The caretakers of this declared national treasure decided not to open it to anyone to view or visit because of its "sensitive" nature. There are no signs, no roads, nothing left above ground.

Overview of pecked records and markings of Hohokam, 200 B.C.-A.D. 1300, on granite outcropping called Painted Rock in South Central Arizona.

At Painted Rock, the first mystery we pondered was why it was called "painted" rock when there is no paint. Petroglyphs are produced by pecking away the dark desert varnish to make a negative image on the underlying lighter rock. We wondered if it had anything to do with the Paint People, or Phoenicians, Kanawah Indians of the East Coast or Cherokee and Saponi Paint Clans.

The second mystery was the abundance of snake imagery. Famously, snakes in Indian tradition stand for boats and water. We noticed a Corn Cross, the symbol of the Feathered Serpent or Quetzlcoatl religion, supposedly introduced into Mexico from both the East and the West by white, bearded strangers in ships, who brought rule by laws and numerous arts of civilization and banned human sacrifice.

The third thing we remarked upon were the many Great Goddess or Earth Mother or birthing/fertility symbols. Such places were probably shrines where women came to be blessed and get married and give birth. Sun Park in Hopiland has numerous hemispherical carvings about two inches wide where people ground out minerals to eat. These cupmarks or cupoles at petroglyph sites puzzled archeologists until an important article in a scholarly journal clarified their meaning as part of the worldwide phenomenon of pica (pronounced "pie-ka"), "the desire to ingest nonfood substances such as rock powder, clay, chalk, dirt, and other material by some humans, especially pregnant women" (Kevin L. Callahan, "Pica, Geophagy, and Rock-Art in the Eastern United States," in The Rock-Art of Eastern North America, ed. Carol Diaz-Granados and James R. Duncan, Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2004, p. 65.

Neolithic Cupmarks in Kh. Umm El-Umdan, Israel. 

In general, petroglyphs are ignored both by archeology and anthropology, and their study is a no man's land. Sun Park has a birthing cave and birthing stone. Canyon de Chelly has the most photographed Mother Earth rock formation in the world, Spider Rock, a chthonic monument discussed on page 83 of the Spider Woman book by Patterson-Rudolph.

Who Were the Hohokam?

There were also clear images of horses, riders, people praying, spirals, axis mundi (center of the earth) symbols like the iron butterfly and cross, labyrinths, bilobed axes, irrigation plans, horned beasts, felines, palaces or villages and warriors with spears and shields. We searched in vain for anomalous depictions of whales, elephants and deep water fish, found at other similar sites, but the sun was sinking and we did not have time to make a thorough inspection of the motifs. There is a famous petroglyph of a whale at Old Oraibi.

The name Ho-ho-kam is usually explained as meaning "Those Who Are Departed," but such an etymology is more a gloss than a literal translation of its meaning and origin. Like many words in the Hopi, Zuni, Pima and Azteco-Utan languages in general it is composed of South Semitic elements. In Egyptian, it literally means "Sea Peoples" or "Foreigners." The historic Sea Peoples came from Asia Minor and once threatened to conquer the Egyptian empire. The Philistines and Phoenicians are related to them. They were remarkable for their feather bonnets and, like their relatives the Cretans (whose language also came from Asia Minor), for a long-protracted continuance of Mother Goddess worship down into the Bronze Age.

Haplogroup B is the signature lineage of certain Indians in North America. Its ultimate source is Southeast Asia (not Mongolia, as has been suggested for the other three classic Native American haplogroups A, C and D), whence it took multiple circum- or trans-Pacific migratory routes to the Americas (Eschleman et al. 2004). It has high frequencies in Polynesia, which was settled from Southeast Asia, and among the Western Indians of the U.S. such as the Hopi, Zuni (77%), Anasazi (78%), Yuman, and Jemez Pueblo (89%). It is also found in frequencies approaching 70% in the Cherokee and Chickasaw.

We believe Spider Woman is simply an aspect of the Stone Age Great Goddess worshiped by those who came from Southeast Asia through Polynesia and helped colonized the American Southwest. She is the same as the Earth Mother. As in other cultures, she was replaced by sky and sun deities and male hierarchies. But her religion seems to have persisted in the Hohokam, Cherokee and Hopi tribes in a similar fashion to the survival of her cult in the Cretans, Phoenicians and Sea Peoples. 

According to Hopi and other traditions, at the end of the last age, the Mother Goddess ceased to be the leader of the people in their wanderings and went back "under the sea" to the east and west whence she and they had emerged. We can only infer from this that Spider Woman, as she was called in Asia and the Pacific, and the Great Goddess, as she was known in the Old World of the Middle East, relinquished her role as supreme deity to the new male pantheons and withdrew across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to the distant origins of civilization outside the Americas. Ironically, her memory survived better among the Indian nations than in the war-torn empires and materialistic cultures that dominate world history elsewhere. Indian societies today exhibit rare examples of matriarchy as opposed to patriarchy.

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Paul commented on 03-Jan-2011 12:49 PM

Pretty cool. More pictures please!


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Archeology Venturing into Uncharted Waters

Thursday, December 09, 2010
Or At least Starting to Get Its Feet Wet


American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting:
Tracking the Med's Stone Age Sailors

Andrew Lawler

Genetic studies are beginning to fill in the missing pieces in the history and prehistory of seafaring. "By carefully sorting genetic data from living people, a researcher at this recent meeting covered in Science reported that around 6000 B.C.E., early seaferers indeed spread their seed--both agricultural and genetic--from their homeland in the Near East as far west across the Mediterranean as Marseilles, but no farther."

No farther? Could that be because they have looked no farther?

Gunnar Thompson's new study, whose first print runs have already been exhausted apparently, Ancient Egyptian Maize, builds a well-documented and persuasive case that "Indian corn blossomed with equal vigor along the shores of the Nile River and Gulf of Mexico at the very dawn of history."

You may say that Gunnar Thompson is not a "real" researcher but we would counter that 400 corncobs on ancient tombs and papyrus scrolls of Egypt and corncobs depicted with copper weapons on ancient ships are real enough to be remarked upon by anyone with eyes in their head and a brain to think.

"Male regents in the Middle East and India sent mariners overseas in search of the world's purest copper deposits. These were located in the Mediterranean Sea on the Island of Cyprus, in the Persian Gulf on Megan Island, and on Isle Royale in the Upper Great Lakes Region of North America. This worldwide exploration took place in approximately 6000 B.C.E....all the way to the shores of North and South America" (p.2).


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Zealotry Rebuked by Academicians

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Change of Biblical Proportions Strikes Mideast Archaeology

Andrew Lawler

Science 10 December 2010:
Vol. 330 no. 6010 pp. 1472-1473
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6010.1472-a

Summary

At a meeting that may signal a shot across the bow to Israeli zealots and American religious fundamentalists, a series of biblical archaeologists came to the podium for 2 hours of data-rich presentations—and put their colleagues on notice that their field is in the midst of a scientific revolution. Biblical archaeology has often been heavy on textual analysis and slow to adopt scientific methods such as radiocarbon dating. Attempts to prove the accuracy of biblical accounts or to legitimize Jewish claims to the region have dogged the field. Now researchers are revolutionizing the region's archaeology by applying a host of new technologies. The goal of their 5-year, $4 million effort, funded by the European Research Council, is to overcome the "strong ideological agenda" pervading the field. 

Read the article.

By "strong ideological agenda pervading the field," the American Schools of Oriental Research is referring presumably not only to literalist tendencies of American Protestant religious dogmas but to the official Israeli political policies that have hamstrung archeological and genetic research in the region for over fifty years. Israel is the only country in the world to separate history departments at its academic institutions into those of national (meaning Jewish) history and world or European history. In our opinion it is high time for Israeli science to give up these paranoid and hidebound practices -- or at least get out of the way and let the rest of the world go about its legitimate business of investigating the past.


Marquee from website of the Department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University stresses long continuity of the subject from ancient times to the present. The department states that courses offered "begin with the biblical era, three thousand years ago, when Jewish nationality and culture were created in the world of ancient Near East." Some would say Jewish nationality was not created until the advent of Zionism, however, in the nineteenth century, or the foundation of the State of Israel in 1949.



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When Ireland Was Jewish

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Or at Least One of Its Kings

The royal mound cemetery at Taillten, modern Telltown in County Meath, houses the burials of numerous kings and nobles from early Ireland. These begin with Ollamh Fodhla, whose death occurred in 1277 B.C.E., and run to just before Conchobar Mac Ness, who died in A.D. 33 according to the Annals of Tighernach, written in Old Irish and Latin in the early Middle Ages. Pronounced "CON ah war," Conchobar is the first of the name Connor or O'Connor in Irish annals. His mother was Queen Ness, and his nephew Cuchulain, the famous hero of the Ulster cycle of stories.

"Our oldest and most trustworthy authorities state that Taillten ceased to be used as a cemetery on the death of Conchobhor," wrote Irish antiquarian (the term used before "archeologist") William F. Wakeman in The Handbook of Irish Antiquities in 1891, drawing on field reports dating back to 1848 (London:  Studio, 1995). What made Conchobar's burial unusual was that, unlike the previous kings of Ulster entombed at Taillten, he "wished that he should be carried to a place between Slea and the sea, with his face to the east, on account of the Faith which he had embraced" (p. 94).

It seems obvious that Conchobar converted from pagan druidism to a new religion, one that emphasized burial facing east. The new religion could not have been Christianity, although Irish myths claim, anachronistically, that Conchobar died upon being told by druids that Jesus had just been killed "by the Jews." Christianity was not widespread until the fourth century of the Common Era. Jews, like Christians, are buried facing east.

According to Celtic tradition, Conchobar was one of the two men who believed in God in Ireland before the coming of the Faith, Morann being the other man. Such a statement can only mean that Conchobar and his advisor Morann were monotheists or Jews.

In Conchobar's day, Judaism attracted millions of converts. Eventually between one-tenth and one-quarter of the inhabitants within the limit of the Roman Empire professed Judaism. Often it was a syncretistic form combined with other rites and beliefs.

The story of a king converting to Judaism with many of his subjects and descendants following him is a phenomenon documented from more than one historical time point associated with mass conversions. The Hellenized Hasmonean dynasty established under Judas Maccabeus ruled the Kingdom of Israel for over a hundred years, spreading Jewish religion to many others in the Middle East. Bulan was a Khazar king who led the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism. The Babylonian prince Machir, also known as Todros, Theodore, Theodorich, Dietrich, William and by other names, converted most of the inhabitants of the kingdom of Narbonne/Septimania in southern France.

It is likely the Irish high king Conchobar inspired many of his people to accept Judaism. The introduction and early spread of Christianity in Ireland could have been facilitated by the pre-existence of Jewish institutions in the country.



King Ollamh Fodhla's Throne at Taillten, covered with tifinagh (North African) inscriptions. Conwell, On the Cemetery of Taillten (1879).



Comments

Allan Morris commented on 08-Jun-2011 08:21 AM

Your website was very informative. Thank you. I am writing a book called the `Shield of Conchobar` based on writings of my ancestor John Todhunter (on my mothers side). He was a poet and knew James Joyce. I have many of the writings of John Todhunter and
have picked up snippets here and there about King Cochobar and his shield that roared when the King was in danger etc but I have found out so much more looking at your website. Thank you once again.

Juan commented on 25-Mar-2012 06:25 AM

Very interesting, very credible is everything he says.


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Cherokees Spoke Greek and Came from East Mediterranean

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Possum Creek Stone and Anomalous Cherokee DNA Point to Eastern Mediterranean Origins

In memoriam Gloria Farley

Donald N. Yates

DNA Consultants

Keynote address for Ancient American History and Archeology Conference, Sandy, Utah, April 2, 2010

SUMMARY  Three examples of North American rock art are discussed and placed in the context of ancient Greek and Hebrew civilization. The Red Bird Petroglyphs are compared with Greek and Hebrew coins and the Bat Creek Stone. The Possum Creek Stone discovered by Gloria Farley is identified as a Greek athlete’s victory pedestal. The Thruston Stone is interpreted as a record of the blending of Greek, Cherokee, Native American, Egyptian and Hebrew civilization. Keetoowah Society traditions, as captured in The Vision of Eloh’, are adduced to confirm a general outline of the origins of the Cherokee people in a Ptolemaic Greek trans-Pacific expedition joining pre-arriving Greeks, Jews and Phoenicians in the Ohio Valley around 100 c.e.  Recent DNA investigations showing Egyptian, Jewish and Phoenician female lineages and the Y chromosome of Old Testament Priests among the Cherokee are also touched upon. Greek words and customs in the Cherokee are reviewed as time permits. Slide projector requested.

A cave entrance overlooking the Redbird River, a tributary of the South Fork of the Kentucky River in Clay County, Kentucky in the Daniel Boone National Forest, has inscriptions which according to Kenneth B. Tankersley of the University of Cincinnati display a nineteenth-century example of writing in the Cherokee syllabary. A local resident (Burchell) recognizes Greek writing in one inscription (called Christian Monogram #2) but his reading is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons. Evaluation by experts in Greek and Semitic epigraphy identifies two distinct inscriptions, one in Greek and one in Hebrew.  They appear to be contemporaneous with the Bat Creek Stone unearthed in the 1889 excavation of a tomb in East Tennessee by Cyrus Thomas of the Smithsonian Institution.

Another record of Greek-speaking people in ancient America is the Possum Creek Stone, discovered by Gloria Farley in Oklahoma in the 1970s. It is discussed by her in Volume 2 of In Plain Sight as proof that the man history knows as Sequoyah did not invent the Cherokee syllabary.  The inscription can be read as Greek, HO-NI-KA-SA or ‘o nikasa, i.e. “This is the one who takes the prize of victory,” a common inscription for the pedestal upon which victors were crowned at athletic games.  The use is Homeric, and the spelling Doric.

A third piece of evidence helps fill in the background of the arrival of Greeks and their intermarriage with Asiatic and other Indians in North America. In 1870, an engraved 19 x 15 inch limestone tablet was uncovered in a mound excavation on Rocky Creek near Castalian Springs in Sumner County, Tennessee (see Ancient American, vol. 12, no. 77). Dating to an earlier time than its Mississipian Period context, it commemorates a peace treaty between the Cherokee and Shawnee. The Cherokee chief wears a horse-hair crested helmet and carries the spear and shield of a Greek hoplite. His Shawnee adversary clasps hands in a wedding ceremony with a Cherokee woman who bears wampum belts as a pledge of peace, has her hair in a maidenly bun, wears a Middle Eastern-style plaid kilt, and displays a large star of David. In the Red Record or Walam Olum, we learn that before crossing the Mississippi, somewhere along the south bank of the Missouri, the Algonquians or Lenni Lenape (Delaware Indians), who are later allied with the Cherokee, encounter a foreign tribe they call the Stonys. Cherokee legends about Stone-coat demonstrate that the original Cherokee had metal armor and weapons. DNA studies confirm a mixture of “anomalous” East Mediterranean mitochondrial lineages such as Egyptian T, Greek U and Phoenician X with “standard” American Indian haplogroups A, B, C and D in the Cherokee and certain other Eastern Woodlands Indians.

To sum up, the Red Bird Petroglyph is a Greek inscription from the 2nd to 3rd century c.e., not a crude Cherokee scratching of around 1800 as announced recently by the Archeological Institute of America and the New York Times. It occurs above what is, in all likelihood, an inscription in Maccabean-era Hebrew. The Sequoyan syllabary for which these Greek and Hebrew inscriptions were mistaken originated in the Greek world of the Bronze Age along with other syllabaries like Linear A, Linear B and Cypro-Minoan. The Cherokee language, which today is Iroquoian, is the result of a relexification process in the distant past. It contains many relics of words of Greek origin, especially in the area of government, military terminology, mythology, athletics and ritual. Cherokee music also reflects Greek origins.  The Cherokee Indians are, quite literally, the Greeks of Native America.

Possum Creek Stone and Anomalous Cherokee DNA Point to East Mediterranean Origins (PPT)

Greek Words and Customs in Cherokee

Greek
Meaning
Cherokee
Meaning
alomenoi
dakos
dasis
tynchana
etheloikeoi*
gennadas
huios Dios
illo, illas*
kakotechneo
kanon
karanos
kateis*
kerux
mona*
neika*
Ogyges
ouktenna
oulountata
skia
stix
tanawa*
(hoi en) telei
theatas*
theatron
Thrax
typho

wanderers (in a hopeless sense)
noxious, devouring beast, whale
hairy, shaggy like a beast
things that befall
volunteer settlers
noble
Son of Zeus (title of Herakles)
wrap, twist; rope
base arts, perjury, fraud
straight-edge used by athletes
a chief
assembly
herald
stopping place, way-station
contest
titan of Greek mythology
one not killed
declared healthy
ghost, shade
abominable
astronomical instrument
those in authority
spectator in a play
theater, assembly
 Thracian
raise a smoke, make sacrifice

eloh’; elohi
dakwa
dachi
tikano
eshelokee
kanat(i)
Su-too Jee
kilohi
kaktunta
kanuga
Koranu**
cahtiyis
skarirosken**
mona
anetcha
Ootschaye
Uktena
oolungtsata
atchina
Stichi
Tchlanua
tilihi
tetchata
tetchanun
tchaskiri**
Tathtowe,
  Tistoe
migrants, wanderers; earth
mythic great fish
hairy water monster
history
Cherokee; original people
doctor, hunter
mythic strong man
twisted hair clan (cf. Hawaiian hilo)
taboo regulation
scraper used by ballplayers
war chief title
assembly house
speaker, herald
land where the Elohi tarried
ballplay
rival of Sutoo Jee (Herakles)
name of a dragon or serpent
divining crystal for health
ghost; cedar
name of dangerous serpent
Great Hawk
brave, warrior
Playful Cherokee fairy
ceremonial enclosure
sorcerer, Stoneclad
ceremonial title; firecracker  (smoke) bringer (Santa Claus)
 

Comments

Jim Sotirakos commented on 27-Feb-2012 04:53 PM

My parents were both from Greece. My DNA showed that I was 93% eastern european and 7% native American. The migration of our ancestors shows a continued migration from west to east until they came over the land bridge from Russia into north America.

Anonymous commented on 15-May-2012 09:28 PM

the basques are the hebrews..they spoke greek cos we founded ancient greece and all the nations http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euUzRKuGwm8&feature=player_embedded

stan commented on 25-May-2012 12:02 AM

My grandma was full blood Cherokee and said "we mixed with the Greeks on the trail of tears..." I assumed she meant Creeks!

Sharee commented on 04-Jun-2013 08:41 AM

I know I'm Cherokee however I also know I'm Greek. I have a deep inner unexplainable love for Greece. My life's path has shown me who I am and expanded my spirituality. It continues to unfold.

Anonymous commented on 10-Oct-2014 12:38 PM

for the past 10 years my work with Indian artifacts face rocks as I coined the name has been censored by state government and archaeology,these pieces all not just from one area contain Mediterranean Greek Minoansee my pictures on Flickr my name is Lauren wEizel

Anonymous commented on 10-Oct-2014 01:20 PM

I havel.f. weizel found many artifacts hundreds of them for 10 years that have Mediterranean symbols and letters including Greek Minoan create an Egyptian not just on one area collected from Indian sites but in all areasand view my collection on Flickr my name is Lauren Weizel

Lauren Weizel commented on 24-Nov-2014 12:22 PM

In Raddisson and Lassales writings of early minnesota organizing fur trade its mentioned of the Christoes another name for the Cree (cretin) Gree then, they were described by the other notso natives as more humane simply bashing captives on the head instead of throwing them on the fire.
That turban seqouia has on reminds me of turkish ok, cherikish, my face rock collection from late 1990's are covered with many Mediterranian symbols as well as the owl, bear, and bull or buffalo. See flikr under lauren weizel out of the ancient indian toolbox into his art gal.


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Acadian Anomalies

Monday, November 30, 2009
Anomalous Native American Lineages Now Identified Also among Micmac Indians After posting “Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee,” and after being interviewed on the subject by an Internet radio show host, I was contacted by participants in the Amerindian Ancestry out of Acadia Project who were struck by similarities in results for the two groups. Established in 2006, the Amerindian Ancestry Out of Acadia DNA Project mission is to research and publish the mtDNA and Y chromosome genetic test results of site participants who descend from persons living in Nova Scotia and surrounding environs in the 17th and 18th centuries, focusing specifically upon the early population of l'Acadie. As part of the mission, the Project develops a database of published mtDNA and Y Chromosome test results and encourages the sharing of this information among other similarly focused studies for the purposes of comparison and the advancement of science and research. According to Project Administrator Marie A. Rundquist, “We descend from both Amerindians (mostly Mi’kmaq) and the early French settlers who arrived in Port Royal in the 1600s, many of them single French men who married Amerindian wives, whose families would become pioneers of the New World. Our family lines have extended well-beyond the original boundaries of what was known to the French as Acadia, but to our AmerIndian ancestors as Mi’kma’ki, as our ancestors settled the outer-reaches of Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Our family lines continue to extend, traversing the entire North American continent and beyond.” She adds, “Many who live in the United States trace their genealogies back to the first Acadian AmerIndian immigrants who arrived in Louisiana after being deported from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755 (in the "Grand Deportation') -- and belong to a ‘Cajun’ community known worldwide for its food, flair, fun, and love of all things French. Several members belong, as it turns out, to rare haplogroups X, U, and other "anomalous types" as compiled by me for DNA Consultants customers and reported in the previous blog post. Some highlights from the study of Cherokee descendants are:
  • H, the most common European type today, is virtually absent, demonstrating lack of inflow from recent Europeans
  • J present in lines explicitly recognized to be Cherokee
  • X the signature of a Canaanite people whose center of diffusion was the Hills of Galilee, hypothetically correlating with Jews and Phoenicians
  • U suggesting Eastern Mediterranean, specifically Greek
  • K also suggesting Eastern Mediterranean or Middle Eastern, hypothetically correlating with Jews and Phoenicians
  • T reflecting Egyptian high frequencies found almost nowhere else
According to Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, the Cumberland Gap mtDNA Project with overlapping territory with the Cherokee and Melungeon homelands in the Southern Appalachian Mountains also shows elevated frequencies of T. Project administrator Roberta Estes recently published the results of a large study of Native American Eastern Seaboard mixed populations “in relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke” in the online Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 5(2):96-130, 2009. Estes is a board member of the Melungeon Historical Society and has an introduction with links to the study and its data on the society’s blog, titled “Where Have All the Indians Gone?” Harvard University professor Barry Fell in his book Saga America first published in 1980 presented historical, epigraphic, archeological and linguistic evidence suggesting links between Greeks and Egyptians and the Algonquian Indians of Nova Scotia, Acadia and surrounding regions around the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway, particularly the Abnaki ("White") and Micmac Indians. He noted as early as 1976 in his previous study America B.C. that the second century CE Greek historian Plutarch recorded “Greeks had settled among the barbarian peoples of the Western Epeiros (continent).” Fell inferred from Plutarch’s passage “these Greeks had intermarried with the barbarians, had adopted thier language, but had blended their own Greek language with it.” In an appendix, he assembled extensive word-lists comparing Abenaki and Micmac vocabulary in the areas of navigation, fishing, astronomy, meteorology, justice and administration, medicine, anatomy, and economy with virtually identical terms in Ptolemaic Greek. One example is Greek ap’aktes Abenaki/Micmac ab’akt English “a distant shore.” Fell’s work was continued by John H. Cooper, “Ancient Greek Cultural and Linguistic Influences in Atlantic North America,” NEARA JOURNAL 35/2. Acadia project’s website is: http://www.familytreedna.com/public/AcadianAmerIndian/default.aspx.


More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Comments

Anonymous commented on 18-Jun-2011 02:08 PM

My mother's family has roots from one of the very early Grandmother's of Acadia (Nova Scotia) and my father's parents were born in Sweden. I had my DNA done and my autosomal DNA gives me a 98.6 % with 1.86 error ratio of being from the Orkney Islands..
I am blown away by this finding as I never heard of Orkney Islands until this week and my mother's family is theoretically French.. I can see my father's family originating from the islands as he is a Swede.. I am very interested in any discussion on this
finding.. Thank you

Frazer Campbell commented on 09-Aug-2011 08:05 AM

Hi re the entry above about Nova Scotia and Orkney. It might be that your Orcadian roots are a result of contact with the Hudson Bay Company. Around 75% of Hudson Bay employees were from Orkney, quite a few married Cree women . I am busy with a project
until October 2011 but if you want help to explore this further let me know and I'll try my best. Kind regards Frazer Campbell

Keith Gilbert commented on 24-Mar-2012 04:55 PM

I am 72 years old, my mother was a Mouton. At age 8 my maternal grandmother told me we were Jews...ours was the most un religious family you can imatine.

Keith Gilbert commented on 28-Apr-2012 06:44 PM

I am a descendant of the Mouton line...am very interested in how the Jewish migration to Nova Scotia (Acadia) happened.


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Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Original Post:  

Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician and Hebrew Origins of Cherokee?

Donald N. Yates

submitted August 31, 2009

ABSTRACT. A sample of 52 individuals who purchased mitochondrial DNA testing to determine their female lineage was assembled after the fact from the customer files of DNA Consultants. All claim matrilineal descent from a Native American woman, usually named as Cherokee. The main criterion for inclusion in the study is that test subjects must have obtained results not placing them in the standard Native American haplogroups A, B, C or D. Hence the use of the word "anomalous" in the title of a paper prepared by chief investigator Donald N. Yates, "Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee."

Most subjects reveal haplotypes that are unmatched anywhere else except among other participants, and there proves to be a high degree of interrelatedness and common ancestral lines. 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 (see below).

The Cherokee and Admixture. According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Cherokee are the largest tribal group today, with a population of 331,000 or 15% of all American Indians. Despite their numbers, though, the Cherokee have had few DNA studies conducted on them. I know of only three reports on Cherokee mitochondrial DNA. A total of 60 subjects are involved, all from Oklahoma. Possibly the reason the Cherokee are not recruited for more studies, I would suggest, stems from their being perceived as admixed in comparison with other Indians. Accordingly, they are deemed less worthy of study.

In the past, whenever a geneticist or anthropologist conducting a study of Native Americans has encountered an anomalous haplogroup, that is, a lineage that does not belong to one of the five generally accepted American Indian mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C, D and X, it has been rejected as an example of admixture and not included in the survey results. This is true of the two examples of H and one of J reported by Cherokee descendants by Schurr (2000:253). Schurr takes these exceptions to prove the rule and regards them as instances of European admixture. The governing logic of population geneticists seems to go as follows:

Lineage A, B, C, D and X are American Indian.
Therefore, all American Indians are lineage A, B, C, D and X.

The fallacy in such reasoning is apparent. It could be restated as: "All men are two-legged creatures; therefore since the skeleton we dug up has two legs, it is human." It might be a kangaroo.

"The geneticists always seem to cry 'post-Columbian admixture,'" says Stephen C. Jett, a geographer at the University of California at Davis, "but fail to take into account that there are no plausible post-Columbian sources for the particular genetic mix encountered."

"Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee" concentrates on the "kangaroos"- documented or self-identifying Cherokee descendants whose haplotypes do not fit the current orthodoxy in American Indian population genetics. Here are some highlights, organized by haplogroup.

Haplogroup H. Although this quintessentially European haplogroup would seem to be the most likely suspect if admixture were responsible for the anomalous haplogroups, there are but four cases of it.

Haplogroup X. Haplogroup X is a latecomer to the "pantheon" of Native American haplogroups. Its relative absence in Mongolia and Siberia and a recently proven center of diffusion in Lebanon and Israel (Brown et al. 1998, Malhi and Smith 2002; Smith et al. 1999; Reidla 2003; Shlush et al. 2009) pose problems for the standard account of the peopling of the Americas. DNA Consultants Cherokee-descended customers include seven instances of haplogroup X. David E. Lewis (whose Cherokee name is Wayauwetsi) traces his unmatched X haplotype back to Seyinus, a Cherokee woman of the Wolf Clan born on or near the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina in 1862. Two cases represent descendants (unknown to each other, incidentally) of the Cherokee woman called Polly who was the namesake for the Qualla reservation (the sound p lacking in the Cherokee language and being rendered with qu).

Haplogroup J. Two other cases, both J's, are related to Polly, tracing their lines back to Betsy Walker, a Cherokee woman born about 1720 in Soco (One-Town). A descendant was the wife or paramour of Col. Will Thomas, the first chief and founder of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located today on the Qualla Boundary. Views about J are still evolving, but it seems to have originated in present-day Lebanon approximately 10,000 years before present. It is a major Jewish female lineage (Thomas 2002).

Haplogroup U has never been reported in American Indians to my knowledge. In our sample it covers 13 cases or 25% of the total, second in frequency only to haplogroup T. One of the U's is Mary M. Garrabrant-Brower. She belongs to U5a1a* (all U5a1a not matched or assigned) but has no close matches anywhere. Her great-grandmother was Clarissa Green of the Cherokee Wolf Clan, born 1846. Mary's mother Mary M. Lounsbury maintained the Cherokee language and rituals. One of the cases of U2e* is my own. This line evidently arose from a Jewish Indian trader and a Cherokee woman. My fifth-great-grandmother was born about 1790 on the northern Georgia and southwestern North Carolina frontier and had a relationship with a trader named Enoch Jordan. The trader's male line descendants from his white family in North Carolina possess Y chromosomal J, a common Jewish type. Some Jordans, in fact, bear the Cohen Modal Haplotype that has been suggested to be the genetic signature of Old Testament priests (Thomas et al. 1998). Enoch Jordan was born about 1768 in Scotland of forbears from Russia or the Ukraine. My mother, Bessie Cooper, was a double descendant of Cherokee chief Black Fox and was born on Sand Mountain in northeastern Alabama near Black Fox's former seat at Creek Path (and who was Paint Clan). All U2e* cases appear to have in common the fact that there are underlying Melungeon, Cherokee and Jewish connections.

Haplogroup T. "Tara," as she was named by Brian Sykes, is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia approximately 10,000 to 12,000 years ago and to have moved northwards through the Caucasus and westwards from Anatolia into Europe. The closer one goes to its origin in the Fertile Crescent the more likely T is to be found in higher frequencies. The haplogroup includes slightly fewer than 10% of modern Europeans, but accounts for 28% of people in the DNA Consultants study. The great-great-grandmother of Linda Burckhalter was Sully Firebush, the daughter of a Cherokee chief who married Solomon Sutton, the stowaway son of a London merchant, in what would seem to be another variation of the "Jewish trader marries chief's daughter" pattern. Three T1*'s are perfectly matching individuals completely unknown to one another before testing who are clearly descended from the same woman. Two of them claim Melungeon ancestry.

The many interrelationships noted above reinforce the conclusion that this is a faithful cross-section of a population. No such mix could have resulted from post-1492 European gene flow into the Cherokee Nation. So where do our non-European, non-Indian-appearing elements come from? The level of haplogroup T in the Cherokee (26.9%) approximates the percentage for Egypt (25%), one of the only lands where T attains a major position among the various mitochondrial lineages. In Egypt, T is three times what 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. J has a frequency not unlike Europe (a little less than 10%). The only other place on earth where X is found at an elevated level apart from other American Indian groups like the Ojibwe is among the Druze in the Hills of Galilee in northern Israel and Lebanon. The work of Shlush et al. (2009) demonstrates that this region was in fact the center of the worldwide diffusion of haplogroup X.

Phoenicians. On the Y chromosome side of Shlush et al.'s study, male haplogroup K was found to have a relatively high frequency of 11% in the Galilee region (2008:2). K (renamed T in the revised YCC nomenclature) has long been suspected to be the genetic signature of the Phoenicians. A TV show by National Geographic appeared about a year ago titled Who Were the Phoenicians?, in which Spencer Wells of the National Genographic Project, unveiled this theory. Without a doubt it was the Phoenicians, whose name among themselves was Cana'ni or KHNAI 'Canaanites', not Phoenikoi 'red paint people' (Aubet 2001:9-12; cf. Oxford Classical Dictionary s.v. "Phoenicians" ), who are referenced by James Adair when he observes that "several old American towns are called Kan?ai," and suggests that the Conoy Indians of Pennsylvania and Maryland were Canaanites and their tribal name a corruption of the word Canaan. The Conoy Indians are the same Indians William Penn around 1700 described as resembling Italians, Jews and Greeks. By about 1735 they had dwindled to a "remnant of a nation, or subdivided tribe, of Indians," according to Adair (1930:56, 67, 68). One of the oldest Cherokee clans is called Red Paint Clan (Ani-wodi).

So do the two subclades of X and other haplogroups represent Old World and New World branches diverging from each other as long ago as 30,000 years, or do the Native American "anomalous" haplotypes come more recently (but not as late as Columbus) from the same source in the East Mediterranean? The answer probably depends on how open one is to new evidence and revisionary thinking. According to Jett, "The splits may have taken place well before transfer, with one only or both being transferred to a new place and then one dying out in the home area (and the other in the new area, if both were transferred)." The distinction, at any rate, is irrelevant to the Cherokee who exhibit these not-so-rare haplogroups, although to those denied authenticity on the basis of anthropologists' hardened ideas about the genetic composition of American Indians it is welcome vindication either way.

References
1. Adair, James (1930). Adair's History of the American Indians, ed. by Samuel Cole Williams, originally published London, 1775. Johnson City: Watauga.
2. Richards, Martin et al. (2000). "Tracing European Founder Lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA Pool." American Journal of Human Genetics 67:1251-76. Supplementary Data. URL: http://www.stats.gla.ac.uk/~vincent/founder2000/index.html.
3. Schurr, Theodore G. (2000). "Mitochondrial DNA and the Peopling of the New World," American Scientist 88:246-53. 
4. Shlush, L. I. et al. (2009) "The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East." PLoS ONE 3(5): e2105. URL: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2324201

When Objects Become Subjects 
(and Talk Back to Researchers)

Review
Paul Brodwin, "'Bioethics in Action' and Human Population Genetics Research"

Population genetics experts who lecture in the groves of academe or trudge through the jungles of the Amazon are not immune to racist bombshells and political dynamite. In 1991, Stanford geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza announced a project to study human genetic diversity. The ponderous monograph that issued forth in 1994 became as revered as it was unreadable. His History and Geography of Human Genes posited two main limbs in the human DNA tree, the African and non-African, with the latter branching off into Europeans (Caucasians) and Northeast Asians. Included in Northeast Asians were the so-called Amerindians. Amerinds were closest in genetic distance to Northern Turkic, Chukchi and other Arctic and Mongolian peoples.

Little did Cavalli-Sforza and his team expect to encounter any opposition to their benign project, much less withdrawal of funding by the U.S. government and United Nations, but this is exactly what happened. The genial professor was surprised one day by a letter from a Canadian human rights group called the Rural Advancement Foundation International. The group demanded he stop his work immediately. It accused the Human Genome Diversity Project of biopiracy, stealing DNA from unsuspecting indigenous people and mining it for valuable information pharmaceutical companies could use to make drugs Third World people could not afford.

Paul Brodwin's article published in 2005 in the journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry (29:145-78) reviewed this controversy, which had some positive repercussions in forcing researchers to rethink colonialist attitudes toward their subjects. But in the second case of "bioethics in action," Brodwin painted a much more ambiguous picture. It concerned the use of genetics by the ethnic group called Melungeons of Tennessee and Virginia to prove identity claims and press their ideas of special entitlements.

In the section of the article titled "The Reinvention of Melungeon Ethnicity," Brodwin chronicles the conflict between scientific genetics and the Melungeons' demand for collective recognition. Complicating this issue is that the academics were by no means certain among themselves about who or what Melungeons were from an anthropological perspective. A rancorous standoff between Virginia DeMarce and N. Brent Kennedy was matched by the tendentious nature of the Melungeons' own theories and assertions about themselves. Was there even such a thing as Melungeons or were they simply genealogical ghosts and lurid creations of popular journalism? Did they truly have some black and American Indian ancestry? Was the title only to apply to people in and around Newmans Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee, or be extended to a wide range of persons of mixed ancestry like the Carolina Turks and Lumbee Indians? If the Melungeons went back before the arrival of Europeans, could they seek legal recognition as an indigenous American Indian tribe?

Questions abounded and it seemed all of them were murky, emotionally charged and political. Unlike the Human Genome Diversity battle, neither party seemed to gain any advantages in the free-for-all. There were apparently no lessons to be learned on either side. At the end of the day, everyone just gave up and went home, exhausted.

Brodwin obviously sympathizes with the forces of the Academy in all this. He throws his lot in with the geneticist Kevin Jones, who found "he did not control the goals of research or the interpretation of findings." The Melungeon fracas illustrated "the political and conceptual vulnerabilities of human population genetics." In my opinion, however, Brodwin missed the point. Whom do university professors and academic researchers serve, if not the public? They should rejoice that so many of the great unwashed (even in the hills and hollers of Tennessee) are engaged by and even interested in their research. And if they cannot achieve a satisfactory dialogue with their lay critics, whose fault is that? The debate should continue, not be swept under the rug of philosophical reflection. Whatever else they might be, Melungeons are people. As such, they should not be dismissed when they become intractable.

Introducing the DNA Fingerprint Plus

Since the disappearance of DNAPrint and AncestryByDNA from the market in February the demand for an autosomal test that would tell you whether you had Native American or other admixture and estimate what mix you had, has been unmet. While it is doubtful, for many reasons, there will ever be a test that can assign percentages to ethnicities, DNA Consultants has developed a panel of 18 markers potentially evident in a person's CODIS profile that have high probabilities for signaling different ethnic contributions. The Ethnic Panel has been added to the company's DNA Fingerprint Test in the DNA Fingerprint Plus.

As with all genetic markers, the fact that you do not have a marker does not mean that you lack that type of heredity, but its presence is a strong indicator of likelihood that you do possess certain genes. Because we receive one allele or unit of variation from one parent and one from another, and each parent possesses two themselves, one person can fail to inherit, say, a Native American marker but a sibling can have it.

DNA Consultants' chief investigator Dr. Donald Yates made the discoveries in July that laid the foundation for the new product, which was rolled out in early September. Like the CODIS test it is based on, the DNA Fingerprint Plus reflects your total ancestry, not just a male or female line. The 18 Marker Ethnic Panel costs $50.00 and there is no need to repeat any testing. It uses the results of your DNA Fingerprint Test.

The markers include checks for Native American, Ashkenazi Jewish, Northern European, Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan African, Asian and other types of probable contributions to your overall genetic legacy. They do not tell you how much of a given ancestry you may have or what line in your genealogy it might come from.

The way the Panel works is this: Depending on your ethnic mix, your score on a certain allele may fall near one end or the other on a probability scale. All these polarizations in the data correspond to major forks in the road of prehistoric human migrations. They support the conclusions of Oxford geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer and others that early humans left Africa in one or two migrations that gave birth to all the ethnic types in the rest of the world, from Australian Aborigines to Europeans. Native Americans and Europeans are closer, genetically speaking, than Native Americans are to Asians. One of the markers apparently reflects a divide between Asian ancestry on the one hand and European/Native American on the other. It is useful in distinguishing between Asian and Native American, two ethnicities that have a high degree of shared deep ancestry and are often otherwise mistaken for each other. Some ethnic markers can be shown by certain control measures to be a "false positive" and not indicative of that ancestry at all. They are also listed in the DNA Fingerprint Plus report.

Question or comment? Would you like to read the full version? Email me.

Comments

Anonymous commented on 23-Oct-2009 12:07 AM

This is most curious. After the Trail of Tears and the dispersal of the Cherokee, did not some live (and intermarry) with other Native American tribes? Then do some other Native American tribes have similar haplogroups? Or did not enough do this to make any difference? Or is this known?

Anonymous commented on 03-Dec-2009 04:59 AM

We must also remember many people of European ancestry claimed Cherokee or Native Ancestry to gain land or lived amongst the Cherokee or Aboriginal peoples and were included in some instances of false documentation. Sometimes we cannot tell who intermarried with or lived amongst Native people long ago. I don't buy it. This is a piece of the puzzle that just do not fit no matter how you turn it. You can't make it fit. I think some people need to accept the fact that they are not Native American, Never have and never will be. Unless the Top Experts in this field agree on this I just don't buy it.

Anonymous commented on 03-Dec-2009 02:31 PM

A valid point, but this reasoning overlooks the fact that there is no credible source for a disproportionate number of women of East Mediterranean ancestry in Indian lands during Spanish, French and English occupation. T, J and X are rare lineages among the Spanish, French and English. For the few T, J and X females in colonial European populations to throng together and seek out and marry Indian males doesn't make sense. Population frequency distribution of the anomalous types suggests a different time frame and geographical source for the influx.

dianne commented on 10-Nov-2010 07:04 PM

So I was studying genetic markers and to my surprise the Cherokee Indians are and have been excluded from the American Indian dna test as being Indian, they are the largest tribe of American Indians making up 15% of the Indian tribes and they come from Israeli and Egyptian ancestors 10,000 years ago read on, is this your finding? So what was this following based on, did they too exclude the Cherokee Tribe? http://www.smithsonian.org/encyclopedia_si/nmnh/origin.htm It looks like the Cherokee tribe does indeed share egyptian heritgage. http://www.cohen-levi.org/jewish_genes_and_genealogy/the_dna_chain_of_tradition.htm

Kathy Crabtree commented on 30-Nov-2010 10:46 AM

How interesting! I just had my FGS done at FTDNA and came back a U5a1 with a rare deletion at 249. My maternal GG grandmother was a member of the Red Paint Clan and precticed medicine, so I was shocked to be a U5al. Glad to know I'm not the only one with well documented Cherokee heritage that belongs to a haplo other than the A,B,C,D,X. I think we still have a lot to learn and keep up the great work!

Page Lambert commented on 17-Dec-2010 12:54 PM

I took the 4-day Cherokee History Course taught by the tribe about a month ago and it was fascinating. My haplo group is J and my lineage goes back to Aaron Brock/Redbird (Tsisquaya) and Jesse Brock on my paternal maternal side. Also, Rebecca Howard and Mary Polly Prock (Ulunitaguledisgonihi).

Kate Ackelson commented on 07-Aug-2011 09:23 AM

Delighted to find this discussion. My mtDNA group is T. I had been told my 3rd greatgrandmother was Cherokee, and couldn't understand my DNA results until I read these articles. Thanks for shedding light on an increasingly interesting phenomenon.

David Harden commented on 27-Oct-2011 07:34 AM

I also had my mDNA done at FTDNA and it came out U5a1 with an insertion C at 315.1. My maternal line goes back to Hanging Maws mother who was born about 1745. Her maternal line is known back to Wetsiagehya (Shining Daughter b. 1607) who married Turtle's
Son and was mother of Amatoya Moytoy of Chota (b abt. 1635 and d. 1741). Her maternal line is the Sacred Sun Children line and all the matriarchs were considered Corn Girls (daughters of Selu). This line goes back to the Maya in 250 BC. The split with the
British line seems to have occurred between 30,000 and 3000 years ago.

warren young commented on 09-Dec-2011 05:59 PM

Is it really true that cherokee indians do indeed share egyptian heritage

Anonymous commented on 16-Jan-2012 10:52 AM

I am an African-American whose great grandmother was Native American, adopted into our family at age 1 month, along with her brother who was 1 year old 1880, when her parents died. My mtdna states that I am of the haplo group x. just wanted to state that
Native American ancestry lives on in those of us of of African-American culture....even though we do not claim Native American culture as our own.

Aubri commented on 02-Apr-2012 02:41 AM

Seems like an obvious explanation is being overlooked. Why couldn't the middle eastern connection in some cherokees come from the spanish who raped and pillaged the cherokee? Spain was colonized by north africans.

Anonymous commented on 08-Jul-2012 11:44 PM

Dr. Barry Fell's book, "America B.C." claims that in ancient times, the Phoenicians brought Spanish Celts to America to mine metals. Can this be the connection?

GDI commented on 05-Jun-2013 08:15 AM

I believe one of the founding fathers believed the Cherokee to be a lost tribe of Israel.

Craig Harlan Hullinger commented on 13-Aug-2013 07:38 PM

My grandmothers MtDNA is T. Our paper lineage takes her ggg grandmother back to a Native American woman, Ianahanna Poe. When we got our results back I decided the paper trail must be wrong, and was missing an adoption or that a European woman had Ben incorporates into the tribe. But now it appears the T MtDna may have been per Columbian.

our DNA and genealogical info at. Http://harlandna.blogspot.com

L R commented on 06-Oct-2013 10:07 AM

Things I have learned while exploring my family's roots and the bit of NA DNA I carry in my genome. The Cherokee began contact with Europeans early. Some of my relations are on the VA Indian Trader list in SC in the early 1700's, but trading commenced earlier than that. Long and short term male-female relationships between Cherokee and European immigrants to America was part of the "trading" experience. There were times that a "white" trader brought some of his children with him into the tribe. Some mixed heritage offspring had contact with both sides of their heritage and/or were part of a so-called "meti" population in upcountry South Carolina. Individuals including young women of European heritage were taken captive and integrated into tribe. There were white women who had Cherokee or mixed Cherokee men as husbands in places like Georgia before the removal. That European mtDNA would be found in modern Cherokee is not surprising. Bryon Sykes in his recent book on American DNA writes that modern Cherokee in the Carolinas and in Oklahoma are generally very mixed with an admixture that does not feature high amounts of NA DNA: Y-chromosome, mtDNA, or somal. More than one historian has suggested that the truly 100 % Cherokee "princess" is much further back in a family's heritage than generally believed.

Marti Robey Fox commented on 12-Mar-2014 08:21 AM

My father and I recently took the DNA test through Ancestry.com. Since his maternal grandfather was known to be half Cherokee, we were very surprised to have results that said we were each a percentage "Caucasus" with "0" Native American reflected in the results. After reading this, I would assume we are part of the "Haplogroup T". Very interesting. I look forward to reading further research on this topic.

R.T. commented on 02-Jul-2014 10:34 PM

Spain and Portugal were in the Southeast before the English. Spain and Portugal were ruled by the Moors of North Africa for 400 years. Both had Berber crews in their ships as well. In addition, a little known fact about early Colonial America is there were Eastern Indians (from India) and middle easterners, Persians, etc both free and as slaves. You can read in some of the adds of the time for runaway slaves "Jim, a runaway Eastern Indian...", etc. This is the most likely reason the Cherokee DNA shows these markers. The real history of the US is so clouded by headlines and heros...remember the Spanish and Portuguese and their Moorish DNA when you hear this kind of thing.


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Genetic Gaps in History and Prehistory

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In a recent research article published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, a team headed by Silvia Guimaraes of the University of Florence documents how the Tuscans of the Middle Ages preserved Etruscan bloodlines while the contemporary inhabitants of the Italian state of Tuscany seem to have little or no connection with those mysterious antecedents from the Bronze Age. It is an example of discontinuity in the mitochondrial DNA record. The paper is titled "Genealogical Discontinuities among Etruscan, Medieval and Contemporary Tuscans" (published online on July 1, 2009: you must have a subscription or pay to read the full text). The authors are on sure ground with their findings since they had access to ancient, medieval and modern DNA for comparisons.

It is often assumed that whoever lives in a place belongs to a population whose ancestors settled there thousands of years ago, and who created a sort of genetic bedrock beneath the present-day DNA landscape. The Italian study, however, disproves the applicability of this theory in a country famous for suffering many invasions by outsiders but enduring and retaining its native population structure and composition. It was to be expected that the same mitochondrial lineages would be present today that were common in Italy thousands of years ago. Instead, some of them, selectively, just died out over time.

A similar situation was revealed in 2005 with the classification of mitochondrial DNA in 24 Neolithic skeletons from Germany, Austria and Hungary. One-fourth belonged to haplogroup G, a rather rare type today. In fact, today's Central Europeans have a 150-times lower frequency (0.2%) of this mtDNA lineage. The inference is that sometime between 7,500 years ago and the present day, large-scale population replacement or genetic influx took place in Europe. Today, it is haplogroup H that enjoys dominance. (The study is "Ancient DNA from the First European Farmers in 7500-Year-Old Neolithic Sites," by Wolfgang Haak et al., Science 11 310/5750: 1016-18.)

Cases of such discontinuities could be multiplied tenfold or more, especially in the New World. Haplogroup M, a common East Asian lineage, was found in the skeletal remains of two Paleo-Indians about 5,000 years old at the aptly named China Lake in British Columbia, although the message was lost on its discoverers (see R. S. Malhi et al. in Journal of Archaeological Science 20:1-7). A study by Pääbo et al. in 1988 proposed the existence of a previously unknown founding lineage on the basis of mitochondrial DNA extracted from a rare specimen of 7,000-year-old human brain matter in Florida. This discovery was almost immediately dismissed as "of no importance." An analysis of the bone remains of 25 pre-Columbian Mayas by Gonzalez-Oliver's group produced one type of mitochondrial DNA that could not even be classified. The Brazilian geneticist Salzano has remarked that of the 338 ancient cases investigated to date over two-thirds could not be assigned to the conventional six "Amerindian" haplogroups. Researchers found that among the remote Cayapa Indians of Ecuador, one-fifth of genetic variation was "other."

The Etruscan study shows that a whole population can turn over in a few centuries. It doesn't take thousands of years. If this is true, as it seems to be, then the story of the peopling of the Americas has many unwritten chapters. The revised standard version propagated in textbooks and anthropology departments is simplistic and reductive.

Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician and Hebrew Origins of Cherokee?

Donald N. Yates

submitted August 31, 2009

ABSTRACT. A sample of 52 individuals who purchased mitochondrial DNA testing to determine their female lineage was assembled after the fact from the customer files of DNA Consultants. All claim matrilineal descent from a Native American woman, usually named as Cherokee. The main criterion for inclusion in the study is that test subjects must have obtained results not placing them in the standard Native American haplogroups A, B, C or D. Hence the use of the word "anomalous" in the title of a paper prepared by chief investigator Donald N. Yates, "Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee."

Most subjects reveal haplotypes that are unmatched anywhere else except among other participants, and there proves to be a high degree of interrelatedness and common ancestral lines. 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 (see below).

The Cherokee and Admixture. According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Cherokee are the largest tribal group today, with a population of 331,000 or 15% of all American Indians. Despite their numbers, though, the Cherokee have had few DNA studies conducted on them. I know of only three reports on Cherokee mitochondrial DNA. A total of 60 subjects are involved, all from Oklahoma. Possibly the reason the Cherokee are not recruited for more studies, I would suggest, stems from their being perceived as admixed in comparison with other Indians. Accordingly, they are deemed less worthy of study.

In the past, whenever a geneticist or anthropologist conducting a study of Native Americans has encountered an anomalous haplogroup, that is, a lineage that does not belong to one of the five generally accepted American Indian mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C, D and X, it has been rejected as an example of admixture and not included in the survey results. This is true of the two examples of H and one of J reported by Cherokee descendants by Schurr (2000:253). Schurr takes these exceptions to prove the rule and regards them as instances of European admixture. The governing logic of population geneticists seems to go as follows:

Lineage A, B, C, D and X are American Indian.
Therefore, all American Indians are lineage A, B, C, D and X.

The fallacy in such reasoning is apparent. It could be restated as: "All men are two-legged creatures; therefore since the skeleton we dug up has two legs, it is human." It might be a kangaroo.

"The geneticists always seem to cry 'post-Columbian admixture,'" says Stephen C. Jett, a geographer at the University of California at Davis, "but fail to take into account that there are no plausible post-Columbian sources for the particular genetic mix encountered."

"Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee" concentrates on the "kangaroos"- documented or self-identifying Cherokee descendants whose haplotypes do not fit the current orthodoxy in American Indian population genetics. Here are some highlights, organized by haplogroup.

Haplogroup H. Although this quintessentially European haplogroup would seem to be the most likely suspect if admixture were responsible for the anomalous haplogroups, there are but four cases of it.

Haplogroup X. Haplogroup X is a latecomer to the "pantheon" of Native American haplogroups. Its relative absence in Mongolia and Siberia and a recently proven center of diffusion in Lebanon and Israel (Brown et al. 1998, Malhi and Smith 2002; Smith et al. 1999; Reidla 2003; Shlush et al. 2009) pose problems for the standard account of the peopling of the Americas. DNA Consultants Cherokee-descended customers include seven instances of haplogroup X. David E. Lewis (whose Cherokee name is Wayauwetsi) traces his unmatched X haplotype back to Seyinus, a Cherokee woman of the Wolf Clan born on or near the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina in 1862. Two cases represent descendants (unknown to each other, incidentally) of the Cherokee woman called Polly who was the namesake for the Qualla reservation (the sound p lacking in the Cherokee language and being rendered with qu).

Haplogroup J. Two other cases, both J's, are related to Polly, tracing their lines back to Betsy Walker, a Cherokee woman born about 1720 in Soco (One-Town). A descendant was the wife or paramour of Col. Will Thomas, the first chief and founder of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located today on the Qualla Boundary. Views about J are still evolving, but it seems to have originated in present-day Lebanon approximately 10,000 years before present. It is a major Jewish female lineage (Thomas 2002).

Haplogroup U has never been reported in American Indians to my knowledge. In our sample it covers 13 cases or 25% of the total, second in frequency only to haplogroup T. One of the U's is Mary M. Garrabrant-Brower. She belongs to U5a1a* (all U5a1a not matched or assigned) but has no close matches anywhere. Her great-grandmother was Clarissa Green of the Cherokee Wolf Clan, born 1846. Mary's mother Mary M. Lounsbury maintained the Cherokee language and rituals. One of the cases of U2e* is my own. This line evidently arose from a Jewish Indian trader and a Cherokee woman. My fifth-great-grandmother was born about 1790 on the northern Georgia and southwestern North Carolina frontier and had a relationship with a trader named Enoch Jordan. The trader's male line descendants from his white family in North Carolina possess Y chromosomal J, a common Jewish type. Some Jordans, in fact, bear the Cohen Modal Haplotype that has been suggested to be the genetic signature of Old Testament priests (Thomas et al. 1998). Enoch Jordan was born about 1768 in Scotland of forbears from Russia or the Ukraine. My mother, Bessie Cooper, was a double descendant of Cherokee chief Black Fox and was born on Sand Mountain in northeastern Alabama near Black Fox's former seat at Creek Path (and who was Paint Clan). All U2e* cases appear to have in common the fact that there are underlying Melungeon, Cherokee and Jewish connections.

Haplogroup T. "Tara," as she was named by Brian Sykes, is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia approximately 10,000 to 12,000 years ago and to have moved northwards through the Caucasus and westwards from Anatolia into Europe. The closer one goes to its origin in the Fertile Crescent the more likely T is to be found in higher frequencies. The haplogroup includes slightly fewer than 10% of modern Europeans, but accounts for 28% of people in the DNA Consultants study. The great-great-grandmother of Linda Burckhalter was Sully Firebush, the daughter of a Cherokee chief who married Solomon Sutton, the stowaway son of a London merchant, in what would seem to be another variation of the "Jewish trader marries chief's daughter" pattern. Three T1*'s are perfectly matching individuals completely unknown to one another before testing who are clearly descended from the same woman. Two of them claim Melungeon ancestry.

The many interrelationships noted above reinforce the conclusion that this is a faithful cross-section of a population. No such mix could have resulted from post-1492 European gene flow into the Cherokee Nation. So where do our non-European, non-Indian-appearing elements come from? The level of haplogroup T in the Cherokee (26.9%) approximates the percentage for Egypt (25%), one of the only lands where T attains a major position among the various mitochondrial lineages. In Egypt, T is three times what 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. J has a frequency not unlike Europe (a little less than 10%). The only other place on earth where X is found at an elevated level apart from other American Indian groups like the Ojibwe is among the Druze in the Hills of Galilee in northern Israel and Lebanon. The work of Shlush et al. (2009) demonstrates that this region was in fact the center of the worldwide diffusion of haplogroup X.

Phoenicians. On the Y chromosome side of Shlush et al.'s study, male haplogroup K was found to have a relatively high frequency of 11% in the Galilee region (2008:2). K (renamed T in the revised YCC nomenclature) has long been suspected to be the genetic signature of the Phoenicians. A TV show by National Geographic appeared about a year ago titled Who Were the Phoenicians?, in which Spencer Wells of the National Genographic Project, unveiled this theory. Without a doubt it was the Phoenicians, whose name among themselves was Cana'ni or KHNAI 'Canaanites', not Phoenikoi 'red paint people' (Aubet 2001:9-12; cf. Oxford Classical Dictionary s.v. "Phoenicians" ), who are referenced by James Adair when he observes that "several old American towns are called Kan?ai," and suggests that the Conoy Indians of Pennsylvania and Maryland were Canaanites and their tribal name a corruption of the word Canaan. The Conoy Indians are the same Indians William Penn around 1700 described as resembling Italians, Jews and Greeks. By about 1735 they had dwindled to a "remnant of a nation, or subdivided tribe, of Indians," according to Adair (1930:56, 67, 68). One of the oldest Cherokee clans is called Red Paint Clan (Ani-wodi).

So do the two subclades of X and other haplogroups represent Old World and New World branches diverging from each other as long ago as 30,000 years, or do the Native American "anomalous" haplotypes come more recently (but not as late as Columbus) from the same source in the East Mediterranean? The answer probably depends on how open one is to new evidence and revisionary thinking. According to Jett, "The splits may have taken place well before transfer, with one only or both being transferred to a new place and then one dying out in the home area (and the other in the new area, if both were transferred)." The distinction, at any rate, is irrelevant to the Cherokee who exhibit these not-so-rare haplogroups, although to those denied authenticity on the basis of anthropologists' hardened ideas about the genetic composition of American Indians it is welcome vindication either way.

References
1. Adair, James (1930). Adair's History of the American Indians, ed. by Samuel Cole Williams, originally published London, 1775. Johnson City: Watauga.
2. Richards, Martin et al. (2000). "Tracing European Founder Lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA Pool." American Journal of Human Genetics 67:1251-76. Supplementary Data. URL: http://www.stats.gla.ac.uk/~vincent/founder2000/index.html.
3. Schurr, Theodore G. (2000). "Mitochondrial DNA and the Peopling of the New World," American Scientist 88:246-53.
4. Shlush, L. I. et al. (2009) "The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East." PLoS ONE 3(5): e2105. URL: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2324201

When Objects Become Subjects
(and Talk Back to Researchers)

Review
Paul Brodwin, "'Bioethics in Action' and Human Population Genetics Research"

Population genetics experts who lecture in the groves of academe or trudge through the jungles of the Amazon are not immune to racist bombshells and political dynamite. In 1991, Stanford geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza announced a project to study human genetic diversity. The ponderous monograph that issued forth in 1994 became as revered as it was unreadable. His History and Geography of Human Genes posited two main limbs in the human DNA tree, the African and non-African, with the latter branching off into Europeans (Caucasians) and Northeast Asians. Included in Northeast Asians were the so-called Amerindians. Amerinds were closest in genetic distance to Northern Turkic, Chukchi and other Arctic and Mongolian peoples.

Little did Cavalli-Sforza and his team expect to encounter any opposition to their benign project, much less withdrawal of funding by the U.S. government and United Nations, but this is exactly what happened. The genial professor was surprised one day by a letter from a Canadian human rights group called the Rural Advancement Foundation International. The group demanded he stop his work immediately. It accused the Human Genome Diversity Project of biopiracy, stealing DNA from unsuspecting indigenous people and mining it for valuable information pharmaceutical companies could use to make drugs Third World people could not afford.

Paul Brodwin's article published in 2005 in the journal Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry (29:145-78) reviewed this controversy, which had some positive repercussions in forcing researchers to rethink colonialist attitudes toward their subjects. But in the second case of "bioethics in action," Brodwin painted a much more ambiguous picture. It concerned the use of genetics by the ethnic group called Melungeons of Tennessee and Virginia to prove identity claims and press their ideas of special entitlements.

In the section of the article titled "The Reinvention of Melungeon Ethnicity," Brodwin chronicles the conflict between scientific genetics and the Melungeons' demand for collective recognition. Complicating this issue is that the academics were by no means certain among themselves about who or what Melungeons were from an anthropological perspective. A rancorous standoff between Virginia DeMarce and N. Brent Kennedy was matched by the tendentious nature of the Melungeons' own theories and assertions about themselves. Was there even such a thing as Melungeons or were they simply genealogical ghosts and lurid creations of popular journalism? Did they truly have some black and American Indian ancestry? Was the title only to apply to people in and around Newmans Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee, or be extended to a wide range of persons of mixed ancestry like the Carolina Turks and Lumbee Indians? If the Melungeons went back before the arrival of Europeans, could they seek legal recognition as an indigenous American Indian tribe?

Questions abounded and it seemed all of them were murky, emotionally charged and political. Unlike the Human Genome Diversity battle, neither party seemed to gain any advantages in the free-for-all. There were apparently no lessons to be learned on either side. At the end of the day, everyone just gave up and went home, exhausted.

Brodwin obviously sympathizes with the forces of the Academy in all this. He throws his lot in with the geneticist Kevin Jones, who found "he did not control the goals of research or the interpretation of findings." The Melungeon fracas illustrated "the political and conceptual vulnerabilities of human population genetics." In my opinion, however, Brodwin missed the point. Whom do university professors and academic researchers serve, if not the public? They should rejoice that so many of the great unwashed (even in the hills and hollers of Tennessee) are engaged by and even interested in their research. And if they cannot achieve a satisfactory dialogue with their lay critics, whose fault is that? The debate should continue, not be swept under the rug of philosophical reflection. Whatever else they might be, Melungeons are people. As such, they should not be dismissed when they become intractable.

Introducing the DNA Fingerprint Plus

Since the disappearance of DNAPrint and AncestryByDNA from the market in February the demand for an autosomal test that would tell you whether you had Native American or other admixture and estimate what mix you had, has been unmet. While it is doubtful, for many reasons, there will ever be a test that can assign percentages to ethnicities, DNA Consultants has developed a panel of 18 markers potentially evident in a person's CODIS profile that have high probabilities for signaling different ethnic contributions. The Ethnic Panel has been added to the company's DNA Fingerprint Test in the DNA Fingerprint Plus.

As with all genetic markers, the fact that you do not have a marker does not mean that you lack that type of heredity, but its presence is a strong indicator of likelihood that you do possess certain genes. Because we receive one allele or unit of variation from one parent and one from another, and each parent possesses two themselves, one person can fail to inherit, say, a Native American marker but a sibling can have it.

DNA Consultants' chief investigator Dr. Donald Yates made the discoveries in July that laid the foundation for the new product, which was rolled out in early September. Like the CODIS test it is based on, the DNA Fingerprint Plus reflects your total ancestry, not just a male or female line. The 18 Marker Ethnic Panel costs $50.00 and there is no need to repeat any testing. It uses the results of your DNA Fingerprint Test.

The markers include checks for Native American, Ashkenazi Jewish, Northern European, Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan African, Asian and other types of probable contributions to your overall genetic legacy. They do not tell you how much of a given ancestry you may have or what line in your genealogy it might come from.

The way the Panel works is this: Depending on your ethnic mix, your score on a certain allele may fall near one end or the other on a probability scale. All these polarizations in the data correspond to major forks in the road of prehistoric human migrations. They support the conclusions of Oxford geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer and others that early humans left Africa in one or two migrations that gave birth to all the ethnic types in the rest of the world, from Australian Aborigines to Europeans. Native Americans and Europeans are closer, genetically speaking, than Native Americans are to Asians. One of the markers apparently reflects a divide between Asian ancestry on the one hand and European/Native American on the other. It is useful in distinguishing between Asian and Native American, two ethnicities that have a high degree of shared deep ancestry and are often otherwise mistaken for each other. Some ethnic markers can be shown by certain control measures to be a "false positive" and not indicative of that ancestry at all. They are also listed in the DNA Fingerprint Plus report.

Question or comment? Email me.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Comments

Teresa Yates commented on 23-Sep-2009 11:33 PM

Please explain more about the Native American haplogroup X.I have heard that Kennewick Man is haplogroup X.

M. Moore commented on 25-Oct-2009 11:18 AM

Excellent blog, that shines light on the continued confusion and controversy regarding the identification of Melungeons. I've read the book Lest We Forget, The Melungeon Colony of Newmans Ridge by Jim Callahan, your article is a nice compliment to my research pertaining to Melungeons. Hopefully the legacy of the Melungeon people will become better understood and accepted, rather than disputed and forgotten.

M. Moore commented on 25-Oct-2009 11:39 AM

Thank you for posting your article as part of your blog. You provide in-depth research and provide an easier way of understanding genetic facts between Native Americans and European. DNA is a science that can establish links between ethnicities that have to be credited due to scientific research and/or findings. It is extremely interesting to read a revealed truth of ethnic matching between Native Americans and Europeans. The fact of the matter is there are people that are Native American but also share European DNA. It can not be denied or refuted, DNA doesn’t lie.

Ann Morris commented on 11-Dec-2009 06:00 PM

I have enjoyed reading your report on all this.Have learned a lot from it.Am doing my genealogy.It seems as if a lot of my family ties in with the Melungeons.Thank you very much.


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