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  • Native American ancestry - mtDNA testing question?

    Hello,

    My wife is African American, but we have oral family history that her great-great grandmother (all the way on her maternal line) was Native American. We have a photo of her, and she definitely appears to be at least partially something other than African American, and we have a note that HER mother was full-blood Seminole (but nothing other than some family history notes that have been passed down that say that).

    We're considering an mtDNA test to see if we can confirm the oral family history and I want to make sure we understand what we might get back before we order the kit. A couple of questions:

    1) Will the basic mtDNA test give us the information we're looking for to confirm (as best possible) or rule out her Native American ancestry on her maternal line?

    B) If so, how detailed is it...can it tell us what tribe of Native Americans she likely descended from? Or are we looking more at a note like "It is likely she descends from a Native American line" and thats about it?

    Any other feedback/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If there are any resources that tie specific DNA groups to specific tribes, I'd love to see links to that info as well as possible.

    Thanks for your help!

    rtanyon

  • #2
    It might prove that she has Native American ancestry.

    I'm not sure if it can determine an exact tribe, I think you might be looking for something like she has Native American ancestry.....

    There are some very good genealogy videos on YouTube about famous African American people having their family trees looked into. I think its called African American lives.

    Good luck in your searches

    Comment


    • #3
      To add to what spruithean was saying, an mtdna test can prove Native American ancestry on the purely female line. Native Americans belong to specific subgroups of haplogroups A,B,C and D (some also belong to X, but X has a less wide dispersion, I don't know if the seminoles have it). Note that these haplogroups are present also in East Asia, so one has to be careful in distinguishing the Asian versus the American variety.
      Instead, if one belongs to haplogroup L, the origin is African.

      It is not possible however to establish the tribe, for several reasons. First, mtDNA matches only mean a very ancient ancestor, they're not as informative as Y dna matches. Second, these 4 haplogroups are spread over the whole continent because they were all part of the original migration into the Americas, so they are not specific of any single tribe (save perhaps X).

      If one happens to have a very particular mutation, and one sees matches only in people from a specific area, then this may suggest a possible origin there. But this is a rare occurrence. I'm also not sure we have databases large enough on specific tribes.

      cacio

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by rtanyon View Post
        ...
        1) Will the basic mtDNA test give us the information we're looking for to confirm (as best possible) or rule out her Native American ancestry on her maternal line?

        B) If so, how detailed is it...can it tell us what tribe of Native Americans she likely descended from? Or are we looking more at a note like "It is likely she descends from a Native American line" and thats about it?

        Any other feedback/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If there are any resources that tie specific DNA groups to specific tribes, I'd love to see links to that info as well as possible.
        ...
        1)Yes, "as best as possible." The major haplogroups for Indians are A, B, C, D and X, although archaeologists have identified an M. It is somewhat likely we haven't a complete picture of Indian mitochondrial diversity. Any Asian haplo could be latter determined to be Indian. Needless to say, the MtDNA test can only rule-out or rule-in American Indian ancestry on the direct maternal line but is silent on the possibility of Indian ancestry on other maternal lines.
        2)A test of HVR1&2 ought to be be conclusive. FTDNA does check coding region mutations in determination of haplogroup. Some Indian haplogroups and clades can only be determined by coding region tests. An FGS is absolutey definitive and the only hope of ever finding a link to a specific tribe. So, you might just try HVR1 and, if the haplo is interesting, save your test dollars for FGS as the next step.
        Last edited by tomcat; 16 March 2009, 10:03 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by rtanyon View Post
          ... we have a note that HER mother was full-blood Seminole (but nothing other than some family history notes that have been passed down that say that)...
          As you know, the Seminole, an offshoot of the Creek, did harbor runaway slaves. So this is congruent and intriguing lore supportive of deeper research and DNA testing.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tomcat View Post
            As you know, the Seminole, an offshoot of the Creek, did harbor runaway slaves. So this is congruent and intriguing lore supportive of deeper research and DNA testing.
            Ah, OK...thanks for the replies all.

            For us, the 'which tribe' would be 'nice to have' information, but we're primarily just looking to confirm the oral family history that this line of the family was Native American. Given that we don't need that much detail (at least for the time being), should the HVR1 test be sufficient? In other words, if we get that test, and it comes back with a A, B, C, D or X haplo group, can we pretty much assume "Yeah, there were Native American ancestors in this line"?

            I'm assuming an African American DNA submission (with an oral family history of Native American descent on the female line) traced back to the 1860's in Mississippi that shows an 'asian' haplogroup with an mtDNA test, would be pretty strong indication that she does indeed descend from Native Americans?

            Comment


            • #7
              I certainly agree with you - it is difficult to imagine an East Asian woman in XIX century Mississippi. (Though, as with everything, there is always the very rare exception!)

              Besides, some of the Native American subgroups have particular HVR1 mutations as well, so HVR1 per se could be enough to determine the subhaplogroup. Moreover, while the database is not particularly large, you may also find matches in some databases - and if you see that all the matches are Native Americans, then that's also indicative. But, as tomcat was saying, some of the subhaplogroups are determined by coding region mutations only, so to be sure about those one has to take the much more expensive FGS.

              It seems that for now the standard HVR1 could enough, at least that will say something like Indian (A-D), African (L mostly), or European (H,U and a few others). You can always upgrade later if you have an interest.

              cacio

              Comment


              • #8
                For your interest, here's a cut an paste from an article
                The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American MtDNA
                Haplogroups
                by Achilli, Perego et al (Plosone 2008)

                As for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), it has been clear, since the early
                nineties, that mtDNAs of Native Americans could be traced back
                to four major haplogroups of Asian origin shared by North,
                Central and South American populations. These were
                initially named A, B, C and D, and are now termed A2, B2, C1
                and D1. Afterwards, a fifth haplogroup – now known as X2a –
                was described in Native Americans, but in contrast to the four
                ‘‘pan-American’’ haplogroups, its geographic distribution is
                restricted to some Amerindian populations of northern North
                America. Later, two more haplogroups – D2a and D3 –
                were identified: D2a in the Aleuts and Eskimos and D3
                only in the Eskimos. Most recently there were two further
                (uncommon) additions – D4h3 and C4c – bringing the
                total number of Native American haplogroups to nine.

                I am also attaching the tree from that paper
                cacio
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the info!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    mtDNA/HVR1 results

                    Originally posted by tomcat View Post
                    1)Yes, "as best as possible." The major haplogroups for Indians are A, B, C, D and X, although archaeologists have identified an M. It is somewhat likely we haven't a complete picture of Indian mitochondrial diversity. Any Asian haplo could be latter determined to be Indian. Needless to say, the MtDNA test can only rule-out or rule-in American Indian ancestry on the direct maternal line but is silent on the possibility of Indian ancestry on other maternal lines.
                    2)A test of HVR1&2 ought to be be conclusive. FTDNA does check coding region mutations in determination of haplogroup. Some Indian haplogroups and clades can only be determined by coding region tests. An FGS is absolutey definitive and the only hope of ever finding a link to a specific tribe. So, you might just try HVR1 and, if the haplo is interesting, save your test dollars for FGS as the next step.

                    My results came back and revealed I am in the 'A' haplogroup. However, I am so confused about the HVR1 results I cannot figure out how to read it. We actually had our son tested, Y-DNA 12/MTDNA. It seems that the paternal side is much easier to understand.

                    Am I to understand that the following 6 are the mutations: 16111T, 16223T, 16290T, 16319A, 16335G, 16526A. Is there any way to see if others match these? Like with my husbands, he is in the 'T' haplogroup, when we searched the 'my matches', it gave a huge list of those matching him including 1-4 step mutations. Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      mtdna results

                      have you posted your mt results to mitosearch? once you have, you can focus the matches to match only your mutations-and yes, that is what your numbers are. there are boxes at mitosearch that you put your mutation numbers and letters in, then click on the search or match button (been a while since I've done mine) and it will compare with all the others listed there and bring up any matches available.
                      hope that helps.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To add to neokat, more specifically, 16223 is typical of pretty much most of non-Europeans. !6290 and 16319 are at the root of A. 16111 is at the root of A2 (which is the native American subhaplogroup of A). According to the Achilli et al paper cited above, 16526 abd 16335 are at the root of A2h. So I'd say your sequence is A2h. You in fact seem to match the HVR of observation number 33 in that paper.

                        You can check the figure I posted a couple of posts above. Start from R and go towards A2, and you should read most of your mutations (together with many other things that you've not tested for). The A2h ones are shown in the figure posted below here.

                        cacio
                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks!

                          Originally posted by nekocat View Post
                          have you posted your mt results to mitosearch? once you have, you can focus the matches to match only your mutations-and yes, that is what your numbers are. there are boxes at mitosearch that you put your mutation numbers and letters in, then click on the search or match button (been a while since I've done mine) and it will compare with all the others listed there and bring up any matches available.
                          hope that helps.
                          This is exactly what I was looking for I emailed the help desk 3 times, and not one of them gave me this information. Thank you very much!

                          Would you advise the HVR2 test? Would it reveal more countries, possibly?

                          Cindy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I didn't know D was narrowed down to distinguish between Eskino and Aleut.
                            Last edited by rainbow; 16 March 2009, 07:30 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I guess there is hope that more work will be done on Amerind mtdna.
                              Maybe someday in the future I can test a cousin who has the mtdna of my paternal grandmother and find out if the mtdna is Amerind and which tribe/region it is from.

                              Comment

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