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Friday, 12 June 2015

Anomalous Native American DNA: New Tests Show Middle East Origins?

Anomalous Native American DNA:
New Tests Show Middle East Origins? 

Participants in Dr. Donald Yates’s Cherokee Native American DNA testing. Top Left: Karen Worstell’s grandmother Odessa Shields Cox is shown with her husband William M. Cox and Worstell’s mother, Ethel, as a baby, ca. 1922. Bottom Left: Karen Worstell. Right: Jan Franz. (Courtesy of Dr. Donald Yates)
Participants in Dr. Donald Yates’s Cherokee Native American DNA testing. Top Left: Karen Worstell’s grandmother Odessa Shields Cox is shown with her husband William M. Cox and Worstell’s mother, Ethel, as a baby, ca. 1922. Bottom Left: Karen Worstell. Right: Jan Franz. (Courtesy of Dr. Donald Yates)

Geneticist Dr. Donald Yates has been studying Cherokee DNA, particularly genetic markers passed on only from a mother to her children, not passed on along paternal lines. Anomalies in Native American DNA are often dismissed as signs of racial admixture after colonization, the anomalies are not attributed to the origins of Native peoples.

Yates chose to focus on the maternal line to make it easier to filter out any colonial-era admixture. It was far more common for male colonists to mate with Native American women than it was for female colonists to mate with Native American men when the Old World first met the New.

To further rule out admixture in his test results, Yates combined genetic testing with genealogical records where possible.

He found what he sees as strong evidence that Cherokee Native Americans have Middle Eastern ancestry—ancestry that cannot be accounted for by modern admixture, but which is rooted in the ancient origins of the people.

Native Americans are conventionally held to fit into a handful of haplogroups. The term haplogroup refers to a genetic population group stemming from a common ancestor. Haplogroup T is not among the haplogroups most geneticists recognize as Native American. Yates, however, said that it is prevalent among the Cherokee and has been for a very long time.

He wrote in his report, released earlier this month: “T is the leading haplogroup (23.1 percent), with a frequency on a par with modern-day Egyptians (23.4 percent) and Arabs (24.4 percent). T is thus a defining mark of Cherokee ancestry. … 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 to 14 percent), 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 [Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, a DNA sequence variation] which is evidently a cross-section of a very old population originating in the Old World.”

In a different part of the report, he explained one way to tell if the genetic characteristics are ancient in origin, or if they could be attributed to recent admixture: “Generally, the more mutations, the more ancient the type.”

While the level of the T-haplotype found across Yates’s 67 Cherokee test subjects is comparable to those found in Iraqi and Iranian Jews (about 24 percent), it is far higher than that found in nearby regions where one would expect admixture. In neighboring countries in the Middle East, as well as among Jews from other regions, the frequency of T is only 4–14 percent.

An example of how Dr. Yates combined genetic testing with genealogical research is the case of Kathleen Rogalla.

Mother of Kathleen Rogalla, Ethel Estell Caywood Christian, ca. 1930. (Courtesy of Dr. Donald Yates)
Mother of Kathleen Rogalla, Ethel Estell Caywood Christian, ca. 1930. (Courtesy of Dr. Donald Yates)

Kathleen Rogalla of Panama City, Fla. is descended from Deborah Cook(e), wife of William Chisholm (born 1720 in Amelia County, Va.). Cook is her ancestor in an unbroken female line. A woman named Amy or Annie (no last name) was Cook’s mother. Yates wrote, “It is unlikely Amy or Annie was the daughter of an Englishwoman … around the time of first intermarriages.”

Rogalla underwent genetic testing from another company, which she had sought out after taking an interest in her Native ancestry. This company told her she was of 100 percent European ancestry with no chance of being Native American. When Yates tested Rogalla, he found haplotype T in her results.

He wrote: “These historical accounts are given here in detail to document the early Cherokee affiliation of the line. More could be added. Suffice it to say that the Chisholms and all their marriage partners were well known to Cherokee leaders from the 1760s on … All the names are well documented in Cherokee and Melungeon genealogies, as well as U.S. Indian treaties, chiefs-lists and agency records. … There is every reason on genealogical grounds to regard her T* haplotype as Cherokee, not Eurasian.”

Yates is of Cherokee descent, he has a Ph.D. in classical studies, and he founded the genetics research institution DNA Consultants. These three credentials have given him a unique perspective on Native American history as it relates to these ancient cultures, and how DNA testing can support the theoretical link. He hypothesizes that an expedition of Ptolemaic Egyptians and others in the 3rd century B.C. sailed to North America and were the settlers from whom descended today’s Cherokee Native Americans. 

Geneticist Traces Mysterious Origins of Native Americans to Middle East, Ancient Greece


A Cherokee boy and girl stand in costume on a North Carolina reservation in 1939. (Wikimedia Commons, background image of DNA via Thinkstock)

The idea that Native Americans are descended from ancient Jews, Egyptians, or Greeks has been a controversial one for hundreds of years. James Adair, an 18th century settler who traded with Native Americans for 40 years, wrote that their language, customs, and social structures were similar to those of the Israelites.

He wrote in his book “The History of the American Indians”: “It is a very difficult thing to divest ourselves, not to say, other persons, of prejudices and favourite opinions, and I expect to be censured by some for opposing commonly received sentiments, or for meddling with a dispute agitated among the learned ever since the first discovery of America.”

In more recent years, similar observations by Dr. Donald Panther-Yates have even met with what Yates described as “hate mail” from indigenous studies professors.

It is commonly held that Native Americans descended from Mongolians. In 2013, a study published in the journal Nature acknowledged that some ancient European ancestry is possible. The DNA from a 24,000-year-old corpse in Siberia was analyzed. It showed no resemblance to Asian populations, only to European, yet it showed a clear connection to Native Americans. But the mainstream scientific community is far from embracing the theory that Native Americans descended from ancient Middle-Eastern or Greek peoples as Yates and some others have proposed.

Yates is of Cherokee descent, he has a Ph.D. in classical studies, and he founded the genetics research institution DNA Consultants. These three credentials have given him a unique perspective on Native American history as it relates to these ancient cultures, and how DNA testing can support the theoretical link.

Genetic Similarities

Native Americans are generally thought to fit into five genetic groups, known as haplotypes, each named by a letter of the alphabet: A,B,C,D, and X.

Yates demonstrated in a paper titled “Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee,” what he calls the fallacy behind many genetic analyses: “[The geneticists say] ‘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.” 

Any divergence from the expected haplotypes is usually attributed to an intermingling of races after European colonization, not to the genes that came with Native Americans from their origin.

After analyzing Cherokee DNA, Yates concluded, “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?” he asked. “The level of haplogroup T in the Cherokee (26.9 percent) approximates the percentage for Egypt (25 percent), one of the only lands where T attains a major position among the various mitochondrial lineages.”

Yates focused on haplotype X for “its relative absence in Mongolia and Siberia and a recently proven center of diffusion in Lebanon and Israel.”

In 2009, Liran I. Shlush at the Israel Institute of Technology published a paper in the journal PLOS ONE stating that the X haplotype spread through the world from the Hills of Galilee in northern Israel and Lebanon. Yates wrote: “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.”

Cultural, Linguistic Similarities

Though much of the Cherokee culture has been lost, noted Yates in his book “Cherokee Clans,” what can still be discovered about the legends hints at ancestors who came across the sea and whose language was similar to ancient Greek. Some linguistic parallels have also been drawn between the Native American languages and Egyptian and Hebrew.

The Cherokee’s white demigod Maui may have his roots in a Libyan leader of a fleet dispatched by the pharaoh Ptolemy III before 230 B.C., Yates explained. “Maui” is similar to the Egyptian words for “guide” or “navigator.” Maui was said to have brought all civilized arts and crafts. He gave the Cherokee their title for principal chief, Amatoyhi or Moytoy, said Yates, which translates as “mariner” or “admiral.”

He recounted a Cherokee Twister Clan legend that named Maui’s father as Tanoa. Yates said Tanoa may refer to a Greek. “Tanoa was the father of all fair-haired children and came from a land called Atia,” he wrote.

Atia may refer to Attica, a historical region encompassing the Greek capital, Athens. Atia was said to be a place “full of high alabaster temples,” one of which “was very spacious, and was built as a meeting-place for gods and men.” At this place, one found sporting competitions, games, feasts to the gods, meetings of great chiefs, and the origin of wars that caused people to spread over the Pacific.

“One could hardly invent a more fitting folk memory of Greek culture,” Yates wrote. “The Hawaiian word that epitomized this lost world is karioi, ‘leisure, ease,’ literally the same word in Greek for ‘amusements.'” Yates notes numerous other linguistic similarities.

“According to the Keetoowah Society elders, the Cherokee once spoke a non-Indian language akin to Hopi, but gave it up and adopted Mohawk to continue to live with the Iroquois. The ‘old tongue’ seems to have many elements of Greek, the language of Ptolemaic Egypt and ancient Judeans,” he said.

Adair noted linguistic similarities between Native American languages and Hebrew.

As in Hebrew, Native American nouns have neither cases nor declensions, wrote Adair. Another similarity is the lack of comparative or superlative degrees. “There is not, perhaps, any one language or speech, except the Hebrew and the Indian American, which has not a great many prepositions. The Indians, like the Hebrews, have none in separate and express words. They are forced to join certain characters to words, in order to supply that great deficit,” he wrote. 

A Perspective from the Past

Adair offers a perspective on the culture Yates cannot. Adair interacted extensively with the Native Americans hundreds of years ago, while their traditions were still thriving. Of course, the extent to which he may have misunderstood that culture as an outsider must be taken into account.

“From the most exact observations I could make in the long time I traded among the Indian Americans, I was forced to believe them lineally descended from the Israelites, either while they were a maritime power, or soon after the general captivity, the latter however is the most probable,” Adair wrote.

They had a similar tribe organization, he said. Their manner of delimiting time was similar, as was their custom of having a most holy place, and their designation of prophets and high-priests.

He gave an example of a similar custom: “Correspondent to the Mosaic law of women’s purification after travel, the Indian women absent themselves from their husbands and all public company, for a considerable time.”

He explained the absence of circumcision among Native Americans thus: “The Israelites were but forty years in the wilderness, and would not have renewed the painful act of circumcision, only that Joshua inforced it; and by the necessary fatigues and difficulties, to which as already hinted, the primitive Americans must be exposed at their first arrival in this vast and extensive wilderness, it is likely they forbore circumcision, upon the divine principle extended to their supposed predecessors in the wilderness, of not accepting sacrifice at the expense of mercy. This might soothe them afterwards to wholly to reject it as a needless duty, especially if any of the eastern heathens accompanied them in their travels in quest of freedom.”

It seems the Cherokee people have had mixed feelings about Yates’s work. While the Central Band of Cherokee website has posted a summary of Yates’s research, some online comments indicate that some Cherokee have been reluctant to stand behind such claims or to involve themselves in the controversy.

In writing about the Cherokee Paint Clan, Yates stated: “Some of them practiced Judaism, although United Keetoowah [a Cherokee organization] elders vehemently deny this.”

For more information about indigenous Americans see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/native%20americans
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