DNA Consultants’ blog

Read reviews of science articles, new research and news reports on ancestry testing, ancient DNA and popular genetics

Toward a New Story of the Mound Builders

Maybe it’s time to make a fresh start and reject both the Ancients and the Moderns in this Battle of the Books. Whoever they were, the builders of the mounds were just humans, with common needs, wants, desires and behaviors like everyone else.

Mound Builders and Myth Builders

Okay, enough nice stuff. What really upsets us is Mann’s arrogance. Of the early polymath and scientist who first used the Wallam Olum, or Painted Record, Mann writes that “the waters around the Lenâpe versions were greatly muddied in 1836 by a rascally raconteur, Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz (1783-1840), who sullied them with his publication of a hoax that he entitled the Walam Olum, purportedly meaning, ‘The Red Score” or “Painted Sticks.” She superciliously calls the epic narrative preserved in many versions down to the present “a lengthy pseudo-tradition” (p. 140) and Rafinesque “an intelligent and skillful hoaxer, who wrapped his deceit in several layers of seeming authentication, which take real work to unravel” (p. 141).

Atala, Earliest Name for America

Atala (Great Goddess) was the name given to the Americas when North Africans and Europeans first sailed to it, and its inhabitants were called Atalans. Ata meant “The Door, entrance to another dimension, death, Underworld, Land of Souls” in the Uskan (Euskaran, Basque) languages once claimed by certain scholars to be widespread in North Africa and Europe. Atala, then, is believed to be a title for the White Goddess in her role as keeper of the gates of the Underworld and transformer of the dead. From cover of Atala, by Chateaubriand, illustrated by Gustave Doré (New York: Cassell, 1884).


Hopi Pottery and the Cosmos

Matriarchal societies celebrate women as the givers of life, the nourishers. The feminine is supreme. In the Americas the Great Goddess is synonymous with the water bottle or pot of plenty, an Old World concept that with the coming of patriarchy was turned into a witch’s cauldron. The original Paleolithic and Neolithic idea of death was joyous rebirth, not the depressing notion of ghostly flibbertigibbets we find in Greek epic, say, or the Aztec idea of being swallowed up by a black void. In this final part of “Matriarchy vs. Patriarchy,” we will see that it is spirituality, a belief in the culture of life which makes the Hopi people so attractive to patriarchally-oppressed people of the modern world.

Forgotten Cherokee Migrations

The origins and migrations of the Cherokee have long been debated, and there are some widely conflicting views. Some say they came from the east, some from the northeast, some from the west, and some from a flying island. Leaving aside the theory of a mother ship from another star system, we can firmly reject all these directions of origin and assert they came from the northwest.

Bottle Woman: The Great Goddess in America

What both the 17th century philosophe Poulain and 20th century feminist Beauvoir said of men writing about women applies also to men writing about goddesses and matriarchy. Since stumbling upon the story of Bottle Woman, the Grandmother Moon Goddess of the Cherokees—and having a revelation similar to Lucius’ in The Golden Ass, when the Mother Goddess herself appears to him in all her terrible beauty[2]—I have learned to tread cautiously in the literature of feminism, women’s history and anthropology.

Three King-Sized Books on His-Story

Tipping the scales at nearly six pounds, The Archaeology of Ancient North America represents the latest and weightiest word on its subject. As Dorothy Parker remarked of a thick collection of poetry she reviewed in her day, it runs the gamut from A to B. The two authors have made archeology (as we usually spell it) a deader and dryer subject than it need be—unless you consider they are mostly all wet to begin with. Search in vain for more than a passing reference to Cherokee or Choctaw (two native heritages I’m interested in).

Carlyle Hinshaw: Digging the Past

Gaylord Carlyle Hinshaw, a descendant of the last principal war chief of the Shawnee Tribe of Indians, has devoted his adult life to uncovering the past—the earth’s history and his own Native heritage.

Beyond the Noble Savage: Chateaubriand’s Chactas and Atala

The concept of the noble savage can be traced to the earliest accounts of American Indians. It was championed by poets, dramatists and philosophers. Not until the author Chateaubriand, a Breton nobleman who actually lived among the North American Indians, published Atala: Or, The Love and Constancy of Two Savages in the Desert in 1801 did the image of Indians substantially change in the minds of Europeans and their descendants in America.

Private Alleles Reveal Minor Ancestry

It is widely accepted that STRs are non-coding in nature and are therefore not implicated in gene expression. By the same token, scientists used to think that single variations in the number of repeats (STRs) in your autosomal profile could not be correlated with population or ancestry, that you needed at least four STR alleles to reach meaningful conclusions.