Cherokee Unlike Other Indians

Dorene Soiret’s - Cherokee Studies

Photo used by permission of Alice Gound and Dorene Soiret.

Dorene Soiret’s mother, Alice Gound, about 1960. Soiret is a participant in DNA Consultants’ Phase III Cherokee Studies.

Dorene Soiret always knew there was something different about her ancestry. She had been on a fruitless quest to prove her family’s Cherokee heritage for many years until she joined Phase III of DNA Consultants’ Cherokee DNA Studies Project. She will have to wait a little longer for all the answers. But in the meantime, she is enrolled as Participant 52 and matches one other woman in the unique study, their rare lineage labeled American Indian H1z1.

Historically, H1 is centered in Libya and Tunisia among the Tuareg people, concentrated around the site of ancient Carthage. In the first millennium BCE, this was the homeland of the sea-roving Phoenicians, who sent teeming colonies westward composed of natives from the Maghreb interior. The Cherokee Paint Clan, it has been suggested by Donald Yates and others, preserves their name, Paint or Punic People, given to them because of their monopoly in making purple dye and trading luxury goods.

The Phoenicians’ name in their own Semitic language translates as “Canaanite,” a reflection of their origins in the East Mediterranean. James Adair, who wrote the first book about American Indians in 1775, suggested this ethnonym (national identity) appears in the name of the Kanawha River and as the name of a now-extinct Indian tribe in Kentucky and West Virginia. Phoenicians are probably also the source of haplogroup X in the New World, and they are implicated in the mystery of the Melungeon people, with court cases mentioning them by name.

Soiret’s direct female line, like all the others in the program, goes back to a historical Cherokee woman, in this case the wife of Lycan Adkins who lived between 1829 and 1908 and whose maiden name was Murray. The test subject has several other multiply intermarried Adkinses in her ancestry.

Phase III of Cherokee DNA Studies is now closed, with 57 participants enrolled over the past three years. It began in 2007 and went through two phases before the publication of the book Cherokee DNA Studies: Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong. The results of Phase III will be published in a sequel, Cherokee DNA Studies, Volume 2: More Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong (forthcoming 2018). See Cherokee Study Closed.

Although ignored by most tribal bibliographies and Native American journals, Cherokee DNA Studies: Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong was favorably reviewed by Stephen C. Jett, a noted geographer, who endorsed it with the screed, “Revolutionary DNA findings.” He went on to say in his academic book, Ancient Ocean Crossings (University of Alabama Press 2017):  “Donald N. Yates and collaborators… characterized the mtDNA of fifty-two individuals of partial Cherokee ancestry who did not display any of the usual Native American mtDNA haplogroups A through D… identifying (in order of the frequency) haplogroups T, U, X, J, H, L and K. T, X, and J are essentially Levantine (eastern Mediterranean) in origin….”


Further, Jett noted that the East Mediterranean haplogroup showings were interesting for several reasons:

Hg T seems to have emerged in Mesopotamia and later spread into Europe. This Hg occurred in nearly 27 percent of Yates’ sample. None of the Cherokee Ts exactly matched any other known T haplotype, and the Cherokee percentage of T was three times as high as that of the general US population. Cherokee/Melungeon-associated J haplotypes are not precisely duplicated elsewhere, either, suggesting the passage of much time to allow differentiation…. Hg U is largely European….and is generally absent among Native Americans. However, it reached a level of approximately 25 percent among those Cherokee descendants, whose Hts (haplotypes) turned out to be very diverse and to include some mutations unique to American Indians, again implying  considerable elapsed time since introduction… the Cherokee descendants shared some haplotypes with Jews. Too, the Jewish ‘Cohen gene’ has been traced back within the Cherokee to no later than about AD 1640.”

Jett concluded that the distribution of haplogroups was evidently ancient and not the result of recent European or Middle Eastern admixture in America:

Yates’ genetically remarkably diverse Cherokee sample, the unique haplotypes represented therein, and the frequencies of the haplogroups found—quite different from those of the larger US populations—are striking: ‘Similar proportions of these haplogroups are noted in the populations of Egypt, Israel and other parts of the East Mediterranean … No such mix could result from post-1492 European gene flow into the Cherokee Nation.’” (pp. 353f.)

Preliminary results from Phase III (closed in May 2018) confirm the “non-American Indian,” or anomalous Native American component of Cherokee descendants. The updated haplogroup findings across Phases I-III are as follow:

Haplogroup N= Percent New in Phase III
U 40 22.7 17
T 31 17.6 4
H 30 17 16
J 17 9.7 10
A-D 13 7.4 3
K 11 6.3 5
X 9 5.1 0
Total Participants 151 85.8 55
All Others 25 14.2 2
Grand Total 176 100.0 57

As can be seen, U emerges as the most common anomalous type of Cherokee, modally U5 (n=23, one of the oldest forms of U and most common in Middle Easterners and Europeans), followed by T and H. The expected haplogroups A-D account for only 7.4 percent of Cherokee lineages according to the DNA Consultants study, suggesting a very divergent type from other American Indians. Mesopotamian and Old European types (including Greek, Egyptian, Israeli, Levantine and others) represent 81.8 percent of lineages. (Here, X is grouped with Levantine, as no firm separation can be established between Old and New World types.)

Genetic analyses of Cherokee mtDNA or female lineages thus continue to point to Egypt, Israel/Phoenicia and Greece, as first proposed on historical grounds by Yates in Old World Roots of the Cherokee: How DNA, Ancient Alphabets and Religion Explain the Origins of America’s Largest Indian Nation (2012).

The Adkinses appear to be part of a little-studied phenomenon of Welsh or British Jews. Their surname means “kin of Arthur (or Adam).” In 2012, Donald Yates wrote about the pioneer family in his book Old World Roots of the Cherokee (pp. 144-45):

Adkins . . . is a family heavily intermarried with the pioneer Coopers, Blevinses and Burkes from Wayne County, Kentucky.  They came from Pittsylvania County, Virginia, an important staging area for the movement of Melungeon families along the northern and eastern boundaries of the Overhill Cherokee. The family is traced to a James Atkinson, a Quaker who came to Philadelphia in the 1600s, probably from a seaport in Wales. His great-grandson William Adkins left a will dated Jan. 22, 1784 and probated March 15, 1784, detailing an accumulation of wealth, and was buried near Cooper’s Old Store, Pittsylvania County. William’s son Owen was born about 1750 in Lunenberg County, Virginia (parent county of Pittsylvania) and died in Watauga, Hawkins County, Tennessee about 1790. He married Agnes Good/Goad, from the same family that provided a spouse to Valentine Sevier (1701/02-1803). Good is the English equivalent of Shem Tov, Buen, Boone, Le Bon and other names for those bearing the “good name” of King David. Valentine and Agnes were the parents of John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee. One of his sons, Valentine, married Sarah Cooper. The Seviers can be traced to Don Juan de Xavier of a Sephardic family who took refuge in Navarre during the Spanish Inquisition.

In 1836, Benjamin Adkins built a log mill on the Little South Fork of the Cumberland near Parmleysville, Kentucky, made of huge squared logs. This mill, with rifle slits on two levels, is still standing. He left a will in 1839 showing $10,000 in debts owed him and an estate of great value. Numerous family members moved first to Sequatchee (Marion County, Tennessee) and subsequently to Sand Mountain and to a hidden cove at the foot of Fox Mountain (named after Black Fox) called Anawaika, or Deerhead, on the Georgia state line. Some proceeded west to Arkansas. William E. Adkins (about 1828-1862) married Susan E. (Sukie) Cooper (about 1831-1901), the daughter of Isaac and Mahala Jane (Blevins) Cooper, April 20, 1847, in Henry County, Tennessee, and descendants filed unsuccessful applications to be enrolled as Cherokee in Indian Territory. Memories of their Cherokee ancestors ran thin, but Steve Adkins of Arkansas  recalled in 2001, “When I was little my Great Grandma Adkins (Virgie Stanley) use to tell me stories about my Great Grandfather’s (Arthur ‘Aud’ Adkins) Grandmother. She said her name was Sukie and she was a Cherokee Indian. I later found out that ‘Sukie’ was a nickname for Susan. She also mentioned the name Mahala Blevins.”

The Adkins family in America exhibits a familiar pattern of trading and land development on the Southern frontier, intermarriage with the Cherokee Indians and Crypto-Jewish or Melungeon connections. In these respects, their history echoes that of the Coopers, Blevinses, Walkers, Gists, Troxells, Adairs and others in genealogical literature. The genetics of their Indian marriage partners forms the main interest of Cherokee DNA Studies.

Although Dorene Soiret’s story is unusual compared to most Americans it is completely typical when placed beside the Cherokee descendants profiled in DNA Consultants’ Cherokee DNA Studies.

Be open-minded and continue your journey! Dohiyi!

Disclaimer: Our genetic findings about Cherokee people have not been submitted for peer-reviewed scientific or historical publication. DNA Consultants’ views are not reviewed by (and may contradict) opinions published by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, North Carolina Department of Administration Commission on Indian Affairs, Family Tree DNA, Wikipedia, 23&me, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Jessica Bardill, Ph.D. (Cherokee), Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, A Cherokee Encyclopedia, Journal of Cherokee Studies, International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, American Indian Culture and Research Journal,, DNA Diagnostics Center, Vine Deloria, Jr., U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, DNAeXplained, Arizona State University, National Human Genome Research Institute, University College of London, Roberta Estes (Family Tree DNA), DNA Testing Advisor (Richard Hill), Dr. Kim Tallbear (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), National Genealogical Society Quarterly, American Indian and Alaska Native Genetics Resource Center, New Georgia Encyclopedia for Educators, Encyclopedia of North Carolina, Tennessee Encyclopedia, National Congress of American Indians, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, Anthropology Outreach Office Department of Anthropology Smithsonian Institution, William L. Anderson (Western Carolina University), Barbara R. Duncan (“Your Grandmother’s Cherokee”), Bode Technologies, Accu-Metrics, Genex Laboratories, National Geographic, Manataka American Indian Council, Partnership with Native Americans, LabCorp, Family Search, Malhi Molecular Anthropology Laboratory at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana, History Channel, Oklahoma Historical Society, Theda Perdue (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill),  American Anthropologist Magazine, Native American Rights Fund,, VIA-Medex, Family Tree Magazine, Ancestor Search, Sorenson Genomics, The Root, Indian Country Today, Indian Country News, Institute of American Indian Studies at Brigham Young University, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National Congress of American Indians, Cherokee Phoenix,, Cherokee Registry, People of One Fire, Alabama Indian Affairs Commission, Cherokee Phoenix, Board of Certification of Genealogists, Indian Health Service, Genetic Literacy Project,  The People’s Paths, International Society of Genetic Genealogists, Northeastern State University of Oklahoma Cherokee and Indigenous Studies Faculty, Association of Professional Genealogists, National Congress of American Indians, Your Genetic Genealogist (CeCe Moore) or The Genetic Genealogist (Blaine Bettinger).



  Comments: 15

  1. Don Panther-Yates

    I compiled the list above from websites that offer information and genetic testing on “Cherokee Indians.” All agreed in a denial and condemnation of the partial Eastern Mediterranean origin hypothesis tested in our Cherokee DNA Studies.

    • Thank you for your excellent research! I’ve been reading your book Mr. Yates, as I ended up with very similar conclusions from studying my own genome. I had not heard of your work, yet by compiling my mtDNA data from Family Tree and 23&Me, your facts are evident. R1b [m269] and J1c7-unknown. I have been tracing this genome out of Africa to see the migration lineage, and yes, markers are picked up in a way that appears geographic and agglutinate… the mtDNA goes: Levant, Anatolia, Greece, Italy, Ashkenazim, Finland, Scandinavia, Iceland, and down the coastline of Colonial America, then inland. the Y: appears to skip from the Levant straight to Scotland, messes around in the UK then goes to Colonial America….
      Each of my parents descend from the ‘white indians’, and we experienced ‘paper genocide’ omissions/misascriptions due to intermarriage [or needing to pass]. My great-grandfather registered for WW1 as a “white Indian citizen”, and his wife died as “white or Mexican ([passing] white).
      We are Cumberland Gap folks, from all the Crab Orchards no matter what state they are in. Whenever we migrated, we set up the same tiny communities using the same community names as a group of hamlets…

      • When you speak of Crab Orchards you must be speaking of mount Vernon Rockcastle Ky area. My Belchers Brummetts and Heltons are from there.

    • Amber Dawn Knight Killer

      I’m apart of the Knight Killer family and the Pheasant family with the Cherokee tribe. That’s right KNIGHT KILLER. Think about my family name for a moment and let it sink in. My family have met the Knights Templars when they came here with Jewish family. First and only Natives to have been Knighted by the templars for taking in their refuges. You can find my family name online. We were located in Wills Valley Alabama in the 1830s. Feel free to look for yourselves. It recently came to my attention that people were trying to figure out why there is Jewish blood in us. The Knights templars brought them to us. They still live among us today. They are Cherokee even if they have Jewish blood. We are united!

  2. Although difficult if not near impossible to obtain, the most reliable way to determine the origins of the tribe, while ruling out any and all outside intermarrying contributed DNA contributions would be to use DNA from the remains (teeth) of Cherokee from significantly pre-contact times.

  3. Christopher Swink

    This is very interesting. My maternal haplogroup is H1Q. Also known to have “originated among the Tuareg Peoples. It is a rare mtDna haplogroup and only 1 in 43,000 23andme customers receive this mtDna designation. I believe this haplogroup to be of a South and or Southwest Asiatic origin. Possibly Natufians. Which would place the point of origin for this haplogroup in what we call today modern day Jericho.

    • We have other H1s in the Cherokee study. I think one source might have been the huge populations from the interior which the Carthaginians drew on for colonization efforts. I notice you matched Moroccan. Also, bear in mind many believe that there were actually Arabs and Moroccans settled in the corridor between Mobile and Chicago in early times. On Arab maps as late as the eighteenth century, the trans-Allegheny region is shown as belonging to the Kingdom of Morocco!

  4. I have written the story of John Lawson’s journey through the Carolinas in 1701. Using that and a few other writings I proposed the route of Desoto thru the Caroilnas in 1540, and Juan Pardo in1567-68.
    Desoto had about 150 Sephardic Jews in his army, and when the reached the Indian community they called Cofitachequi, they said the it was the best place in La florida. Some how a name they left for a lake at Cofitachequi has survived. I found in on a land grant of 1759. The Lake on the land grant was ” Cados Lake”. The name of the Lake has survived and today it is on the property of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as Cuddos Wildlife Hunt Unit. The name Cados is originally a 15th century Sephardic name meaning “Holy Place”.

    • Very interesting. Richard Thornton has found Ladino inscriptions in the Georgia and North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains and believes Sephardic traders quickly poured down the Appalachian Trail (Great Warrior Path) from Dutch New Amsterdam. I too am trying to explain the high degree of Sephardic Jewish DNA in “Cherokees.” The history of North Georgia and the Carolinas before the British explored and claimed it is very complex and has been long hidden.I have learned, for instance, that the Gabriel ARthur-James Needham excursion with Tamahitans in 1673 had its destination in Old Coosa at the confluence of the Oostanaula, Etowah and Coosa rivers, nowhere near Cherokee territory. The description of the whiskered people with a six-foot tall bell and brick buildings eight days downriver must therefore be somewhere down the Coosa River–I’m guessing maybe around the place where the Tallapoosa joins it to form the Alabama river (later the stronghold of the Creeks Jackson defeated at Horse Shoe Bend). This whole river system is called the Tamahitan River–meaning dominated by the Apalache (Hitchiti or Itsa Creek) Indians. Don’t think the whiskered folks could have been French or Spanish, though. And they can’t be Jews because they eat pork and have bells calling them to worship. Thornton thinks they were Armenian. That would make sense if they came from upriver and started out working in the mines of the gold fields of North Georgia and the whole corridor was Ottomon and Arab. There are other indications along these lines. And it would explain a lot of Armenian and Middle Eastern DNA among “Cherokees” with a family history in North Georgia and South Carolina.

  5. Barbara M Bland

    I’ve just received my mtDNA haplogroup as H6a1a–which some call the “the Jewish group” among H’s, as I understand it. My only two exact matches in the FTDNA database are women who live in Spain. Nearly all of my mother’s lines migrated across the south from early Virginia and passed through the Cumberland Gap circa late 1700’s and early 1800’s. My earliest know maternal gma generating this haplogroup is Sarah Jane Allgood (1807-1844) born in Georgia but then lived in Monroe Co. TN. There are several candidates for her mother but none confirmed yet. In this maternal line, my Ggma Etta Mashburne had speculated to her older children that she thought we had Native Am through her gpa Houston’s line, perhaps to explain hair, eye, skin colors. But from this haplogroup (and just learning that this William Houston’s mother came straight from Scotland as a teenager), I’m thinking the colorings/features came to us through Houston’s wife and her mother Allgood. Poking around with GedMatch programs, which may not be reliable, I’m about 6% Ashkenazi (some of which may come from my father’s line), 0.5% Pygmy African, 0.6% Ethiopian, 2% Polynesian and 1% east Asian. Everthything else is Engiish, Scottish, Scandinavian. My mother’s sister’s blood type is O negative. We have no idea where she got that. I’m about ready to start digging up graves across the southern sates and extracting teeth. Please tell me there are answers before I resort to that extreme, lol, and thanks for all you’ve done to further the science of who we are. Barb

  6. Robert Chandler

    Both of Mom’s parents were believed to be 1/16 Cherokee. Her brother, Jim, had his DNA tested several years ago at Ancestry. When his DNA results first came back, the ethnicity results showed 2% of North Africa, which would be consistent with Cherokee DNA, and less than 1% each of Southern Europe, Iberian Peninsula, and European Jewish . Since then, they updated the results and all those regions disappeared and it shifted south to Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples. Mine was 100% Western Europe, mostly the British Isles.
    A lot of people descended from slaves, also claim Cherokee ancestry. I wonder if the number of them showing similar results to my uncle caused Ancestry to revise their interpretation.

    • We can’t answer for results from Ancestry or any other company. Our forensic ancestry method is unlike their “SNP chip” approach, which seems to have a lot of validity issues. At any rate, they keep changing their chip and “updating” their results. Have you taken our DNA Fingerprint or Cherokee DNA Test?

  7. Russell Brasuell

    Same story here, my mothers direct 3rd G Grandmother Cherokee Indian arrived in NW Arkansas during the Trail Of Tears. Married a whiteman that had saved her from unfriendly locals. mtDNA shows V10a a fairly rare haplogroup.

    • Gretchen Griffith

      We have the same story in our family. My grandmother told it to my mom, but didn’t say (if she even knew) who they were. All of my gggrandparents and at least four of my gggggrandparents settled in Johnson County (Paris), AR. What is your Cherokee ancestor’s name?

      • Well, I have several. My 5th-great-grandfather was Chief Black Fox. Black Fox is listed as a lieutenant of Chief Dragging Canoe, 1788-1790. He signed the Holston Treaty, July 2, 1791 (but not the stipulation of February 7, 1792) and delivered the funeral oration for his brother-in-law Dragging Canoe. Black Fox was chief of the lower town of Ustanali. Curiously, Ustanali was one of the capitals of the Apalache people. Black Fox was by no means “pure” Cherokee (there is no such thing anyway) and had a good deal of Scottish and Sephardic Jewish. He was considered Paint Clan by the other Cherokees.

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