Eastern Canadian Metis Added as Forensic Population No. 538


Rochelle Daigle, an enrolled member of an Eastern Metis Tribe, is the picture perfect choice for our new Canadian indigenous population, as her descent includes 12 generations back to the French original settlers marrying local  American Indian women in Port Royal, Acadia. Photo A.  Fitzmorris. Used by Special Permission.

 

(July 1, 2024) DNA Consultants has added the first North American Metis population to its ancestry database. Named Canada – Eastern Metis and numbering 24 participants, the project was spearheaded by Roland Belanger, a Montagnais Metis elder.

 

The project took form in November 2022 when Donald Yates of DNA Consultants agreed with community leaders it was desirable to have a snapshot of the biological history of Canada’s Eastern Metis peoples at a time when admixture, secularization, intermarriage and other factors (such as government regulation) endangered the coherence and continuity of the Metis just like other ethnic groups in the world.

 

Metis have a troubled history in officialdom. In one case, discussed at some length in the book Cherokee DNA  Studies II,[1]

 

…a man’s maternal line goes back to a seventeenth century Fille du Roi native woman, but the type is T. How could that be? Most people insist that it’s a contradiction. Like other T’s, K’s, U’s, X’s and J’s among the Acadians, such an ancestress is non-native, the effect of post-1500 admixture. One company, Family Tree DNA, even shut down an Acadian Metis project because it was finding the “wrong” type of mitochondrial DNA! But it may well be that the type has been a native lineage thriving for hundreds or thousands of years with thousands of descendants today.

 

Alexandre Alemann long ago published a list of 115 provable Metis women in former Acadia. All these women came to the New World sponsored by the French government to be married to the settlers. Many were Metis or Native sent at first to France for an education and baptism. Posterity has quibbled over their descendants’ status.

 

But such rarified arguments are only the tip of the iceberg. Many historians believe the number of mixed European-Native American descendants in Canada living today runs in the millions. It is especially large in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. The native bloodlines in question are small, independent Algonquian tribes we know today as Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, Montagnais, Innu and Penobscot with a number of reservations in Canada and the United States.

 

Would forensic DNA testing find even a trace of Native blood after more than 400 years? Apparently, the answer is yes.

 

Eastern Metis as represented by our sample had leading matches almost exclusively to other American Indian tribes. Among the highest matches were enrolled Cherokees from North Carolina (n=33), Native American Saskatchewan (n=40) and North American Native Americans (n=533). All Hispanic populations in the U.S. and Canada got high matches.

 

The new study followed the protocol and standards of Kelly Carrothers et al, “Native American Population Data Based on the Globalfiler Autosomal STR Loci,” Forensic Science International: Genetics 24 (Sept. 2016) e12-e13, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.fsigen.2016.06.014, a public scientific compilation of American Indian short tandem repeat frequencies.

 

And what about the European admixture side of the picture? The top five matches were: 1) Russia (n = 184),  2) Estonia (n = 150), 3) Netherlands (n = 231),  4) Belarusian (n = 176) and 5) Portugal (n = 150). England/Wales was no.  10, and France was no. 12.

 

More Information

Participants Wanted for Eastern Canadian Metis DNA Project (news)

Where Do I Come From: Jim Stritzel (blog post)

Basic American Indian DNA Test (product page)

Native American DNA Fingerprint Plus (product page)

Metis First Nation (tribal website)

Métis in The Canadian Encyclopedia (article by Adam Gaudry et al)

Ontario Coalition of Indigenous People (official website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Donald N. Yates and Teresa A. Yates, Cherokee DNA Studies II: More Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong (Longmont: Panther’s Lodge Publishers, 2021), see esp. 8. 94-96.