Principal Investigator Donald Yates has announced that Phase II of the company’s Cherokee DNA Studies is drawing to an end and results of the investigation will be published this month. Participants received a thank-you email from the company on Saturday, September 20, which provided them with an update and their special Phase II project member number.
After nearly five years of soliciting candidates for inclusion, the study added 67 new subjects. Any customers now wishing to pursue their Cherokee mitochondrial DNA will be enrolled in Phase III, beginning in October, Yates said.
Participation is free, but participants must either provide their mitochondrial test results from previous testing for in-depth analysis or purchase the company’s mitochondrial test for HVS1+2 mutations, supplied by Genex Diagnostics of Vancouver, Canada. Documented genealogies focusing on the strict maternal line were asked for and received.
Phase I enrolled 52 participants from 2003 through mid-year 2009, and results were published on August 31, 2009 in an article titled “Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee.”
The sample total for the two phases is 119 random individuals.
Nothing like it had ever been attempted before, Yates said. “When I embarked on this research ten years ago, I found that the sum total of Cherokee people tested for their mitochondrial DNA amounted to only 35 anonymous blood-donor cases, and no one was taking genealogies and family documents into consideration.”
The growth of genetic genealogy as a consumer phenomenon in the two-thousand-aughts released a pent-up fury of test taking, according to Yates. “But it was clear many were not being well served either by the commercial firms or the prevailing scientific and governmental attitudes about Indians.”
Juanita Sims was one of the disappointed clients of the established scene. Her niece, Elizabeth DeLand, contacted Dr. Yates in July of 2014 and succeeded in enrolling her aunt as participant No. 67—one of the last to be accepted in Phase II. “Aunt Juanita originally had the test done because her grandmother and great-grandmother spoke Cherokee and she is trying to find it in her DNA,” wrote DeLand. “She is U5 haplogroup and was told it was not Native American.”
While full results are still being prepared for publication, Phase II appears to confirm many of the findings gleaned from the 52 “anomalous Cherokees” in Phase I.
In agreement with Phase I, Phase II found haplogroup T in about one-fifth of its sample, while J, K and U were also well represented.
According to Dr. Yates, the phase’s six new African lines (haplogroup L) compose one of the most exciting breakthroughs of the project, as they are likely attributable to slave or freedmen descendants in tribal populations, an otherwise “invisible” element on many official Indian rolls. One participant, he noted, matched A Te Anu, a Muscogee Creek woman.
We applaud the private individuals involved for their public-spiritedness and persistence in making Phase II happen.
Photo: Map of Cherokee territory and surrounding tribes from Old World Roots of the Cherokee (New York: McFarland, 2012).
Copyright © 2012 Donald N. Yates
More Anomalous Mitochondrial DNA Lineages in the Cherokee (full paper, October 9, 2014).