Scandinavians, Arabs, Jews, Polynesians, Phoenicians, Berbers and Egyptians

Scandinavians, Arabs, Jews, Polynesians, Phoenicians, Berbers and Egyptians

Chapter 3 of More Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong (forthcoming)

In continuing to analyze the findings in Phase III of the Cherokee DNA Project, let us start with some of the minor haplogroups that indicate the surprising diversity of Cherokees. All these cases are rare, usually unique haplotypes, not just rare haplogroups. All of them connect the dots to an ancient world of advanced civilizations and global diffusion.

V is an infrequent lineage associated with hunter-gatherer populations. It is prominent in, even diagnostic of, the Sami, or Lapps, 42% of whom have it. The first instance in our study we should like to discuss is Diana McDargh, of Springfield, Ohio (III.1, A1016). Mitosearch produced two exact matches, both North American: U7GFW and MWMY8, a descendant of Cathern Wallace (1837-1922). They and the subject are thus cousins probably in a genealogical, as well as genetic, sense, sharing a common female ancestor in recent history. McDargh’s rare mutation 16271C was reported in Richards in only one person, and that person was Scandinavian. Such matches could possibly lend support to the assertion of Richard Thornton, a Creek architect and historian, that the Euchee people were founded by a Bronze Age Scandinavian settlement at the mouth of the Savannah River. Thornton, who has Euchee ancestry himself, has assembled extensive evidence of Scandinavian DNA and epigraphy in Georgia. Diana McDargh, who identifies as African American and American Indian, has traced her mitochondrial line with genealogical research to an ancestor from North Georgia who went on the Trail of Tears in the 1830s.

The second example of V belongs to Gene Ponder (2.39, P2811), a cabinet manufacturing company entrepreneur in East Texas. His mutations had no ready matches at all. Ponder traces his ancestry back to the Cherokee in Alabama. As noted in his report, there were apparent matches to Polynesian (Lum 1994) and Tongan specimens (Vigilant 1989). If these are not imperfect matches based on incomplete comparisons, they could possibly point to Cherokee Twister or Long Hair Clan affiliation. The name in Cherokee for this clan Ani-Kilohi appears to be Polynesian. Gi-lolo was the land where the earliest ancestors of the Hawaiians came from, identified by later Spanish, Dutch and English navigators as the Moluccas in the Indonesian Archipelago. Compare Hawaiian hilo “twisted, rope”; Yates, Old World Roots, p. 36.  Polynesian peoples are known to have lived among the Southern Indians, influencing their house architecture, clothing, dance and song.

Phase III added a new haplogroup possibly qualifying as Native American, and that was mitochondrial haplogroup R, which is exceedingly rare in any population. One of the R’s, Ramona Bachman Woodrum (3.24, W1784) had written to us:

I bought the book by Mr. Yates Old World Roots of the Cherokee. The book mentioned many of my ancestors’ surnames: Hyde, Leatherwood, Walker. I wanted to learn more so I sent my DNA off to a company to see what category my haplogroup was. The results were shocking, as it shows my haplogroup as ROa-60.1T. Seeing that ancestors on my mother’s side migrated from North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and settled in Oklahoma, I was shocked that testing showed no Native American ties. Is there an actual R0a?

Yes, we had to tell Woodrum, there is an actual R0a, but her particular form is the rarest of the rare. It matches no other person in the world exactly. Although mitochondrial R eventually branched out into the most populous Eurasian haplogroups, such as H and U, the basal clade is found today only on the tiny South Arabian island of Socotra, an important trading station of the Indian Ocean (1.2%), as well as in Northeast Africa (1.5%), the Middle East (0.8%) and the Arabian peninsula (0.3%). As such it seems to mark humans’ first exit from Africa about 75,000 years ago and a small number of subsequent movements of Arabs into other places in the Middle East since then. Best described as Arabian, it cannot be confused with any other lineage. Because of the random precision of the match, it is likely to relate to an ancient rather than modern admixture explanation. Socotra, interestingly, is discussed in Old World Roots of the Cherokee (p. 29) and appears to have been one of the rich ports touched upon by Ptolemaic expeditions to the East. We are again returned to Greek shipping.

Greek colonies, of course, were not unusual, even outside the Mediterranean. The ancient geographer Agatharchides employed by the Library at Alexandria wrote a treatise on the Indian Ocean in which he mentions a Greek colony on the unidentified island of Socotra. The name is usually glossed as a Greek form of Sanskrit Dvipa Sukhatara, meaning “the Happy, or Blessed Isles.” Most commentators place this colony somewhere close to the mouth of the Red Sea, but it can also refer to Sukatra (Java in Indonesia), whose name means “beloved, blessed, blissful.” Java, of course, has been the ultimate destination for spice merchants since the beginning of history. The Egyptians mined gold in Sumatra, especially during the Ptolemaic period when Egypt was ruled by the Greeks. Spice like nutmeg, which grew only on those islands, comprised essential ingredients in the mummification process of Egyptian kings. Taprobana was the island on the edge of the known world, first reported by the Greek geographer Megasthenes around 290 BCE. It appeared on maps produced under Eratosthenes’ direction[1] and is believed by some to be Sumatra, the largest, westernmost of the Sunda islands.

Massive colonization efforts involving the sudden movement of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people by the ancient colonial powers were not unusual. It was a Phoenician scheme from about 500 B.C.E. to populate West Africa with 30,000 desert- dwelling Moors from the hinterland of Carthage, the new capital (in present- day Tunisia). The record of its undertaking was cast in bronze and displayed in a temple at Carthage. Numerous ancient authors plainly reported the contents of this monument. One actually transcribed it in a surviving Greek document of 650 words. The leader of the expedition was Hanno, who commanded a fleet of sixty ships with fifty oars each.[2]

Disregard You Heard This

Speaking of precision hits, I must insert the story of a Greek-American woman I corresponded with briefly about her haplotype X lineage. One of our Cherokee participants had matched it uniquely and nothing else. When I emailed the woman she told me her mother’s people came from a tiny island in the Aegean. She was the first in her family to leave that island and come to America. No one knew anything about Cherokees or American Indians. As far as they knew they had lived on that island for thousands of years.

This obscure islet in the Southern Cyclades came into the crosshairs of our interest. Did it represent the origin of an ancient Greek lineage that survived today in two locations only, in the Mediterranean and in the Southern Highlands of the U.S? According to its myths, it was founded by a son of Minos. It was only 12 square miles and had exactly 765 inhabitants. The only thing it was known for was a nudist beach. Its political organization was within the Thira Regional Unit. Also called Santorini, this was the site of the volcanic eruption of circa 1500 BCE that ended the Minoan empire.

When the Greek island of Santorini blew up one summer’s day in or around 1646 BCE, it is believed to have been the largest, most violent volcanic eruption ever witnessed by humans in the historical era. With the force of forty atomic bombs, the explosion appears to have vaporized the interior of the island, killed 20,000 people and thrown a layer of ash and pumice over the luxury villas on the hill measuring 130 feet deep today. Researchers note that Chinese annals recorded the event on the other side of the world, and tree rings as far away as California and Ireland registered the effect. It snuffed out Minoan civilization, Europe’s first, and gave rise to the story of Atlantis, as told to Pericles by Egyptian priests and repeated by Plato.

After the downfall of the Minoans in the mid-second millennium, it was left to the Mycenaeans, allies from mainland Greece, to pick up the pieces. Many of King Minos’ merchantmen must have been far off at sea and escaped harm. The Mycenaeans ruled in the Minoans’ stead until the Trojan War, when a second world catastrophe struck about the year 1100, followed by five centuries marked by the Doric and Ionic invasions and known as the Greek Dark Ages.

What does ancient DNA have to say? Five ancient “Atlantis survivors,” as they could be dubbed, were recovered from four different sites in present-day Greece, one from near Athens, one from the Peloponnese and the other three from Crete.[i] A female’s grave was used from Agia Kyriaki on the island of Salamis west of Athens. A second female came from an elite Mycenaean tomb in Peristeria on the Peloponnese. A male and a female were recovered from the rock-cut tombs of Galatas Apatheia, near Chania, on the northwest coast of Crete.

Four of the five individuals in this test are women, and three of the samples of mitochondrial DNA belonged to haplogroup X. This lineage is centered in the East Mediterranean but diffused sparsely all over the world, including in America. Many people consider X to be the signature of the Phoenicians, who followed in the sea paths of the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

[i] Lazaridis, Iosif et al, “Genetic Origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans,” Nature 548/7666 (2017): 214-18.

Phoenician Connections

Phase III produced only one new instance of haplogroup X. This was William Forsyth, a resident of Kalispell, Montana (3.27, F1219). We may recall that although X occurs only at a frequency of about 3% for the total current indigenous population of the Americas, and is negligible in Europe and Asia, it is a major haplogroup in northern North America. Among the Algonquian and Ojibwe peoples it comprises up to 25% of mtDNA types. It is also present in lesser percentages to the west and south of this area—among the Sioux (15%), the Nuu-Chah-Nulth (11%–13%), the Navajo (7%), and the Yakima (5%). It is also reported in small amounts among the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and other Southeastern tribes, as well as Pueblo and Pima Indians.

Forsyth’s mitochondrial mutation set was not matched anywhere. As with many other project participants the only instance of that exact lineage was his own, which he traced to the Cherokee. He also took a DNA Fingerprint Plus test. His top autosomal results contained matches to all three Cherokee populations as follows (Cherokee samples marked in red):


Rank World Population Matches
1 Belarusian (n = 176)
2 Slovenian (n = 193)
3 Portuguese-Azores Archipelago (n = 95)
4 U.S. Cherokee Admixed (n=62)
5 Spanish – Northeast (n = 204)
6 Lithuania (n = 300)
7 Bosnian (n = 210)
8 White – Canadian (n = 83)
9 Polish (n = 412)
10 White – Canadian (n = 164)
11 Ukrainian (n = 900)
12 Polish – Podlasie (North East) (n = 413)
13 Russia – Saratov (n = 52)
14 Czech (n = 1141)
15 Polish (n = 136)
16 Italian – Piedmont (n = 147)
17 Polish – Central (n = 430)
18 Polish (n = 125)
19 Belarusian – Northeastern Poland (n = 212)
20 Polish – Podlasie (n = 842)
21 Romanian – Transylvanian – Csango (n = 220)
22 Poland – Lodz (n = 1000)
23 Serbian (n = 200)
24 Polish – Southeastern (n = 714)
25 Slovakia – Zemplin (n=558)
26 Lithuania – Vilnius (n = 140)
27 White – Maine (n = 151)
28 Azerbaijan (n = 285)
29 Spanish – Valencian (n = 101)
30 Portuguese – White (n = 146)
31 Portuguese – Madeira (n = 100)
32 White – U.S. (n = 200)
33 Slovakia – Abov-Gemer (n=1044)
34 White – U.S. (n = 102)
35 Swedish (n = 311)
36 Russian (n = 402)
37 Native American – Michigan (n = 29)
38 White – U.S. (n = 199)
39 White – North Carolina (n = 372)
40 Belgian – Flemish (n = 231)
41 Polish (n = 870)
42 Hungarian (n = 4213)
43 Spanish – Balearic Islands (n = 113)
44 U.S. Cherokee Enrolled (n = 33)
45 Portuguese – Porto region (n = 39)
46 Australian – Western (n = 2645)
47 India – Oriya Brahmin (n = 57)
48 Bavarian (n = 155)
49 Serbian – Serbia/Vojvodina/Montenegro (n = 100)
50 U.S. Cherokee Admixed (n = 92)


Central European, Melungeon, Jewish and Portuguese were also evident in this picture of Cherokee descent. The question is how old is the Jewish element. Did it come into the gene pool in the 3rd century before the common era with Ptolemaic origins, as argued in Old World Roots of the Cherokee, in the second century at the same time as the Bat Creek Stone evidence of Hebrew writing or late in the game, say, with Jewish or Spanish/Portuguese traders in Cherokee country beginning in the sixteenth century? Of course, these scenarios are not the only ones, nor are they mutually exclusive. There may be a cumulative effect with both ancient and modern admixture. But the signals of Jewish DNA in the Cherokee are unmistakable.

One should remember that haplogroup X originated in Lebanon and was common among the Phoenicians, whose true name in history was KNAI “Canaanites.” Phoenicians are meant by James Adair when he observes that “several old American towns are called Kanāai.” Adair suggests that the Conoy Indians of Pennsylvania and Maryland were Canaanites and their tribal name a corruption of the word Canaan. These Conoy Indians are the same Indians William Penn around 1700 described as resembling Italians, Jews and Greeks. By about 1735 they had dwindled to a “remnant of a nation, or subdivided tribe, of Indians,” according to Adair (1930:56, 67, 68).

Two Paint Clans

One of the oldest Cherokee clans is called Red Paint Clan (Ani-wodi). Paint People seems, without question, to be the customary term for Phoenicians in all languages, though their word for themselves was Knai. This name is preserved on the map of Native America as Kanawa, a tributary of the Ohio. By tradition, Paint Clan members were doctors and hunters (kanati, from Greek gennadi “noblemen”), keepers of history (tikano, from Greek tynchana “events”) and prophecy, and masters of protocol, diplomacy, and ceremony. Peace chiefs and Ukus (“owls,” or wise men, in the Greek model; cf. Hopi mongwi “owl, chief”) were often chosen from their ranks.

Before it was overtaken by the Wolf Clan at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Paint Clan was the most common clan division among the Cherokee. According to John

Payne’s informants about 1820, the Paint Clan was the most numerous, not Wolf. Probably one reason for the diminution of the Paint Clan was their members did not appear (and were not in the usual sense) “Indian.” They were not bound by the clan rules of the other Cherokees and were free to marry other Paint Clan members, which they often did, many of them eventually completing a passage to white society. Paint Clan genealogies mix with Jewish ancestry in several prominent Cherokee families, including that of Sequoyah, the Waties, Coopers, Oconostota, Dragging Canoe, Black Fox and many others. There used to be a Paint-town in North Carolina. Most of intruders who flooded out of Tennessee and North Carolina after 1800 and took possession of Creek, Chickasaw and Choctaw lands in northwest Georgia and northern Alabama were Paint Clan. Aside from X, Paint Clan descendants could also have U, T, K or J in the female line and T or J on the male side.

Turning from X to H1, another rare Cherokee type, we seem to detect signs of another people with whom the Phoenicians were associated. Both Participant 3.52, Dorene Soiret (S8160), and 3.53, Karen Garruto (G8184) have peculiar forms of H1z1. Soiret’s mutation at 16188.2C is not reported anywhere else in combination with her other mutation on the control loop and makes her mitochondrial lineage unique. Since it is only reported in North America in this exact form, the presumption is that it is American Indian. Certainly, the family regarded it as such, specifically Cherokee. Garruto, who lives in Brandon, Fla. across the country from Soiret, also has the rare 16188.2C but in combination with other mutations, making her lineage part of a cluster with Soiret’s in origin, perhaps 10,000 years ago. Presumably, the two lineages have shared the same historical travels from their original homeland, down to their presence in Cherokees, where they are the sole, puzzling exemplars of a mutation.

Genealogically speaking, Garruto’s female line has been traced to Nancy Ward Noel, whose mother was remembered as being Phebe, born about 1785 in Virginia. This gets us back to the time of full bloods and half bloods and seems to confirm a Cherokee connection with the name of Nancy Ward for one of the Noel children.

  1. Phoebe, b. 1785 VA (1860 Adair Co., KY Federal Census)
  2. Nancy Ward Noel, b. 9 September 1818, Washington Co., KY
  3. Katherine Ellen McClain, b. 10 January 1845, Adair Co., KY
  4. Myrtle Willis b. 1875, TX
  5. Minnie Johnson b. abt. 1900, TX
  6. Minnie Marie Johnson b. 23 April 1919, TX, d. Vinita, OK
  7. Karen Garruto

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 maritime capital of the Phoenicians, who sent teeming colonies westward composed of natives from the Maghreb interior. Carthage itself was a colony. The Greek term Phoiniki designated people associated with the phoenix (a mythological bird that rose from its own ashes), the date palm and a  reddish-blue or purple dye, all emblems of Phoenician or Punic civilization. Phoenician trade was founded on Tyrian purple, a  violet-purple dye derived from the Murex sea snail’s shell. These Levantine people stepped into the copper and tin trade of the Minoans after about 1200 BCE, moving their center of operations successively from Lebanon to Asia Minor to Carthage. After the Third Punic War, the Phoenician state was defeated and supposedly its legacy utterly destroyed by Rome.  Scipio Africanus set fire to their navy and allegedly sowed salt in the fields of their western capital at Carthage in Tunisia in 146 BCE.  But Phoenician DNA and influences did not cease to exist. The phoenix rising from the ashes became the national symbol of the Cherokees. Two clans—the Red Paint and the Blue Paint—traced themselves to the Phoenicians. Early law cases in Tennessee mention the Phoenicians as ancestors of the Melungeons.

Scandinavians, Arabs, Jews, Polynesians, Phoenicians, Berbers and Egyptians

Mask making was a Phoenician specialty. Masks were often items of trade. Shown here is a Paint Clan mask in the collection of Donald Yates. It is carved from buckeye wood, hardened with fire, painted with organic and mineral paints and covered with bee’s-wax by Virgil Crowe, who single-handedly revived the Cherokee Paint Clan way of making masks. Crowe made this mask as a demonstration of his mask-making art in 1990, Cherokee, North Carolina. The divided colors represent the choice of a warrior or one confronted by a warrior between life (red, the color of the Paint Clan) and death (black). Red and black can also be interpreted as the colors of the East (the source of life) and West (place where the ancestors live, Elohi), as well as the colors of the two paint clans, Ani-Wodi and Ani-Sahoni.

A Phoenician fable is embedded in the Cherokee national origin narrative, telling how the honest, trusting red men were hoodwinked by white people arriving in ships:

Then the white strangers, which were supposed to be visitors from heaven and who were supposed to be such on account of their white skins, as the idea and emblem of white was purity and spirituality among the Cherokees, these strangers were taken to be such, asked that they be allowed a small piece of ground upon which to camp, cook and sleep; it was charitably granted. These strangers were entertained by the Cherokee clans very charitably and food and other articles of comfort freely given to them. Then these strangers made known their desire and willingness to remain with the native Cherokee clans if they were allowed to purchase a small piece of ground upon which to camp and sleep. They made known to the tribe that they only needed a small piece of land about the size of a bull hide. This modest request was freely granted to the strangers and sold to them for a trifling consideration. The supposed heavenly strangers then cut one of the ox hides which they had brought with them into a small string which they stretched around a square enclosing several hundred square yards. The strangers were asked to smoke with the clans All the clans gathered at the ancient site of the sacred round or half sphere temple This they claimed to be in accordance with the purchase agreement to which the tribe finally agreed, saying at the same time that they had been deceived. Other purchases of land were made for which a consideration was always given by the white heavenly strangers, after the cession of which the tribe always acknowledged that they had been deceived. Then the tribe finally came  to  the  conclusion that this white stranger was from the opposite pole of the heavens and put on his white skin for the purpose of deceiving. (Cherokee Origin Narrative, pp. 12-15).

Before coins were invented and became popular, ancient peoples either used barter or trade tokens. A standard type was the ox-hide-shaped copper ingots or reel-shaped metal pieces of the Phoenicians. These are very common in the archeological and pictorial record of Eastern tribes, especially in the Ohio Valley. The point of the episode recited by the Cherokee at their Green Corn Dance seems to be that the white invaders offered the Indians money and inflated the value of it. It was a story first told by the ancient Phoenicians about their success in gaining the hinterlands of Carthage from the original native owners, the multitudinous desert and mountain folk who later composed the bulk of Phoenician settlements and colonies. How did bull-hides, commercial transactions and Phoenician folktales get into Cherokee storytelling?

Although our project concentrated on mitochondrial lineages and did not explore Y chromosome types, a male lineage could also be mentioned that is found sporadically even today in the Eastern tribes—haplogroup T. Higher than average frequencies of T in Cyprus, Sicily, Tunisia, Ibiza, Andalusia and the northern tip of Morocco are tell-tale signs of the expansion of the Phoenicians. In Spain, haplogroup T peaks at 10% in Cadiz, a Phoenician colony, and reaches over 15% on the island of Ibiza, an offshoot of miners and traders from Cadiz in the first millennium BCE. The original haplogroup may derive from southwestern Iran or the Gulf region, where important metals were first mined and the earliest sea ports grew up. Thomas Jefferson carried haplogroup T and so may have Charlemagne, a direct male ancestor of the U.S. president.

Carthaginian known as the Young Man of Byrsa

Eastern U.S. Indians in remote times may have resembled this Carthaginian known as the Young Man of Byrsa, whose haplogroup was U5b, of a European and Mediterranean origin, but whose overall ancestry combined Levantine, Iberian and North African admixture.

Karen Garruto had the following top matches on an autosomal basis:  Cherokee (no. 1 worldwide), Majorcan Jews, Moroccan Arabs, Portuguese (Madeira), North African (Maghreb), Egyptian Berbers, Malta, Italian, Greek, Cypriot, Sicilian and Canary Islanders. Note the preponderance of island populations. She also took the Rare Genes from History Test, a marker panel with assorted ancient ethnicities. Unsurprisingly, she showed mixed ancestry, with the Helen and Europa (two Eurasian markers) and Amerind and Aztlan (two American Indian markers).

Named for “the face that launched a thousand ships,” the Helen Gene has a high frequency in the Aegean area, which produced the first long-distance seafarers in Mesolithic times. From there, as can be seen by the map below, it was carried by discontinuous means (that is, by sea, rather than land) all over the Mediterranean and beyond. Notable landfall occurs in Cyprus, the Balearic Islands and the British Isles. The rough center of diffusion is ancient Troy, site of one of the world’s oldest trade empires and longest wars. Models of history associate the Helen gene with Greeks (often called Hellenes), Italians, Turks, Sephardic Jews, certain North Africans, Celtic migrations and modern-day Melungeons. It is found in as many as 1 in 18 Cherokees, 1 in 24 Berbers, 1 in 26 Melungeons and 1 in 29 Turks. Similarly in Northern Ireland, another island environment, it is carried by 4 percent of the population, its second highest appearance after Cherokees.

On the opposite end of the scale, where it is scarce, it is present in only 9 out of 2,500 subjects in certain Japanese and Chinese. It has not even been reported in many African, Chinese and Indonesian populations. How rare is it all told? Its worldwide occurrence is 0.8%, concentrated in Mediterranean and Mediterranean-influenced populations. A true outlier, the Helen Gene has little trace in Africa and survives selectively in small amounts in island populations, Greek/Turkish people, North Africans and Melungeons.

World Ancestry of the Helen Gene

Geneticists are not usually inclined to track anything but land migrations of ancient peoples spreading in star-like fashion. The Helen Gene, on the other hand, clearly has a discontinuous, non-random, highly selective pattern of diffusion. On land, bodies of water can interpose barriers, but water can be like a conveyor belt for the movement of people across oceans.


Populations with “Phoenician Gene” Percent Comment
U.S. Cherokee Admixed (n=62) 0.056 Paint Clan
Northern Ireland (n+207) 0.041 Element intermarried with Melungeons
Moroccan Berbers (n = 50) 0.041 Hinterland of Carthage
Malta (n=157) 0.041 Phoenician colony
Albanian – Italy (n = 100) 0.04 Mediterranean people
Melungeon (n = 40) 0.038 Phoenician roots
Turkish (n = 198) 0.035 Home of Troy, Byblos
Native American – Michigan (n = 29) 0.035 High hg X
Croatian (n = 105) 0.034 Dubrovnik
White – Maine (n = 151) 0.033 Abenaki Indians
Western Sicily (n = 120) 0.033 Motya, Palermo, Pantelleria, wine
Greek Cypriot (n = 1475) 0.033 Island in East Mediterranean, Kittans
Spanish – Minorcan (n = 100) 0.03 Former Carthaginian colonies
Italian – Tuscany (n = 188) 0.03 Etruscans
Saharawis (n = 59) 0.029 Hinterland of Carthage
White – Minnesota (n = 160) 0.028 Ojibwe Indians and copper mining
Moroccan Arabs (n = 80) 0.028 Western part of Carthaginian Empire
Italian (n = 223) 0.027 Mediterranean
Majorcan Jews – Chueta (n = 102) 0.025 Former colony
Tunisian (n = 196) 0.025 Capital region with Carthage
Armenian – Lake Sevan (n = 101) 0.025 Traders
Spanish – Balearic Islands (n = 113) 0.022 Ibiza colony, lead and silver mining
England/Wales (n = 437) 0.022 Tin Isles
Greek (n = 205) 0.022 Mediterranean people
Spanish – Canary Islands (n = 240) 0.021 Former colonies
Portuguese – Madeira (n = 100) 0.02 Former colonies
Arabs (Palestinian & Related) (n = 100) 0.02 Traders, Sidonian homeland
Arab – Damascus, Syria (n = 100) 0.02 Traders, Sidonian homeland
Sicilian (n = 220) 0.02 Largest colony, breadbasket
Jewish (n = 124) 0.016 Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal


The top frequencies of the Helen Gene from our autosomal population database are shown above. Comments note the connections to ancient Phoenicia. By these calculations, the Phoenician shadow in both European and American history was large. It lasts even to the present in a genetic sense. None of Phoenicia’s expansion was land-mediated or random in its spread. It was all strategic and seaborne. The Helen Gene was carried along with breeding females to settle lands with valuable resources. Examples are the unique tin deposits of Cornwall, the rich copper, silver and gold mines of Spain and the bonanzas of float copper on the shores of the Great Lakes. Such a pattern is not revealed by the limited simulations of migration, genetics and prehistory adopted in today’s handbooks and encyclopedias, which have no place for discontinuous, non-gradual, oceanic expansions.[3]

By the same token, the historical migration maps of gene pools and admixture presented to consumers by companies like HomeDNA, FamilyTreeDNA and others are deceptive and misleading. HomeDNA uses the theories of Israeli-American geneticist Eran Elhaik. It shows my main ancestors (Story A) starting out in Greece “prior to 696 AD,” and “between 395 AD and 799 AD… or at least by 1935” moving from Croatia to Germany, where my ancestors intersected with others from Belarussia (Story B). The B group moved to some point located in the North Atlantic Ocean and then settled in Ireland, where they went through the Irish Dark Age and experienced the Gaelic Invasion of Roman Britain. Unlike most people and even cows and wildlife, they all traveled in straight lines. Here is a screenshot:

Map. Donald Yates’ ancestry and admixture according to HomeDNA

Donald Yates’ ancestry and admixture according to HomeDNA.

My son’s and my wife’s stories, A and B, were quite similar to mine and equally fantastic. None of them shows any Native American ancestry. Word of mouth in my family does not mention Greek, Russian, German, Irish or Croatian, while it does dwell rather significantly on Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Scottish, English, French and Jewish. My DNA story certainly did not stop in Ireland or the British Isles but leapt the ocean and played out since the 1600s in America. The places trotted out by HomeDNA don’t seem to match up at all with biogeographical locations from my mitochondrial, Y chromosome or forensic results. The “experts” declare me Scandinavian, Southern French and Pakistani, listing my top gene pools as Fennoscandia (22.2%), Southern France (14.6), Orkney Islands (Norse, 13.9) and Southeast India (11.4). But in all my hours and miles of genealogical research I’ve never encountered a single figure from any of those hallowed places, with the one exception of a French Huguenot great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather whose family came from Southern France but was Spanish and Jewish. One reason for this skewing, I believe, is there is no provision for the movement of peoples across the water. Any historian or archeologist worth his summer grant money heartily detests diffusionism, of course, and ignores any Native American histories that involve crossing either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

All American Indians descend from a single-entry incursion more than 20,000 years ago that brought hunter-gatherer people from Siberia walking across a now-submerged land-bridge to Alaska to expand and uniformly populate the entire New World, right? Remember the A-B-C-D-and-sometimes-X haplogroup story from the previous chapter? The Cherokee for one and the Hopi for another, however, have origin narratives that unquestionably indicate crossing an ocean. Their earliest legends depict their civilization arriving full-blown on the shores of North America. The men out of Asia were already growing corn, living in towns, engaged in seafaring and had organized religion and government.

The former tribe’s classic account was published in 1896 as Red Man’s Origin in an Indian Territory newspaper by Cherokees William Eubanks and George Sanders. Its first words are “When we lived beyond the great waters…” Its protagonists come from Elohiyi, the land in the west, conceived as being on the other side of a spherical Earth. The people had twelve clans at first—the standard number of mythic lineages of Greek and other Old World peoples. This ancient convention finds expression in the signs of the Zodiac, the Olympian gods and goddesses and Twelve Tribes of Israel. The primeval Cherokee world resembles classical antiquity in having gods, priests, temples, assembly halls, towers, stores, floods, armies, navies, sophisticated weapons, cults, mysteries, oracles and wise men.

The ending specifically invokes the image of the phoenix, later used as the name of the tribal newspaper:

The race will …  according to the oracle of the Stone of truth containing the image [divining crystal], be driven to the sea shore, where they will cross the water and landing in the old country from whence they came will find the five lost clans, become reunited into twelve clans, into one people again, will become a great nation known as the Esh-el-okee [willing settlers] of the half sphere temple of light [councilhouse]. They will become reunited into twelve clans, into one people again, and become a great nation.

Phoenix, shown on a Greek coin of 1828

Phoenix, shown on a Greek coin of 1828, was the symbol of renewable riches adopted throughout history by Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Cherokees, Sephardic Jews and other mercantile peoples.

How do we account for these contradictory elements in Native America? As I told a science reporter at Forbes who was incredulous of alternative histories in American Indian descendants . . .  it’s a long way from the Ice Age to 1492. There is time for almost any people on earth to discover America, and most of them did more than visit. Many of them settled there and mixed with the multitude of tribes already present. Indeed, it makes more sense to ask what ethnic groups are not included in the diversity of the Americas.

We will close this chapter with the story the filles du Roi, adopted daughters of the French king in the early colonization of Acadia who were frequently of native blood. Acadia was a colony of New France in northeastern North America which included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces of Canada and Maine to the Kennebec River. Although there had been several episodes of contact in the sixteenth century, the first French colonists did not arrive until 1604 under the leadership of Pierre du Gua de Monts and Samuel de Champlain. England contested it with France at various times. The natives were small, independent Algonquian tribes we know today as Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki and Penobscot with a number of reservations in Canada and the United States. The capital of Acadia was Port Royal in Nova Scotia. Inland, north and west of the area lived the Montaignais or Innu. Many of the filles du Roi of Acadia have been found to be of Native American extraction by their mitochondrial descendants, often an anomalous type like T or X.

In our first volume, we linked the high frequency of  haplogroup T in the Cherokee with the fallout of an Egyptian colony resulting from the Ptolemaic expedition of 234 BCE. Evidently, however, we can add underlying Egyptian signatures to the Native DNA in the Northeast as well as the Southeast. Barry Fell found correspondences between Ptolemaic Egyptian and more than 400 terms referring to mariners, navigation, astronomy, meteorology, justice and administration, medicine and economy in the Micmac and Abenaki languages of present- day New England.

The widespread reports of T in Canada’s East Coast and St. Lawrence River tribes echo the high frequencies of the haplogroup among the Cherokee and other Eastern Seaboard and Ohio River Valley Indians. T, like X, J, K and the other anomalous haplotypes that have come to light in the Cherokee DNA Project, are part of an ancient pattern and uniform population structure. To adopt a metaphor from geology, they are part of the country rock of North America.


Related Material on This Blog

Revisiting Haplogroups (chapter 2)

Of Apes and Elephants: Did Minoans Open the First Global Sea Lanes?

Armenians in America (chapter 1)


[1] Nicholas Nicastro, Circumference: Eratosthenes and the Ancient Quest to Measure the Globe (New York: St. Martin’s, 2008), 135.

[2] See Yates, Old World Roots of the Cherokee, p. 33-34.

[3] See for instance the McDonald Institute’s otherwise excellent Simulations, Genetics and Human Prehistory, ed. Shuichi Matsumura, Peter Forster and Colin Renfrew (Cambridge: Oxbow, 2008).


  Comments: 1

  1. Joshua Fānene

    Everything you wrote here agreed with the clues I am following along the path of my Polynesian ancestry. I am grateful to the Ali’i chiefs who are my ancestors who preserved our genealogical stories (‘oli), songs (solo) and thus pedigrees (gafa) enabling those of my generation to journey backwards through time to rediscover and reconnect to some of what has been lost post-contact/post-colonialism. Our genealogies trace back to a world-covering flood, to the time of Tagaloa, the Sea God, the Sun God, and a strong candidate for Kronos the fallen Titan, thus making Pacifica a good candidate for Tartarus (Tala-Tala Usu?), and my people good candidates for being the Titans of old, and the Ali’i the Atlantiades, led by the Pleiades, the eldest being Maia. For there is a Maia at the heart of ancient Tui Manu’a’s Fale-Selau (“House of Hundreds”) in Fiti-Uta, Ka-Hiki to the Hawaiians, in English “The Center Point of the World”/“Axis”). My approach has been to examine the legends, myths, material cultures and dialects of the Polynesian languages, applying concepts in ethno-linguistics proposed by E. Sapir, Worff, and concepts by Grimm to sift through the alterations arising from linguistic drift. I see / hear the connections in the languages — Tuareg, Middle Egyptian, Hittite, Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Mycenaean/Ancient Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Japanese, Filipino dialects, Hopi, Sioux, Mohawk, even Old German and Scandinavian languages… it just goes on and on. In short, thank you for this work you are engaged in. One day we will learn where we all came from.

    Please, if it interests you, visit my humble, amateurish website linked above. More of an open, online journal than anything, but offered to the public in the hopes of finding others who are like-minded and can help unearth more clues.

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