Branding those Genes

I recently read an article that folks are sending off swabs filled with saliva to check for Indian DNA.

The latest fashion is to find evidence of Indian heritage in your blood. One way to add some caché to your identity.

But identity is more than—well—blood. Scientists categorize people in terms of Haplogroups, and most American Indians share a group with East Asians, while most non-Indians in North America share in common Haplogroup R.

But it gets complicated.

A recent article in Science magazine theorizes that Alaskan natives came from two different types of people—two different Haplogroups are represented in their DNA.

The authors make a distinction between the Paleo-Aleuts and the Neo-Aleuts.

Neo-Aleuts, who share Haplogroup D, physically appear more like what we think of as a North American Indian.

The Paleo-Aleuts—thought to have taken up residence about 13,000 years ago and who share Haplogroup A—give the appearance of a more European countenance.

Clearly both groups of North American inhabited the continent for a long, long time.

So it makes no sense that anyone would consider Kennewick Man, the 9200-year-old skeleton discovered in 1996 in the Pacific Northwest—anything other than a Native American.

Because Kennewick Man’s bones seemed to have more in common with Paleo-Aleuts rather than Neo-Aleuts, officials refused to turn over the bones to local tribes.

That’s just stupid.


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, Indian, science communication and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Branding those Genes

  1. Russ L says:

    Your punchline was great !


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s