Mexican Women’s Mitochondrial DNA Primarily Native American

Amy Tilden

 Mitatwe’eptes (aka Amy Tilden) – Nez Perce – circa 1910

In the paper, “Large scale mitochondrial sequencing in Mexican Americans suggests a reappraisal of Native American origins,” Kumar et al provide a piece of information I find extremely interesting.

“For mtDNA variation, some studies have measured Native American, European and African contributions to Mexican and Mexican American populations, revealing 85 to 90% of mtDNA lineages are of Native American origin, with the remainder having European (5-7%) or African ancestry (3-5%). Thus the observed frequency of Native American mtDNA in Mexican/Mexican Americans is higher than was expected on the basis of autosomal estimates of Native American admixture for these populations i.e. ~ 30-46%. The difference is indicative of directional mating involving preferentially immigrant men and Native American women. This type of genetic asymmetry has been observed in other populations, including Brazilian individuals of African ancestry, as the analysis of sex specific and autosomal markers has revealed evidence for substantial European admixture that was mediated mostly through men. In our 384 completely sequenced Mexican American mitochondrial genomes, 12 (3.1%) are of African ancestry belonging to haplogroups L0a1a’3’, L2a1, L3b, L3d and U6a7; 52 (13.6%) belong to European haplogroups HV, JT, U1, U4, U5; and K and the majority (320, 83.3%) are of Native American ancestry.”

27 thoughts on “Mexican Women’s Mitochondrial DNA Primarily Native American

      • No, men arriving from Spain were NOT allowed to bring any woman over that they were not married to. If they were bachelors and could not find a daughter of another Spanish compadre they took Native wives. They had no other choice. Men were only allowed to bring their legal wives and children. My father is Costa Rican and his mother was very fair with Blue eyes. Her haplo is A2j !!! They really had no idea.

      • thats not entirely accurate. the fur trade in the 1600s in canada saw a huge boom in indigenous and european mixing. so much so that theres even a term for the indigenous women: “country wives”.

  1. Not surprising. I suspect most Hispanic-American populations would show a similar pattern. A Cuban-American friend of mine tested 95% European, 4% Native American, yet has the mtDNA haplogroup A2d1, which is Native American. Most Caribbean and Central American countries experienced similar early Spanish male immigration. (or French in Haiti and English in the BWI to a lesser extent) I’m not as familiar with South American immigration patterns.

  2. What an interesting article! I live in Northwest Oregon, I am quite familiar with the Confederated Tribes of the Nez Perce. They must have done some migration of their own, years ago, would be my guess. It is amazing how ‘tribes’ of peoples, moved about early on. Although my 9% Spanish is from Spain, most of the matches are tied with my Jewish side so far, a few in Spain and the others in South America. Some of them show they descend from relatives who lived in various parts of Russia. That is a lot of traveling! :-)

  3. It was my impression that Native Americans were adverse to dna testing because of religious reasons. Wonder how they got a representative # of testers? Just yesterday, I received an email from a Native American whose tree I had viewed at ancestry.com. In her tree it indicated a marriage between brother and sister. I thought she had a made a mistake, but she indicated that was not unusual at the time. Tribal differences, she did not indicate. I guess this would be considered “compounding” and wonder how this would factor in.

    • As the linked paper explains, the sample group was Mexican American from the San Antonio (Texas) Family Heart Study, and apparently did not include any self-identifying Native American.

  4. Diana Sotela, Interesting item, but you misunderstood Israel P’s question / comment which draws the historical distinction between invading men in English North Am who brought the women with them, in contrast to Nueva Espana, where the invaders utterly destroyed existing cultures and enslaved the native men, leaving themselves virtually unlimited access to the surviving women. Malinche is the representative iconic image of the fate of indigenous women and by implication, of indigenous males.

    • La Malinche is a truly fascinating historical figure. As mistress to Hernan Cortes, she bore him a son, Martin, the first mestizo of New Spain who had both a son and a daughter. The pattern was set.

      • Not only la malinche. One daughter of Moctezuma, a princess, was pregnant by Cortez when she was still a teenager (in all she had 5 legit husbands, all dying one after the other!), but Cortez abused of her, and her descendants bear the name of Moctezuma; some descendants living in Spain since centuries ago, they don’t look at all indian anymore.

      • Actually the first Mestizo was a female, but as history has it, her birth was not considered historically significant and her brothers birth is the one recognized as the birth of the first mestizo.

  5. Kumar’s work is great. We reported similar findings for Mexico in a scientific poster at the ASHG Conference in 2008 in Philadelphia. We never got to write an actual paper though. The sample size was nearly 3000 mtDNAs. In 2012, we published a paper in PLoS One on Panamanians mtDNA (sample size = 1500). The frequency of Native mtDNA lineages was similar to that of Kumar and his Mexican sample.

  6. I have written a few articles relating to this issue and Puerto Ricans. A few years back, Puerto Rican scientist, Dr. Juan Martinez Cruzado, conducted a National Science Foundation sponsored mitochondrial DNA survey of Puerto Ricans on the island. It so happens that 61% of all Puerto Ricans have indigenous mitochondrial DNA. Here is a link to Dr. Martinez Cruzado’s own account of the study: http://www.tainolegacies.com/154087476.

  7. Does anyone know of a tribe that were yaki? Spelling is prob different? They had later joined up with the Cherokee.

  8. MEXICANS ARE NATIVE AMERICANS, AND WE CAN PROVE IT IN FEDERAL COURT AND IN THE INTERNATIONAL COURT!

    HENRY GUZMAN VILLALOBOS(AZTEC YAQUI NATIVE AMERICAN) PRESIDENT OF NATIVE AMERICANS OF THE AMERICAS EDUCATIONAL MOVEMENT! U.S.A. (510) 363-3052

  9. Pingback: 2013 – DNA-eXplained in Review | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. This is also because many Native Americans in the states closer to Mexico, started claiming to be Mexican-Amaerican so their children would not be taken wawy and sent to boarding schools. They immersed themselves into the Mexican American culture and their children grew up thinking they were Mexican American, Also, when Tejas was taken by the US the tirbes who resided there were not all Native American, some had to be Mexican Indegenious tribes.

  11. Pingback: New Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups Extrapolated from Anzick Match Results | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  12. Pingback: Native American Mitochondrial Haplogroups | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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