Some Native Americans Had Oceanic Ancestors

This week has seen a flurry of new scientific and news articles.  What has been causing such a stir?  It appears that Australian or more accurately, Australo-Melanese DNA has been found in South America’s Native American population. In addition, it has also been found in Aleutian Islanders off the coast of Alaska.  In case you aren’t aware, that’s about 8,500 miles as the crow flies.  That’s one tired crow.  As the person paddles or walks along the shoreline, it’s even further, probably about 12,000 miles.

Aleutians to Brazil

Whatever the story, it was quite a journey and it certainly wasn’t all over flat land.

This isn’t the first inkling we’ve had.  Just a couple weeks ago, it was revealed that the Botocudo remains from Brazil were Polynesian and not admixed with either Native, European or African.  This admixture was first discovered via mitochondrial DNA, but full genome sequencing confirmed their ancestry and added the twist that they were not admixed – an extremely unexpected finding.  This is admittedly a bit confusing, because it implies that there were new Polynesian arrivals in the 1600s or 1700s.

Unlikely as it seems, it obviously happened, so we set that aside as relatively contemporary.

The findings in the papers just released are anything but contemporary.

The First Article

The first article in Science, “Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans” by Raghaven et al published this week provides the following summary (bolding is mine):

How and when the Americas were populated remains contentious. Using ancient and modern genome-wide data, we find that the ancestors of all present-day Native Americans, including Athabascans and Amerindians, entered the Americas as a single migration wave from Siberia no earlier than 23 thousand years ago (KYA), and after no more than 8,000-year isolation period in Beringia. Following their arrival to the Americas, ancestral Native Americans diversified into two basal genetic branches around 13 KYA, one that is now dispersed across North and South America and the other is restricted to North America. Subsequent gene flow resulted in some Native Americans sharing ancestry with present-day East Asians (including Siberians) and, more distantly, Australo-Melanesians. Putative ‘Paleoamerican’ relict populations, including the historical Mexican Pericúes and South American Fuego-Patagonians, are not directly related to modern Australo-Melanesians as suggested by the Paleoamerican Model.

This article in EurekAlert and a second one here discuss the Science paper.

Raghaven 2015

Migration map from the Raghaven paper.

The paper included the gene flow and population migration map, above, along with dates.

The scientists sequenced the DNA of 31 living individuals from the Americas, Siberia and Oceana as follows:


  • Altai – 2
  • Buryat – 2
  • Ket – 2
  • Kiryak – 2
  • Sakha – 2
  • Siberian Yupik – 2

North American Native:

  • Tsimshian (number not stated, but by subtraction, it’s 1)

Southern North American, Central and South American Native:

  • Pima – 1
  • Huichol -1
  • Aymara – 1
  • Yakpa – 1


  • Papuan – 14

The researchers also state that they utilized 17 specimens from relict groups such as the Pericues from Mexico and Fuego-Patagonians from the southernmost tip of South America.  They also sequenced two pre-Columbian mummies from the Sierra Tarahumara in northern Mexico.  In total, 23 ancient samples from the Americas were utilized.

They then compared these results with a reference panel of 3053 individuals from 169 populations which included the ancient Saqqaq Greenland individual at 400 years of age as well as the Anzick child from Montana from about 12,500 years ago and the Mal’ta child from Siberia at 24,000 years of age.

Not surprisingly, all of the contemporary samples with the exception of the Tsimshian genome showed recent western Eurasian admixture.

As expected, the results confirm that the Yupik and Koryak are the closest Eurasian population to the Americas.  They indicate that there is a “clean split” between the Native American population and the Koryak about 20,000 years ago.

They found that “Athabascans and Anzick-1, but not the Greenlandis Inuit and Saqqaq belong to the same initial migration wave that gave rise to present-day Amerindians from southern North America and Central and South America, and that this migration likely followed a coastal route, given our current understanding of the glacial geological and paleoenvironmental parameters of the Late Pleistocene.”

Evidence of gene flow between the two groups was also found, meaning between the Athabascans and the Inuit.  Additionally, they found evidence of post-split gene flow between Siberians and Native Americans which seems to have stopped about 12,000 years ago, which meshes with the time that the Beringia land bridge was flooded by rising seas, cutting off land access between the two land masses.

They state that the results support all Native migration from Siberia, contradicting claims of an early migration from Europe.

The researchers then studied the Karitiana people of South America and determined that the two groups, Athabascans and Karitiana diverged about 13,000 years ago, probably not in current day Alaska, but in lower North America.  This makes sense, because the Clovis Anzick child, found in Montana, most closely matches people in South America.

By the Clovis period of about 12,500 years ago, the Native American population had already split into two branches, the northern and southern, with the northern including Athabascan and other groups such as the Chippewa, Cree and Ojibwa.  The Southern group included people from southern North America and Central and South America.

Interestingly, while admixture with the Inuit was found with the Athabascan, Inuit admixture was not found among the Cree, Ojibwa and Chippewa.  The researchers suggest that this may be why the southern branch, such as the Karitiana are genetically closer to the northern Amerindians located further east than to northwest coast Amerindians and Athabascans.

Finally, we get to the Australian part.  The researchers when trying to sort through the “who is closer to whom” puzzle found unexpected results.  They found that some Native American populations including Aleutian Islanders, Surui (Brazil) and Athabascans are closer to Australo-Melanesians compared to other Native Americans, such as Ojibwa, Cree and Algonquian and South American Purepecha (Mexico), Arhuaco (Colombia) and Wayuu (Colombia, Venezuela).  In fact, the Surui are one of the closest populations to East Asians and Australo-Melanese, the latter including Papuans, non-Papuan Melanesians, Solomon Islanders and hunter-gatherers such as Aeta. The researchers acknowledge these are weak trends, but they are nonetheless consistently present.

Dr. David Reich, from Harvard, a co-author of another paper, also published this past week, says that 2% of the DNA of Amazonians is from Oceana.  If that is consistent, it speaks to a founder population in isolation, such that the 2% just keeps getting passed around in the isolated population, never being diluted by outside DNA.  I would suggest that is not a weak signal.

The researchers suggest that the variance in the strength of this Oceanic signal suggests that the introduction of the Australo-Melanese occurred after the initial peopling of the Americas.  The ancient samples cluster with the Native American groups and do not show the Oceanic markers and show no evidence of gene flow from Oceana.

The researchers also included cranial morphology analysis, which I am omitting since cranial morphology seems to have led researchers astray in the past, specifically in the case of Kennewick man.

One of the reasons cranial morphology is such a hotly debated topic is because of the very high degree of cranial variance found in early skeletal remains.  One of the theories evolving from the cranial differences involving the populating of the Americans has been that the Australo-Melanese were part of a separate and earlier migration that gave rise to the earliest Americans who were then later replaced by the Asian ancestors of current day Native Americans.  If this were the case, then the now-extinct Fuego-Patagonains samples from the location furthest south on the South American land mass should have included DNA from Oceana, but it didn’t.

The Second Article

A second article published this week, titled “’Ghost population’ hints at long lost migration to the Americas” by Ellen Callaway discusses similar findings, presented in a draft letter to Nature titled “Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas” by Skoglund et al.  This second group discovers the same artifact Australo-Melanesian DNA in Native American populations but suggests that it may be from the original migration and settlement event or that there may have been two distinct founding populations that settled at the same time or that there were two founding events.

EurekAlert discusses the article as well.

It’s good to have confirmation and agreement between the two labs who happened across these results independently that the Australo-Melanesian DNA is present in some Native populations today.

Their interpretations and theories about how this Oceanic DNA arrived in some of the Native populations vary a bit, but if you read the details, it’s really not quite as different as it first appears from the headlines.  Neither group claims to know for sure, and both discuss possibilities.

Questions remain.  For example, if the founding group was small, why, then, don’t all of the Native people and populations have at least some Oceanic markers?  The Anzick Child from 12,500 years ago does not.  He is most closely related to the tribes in South America, where the Oceanic markers appear with the highest frequencies.

In the Harvard study, the scientists fully genome sequenced 63 individuals without discernable evidence of European or African ancestors in 21 Native American populations, restricting their study to individuals from Central and South America that have the strongest evidence of being entirely derived from a homogenous First American ancestral population.

Their results show that the two Amazonian groups, Surui and Karitians are closest to the “Australasian populations, the Onge from the Andaman Island in the Bay of Bengal (a so-called ‘Negrito’ group), New Guineans, Papuans and indigenous Australians.”  Within those groups, the Australasian populations are the only outliers – meaning no Africans, Europeans or East Asian DNA found in the Native American people.

When repeating these tests, utilizing blood instead of saliva, a third group was shown to also carry these Oceanic markers – the Xavante, a population from the Brazilian plateau that speaks a language of the Ge group that is different from the Tupi language group spoke by the Karitians and Surui.

Skoglund 2015-2

The closest populations that these Native people matched in Oceana, shown above on the map from the draft Skoglund letter, were, in order, New Guineans, Papuans and Andamanese.  The researchers further state that populations from west of the Andes or north of the Panama isthmus show no significant evidence of an affinity to the Onge from the Andaman Islands with the exception of the Cabecar (Costa Rica).

That’s a very surprising finding, given that one would expect more admixture on the west, which is the side of the continent where the migration occurred.

The researchers then compared the results with other individuals, such as Mal’ta child who is known to have contributed DNA to the Native people today, and found no correlation with Oceanic DNA.  Therefore, they surmised that the Oceanic admixture cannot be explained by a previously known admixture event.

They propose that a mystery population they have labeled as “Population Y” (after Ypykuera which means ancestor in the Tupi language family) contributed the Australasian lineage to the First Americans and that is was already mixed into the lineage by the time it arrived in Brazil.

According to their work, Population Y may itself have been admixed, and the 2% of Oceanic DNA found in the Brazilian Natives may be an artifact of between 2 and 85% of the DNA of the Surui, Karitiana and Xavante that may have come from Population Y.  They mention that this result is striking in that the majority of the craniums that are more Oceanic in Nature than Asiatic, as would be expected from people who migrated from Siberia, are found in Brazil.

They conclude that the variance in the presence or absence of DNA in Native people and remains, and the differing percentages argue for more than one migration event and that “the genetic ancestry of Native Americans from Central and South America cannot be due to a single pulse of migration south of the Late Pleistocene ice sheets from a homogenous source population, and instead must reflect at least two streams of migration or alternatively a long drawn out period of gene flow from a structured Beringian or Northeast Asian source.”

Perhaps even more interesting is the following statement:

“The arrival of population Y ancestry in the Americas must in any scenario have been ancient: while Population Y shows a distant genetic affinity to Andamanese, Australian and New Guinean populations, it is not particularly closely related to any of them, suggesting that the source of population Y in Eurasia no longer exists.”

They further state they find no admixture indication that would suggest that Population Y arrived in the last few thousand years.

So, it appears that perhaps the Neanderthals and Denisovans were not the only people who were our ancestors, but no longer exist as a separate people, only as an admixed part of us today.  We are their legacy.

The Take Away

When I did the Anzick extractions, we had hints that something of this sort might have been occurring.  For example, I found surprising instances of haplogroup M, which is neither European, African nor Native American, so far as we know today.  This may have been a foreshadowing of this Oceanic admixture.  It may also be a mitochondrial artifact.  Time will tell.  Perhaps haplogroup M will turn out to be Native by virtue of being Oceanic and admixed thousands of years ago.  There is still a great deal to learn.  Regardless of how these haplogroups and Oceanic DNA arrived in Brazil in South America and in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska, one thing is for sure, it did.

We know that the Oceanic DNA found in the Brazilian people studied for these articles is not contemporary and is ancient.  This means that it is not related to the Oceanic DNA found in the Botocudo people, who, by the way, also sport mitochondrial haplogroups that are within the range of Native people, meaning haplogroup B, but have not been found in other Native people.  Specifically, haplogroups B4a1a1 and B4a1a1a.  Additionally, there are other B4a1a, B4a1b and B4a1b1 results found in the Anzick extract which could also be Oceanic.  You can see all of the potential and confirmed Native American mitochondrial DNA results in my article “Native American Mitochondrial Haplogroups” that I update regularly.

We don’t know how or when the Botocudo arrived, but the when has been narrowed to the 1600s or 1700s.  We don’t know how or when the Oceanic DNA in the Brazilian people arrived either, but the when was ancient.  This means that Oceanic DNA has arrived in South America at least twice and is found among the Native peoples both times.

We know that some Native groups have some Oceanic admixture, and others seem to have none, in particular the Northern split group that became the Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquian, and Chippewa.

We know that the Brazilian Native groups are most closely related to Oceanic groups, but that the first paper also found Oceanic admixture in the Aleutian Islands.  The second paper focused on the Central and South American tribes.

We know that the eastern American tribes, specifically the Algonquian tribes are closely related to the South Americans, but they don’t share the Oceanic DNA and neither do the mid-continent tribes like the Cree, Ojibwa and Chippewa.  The only Paleolithic skeleton that has been sequenced, Anzick, from 12,500 years ago in Montana also does not carry the Oceanic signature.

In my opinion, the disparity between who does and does not carry the Oceanic signature suggests that the source of the Oceanic DNA in the Native population could not have been a member of the first party to exit out of Beringia and settle in what is now the Americas.  Given that this had to be a small party, all of the individuals would have been thoroughly admixed with each other’s ancestral DNA within just a couple of generations.  It would have been impossible for one ancestor’s DNA to only be found in some people.  To me, this argues for one of two scenarios.

First, a second immigration wave that joined the first wave but did not admix with some groups that might have already split off from the original group such as the Anzick/Montana group.

Second, multiple Oceanic immigration events.  We still have to consider the possibility that there were multiple events that introduced Oceanic DNA into the Native population.  In other words, perhaps the Aleutian Islands Oceanic DNA is not from the same migration event as the Brazilian DNA which we know is not from the same event as the Botocudo.  I would very much like to see the Oceanic DNA appear in a migration path of people, not just in one place and then the other.  We need to connect the dots.

What this new information does is to rule out the possibility that there truly was only one wave of migration – one group of people who settled the Americas at one time.  More likely, at least until the land bridge submerged, is that there were multiple small groups that exited Beringia over the 8,000 or so years it was inhabitable.  Maybe one of those groups included people from Oceana.  Someplace, sometime, as unlikely as it seems, it happened.

The amazing thing is that it’s more than 10,000 miles from Australia to the Aleutian Islands, directly across the Pacific.  Early adventurers would have likely followed a coastal route to be sustainable, which would have been significantly longer.  The fact that they survived and sent their DNA on a long adventure from Australia to Alaska to South America – and it’s still present today is absolutely amazing.

Australia to Aleutians

We know we still have a lot to learn and this is the tip of a very exciting iceberg.  As more contemporary and ancient Native people have their full genomes sequenced, we’ll learn more answers.  The answer is in the DNA.  We just have to sequence enough of it and learn how to understand the message being delivered.

34 thoughts on “Some Native Americans Had Oceanic Ancestors

  1. This is indeed very interesting to me. I have been trying to read up on the current developments and it is quite amazing to know that they were likely multiple migrations from different people. I know one theory is that the Oceanic people somehow traveled from Australia up to Alaska and then back down towards South America. Is there any evidence to disprove a theory that involves them traveling across the Pacific Ocean making a few stops in some of the smaller islands and eventually landing in Central America then admixing in that area with some traveling south and some north eventually reaching Alaska? Or is that too far fetched?

    Also, I have a small percentage of Ocecanic DNA (0.1%) based on my 23andme profile would there be any indication that this is from one of the first Oceanic migration as opposed to more modern migrations from that area into Central America. Is that percentage even significant? Wondering how many other Central American and South American have Oceanic DNA however small that might be. Any insight?

    I am Guatemalan/Salvadorean and DNA profile states that i have 48% native american DNA.


    • I’m guessing that you tested at 23andme and it gave you < 0.1% Oceania? My Salvadorian friend also gets that same amount, just as I get 0.2% Native American, but I'm not NA. These seem to be remnants of their ancient EA ancestor. My mother also tested at 23andme and she gets about 0.3% NA if I remember correctly. No surprise that when I compare my chromosomes to hers, the tiny NA segments are NOT matching, definitely confirming noise.

      At FTDNA we don't get any signs of New World (NA).

  2. A very interesting article…

    At, I get less than 1% Oceanian. I wonder how often Oceanian could be a proxy for Native American.

    I’ve also noticed that sometimes Oceanian peaks overlap with Native American peaks in chromosome paintings and segment analyses. It does make you wonder.

    • I think you mean Pacific Islander (Polynesia) for Ancestry? And it seems that those with some NA ancestry will get tiny bits of Oceania and vice versa. Actually I have a significant amount of EA, my mother has some, but this is probably why we get some tiny bits of NA.

  3. Me too – I have a tiny bit of Oceanian too and wondered how it got there. I have the family stories about Native American ancestors but haven’t proven it. So, interesting.

  4. Roberta, did you notice the 400 plus year old proto – Mi’gmeq (Micmac) ancient DNA sample: MARC1492 in the Raghavan study?


      • Why is it difficult to acknowledge the obvious – people of the same ancestry as Australians, representing one of the earliest migration out of Africa reached Americas about the same time that Australians and Papuan reached their present abode ie some 40k years ago. The incoming Amerindians found them there and that is when mixing occured. Why should there be two simultaneos waves of immigration? One happened before and the other much later. That is why admixed populations are found north and south. It was most unlikely that Australians or Andamanese (the most isolated tribe on the planet with no knowledge of navigation whatsoever) reached America across 10000 miles of ocean. It is much more likely that it was the common ancestor of both who initially arrived there – some trekking from India south into Oceania, the others turning north eventually finding themselves in America.

        Beringia was not some small and remote land bridge connecting Asia and America – for many thousands of years it was a vast continental mass the size of Australia or Brazil, and often with much more congenial climate then at the present, and there is absolutely no reason to doubt that countless groups of people crossed over there and one of the early setllers were obviously those first people who slowly colonised entire Eurasia Australia and America. They belonged to Y haplogroups C and D, the same as modern Australians Papuans and various other Negrito groups. The Amerinds (haplogroup Q) were only the penultimate of such groups of immigrants.

        This is what this research actally proves although in a hushed voice as authors could not summon enough courage the spell it out clearly. Even a simple look at facial features of some of more isolated Indian tribes such as Patagonians and some others in the north reveals that their ancestry is shared with those on the other side of the Pacific.

        Haplogroup C, shared by modern Australians and Papuans belongs to the first anatomically modern humans outside of Africa and it initially spanned the entire Eurasia from Atlantic to Pacific and to the Indian ocean. It is only natural that they also inhabited Americas as Beringia and the coastal route were no obstacle at all to any able bodied people. If people could ascend to Beringia from Asian South then they could just as easy descend down into America. It has obviously been done many times. The entire story about America being empty before arrival of a few Siberians some 13000 years ago that eventually become the first people of America is nothing but a myth that is slowly crumbling before accumulating archeological and now genetic evidence that America is no different then the rest of the world and has been inhabited from immemorial times by many different groups of people and by many different races just like everywhere else.


      • Hey Roberta, I have found an interesting video you (and others) might like to have a look.

        Ancient Voyaging – Barry Brailsford


        Either you can watch the full video or skip to the 6:45 min mark.

        It’s a story about an Inuit (Alaskan) named ‘Grey Wolf’ who seemingly sailed (paddled) a selfmade sea-(ocean-)going Kayak during the mid 1930’s from southern Alaska to New Zealand (NZ).

        The placename ‘Grey Wolf’ arrived in NZ is almost unintelligible.
        It sounds like ‘Hokianga’.

        I have searched for a placename in NZ and sure enough I found a match ‘Hokianga (Harbour)’.

        Hokianga is on the west of North Island NZ; south of Kaitaia and west of Kaikohe.
        Here’s a link to a map of North Island NZ:

      • I’m not surprised how he had written books based on what stories we shared with him.

      • The main point of interest is that ‘Grey Wolf’ or atleast his grandfather who was a Shaman; according to Barry Brailsford; is an Inuit from Alaska which borders the Aleutian Islands.

        In the research data it is said that there is an Oceanic link to the Aleutian Islands.
        Did the Inuit have advanced ‘ancient’ knowledge on where to sail (paddle) his sea-(ocean-)going kayak to?

        Grey Wolf / his grandfather reached Hokianga (New Zealand / Aotearoa) in his kayak in the year 1938.
        In the video (skip to the 7:40 minute mark) he says / states: ‘it’s been reported in the papers (newspapers)’.
        This means there is proof of this voyage actual has taken place.

        If an Inuit (Alaskan) can reach New Zealand by kayak; an Oceanian / Pacific islander can reach mainland America with ease; especially since Oceanians have superior canoes / sailing vessels.

        Maybe this doesn’t mean much now, but it can be a very important piece of the puzzle on how people are very capable of sailing the Pacific ocean especially since the research data links the Aleutian islanders and some tribes on mainland (south-) America to Oceanians.

  5. Interesting. My great grandparents (my grandfather’s parents on my day’s side) came over from Mexico and my Grandma’s family is also Latino/Hispanic and I gotten around 1% with range up to 2% Polynesia (it is said my grandfather is part Purepecha and Mexica and most likely have more and my grandmother has some ancestors who were Tlaxcaltec/Tlaxcalans and Pueblo tribe from New Mexico [Pueblo for sure as I actually have records and given the history where my grandma’s family lived]). I was wondering where it came from and if it had to do with my Native American heritage. I know that both me and my dad both have B+ blood type instead of O or even A and possibly my dad has haplotype C instead of Q (not too sure as I only taken an DNA test and only from AncestryDNA).

    My dad gotten mistake for Japanese a few times actually, especially when he was younger (I heard this isn’t too uncommon for some people with heritage from Mexico). I found it interesting that my dad’s first cousin (one of my second cousins) results from ancestry said this-
    : Native American, Italy/Greece, Iberian Peninsula, Ireland
    Trace Regions: Great Britain, Africa Southeastern Bantu, Middle East, Africa North, Senegal, Mali, Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers, Europe West, Finland/Northwest Russia, Asia Central, Nigeria

    Pretty similar to mine, though my is slightly different and more complex due to my mom coming from another background. This is basically the results that were given to me-
    Ireland 25% , Italy/Greece 16%, Native American 16% (though can range at least as high as 18%), Great Britain 15%, Europe West 7%, Iberian 7%, Scandinavia 6%

    Trace Regions-
    Finland/Northwest Russia 3% (though said it can range up to 7%), Europe East, Polynesia, Mali, Africa North, European Jewish, Asia Central which all around the ranges of 1%-3% but marked 1% or lower mostly (GEDmatch will often show Bering Strait, Siberian, sometimes East Asian and South Asia …it wasn’t really high enough on Ancestry to show and even Saami, Basque, etc….),

  6. Pingback: The Best and Worst of 2015 – Genetic Genealogy Year in Review | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  7. Daniel what you say is obvious was explained not to be true in the article based upon the fact that the Oceanic DNA is absent in many Native American populations. If it were part of a small founding population that is assumed to have crossed a land bridge then it would be present in all groups.

    As to crossing 10,000 miles of ocean, the Polynesians explored 10,000 Islands across a greater area than Russia, China and the Americas combined. That they would locate virtually every Island in the Pacific and some how miss two continents altogether is about as absurd an Idea as I have ever heard of. I for a long time thought Native Americans had Oceanic mixture before there was DNA testing. So when all these experts are mystified I’m amazed by their ignorance. Easter Islanders are about 10% Native American so the gene flow was bi directional.

    I have Caddo ancestry myself. I downloaded my autosomal data to Gedmatch and get small amounts of Aleutian, Native American, Australasian, Austronesian, Siberian and East Asian hits too. The Caddo are found in Louisiana, East Texas. The word Texas is actually from the Caddo meaning friend.

    Anyway it seems more obvious that the founding population of the Americas has had admixture from various other groups throughout History. That over thousands of years of land and sea travel only one group found two huge continents is not very reasonable by my estimation. I do believe there was an initial founding population as indicated by the D9S1120 allele, but demonstrating a common founding population in no way contradicts admixture.

    Most of what we were taught was story telling at best, that DNA is giving us more information is hopeful.

    • There is a difference with Easter Islanders of today being of 10% NA vs. the eastern Polynesian settlers. Unless you’re referring to the few individuals who reportedly are just Polynesians and who had HLA typing that supposedly go back to before the Peruvian slave trade. If so, they already determined that it was impossible to establish unambiguously the origin of the Amerindian haplotype a in the family, and only one of their children was HLA typed, in addition to several of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

      • Thanks for the reply here is one article that seems to contradict your statement, maybe you are unaware of this study or simply disagree with their conclusions. This is based upon autosomal testing and the NA segments are too small and broken up to have been of recent origin, spread through out the their genome and so autosomal, not mtDNA or Y haplotypes. I agree with the conclusions of the authors in this article, but was already inclined to believe this was the case simply based upon Historical events and also phenotypical traits SW Native Americans which differ from many northern Native Americans imho. That the Polynesian/Austronesian link would have ancestral ties to me and my Native ancestry is just icing on the cake.

        Thanks again Jim

      • Jim,

        Please don’t get offended, my response was not intend to offend you. And that article you posted written by Andrew Lawler mentioned Thorsby. I didn’t mention him but I did refer to his research.

        Lawler wrote: Erik Thorsby is described as supporting the hypothesis that Native Americans voyaged on their own to Easter Island. Thorsby, like most scientists, believes it much more likely that Polynesians brought Native Americans to the island.

        Not sure who these “most scientists” are, but back in the late 1990s in the anthro and other science forums there were constant dispute about NA going to Easter Island. But only Thorsby actually mentioned the HLA typing that supposedly go back to before the Peruvian slave trade. But there is much more to know about that research and what wasn’t conclusive. Thorby’s research is entitled: Molecular genetic studies of natives on Easter Island: evidence of an early European and Amerindian contribution to the Polynesian gene pool. It’s better to read that than an article written by someone who only wrote based on the actual summarization. There are a lot of details that needs to be understood in that research to have a FULL understanding of why that 10% NA isn’t true. If you cannot find the article, let me know, I can send you a pdf copy. I have other RESEARCH articles that goes into detail about the type of Y and mtDNA testing done for Polynesians. While I usually limit to sharing these with other Polynesians who got DNA tested for the sake of explaining why we get these type of results, I’d be more than willing to share with anyone else if they cannot find the actual research articles themselves.

        In case you weren’t aware, Polynesians have a very long oral tradition, and for Rapa Nui, descendants of Hotu Matu’a coming from Hiva and settling in Anakena. Although in our traditions we mentioned our ancestors coming from the direction of the rising of the sun, if anyone has been paying attention to the Hawaiian voyaging canoe – Hokule’a which is circumnavigating the world (currently in Cuba area) which can be seen at, they would be aware that they talk a lot about what our ancestors have done. Although I don’t know of the genealogy prior to Hotu Matu’a with the exception of having ties to Hiva, many eastern Polynesians have ties to that area as well as Tahiti, and my genealogy also goes back to those areas.

      • Jim,

        From Erik Thorsby’s “The Polynesian gene pool: an early contribution by Amerindians to Easter Island” (2012):
        “With mtDNA, there were 19 unrelated or distantly related individuals who were sequenced for the control region 9-bp depletion of mtDNA. 17 carried the PM, while 2 carried slightly diff. motif w/ A to G transition at 16247 also seen in Polynesia. These are just Polynesian in origin.”

        Within the Polynesian DNA project, only 3 project members have the full PM and lack A16247G while the rest while the other 37 people who did a full mtDNA with the exception of me, my mother, her sister and my 2 brothers & another cousin lack A16247G. Within my family that mutation is just missing.

        Then he continues: “Y chromosome data – Most of the men had the haplogroup C-M208 abundant among Polynesian men. 5 of the men belonged to a European haplogroup.”

        The Polynesian DNA project has results of CM208 as well as the PM (B4a1a1 & its subclades). The paper does go into detail about what they did find with Genomic HLA data and how these HLA haplotypes a & b from the 48 out of the original 69 blood samples taken from Easter Island natives in 1971 and goes into a bit more detail (actually his other papers talk more details about this) with the genealogy of some of the individuals who can trace their ancestry back to Pacomio Maori who was born around 1846, and his 2nd wife of which seems to have been carriers of these specific NA alleles. BUT, he does indicate that both of these individuals were not present (in 1971) when the samples were originially taken.

        There is a whole lot more to consider but this is why I always stress to go to the actual source, not someone’s brief read on an actual research paper & summation that could give the wrong impression. It’s best to fully understand the type of testing involved, who was tested, how many testees were there, and the genealogy that was used to trace it back to a particular family.

    • I have yet to have people from Rapa Nui get autosomal tested and join the Polynesian DNA project so that I can take a closer look at the total amounts shared which I’d expect to see as with any other eastern Polynesian.

  8. “Please don’t get offended, my response was not intend to offend you.” Kalani I wasn’t offended in the least and as I reread my post I didn’t sound offended as near as I see? I’m very interested in hearing different hypothesis and empirical evidence yet I am inclined to question most conclusions. I do sincerely appreciate your knowledge and insight. I don’t view all articles/studies equally if they draw conclusions that don’t logically follow then less weight is given. I think that the Americas had a single founding population is strongly supported. Yet it is virtually confirmed that significant admixture is also present and was to be expected also. That the admixture would occur from more than any single group, and at different periods seems virtually guaranteed.

    “There are a lot of details that needs to be understood in that research to have a FULL understanding of why that 10% NA isn’t true. If you cannot find the article, let me know, I can send you a pdf copy. I have other RESEARCH articles that goes into detail about the type of Y and mtDNA testing done for Polynesians”

    That would be much appreciated….

    I expect gene flow to be at least partially bidirectional and would not be surprised if Americans sailed West also, although presently I suspect Polynesians and other Oceanic peoples probably traveled to South and Central America first. I don’t think the founding population started in Siberia rather that they started from South America and traveled north. Isolation by distance models from all types three types of DNA strongly support this imho.

    Thanks again and sorry if I sounded offended, I wasn’t.

  9. Susanne Wege, RN,BSN (ret) : Past and current member of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Society. on said:

    I am very interested in finding the link between the Pima Indian, genetically, and the modern Latino: If Pima Indian genes are found in modern Latinos, it may help explain why so many Hispanics in America are predisposed to obesity. The Pima Indians in Arizona have a 50 percent prevalence rate for obesity, compaired to 5 percent of Caucasians and Asians here. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the main risk factors for Types 1 and 2 Diabetes Mellitus. A genetic component for obesity is reflected in the prevalence rates ( Knowler WC, Pettit, Saad MF, Bennet PH “Diabetes Mellitus in the pima indians: incidence, risk factors and pathogenesis” in Diabetes/Metabolism Review 1990; 6 (1): 1-27. Published online by PubMed. I recently read a publication, a nursing meta- analysis, which sees childhood obesity among Hispanics in the US as a cultural problem, based upon barriers such as language difficulty, breast feeding while adding solid food too quickly, relationship issues between mothers and their mothers, etc., while mentioning nothing concerning possible genetic factors in the etiology.
    If, in your vast store of data, you have anything of interest in this question, I would most appreciate feedback from you. To be honest, I think this analysis proves nothing without consideration of genetics.
    I first learned of the migration across the Bering Strait, back in the late 60s, while attending several Anthropology courses under C. Lee Clark at Kent State University. I have never forgotten it. His specialty was Mesoamerica, and I distinctly remember him commenting on the Pima indian assimilation in Middle America. I’m trying to put two and two together here to make sense out of something of import.
    I am awaiting any help you are able to offer me, and thanking you in advance! Sincerely, Susanne Wege.

  10. I had my DNA tested, and my great grandpa is from Mexico, well part of that Mexican showed up as Native American unsurprisingly, but also it showed up as 1% Melanesian, which I thought was super cool, and it’s crazy that 1% is still there after probably tens and tens of generations ago. I can’t believe that it was more than 500 years ago they came over, or it would have to have been a very large population to admix with the one already here. Or a very small isolated one that grew large before they started admixing.

  11. Hi Daniel, James Bow, Kalani:

    I think that the hypothesis that Daniel puts forth is very interesting, and it is identical to what reading these results made me consider—which I will admit is something that I have already considered in the past.

    I know that the author of this page does not mention it, but I think the idea of a prior migration by a distinct population as Daniel mentioned should be considered. James Bow puts forward some counterindications, but here is the scenario that I imagine:

    We have evidence, at least indirect evidence, of boatmaking in various Southeast Asian locations 45,000 or 40,000 years ago. What if a population descendant from those who are known to have travelled the coasts 70,000 to 40,000 years ago continued northwards? I imagine that the population would have been small at every location along the way, and the gene pool too would have become rather small by the time they reached the New World.

    So, what if their populations were small, going all the way along the coast to South America, and their preferred ecosystem was maritime? Then we have a relatively stable population reaching all the way into Patagonia, with a genetic bottleneck, and at risk of dying out in any change in climate because their birth rates were very near replacement.

    I submit that this could account for the researcher who claimed that part of the Monte Verde site dates back to 33,000 years ago. As far as Meadowcroft Rockshelter potentially having 24,000 year old human-associated material, this same population could have inhabited Central America and travelled up the American Southeast coast from there (or of course migrated on land). They did *not* have a habit of killing the megafauna, and never exploited them for food and fuel.

    Then something like 14,000 or 15,000 years ago, a distinct population that we have all come to know and love, who inhabited inner Beringia as well as its coast, began to journey southwards. Their population was significantly larger in any given region where they lived, since they were able to depend on the megafauna for food, and their birth rates were higher. We see no signal from anyone else throughout much of North America simply because they displaced anyone else who was living there, albeit potentially very gradually.

    This could explain how different the Pericú seem to have been from other Native Americans, as well as many other things.

    In the same vein: I am also wondering about the genetics of Na-Dené peoples. I have read that it bears out that they experienced a unique bottleneck in population. The linguistics supports the notion that there was a later (say, 10000 BP to 2000 BP) migration into Canada from the north. But do the genetics?

    Best regards,
    Daniel Briggs
    (another Daniel)

    • Hi Daniel Briggs,

      I’d immediately say “no” but we’ll never know until there is more research done really. For now, everything that is current with DNA/science does support what our oral traditions have said. I don’t know if the Maoris have a more detailed history behind their kumara (Hawaiian ‘uala) or the sweet potato from S. America but technological exchange is expected, just as this happened with the Chumash
      and their canoes which they say came from our Hawaiian word for wood. Not sure about that, but that’s what they (I think it was a linguist or anthropologist) say.

      I am very curious to know what specific tribes like Na-Dené people have. I’ve heard stories about those of the Pacific Northwest and although Hawaiians have stories of people coming from the rising of the sun, we also know now thanks to ancient navigation again that in order to get to the Hawaiian islands from the south they have to go further east and swing over a bit which would make them go to Hawaii coming from where the sun rises.

    • Hi Daniel Briggs,

      Just wanted to say that now that myOrigins at FTDNA just updated, I am showing trace amount of South America less than 2%. I am noticing other Polynesians, mostly Hawaiians and Maoris who have the same results. My mother had North & Central America as a trace amount. My mother’s sister had both, N. & Central America and S. America, and my older brother had N. & C. America.

      • Hi Kalani, Roberta,

        Thank you for the lead. It was very interesting to read about Chumashan tomolo “sewn-plank canoe” and Proto-Central-Eastern-Polynesian *tumura’aakau “redwood, boat tree” (> kumulaa’au), and kalui “composite bone harpoon” and *tala “sharp-pointed object” +hui for “bone”;

        as well as Tongva (a coastal Uto-Aztecan language) ti’at “sewn-plank canoe” and PCEP *ti’at “to sew,” and taraina “boat” and *talai “to hew wood.”[1]

        I had heard of that before but had misremembered it as Yurok, and I had never seen such a good source for it.

        And as far as southern South America, it was interesting to find out about Mapudungün and PCEP toki “adze,” which is worn in the same way by the Mapuche and the Māori, as well as the early recordings by Portuguese of Patagonian languages with potential Polynesian loanwords.[2]

        And epistemically, it would indeed be silly for someone to claim that those who had pinpointed small islands all around the Pacific missed an earth-sized coast to the east!

        But the genes being referred to in the second article covered in this post are non-Polynesian Oceanic: “a direct test is significant in showing that the Suruí-specific ancestry component is genetically closer to the Andamanese Onge than to Tongans…Z=3.4” [3, third page] and “we detect no long-range admixture linkage disequilibrium in Amazonians as would be expected if the Population Y migration had occurred within the last few thousand years” [3, end], which is why we have to be open to all sorts of speculation as to how they got there.

        The data seems to be consistent with anything from a 4,500 to a 36,000 year split, so let me try and delineate four possibilities:

        The 4500-year hypothesis. In this model, a group of Oceanic peoples distinct from Polynesians either cross the open ocean (island-hopping or not) or travel along the North Pacific rim, all the way to South America. I think it’s remotely possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, given that the genetic contribution was found in native populations of southeast Brazil in particular, and we have no evidence of an Oceanic material culture distinct from Polynesian in the great Pacific. That this contribution to the Suruí genes shows more affinity to Aeta than other Filipinos sort of puts this theory to rest.

        The 9000-year hypothesis. In this model, a group of Oceanians travel up the North Pacific Rim and back down on the other side. Unlikely, since they do not leave a signal in North America.

        The 18,000-year hypothesis. In this model, Population Y coexisted with the Bluefish Cove Beringians in Beringia while it was cut off from the rest of the world. Exceedingly unlikely, since there is no genetic admixture and Beringia is shown (by geology and genetics) to have been isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years.

        The 36,000-year hypothesis. Prior to the Last Glacial Maximum, the Cordilleran ice sheet was only about a third the size it would reach [4, p. 648, 42.9 ka GRIP and 22.9 ka NGRIP pictures]. I consider this hypothesis plausible largely because of the difficulty of reconciling the others, but also because it is consistent with the 18,500+ year age of the Monte Verde site in Chile, as well as the numerous morphological finds in ancient South American skeletons (regrettably, it seems no DNA can be extracted from them). But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I acknowledge I only have very little.

        (Unfortunately, I cannot open the Raghavan article, but it seems to address my speculation about the Pericúes in the negative.)





      • Hey Daniel,

        That was the word, forgot TOMOLO. Supposedly it came from our kumula’au so they say, although throughout Polynesia we have wa’a/va’a/waka for a canoe, not to mention different names for specific types of canoes. While in our language the word “to sew” has different cognates from what you showed, it is KALAI for us, which means to carve (out of wood). Interesting about the Aeta connection.

  12. I recently took a 23andme test. The results indicated that I was a quarter Native American, which I knew since my granfather is Apache. What caught me off guard was that the results also indicated that I was part Oceanian. Interesting read!

  13. Hi everyone. I wanted to thank you all for the great discussion here. I am not a scientist but I am a Native American activist very interested in these scientific discoveries. I am of mixed heritage which includes European, Asian, Native and Polynesian ancestry. I’ve been studying the multi migration theories and have been part of an intense discussion between Natives and so called “Indigenous Americans”. Indigenous Americans are Black Americans who claim to have been here before Native Americans and often cite Luzia as evidence that they were the first Americans. They also claim that they are the builders of the pyramids in Mexico and central America and progenitors of the Civilizations found in the Americas, especially the Olmecs. Can anyone shed some light into these claims? I find the multiple migration theory and the Oceania connections fascinating as I myself have direct links to both NA and Oceania by way of Polynesia. Thank you.

    • I wish I knew more about Luzia, haplogroups, etc. Unfortunately that was the only evidence if I remember correctly. I think I have my book on the Olmecs in my garage from my Chicano Studies class but we quickly passed through the section of Olmecs and Toltecs. I do remember the head statues where the Olmecs resided, but not much was said about it.

      As for the Polynesians, I know that for Eastern Polynesians we are aware of the technological exchange that happened in other far away places according to our oral traditions, and we obviously see evidence like with the sweet potato that went all over throughout the Pacific coming from S. America. But it is another thing to infer that there was an actual migration & settlement of these people from one place to another. We have yet to find DNA evidence and not to mention archeological evidence.

  14. Daniel Briggs, interesting hypothesis and since I already agree that admixture would be logically expected, and now genetically confirmed it should be reasonably considered. Of course like any hypothesis it should also have our best efforts to falsify it as science demands. If it withstands the rigours of such scrutiny then it might graduate to theory.

    I absolutely think there has been gene flow between East and West, between North and South and across land and sea. Yet I reject the hypothesis that the founding population of the Americas crossed the “Bearingian land bridge” Rather that there was a very ancient founding population in the Americas that initially populated nearly all of North and South America before significant gene flow arrives from Siberia. That also during this time there was already Polynesian, Austrialnesian and Melanesian mixing into this founding American population. It gets complex beyond that but as for the initial peopling of the Americas, or for the most part, that is substantiated empirically once you divorce yourselves from previous parigdims. As I have already stated I believe, using methods such as isolation by distance models aDNA, mtDNA and yDNA confirm this. The Anzick child and Kennewick man likewise agree. Even the few scholarly conclusions based upon relatedness of Altaic peoples and Native Americans are biased upon presumptions. This can be demonstrated to be so when comparing modern to ancient ancestors. These gentic relationship do NOT continuosly stretch across Siberia but rather appears to go OVER the artic circle from what I observe. Showing two populations have a relationship does not indicate which direction those genes derived from, confirmation bias does that. The Altaic population has very little admixture with both modern and more so with ancient populations from the that region. My conclusion is because they are relatively recent arrivals.

    Anzick and Kennewick are far more closely related to the people living at the Patagonia than to Siberia now and in the past. the reason is because that is where their ancestors came from in my opinion.

    I know my ideas probably sound absurd, but when I attempt to falsify it it instead gets confirmed and when I look at the conclusions of many scholars not all, they are non sequitors.

    • >>>I reject the hypothesis that the founding population of the Americas crossed the “Bearingian land bridge” Rather that there was a very ancient founding population in the Americas that initially populated nearly all of North and South America before significant gene flow arrives from Siberia. That also during this time there was already Polynesian, Austrialnesian and Melanesian mixing into this founding American population.<<<

      There are quite a bit of research done on the people of the Americas. You are aware that are the youngest group of people on the planet. The ancestors of the Polynesians made it into Remote Oceania around 3,100 yrs. ago, and it wouldn't be until 1,200 yrs ago or so that they reached eastern Polynesia which is where Hawaii, Tahiti, Hiva, Rapa Nui and many others are. The people who crossed the Bering Strait into the Americas did that 10,00 yrs ago after the last ice age. So there is a huge 7,000 year discrepancy.

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