6 Founding Native Mothers

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to honor our Native mothers, historically referenced in many tribes simply as “the Grandmothers,” who came before us.  I’d also like to share with you what science and genetics has to say about the Grandmothers.

We know that the first Native Americans crossed the land bridge between Asia and what is now Alaska in North America sometime between 12,000 and 20,000 years ago.  The timeframe depends on which study you’re reading.  Many scientists believe the Native people were following game and unintentionally crossed to another continent.  After the ice melted, they were the first Americans whether they intended to be or not.  They may not have been aware that crossed into another continent.  The frozen Beringia probably looked exactly as the land on either side looked. But cross they did, a small group, and here we are today. 

Female Native American’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA = the direct maternal line) falls into 5 haplogroups, or genetic clans, for lack of a better description.  They consist of subsets of haplogroups A, B, C, D and X. 

In a paper titled “The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American MtDNA Haplogroups: Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Studies,” published in 2008 in Plos One, the authors studied groups of DNA results and determined that 95% of Native American mtDNAs are descended from the six founding mothers carrying haplogroups of the A2, B2, C1b, C1c, C1d, and D1. The other 5% is composed of the X2a, D2, D3, C4c, and D4h3 sub-haplogroups.

You know, it’s amazing to think that only 6 women were responsible for peopling the Americas, but indeed, there were.  Those are the original grandmothers, ancestral to all of us who carry Native blood in any degree today.  Since there were only 6 in the founding group, it stands to reason that if we are descended from one of them, we’re descended from all of them.  After all, who were their children going to marry if not each other?

It’s startling to think that in this way, we can track our ancestry back at least 12,000 years in time and we know where those ancestors were, even though we will never know their names.  They exist today, in each and every one of their descendants, in some small part.

Thank you, Grandmothers!  Miigwech.

You can read the entire article here:                             http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001764

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in DNA. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 6 Founding Native Mothers

  1. ITSCHAC says:

    my grandmother’s mtDNA haplogroup A2, however did not come into my mixes family finder, I wonder why?

    • A2 is both Native and Asian. Your FF ethnic percentages include Russian which may be the source of the A2.

      • ITSCHAC says:

        thank you Roberta! you cleared my doubts

      • ITSCHAC says:

        Our fathers are brothers, because I’m not Native American?

        Welcome, ANTONIO FLORENTINO – Kit No: 214911
        Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error
        Africa (West African) Yoruba 77,82% ±0,28%
        Middle East Jewish, Palestinian, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze 8,11% ±1,97%
        Finnish, Russian 14,07% ±2,06%
        Welcome, MARIA APARECIDA SOUZA BENEDITO – Kit No: 252464
        Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error
        Africa (West African) Mandenka 43,56% ±0,05%
        Native American Maya, Columbian 13,22% ±0,74%
        Europe (Southeast European) Romanian 43,22% ±0,69%


      • I’m not sure I understand your question. I can’t approve your other postings because they include your kit numbers and passwords which would be displayed for everyone to see. I do private consulting as a service if you are interested. The Quick Consult is available on my website at http://www.dnaxplain.com/shop/features.aspx

      • ITSCHAC says:

        thank you Roberta!

  2. ITSCHAC says:

    thank you Roberta!

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