Just a quick note that the results of my mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA, for short), which examines the direct maternal line, came back and I got quite a surprise. I assumed that I’d belong to haplogroup H—denoting the most common European heritage. Instead, I’m in haplogroup K—a lineage that originated many thousands of years ago in what’s now northern Italy. In fact, the Iceman—the 5,000-plus year-old frozen mummy discovered in the Alps about 10 years ago—also belonged to the K haplogroup. Weirdly enough, this means the Iceman and I share a common ancestor, although who knows how many thousands of years back that was!
In the more practical terms of using my mtDNA results to connect with present-day researchers, it’s now a matter of wait-and-see, hoping I’ll match with another woman who’s been tested. (So ladies, let’s get tested!)
And speaking of DNA—I’ve received several e-mails from people asking if they can trace their Cherokee roots with DNA. Yes and no. DNA testing will show the origin of your line—that means if your line originated with American Indian roots, it will show in the testing. However, DNA test results aren’t tribe-specific.
Fortunately, there are other ways to track Cherokee roots. That’s because Cherokee is one of the largest, most well-documented tribes. The Cherokee were included in special counts of native tribes, including the Dawes Commission. Other “rolls” for the Cherokee include the Guion Miller Roll, which was taken in the early 20th century to distribute money due to Cherokee who lost land during the 1830s Indian Removal Act. This Act relocated most of the Cherokee nation to modern-day Oklahoma.
To read more about haplogroups, DNA, and Cherokee roots:
- DNA Glossary
- Y-DNA Haplogroup Assignments
- Search the Dawes rolls at the National Archives and Records Administration Web site
- Index to the Applications Submitted for the Eastern Cherokee Roll of 1909 (Guion Miller Roll)
- Official Site of the Cherokee Nation