As a school student in Montana, Darrell “Dusty” Crawford was taught about his ancestors, the Blackfeet Nation considered one of the first people to step foot in America. His recent DNA analysis proves this tale. To fulfill the dying wish of his brother, Crawford decided to take a home DNA test to trace his family’s ancestry. The DNA kit company, CRI Genetics, made a remarkable discovery. They claim that his test traced Crawford’s ancestry back no less than 55 generations with 99% accuracy, as reported by Great Falls Tribune.
The company said, “This is the furthest back they’ve ever been able to trace anyone’s ancestry in the Americas, as the tests typically only give information about a recent handful of generations before it gets too diluted to trace”.
Crawford has an unusually high percentage of nearly 83% of Native American DNA in his results along with small amounts of European, East Asian, and South Asian heritage. Remarkably, about 73% of his Native American heritage is traced to the same lineage. When a person’s heritage is more mixed, it gets that much harder to trace, so high percentages like these, helps narrow down the field considerably.
Crawford’s mitochondrial DNA can be pinned to the haplogroup B2, one of the five haplogroups prevalent in the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Mitochondrial DNA commonly called mtDNA is inherited down the maternal line from mother to child. The woman who founded this B2 line is estimated to have lived sometime around 17,000 years ago. As per current knowledge, B2 was one of the earliest mtDNA haplogroups to reach the Americas.
But strangely, this B2 lineage appears somehow in the middle of America around modern-day Arizona, and nowhere near Alaska or Canada, the presumed main entry routes into North America by ancient people. The most widely accepted theory of how humans settled into the Americas is that they crossed the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska, at nearly the end of the Ice Age 16,500 years ago. But now the detection of haplogroup B2 suggests a different story. Although it originated in Arizona, there are no traces in native Alaskan populations and is even more relatively uncommon in Canada. These results indicate that Crawford’s ancestors could have possibly migrated from the Pacific to South America and traveled upwards to modern-day Arizona in the USA.
CRI Genetics said, according to the Great Falls Tribune, “Its path from the Americas is somewhat of a mystery as there are no frequencies of the haplogroup in either Alaska or Canada. Today this Native American line is found only in the Americas, with a strong frequency peak on the eastern coast of North America”.
As Crawford’s DNA corresponds to just one individual so it may be premature to reach any concrete conclusions. Nevertheless, Crawford now encourages anyone with Native American ancestry to take a DNA test that might just provide some more invaluable insights into the history of people in America.