Discovering our roots beyond slavery
It was some years back that I sent my buccle swab (cheek scrapping) to Familytreedna.com for them to process. My journey to discover my "deep ancestral" roots was beginning. Like many of us I had always been curious if the stories my family told about our racial make-up was true.
I could see with my eyes that clearly we were "mixed" as all Americans of African descent are, but no one could tell me exactly what that mix was. There was conjecture that it was American Indian. Black people in this country have always believed that they were mixed with American Indian when in fact it isn't true at all. When I got the results of the DNA tests my reaction was very strange indeed. Instead of being elated, I felt I was just handed a bomb shell...
The results clearly said: NO Native American admixture. My mother had always sworn by her ancestry of Cherokee blood. But no more, that myth was suddenly shattered by the scientific proof that it wasn't anywhere near Cherokee blood, but oceans away to the continent.
The results were as follows 60% African (meaning anywhere in Africa on the continent) and 39% Indo-European (meaning anywhere from Turkey to Persia to India). I was really shocked with the results and wasn't sure if I should share them with my mother. I was afraid it would shake her up to no end. With results in hand I quickly emailed my relatives and siblings with the results. At first there was this flurry of activity; taking all the minute parts of the DNA test, and using Cambridge DNA data base, we sought to put a face on our ancestry. A face that had been denied us.
It is called deep ancestry because these test do not really reveal recent (500 years) ancestry, instead, they show the original migration patterns in, and out of Africa at it's origins. Geneticist have basically broken the entire world into what's call Haplotype Groups. Mine happens to be L3b, which is a migratory path in East Africa. So my deepest ancestral root was a "woman" who resided in Yemen. I will get back to that bit later.
Women carry what's called MTdna (mitochondrial DNA). Men have Y chromosomes. If a woman is tested (such as me) they can only detect the maternal line of ancestors from both father and mother. No males. In order to get the deep ancestral origins of the male lineage they would have to test the males in my family. So far none of them want to do it.
So not satisfied with a percentage breakdown, and a haplotype group I decided to send my DNA results to a group in London that maintains a database of DNA results from all over the world. What they did was compare my results with other by using a computer, and were able to find "matches", meaning basically "cousins" from other places in the world.
What I found out was amazing. I am genetically, through the maternal lines of my mother and father, North African. The people sharing my DNA pattern are Moroccans, Yemeni's and people from Bedouin and nomadic tribes along the Niger. Who would have known? And this is a far cry from the Native American blood we thought we had. This now gives me more information on who these people were that I share a blood line, and DNA with. Who these women were. Was one of them sold as a child because her mother died, or perhaps she ran away and was caught by slavers? I know that Islam was already solidly in this part of Africa so my ancestors were probably muslim. It doesn't really matter in the long run. It just gives me a larger picture. It fleshes out what was a skeleton of information. Now when I decide what I will wear, or eat, or study or do I consider my ancestors and how they would have done it, and not only that somehow I find that I always have maintained something of them through genetic memory.