Sunday, February 27, 2005

Taino and Native American DNA Testing

Over the past few weeks a number of agencies have contacted one or more editors of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink ( with news and details concerning DNA testing services for those interested in verifying or documenting their Taino or other Amerindian biological parentage.

CAVEAT: As the author of this post, I have been reticent about forwarding this information, for fear of seeming to endorse these services or of inadvertently encouraging readers to hire the services of these agencies, at considerable cost. I am doing neither, nor am I condemning these agencies. What I would caution against is the notion that biological parentage and cultural heritage are in any way one and the same--the existence of one does not prove the existence of the other, even if the linkages between the two can be highly suggestive in some cases. Otherwise, put simply, cultural meanings and practices do not neatly map onto genetic patterns.
Having said that, two of the agencies which have contacted us were:

1. FamilyTree DNA at
2. GeneTree DNA Testing Center: Native American DNA Verification Testing at

In the case of the first agency, Dra. Ana Oquendo Pabón, MD, FAAFP, wrote to us explaining: "In our DNA Project, we have 81 members and are steadily growing at a pace not seen in other groups at FTDNA (FamilyTree DNA). Of these members, 40+ have tested the mitochondrial HVR1 region and many have also tested the HVR2 region. Several more are pending. As would be expected, fully 61-65% % of our testeees are Haplogroup A (majority), Haplogroup C, with one Haplogroup D further attesting to our Taíno Heritage. The fascinating aspect of this study is not only that they are of indigenous roots but that so many have exact haplotype sequences. In other words, people who have joined our group who did not know one another have the EXACT haplotype sequence and therefore share the same ancient maternal Taíno mother. It is our plan to develop special pages re the mitochondrial results of our Project. No names of members will be used, only an ID number. Quite a few of our members have also had a test called a DNAPrint (an ancestral DNA test). The Native American % ranges from as low as 5% to as high as 45%."

Doctor Pabón is also involved in the "Puerto Rican DNA Geographic Project" which you can read more about at This is part of a broader series of projects titled "The Hispanic DNA Surname and Geographic
Projects", which can be found at, and might be of course to those of Cuban and Puerto Rican backgrounds, as well as those from New Mexico. For further information, see

In the case of the second agency, Terry Carmichael, Vice President for Marketing and Sales at Sorenson Genomics, explained in an e-mail that the company, "is providing DNA genotyping services to African Americans and Native American Indians which allows them to trace their roots back to a region in Africa or assess a Native American tribal affiliation." Sorenson's business units include GeneTree, mentioned above, at, as well as Relative Genetics at

Again, this information is simply being relayed, and no endorsement or recommendation is to be inferred from this posting.

No comments: