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Native American man's DNA traced back 17,000 years

13 May 2019
Appeared in BioNews 998

A Native American man in Montana has the 'oldest' human DNA in the USA, according to news reports.

The company Cellular Research Institute (CRI) Genetics, said it had traced the mitochondrial DNA of Darrell 'Dusty' Crawford back 55 generations, with an unusually high 99 percent accuracy rate. According to the Great Falls Tribune, they claimed to link Crawford's DNA to a genetic haplotype originating in Arizona approximately 17,000 years ago - though the results have not been independently verified.

The haplotype, known as mtDNA haplogroup B2, is one of four known major Native American genetic groupings in the USA, each of which can be traced back to four female ancestors, Ai, Ina, Chie and Sachi. Crawford's DNA indicates he is descended from the Ina grouping, named after a Polynesian mythological figure.

'Its path from the Americas is somewhat of a mystery as there are no frequencies of the haplogroup in either Alaska or Canada,' CRI Genetics said, the Great Falls Tribune reported. 'Today this Native American line is found only in the Americas, with a strong frequency peak on the eastern coast of North America.'

According to CRI Genetics, Crawford, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, had an unusually high percentage of Native American DNA. Eighty-three percent of Crawford's genome was identifiable as Native American, with 73 percent from a single line. Crawford's DNA also contained a mixture of other ethnicities; including European, East Asian, South Asian and African.

Crawford took the test at the urging of his brother Willy, a proponent of Native American history, who died of a heart attack before hearing the results. 'He's the one who encouraged me to do this, and he wanted to compare our results,' Crawford said. 'I just wish I could have shown it to him. It would have blown him away.'

Genetic testing can be a controversial issue among Native Americans, as some believe it limits Native American identity to biology without accounting for culture or lifestyle.

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