Archive for the ‘DNA’ category

Unique Identifiers: A Closer Look at Biometric Technology in New Mexico

December 3, 2014
Biometrics_by Felicia Lujan_December2014

|Biometrics~ A digital composite by Felicia Lujan. This composite is composed of 13 layers, 8 masks, 3 color overlays, and a Gaussian blur. The composite includes images of binary code and components of ocular, palm vein, and voice recognition scans.|


**NOTE: This research was
not intended to promote or
renounce the use of biometric
systems, though I do find the
technology extremely interesting
and useful in most cases. I
understand that the use
of this technology is considered
controversial by some. I intend
to continue my exploration into
how biometric technology is
being used around the world
for the greater good.

________________________________
I am an archivist with a deep love of technology, which is one reason I pursued a masters level certification in digital information management. A little over a week ago, I was in a meeting that reignited my interest in biometrics. I must admit that I was naïve in my assumption that my state was not a pioneer in this industry. First off, I didn’t know that the central nervous system of New Mexico state government (aka the State Data Center at the Department of Information Technology) utilizes biometric technology as a method of security. After that meeting I came home curious about how involved New Mexico is when it comes to biometric research and implementation. The writer, the researcher, the analyst, the special agent in me took over and that night I added biometric engineer to my list of dream jobs that I would love to have. So…what type of education does a biometric engineer need? Most commonly, a biometrics engineer has: a computer science degree; a computer language certification like Java or C++; and good problem-solving, people, and technical skills.

I found an informative link online titled “Become a Biometrics Engineer: Education and Career Roadmap.” Hum? Well, according to this plan, there are only 7 “popular schools” specializing in advancing a career in biometrics. The page said that “biometric technologies include complex equipment designed to analyze personal identification markers unique to each individual, such as fingerprints, ear lobes, vein patterns, voices, and iris shapes.” Through this research, I discovered that the technology is not limited to “individuals” or people here in New Mexico. I did know that biometric engineers were software developers, but there was a lot that I didn’t know before I embarked upon this research over the Thanksgiving break. Ear lobes? Veins? Hum? Didn’t know those were used as unique identifiers? We are all well aware of the TV shows touting the sexy use of biometrics, like CSI and most recently my beloved Scandal, but that’s just on TV right? A dead guy’s index finger couldn’t possibly be used to confirm his identity? Could it Shonda? Maybe I should ask Chien Le?

The most information dense white paper I discovered was written by Chien Le of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in November of 2011. Le wrote A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems and his research introduced biometric security systems. It also outlined application fields for biometric technologies, solutions, middle-ware and software, advantages and disadvantages, acronyms, and the future uses of biometrics. Damn! Chien Le beat me to the punch didn’t he?! Here it was…all laid out for my thirsty mind. Le’s paper says there are “seven basic criteria for biometric security systems.” These are “uniqueness, universality, permanence [hummm?? Do I hear digital preservation?], collectability, performance, accessibility and circumvention.” I don’t completely understand some of the criteria, but it was very useful to read over the types of biometric solutions outlined by Le. Current technologies include: facial recognition detectors, fingerprint readers, voice recognition, iris scanners, vein recognition, DNA biometric systems, and 2D barcode scanners, among others.

This technology can have good uses, but there are many privacy advocates who are against the use of any biometrics. In December of 2013, Scientific American published Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday with a byline which read “without explicit safeguards, your personal biometric data are destined for a government database.” The article starts with the sentence “security through biology is an enticing idea.” Yeah it is. Is that all it is though? An idea? I think not. Maybe I’m not worried about privacy as much as I should be? The article is basically a call to United States Congress for “lasting protections against the misuse of biometric data.” Munday quoted an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who seems to fear that biometric data will be used genetically to test for criminal predisposition. I’m actually not sure that’s a bad thing? I guess my only concerns at this point would be relative to health information and insurance coverage. When it comes to physical security and data security, personally, I think that biometric technology is necessary. It is a way to uniquely protect data, which in the end equals the preservation of knowledge and heightened security.

Over the weekend I started whittling through what I found. I read a great deal of articles and a few white papers before I started to look at projects going on closer to home. The more I researched this topic, the more information I found. I was most interested in how biometric systems actually work, so I focused my mind on the technical aspects. I had questions like…what are the major components of a biometric system? Who uses these systems? One of my questions was answered in Le’s paper. I have a sore throat now, so last night I wondered…what if a person needed to use voice recognition and something was wrong with their voice? How is that accounted for in designing a successful system? According to Le, there was no solution. A voice recognition system will not recognize a hoarse voice wave. So now that we have some background on the basics of biometrics, let’s take a look at what I found going on right here in my state. I was able to locate information on at least ten concrete areas where biometric technology is being used in New Mexico from at least 2003-2014. I’m sure there are many projects I missed, but frankly, this could be a thesis and maybe even a dissertation. This is just a quick look at highly visible projects I came across over the last week.

We will start with the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DoIT) since it is a meeting with this office that rekindled my interest in this technology. DoIT is “responsible for infrastructure IT services provided 24x7x365 which includes: the State’s telecommunications system, two-way public safety radio, digital microwave, the State’s core data network and internet connectivity, and the State’s Data Center.” It is here, in the State Data Center where biometric technologies are being used for data security. I felt impressed with my state when I learned that and tomorrow I will get a tour of the center. “The State’s Data Center provides a secure facility with redundant power and cooling which houses many of the State’s critical IT systems including the State’s mainframe and agency servers. This division also provides enterprise system services which include the State’s consolidated email system…” It will be interesting to see what type of biometric security the agency is using as of late. I am guessing a finger or palm scanner?

The two strangest projects I found information on were tied to the use of biometrics on kids and animals in New Mexico. On April 3, 2013, there was a news release put out by KOAT (channel 7) titled Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch. What? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. The school apparently tried to implement a palm vein scanner in the lunch room instead of good old meal tickets or cards. Parents were not happy about the suggestion of using infrared wavelengths (electromagnetic radiation) during the lunch hour to ID their children. The parents fought off the proposal which would have allowed scanners to recognize a unique vein pattern in the child’s palm and they won. I wasn’t sure which seemed stranger…scanning kids or scanning animals? I also read about how the New Mexico livestock industry is using Retinal Vascular Pattern (RVP) for livestock identification. RVP is the pattern of blood vessels at the back of the eye. It’s is being called the new way of branding animals. I wonder how ranchers feel about that since they must prefer the old burn and freeze methods? What’s a brand without cowboy symbology right?

I discovered that the national labs and the air force bases are also using biometrics. Of course, this was no surprise. I read a white paper Chris Aldridge prepared for Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in June of 2013. Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922 is titled Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects. This report was concentrated on the use of MBDs to enroll individuals in databases and perform “identification checks of subjects in the field area,” for “military, law enforcement, and homeland security operations.” The report was a multi-agency/multi-state project with 3M Cogent Systems and involved: Iowa, Colorado, California, D.C., Texas, Washington (Seattle), Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Idaho. I think the most interesting part of this study used a “mock prison riot” for first responders out of West Virginia. We all know how critical that information is given New Mexico’s prison riot history. Many of the agencies studied for this report are using “Fusion devices.” Fusion was developed by 3M Cogent Systems for the Department of Defense. A large part of studies in this field are tied to law enforcement, but currently the technology trend is leaning towards cyber security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says biometrics are important because they: secure facilities, protect access to computer networks, counter fraud, screen people at our borders, and fight crime. The NIST says this technology is used to manage identities for: first responders at the scene of a natural disaster, border patrol, soldiers in theater, and police officers on the street. It makes sense that the following projects are closely related to the projects cited in the Sandia report. In New Mexico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to support criminal justice DNA databases. The National DNA Index System or NDIS is part of CODIS. The FBI uses biometrics to analyze data from DNA databases and for latent print analysis. Holloman Air Force Base is using the 49th Security Forces Defense Biometric Identification System which is comprised of hand-held scanners. The scanners are used to screen people entering the base to verify the access authorization. Identity is established using barcode technology and fingerprints. In February of 2011, it was announced that Santa Fe County was using biometrics to “remove aliens convicted of a crime.” It can also be noted that between 2003 and 2005, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) researched the use of biometrics in handgun grips while working with a New Mexico biometrics company. The NAE was interested in developing biometric grip sensors, but a 2005 report declared the tests a failure.

I also located evidence of the health care systems in New Mexico using biometric technology. The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) offers Biometrics Screening Services as part of Employee Health Plans. These screenings are said to align with recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Ommmm…Maybe this is where my privacy fears rest? In 2013, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine released a Joint Consensus Statement on Biometric Health Screening for Employers. According to the “statement,” the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines biometric screenings as “the measurement of physical characteristics such as height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and aerobic fitness that can be taken at the worksite and used as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.” I am a fitness freak, but that seems crazy? What if something is wrong with me and I don’t know? The statement outlines the “purpose of screenings” and I found it kind of scary. What if they find out I experience shortness of breath or I’m genetically predisposed to cancer? Will they drop me from my insurance plan?

In New Mexico health circles, I also located a “Fingerprint Techniques Manual,” which was prepared by the New Mexico Department of Health. The manual had very interesting graphic illustrations on the fundamentals of fingerprints. This training tool covered from patterns to arches to loops to lines to deltas to cores to whorls to scars of the fingerprints. The machines can read all these intricate things. The Division of Health Improvement uses this technology as part of the Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program. Makes more sense than the biometric screenings. I feel comfortable with this use. This type of use can protect people from abuse or other forms of criminal activity. I was rather impressed with the 36 page manual. It reminded me that about 15 years ago I applied for a finger print technician position with the Department of Public Safety. I was crushed to learn that these people don’t make very much. I don’t know…I guess you have to be a biometrics engineer to make it out there!? What I do know is that I found a great deal of information about how New Mexico is actively participating in the biometric industry.

I gained useful knowledge through this research into biometrics and then regurgitating what I learned. My son just asked me what I was writing about and when I told him he looked at me with the curiosity that I love and see in myself. I told him “I’m writing about biometrics. Do you know what that is?” I explained with words and then decided it was easier to show a nine year old a catchy tech video with visual candy. Together we learned about the future of biometric systems. Between October and November of this year there were several videos on the use biometric technology. The National Science Foundation released information on a project by a young man studying the use of ocular biometrics in the video game industry for disabled people. In October the Telegraph out of the United Kingdom released a video declaring that we would simply kill passwords with biometrics and CBS news declared that biometric palm scans will help keep hospitals secure.

The future of biometrics is here. It is everywhere and happening all around us. Biometrics is about identifying who we are and not who we say we are. Tonight I learned that the most accurate method for a biometric reading is the heartbeat or an electrocardiogram (ECG). Makes sense ha? It’s symbolic actually. Symbolic because the heart is at our biometric core. It is the giver of life. The heart represents how we feel and who we are. That beat is indeed is a unique identifier.


Sources:

News release, Santa Fe County and All New Mexico Now Benefit from ICE Strategy to Use Biometrics to Identify and Remove Aliens Convicted of a Crime, released on ice.gov, February 15, 2011

White paper, A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems by Chien Le, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University, November 28, 2011

News release, Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch, released on koat.com, April 3, 2013

White paper, Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects by Chris Aldridge, Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922, prepared by Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, June 2013

Article, Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday, released on scientificamerican.com, December 17, 2013

Publication, Fingerprint Techniques Manual, prepared by New Mexico Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement, Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program, no date

Various internet searches for basic information in articles and videos

Family Tree DNA Launches New Learning Center

March 15, 2014

Awesome!!
~~~~Felicia

DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Ugly light bulb

Family Tree DNA has launched a new Learning Center.  Meant to be much more comprehensive and interactive than their previous FAQs, with everything available in one centralized place, the new Learning Center encompasses a blog, the former FAQs, Webinar information including currently scheduled and archived past Webinars available,  FTDNA’s Forum, a link to group projects, Users Guides, Group Administrator Guides and tools, a glossary, links to scientific papers and more.

Learning center landing

In fact, the site is so comprehensive that there is even a tutorial about how to utilize the Learning Center.

One of the best aspects of the Learning Center is that it’s fully searchable.  Just as a test, and because I’m a skeptic, I typed the word “heteroplasmy” into the search field.  This term, if you’re not familiar, is a relatively obscure term for mitochondrial DNA.  About 2% of the people who take a full sequence test will have a heteroplasmic mutation…

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…..

February 26, 2013

The Power Clan Gathering

www.familytreedna.com have just brought in a special offer on the 12 Marker DNA test.

For a limited time Familytreedna (FTDNA) are releasing the 12 marker for the princely sum of $US 39, which is amazing because before it was over $200 !

POWER(S), POOR(E), or POER can also take the test at http://www.familytreedna.com/group-join.aspx?Group=Power . Simply a case of paying by Credit Card or Paypal and the Test kit will land on your doorstep shortly after.

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Crystals and Digital Archives

February 17, 2013

This is an awesome post!
~~Felicia

The Lord of the Archives: The Fellowship of the IMPs

white-giant-crystal

Recently, the possible use of DNA as a means of data storage has been making the news. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21145163

However, there is also another alternative method of data storage that is being developed. Hitatchi is working to make a quartz-based storage device. http://www.techspot.com/news/50313-hitachi-unveils-quartz-based-storage-data-may-last-100-million-years.html

According to the article, much like DNA, this method also has the potential to last for thousands of years. Another one of it’s selling points is that it can withstand “temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius for two hours.” In the event of a fire, the quartz-based storage might be able to survive, whereas DNA would not. In addition, the retrievability and accessibility of the data of the quartz-based storage would be much greater than the data held on DNA. The main drawback of quartz-based storage is that it has a pretty small storage capacity. This no doubt, can be improved in the future.

It should be interesting to…

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Why Wait to Learn About Crypto Connections?

July 18, 2012

Journal of Spanish, Portuguese,
and Italian Crypto-Jews
Cover of Volume I, Spring 2009


One thing I hate about the summer is my lack of time. There are always so many things going on- far more than I can successfully grasp! One conference I am sorry that I will miss is the 22nd Annual Conference of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies. The conference will be held next week in Albuquerque, New Mexico from July 22-24, 2012. I would have loved to attend a special session being presented by a group of scholars, historians and genealogists. I know two of them very well. Exploring Hispano Family History, a genealogy workshop, will be presented by historian and genealogist José Antonio Esquibel, Henrietta Martinez Christmas, and a few others. I have been very interested in the scholarly studies being unearthed in this area. The oral history of my maternal line denotes a possible connection to Crypto-Jewish ancestry. When the DNA of my maternal line was analyzed not long ago, the DNA came back Native American. I believe that oral traditions hold firm ground in history, and so there must be a connection somehow linking the great grandmother I was named after to Crypto-Jewish ancestry. Her family came from Portugal through Canada in the 1800s. A great publication to check out is the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto-Jews. The journal contains the comprehensive research of contemporary scholars if you are interested in studies of this nature. My maternal DNA or mtDNA did return with a Native American result, so I have come to an educated conclusion that the Crypto-Jewish connection is not directly maternal. I think that the missing link may actually be my great grandmother’s father. If I wasn’t already attending the NAGARA/CoSA Conference here is Santa Fe, I would have planned to learn more about Crypto Judaic Studies. The Chair of the agency I work for is a Senior Adviser to the Board of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies. He is also a founding member of the society. Dr. Stanley Hordes is a Former New Mexico State Historian who wrote a book titled To the End of the Earth (a must read). I have had many, many conversations with Dr. Hordes, who always insists I call him Stan.  At one point when my grandmother was alive, he wanted to interview her. Unfortunately, she passed away before he ever had the opportunity. I could kick myself a million times because I have missed so many chances to learn more about my family history just waiting for tomorrow. Don’t wait! Learn more today…

Our Market: Chicken, Candy and Smiles

July 17, 2012

Photograph I took of Johnny’s Market
May of 2012 – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photograph I took of some of my Garcia Cousins
September 2007 – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Grandma Corine’s Funeral
From left to right and top to bottom- Marcus, Andres,
Mark, Toby, Lawrence, Michael, Julian, Jessica,
Evangeline, Melanie, Audrey, Corine, Jeremy, Jamie,
Shaylina, Miranda, Elora, Jasmine, Jackie, Isaiah
(my nephew), Thomas (my brother), Phillip, Justin, and Chris.

From the late 80s to the early 90s, I spent a large amount of time in Santa Fe, even though I was from Pojoaque. We were in Santa Fe at my maternal grandmother’s house every weekend. My grandma Corine passed away in September of 2007. I spent many hours in and around her home playing with my cousins. There were so many of us. We were all so different, still we had so much fun together. I am excited to share some of the best stories of my childhood not only with my readership, but with my cousins. I am sure they will enjoy a stroll down memory lane just as much as I.

In May of this year I went to Johnny’s Park. I’m not even sure that this is the real name of the park since it is a city park, but that was what we all called the park when we were growing up. Even today, we all still refer to the park as Johnny’s Park. That is because the park is right next door to Johnny’s Market. The market is now closed, but the original building still stands. The day I took a picture of the market there were so many memories which flickered in my mind. I miss those days. That market played a key role in my childhood. All of the kids who were at my grandma’s house on the weekend would walk to the park to play (even though I tell my nephew today that it is not safe to do that). After we played at the park, we were all very tired.

There were always a few things that we scraped our change together to buy from the market after a long hard play. Of course you know we just had to have some of the novelty candy. One of our favorite candies to buy were sugar straws. We also bought fire balls, ring pops, lemons, pickles, and anything else that would eat our teeth! The other things we always wanted to have enough in the money pool for was a Wonder Rotisserie Chicken. We also needed a jar of mayo and some white tortillas to go with that. As a team we headed back to my grandma’s and ate up! I don’t remember seeing so many smiles. Believe it or not, today I still eat rotisserie chicken like it’s going out of style. A rotisserie chicken is healthy if you remove the skin and pair it with other good things. I like to make tacos (not fried shells- no oil), chicken salad (no mayo), chicken and brown rice, or chicken wraps (on wheat tortillas).

In June I looked at the photo I took of the market several times. I decided since I didn’t know much about the history of the place I wanted to look into it. When we were small all we knew was that Harold was always working there. I think we may have caused him to get a few gray hairs back then because there were a bunch of us. We all loved that market and the park. After looking into the history of Johnny’s Market, to my surprise I discovered the owner was a Lujan! What the? I have been a Lujan since birth (shhhsss DNAerz)! Maybe I was related to the owner in some way? I don’t think so, but maybe?

John P. Lujan in Memories of War
Santa Fe New Mexican
July 10, 2005

I located the obituary of John P. Lujan. He passed away in March of 2003. His obituary said that “John was the original owner of Johnny’s Market on Tesuque Drive. He owned and operated his business from 1945 until his retirement in 1975. The business remained open until 1993 operated by his daughter (Patricia) and son-in-law (Harold Romero).” On July 10, 2005, the Santa Fe New Mexican ran a piece titled Memories of War and that piece featured John P. Lujan. It turns out that he also served his country, so he must be buried in the Santa Fe National Cemetery. The 2005 article says that Lujan “grew up in Espanola,” and he “was stationed with the US Army in Kansas City during the war.” His daughter Patricia was quoted as saying that her father “was an adventurous man who liked to experience new things in life.”

I don’t think I ever had the chance to meet Johnny, but I do know that his market will forever be remembered by everyone in my family. Even my mother Gloria (or Irene back then) and her siblings were patrons of the market! This man who “liked to experience new things,” gave the Garcia clan some of our most memorable childhood experiences. I will forever remember him for that. There is really nothing like community markets— they are one thing missing from our corporate world.

Article on Johnny’s Market
Santa Fe New Mexican
December 8, 1992

Ancestral Puebloan Cry

June 27, 2012

*****Ancestral Puebloan*****
19 x 25 inch colored pencil and ink drawing
created by Felicia Lujan in about 1993.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom called me and told me that she had a couple of things to give me. She had come across an old colored pencil/ink drawing I created almost 20 years ago, and she also had the video footage of my college graduation. Of course I told her I wanted both back. Last weekend I watched the video footage. It was fun to watch in retrospect, but what was most important was a tiny piece of footage unrelated to my graduation. It was footage of my grandmother (now deceased) right at the beginning. I could have gone without the hour long video of me smiling and making funny faces at the camera for less than a minute of footage of my grandma. There were a few people in the shot, and I was apparently standing off to the side. My grandma Corine urged me to get in the frame. I cried when I heard her say my name in her cute little voice. After I watched the video, I stayed looking at my old, oversized artwork. It is rather mind blowing that I penciled this Ancestral Puebloan almost two decades ago way before I cared about my family history. I made the picture for my mother so many years before and had it framed for her. Ironically, I got my picture back from my mother, with a moving image of her mother, and my direct maternal DNA is tied to Native ancestry. Thinking back, I don’t remember why I selected that particular subject matter for the colored pencil/ink drawing? What matters now is the connection between each item and the subject matter, as well as how I feel about it. Everything happens for a reason. It was time for those two pieces of history from my maternal line to return to me.

*****Ancestral Puebloan*****
Framed 19 x 25 inch colored pencil and ink drawing
created by Felicia Lujan in about 1993.


********************
Ancestral Puebloan Cry

Earthen paths of directions lost,
link me to the strand of time.

Guide steps through knowledge gates
so I connect each dot to line.

Untie my hands to feel the past.
Tie what’s inside me to the stars.

Draw water from this flowing
stream and teach me of your wars.

I am bound by fire. Ancestor I
will endure and live another day.

Reveal the path, I’ll hear your cry
and bless your body where it lay.

Forge the sky to feed my heart,
which beats with Native drum.

Whisper to me on the wind–
where is my mother from?

********************

by Felicia Lujan_6.27.2012

My Ancient Celtic Tongue

June 17, 2012

The Celtic Torc

On Friday, June 15, I attended a lecture to learn more about the Celt-Iberians and my yDNA (paternal). The lecture was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was held in conjunction with the 2012 Genealogical Society of Hispanic America Conference. I was thankful to Kathy Archuleta for allowing me to attend, and I will need to remember to call her and thank her personally.

The presenter started off by playing Spanish Celtic music which featured a Spanish bagpipe or Gaita. The artist was José Ángel Hevia Velasco, known professionally as Hevia. The majority of the presentation focused on a documentary about the Celts in Europe. The Celtic tribes were called “a great civilization” and the documentary featured ancient “galleries of rock art” which were used for rituals. The rock art depicted dwellings, hunting scenes, and tribal warriors with “exaggerated phallic displays.” An interesting archaeological excavation uncovered over 150 iron swords, spearheads, and daggers from the Lake Neuchatel site (La Tene, Switzerland).

Other archaeological discoveries included: royal tombs; Celtic art such as beautiful and intricate gold jewelry; plates with swirling patters and motifs; head dresses; gold vases; mirrors; bronze shields; and imagery of part animal/part human creatures. Some of the art work was called “nightmarish,” and was just my style. I am apparently a Spanish Celt at heart!! 🙂 The artworks featured monsters, and there was one piece with a human head in a monster’s mouth. The commentator of this documentary said that this was “the art of the elite,” and that it “expresses authority.”

We learned about how the Celtic tribes plundered the Greeks, and the Gods were said to have intervened at the sacred site of Delphi. That is why I wrote about the Oracle last night. I learned that the Iberian Peninsula has been a problem for scholars for several reasons. Some of the ancient structures built by the Celts included: pit traps; defensive towers; circular dwellings; and hill forts for protection (many of which go back to the Bronze Age). We learned some about migration from the documentary, though there is apparently no evidence of mass immigration. I saw the first written record of land ownership carved in stone.

I love that warfare was an intrinsic part of Celtic life. I may write at some point about the carnyx, which was made of bronze, and was the Celtic “instrument of war.” The instrument made an eerie sound, known by all as a warning. One scholar interviewed in the documentary said that the Celts “made great slaughter and decapitated enemies.” They had “the ability to kill and kill and great numbers,” and were “a powerful and organized society.” I would also like to learn more about the torc, as a symbol of authority. This was an open-ended ring of metal worn around the neck.

A couple of interesting thoughts I came away with…

I must get some traits from my ancient forefathers. I was glad to learn that art and music were very important to the ancient Celtic tribes. I had never thought about this until Friday, but for years people from outside of New Mexico have asked if I was from Europe. Many people have asked if I was Scottish or Irish. Yeah I know— New Mexicans– strange ha? I have always thought it was funny, but as it turns out, maybe my tongue actually makes sounds indicative of an ancient Celtic nation? Apparently, “during the 1st millennium BC,” Celtic languages “were spoken across Europe,” and “in the Iberian Peninsula.” Hum? Another thought was how very appropriate it was that I was learning about my yDNA just a couple of days before Father’s Day!

Summoning my Inner Intellectual Warrior

June 14, 2012

*****Celt-Iberian Mercenary*****
The “S” is for “SUPER” Hahahahaha!

I am looking forward to attending a special lecture in conjunction with the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America Annual Meeting & Conference. This year the conference is titled Santa Fe –Where Trails and Cultures Meet, and Angel Cervantes will be presenting his research on the Celt-Iberians tomorrow. Angel is the administrator of the New Mexico DNA Project, and he has a research group for the Iberian Peninsula. My familial Y-DNA was connected to Haplogroup R1b1a2 in 2011. I am excited to see what Angel has learned since then. DNA has established that my ancient forefather was a Celt-Iberian. These Celtic people were living in the Iberian Peninsula in what is now north central Spain. It makes some sense that I would be connected to the Celt-Iberians, as I do hope my ancient forefather fought for what he believed in. I am a fighter— and I continuously summon my inner intellectual warrior. The article I included below was written a few days ago by the Senior Editor of Big News and Live Events for the Huffington Post. Craig Kanalle is apparently my contemporary, ancient cousin! 🙂

___________________________________________________

What a DNA Test Revealed About My Family History

by Craig Kanalle, Senior Editor, Big News & Live Events, The Huffington Post

Posted: 06/11/2012 5:31 pm

I’ve been researching my family tree since 1998, and I’ve long been curious about DNA as a way to learn more about your roots. The technology has come a long way in the last decade, and it’s become more affordable too. Finally, I went ahead and ordered a Y-DNA test (for my paternal line).

On Friday night, at 1:30 a.m., the results popped in my email inbox from the FamilyTreeDNA lab in Houston, Texas!

When I logged in to see the results, 29 “matches” popped up — these are living people today with whom I share a common direct male ancestor with in about the last 1,000 years. (To be clear, the Y-DNA only passes father to son, so this traces my father’s father’s father, etc., and same for them.) These matches live in Ireland, England, Scotland, South Africa, the United States and presumably elsewhere (some don’t list a location).

2 CLOSE MATCHES!

Of course, for any matches to come up, I need to have living blood relatives through the male line who took DNA tests themselves. And I’m so grateful and excited that two people I’m about to address did…

I had two close matches, genealogically-speaking, and the rest were more distant. The surnames to those closest matches? A Kennelly and a MacNeely, variations of my own last name. They both live in Ireland!

My relationship to the MacNeely, who I learned is about 28 years old today and lives in County Mayo, Ireland, goes back to a common male ancestor with the surname Kennelly (sometimes Mac an Fhaili in Ireland), MacNally, or McAnally who lived around the 1600s.

My relationship to the Kennelly is closer. He lives in Ireland today in County Cork near the border with County Limerick (where my great-great-great-grandfather Thomas Kennelly was born — he immigrated to Canada during the Potato Famine). We seem to both descend of a Kennelly born in the 1700s.

What makes the connection to these two men so interesting is that most Irish genealogical records burned in fires in Dublin and don’t exist today. Without them, it’s hard to trace Irish roots any further back than the 1800s. But nonetheless I’ve made links with long lost cousins, prior to that time so many Irish researchers hit a brick wall.

I’ve written emails to both of them and hope to hear back!

MORE LINKS + THE ‘ADAMS’ FAMILY

The rest of the matches are more distant, though interestingly I found both a McKee and a McGee, with whom I have a common male ancestor in Ireland who lived around the 1400s or earlier. Also a McSorley, a Koster, a Walker, a Crauford and a Hannon who all share common male ancestors with me back around the same period.

But what I found most interesting of the distant matches — the ADAMS connection. Three of my matches were males with the last name ADAMS. There was also one female whose maiden name was ADAMS (likely submitting a male relative’s DNA) and one Smith who says he traces back (father’s father’s father, etc.) to a male Adams. There was a second Smith who I suspect could also go back to an Adams.

In all, that’s five Adams descendants, possibly six, in my 29 matches. And sure enough, I learned the DNA subgroup / family group of former U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams matches my own.

John Adams and John Quincy Adams trace their Adams roots back to southwestern England, right across the water from southern Ireland, where my Kennelly roots lie.

My matches showed that my genealogical relationship to the Adams family lies in a common male ancestor way back, around the 1100s or 1200s. It’s my best guess that an Adams, or a member of the same family in which male relatives took Adams as a surname, migrated from southwestern England to Ireland around that time period or shortly after, and that my Kennellys descend from this family.

It’s also possible, however, that the connection goes back to before surnames were used at all, as they were just sprouting up around that time.

Either way, there is no doubt that I am blood related to the Adams family if you trace back through Y-DNA (my father’s father’s father, etc., and theirs). Eventually, we hit a single male figure who we both come from. And that’s pretty cool.

ANCIENT HISTORY

I did some more research on my Y-DNA haplogroup, R1b1a2, and if you keep going back (through my father’s father’s father, etc.), my direct male ancestors were Celtics. They seem to have lived in Western Europe at the time of Jesus Christ and the Ancient Romans and Ancient Greeks likely saw them as uncivilized barbarians. They were likely tribal people in B.C. times, nomadic herders, moving around as famines and droughts hit.

Migration patterns show that my DNA group likely originated in western Asia, in the Middle East or Black Sea region (modern day Turkey), living there 20,000 and 30,000 years ago. There are relatives with similar DNA going thousands of years back in what is now Iran, India, Syria, Israel and Turkey. This family group also branched off into Africa, where the Y-DNA is alive and well in Central Africa. One branch ended up in Egypt specifically, and the Egyptian Pharaoh King Tut belongs to the same haplogroup as I.

After the Ice Age around 10,000 B.C., the larger haplogroup I come from R1b is believed to have brought agriculture to Europe from western Asia. It ended up becoming one of the most popular family groups in Europe, with some 50% of Western Europeans and Americans tracing back to them and 90% of those in Ireland.

My more specific subgroup R1b1a2a1a1b4 seems to have lived in southern Ireland, northern Ireland, and southwestern England in the last 1,000 years or so.

WHAT’S NEXT?

I was so excited by these results that I upgraded my account to trace my maternal line too. I also put in a “Family Finder” request so it gives me a rough overall breakdown of my genealogical DNA (what percentage I am Western European, what percentage other origins, etc.).

My DNA is already at the lab, so now I just have to wait another month or so, and I’m sure to find more interesting things.

Until then, I hope to hear back from my Kennelly and McNeely cousins overseas, who I emailed as I said earlier. I may contact some of these more distant relatives as well.

And later on, in November, I’m going to Ireland for the first time ever. I hope to track down Mr. Kennelly, Mr. MacNeely or at least more of my roots based on the new evidence I’ve uncovered. The power of DNA… it’s really something.

The Perplexing Concept of Identity

February 28, 2012



……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

This weekend I attended a lecture in Albuquerque sponsored by the New Mexico Genealogical Society. The lecture was on Saturday, February 25, 2012, and was focused on the New Mexico DNA Project. This presentation was delivered by Ángel de Cervantes, who now resides in Albuquerque, but was originally from Las Vegas/Montezuma, New Mexico. Ángel is the New Mexico DNA Project Administrator, and is also part of the Iberian Peninsula DNA Project. Ángel is currently a History Instructor, however, he was once a archivist with the State Archives. Since he was once an archivist, he understands the importance of primary documents relative to research, and encouraged the audience to “take the time to do the research” and not just do “the online thing.” The lecture was Part 1 in a series, and was titled Castas, DNA, and Identity: Who are we? What did our ancestors say about themselves? What does DNA tell us about Identity? Ángel explored “the connection of the Castas system in colonial New Mexico” and discussed how “DNA studies compare to the Spanish Castas system and the ramifications on modern identity.” So following is what I have come away with…
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Identity… What is identity? Some online sources define identity as: the condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the sameness of essential or generic character in different instances, and all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing; and the distinguishing character or personality of an individual. What does that mean? Well… I think identity is very complex. It is rooted in: psychology; oral, familial, and social history; and of course genetic connections. How do you see yourself? Where do you stand in society- socially, economically, and from a religious perspective? How do others see you? It is all complicated. If it was up to me (and it is not), I would say that none of it really matters. Well maybe how we see the man in the mirror is important? The notion of a “correct analysis of identity over time” is critical according to the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The encyclopedia also mentions a “notion of identity across possible worlds.” But what are “worlds?” Is there more than one world we live in? No, but I think it is referring to the multiple worlds that we can socially and psychologically place ourselves in. Of course our familial ties, and oral histories play a major role in the identity we choose to seize.

Ángel de Cervantes delivering a lecture on DNA and identity. He is the New Mexico DNA Project Administrator, and is part of the Iberian Peninsula DNA Project. Ángel is currently a History Instructor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I have taken a look at the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society put forth by Hartford Institute for Religion Research. According to this encyclopedia, “identity is a characteristic defining one’s sense of self,” and the term was “popularized by Erik Erikson” through the 1950s and 1960s, “as a central psychoanalytic concept.” Some of this definition, incorporates “a sense of uniqueness” or “completeness” with regard to identity. Ángel de Cervantes opened his lecture with a clip of Jessica Alba. Alba was a special guest on George Lopez Tonight in 2009. For his show, Alba and her father both agreed to take a DNA Test. Alba submitted for an mtDNA (maternal) and her father for both Y-DNA (paternal) and mtDNA. I think it was a great clip to open with because Ángel set the scene for his lecture on the historical and contemporary problems each of us have faced, or face with regard to identity. As an advocate of DNA testing he said that one reason he likes Y-DNA testing is because “it is what it is if you like it or not.” Alba’s test results were returned to her by Lopez with percentages of 87% European and 13% Indigenous or Native American. You can see that even she did not fully understand her “identity” in that moment.

Artwork on Cuadro de Castas or a Historical Caste System

So what does “casta” mean in terms of identity? A caste system is comprised of an intermixture of race and social class (ethnic, economic, religious). My tiny New Webster Dictionary defines caste as “an inherited socioreligious rank.” Really? Rank? Funny… Personally, I feel that this was more of the case in the Colonial caste system, and not in the contemporary. In 1995, Stuart B. Schwartz published a paper titled Colonial Identities and the Sociedad de Castas in Colonial Latin American Review (Volume 4, Issue 1). In his paper, Schwartz “framed” castas “in terms of race and class” for “multi-racial and multi-ethnic societies of colonial Latin America.” This may still be the case today, though I am not sure that caste is always maintained by an individual even if it can be seen as inherited and ranked? Maybe a number 1 on the ranking system would see me as a number 10? But since I don’t care what others think of me, it would be irrelevant. The Spanish doctoral program in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a website with pictures of the historical castas or caste system called Cuadro de Castas. The images provide an interesting look at the system.

Some of my notes

Ángel’s study of New Mexico records, as well as the records of the Archivos Enpañoles, allowed him to put together a list of the Spanish Castas he has been able to identify. Some of the castas in Spanish genealogical records include: Chino; Español Criollo; Mestizo; Pardo; Prieto; Negro; Mulato; Tresalvo; Trigueño; and Zambo. Each casta has applicable fractions of race, and may include one, two, or more mixtures. I found it funny when Ángel talked about how his grandmother from Las Vegas called the “dark complected kid in the neighborhood” a “trigueño.” The audience was at odds over that title, and what it means, but that is always the case when dealing with scholars, historians, and genealogists.

So even if I find caste systems irrelevant to my identity today, why should it be important to me as a genealogist and a lover of history? Well of course the main reason is because it is part of history. It is also important because a caste can reveal the status of a person in his or her community at a given point in time. A person in what was a historically higher caste may have: been more educated; could have owned more land; may have traveled more; or may have had royal blood. I think a down side to this is that some of those individuals from a higher caste likely married only those in the same caste, or of a higher caste to stay elite. So much for real connection!? Maybe poor folk married for the right reasons ha?

To sum it all up, I guess I learned that identity really can’t be defined or bottled. I believe identity can be explained to a certain extent, but will always remain a perplexing concept. Since we are humans, we are constantly changing, evolving, growing, learning, and so our identity changes. Identity changes or morphs with time. Personally, I do not wish to be pegged by caste systems. In the end, I know that others will likely classify me with no regard for those complexities which truly define my identity whether I like it or not.

New Mexico DNA Project: Castas, DNA, and Identity

February 20, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012, 1:00 PM

Albuquerque Main Library Auditorium

501 Copper NW, Albuquerque NM

***********

The New Mexico DNA Project

and the
Iberian Peninsula DNA Project presents

Ángel de Cervantes


Who will discuss the

Castas, DNA, and Identity:

Who are we?
What did our
ancestors say about themselves?

What does DNA
tell us about Identity?

***Part I***

In Part I of an ongoing series, Mr. Cervantes will explore the connection of the Castas system in colonial New Mexico. Mr. Cervantes will show how DNA studies compare to the Spanish Castas system and the ramifications on modern identity. He will discuss which families reflect the Castas system through DNA analysis.

Ángel de Cervantes is a History Instructor and the Project Administrator of the New Mexico DNA Project and Iberian Peninsula DNA Project. For more information about the New Mexico DNA Project, visit their website online at: http://www.familytreedna.com/public/NewMexicoDNA/default.aspx

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information about
our program, please contact the
New Mexico DNA Project
at

angelrcervantes@gmail.com.

The presentation
is sponsored by NMGS.

Living in Fragments or Connecting the Dots?

December 7, 2011
Dots and Lines

Dots and Lines

E.M. Forster (1879-1970) was a writer who mastered realism and symbolism as a modernist. The English novelist once said that we should “live in fragments no longer,” and that we should “only connect…” If it was that simple we would live in a perfect world right? Connecting our personal dots (genealogically, physically, spiritually, intimately, mentally) can be harder for some than for others. Maybe for some the line which connects two points is not clear? Are glasses needed? Or maybe the line can’t be, or does not wish to be acknowledged? Are reasons needed? But even worse, there are times when the vital lines which are critical in order for us to nurture meaningful connections are physically severed. The problem is- one can sever a line physically, but it is impossible to completely sever a line mentally. The line will still be there waiting- pulling on the very soul it has been severed from. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher with interests in expressionism, philosophy and psychology. Nietzsche once said “invisible threads are the strongest ties.”

As many of you know, my family DNA is now part of the New Mexico DNA Project. Two days ago, I was notified that two new women joined the project. These two women share my direct maternal line (mtDNA). The day I received notification I promptly emailed both women. One response was typical. The other was atypical, and actually saddened me. Most people I connect with through the project are expert, and neurotic genealogists. They have a relatively concrete idea of their familial origins. Anyhow- it was sad to get the following response from my new found relative. It made me feel like I kind of take my family history for granted. Some of my family lines may still be unclear, but they are there- no one has attempted to sever them. After sending out my email to these two new women, I was sent one atypical response. Some information has been left out because of privacy issues.
_______________
“Hi Felicia, I’m afraid I can’t help you much, but you might be able to help me a lot if you’re willing to share your data with me. I am an adoptee with no information about my birth family – if we share the same mtDNA then we share the same direct maternal line. I am currently in the process of petitioning the courts in *** (where I was adopted – I was an international adoption from an American birth mother to foreign parents – how often does that happen?!) to release to me the name of my birth mother. If they comply I will give you that information as well – however, if they deny my request then your archives may give me a shot at triangulating some candidates for birth family.

Sincerely yours, *** “ ________________

I felt sad after I read her message, as she must desperately feel the need to connect. She was adopted in a literal paradise, yet she is still searching. Why you ask? She searches for the lines, the dots and how they do or do not connect. It is all so hard on the mind! For this woman, she is connecting some dots, but her maternal line is there waiting- pulling on the very soul the line has been severed from. Living in fragments is difficult. We are only completely fulfilled when we can intricately connect to one another. If it is necessary, clean your glasses- then put them on. Acknowledge and nurture the dots and lines. They are called vital lines for a reason- without them, a part of us will die.

***********
*****
Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.
– Harriet Goldhor Lerner
*****
***********

King Tut and Haplogroup R1b1a2

November 18, 2011

It is amazing to see the hits when one searches the information highway for stories about King Tut’s DNA. Sometime back, I discovered that the men in my paternal line share the same Y-DNA of this king. Tut’s DNA derived from Haplogroup R1b1a2. There are still a great number of people at odds over his origin, but I’ll bet most of them are not scientists!! 🙂

***********
Half of European Men Share King Tut’s DNA
http://af.reuters.com/article/egyptNews/idAFL3E7J135P20110801?sp=true
***********
Originally published on the Reuters Africa web site (8.1.2011 by Alice Baghdjian and edited by Paul Casciato)
***********

LONDON Aug 1 (Reuters Life!) – Up to 70 percent of British men and half of all Western European men are related to the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, geneticists in Switzerland said.

Scientists at Zurich-based DNA genealogy centre, iGENEA, reconstructed the DNA profile of the boy Pharaoh, who ascended the throne at the age of nine, his father Akhenaten and grandfather Amenhotep III, based on a film that was made for the Discovery Channel.

The results showed that King Tut belonged to a genetic profile group, known as haplogroup R1b1a2, to which more than 50 percent of all men in Western Europe belong, indicating that they share a common ancestor.

Among modern-day Egyptians this haplogroup contingent is below 1 percent, according to iGENEA.

“It was very interesting to discover that he belonged to a genetic group in Europe — there were many possible groups in Egypt that the DNA could have belonged to,” said Roman Scholz, director of the iGENEA Centre.

Around 70 percent of Spanish and 60 percent of French men also belong to the genetic group of the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.

“We think the common ancestor lived in the Caucasus about 9,500 years ago,” Scholz told Reuters.

It is estimated that the earliest migration of haplogroup R1b1a2 into Europe began with the spread of agriculture in 7,000 BC, according to iGENEA.

However, the geneticists were not sure how Tutankhamun’s paternal lineage came to Egypt from its region of origin.

The centre is now using DNA testing to search for the closest living relatives of “King Tut”.

“The offer has only been publicised for three days but we have already seen a lot of interest,” Scholz told Reuters.

Origins of my Familial Y-DNA for Haplogroup R1b1a2

November 16, 2011

Thomas, Isaiah, & Gilbert Lujan (these men contain my familial Y-DNA- my brother, my nephew, and my father)

Near the end of June 2011, I posted about the test results of my exploration into the Y-DNA (paternal) of my family. In the last week, I received three electronic notifications regarding our DNA. A new person has been connected through the New Mexico DNA Project. Once each new test is complete, a notification is sent out to all the individuals the test has been linked to. In other words, I got an email at 12 markers, 25 markers, and then 37 markers for the new person. The project site will say when the last connection was made, and to what degree, but the list of individuals does not have a date.

Unfortunately I had no record saved of those individuals listed in June, so it is difficult to say who the new guy is? I have learned it may be a good idea to keep a running spreadsheet of data on the test results, so I have created one. At this point, I have only documented the Y-DNA for Haplogroup R1b1a2. Keeping a working document makes more sense because it will allow me to further manipulate the data for a closer analysis of these connections. I originally created the spreadsheet in a proprietary Excel format, but will manipulate the data using OpenOffice Calc since I adore open source. I have created the following tabs for my data sheets: Sort by Type of Match; Sort by Surname; Sort by Individuals; and Sort by Exact Matches. Each sheet has been color coded and somewhat altered so that I can easily see relationships.

In June, I informed everyone that our Y-DNA was connected to the Aragón surname (probably a connection to Ignacio de Aragón). At that time, there were 13 matches within the New Mexico DNA Project. Now there are 18 matches which likely point to Spain as the country of origin. The Project Administrator said my ancient forefather was likely a Celt-Iberian. These Celtic people were living in the Iberian Peninsula in what is now north central Spain. As of today here are some of the statistics I can derive from the data I have manipulated.
*****There are 18 total matches for the 12 marker, 25 marker, and 37 marker Y-DNA tests for Haplogroup R1b1a2.

*****There are 11 Aragóns, 1 Archuleta, 3 Bacas, 1 Garcia, 1 Lozano, and 1 Salazar.

*****Out of 18 people, the highest number of connections can be made to 2 men- 1 is a Baca the other is an Aragón.

*****10 of the 18 individuals came up as “exact” matches.” Of those 10, 7 were Aragóns, 2 were Bacas, and 1 was a Garcia.

As more people begin to participate in the New Mexico DNA Project, the picture will change. At this point, after conducting my own mini study, it is safe to say that although I am a Lujan, my paternal DNA is indeed historically rooted in the Aragón surname.


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