Archive for the ‘Genetic Genealogy’ category

Family Tree DNA Launches New Learning Center

March 15, 2014


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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Spirit, Heart and Mind: An Interview with Miguél A. Tórrez

April 15, 2013

Aristotle once said “if you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” I believe that the great Greek philosopher intentionally excluded “its end” when he said this. History has no end, therefore, there are constant developments. This quote could not ring more truthful for a lover of family history. There is something about knowing where we came from that makes us feel complete. When it comes to the art of research, there is a genealogist who grew up in Ranchitos that is making major contributions to our history. This man has a passion for traditional and scientific research, which makes him a well-rounded historian.

I have known Miguél Tórrez for many years. The first time I met him he was feverishly working on his genealogy with his small boys by his side. He has been interested in history since he was just a boy, but in his early 20s he was seemingly smitten by the history of those who came before him. This was just a few years after Miguél graduated from Española Valley High School. Growing up in Ranchitos, New Mexico, Miguél was near the historic Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo). At that time he couldn’t imagine that several years later his maternal line would be genetically connected to this type of ancestry. He says “current data tells us that approximately 80-85% of all New Mexicans with colonial roots have Native American roots on their maternal lineage (mtDNA).”

The final week I collected photographs from Miguél for his feature piece he was preparing for Holy Week. His spiritual devotion bears the deep roots of tradition. As a genealogist, learning about traditions and even practicing tradition will foster a clear understanding of what shaped our people. Miguél believes that “knowing oneself through culture and language fosters a sense of pride” and this belief is evident when you hear him lecture. I asked him why he felt that our traditions were important and he said “no matter what culture a person belongs to everyone’s culture is important because it gives people an identity.”


~~Santo Niño in Espinosa, Colorado by DeSautel~~

By now I’m sure that Miguél has a family tree which extends further than I can imagine. He has done so much work and he is always willing to help others in need, which is admirable. Many people who don’t understand the breadth of family history are unaware of the vast collection of surnames they can be connected to. Miguél says that “just two generations back we can see our extended relations.” Between his grandparents and great grandparents he can claim the Torres, Romero, Madrid, Roybal, Rodriguez, Martinez, Medina and Trujillo surnames. He is proud to have discovered that some of his relatives were involved in very important historical events such as the Apache Campaigns and the Rio Arriba rebellion of 1837.

Miguél has tracked military service on his paternal (Torres) line back to Cristoabl de Torres who was born in 1641. He seems to appreciate the fact that a grandfather named Juan “loved to tell stories about his grandparents and all of his relatives.” This grandfather was born in 1915 and had extended family from Chimayó to Cordova, New Mexico. “As a child I was given a visual of life in the 1920s with his stories of travels he and his father would take on horseback and wagon to communities such as Mora where they would travel to sell their produce,” he said. Though his grandfather practiced oral history, Miguél has now harnessed the power of documentary evidence and genetic studies.

3 generations of Torres

~~Three Generations of Torres Y-DNA~~

Miguél is currently in charge of about 100 paternal lineage (Y-DNA) kits. He collaborates regularly Angel Cervantes, the New Mexico DNA Project Coordinator/Group Administrator. This DNA project includes “the colonial expeditions of New Mexico by the Spanish in 1598 and 1693, by the Mexicans in 1821, and by the Americans in 1848.” This weekend Miguél will make a presentation titled “The Espinosa DNA Quest.” On Saturday (April 20, 2013) he will deliver a lecture at the Albuquerque Main Library (501 Copper SW~ Albuquerque, New Mexico) on the discovery of the Y-DNA genetic code of the Nicolás de Espinosa lineage (which includes 18th century branches of that clan). The presentation will run from 10:30~12:00 and is sure to be captivating.

When I asked Miguél what he wanted people to remember about him 200 years from now he said “I hope that the work I am doing will produce results that are worthy of scholarly articles and will serve as a worthy reference thus having historical relevance. As a young man I hope that I will have many successful years in doing so and that many generations will remember my name as having been a valid contributor to the preservation of New Mexican history and culture.” I guess as lovers of history we couldn’t ask for more than that right? Here is to one amazing man making a positive contribution to our communities and to the future through history.


February 26, 2013

The Power Clan Gathering 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 . 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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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…

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).


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!


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.


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.


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:

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

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

Editor? Questions? Edification?

November 19, 2011

Tonight I followed up on a tip from one of my friends. I heard that the New Mexico Genealogical Society had a post on their web site looking for a new editor. I did shoot out an email for more information on what all “editor” entails?? You know: software (Photoshop, PageMaker, Quark); hardware (is access to their severs in the cloud- cuz people gotta work from home). I had a few questions. The info may be old because I noticed the site hasn’t been updated lately- but who knows?

While I was on the site I did notice some good articles available online for genealogists. I gotta plug my good friend (and the only Certified Genealogist I know in New Mexico) Karen Stein Daniel. I love that gal!! She is sweet, beautiful, and smart- the trinity of loveliness.
Online Articles for Genealogists

Historiography for Genealogists- A Perspective in Understanding, by Karen Stein Daniel, C.G.SM

The Genealogical Proof Standard– Five steps established as a guide to serious researchers for evidence when providing facts in their family history, by Karen Stein Daniel, C.G.SM

Sapello New Mexico: A Case Study of New Mexican Changes, by Salena B. Ashton

Men from whom San Miguel and Guadalupe County’s Quotas will be taken for 1917 draft, by Armando Sandoval (Las Vegas Daily Optic, New Mexico, July 23, 1917)

Guardianship Law in New Mexico, Territorial Period forward, by Robert Greene

Discovering Your Native American Heritage Using Genetic Ancestry Testing, by Ripan S. Malhi, Ph.D. and Amy J. Schilling, MS

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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
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.

The Mystery of King Tut’s Spanish and European Ancestors

September 15, 2011

Published August 02, 2011
| Fox News Latino

King Tut is making noise even from the after-life with the discovery that 70 percent of men across Spain and Britain and 50 percent of all men in Europe are ancestors of Egypt’s boy king. 

Only 1 percent of Egyptians carry the same DNA as their ancient pharaoh.

Geneticists at Switzerland-based iGENEA DNA genealogy test center say the young Pharaoh and the bulk of European men fall into the genetic haplogroup R1b1a2, according to

What is mysterious about the news is that researchers are unsure how Tutankhamun would come to have the same DNA of Europeans. That little tidbit has iGENEA flummoxed. 

“Since paternal ancestry of King Tut is unknown, therefore it is not clear at this point of time, how this lineage came from its region of origin to Egypt,” the website read.

The results are particularly shocking because so few Egyptians carry his DNA. 

The genealogy test center reconstructed the “Y-DNA profile of Tutankhamun, his father Akhenaten and his grandfather Amenhotep III” by watching a special on the Discovery Channel.

So if you want to brush up against the ancestors of ancient Egyptian royalty you might do well to start in Spain or Britain.

The Six Founding Native American Mothers

September 10, 2011

Taos (south) Pueblo Old woman building fire in bake oven by Poley, H. S. (Horace Swartley)- 1910

Library of Congress Photograph Summary- A Native American (Taos) woman crouches near an adobe brick horno on the south side pueblo at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. The woman holds a small log. Other small logs are near the oven from which smoke rises.

This is a really interesting article which was originally posted in 2008 on The Genetic Genealogist web site. For those of you (like my family) with an mtDNA result, which came back Native American, this means we can be traced back genetically to one of five haplogroups (or the six founding Native American mothers).

Here is the article…

If you’re interested in DNA, Native American History, or genetic genealogy, then you’re undoubtedly heard of a new paper from PLoS ONE called “The Phylogeny of the Four Pan-American mtDNA Haplogroups: Implications for Evolutionary and Disease Studies.” The authors, from all around the world (including Ugo A. Perego from SMGF and Antonio Torroni from Italy) analyze over 100 complete Native America mtDNA genomes. From the abstract:

“In this study, a comprehensive overview of all available complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes of the four pan-American haplogroups A2, B2, C1, and D1 is provided by revising the information scattered throughout GenBank and the literature, and adding 14 novel mtDNA sequences. The phylogenies of haplogroups A2, B2, C1, and D1 reveal a large number of sub-haplogroups but suggest that the ancestral Beringian population(s) contributed only six (successful) founder haplotypes to these haplogroups.”

All Native American mtDNA can be traced back to five Haplogroups called A, B, C, D, and X. More specifically, Native American mtDNA belongs to sub-haplogroups that are unique to the Americas and not found in Asia or Europe: A2, B2, C1, D1, and X2a (with minor groups C4c, D2, D3, and D4h3). Based on the study, the A2, B2, C1, and D1 groups are estimated to have developed between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago. Since the Native American mtDNA sub-haplogroups are not found in Asia, they are believed to have developed while founding groups were crossing into the Americas from Asia via Beringia.

The study suggests that 95% of Native American mtDNAs are descended from the six founding mothers of the A2, B2, C1b, Cc, C1d, and D1 sub-haplogroups. The other 5% is composed of the X2a, D2, D3, C4, and D4h3 sub-haplogroups.

It should be noted that these results are not considered the last word on the subject, as more sequences and further research is needed. From the paper:

“Our snapshot of the phylogenies for haplogroups A2, B2, C1, and D1 is only partially representative of Native American mtDNA variation, since most likely it only marginally includes the variation of Native American populations from Central and South America.”

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