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Proud to be a First American — and the DNA proves it!

Proud to be a First American — and the DNA proves it!

By José Antonio López
Rio Grande Guardian

SAN ANTONIO — Recently, I discovered that I belong to a segment of the world population known as Haplogroup C.

It is a human genetics classification based on mtDNA blood testing found in the earliest people in America. That means that I am a descendant of the First Americans. In other words, even though my appearance is Spanish European, my DNA reveals that the blood running through my veins is unmistakably Native American.

Of course, as a Spanish-surnamed U.S. citizen of Mexican-descent, I already knew that I was blessed to have both Old World and New World family roots. Unfortunately, those of us with dual European and Native American heritage have a frustrating dilemma.

First, we have generally been raised to emphasize only our European ancestry. Second, most historians hold a typically dismissive opinion of Native Americans and do not consider recording of their history at a par with Europeans. That may be because mainstream historians write history with a pronounced European viewpoint.

Regrettably, the human aspects of First American history are usually understudied in today’s school curriculum. As a result, students in the classroom learn of the group as an ancient, foreign civilization, rather than the ancestors of their fellow students of Mexican and/or Native American-descent.

Also, the long-term damage caused by movies and books mostly depicting Native Americans as a savage people makes learning of their enriching story virtually impossible. More disheartening is that practically any attempt to tell their story is often seen as a threat to mainstream Anglophilia in the U.S. For instance, that’s how the Mexican American Studies Program is mistakenly perceived by some officials in Arizona schools. That is a tragedy.

Group C’s beginnings are truly fascinating.

They originated 60,000 years ago in present-day Northeast Russia (Siberia), between the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal. Specifically, Group C, along with Groups A, B, D, and X, were literally the first humans in America. In other words, Columbus did not discover America. Our First American ancestors did!

Over 25,000 years ago, they began to cross over Beringia, a snow-covered land bridge that once connected Asia and America. Successive generations then established several blood-related clusters of indigenous inhabitants (Indians) in America all the way to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America.

Clearly, I had not realized the depth of my Spanish European and Native American family roots in America until just recently. Based on the DNA test and genealogical research, I received an added bonus.

Isabel Olea, my great-grandmother of 15 generations ago, was born in Mexico, America in 1542. Because she seems to be the source of Group C in our maternal family tree, the first marriage between our Native American and Spanish European ancestors occurred just over 50 years after the 1492 Spanish arrival in America.

It is due to this quick assimilation that some of us in the U.S. look Mexican (Native American) and some of us look…

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