Monday, October 26, 2015

Challenges when researching Choctaw relatives - Using DNA as an approach.

Note: Before you leave me comments, I want to make clear a few things.
 1. No DNA does not determine tribe. What I am talking about is shared DNA with a documented lineage to the Choctaw tribe and also the admixture reports that identify Native American DNA. I know it's a long way from perfect yet.
2. I know a lot of experts out there have serious  problems with what I am talking about in regards to using X chromosome matches. Before you rush to judgement, at least read what I say. I believe there is good logic in what I am about to write.
3. This post is not about tracing a rumored Native American Ancestor. I have some of those. This is about a known and well documented member of the Choctaw Nation. I have friends who also have relatives among the Choctaw, Chickasaw, or Creek tribes who may be in similar circumstances that this may help them use similar strategies.

I tested my mother's father's first cousin's DNA recently. She is the granddaughter of Margaret Trahern and Jason Adams. I wanted to test her because she has more DNA from them. So not only would it help me identify that DNA (about 7.28 percent worth), but I was also hoping that maybe it would help break down some brick walls, help me identify more Choctaw matches, and finally, clarify some matches that seem to appear on my mom's DNA.

I was able to finally look at the batched results on Gedmatch (remember, please if you use this, donate). My mom and PAL share almost 86 cM of X dna. I didn't think much of that when I tested her, I asked her because I had corresponded with her and knew her better. There is one other cousin of my grandfather's that I would like to test, because he has the mitochondrial group that should be Native, the only living person from my direct line who would. What I realized when I looked at PAL's X matches was I wouldn't see any matches from the Roger's line there. Because as a daughter of a son of Margaret, her paternal X chromosome would only contain the X chromosome DNA passed from Margaret Trahern. Then I realized what a bonanza this could be. Then I realized if I can get my other cousin tested, he only has X chromosome DNA from his mother, which would be similar to that of my Mom's. It could potentially help me, (I  haven't identified any of her mother's X chromosomal donation, but I have identified almost 2/3 now to one side Rogers or Trahern).

As fortunate as I am to be able to take my Choctaw relatives to the generation before the American Revolution, we all, descendants of any Natives eventually will run into a brick wall. When documentation ceases to exist, and beyond which there is no recorded history. In DNA perspectives, this can be a potentially hazardous pitfall if you can only get back a few generations. Fortunately I can get back to my mother's 5th great grandmother on most of my lines. I have a big hole at her 2nd great grandmother and PAL's great grandmother Cornelia Gardner.

Mom only has 5 identified Choctaw matches at this point. One is a Mississippi Choctaw, matching only 7 cM so not likely to be identified, two are descendants of full bloods so recently that tracing their lineage to my own level would be about impossible, and they are both also at the 7 cM level, and the fourth is the Uncle of my genealogical buddy, who I have a paper trail for and a match appropriate for that, but I can't "confirm" that's the connection. Not yet. PAL has a handful of known relative matches showing up in our Choctaw line, and a few not known. But she and mom share an X chromosome match (so do I) with someone who also has a Choctaw X donator that I used to see on the same mailing lists.

While I realize that X Chromosomal matches don't pass on in the same way, and that it can go back much further than an Autosomal match might, what I do know is some things about my mom's x donator's that I think can be an advantage in using those to help break down the brick wall I have in my Choctaw lineage, that of Cornelia Gardner. I already have an idea on where she may come from, a family I think she could belong to. Additionally, unlike European groups, Choctaws had some customs that make it a little easier.

I know that all of my known Choctaw relatives were from, which district, and I think almost in relation to the Kunsha, which clan. So knowing that Margaret Trahern's X donator's aside from Cornelia were Sarah Hall, the full blood mother (Unknown) of William Hall, Susan Riddle, Caty the sister of Mushulatubbee, and from there the wife of Homomastubbee and his unknown mother who were all from Okla Tannap means something. I can't say that the location the Hall's (William, Sarah and Margaret) were in 1831 was where they were born. There seems to be some movement Northeast of the Okla Tannap after land cesssions, and I do think that the possibility they come from the 1805 cession of land (Washington County, Alabama) is likely.

So with all this unknown, how can that help. Well, if the matches have relatives who come from the 1st or 2nd  District, which I believe this person does, then that would tend to lead to a connection to Cornelia Gardner. Why? Because although there is some evidence in basket patterns that women did marry and leave their matriarchal groups, it was not the norm.

Which means that someone from Oklafalaya, probably has matriarchal descendants from Oklafalaya. And what is X DNA but another representation of matriarchal lineage. Except for the husband of Sarah Hall, Jeremiah Gardner, all of the Gardner's were in Okla Hannalli in 1830, and live in the 2st and 2nd districts in the new nation. Whereas almost all of my Okla Tannap relatives, well they lived in the 3rd district.

There is always the distinct possibility that the DNA is too far back to trace. But it is a clue, and it's a clue I can use much easier and more clearly than I can with my European lineages. Because I know and can identify that this lineage is only Native in origin, I know exactly who and where I have to look in her tree. Native American X donators.

I know I need Autosomal matches elsewhere. And luckily for me, I decided, out of curiosity, and a way to test the admixtures to "mark" my mom's DNA in my mapping program that was Native American.  About 1/2 of the segments (not the cM's) Mom matches PAL aside from the X are along these Native Segments. Using the chromosome painting tool on the admixture tools on Gedmatch I can go even further. None of the entire 22nd Chromosome (my mother, her nephew and PAL all match on along with me), 1/2 of the 11th, the 12th, and the segments on the 2nd, not one, belong to Native matches, and several have already been identified in the Roger family.

What this means is I don't have to waste time looking into hard to find connections, (most seem nigh on impossible!) if the match is matching PAL and mom. I just need to look to see if I have it mapped as Native or not for mom, and verify it in the painting tool with PAL. If it's native, I know where to look, if it's not, I know where to look.This would probably be ineffective if you have a small percentage of Native DNA. Not that my mom's 9 and PAL's 16 percent is large, but I think if you have a fraction of a percent, or 1-2 percent, it may not work.

As for the accuracy of the mapping, (discussed here and here in my blog), well, it's been 100 percent thus far. Every identified Choctaw match, with a documented genealogy, has matched on a segment the 23andme Ancestry Composition identified as native. I haven't mapped my own chromosomes, or that of my cousin. Oddly enough he shares over 5 percent DNA with PAL, compared to my 2.25 percent, yet he has the least amount of identified Native DNA of all four of us.

Well, the results are just in. Will keep you posted on my success. Look for a blog about the other side we share with PAL soon.

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