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Native American mtDNA from Chewing Gum and Textiles

A study in the September Journal of Field Archaeology analyzes mtDNA that was isolated from Native American aprons and from quids – chewed plant material.  From an article in science:

“The quids and aprons belonged to a vanished tribe that archaeologists call the Western Basketmakers. Between about 500 B.C.E. and 500 C.E., they lived in caves and rock shelters in what is now southern Utah and northern Arizona.”

“They pulled mitochondrial DNA from 48 quids and from 18 aprons that had been stained with what was likely menstrual blood. Then they scanned the DNA for various molecular markers called haplogroups, which appear in different frequencies in different parts of the world.”

The researchers discovered that 14% of the samples belonged to Haplogroup A.  They also point out that museum and university collections have many sources of Native American DNA (such as quids, textiles, and cigarettes).

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

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