Genetic Poetic

As I’ve mentioned in posts on my other blog (that’s focused just on what I call “FamTracking”, er, genealogy), and maybe here, too, I didn’t know bupkis about my dad’s background at all until just a couple years ago.

What I *did* I know about his genealogy: his mother was “full blood” Italian, ie, both her parents were born in Italy in the 1800s, making him half Italian. His father’s people were pretty much all from Ireland, (about which, see here) making him half Irish, genetically speaking. That would make me about a quarter Irish and a quarter Italian.

Well wouldn’t ya know, the pie chart you see up top ‘o this post, shows that the DNA, she don’t lie.

That pie chart comes as an adjunct to getting my very own actual genome tested through 23andme last year. There’s an amazing and free site called GedMatch that allows you to upload your raw genome data, that then runs other specific analyses through the viewpoint of population genetics. It takes only a few seconds for the data to be processed and then, et viola! A nice pie graph showing the geneto-geographical origin matches of your actual DNA within 12 groupings.

Now, there is a Scottish or Scotch-Irish genetic tidbit in my mom’s heritage. It’s the source of my last name, and comes down to me from one of my sixteen great-great-great grandfathers, one George Campbell, whose parents came to America together from Northern Ireland (and in line with the defining factors of the Scotch-Irish, he and the missus were probably fully or at least predominently of Scottish parentage). George Campbell, like every one of the thirty-two people who were my fifth generation ancestors, contributed just a smidgen more than 3% of my full DNA package.

And wouldjya look at that graph up there: the population cluster labeled “Western European” is, as explained on the site, indicative of matching DNA from Western Ireland. That would be the 25% from my dad’s dad and that small but namingly significant vestige from my mom’s gr-gr grandad. If nothing else, it’s a sort of sideways corroboration of the genealogy I’ve assembled. So I got that goin’ for me. ;-)

Speaking of: another of the analyses from that GedMatch site identifies 0.4% of my genome as matching Amerindian, Native American. This is juuuust about what I’d calculated it to be if what I’ve recently learned about the ancestors of George Campbell’s wife, a lady named Rachel Bilderback. Her dad’s people were settlers of New Sweden, which is what’s now Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, and included one who’d married a local girl, that is, a local Indian girl, named Wakum So To Me. So taking that as face value (I haven’t come across refuting claims or evidence engendering doubt) then she would have contributed 0.2% to my genome.

So on top of my DNA bearing her out (thanks, 8th-great-grandma!) it seems to indicate another of America’s Own First Tenents somewhere else around 10 generations back in my family tree.

Interestingly, a study done by an aquaintance of mine, Dr. Mark Shriver (we met at the wedding of my brother-from-another-mother, Erich; he and Mark are profs at Penn State – Erich had the good sense to seat us next to each other at the reception.:-)… anyway, I happened upon a study led by Mark which indicated that among “white-identifying” Americans (self-identifying as of Euro descent) there was an average genetic admixture of 3.2% Native American. I’ll break it down for you: 3.2% is the amount of your DNA that comes from any single one of your gr-gr-gr grandparents. If that’s the average, by extension, then, most white Americans have an Indian in their tree only 5 generations back, making them 1/32nd Native American. Lucky for poor ole Uncle Sam, right? Cuz 1/16th entitles a person to reparation-like benefits from the US government.

I’m note sure who’s laughing at the weired irony in that, but I’m hearing the faint, but still sibilant echo of the smug, abusive chuckle enjoyed by the “Great White Father” after the as-if-the-extermination-wasn’t-enough sucker punch known as the Dawes Act of 1887 bilked a “final” 90 million acres from the Natives.

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