January 20, 2011

Cherokees = lost tribe of Israel?

Tracing tribal heritage through DNA questioned

While DNA testing can prove paternity, tribal members are skeptical as to whether it can prove Cherokee heritage.

By Teddye Snell
Today’s sophisticated DNA testing can reveal information in paternity cases and crimes, and one company now claims it’s able to determine if a test subject is Cherokee.

Donald Yates, principal investigator for DNA Consultants in Phoenix, believes through the appropriate DNA testing, Cherokee descendants can be linked to a large number of Middle Eastern lineages.

On its website, cherokee.dnaconsultants.com, the company states it has been studying Cherokee DNA for 10 years and believes that with the results of the Central Band of the Cherokee in Lawrence County, Tenn., they have the largest sample collection in the world.

According to Cherokee Nation tribal law, to be considered a Cherokee citizen, proof of enrollment on the Dawes Rolls is required to obtain a CDIB card. The Central Band of the Cherokee in Tennessee is not a federally recognized tribe, but is a 501(c)4 nonprofit educational organization.

One tribal official believes DNA testing does not necessarily make one a Cherokee.

“Cherokee is a cultural, social and political designation,” said Julia Coates, at-large Cherokee Nation tribal councilor. “There is no biological definition of ‘Cherokee.’ There are several large biological populations in the American hemisphere, but to my understanding, each contains numerous distinct cultural groups.
And:“Ever since the trader James Adair put forth the notion in the mid-1700s that Cherokees were the Lost Tribes of Israel, there have been efforts on the part of some to make that link,” said Coates. “This attempt has been made with many other tribes, as well. The site appears to be trying to do the same thing. The majority of Cherokees and scholars dismiss this idea, however.”

What Coates finds most troublesome about the website is that it is maintained by the Central Band of Cherokees.

“This is one of six ‘wannabe’ groups that have been seeking Tennessee state recognition, which the Cherokee Nation has been aggressively opposing, both legislatively and in the courts,” said Coates.

“Unable to demonstrate that they have any legitimate political or historic basis to be regarded as a ‘tribe,’ it may be that there are political motivations behind these attempts to demonstrate a Cherokee heritage through biological methods.”
Comment:  Suppose several Middle Eastern lineages moved to Tennessee and intermingled with the Cherokees there. The article doesn't say how a DNA test would distinguish between that possibility and the unrelated possibility that Cherokees come from the Middle East.

For more on the lost tribe of Israel, see Indians Inspired Mormonism and Lamanites = "Filthy People." For more on the Cherokee, see Fradulent "Cherokee" Organizations and More Than 200 "Cherokee Tribes."


Burt said...

Oh great, thats all we need now is for science to expand its infinite lack of knowledge to proclaim and link natives from the middle east!

Thats all the right wingnuts need to proclaim natives as being "non-natives".

Seems the aboriginal people have been from everywhere from mars to China, might as well throw in a little Arab and Jewish blood as well.

One thing for certain, American Indians will never be as monetarily compensated for oil and resources as those other tribes in the middle east?

It would be a threat to national security even more than they are now?

Anonymous said...

Where's the wheat and barley? Where's the horses and asses? Where are the giant cities encased by stone walls? Where's the circumcision? (Sure, one could argue that it was picked up from the Egyptians, but trying to prove Indians are lost Jews would almost demand that circumcision existed.) Where are all the things we associate with the Middle East?

Not to mention, Cherokee wasn't a written language until white contact. You can see the obvious Latin-, Greek-, and Arabic-numeral-derivation of a lot of Cherokee characters.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Adair...the Cherokee people can trace their roots back 10,000 years in the North Carolina mountains. Correct me if I'm wrong but....the Bible only goes back 6,000 years. Now, I'm not a genius or anything but I don't see the Cherokee dragging 4,000 year old pottery around with them when they supposedly got "lost." Pretty sure the Cherokee knew where they were when all that wandering around in the desert was going on cause they're still in the exact same spot.

Anonymous said...

Certainly, circumcision wouldn't have necessarily been evident, even if the Cherokee were descendant from the House of Israel (not "Jew", by the way). The entire reason that the Hebrew scriptures gives for the expulsion of the northern tribes from the land is that they would not turn from idol worship. After generations of worshiping the gods of other cultures and peoples, I wouldn't expect that all the practices that you would think to find (like circumcision) would be evident.

I don't understand why anyone would take the question as some kind of personal offense though. We've all come from somewhere. Regardless of whether the Cherokee people might have some roots in northern Israel, or if they fell like stars from the sky, it doesn't change the fact that they were at home in this land. I used to live in a different city, before I moved into my current home. That wouldn't make it right for someone to try and kick me off of the land where I currently live, just because I didn't mysteriously spring up from this piece of ground. :)

Rob said...

If you moved to your present home without the owners' permission, in violation of the law...then they would have the right to kick you off their land, Anonymous #2.

There's little or no serious archaeology linking the Cherokee to the Middle East. People are making this claim for political reasons, not scientific ones. They're trying to assert some sort of superiority over others.

That's objectionable precisely because it isn't rooted in facts and evidence. Legitimate Cherokee tribes have already had enough of their history and culture stripped from them by unscrupulous white men. They don't need more of the same.