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Keywords:

  • PCR;
  • Migration;
  • Language group

Abstract

The mtDNA of most Native Americans has been shown to cluster into four lineages, or haplogroups. This study provides data on the haplogroup affiliation of nearly 500 Native North Americans including members of many tribal groups not previously studied. Phenetic cluster analysis shows a fundamental difference among 1) Eskimos and northern Na-Dene groups, which are almost exclusively mtDNA haplogroup A, 2) tribes of the Southwest and adjacent regions, predominantly Hokan and Uto-Aztecan speakers, which lack haplogroup A but exhibit high frequencies of haplogroup B, 3) tribes of the Southwest and Mexico lacking only haplogroup D, and 4) a geographically heterogeneous group of tribes which exhibit varying frequencies of all four haplogroups. There is some correspondence between language group affiliations and the frequencies of the mtDNA haplogroups in certain tribes, while geographic proximity appears responsible for the genetic similarity among other tribes. Other instances of similarity among tribes suggest hypotheses for testing with more detailed studies. This study also provides a context for understanding the relationships between ancient and modern populations of Native Americans. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.