Here at The Genealogy Laboratory I offer a variety of traditional and genetic genealogy services. The Genealogy Laboratory investigates the melding of traditional genealogical techniques along with advances in genetic research. The blog also explores the latest news and developments in the related fields of personal genomics, population genetics, epigenetics, and genetic genealogy technology. I offer traditional genealogy family research, genetic genealogy DNA test consultations, genetic genealogy DNA interpretations, assistance with DNA relative matches, and family tree art display services.
So you are ready to prove or disprove your family's legend of having a Native American great grandmother or great great grandfather in the family. Many people wonder how to go about doing this and feel it is a lost cause due to the sorted past the United States has when dealing with people of native origins. I'm here to tell you it's not. People find it very satisfying once they can prove their family stories to be true. As of March 2016 the Bureau of Indian Affairs list 566 federally recognized tribes. These tribes are located in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. If you have traced an ancestor to one of these states and have a family legend of them being Native American the story deserves investigating.
My mission is to provide clients with accurate research that meets the Genealogical Proof Standard. The Standard was developed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists to ensure that sound methods are used during the research process and accurate results are provided. My love and curiosity for researching Native American lineages developed in 2001 as I discovered my own ethnic origins. I specialize in interpreting DNA results and performing family history research. I combine the research with the DNA test results in order to give validity to family stories of having a Native American ancestor in the family.
Below are two documents representing discrepancies people may encounter when they are searching for their Native American ancestors. Which is correct? Of course everyone wants to accept the first document stating their relative lived on a reservation, but is it correct? Analytical skills are invaluable when it comes to discerning correct information. I have highlighted important sections of the first document below. My great great grandfather, Antonio Lujan, is shown living with his parents and siblings in the 1870 census. The first interesting piece of information is the heading "Citizens on Nambe Pueblo Indian Reservation," followed by 2.) Indian reservation of Nambe. Analyzing the first title one could conclude that not all the people living on the Indian reservation of Nambe are Indian citizens, hence "Citizens on Nambe Pueblo Indian reservation." Also note the fact that everyone's race is listed as "W" for "white" and not "I" for "Indian" or "C" for "Copper."
This could imply a few things: a.) not all citizens on the reservation are Indian (intermarriage), b.) the Indians did not identify themselves as "Indian," c.) the census taker had an ulterior motive. Comparing the 1870 census taken August 3rd to the 1870 census taken August 22nd, these two headings are missing and have been replaced by "Precinct No. 1 Rio Pojoaque" "County of Santa Fe." The later census makes no reference to this being an Indian Reservation. But what if you found the later census first? Would you have stopped looking for more information and possibly not have found the first census? This is where knowing the historical and land boundary information comes into use. Pojoaque is also an Indian Pueblo in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it is not too far from the Nambe Pueblo. Further dissection of the "Precinct No. 1 Rio Pojoaque," one could infer that the census taker meant Rio Grande Valley where many of the pueblos are located. This also leads to the third point, the reliablity of the two census takers.
The first census was performed by W. F. M. Arny, the second by Andrew Napier. It is always best to do a back ground search on the census takers when there is a discrepancy in the forms. William Frederick Milton Arny was born in 1813 in the District of Columbia. It is noted that he was a religious man and well educated for the time period. Creating a timeline for Arny we can find out more about his employment background and how it relates to the census form. In 1860 Arny sought political appointment, some say due to his friendship with Abraham Lincoln. He succeeded Kit Carson and was made Indian Agent to the Utes and Jicarilla Apache of northern New Mexico. In 1862 he was appointed Territorial Secretary of New Mexico. By 1866 he was serving as interim governor. In 1867 he was appointed agent for the Utes in Abiquiu and for the Pueblos along the Rio Grande. By 1870 he was made Special Agent for the Indians of New Mexico. This correlates with the year on the 1870 census form taken by William Arny. By looking through Arny's past we are also able to gain the knowledge that he was living and interacting with the Native American's of the southwest ten years prior to taking the 1870 census.
Unfortunately census taker Andrew Napier's life is more obscure than Arny's. There is mention of him in the "Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior" as being a licensed agent, but for how long was he employed in this position?
Making a comparison chart helps to display data in an easy to read format. The column on the left is information obtained by Arny while the column on the right shows information acquired by Napier. Notice how Arny included the maiden names of my great great great grandmother M. Antonia Ortiz and her neighbor Macedonia Benevedes, Napier did not. The ages Napier reports are also found to be wrong after comparing Arny's report to later information found on this family. Arny also marks off more family members that can not read or write compared to Napier. Arny's spelling is more in-line with the local custom than Napier's due to the fact that Arny abbreviates Maria with a large "M" and a small superscript "a" Arny also spells Ignacio as Ygnacio.
First Census Record
Second Census Record
Indian Reservation of Nambe, Rio Arriba, New Mexico
Rio Pojoaque, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Date: 3 Aug. 1870
Date: 22, Aug. 1870
Census taker: W. F. M. Arny Special Agent
Census Taker: Andrew Napier
Juan Lujan 44 yrs
Juan Lujan 35 yrs.
M. Antonia Ortiz 30 yrs
Maria A 31 yrs
Gavino 18 yrs
Jabino 9 yrs
Antonio 14 yrs
Antonio 5 yrs
Ma Francisco 12 yrs
Francisco 3 yrs
Circilo 9 yrs
Ceilia 1 yr
Catalina 6 yrs
Juan 15 yrs
Louisa 8 yrs
Juana 13 yrs
Franscisco 2 yrs
Gregorio 2 yrs
Maria Antonio Ortiz 40 yrs
M. Antonio Ortiz 47 yrs
Macedonia Benevedes 34 yrs
Macidonia 40 yrs
Torivio 21 yrs
Trevio 13 yrs
Luteina 13 yrs
Miguel 12 yrs
Miguel 9 yrs
Luteno 11 yrs
Camilo 7 yrs
Jose Juan 3 yrs
Juan Jose 1 yrs
After analyzing both documents I find that I am more inclined to believe William Arny's account of the family interview. Combining previous documents along with DNA testing I was able to add another piece to my genetic ancestry puzzle. Having DNA prove that there is Native American ancestory confirms many of the documents I have found for my grandfather's family living in the Name Pueblo area. The DNA is very helpful due to the fact that my family never claimed Native American ancestry and many of the census records list them as "W."
I always make it a point to travel to the areas I am researching. I like to get a feel for the land and the culture of the area. My relatives had told me my grandmother had visited El Santuario de Chimayo so I decided to make a trip out to it in 2013. El Santurario de Chimayo is located about 8 miles north of the Nambe Pueblo. The word Chimayó derives from hot springs that were sacred to the Tewa speaking Indians. It is said that the church receives over 300,000 visitors a year, many making pilgrimages for the Holy dirt that has special healing powers.
I find that making maps of the areas I am researching help me to visualize the information better. The map to the right is of New Mexico in 1870 obtained from a very useful website www.mapofus.org. This website will show a timelapse video of how land boundaries have changed over time for each area you are researching.
The area I am focused on for my family is Santa Fe (SF) which was surrounded by San Miguel Co. (SM), Bernalillo Co. (Be), Mora Co. (Mo), Rio Arriba Co. (Ra), and Santa Ana Co. (Sa).
Unfortunately by the time I had gotten pretty deep into my family research, my grandparents had passed away. Along with them went a great link to the past. But I still had something from them that was uncorrupted, I had their DNA within me. DNA testing can be a powerful tool when combined with traditional genealogy research.
Adding the three different types of DNA testing to your family research can seem tricky but it's really not. It is best to make a family view pedigree chart and to include the siblings of your relatives. I know many people are only focused on lineal descent but a lot of times members in our direct line have passed away before we could collect their DNA sample, such was my case. So what do you do? Well, I wanted to know about my paternal grandfather Alberto Lujan's family and if they were Native American. I had found the conflicting 1870 census with one stating they were living on a reservation and the other not mentioning it at all. It also didn't help that they were classified as "White." So to clear this confusion up I turned to science and DNA testing. I first performed the autosomal DNA test on myself just to see if I had any Native DNA passed down to me. I wasn't really expecting any if but a little but I was shocked to find that I had about 25%.
The next step I took was to test my dad using an autosomal DNA kit with a different company. Why you ask? Well this is the medical scientist coming out in me. I did this to verify that one lab was comparable to another lab and to see how accurate they were. My dad's atDNA results came back in the upper 40% range so I then transferred my results to the company he had taken the test with. I did this so I could see how well that company's matching algorithm worked. And they said he is my father, no shockers here :). So why did I pick my dad to test and not my mom? See previous genealogical trail as mentioned above.
I next went ahead and tested my father's mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA. I wanted to know for sure which parent had contributed the Native DNA since both my grandparents are gone. Take in mind though the Y-DNA and mtDNA do not test all the DNA from the previous generations unlike the atDNA test. My father's Y-DNA haplpgroup result came back as J-M172 this follows the direct male Lujan line (no girls allowed). His Y-DNA came from his father Alberto Lujan who got it from his father Lorenzo Lujan who got it from his father Antonio Lujan who got it from his father and so on. The haplogroup J originated in the fertile crescent region and migration patterns shown on the Haplogroup Map below from FTDNA show the blue arrows traveling along the Mediterranean Sea towards Spain. This would correlate with my grandparents claiming they were Spanish and why they had a Spanish last name (the Spaniards came to the New World and colonized what is now present day New Mexico). My grandfather at one time had told me he thought his family came from the Canary Islands which I hope to determine in the future once more people take the y-DNA test.
My father's mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) results came back for haplogroup B2a. He got this from his mother Laura Romero who got it from her mother Porfiria Salazar who got it from her mother Nepomucnea Garcia who got it from her mother Manuela Montes Vigil and so on. It has been determined that haplogroup B is found in the Native American populations, so this confirmed my suspicions but I wondered if i could narrow it down a bit further. After reading many anthropological research papers and comparing the B2a haplogroup with other testing members it has been determined that the B2a subgroup is found largely in the Pueblo Indian population.
But wait, remember I also tested my grandfather's mother (great grandma Aleja Ortiz) by testing my grandfather's sister's son. My cousin would have the correct mtDNA I was looking for so I reached out to him and asked if he would take the test, luckily he said yes. My great grandma Aleja's mtDNA came back as B 4'5--also found in the Pueblo Indians. This same mitochondrial DNA that was passed to my grandfather's sister was also passed to him. So now I know my grandfather's Y-DNA and mtDNA results without ever actually testing him.
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