The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Maternal origins of Accompong Maroons


1Department of Physics, University of Notre Dame, 2Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

The Accompong Maroons of western Jamaica have experienced a history marked with resistance, war, and geographic isolation. However, as a result of these historical events, there is some discrepancy regarding the ancestries of this community’s first members. According to Maroon oral history, they are the descendants of Jamaica’s indigenous population and escaped enslaved Africans. Other historians only acknowledge African ancestry as formative in this community.

To address the question of the biogeographic origins of Accompong Maroons, the maternal genetic ancestries of community members were examined. Fifty-one individuals with established genealogical ties to the Accompong Maroon community volunteered DNA that was genotyped for mitochondrial haplogroups. Each DNA sample was first screened at the 3592 HpaI restriction site, which is indicative of the most common mitochondrial haplogroup in Sub-Saharan Africa, macrohaplogroup L. If a sample did not belong to macrohaplogroup L, additional restriction sites were tested to identify the haplogroup. 80% of the samples were found to belong to haplogroups L1 and L2 while the remaining 20% belonged to L3 and other non-African mitochondrial haplogroups. Though additional samples and testing are needed, based on this preliminary study it appears that indigenous females either did not make a significant contribution to the contemporary Accompong community or that the resolution of mitochondrial DNA is not high enough to adequately detect possible ancestry. The results of this study provide a glimpse into the complex population history of the Accompong Maroons with a specific focus on the biogeographical ancestry of this community.

This project was funded with support from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and the Balfour Hesburgh Scholars Program in conjunction with the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement at the University of Notre Dame. Additional support was received from an Annual Pilot Grant for Social Science Research from the Institute of Scholarship and Learning, in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame.

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