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


Genetic variation in Mi’kmaq populations from Nova Scotia and its implications for the history of Algonquian populations in northeastern North America

AMANDA C. OWINGS1, MATTHEW C. DULIK1, SERGEY I. ZHADANOV1, JILL B. GAIESKI1, ALEX COPE2, DARLIEA DOREY3, THEODORE G. SCHURR1 and THE GENOGRAPHIC CONSORTIUM4.

1Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 2Millbrook Band Council, Millbrook First Nation, 3Office of the Chief, Indian Brook First Nation, 4The Genographic Project, National Geographic Society

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The Mi’kmaq are a First Nations people from northeastern Canada who traditionally lived in seven distinct territories extending across the Atlantic Provinces. At the time of European contact, they were allied with several other Algonquian speaking tribes, including the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Maliseet, and later fought French and British control of their homeland. Yet, despite archeological evidence for human occupation of the region by 10,000 YBP, the origins and genetic affinities of Mi’kmaq populations are not well understood. To clarify their history, we analyzed mtDNA and Y-chromosome variation in two Mi’kmaq First Nations communities from Nova Scotia. We directly sequenced the control region in mtDNAs from 23 individuals, as well as screened them for eight coding region SNPs using Custom TaqMan assays and PCR-RFLP analysis. We also screened eight Y-chromosome samples for over 30 SNPs and a panel of 19 STRs using custom ABI TaqMan assays, multiplex indel/STR markers, and the AmpFℓSTR YFiler kits. Our results show that the majority of individuals (60.9%) have mtDNAs belonging to Native American haplogroups A2, B4, C1, D1 and X2, with remainder being of non-native origin. However, only one male had a Y-chromosome belonging to an indigenous haplogroup (Q). These data, viewed in the context of genealogical, ethnographic, and historical information from the Mi’kmaq First Nations, provide new details about the history of Mi’kmaq populations in Nova Scotia, their genetic relationships with other Algonquian populations in northeastern North America, and the impact of European colonization on their genetic diversity.

This study was funded by the National Geographic Society, IBM, the Waitt Family Foundation, and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

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