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Why your Southeastern Native heritage is much more than DNA from Siberia

Why your Southeastern Native heritage is much more than DNA from Siberia


Commercial DNA tests compare the complex genetic heritage of test subjects to known populations around the world.  They typically define “Native American” as similarity to some First Nations peoples in Canada.  There are NO DNA test markers for the Muskogean peoples or the Cherokees.  Seemingly “full blood” Uchees in Oklahoma are astonished when their tests come back showing an unexpectedly low percentage of heritage from Northeastern Siberia, via eastern Peru and Mesoamerica, but high levels of DNA from Lappland in Scandinavia,  Finland, southwestern Ireland, the Basques in Iberia,  Sardinia and even ancient populations of the Middle East. 

We are finding that the aboriginal people of the mountains of Alabama, Georgia, western North Carolina and northwestern South Carolina were called Tokahle  or Tokah-ke . . . the Freckled People.  A similar word is used for the aboriginal red haired, freckled people of New Zealand . . . Tuha-ke.   There must be a connection.

As the People of One Fire continues its exploration of the Southern Highlands, we will be interpolating archaeological, architectural, cultural and genetic information.  It is important for you to realize that our indigenous heritage is NOT solely from Siberia.  In the past, anthropological presumptions that all Native Americans were pure Siberians originally, has biased DNA testing.  Non-Siberian DNA was “tossed out’ without further analysis, because it was assumed to have been the result of intermarriage with Europeans and North Africans after 1500 AD.   This is absolutely not the case.   It is a fact, documented by historian William Bacon Stephens that the early colonists on the coast of Georgia and southern South Carolina encountered “light skinned” Natives, who spoke a dialect of Irish Gaelic.  These Duhare (the early Medieval Gaelic word for Irish) eventually moved to the Chattahoochee River and joined the Creek Confederacy.  Any tribal name in the Southeast with the suffixes le, lee, li, re, ree, or ri carry the Pre-Gaelic word for “people or tribe,” used in Bronze Age Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia.

The following article is written in language that you can understand.  It explains the surprising origin of the Irish People.  What immediately caught my eyes was the mention of ancestry in Sardinia.  You see, the triangular stone temple at the Nodoroc Mud Volcano in Northeast Metro Atlanta was identical to some Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age temples in Sardinia, Corsica and Cyprus.  Enjoy reading . . .   The Earliest People of Ireland

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Hi Richard,
    Fascinating stuff! I have been the ‘family genealogist’ for many years now and was an early adopter of the DNA tests. Family lore was that while our direct forefathers came from the British Isles, we had extensive native ancestry within the lines. My direct ancestors came to Virginia from the Isles in 1650, and while almost all of our passed down lore was confirmed through research and test results, it has always bothered me that none of my native roots were confirmed through the tests. Instead, these reports state a 93% British Isles ancestry but with deep haplogroup markers showing Sardinian origins. Nothing showed any Native heritage, though family lore and confirmed research of historic records clearly show the link. Our line, among more than 100 others with our same family name, are unique for the Sardinian markers.
    I think that the DNA tests are great for connecting with other family members out there, and can help get your research moving in the right direction, that without the more complete inclusion of Native DNA markers many of us will continue to be dismayed and confused by results which point our origins elsewhere.
    Thanks for your work and dedication to your research, through it many of us now have a more complete understanding and appreciation of our ‘hidden’ roots.
    Best, Ed

    • Thank you sir! Sardinian means that you are either part Uchee or else descended from a colony of refugees from the Island of Majorca, who the British allowed to settle on the Upper Savannah River near Toccoa. There were several Uchee regional trading villages in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. There was also a large Uchee province on the Upper Tennessee River and Hiwassee River in Tennessee and western North Carolina.


        The records show that the family moved from Virginia down through the Carolinas and into North Georgia in 1806. Some of us still live here. Interestingly some of the census records show the family being reported as ‘mulato’ around the time of the exodus, so maybe that was their way of ‘hiding in plain sight’.
        Again, thank you so much for the great articles and the important work that PooF does!

        • You are quite welcome. Please understand that we are on a journey to discover the truth . . . but are not quite there.


    I find this information enlightening. My family (both sides) are from Southwest Virginia, specifically Wythe County, as early as the 1600s. There are family stories of a Native ancestor (Cherokee), but no records. We haven’t done my dad’s Y DNA test yet, but his Autosomal came back 2% Middle Eastern. This was surprising in a heavily German/Scots-Irish region and tree. My Ancestry Autosomal came back with 2% Iberian, 4% Scandinavian, 13% Ireland/Scotland/Wales, 16% Great Britain, 63% Western European. Trace regions were Bantu and Indian Subcontinent. On Family Tree DNA, I get a hit on South America Native…1%. I thought it was a fluke prior to reading this article. There are some differences between Ancestry and FamilyTree concerning my European break down. I’ve taken advantage of the Black Friday sales to purchase a Helix test and a MT test from Family Tree. Also, there have been discussions in my family of a possible Melungeon link, but I’m wondering if it might be a Muskogee link. We all have the widow’s peak and the “knowledge knot” on the back of the head. I should also mention that I have several women on both sides of my tree with the first name “Mahala” in the 1800s. Maybe it was just fashionable in the region at that time? However, I can only find links of Mahala to Creek Indians. I could be off base though. I really enjoy your articles! Keep the research coming! Happy Holidays!


    The link isn’t working. I’d love to read it!

    • I had no trouble using the link. Don’t know what the problem is.


    Richard, The connection you have found with the Mountain peoples of the South called (Tokah) and one of the Sea fairing people of New Zealand (Tuha-ke) is another connection. The DNA evidence of mass migrations of peoples from different parts of the world does fit with the Native Elders statements of their peoples arriving by boats. The (“C” symbol with a circle in it) noted on the Tugaloo stone is an ancient Middle Eastern symbol for the Moon / Sun. The (circle on top and T) combined is a ancient symbol for Copper. These symbols indicate a connection with sea fairing people.

    • Dang! I didn’t know about the copper symbol! Thank you sir!


        Richard, Also found on this stone are multiple 1/ 2 combinations of circles (one circle is offset from the other 2). This 1/2 design plan is found with the Great pyramids of Giza, Egypt (3114 BC) and Teotihuacan, Mexico (Pyramids completed by 250 AD),-98.843889&z=15&t=H&marker0=19.6925,-98.843889,Teotihuacan (circle and line symbol) Temple. This Temple design also found in West Mexico. These Natives stated they migrated from the North West to this area.

        • According to Lund University in Sweden, the half circle meant a half moon. A half circle without the line drawn across the diameter meant a new moon. Makes sense!


            Richard, I’m still trying to understand some of these symbols for this ancient stone. On the top right side appears to be an “ogam script”, which was used by Phoenicians in “Gadir” (Cadiz, Spain) founded in the 11th Century according to Dr. Berry Fell (Harvard) before it was brought to Ireland. However, the quipu of Peru was a written script of knots which preceded it by thousands of years. Perhaps this script is a combination of the two different writing systems. In any case, these ancient symbols seem to point to Bronze age Western Europe perhaps some merchants that had some connection to Spain (a melting pot of symbols and Sea peoples in the late Bronze age).

          • It’s Bronze Age Scandinavian Mark. All those symbols were on Bronze Age petroglyphic sites in Southern Sweden and Denmark.


    Interesting. Both of my parents are from old E. TN families, my father from the late 18th century Watauga Association and my mom the early Boyd’s Creek settlement. I’ve been surprised by the unexpected levels of Finnish and Iberian in the DNA of one and Sephardic and Scandinavian in the DNA of the other. And dad’s oldest patrilineal DNA marker is Sardinia. I’ve learned that Iberian appears in small amounts in British Islanders, though my family shows much higher percentages. I have no idea how widespread Sardinian patrilinial dna is distributed. I think some distribution of Scandinavian DNA is common with British Islanders, but I’m not sure in what percentages.


    Does anyone here know of the mitochondrial (maternal) dna of the Powhatan people?

    • There are NO DNA test samples for any of the Southeastern indigenous peoples. Commercial labs determine the “percentage” of Southeastern Native American heritage by comparing a test subject’s similarity to DNA samples of Algonquian peoples in Canada.


    Interesting content/conversation . . . For anyone interested, provides different forms of analysis of some DNA test results & I’ve found at least 1 there (possibly 3) specifying Siberian, North American, Meso American (?) & South American results/percentages


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