DNA & the BOM

By depending solely on what little DNA evidence could be gleaned from the remains of America’s prehistoric residents, early theories over the past century had all Native American DNA falling within four haplogroups A, B, C, and D. Three of the four haplogroups, A, C and D are found primarily in Asia, with the B haplogroup found chiefly in southeast Asia. With no new evidence to suggest otherwise, the theory that America was peopled primarily from migrating tribes from Asia was perpetuated throughout the generations until just recently when a rare genetic DNA link called haplogroup X with ties going back to the Middle east, and thus also to Israel, was discovered among the Native Americans of northeastern North America.

After the scattering of Israel and Judah, the X founding haplogroup spread westward across Europe where it can still be found in rather high frequencies among the Ashkenazi (European) Jews. Crossing over to America, the X haplogroup shows up in frequencies as high as 10-40% in several modern Algonquin tribes, particularly the Ojibway. It is as high as 25% among the Iroquois and 15% among the Sioux. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth in the northwest carry the marker at a frequency of 11-13%, the Navajo in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico at 7%, while the Yakima of Washington carry it at frequencies of 5%. (1)

Interestingly, the remains of Washington’s Kennewick Man exhibits evidence of the X mtDNA haplogroup. With this discovery new theories began to rise which had some of the Native Americans arriving via an Atlantic crossing rather than a Pacific. Yet, when a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics in 2001 noted that haplogroup X had been discovered among a small group of people living in the Gobi Desert in southern Siberia, researchers began to wonder if they had been premature in giving scientific credence to a possible Near Eastern source for the haplogroup X found among North American native populations. Continuing research resolved the matter in 2003 when it was discovered that the X haplogroup found in Siberia was an admixture from relatively recent gene flow from Europe or West Asia. But of added importance, researchers were now firmly convinced that the Near or Middle East was the geographical place of origin for the haplogroup X, a place which incorporates the Palestinian territories, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, and Israel-right where the Book of Mormon places the colonies of Lehi and Mulek before their migration to the promised land.

Other interesting facts were also discovered. For instance, after analyzing dating material they discovered that two separate diffusions of the X haplogroup entered North America, one during pre-glacial times, and one after. While the time-line currently in vogue among geologists is hopelessly at odds with the biblical time-line, we can reconcile one diffusion of people carrying the X marker into America with the Jaredites who arrived from the regions around Babylon, and the other with the Nephites who arrived from Jerusalem. Phylogeography of the subclades of haplogroup X suggests that the Near East is the likely geographical source for the spread of sub-haplogroup X2.

Although several tribes across the country are known to carry the X haplogroup, it is found more frequently in the regions around the Great Lakes than elsewhere in North America. This area is dominated by the Algonquin speaking people and the Iroquois who extended from the western end of the Great Lakes to Maine. Yet, interestingly, by studying the position of the X haplogroup found among Native Americans on the genetic tree, it was discovered that an early split took place at the very beginning of the expansion and spread from the Near East. It seems that one complete Native American X sequence was found among the southwestern Navajo, and the other among the tribes in Ontario who developed into the Ojibway, the two believed to have diverged from a common point of origin after their common ancestor was already settled in America. As noted earlier, the wide distribution of the X haplogroup around the Great Lakes eastward to Maine, and westward to Washington State, and inland to Arizona and the central Plains, suggests a wide initial dispersion of the founding tribes, with their origins thought by many to be linked to the New York Iroquois.

As to their ties to the Book of Mormon, in 1987, Fiedel argued that the Point Peninsula people of prehistoric New York (the descendants of the Nephites & Mulekites), were those who spread the Algonquin speaking people into the northern Great Lakes region from their point of origin in southern Ontario, right where thousands of Point Peninsula/Nephites migrated after moving northward from western New York in the century before Christ, a fact fully established by both the archaeological record and the scriptures. After spending many years among the Ojibway in the land northward, and noting the many Hebrew traditions among them, William Warren was totally convinced that the Ojibway were either descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, or at the very least had had a close communion with them.(2)


© Phyllis C. Olive

1-Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogrup X, Reidla, Kivisild, Metsplau, Kaldman, and
(See also -Distribution of mitochondrial DNA lineages among Native American tribes of Northeastern North America- Human Biology, Feb. 2001, by Ripan S. Malhi, Beth A. Schultz, David G. Smith.)
2-William Warren, History of the Ojibway People, p. 71.