Geneticist Dr. Donald Yates has been studying Cherokee DNA, particularly genetic markers passed on only from a mother to her children, not passed on along paternal lines. Anomalies in Native American DNA are often dismissed as signs of racial admixture after colonization, the anomalies are not attributed to the origins of Native peoples.
Yates chose to focus on the maternal line to make it easier to filter out any colonial-era admixture. It was far more common for male colonists to mate with Native American women than it was for female colonists to mate with Native American men when the Old World first met the New.
To further rule out admixture in his test results, Yates combined genetic testing with genealogical records where possible.
He found what he sees as strong evidence that Cherokee Native Americans have Middle Eastern ancestry—ancestry that cannot be accounted for by modern admixture, but which is rooted in the ancient origins of the people.
Native Americans are conventionally held to fit into a handful of haplogroups. The term haplogroup refers to a genetic population group stemming from a common ancestor. Haplogroup T is not among the haplogroups most geneticists recognize as Native American. Yates, however, said that it is prevalent among the Cherokee and has been for a very long time.
He wrote in his report, released earlier this month: “T is the leading haplogroup (23.1 percent), with a frequency on a par with modern-day Egyptians (23.4 percent) and Arabs (24.4 percent). T is thus a defining mark of Cherokee ancestry. … We can safely rule out recent European admixture. As we have discussed again and again, there was no available source for a huge, sudden influx of female-mediated Middle Eastern DNA on the American frontier. Even Sephardic Jews (11 to 14 percent), many of whom were also Indian traders, could hardly have accounted for such admixture.