Genetic Ancestry of Garifuna community in Yurumein(St. Vincent) and Santa Rosa First People’s Community of Kairi’(Trinidad)

Indigenous and Afro-indigenous memory, presence and ancestry in the Caribbean

While archeological, ethnohistoric, and linguistic data provide crucial perspectives on the peopling of the Caribbean Basin there are still many questions regarding the timing and origins of the initial migrations as well as the ramifications of colonization on the demography on indigenous Caribbean populations.

In response to these issues, and with local and community consent, we examined mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA diversity from two Lesser Antillean indigenous communities-the Garifuna and Santa Rosa First People’s Community.

In this study we found that both communities exhibited moderate frequencies of Indigenous American matrilineal and patrilineal varying degrees of Indigenous American, African, and European general (genome-wide) ancestry.

Matrilineal(Maternal Line) Ancestry Results

For the two populations, we detected maternal indigenous ancestry in 46% of the samples, with the remaining having haplogroups indicative of African and South Asian ancestry. Only two of the five major founding Native American mitochondrial haplogroups, A2 and C1, were detected in the combined samples.

Patrilineal(Paternal Line) Ancestry Results

If we consider the Y-chromosome data, we can see that there is the presence of indigenous paternal haplogroups on Trinidad and St. Vincent, namely, Q-M3.  This is the first discovery of indigenous Y-chromosomes in Caribbean populations in the Greater and Lesser Antilles.  Until this study, it appeared that indigenous paternal ancestry was undetectable in Caribbean populations due to demographic changes as a result of European conquest and colonization.

In addition to the indigenous Caribbean paternal lineages, the remaining Y-chromosomes on Trinidad and St. Vincent were of African (E1b1a) or European (I1, I2, R1a, R1b) origin.  There were roughly equal contributions of African and European male ancestors to indigenous populations in Trinidad and St. Vincent.


For more information, check out the article for this project here.


Genetic ancestry in Jamaica: Biogeographic origins of Accompong Town Maroons

Research collaboration between Dr. Jada Benn Torres(Vanderbilt) and Dr. Harcourt Fuller(Georgia State)

Located in western Jamaica, the Accompong Town Maroons are descended from an independent community of enslaved Africans who successfully fought against the British to gain freedom. Ancestral origins of this community are theorized to include both Africans and Tainos, Jamaica’s indigenous population. By analyzing mitochondrial lineages of the modern-day population, we set out to address this question of ancestral origins of this specific community.

Pie chart depicting mtDNA haplogroup frequencies.

Continental ancestry indicated by mitochondrial haplogroups, suggests maternal ancestry from both Sub-Saharan and Indigenous American (Caribbean) female ancestors. This finding is in strong support of Maroon oral histories noting parentage from both African and Indigenous Caribbean peoples.

Pie charts depicting Y chromosome haplogroups for Accompong Town study participants

While maternal lineages indicate some ancestry among Native American peoples, the paternal ancestry reflects ancestry from African and to a lesser extent European men.

 These data suggest that within this Maroon community, the processes of colonization was most harsh to Native American men as they were killed or otherwise prevented from making substantive biological contributions to subsequent generations.

The African and European biogeographical origins, however appear to be varied and consistent with both local and academic account of Maroon history.

For more information, check out the articles for this project here and here (please email us for entire manuscripts).