Indeed. One of the useful aspects of the tandem repeat markers on the Y-chromosome is that people like me with a very common surname can easily find which Y-DNA database men with the same surname are likely to share a MRCA within relatively recent (or even very recent) generations based on the observed mutation rates of each marker. Unfortunately, not all of the heavily advertised DNA analysis companies even offer Y-DNA testing of that sort and those which do generally fail to put a lot of effort into client-education in how to use the test results. I had to do a lot of self-study to make the tandem repeat markers useful to me.
Some of us recall the articles published in Science Digest and other popular-level science magazines of the 1950’s and 1960’s which dreamed of the future possibilities of individualized DNA analysis. Frankly, I never thought I’d see such in-depth and economical Y-DNA analysis in my lifetime—let alone tools like CRISPR.
Oh, another geography complication which I came upon in my own research was my grandfather’s occasional mention of our ancestors being from Sweden. The “trade one’s lederhosen for kilts” mentality may find that confusing but in my research I discovered that many Irish and Scottish men moved to Sweden in the 1600th century (for example) to serve as mercenaries. (I was even told that a look through a Stockholm phonebook nowadays will yield a lot of Irish and Scottish clan names.) Indeed, in the many European wars, it was common for the losing side’s soldiers to be forced outright or to desire to leave the area—and they often became warriors-for-hire in some distant land. So population diversities got churned again and again.
It just seems downright crazy to make overly specific geographic and cultural assumptions based on DNA without also conducting serious genealogical research.
I’m glad to see that the media has given Cherokee leaders an opportunity to explain their perspective on tribal identity and to emphasize the limitations of DNA analysis.
Despite the fact that we are all “mutts” of constantly “churned” lineage, I remember from my childhood various families who made a big deal that they were of “blue blood” lineage or “My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.” [No doubt the original Mayflower passengers would have been absolutely amazed if they could have known that they would someday represent some sort of “elite” group!] I can remember comedians back in the 1950’s making jokes about their grandmother having explained to them when they were very young that “Our family is an important one because we came here before most other Americans. One’s prestige is based upon how early one’s ancestors came to America.” The punch line was always something like the little kid replying, “Wow! So that means the Indians have way more prestige than all of us!”
Hitler and the Nazis banned Darwin’s books and opposed so much evolutionary biology (at least in the context of propaganda campaigns if not consistently at every university) because the science directly defied “Master Race” doctrine which claimed that Arayans were specially created by God while Jews were somehow descended from animals. (I’ve not put a lot of research into that latter claim but in the past I found the details a bit murky to sort out. The Nazis had the complication of reluctantly recognizing the inconvenient fact that Jews and Aryans could marry and produce fertile children.) I suppose all of this comes to mind because of the polygeny thread. I think of these historical facts whenever I hear Ken Ham and various Discovery Institute materials complaining that Hitler was a “devoted Darwinist.” (After all, if Hitler and the Nazis in any way affirmed the Theory of Evolution, then that theory must obviously be invalid!)
[POSTSCRIPT: Admittedly, there were a lot of contradictions in Nazi propaganda. From what I could tell, there was anti-evolution propaganda for the general public at the same time many educators were teaching evolutionary biology. Darwin’s books were removed from some libraries while they remained undisturbed on the shelves other libraries. I’ve had difficulty sorting out a consistent policy among the Nazis. No doubt that were confusion among various Nazi officials as people struggled to figure out what was allowed and what was disallowed. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how evolutionary biology would seem like a threat to Master Race doctrine.]