First, we thought we only had six Founding Mothers for Native Americans.  Today, we know we have at least 15 Founding Mothers — and that only helps to enhance the ideal of the original Founding Fathers.

Here’s the most interesting PR blurp explaining the importance of the new Founding Mothers discovery:

“We found previously undetected founding lineages by looking at mitochondrial DNA sequences at the highest attainable level of resolution” said Ugo Perego, Ph.D., the paper’s lead researcher and director of operations at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF). “We thought there were only six, but now we have learned there are at least 15.”

In earlier research the same scientific team found that approximately 95 percent of modern Native Americans descended from six ancestral founding mothers. Building on that data in this study and using many more DNA samples—thanks to the SMGF database—researchers found one of those six lineages needed to be split into two. Then, studying rarer lineages in previously unavailable quantity and detail, they identified a total of 15 maternal founders and listed the frequencies with which each of those DNA lines appear in today’s populations of North-, Central- and South America.

“This study brings maternal founding lineages of Native Americans to a number considered implausible only a short time ago,” said Prof. Antonio Torroni, one of the study’s corresponding authors heading the University of Pavia group. “It also indicates the number of women with distinct mitochondrial genomes who entered the Americas from Beringia or later from eastern Siberia when the land bridge was covered by water, was much higher.”

The researchers found they could identify unique Native American maternal lineages using DNA samples from databases of both mixed-heritage and indigenous American populations, and that this method is as accurate as using only samples directly from Native American groups. “As our study’s methodological approach is systematically applied, I am sure more undiscovered lineages will be identified within the next three to four years,” said Torroni.

This new research makes it clear how inter-connected we all are in every way — and we always have been — even though many political and spiritual movements throughout history have sought to divide us along Racial lines and national regimentations.

A “Native American” is “native” only in the sense of a landmass and not and human biology.  All of us are founded from itinerant pioneers who were searching for something better.

Without the outward expansion of our international ancestors, we would all still be living in a single shack in Africa — hoping for a better life and longing for one of the braver among us to step forward and take that first, tenuous step, into a cold, brave, new world.


  1. This proves we need to like each other and start getting along because we’re all in this together, right? We’re all related somehow we just haven’t figured out the chain yet but we will.

  2. Fascinating read, David. I love the idea of our close relationship with one another being a good reason we need to get on better. We are all, as the song goes, in this together.

    1. Excellent point, Gordon. We may not understand each other because of language differences and opposing cultural values — but inside our core — we are all running the same program.

  3. Great information Dave,
    My family is from the south and my great-great grandfather was native American. I love having roots in the south and I especially love that we are all interconnected, whether we like it or not. Great read.

    1. I love your personal story, Michelle! Your family background sounds magnificent. I hope you write about your Native American ancestors for us someday.

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