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African American DNA Research Forum

Freedmen's descendants discover past

Freedmen's descendants discover past

By Judy Gibbs Robinson
The Oklahoman

When a cotton swab scraped a few cells from the inside of Rhonda Grayson's cheek last June, she was pretty sure what she would find.
Like most of those at the conference sponsored by the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized tribes, Grayson wanted ironclad proof she is part American Indian. She got it.

"It showed I had 9 percent Native American blood," said Grayson, a black woman who has traced her lineage to a great-grandmother on the Chickasaw freedmen rolls. "I was not surprised ... but I didn't know what percentage I would have."

Others were surprised by the findings, including Rick Kittles, the Ohio State University geneticist whose assistant swabbed about 100 cheeks that day in Norman. Kittles returns Saturday to report on his findings at the association's third annual conference at the University of Oklahoma. The conference starts at 9 a.m. in Dale Hall.

Intrigued by the plight of Oklahoma's black Indians, Kittles came to Oklahoma to test his hypothesis that descendants of Oklahoma Freedmen today would be about 20 percent American Indian. The figure was 6 percent.

"It was shocking to see it was so low," Kittles said in a telephone interview from his office. His findings came as a blow to some study participants who trace their ancestry to tribal members and expected a stronger genetic stamp.

"That's how science is," Kittles said. "When you start looking into things like this, you should be aware and be ready to deal with the unexpected."

(Read the rest of the story below)

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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