AncestryDNA Results Across the Diaspora

In 2013 AncestryDNA updated their Ethnicity Estimates to include a very detailed breakdown of West African ancestry (see this article). Soon afterwards I started collecting AncestryDNA results in an online spreadsheet in order to conduct a survey of the African regions being reported by AncestryDNA, among both African Americans as well as other Afro-descended nationalities. Attempting to establish how much the AncestryDNA results on an aggregated group level can already (despite limitations of sample size) be correlated with whatever is known about the documented regional African roots for each nationality.

Rumour has it that AncestryDNA will shortly start rolling out a new update of their Ethnicity Estimates. So it seems the time is right to finalize my survey. The sample size for most groups appears to be suffciently robust now to allow a meaningful intercomparison. In the AncestryDNA section of my blog (see the menubar) you can find a detailed summary of my survey findings based on 707 results for 7 nationalities:

Gathering all the results was a great learning experience. It has been a very satisfactory project! My survey report merely represents my personal attempt at identifying generalized, preliminary and indicative patterns on a group level inspite of individual variation. Everyone has a unique family tree of course first of all.

I would like to thank again all my survey participants for sharing their results with me. I am truly grateful for it!

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This frequency of regions being ranked #1 (regions with the highest amount in the African breakdown) is perhaps the best indicator of which distinct African lineages may have been preserved the most among my sample groups.”

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FREQ #1 regions

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Louisiana: most African diversity within the United States?

Louisiana Slave Database 1719-1820

SUMMARY

Number of slaves with origin specified 29,769
American born (“Creole”) 13,618 (45% of total)
African born 16,099 (54% of total)
African specified ethnically 8,994 (30% of total)

TOP 3 BREAKDOWN OF AFRICAN BORN SLAVES

Congo (Central Africa) 2,988 – 33% of African specified
Mandinga (Upper Guinea) 922 – 10% of African specified
Mina (Ghana, Togo, Benin) 628 – 7% of African specified
Source: Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links (Hall, 2005).

Congo Square

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Gwendolyn Midlo Hall’s remarkable relational database of Louisiana slaves and freedmen (1719-1820), which contains records of over 100,000 enslaved people, includes nearly 9,000 individual Africans by specific ethnicity. The database was first published in 2000 as a CD-ROM, and it is now available free on the Internet. The database is derived largely from notarial and ‘‘succession’’ (probate) records, mostly in French, in which slaves often self-identified their ‘‘nations’’ or ‘‘countries’’. There are 217 different ethnicities recorded, of which 96 have been identified, and a further 121 (comprising 152 individuals) which have not been identified. Of those identified, just 18 ethnicities account for over 96% of the Africans in the Louisiana records. In addition, within that set of 18 principal ‘‘nations,’’ the seven most common (in order, Kongo, Mandingo, Mina, Senegal/Wolof, Igbo, Bamana, Chamba), comprise over three-quarters of the sample. The single most numerous ‘‘nation’’ in the dataset was Africans from Kongo (nearly 3,000 individuals), the vast majority of whom arrived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries” (Chambers, 2008, pp.335-336).

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For a direct link to this extremely fascinating and online searchable database created by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall see below:

Louisiana Slave Database 1719-1820

A full overview of the 18 most frequently named African origins can be seen in the remaining part of this blogpost in which i will attempt to provide more details and context about Louisiana’s African diversity. Lees verder

Cape Verde Slave Census of 1856 (part 2)

Origins from across Upper Guinea, not just from Guinea Bissau

ic_image_ugc_new_jpg_1116049996

Map of Upper Guinea, western Mali should also be included for ancestral purposes

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Bissau, Cacheu, Cape Verde Slave Census of 1856

REGIONAL ORIGINS (combined)

Total ethnically specified: 1,615
Guinea Bissau’s Coastal Zone: 843 (52% of ethnically specified)
Upper Guinea Interior: 670  (42% of ethnically specified)
Senegal, Guinea & Sierra Leone: 102 (6% of ethnically specified)

TOP 3 ETHNIC ORIGINS (combined)

Mandinga (Upper Guinea) 262 – 16% of ethnically specified
Tilibonca (Upper Guinea) 229 – 14% of ethnically specified
Bijago (Guiné Bissau) 226 – 14% of ethnically specified
Source: Hawthorne (2003)

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In the first part of this blogpost i already discussed the main Guinean Bissau origins for Cape Verde according to its 1856 slave census, in this second part i will continue exploring origins outside of Guiné Bissau. When asked about their mainland African roots many Cape Verdeans might assume they only have ancestry coming from Guiné Bissau, this is however not completely true. It’s indeed correct that Guiné Bissau shares a very long and intimate history with Cape Verde. Both countries being ex-Portuguese colonies, united in their independence struggle during the 1970’s. Because of ever increasing English and French encroachment the formal Portuguese influence area within Upper Guinea during the 1600’s was already pretty much confined to modernday Guiné Bissau and Casamance (a region in southern Senegal which only was ceded to the French in 1888 and where a Portuguese-based Creole is still being spoken!).

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Cape Verde Slave Census of 1856 (part 1)

40-anos-da-Independância-de-Cabo-Verde-Unilab-550x275

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Cape Verde, an independent country since July 5th 1975!
Cape Verdeans: an indomitable people for more than 500 years!

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Cape Verde Slave Census of 1856

SUMMARY

Number of slaves 5,182
Creole (i.e. born in Cape Verde) 4,266 (82% of total)
African (mainland) 867 (17% of total)
African specified ethnically 130 (2,5% of total)

TOP 3 BREAKDOWN OF AFRICAN BORN SLAVES

Mandinga (Upper Guinea) 34 – 26% of African specified
Fula (Upper Guinea) 19 – 15% of African specified
Bijago (Guiné Bissau) 18 – 14% of African specified
Source: Carreira (1972)

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Documented African Roots of Dominicans

Lemba 4200976_African ethnonyms in Dominican historical sources: 1547-1606

SUMMARY

Estimated number of Africans: 9,648 – 30,000
African origins specified: 79

TOP 3 BREAKDOWN OF AFRICAN BORN SLAVES

Bran” (Guiné Bissau) 15 – 19% of African specified
Zape” (Sierra Leone) 15 – 19% of African specified
Biafara” (Guiné Bissau) 10 – 12% of African specified
Source: Deive (1980, p.239).

Even though this summary is based on a rather small sized dataset (n=79) and reflecting only a limited timespan, there are many indications from other Hispanic American countries to confirm these 3 ethnic groups from Upper Guinea having a significant presence in the Dominican Republic throughout the 1500’s. But they were not the only ones in that particular timeperiod of course and in later decades/centuries the ethnic compostion of Africans within Hispaniola would change constantly with other ethnic origins from Lower Guinea and Central Africa becoming more prevalent.

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African origins of Hispanic Caribbeans according to DNA studies

Moreno-Estrada, (2013) - Fig.6A

Reconstructing the Population Genetic History of the Caribbean (Moreno-Estrada et al., 2013)

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We find evidence of two pulses of African migration.The first pulse—which today is reflected by shorter, older ancestry tracts—consists of a genetic component more similar to coastal West African regions involved in early stages of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The second pulse—reflected by longer, younger tracts—is more similar to present-day West-Central African populations, supporting historical records of later transatlantic deportation.” (Moreno-Estrada et al., 2013, p.1)

“Overall, we found evidence for a differential origin of the African lineages in present day Afro-Caribbean genomes, with shorter (and thus older) ancestry tracts tracing back to Far West Africa (represented by Mandenka and Brong), and longer tracts (and thus younger) tracing back to Central West Africa.”  (Moreno-Estrada et al., 2013, p.11)

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Specifying the African Origins of the Afro Diasporan Genome (part 1)

Montinaro (2015) - Fig. 1 Samplegroups & Clusters

Unravelling the hidden ancestry of American admixed populations (Montinaro et al., 2015)

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Montinaro (2015) - Supplement - 3way Breakdown

Own calculations based on “Unravelling the hidden ancestry of American admixed populations” (Montinaro et al., 2015)

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“Although our sampling of Africans is incomplete, we see variation among groups in similarity to present-day populations from different parts of Africa. In all groups, the Yorubans from West Africa are the largest contributor, confirming this region [Lower Guinea] as the major component of African slaves” (Montinaro et al., 2015, p.3)

“In addition, more than 30% of the total slaves arriving in mainland Spanish America up to the 1630s came from Senegambia, and we accordingly find that the relative contribution from the Mandenka is higher in all areas historically under the Spanish rule.(Montinaro et al., 2015, p.4)

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Do Cape Verdeans and African Americans share African ethnic roots?

In the previous posts i have established that:

  1. most of the slave trade that passed through Cape Verde took place in the 1500’s/1600’s
  2. involved people from the Upper Guinea region
  3. with destinations in the Hispanic Americas
  4. only northern Brazil had significant Upper Guinean slave imports in the 1700’s/1800’s
  5. a separate Cape Verdean diaspora arrived in the Americas out of their free will, most of them living in the USA but many also residing in Argentina.

This brings me to my next question: to what degree do African Americans and Cape Verdeans show overlap in their African ethnic/regional origins? Lees verder

Shared Upper Guinean roots between Cape Verdeans and Latin Americans

Cape Verde was used by the Portuguese in the 1500’s/1600’s as a midway station for collecting, “seasoning” and reexporting captives born in Upper Guinea to the labour-starved cities, mines and plantations of the Spanish Carribean, Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Peru.  Unlike what you might have expected very few slaves exported via Cape Verde were actually going to Brazil in this particular time period.  Lees verder

Upper Guinean roots for Cape Verdeans

This post is meant to be introductory as i intend to blog much more in future posts about Cape Verdean ethnic roots on the continent as well as its shared ancestral connections with other Afro-diasporeans in the Americas. In fact i’ve just recently created a separate website (www.cvraiz.com) focusing exclusively on specifying the African Ethnic Origins for Cape Verdeans. Here’s the link for it: