Blackfeet man’s DNA is oldest in Americas

DNA testing

Darrell ‘Dusty’ Crawford of Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation was surprised to learn that his DNA placed his ancestors in the Americas about 17,000 years ago. He’d had his DNA tested through a company that aims to provide customers with a ‘biogeographical ancestry’.

The company, CRI Genetics, traced his line back 55 generations with a 99% accuracy rate. It was a rare finding, according to the company. They had never been able to trace anyone’s ancestry in the Americas as far back as that, they told him. Adding, it was so unlikely, it was like finding Bigfoot.

Crawford’s DNA suggests that his Blackfeet ancestors came from the Pacific, traveled to the coast of South America and moved north. His haplogroup is part of MtDNA B2, which originated in Arizona about 17,000 years ago. That group is one of four major Native American groups that spread across the continent. The DNA test focused on mitochondrial DNA and traced back Crawford’s line of ancestors to four females: Ai, Ina, Chie and Sachi. Crawford’s DNA shows he’s a descendant of Ina.

The DNA group’s closest relatives outside the Americas are in Southeast Asia.

“Its path from the Americas is somewhat of a mystery as there are no frequencies of the haplogroup in either Alaska or Canada. Today this Native American line is found only in the Americas, with a strong frequency peak on the eastern coast of North America”, according to the DNA testing company.

Read: The History of DNA Testing

Crawford also had an unusually high percentage (83%) of Native American ancestry in his results. Some of that was a mix of Native threads, but, unusually, 73% was from the same heritage. In addition to his Native heritage, Crawford’s DNA was 9.8% European, 5.3% East Asian, 2% South Asian and 0.2% African.

When Crawford had composed a family tree for a college project, he could only trace his ancestry back five generations. His Blackfeet name is Lone Bull and his mother’s great-great grandfather was Two Elk. The family name of Crawford came from a Scotch–Irish cattleman who drove a herd into what became Montana and married a Blackfeet woman.

Crawford encouraged other Native Americans to have genetic testing. The results could reshape how anthropologists understand Native history and contribute to the discovery of the oldest DNA in America.

Last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren shared the DNA test results into her genetic background, which found ‘strong evidence’ of Native American ancestry going back 6–10 generations. The conclusion was that while a vast majority of Warren’s background is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor. For information on AlphaBiolabs’ range of DNA testing services, call us now on 727-325-2902 or email

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