Monday, October 29, 2012

DNA Testing Tainted by Haplogroup Hybridization

With the advent of DNA testing proponents of European Ancestry adamantly deny that European haplogroups could be an admixture of the 16th century Aboriginal gene pool(1). Numerous websites advocate DNA testing of living individuals as a foolproof device to determine and “prove” ancestral origin. The problem with this view is that it cannot consider any proposal that the early indigenous DNA gene pool was tainted(2) with multiple European Haplogroups,  pointing only to European origins without any sign of Native markers. The “tainting effect” in hybrid reproduction provides DNA tests with a less than accurate result when applied to genealogical studies. This anomaly may only be significant in Canada due to the large number of people seeking Metis status. Since the Metis people are entrenched in the Constitution of Canada and given preference in the charter of rights a new formidable hybrid class is emerging.

The “tainting effect” paradigm begins with the very first social contact between two genetically distinct groups. The first people of North America developed gene mutations in isolation over thousands of years that are now uniquely identified. Those markers exist today and are scientifically accepted as “proof” that at least one ancestor can be indigenous but that is only half the story. If a European marker is found, the test results are often misread as “European origin”. Though technically correct the marker does not identify if the haplogroup is European or hybrid(3) (European and Native).

The “tainting effect” is created as follows: If “Ba”(4) represents all (plural) aboriginal male haplogroups(5) and “A” represents all (plural) aboriginal female haplogroups, then all aboriginals before European contact would have “Ba” for males and “A” for females(6). Similarly, if “H” represents all (plural) European male haplogroups and “U” represents all (plural) European female haplogroups, then Europeans would be categorized as “Hu” for males and “U” for females. There are, of course many more haplogroups of which this is an example. The Pre-Columbian reproduction unit (man and women) in any native village or nomadic camp would result in Ba^A. The European reproduction unit would be Hu^U. When Europeans and Aboriginals interacted for the first time the  paradigm would look like this: Ba^A<>Hu^U . This assumes that there were both males and  females available to inter-marry in each group at the same time.

Historically, the first Europeans making contact with aboriginal peoples were the Vikings. There is a great deal of controversy concerning Viking influence on the aboriginal gene pool(7). The fact still remains, however, that contact was made with the Viking families estimated to be during a period spanning 300 years, approximately 500 years before Columbus(8).  Through the centuries there were many encounters with aboriginal people living on the upper St Lawrence, the Maritimes, Baffin Island and Greenland(9).

The next major European group to encounter Aboriginal populations in North America were the Basque fishermen of Spain, though other European ships were present. They began their excursions to the maritime shores (of Canada) as early as the 13th century(10). These yearly fishing junkets eventually involved several thousand men in hundreds of ships who built a great number of coastal villages to process their catches(11). If accounts are accurate concerning Basque ships an estimated 3000 men (and very likely a number of women and children) lived 6 months, or more, on and off shore-----each and every year for two centuries! The Aboriginal gene pool was significantly affected and all hybrid combinations must have occurred regularly, though some historians seem to think that young Basque men did not have time for indigenous women(12).

The last major group were the French in Acadia and New France(13) in the 16th and 17th century. The tainting effect would have also occurred and produced an array of hybrid combinations.

Historical evidence suggests that the paradigm “Ba^A<>Hu^U” is valid(14). What this means is that every possible combination probably now exists somewhere in present day populations in the Americas. Expanding this paradigm using the DNA inheritance rules the aboriginal population and the European population would have each added four hybrids to their predominate haplogroups, namely, “Au”, “U” “Ba” and “A”. But present DNA testing can only “partly” detect the origins of  these new hybrids.

Expanded, the result would be:
1. “Bu” a son from an aboriginal male and European female.
2. “U” a daughter from an aboriginal male and European female.
3. “Ha” a son from an aboriginal female and European male.
4. “A” a daughter from an aboriginal female and European male.

The tainting effect begins with lineage #2 “U” and lineage #3 “Ha”. Though #2 is a hybrid, she will only show haplogroup “U” European in a modern DNA test. If hybrid #3 marries a European female their children will only show a European haplotype(15). Essentially half of the combinations will not support aboriginal origin, yet aboriginal origin is certainly intrinsic.

Proponents of European ancestry might argue that intercourse between a European women and an aboriginal man did not occur. Maybe, but lets look at the next generation of Basque (or French) hybrids: See the chart below illustrating the “tainting effect”.

#3 is a hybrid male. He speaks a European language as well as his mother’s Native tongue. While in Spain with his father he meets and marries a European girl. They both return to his people while still retaining kinship ties on shore each year when the Basque fleet returns. DNA testing of this couple’s living, direct descendants would only point to European ancestry despite family oral tradition that did (or not) suggest aboriginal roots. A daughter from this couple who marries, for example, hybrid #3 will have offsprings pointing to European ancestry as well----despite the fact that they are both hybrids. The same result would occur with the union of #2 and #3.

These scenarios are certainly true in all eras of European excursion and migrations into the Americas. Unfortunately the “tainting effect” of the Native gene pool might forever disqualify both men and women today from registering as  a “hybrid  person”(16) in Canadian (and US) communities. Many women in Acadia and New France without documented origins are identified as “proven European” using DNA to support genealogical research, despite circumstantial evidence pointing to Native ancestry(17).

This article is intended to bring to light the inadequacies of DNA testing applied to  genealogical research. Based on the “tainting affect”, Acadia and New France also had a substantial number of aboriginal hybrids called “Indians” who would have been unable to prove that they belonged to their aboriginal communities----if present DNA testing was a requirement. To get an Amerindian view of DNA testing in genealogy go to: .

As DNA science improves and full genome(18) testing becomes available, it is possible that DNA testing might “prove” a great deal more about the historical haplotype mixtures and migration of ancestors. At present DNA testing to “prove” or even “suggest” European origin is scientifically invalid and prejudicial.

June 27, 2013.
I have  been following with interest DNA Companies who are attempting to isolate Native markers through an autosomal evaluation.  This involves genes from parents and grandparents. While no company will admit that this is proof of aboriginal ancestry it is a brave new approach to expand the science to include indirect native ancestry!

November 30, 2013
The autosomal DNA test uses thousands of snp markers, some of which are attributed to Native ancestry. Companies will give you a percentage. Some will only provide this result if markers are over 2%, though others will provide any percentage however small. This can only improve over time! Having said this, the result must be considered a personal one. DNA results of any kind used to determine membership is legally and socially unacceptable!

© Roland E. Belanger BA BEd      2012

See also:

Can DNA Tell What “Race” You Are?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Alexandre Richard dit L’Ancien a Mi’kmaq Story Teller

Alexandre Richard dit L’Ancien was Radegonde Lambert’s grandson. He was born around 1668 to Michel Richard and Madeleine Blanchard, the daughter of Radegonde Lambert who has been determined Mi’kmaq. (Please read my articles regarding Radegonde Lambert)  Alexandre’s father dit name was Sansoucy. His children did not seem to have used their father’s dit name. Alexandre would have learned both French from his father and Mi’kmaq from his mother and grandmother.

Alexandre used an unusual dit name L’Ancien  which means The Ancient One in French.  Dit names, or referenced family names, were very often assigned by other people (or adopted by an individual) in the French/Native community for specific reasons. Mostly that’s how people would see him. Why would he be considered the Ancient One? ‘There are not many answers for this. Did he look extremely old?  Unlikely. Did he tend to have deep thoughts as he interacted with the community? Maybe, but this, in itself,  would not  sufficiently stick in the minds of the people that would remember him or refer to him as The Ancient One. Human beings usually remember names in context to something else like, a story, an event, or something of importance. The French dit name L'Ancien is highly unusual. There are no French families in New France or Acadia that have used this dit name. 

The answer may well come from  Mi’kmaq and early Acadian French culture.  Rev. Silas Tertius Rand, in 1893 wrote a book called LEGENDS OF THE MICMACS. The Reverend wrote this book in his own writing style possibly embellishing it for modern 18th century readers. The spirit of the story however would have been maintained. Among the stories told was a particular one called THE ORCHARD-KEEPER as related “by Nancy Jeddore, Feb. 7, 1871. She says she heard the story from her mother, who was a real Ninjun.]” (page 251). “Ninjun” was a colloquial term for Indian referring to an indigenous Mi’kmaq person. We do not have any reason for disqualifying Nancy Jeddore’s mother as being a member of the Mi’kmaq people.

THE ORCHARD-KEEPER seems not to be typical of an old Mi’kmaq legend. It is contextually more modern. Maybe this was the license of the author who recognized a moral Christian tale ---but there is no valid reason to believe that the story would have been altered by him. The story begins more like a French allegory with the following line:

 “There was once an old man who had been an orchard-keeper to a king”. 

Orchard-keeper”  and “king” would not be significant to the Mi’kmaq culture but  would certainly be familiar by  the 1670’s as relating to  French culture; though the story was told as if it were a Mi’kmaq tale or legend and was very likely delivered in the Mi’kmaq language. Where was this done? It would not be unusual for the priest to call on a church member who could speak Mi’kmaq to deliver a message to the people who attended Sunday Mass. What better way than with a parable by someone among the Mi’kmaq family, like Alexandre Richard? The priest through observation and weekly compulsory confessions would determine the content of his Sunday sermon. Catholic Priests often did not learn local indigenous languages but used translators extensively.

Even so, the story would have entertainment value to the Mi’kmaq. Words like ‘orchard”, “plantation” and “gun” continues to point to French story telling but the following emphasizes something that the Mi’kmaq would know all too well as French religious culture as it would be delivered during Sunday Mass:

The old people and the son were very devout and exemplary, but the girl was of a contrary disposition. She neglected her prayers, and was reckless in conduct.”

Never the less, it was a story-----and a Mi’kmaq listener probably wanted to know what was going to happen to the girl. Those among the congregation might very well know if they were implicated in the story!

The old people and the son”  could have been recognized as the typical French Roman Catholic  family, while the girl, who is a part of the family, could have been seen as the mixed Mi’kmaq Catholics, or maybe the yet unconverted Mi’kmaq people. French Catholics of the 15th and 16th century had a great deal of baggage dealing with sex and the permissibility of sex. The “reckless conduct” of the young girl in the story would likely have to do with promiscuity as the story later reveals.  As a Roman Catholic, I have heard sermon's on "improper conduct"( ie. drunkedness and illicit sex), on occasional Sunday mornings---not to mention catechism lectures by the priest on the consequences of "sex out of wedlock" and "masturbation", when I was a teenager. 

Sex among the Mi’kmaq (and all indigenous people in Canada) was never taboo! Indigenous women were usually allowed the the privilege of choosing who she wanted as a sexual partner. This conduct was a scourge to Roman Catholic Priests who saw good Catholic Frenchmen pair up with indigenous women without church sanction. Priests were also not immune to the temptation of a young willing native girl.

Intermixed with the English rendition of the story are Mi’kmaq words like "welool (food)", "Mundoo (Satan)", "elegawagiku ((the king resided)",  but it is the word "Sakawach (Old Times, or The Ancient One)" that falls squarely into Alexandre Richard dit name “L’Ancien”. "The old man" who also called himself "Nebookt (Forest)" in the allegory implies or suggests what is wrong with Mi’kmaq culture. In other words the Mi’kmaq lived a promiscuous and vagrant life style---contrary to 16th century French cultural norms.

The original story or parable would have been told in both French and Mi’kmaq to church congregations. The Mi’kmaq people were not separated from the general population.  They were simply among the Acadian population. Catholic churches were not specifically build for the Mi’kmaq but for everyone including the Mi’kmaq, unlike New France (Kebec) churches. (This information can be googled).

Nothing is known about Alexandre Richard’s activity and responsibility in the Acadian Community. He was born and died there. His dit name suggests that he was the originator of this parable. A picture of the The Ancient One in the minds of listeners on Sunday morning would have influenced the dit name L’Ancien

The old man, in the boys last journey in the parable, who called himself "The Ancient Onelived the "old times" in the large village where existed the essence of  the "old times"----- namely,"promiscuity". Among those residing there was his sister. The boy, likely to mean the Catholic church, could not accept this way of life and had to leave (die) to reap the reward for being “devout and exemplary”----to the place called "Heaven" where good families were waiting for their loved ones.

It would have been a humorous jester by the Mi’kmaq and others to call him "The Old One" or L’Ancien accounting  for the pervasion of the name in the memories of people in the parish.  Though humorously derogatory in the beginning, Alexandre Richard’s dit  name L’Ancien was probably accepted by him as a proud badge of his Roman Catholic Mi’kmaq story telling----in church on Sunday morning.

the Micmacs
by the
Rev. Silas Tertius Rand,
D.D., D.C.L., L.L.D.
volume two


page 242-251

 Roland Belanger BA BEd

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DNA Accuracy in Genealogy is a Fallacy

It amazes me that some people believe that DNA analysis will tell them the truth about their French/native origins in Canada and even in the US. Many websites repeat this fallacy over and over again. I am even more amazed when someone with genealogical or professional credentials repeat the same thing!

Y-DNA and  mtDNA is passed down from father to son.  Mothers can only pass down mtDNA to their Daughters. They in turn pass the same DNA to their boys and girls in the same manner.  DNA lineages can only be accurate if DNA lines are unbroken.

We are the sum of all our grandparents. The science of DNA is being asked to prove, especially in North America, if we have the same DNA as the indigenous people related to the shared history of an ancestor.  Unfortunately, at this point, it cannot, with absolute accuracy, do this. It can point, suggest, infer, advise, propose, hint, intimate, indicate, pose etc, etc. etc. Companies who do the testing are careful to tell you this. They will also tell you that the format in which results are calculated could be faulty and as DNA science improves past errors will be corrected. It is the present rules of DNA that is referenced here. These rules are,so far, irrevocable. It may be possible that future DNA science will circumvent these rules to provide a far more accurate tracking of the identity of individuals as well as the finer footprints in the migration of small and large populations in the world:
  • Both mtDNA from the mother and Y-DNA from the father pass down to a son. When the son marries it is the mtDNA of his wife that passes to their offsprings. The mtDNA from the son's mother cannot pass to his offsprings even though his mother's genes are part of her grandchildren's genome. 
  • Only mtDNA passes down to the female. 
  • Lineage must be direct, son to son or daughter to daughter, for absolute accuracy.
  • To identify an individual in an identical group or family, the term haplogroup is used, and if these groups split off from the main group, the terms subgroup or subclad are used. Family Tree DNA explains this very well using the haplogroup X as an example: You must remember that there are other identical families as well. For example A, B, C. D, X etc., are indicators of Native peoples in North America. Check this website to see more:
  • Groups are determined by identical DNA mutations that, from time to time, appear and are passed down from generation to generation. The emphasis here is time. Mutations in our genes,, appear over time. Genes are those microscopic fragments that determine eye colour, hair colour, etc. The cause of mutations in our genes could be any number of things that are capable of dislodging or changing a part of our genes. This could be environmental, outside radiation, or possibly a result of  genetic processes. In this way by testing a large sample of the world population a migration pattern emerges making it possible to determine approximate historical dates and migration routes all around the world.
  • Haplogroups can mutate into an entirely new haplogroup.
  • Any haplogroup or subgroup can remove the detection of a previous haplogroup or subgroup. The implications of this rule is often traumatic in genealogy!
  • DNA science is in the infancy stage. Until we can map and categorize all mutations or unique genes in our genome, individually, we cannot be sure of the relative accuracy for genealogical use. The genome is the full and complete instruction in each and every one of our cells. Our cells are those little groups of individual, living biological microscopic pieces that tie together in the billions to create what we look like and possibly who we are! You can google the description of cells and how it's put together.
I have provided here a few examples of the application of these rules:
  1. Haplogroup H is a European origin. You have just been tested. The result is your grandmother's (mtDNA)  haplogroup H. Does this tell the truth? Absolutely, for the present, and for you and your unadapted sibblings only! But it can only give a result to a nearest grandmother who is in the  haplogroup H category. If one prior grandmother was native, then the grandmother in  haplogroup H trumped the native grandmother’s A, B, C, D, or X haplogroup. Thus a False outcome! (This does not remove a social kinship with your native grandmother. You're still fully entitled to identify with her culture and include her in your family tree.)
  2. In 1629 the French population of New France was displaced by the British. With the exception of a few people, like Madame Hebert, who had a house full of "mixed blood" and/or Native kids. Most couples and their families were deported to France or disappeared in the woods. These deportees were mostly "mixed blood" families. They made up many of the names in genealogical trees that do not have origins. Suppose a young French male (who’s mother was Native or "mixed blood"), while in France,  marries a French girl. They immigrate to New France (Canada)  in the years following 1632 when the French regained the colony. Do you think that DNA will determine the origin of the young "mixed blood" father who now has a boy and girl? Absolutely not! He cannot pass mtDNA native genes to his children, male or female. His Y-DNA would reflect his fathers European haplogroup and the mothers mtDNA would reflect European origin. Thus a false outcome!
  3. A distant grandmother is thought to be native and there may be an oral tradition in the family which suggests this.—but the problem begins when there is absolutely no documentation on her origin. Several ancestors want to verify this, so why not get a mtDNA test. The test provides a disappointing non-native haplogroup. So on the family tree record is written“born in Europe or France. DNA test confirms this”. What might not be known is that this distant grandmother had a European grandmother absorbed into a tribe. She is culturally identified as native but DNA does not show this. Thus a false outcome!
  4. Many more examples could expose the problem with genealogical DNA. There is nothing about present day DNA testing that should be accepted as the absolute truth about an ancestor. The test should only by used to satisfy your own curiosity and generally indicate the migration routes of ancestors. Canadian and US courts will NOT accept genealogical DNA testing to prove anything even if the test is in favour of a good outcome. It would be an injustice if DNA is arbitrarily included to determine Canadian First Nations status and non-status membership. 
If one is dealing with Family Statistical Genealogy or Family Biological Genealogy only then maybe DNA might be useful—but research in Family Sociological Genealogy is the only valid structure to reflect our cultural heritage. Being genetically or statistically related is not culturally important. We must keep in mind that it is the culture of our ancestors that maintains a strong lineage. It is the emotional bonding of people that creates the bases of family and lineage. We, as free people, can identify with any culture that we wish! Having said all this, there are circumstances that DNA might be useful pacifying the nay sayers.

Case in point. Radegonde Lambert has an unknown origin. Her direct family members got DNA tested. The outcome was inconclusive. She was categorized haplogroup (hg) X and X2b. This haplotype is definitely related to North American indigenous populations. But the hg X, a mutation of hg N, appeared in European populations much earlier than subgroups found in North American indigenous populations. The hg X2b occurred during, or just after the mutations of subgroup (sg) X2a  that were found in the native populations today. Hence, the outcome points to a greater likelihood that she is European.

But this is not all the evidence that is available from the science of DNA. Adding an historical and a
rcheological perspective may logically determine Radegonde Lambert’s origin. There are a number of theories tying to determine how the very rare haplogroup X came into North America. Some say it came with hg A, B, C, and D across the Alaskan land Bridge during the ice age. But others say that this was probably wrong because hg X is not present in Asian populations. Yet another theory is that people with hg X traversed the waters when the ice melted. Still others think that they simply followed the shore along the ice during the ice age somewhere in the Pacific. The problem with these probable routes is that the only population with hg X on the pacific side of North America were, I believe, the Navajo people. No other populations had hg X along the Pacific North American coast and Central Plains. The greatest concentration of hg X was on the North East coast of North American.

Haplogroup X is relatively sparce across Europe but has some concentrated areas in the middle east today. The origin of mutation hg X would have been somewhere in the middle, south Eurasian continent and moved all the way up to the Scandinavian countries in the north. Tests on 1000 year old skeletons of early Vikings indicated a high concentration of hg X. Present day populations have a higher concentration of hg I than hg X. The introduction of hg X as well as hg I into England and France very likely came from Viking raiders. Archeological evidence, such as the Viking settlement in Newfoundland 800 to 1000 years ago would explain the possible introduction of mtDNA hg X2b into a local Newfoundland indigenous population. It is also very likely that the ancient Viking wanderers introduced haplogroup X more recently than 15,000 years ago in North Eastern Canada. More extensive DNA testing of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia native and "mixed blood" residents may verify this postulation. Another possible source of hg X is from the European fishing villages set up during or before 1500 along the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland.

Radegonde Lambert from this perspective would have received her mtDNA haplogroup X or X2b from a European mother who lived 600 - 1000 years ago. She would have had many generations of ancestors among the Mi’kmaw indigenous people!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Genealogist, Stephen A. White Wrong on Radegonde Lambert's Origin

The main dissenter of Radegonde Lambert’s native origin is Stephen A. White, Genealogist, Centre d'études acadiennes.(**See link below to read White's dissertation) He writes in 2005:

“LAMBERT, Radegonde, came from France with her husband Jean Blanchard, according to Jean LeBlanc, husband of her great-granddaughter Françoise Blanchard (Doc. inéd., Vol. III, p. 43).”....and “The deposition of Françoise’s nephews Joseph and Simon-Pierre Trahan is to the same effect (ibid., p. 123).”
The person giving this information in the 1700's was the husband, Jean Leblanc, not his wife, Françoise Blanchard, who was the great-granddaughter of Francoise Blanchard (the daughter of Radegonde Lambert). The information he gives is hearsay, though “Francoise’s nephews” were said to confirm the same information. The issue here is the mistakes, if there really are any,  that both Leblanc and the nephews made in their dispositions:
“Both depositions mistakenly give Guillaume as the ancestor’s given name. Jean LeBlanc’s makes an additional error regarding the name of Jean Blanchard’s wife, calling her Huguette Poirier.”
In other words the first sentence above using this information would be, “Huguette Poirier came from France with her husband Guillaume Blanchard, according to Jean Leblanc.....(and) the same effect.” 

This is a serious error on the part of Leblanc and the nephews, unless they meant exactly what they said originally. Huguette Poirier did indeed immigrate from France with her husband Guillaume Blanchard, arriving in 1640 with their son Jean. They were the first Blanchard's in Acadia. You can Google this one yourself.

White rashly discards these so called errors as an honest mistake by sighting “the censuses of 1671 and 1686 meanwhile clearly show that she was named Radegonde Lambert (see DGFA-1, pp. 143-144).”  Ironically, the census has absolutely nothing to do with these supposed disposition errors. White simply has changed what someone said to correct, in his mind, a three hundred year old error. They really meant to say............this!

White goes on to write:
“The source of these errors is probably a simple confusion arising from the fact that Jean LeBlanc’s wife’s grandfather Martin Blanchard had a brother Guillaume who was married to a woman named Huguette, as this writer explained in an article published in 1984 (SHA, Vol. XV, pp. 116-117). This Huguette was not named Poirier, however, but  Gougeon,  although her mother, Jeanne Chebrat, had married a man named Jean Poirier before she wed Huguette’s father Antoine Gougeon, and.........”
Read the previous statement carefully!  White said that the “simple” reason for the errors is that Leblanc's wife’s grandfather “Martin” had a brother named, “Gillaume”, married to “Huguette” (her first name) who was assumed to have the last name “Poirier” because “all her male-line descendants in Acadia were Poiriers,” and her last name, of course, is “Gougeon”, who was her mothers second husband’s last name as well as Hugette’s biological  father. You guessed it, her mothers first husband was a Poirier! Simple!

There really was no serious mistakes as White asserts. The dispositions in question had absolutely nothing to do with  Radegonde Lambert and her husband Jean Blanchard, but everything to do with Gillaume Blanchard and his wife Huguette. White manipulated  these dispositions erroneously by substituting his own information with what was said in 1700 —a pure stretch of imagination.

He went on to say:
“Unfortunately, we do not know just what questions Jean LeBlanc asked in trying to establish the Blanchard lineage,.........”
Note that the lineage Jean Leblanc was establishing was the "Blanchard Lineage", not the Lambert lineage. This is a veiled admission that, maybe more information is needed,  but goes on to defend his line of reasoning trying to place himself in the thoughts of Lablanc:
.....”he might certainly have had the impression that Huguette was a Poirier from the fact that so many of her relatives were Poiriers, including her grandnephew Joseph, who was also on Belle-Île in 1767 (see Doc. inéd., Vol. III, pp. 13-15).”“
One’s reputation is based on right thinking and logical assumptions.  If this is just a suggestion or possibility on White’s part, it seems to me, it is seriously flawed if applied to  Radegonde Lambert and her husband Jean Blanchard.  Anyone who seriously entertains White’s logic on this one are those people who cannot accept the alternative:

Radegonde Lambert is still, in my mind, historically Mi’kmaq!

December 11, 2013
For those who must have some sort of proof to determine Native ancestry, a new autosomal test is available from most DNA companies. The cost is between $200 and $300 Be sure to insist on ANY percentage!
 If you simply want a confirmation of Native ancestry (a positive or negative) the following DNA testing company in Toronto can provide it for $125:
Be aware that such tests are for personal use only. It is not legally or culturally accepted for any other use. A negative doesn't mean you do not have Native ancestry!

Roland Belanger BA BEd    Elder_Metis


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who is Francoise Grenier (Garnier)?

She is among the many “marriageble women” in the colony of New France (1600 - 1650) who’s origins have been generally labelled as “unknown” or “unsubstantiated” and recognized as “Metis” by Historian Dick Garneau. They include Jeanne Du Roucy (Voizy?) wife of Nicolas Pelletier, Francois Tourault wife of Jacque Archambault and Marguarite Langlois wife of Abraham Martin. This discussion addresses what this means historically and genealogically.

The substance of this discussion was gleaned from the internet, and has not been substantially referenced. It is left to readers to do their own internet research and draw their own conclusions.

Descendants of Francoise Grenier have posted on the web that her parents were: Guillaume Grenier and Michelle Marille. This has not been substantiated in official genealogy databases in Quebec. These “official” Quebec sources simply state that her “origin” is “unknown".

From my research, no family member has done any sort of research in France to back up her parental names. These names have simply been provided by several of the Langlois Families on many genealogical websites.

Genealogical historians of Francoise Grenier such as Gagne, Trudel and Auger all show bias! The assumption is that she was one of Robert Gifford’s (New France) recruits on board ship in the spring of 1635. This is a false claim for the following reasons:
  1. No documentation, comment, account, log of events or names in New France archives indicates specifically that Francoise Grenier and Noel Langlois met on board ship. If she were on board, this would  have been very noteworthy and Gifford, if he were a friend of Longlois, would have made some sort of record. Being married in July soon after arriving to New France is not reasonable evidence that the couple knew each other earlier.
  2. Giffard made several voyages to Quebec between 1621 and 1627" []. It is likely that Gifford knew Francoise Grenier casually as a child or a young women of 15 in New France before he was captured by the British in 1628. It is also reasonable to say that she would have been given at a young age to people in the colony for upbringing by her Native relatives.
  3. Many indigenous children were trained by “Madame Hebert”, and others, beginning in 1617 and onwards–even during the English occupation of 1629 - 1632. More likely they were of “mixed blood”. All these children had French names or were provided French names as part of their “Frenchification”.
  4. It is unlikely that an acculturated or “Frenchified” child would have been described as “savage” by anyone in the colony, especially Catholic priests, though privately everyone would have been aware of their origin.
  5. Historical sources on the web indicate that Madame Hebert had a household of indigenous children whom she dressed and tutored daily in all aspects of French culture. The girls she taught would never have returned to their families in the bush and would become a “girl of marriageable age” in the colony. It is reasonable to assume that more girls than boys were harboured by Madame Hebert and others.  This outcome would have been very pleasing to Champlain!!
  6. There are two main reasons for the loss of aboriginal identity of the children: One, as previously stated, acculturated children would not be considered or recorded as “savage” and two, church records were destroyed in New France by fire before 1650. The reconstitution of records would have been very difficult and would account for many, many discrepancies.
  7. Since it is factually true that indigenous children were acculturated in the colony, it is reasonable to assume that any adult of “unknown origin” or “unsubstantiated origin” must be included in genealogical records as indigenous until  proven otherwise.
Further, New France historical activity is recorded but records of this traffic were very few:
  1. New France inhabitants traveled by cargo ships to and from France continuously over the years starting from 1608. Many people in the early 1600's were aboriginal or mixed blood "Metis" residents who embarked or disembarked ships as they anchored off the settlement of New France.
  2. Some indigenous and certainly the mixed blood people were included in the deportation of New France residence by the British in 1629. Many returned after 1632, some much later, after France regained the settlement.
  3. European women and children were significantly absent on records preceding 1629--though the men who came from France were significantly recorded from the very beginning. When it was indeed significant, such as the arrival of Mrs Hebert and her husband and family in 1617,  such traffic was recorded. Since new potential wives were absolutely important to a majority male colony in the early days, one could ask why were they not clearly recognized in ships logs etc.?
  4. Champlain, in a discussion with an aboriginal chief, stated that it was his desire to have their two cultures mixed together to make a hardy new assimilated people for New France. That was before he later discovered that young Frenchman in the much restricted French culture tended to assimilate with the unrestricted culture of North American native population. Natives were not fully assimilated into French culture as Chaplain predicted.
  5. The New France migration of Native/Metis families back to France in 1629-1632 introduced the   likelihood that some of the males and females may have married into the French population of France and even had children there before they returned to New France. The implications are substantial! Even professional genealogists can't duck this possibility---they can only hide behind their statistical screen!
Modern family DNA testing for Francoise Grenier, as were many others with "unknown" origins, has been made by several direct matrilineal descendants that indicates she is classified in the European Haplogroup of “J”. Formal native markers were not found. This, however is not conclusive evidence disqualifying Native origins: Over many family generations grandmothers may have been adoptees into the family, thus terminating previous native markers. DNA testing of Francoise Grenier herself (not possible now) would be the only way to fully substantiate her suggested origin. 

In addition, the history of Canada virtually makes DNA unusable as a testament of implicit origin. Visitors to the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador, and maybe other locations in the Maritimes  archaeologically   places Europeans settlements and temporary villages in Canada from 700 to 1000 years ago. The Vikings and their families settled on the shores of Newfoundland. European fishing ships frequented the upper St. Lawrence and Labrador coast in the summer months before 1400. Temporary villages were set up along the shoreline for processing. It is likely that some villages were occupied for at least two seasons. While historians agree that the Vikings had their families with them, there is no reason to doubt that European fishing ships did not have some families on board in it's yearly voyages to Canadian shores. The implications of these facts in our history tell us that we cannot discount the possibility of more recent mtDNA (European female DNA) introduced into the indigenous population. Metis (French and Native) people, as well as many Natives who met the French for the first time, carried both European and Native markers in their respective populations but only one (or the other) marker can be observed with present DNA testing---not both. Virtually half the population could be Metis but testing will not find Native markers. For these reasons DNA is ruled out as an acceptable proof of origin for those  in the colony whose origin is "unknown"

  • Update:  November 30, 2013. A new DNA test called an "autosomal" test now uses thousands of snp markers of all ancestral grandparents to determine a "percentage" of Aboriginal ancestry. Some only report 2% or higher. This can only get better over time as more markers are found! 

The onus has been placed on readers to accept or reject this conclusion and, if rejected, to substantiate an alternative interpretation with documentation such as church baptismal records or an alternatively plausible theory.

Roland E. Belanger BA. BEd. 

Conclusion concerning Francoise Grenier by Luc Lacroix, Aboriginal Genealogist.  Here is a copy of his report (generally circulated on the web):

UPDATE SEPT 26, 2014
From  Judith Pidgeon-Kukowski, Wyandot Nation (Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Records) for Beaumont Quebec, La Nativite; de Notre Dame, 1688 page 3)

I recently received an email from Judith Pidgeon-Kukowski, Wyandot Nation, who has provided information that lends a great deal of credence to Francoise Grenier’s aboriginal origin!

I believe that there is now sufficient evidence to verify that Francoise Grenier (of unknown origin) was indigenous and of Algonquin Stock (using, of course, family oral tradition for this specific origin)

Here is a link with other supporting documents: (website of Peggy large)

(I have made backup copies of these documents in the event that this link is lost)

Essentially these documents verify the findings of Luc Lacroix (document provided above)! Arguments by some genealogists that Jean, (grandson to Francoise Grenier and Noel Langlois), had a Native mother can’t be substantiated, especially when one reads his baptismal record 15 Jul 1688 provided above.  The following finds his mother being traced back to France:   This leaves only his father Noel (jr) whose parents are Noel (Sr) and Francoise Grenier. And, yes, for those who are ney sayers, please by all means try to find another Jean Langlois that fits the land grant document in which a Jesuit states that Jean is an “Indian”!

In addition, I have sufficient doubt that Noel is fully French. I suspect that he is Innu (Montagnais) mixed blood. PRDH are negligent in documenting his birth in France approximately 1605, (St-Leonard-des-Parcs, Alencon, Normandy) They cannot substantiate this. The only database that has credence for the origin of Noel Langlois is fichierorigine in Quebec! They do not list any individual unless there is proof of origin.

It is far more likely that Noel originally came from New France, migrating to France in 1629 (with the English occupation) then returned later after 1632 when France regained control. Noel's parents that are listed cannot be verified either. Please by all means prove me wrong! His birthdate would be, more correctly, about 1610-1611 in New France. He would be 6 to 7 years of age when given to Marie Rollet to be educated.

With both parents, Noel (Sr) and Francoise, having native physical features their grandson would, indeed, also have Native features identified by a Jesuit priest in the land grant in question.

Roland Belanger BA BEd, Elder Montagnais Metis First Nation