Recovering Ancestral DNA in Abiquiú

Recovering Ancestral DNA in Abiquiú

As a genetic genealogist, much of my work is done behind a computer screen or amidst a stack of books. In the Fall of 2017, I was invited by Isabel W. Trujillo, the Pueblo de Abiquiú Library and Cultural Center Director, to assist her in conducting work related to a group of Abiquiú community members with long standing genealogical and historical ties to the Pueblo of Abiquiú who also identify as genízaro or genízaro descendants. As defined by Fr. Angelico Chávez, genízaro was the designation given to North American Indians of mixed tribal derivation living among the Hispanic population in Spanish fashion: that is, having Spanish surnames from their masters, Christian names through baptism, speaking a simple form of Spanish, and living together or sprinkled among the Hispanic towns and ranchos. The Library was granted funds for this effort from the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, which the New Mexico Genealogical Society was able to match. Moises Gonzales with the Center for Regional Studies UNM was recruited to assist and provided his ethnographic expertise to the project. 

The goal of the project was to offer insight into the historical and contemporary context of the genízaro. This identification was accomplished by using triangulation of genealogies—DNA—and cultural performance. During the process, we also conducted many personal interviews, which allowed us to hear stories about community kinship and knowledge directly from participants. The project consisted of a total of twenty participants, ten males and ten females. Twenty participants represent approximately 10% of the community population. 

The process for this project consisted of:

  • Interviews of contemporary people with connections to the Pueblo de Abiquiú.
  • Subjects were verified to not be immediately related to assure that identical lineages, both Y-DNA (direct paternal) and mtDNA (direct maternal) were not being duplicated. 
  • Y-DNA37, mtDNA Full Sequence, and Family Finder (atDNA or autosomal) tests were conducted on ten male participants. 
  • mtDNA Full Sequence and Family Finder (atDNA or autosomal) tests were conducted on ten female participants.
  • Genealogical investigation of male participants direct Y-DNA and mtDNA lineages as far back as possible.
  • Genealogical investigation of male participants on all branches developing a 5-generation pedigree.
  • Genealogical investigation of female participants direct mtDNA lineage as far back as possible.
  • Genealogical investigation of female participants on all branches developing a 5-generation pedigree.
  • All DNA testing done by Family Tree DNA and data managed in the New Mexico Genealogical Society’s DNA Project (NMGS DNA Project).
Pedigree chart for Jose Isabel Martinez, Courtesy of NMGS

Based on interviews of all the participants, the Pueblo of Abiquiú has a deep and interwoven network of self-recognition and kinship through extended family relationships. Family surnames such as Suazo, Martínez, López, Trujillo, García, Archuleta, to name a few,are connected through hundreds of years of intermarriage among the original Hopi-Tewa people that organized the Pueblo de Moqui as well as the genízaros of Ute, Apache, and Navajo background that were raised in the Pueblo of Santo Tomás (Gonzales).

University of New Mexico professor Moisés Gonzáles conducts a video interview with Abiquiú residents Floyd E. Trujillo (cq) and his son, Virgil Trujillo (cq) inside the elder’s home. (Photo courtesy Adria Malcolm).

The genealogical data not only confirmed a long history for the majority of the participants in the Pueblo but also supported the historical knowledge that Abiquiú in the 18thcentury was also settled by migrations from communities such as Santa Cruz de la Cañada and San Jose de Chama. The genealogy and DNA made links to families from all regions of New Mexico and southern Colorado, supporting an outward migration in the latter part of the 19thcentury to communities such as Chama, Taos, Questa, and many in southern Colorado. One of the Y-DNA male line lineages investigated resulted in a male paternal Y-DNA linked to a Naranjo family with early 1700 roots in Santa Clara. One of the female participants told of her grandmother’s connection to Santo Domingo Pueblo which genealogy research later confirmed and mtDNA confirmed a direct Native foremother link. 

Luis Martínez and Priciliana García. (Courtesy of J.I. Archuleta).

The objective of the oral interviews was to understand how genízaros at the Pueblo de Abiquiú have created a sense of kinship and self-recognition since the time of their ethnogenesis in the 18thcentury up to contemporary times. Modern scholars of ethnography, especially those rooted in critical indigenous studies, argue that archival records and DNA alone do not prove Native American ancestry, rather, the collective experience and knowledge shared over time by a native group is what creates Native American kinship and tribal belonging. (Gonzales).

The statistical data provided by DNA testing confirms that Native American roots for all participants exist at varying levels. The study concluded that the three elements of our research, interviews and DNA testing of men and women, cement what the people of the Pueblo de Abiquiú inferred about themselves–the genízaro culture is alive and well at Abiquiú.

The interviews and DNA testing for most were conducted at the Abiquiú library. For many, the library is adorned with pictures of their ancestors, creating an atmosphere like a grandmother’s home. Many pointed to the pictures and proudly proclaimed their relationship. Witnessing the excitement and joy from participants upon receiving their DNA and genetic ties confirmed that the efforts of this type of work at the community level is not only important to the individual but confirms that it benefits cultural preservation and participation.

Dulcinea Barela and Havana Luciana Barela (photo: Moises Gonazales)

The full report of this project will be featured in the March 2019 New Mexico Genealogist. This work was also featured in New York Times January 18, 2018, and in the Albuquerque Journal, January 13, 2019.

Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/indian-slaves-genizaros.html

Results of DNA project in Abqiuiú support oral history of Native history.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1267368

New Mexico Genealogist.

https://www.nmgs.org/about-nmg-journal

Featured Photo at the top: Miguel A. Tórrez and Gabriel John Lopez conducting DNA testing. ( Photo courtesy of Adria Malcolm).

4 thoughts on “Recovering Ancestral DNA in Abiquiú

  1. my ancestors came from Abiquiú. My Great Grandmother was Lugarda Gonzales, her parents were Reyes Gonzales and Teofila M Gallegos.

  2. My grandfather on my moms side was from Abiquiu, Pete Trujillo. I did his oldest sons dna and my dna. And my dads DNA which is not the same side of my moms family who came from Abiquiu.

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