Implications of the Distribution of Albumin Naskapi and Albumin Mexico for New World Prehistory

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The known distributions of two mutational variants of the albumin gene that are restricted to Mexico and/or North America, Albumin Mexico (AL*Mexico) and Albumin Naskapi (AL*Naskapi), were expanded by the electrophoretic analysis of sera collected from more than 3,500 Native Americans representing several dozen tribal groups. With a few exceptions that could be due to recent, isolated cases of admixture, AL*Naskapi is limited to groups that speak Athapaskan and Algonquian, two widely distributed language families not thought to be related, and to several linguistically unrelated groups geographically proximate to its probable ancestral homeland. Similarly, AL*Mexico is limited to groups that speak Yuman or Uto-Aztecan, two language groups in the American Southwest and Baja California not thought to be closely related to each other, and to several linguistically unrelated groups throughout Mexico. The simultaneous consideration of genetic, historical, linguistic, and archaeological evidence suggests that AL*Naskapi probably originated on the northwestern coast of North America, perhaps in some group ancestral to both Athapaskans and Algonquians, and then spread by migration and admixture to contiguous unrelated, or distantly related, tribal groups. AL*Mexico probably originated in Mexico before 3,000 years BP then spread northward along the Tepiman corridor together with cultural influences to several unrelated groups that participated in the Hohokam culture.