Juan Carlos Martinez Cruzado of the University of Puerto Rico (Mayaguez) Department of Biology, Fermin Mercedes de la Cruz of the UCE and Arlene Alvarez of the Altos de Chavon Regional Archeological Museum presented the results of a genetic study yesterday that shows that 15% of Dominicans have Taino genes. The local study that began in 2006 in collaboration with the Universidad Central del Este in San Pedro de Macoris and the Altos de Chavon museum was spurred by earlier findings of a much larger-than-expected number of Puerto Ricans testing positive for Amerindian ancestry.
As part of the DR study, “Continental Origin of the First Population of the Islands of the Caribbean and Migratory Movements behind them. Mitochondrial DNA in the Dominican Republic”, the team tested 1,200 Dominican volunteers who showed physical traces of their possible American Indian ancestry. Mercedes suspects that 60,000 Indians had sought refuge in the mountains, fleeing from mistreatment by the Spanish colonizers. The strongest traces of Taino ancestry are found among inhabitants of the Cibao region.
As reported in Listin Diario, this is not the first study of its kind. Experts at the Museum of Dominican Man and the Institute of Innovation in Biotechnology and Industry (IIBI) are currently studying “Genetic Structure of Pre-Columbian populations in the DR and their Incidence in the Dominican Population Using Applied Genomic Techniques.”
In 1948, late researcher Jose de Jesus Alvarez Perello had said that at least 17% of the Dominican population, with variations by region, had Taino genes. The study was published in 1973 in the Revista EME and EME Dominican Studies. He put forward the theory that an unknown number of Spanish colonizers had mixed with the Indians, giving rise to a mixed race that then mixed with African slaves and their descendants.
Late researcher Norman de Castro also conducted research using newer techniques to confirm Alvarez Perello’s investigations, and Dr. Lynn Guitar has researched and written extensively to challenge the belief of Indian extinction on the island.