Research Revises Popular Legend

Research Revises Popular Legend

The following is a press release from the Ohio Academy of Science (

The full research article can be downloaded from

DNA Study Concludes Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket was a Native American, not legendary Dutch Caucasian

Columbus (December 1, 2006) . . . The great Shawnee war chief Blue Jacket, who played a pivotal role in the early history of southwestern Ohio, was not the legendary Dutch Caucasian named Marmaduke Van Swearingen, according to research publish today in The Ohio Journal of Science. Barring any questions of the paternity of the Chiefs single son who lived to produce male heirs, the Blue Jacket-with-Caucasian-roots legend is not based on reality, said Carolyn D. Rowland, an analyst at Forensic Bioinformatics, Inc. in Fairborn, Ohio, and lead author of the report.

Using the tools of modern molecular biology and genetics Rowland and her colleagues tested the issue of paternity by analyzing cheek tissue samples collected from six direct male line descendants of George I Blue Jacket, son of Chief Blue Jacket and his wife Metis Baby. Similarly, researchers collected samples from the Swearingen male line from two direct male descendants also six generations removed from Charles Swearingen; and one each from direct descendants of Marmaduke Swearingens paternal great-uncles, Samuel Swearingen and John Swearingen.

According to the article, if it is accepted that George I was Chief Blue Jackets son, it can be reasonably concluded that the famous Shawnee war chief was in fact a Native American and that the popular story surrounding his relatedness to Dutch settlers is without merit.

Written and oral accounts have claimed that the young Marmaduke Van Swearingen was captured by the Shawnee while he was wearing a blue linsey blouse or hunting shirt. That article of clothing is then said to have given rise to his Indian name when he became enamored with and dedicated to the way of the Shawnee and, ultimately, became Chief of the Shawnee by the age of twenty-five. The paternally inherited Y chromosome, the focus of this research, has become a particularly important tool for such genealogical reconstructions as well as other purposes including forensics, molecular archaeology, nonhuman primate genetics and human evolutionary studies. The Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings affair and the identification of the remains of Christopher Columbus are among the more prominent oral traditions that have been directly tested by such DNA comparisons.

The lead author of the report, Ms. Carolyn Rowland, is currently an analyst at Forensic Bioinformatics, Inc. in where she reviews case files including GenophilerTM output, laboratory notes and serological results associated with forensic DNA testing. She has reviewed and consulted with the lead attorneys of more than 400 cases over the past four years. Other authors included R. V. Van Trees, Major, USAF (Ret.), historian, genealogist and author; Marc S. Taylor, technical advisor to the Quincy TV series and lead scientist at Technical Associates in Ventura, CA; Dr. Michael Raymer, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Wright State University; and Dr. Dan Krane, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Wright State University.

Posted December 4, 2006
Topics: Archaeology

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