Have you ever felt a strong affinity for a culture or nation, and then discovered a possible genetic link? One of my DNA cousins, Maurice of Geechee Moe's Ancestry, wrote in a recent post about his long time love of all things Jamaican and his delight at discovering a Jamaican cousin. It made me think about my own experiences of ancestral affinities.
When I was a kid, I fell in love with baseball. My hometown team had several future Hall of Famers: Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. Now I always liked these two, but I was especially drawn to the many Latin players on the San Francisco Giants. The Alou brothers, Felipe (who would later manage the team), Matty, and Jose, from the Dominican Republic. Orlando Cepeda, or the Baby Bull, from Puerto Rico. And my all-time favorite, the Dominican Dandy, Juan Marichal.
|From my DNATribes Admixture Analysis|
As a young teen, I discovered the work of Chaim Potok, who wrote The Chosen and The Promise about two young men growing up within the confines of a very conservative branch of Judaism. I didn't know why I was so powerfully drawn to these stories, or the similar books I read, but I was not surprised to learn that I have Jewish heritage. My maternal grandfather's paternal grandparents were Jews whose lineage goes back to Lithuania. My great great grandfather Zorach Hirshson had a brother who became a Rabbi, while he was the first to leave to come to America. I wonder if Zorach's experiences could have been somewhat similar to those of the men I read about; did he leave to break away from a conservative branch of Judaism? His older children, the ones born in Latvia, remained observant, but my great grandfather, William Hirshson, married outside the faith, and his son, my grandfather Louis, never mentioned his Jewish heritage.
I have had three other experiences that demonstrated not so much cultural affinities, but what I would call deep ancestral memories. The first occurred when I attended a PowWow while working in Michigan. When I heard the drumming, I had an immediate experience of remembrance. I knew the sounds, the rhythms, and felt I could have joined the dance. Though my percentage of Native American ancestry is relatively low, at just 1.5%, it seems as if it still resonates within me.
My third experience of a deep ancestral memory was watching a performance of Alonzo King's
Lines ballet, The People of the Forest, with Nzamba Lela, a group of dancers and musicians from the Aka or BaAka (also known as BiAka) people of the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Again, as with the drums at the Pow Wow, I recognized the rhythms and the moves as they danced. And I also immediately understood some of the origins of my own short stature. The BaAka are a nomadic pygmy group (see this site for more information). According to one of the admixture tools on gedmatch.com (Africa9), I have about 5% Biaka ancestry.
What experiences of ancestral affinities or deep remembering have you had, if any, and do you believe that they could be because of genetic influences?