Ancient and modern genomics of the Ohlone Indigenous population of California

Alissa L. Severson, Brian F. Byrd, Elizabeth K. Mallott, Amanda C. Owings, Michael DeGiorgio, Alida de Flamingh, Charlene Nijmeh, Monica V. Arellano, Alan Leventhal, Noah A. Rosenberg, Ripan S. Malhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Traditional knowledge, along with archaeological and linguistic evidence, documents that California supports cultural and linguistically diverse Indigenous populations. Studies that have included ancient genomes in this region, however, have focused primarily on broad-scale migration history of the North American continent, with relatively little attention to local population dynamics. Here, in a partnership involving researchers and the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, we analyze genomic data from ancient and present-day individuals from the San Francisco Bay Area in California: 12 ancient individuals dated to 1905 to 1826 and 601 to 184 calibrated years before the present (cal BP) from two archaeological sites and eight present-day members of the Muwekma Ohlone tribe, whose ancestral lands include these two sites. We find that when compared to other ancient and modern individuals throughout the Americas, the 12 ancient individuals from the San Francisco Bay Area cluster with ancient individuals from Southern California. At a finer scale of analysis, we find that the 12 ancient individuals from the San Francisco Bay Area have distinct ancestry from the other groups and that this ancestry has a component of continuity over time with the eight present-day Muwekma Ohlone individuals. These results add to our understanding of Indigenous population history in the San Francisco Bay Area, in California, and in western North America more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2111533119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 29 2022


  • Indigenous population genetics
  • Penutian hypothesis
  • genes and languages
  • identity by descent
  • paleogenomics


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