Jacken Robinson-Porter, 89, a survivor of the Portland bombings, is the great-grandson of writer, abolitionist and journalist Seth Bullock. His research has produced the nation’s first genetic test based on genetic makeup.
Sitting Bull’s estate in New Haven, Conn., has made a donation to Yale University, where a study is ongoing to identify any descendants of the Union patriot. In addition to Dr. Robinson-Porter’s findings, several other relatives and neighbors shared stories about his life, including Tulane University historian and author Michael Dobbs. Dr. Robinson-Porter collected DNA samples from his family members to use in the study. In addition to DNA from Bullock and Robinson-Porter, scientists are also looking for tests that will reveal genes for the great-grandson of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Last year, researchers at the genetic testing company 23andMe announced they were looking for relatives of Anishinaabe American explorer David Bowie.
A hereditary test not used in the past shows definite differences among genetic groups with the same name. The process reveals that some White Americans, Asian Americans and Africans have not been in contact with each other in the distant past, even though they share a name and commonly live in the same communities, according to scientists and researchers.
Harold Varmus, director of the National Institutes of Health, said the new tests are needed to reveal when people were born and to discover the interbreeding that took place during historic civil rights and birth control campaigns.