I recently received the results of my mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA test, which predictably show that I descend from Native American ancestry on the maternal side of my family – the line that extends through my mom, my grandmother, her mother, her mother, and so on.
I say predictably, because DNA experts told me most native New Mexicans descend from Native Americans. The primary reason? Spanish colonists who settled in New Spain, and eventually modern day New Mexico, were mostly men. So, naturally, they married and/or had children with indigenous women.
That’s different than Europeans who settled later in New England. I am told the Mayflower, for example, had a more balanced mix of men and women.
In any case, my mtDNA, which identifies me as part of haplogroup A, suggests a Native American is the progenitor of my maternal ancestors.
Based on mtDNA results from others in the Family Tree New Mexico DNA Project, I probably descend from Bernadina Vasquez, according to Angel Cervantes, the project administrator.
Researcher Pat Sanchez Rau explained that Bernadina Vasquez is the daughter of Francisco Vasquez and an unknown mother, possibly the Native American progenitor of so many New Mexico families, including mine. The mother, whose name is not known, was one of six daughters of Juan Perez de Bustillo and Maria de la Cruz, a family that came to New Mexico with Don Juan de Oñate. According to Sanchez Rau, Maria de la Cruz is probably of Mayan descent, although more research must be done. Sanchez Rau credits researcher Henrietta Martinez Christmas for identifying the connection between Bernadina Vasquez and descendants who belong to haplogroup A.
Sanchez Rau generously tried to help me connect my own family paper trail to the known descendants of Bernadina Vasquez.
Josefa Carrillo was the daughter of Gregoria Gutierres, who was the daughter of Maria Trinidad Gonzales.
Unfortunately, the paper trail reaches a dead end with Maria Trinidad Gonzales, who was born in the mid 1700s. So we don’t know for certain if Maria Trinidad Gonzales descends from Bernadina Vasquez or one of her sisters. But she – and I -- definitely descend from that pioneering New Mexico family.