The Olmec people were Mande speaking people who migrated to Mexico around 1200 BC. This was supported by the fact that they called themselves Xi and the textual evidence found in Izapa Stela #5. Izapa Stela # 5 shows the Olmecs sailing on a boat to Mexico.
This reality was further confirmed by Olmec skeletons , and inscribed Olmec artifacts excavated on Olmec sites. The decipherment of the Olmecs text indicated they spoke a Malinke-Bambara language that belongs to the Mande family of languages.
We now have Olmec DNA. Enrique Villamar Becerril (1), has found that the Olmec carried mtDNA A, which is a subclade of the Macrohaplogroup N. Haplogroup N originated in Africa.
Enrique wrote: "The pioneering study of ADNMT carried out on Olmec individuals, one from San Lorenzo and the other from Loma del Zapote, resulted, in both cases, in the unequivocal presence of the distinctive mutations of the “A” maternal lineage. That is, the origin of the Olmecs is not in Africa but in America, since they share the most abundant of the five mitochondrial haplogroups characteristic of the indigenous populations of our continent: A, B, C, D and X. “
The discovery that the Olmec carried haplogroup A does not prevent the Olmec from being African as claimed by Villamar Bercerril , because foundational Blacks in the United States and Africans, including the Mande speakers carry mtDNA A, X and etc.
There are no “pure” Mexindians. Lisker (5) noted that between 5-50% of Indian genes are African genes. The Mixe, Zenu , Wayuu and other Mexican groups with YAP+ associated A-G transition at DYS271. Haplotype DYS271 is of African origin. In addition, The Maya speaking Ch’ol and Chontal at Campeche carry R-M173, E1b1b, K and T. These are DNA haplogroups common to Africans.
Indian y-chromosome haplogroups C and D show African admixture at locus DYS271. The American mtDNA haplogroups A and B are part of the haplogroup N macrohaplogroup.
African people carry mtDNA A common to mongoloid Native Americans and y-chromosome R, so they probably passed on these genes to mongoloid Native Americans
The mtDNA A haplogroup common to Mexicans is also found among the Mande speaking people and some East Africans (2-4). Haplogroup A is found among Mixe and Mixtecs (2).The Mande speakers carry mtDNA haplogroup A, is common among Mexicans (4). In addition to the Mande speaking people of West Africa, Southeast Africa Africans also carry mtDNA haplogroup A (3).
In addition to DNA, the Spanish explorers reported many Africans in Mexico. The Spanish explorers mentioned Black Nations and Black tribes in the Americas, they met, even before African slaves were landed in America. The Spanish said the Aztecs were Negroes.
Paul Gaffarel noted that when Balboa reached America he found "negre veritables" or true Blacks. Balboa noted "...Indian traditions of Mexico and Central America indicate that Negroes were among the first occupants of that territory." This is why so many Mexicans have "African faces".
In conclusion, Olmec have left us many skeletons, and textual evidence indicating that they were Mande speakers. We have also illustrated that The Spanish found many African communities when they came to America. As , a result, it is only natural that the Olmecs carried African genes like mtDNA haplogroup A. Moreover the presence of haplogroup A among the Olmec, result from Mande speakers carrying this haplogroup in Africa.
1. Villamar Becerril Enrique, “Estudios de ADN y el origen de los olmecas”, Arqueología
Mexicana, núm. 150, pp. 40-41.
2. Bonilla C, Gutierrez G, Parra E J, Kline C, Shriver M D. (2005). Admixture of a rural population of the State of Guerrero,Mexico, Am J Phys Anthropol. Dec;128(4):861-9.
3. Salas A, Richards M, De la Fe T, Lareu M V, Sobrino B, Sanchez-Diz P, Macaulay V, Carracedo A. (2002). The making of the West African mtDNA Landscape, Am J. Hum. Genet, 71:1082-1111.
4. Jackson B A, Wilson J L, Kirbah S, Sidney S S, Bassie L, Alle J A D, McLean D C Garvey W T.(2005). Am J Phys Anthropol. 128:156-163.
5. Suarez-Diaz,(2014) Indigenous populations in Mexico. Medical anthropology in the Work of Ruben Lisker in the 1960’s. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47 (p.117)