New genetics research shows that up to 350 Icelanders could be descended from Native Americans.
Masters student Sigríður Sunna Ebenesardóttir, working with Agnar Helgason at deCODE, determined that for the most part, Icelanders can trace their heritage to Britain matriarchically, and to Scandinavia patriarchically.
However, their research found the presence of a genotype known as C1E, known primarily as belonging to Native Americans and some east Asians. Furthermore, this genotype has existed in Iceland since at least before 1500.
Agnar, speaking to Fréttablaðið, has the theory that “As it is right now it appears that [this genotype] originated from Native Americans, and was brought to Iceland before Columbus, around the time that Nordic people were sailing to Wineland,” referring to the medieval name for North America.
“It is therefore likely that some [Native American] woman took part in sailing from America back to Iceland, and that would have been the first Native American woman to arrive in Europe.”
Agnar did, however, emphasize that the matter is far from resolved. “I think that when you blend together Columbus, vikings and Native Americans into one cocktail, it gets attention. But it’s important to have in mind that this isn’t a solution, but rather the most likely solution we have right now.”
When asked how many Icelanders are possibly descended from this Native American woman, Agnar estimated that “at least 350 Icelanders could trace their roots matriarchically to this woman.”