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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

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Forensics (Northbrook, Ill., May 4) – A study of the DNA of the nameless people who died attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexican border indicates they have disproportionately greater Native American ancestry than European genetics. The complex racial history of Mexico complicates what is happening along the border, says Cris Hughes, a professor of anthropology at Illinois who is one of the study’s authors. “In Mexico, indigenous populations are concentrated in southern states, and poverty is more prevalent in the south,” Hughes says. “There is a deep distrust between indigenous peoples in Mexico and their government, founded on a history of oppression by those in power.”