Gathering Forest Peoples' DNA

$4,534 of $4,700 goal

Raised by 91 people in 7 months
Bonnie Schrack  GREENBELT, MD
We, Bonnie and Matthew, are back to ask you, our loyal supporters, to stay the course with us, and launch Matthew on his last big field trip, to collect DNA samples from the forest peoples of Cameroon, who have commonly been known as Pygmies.

We've finally gotten ready to sample these first, indigenous peoples who have persevered for thousands of years in their symbiosis with the life of the tropical forests. Today, their way of life is in grave danger. Matthew will go to meet the Bakola and Baka people where they linger, down in the Southern region of Cameroon, and ask them to donate samples.

We would also like to help them out, but first, we need to make contact. Matthew last met them ten years ago when he collected samples that were sent back to the U.K.  Among those Pygmy samples, there were two A00, as well as two more from nearby non-Pygmy people.

This is our best hope of finding a distinct branch of the A00 haplogroup.  The Baka and Bakola are not known to have had any direct contact with the Bangwa and Mbo peoples, in the highlands to their north and west, where most of the A00 members have been found.  Finding a divergent branch of A00 will give us a much better picture of the history, age, and origins of A00 itself, and its relation to the rest of the human haplogroup tree.

There is no guarantee we'll find A00 there, but let's aim high and go on this great adventure. If nothing else we'll gain unique insights into the Pygmies' ancestries. We may find some haplogroup A0, B, and other rare African clades. There are few Y-STR haplotypes of Pygmy DNA available, and those we generate will be shared with everyone who's interested. 

These are links to our past fundraisers, where you can learn much more about our project:

Matthew has just been awarded his Ph.D. in History, and is going to have the opportunity to finally take the kind of teaching position that his knowledge and experience qualify him for. He needs to leave on this field trip as soon as possible, so he can be back in time to start working in the fall.

Thus, we've set our goal at a very modest level, just the amount we'll actually need for the trip itself, in order to be sure of reaching it quickly. Also, GoFundMe, in contrast with our past platform, will allow us to choose the date when we collect the funds, giving us the flexibility to make our choices according to how things develop.

We hope to collect 200 samples on this trip, including some from the Pygmies' neighbors, who have always intermarried with them. The testing of these samples, plus many that Matthew collected earlier this year, will require thousands more in funding, which we're leaving for the next fundraiser, in order to complete this one as quickly as possible.

We've been so gratified to have been given such strong support from our community, allowing us to do what no citizen science project has been able to do before: plan and carry out a full-fledged DNA collecting field project in a crucial part of the world which holds unique importance for our human story.

You, our community, will always be the engine behind this project, that moves and inspires us!  We know you'll be proud when you see the results, which have been and will be coming out of our field and lab work.  No big companies, institutions, or governments are behind this project -- we belong to you, the grassroots.

In updates, we'll be sharing some of the scientific discoveries that we've been making, and telling you about the people-to-people aid projects that our friend Laurie Middendorf has been thinking of, which we hope will lend a hand to some of the neediest people, especially the children, in the communities where A00 is found.
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Update 1
Posted by Bonnie Schrack
7 months ago
Yay, our first donation! Thanks to Catherine Kesseler!
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$4,534 of $4,700 goal

Raised by 91 people in 7 months
Created August 2, 2016
2 days ago
Eileen Patocka
6 days ago
Ashley Gonzalez
8 days ago

Good luck with your project!

Bill Russell
8 days ago
Dave Davisson
8 days ago
Michael Dreimiller
9 days ago
Joy King
9 days ago
Cherilyn Reno
9 days ago
Kay Schmid
14 days ago
James Adams
14 days ago
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