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New Mexico: Secret ancestry, hidden health risks

From Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog

Hispanics in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado are more frequently uncovering a secret Jewish ancestry, as well as a hidden health risk.

The story mentions's Santa Fe DNA Project, Father Bill Sanchez (with a moving 30-minute video interview - see below), a genetics counselor, information on the so-called "Ashkenazi" breast cancer (it isn't only Ashkenazi, but simply Jewish).

It is an important story for all Hispanics, and points up the need for focused education among the people as well as medical professionals. Learning about one's ancestry and roots may save lives.

The story was at KRQE (Albuquerque, NM).

"Nothing survives but a name, a blood line, and curiously enough a tendency to contract certain auto-immune diseases," said University of New Mexico adjunct professor Stanley Hordes - author of the book "To the End of the Earth: A History of the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico".

"It's absolutely fascinating to see the intersection between the historical and the cultural and the genetic and the genealogical," Hordes said.

Research shows Sephardic Jews held on to their religion in secret after leaving Spain and Portugal during the Spanish inquisition in the late 15th century, which eventually followed them into the New World.

The people are finding out more about their history now than ever before. Quoted in the story is Albuquerque resident Bernadette Martinez:

"Our family had been in the Pojoaque Valley forever and ever and ever," said Albuquerque resident Bernadette Martinez. "We thought that we were just thedescendants of Spaniards that came into New Mexico."

Martinez confirmed she has Jewish blood, through DNA testing three years ago.

Other Hispanics are learning about their ancestry through genetic testing that is also revealing the health threat. ...

It offers comments by a Denver geneticist, author Stan Hordes, as well as links to interesting video interviews, to the New Mexico DNA Project at and to additional genetics information.

Read more here.

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