The Dreaded “Middle East” Autosomal Result

One of our blog followers, Ron, asked this question:

“My late father and his brother were born and raised on Hatteras Island which was a very isolated community until relatively recent times. Curious about their genetic ancestry, I had my uncle do the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test. His results for the Family (Population) Finder were:

Europe (Western European) – Orcadian 91.37% ±2.82%

Middle East – Palestinian, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Jewish, Mozabite 8.63% ±2.82%

The 8.63% Middle East was surprising since most if not all of his ancestors, going back 4 or more generations, were born on the OBX (Outer Banks). Most of the original families on Hatteras Island trace their roots back to the British Isles and western Europe.

Since my mother’s parents were immigrants from eastern Europe, I thought it would be interesting to know what contributions my maternal grandparents added to my genetic ancestry, so I submitted my DNA samples for the same test.  The Population Finder test showed that I was Europe Orcadian 100.00% ±0.00%. I was shocked that some other population did not show in the results.

Can you help me understand how the representative populations are determined and why Middle East didn’t show in my sample?”

Yes, indeed, the dreaded “Middle Eastern” result.  I’ve seen this over and over again.  Let’s talk about what this is and why it might happen.  As it happens, the fact that Ray is from Hatteras Island provides us with a wonderful research opportunity, because it’s a population I’m quite familiar with.

Given that Dawn Taylor and I administer the Hatteras Families DNA Projects (Y-line, mtDNA and autosomal), I have a good handle on the genealogy of the Hatteras Island Families.  They are of particular interest because Hatteras Island is where Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colonists are rumored to have gone and amalgamated with the Hatteras Indians.  The Hatteras Indians in turn appear to have partly died off, and partly married into the European Island population.  Both the Lost Colony Project and the Hatteras DNA Projects at and are ongoing and all Hatteras families are included.

As part of the Hatteras families endeavor, Dawn and I have assembled a data base of the Hatteras families with over 5000 early settlers and their descendants to about the year 1900 included.  What Ron says is accurate.  Most of the Hatteras Island families settled on the island quite early, beginning about 1710.  Nearly all of them came from Virginia, some directly and others after having settled on the NC mainland first for a generation or so in surrounding counties.  By 1750, almost all of the families found there in 1900 were present.  So indeed, this isolated island was settled by a group of people from the British Isles and a few of them intermarried with the local population of Hatteras Indians.

Once on the island, it was unusual to marry outside of the island population, so we have the situation known as endogamy, which is where an isolated population marries repeatedly within itself.  Other examples of this are the Amish and Jewish populations.  When this happens, the founding group of people’s DNA gets passed around in circles, so to speak, and no new DNA is introduced.

Typically what happens is that in each generation, 50% “new” DNA is introduced by the other parent.  When the new DNA is from someone nonrelated, it’s relatively easy to sort out using today’s DNA phasing tools.  But when the “new” DNA isn’t new at all, but comes from the same ancestral stock as the other parent, it has the effect of making relationships look “closer” in time.

Let’s look at an example.

You carry the following average percentages of DNA from these relatives:

  • Parents 50% from each parent
  • Grandparents 25%
  • Great-grandparents 12.5%
  • Great-great-grandparents 6.5%

As you can see, the percentage is divided in each generation.  However, if two of your great-grandparents are the same person, then you actually carry 25% of the DNA from that person, not 12.5.  When you’re looking at matches to other people in an endogamous community, nearly everyone looks more closely related than they are on paper due to the cumulative effect of shared ancestors.  In essence, genetically, they are much closer than they look to be on a genealogy pedigree chart.

Ok, back to the question at hand.  Where did the Middle Eastern come from?

Looking at the percentages above, you can see that if Ray’s Uncle was in fact 8% (plus or minus about 2%, so we’ll just call it 8%) Middle Eastern, his Middle Eastern relative would be either a great-grandparent or a great-great-grandparent.  Given that generational length is typically 25 to 30 years, assuming Ray’s birth in 1960 and his uncles in 1940, this means that this Middle Eastern person would have been living on Hatteras Island between 1835 and 1860 using 25 year generations and between 1810 and 1840 using 30 year generations.  Having worked with the original records extensively, I can assure you that there were no Middle Eastern people on Hatteras Island at that time.  Furthermore, there were no Middle Eastern people on Hatteras earlier in the 1800s or in the 1700s that are reflected in the records.  This includes all existent records, deed, marriages, court, tax, census, etc.

What we do find, however, are both Native Americans, slaves and free people of color who may be an admixture of either or both with Europeans.  In fact, we find an entire community adjacent to the Indian village that is admixed.

We published an article in the Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter that discusses this mixed community when we identified the families involved.  It’s titled, “Will the Real Scarborough, Basnett and Whidbee Please Stand Up” and details our findings.

These families were present on the island and were recorded as being “of color” before 1790, so the intermarriage occurred early in the history of the island.

Furthermore, these families continued to intermarry and they continued to live in the same community as before.  In fact, in May and June of 2012, we visited with a woman who still owns the Indian land sold by the Indians to her family members in 1788!  And yes, Ray’s surname is one of the surnames who intermarried with these families.  In fact, it was someone with his family surname who bought the land that included the Indian village in 1788 from a Hatteras Indian woman.

So what does this tell us?

Having worked with the autosomal results of people who are looking for small amounts of Native American ancestry, I often see this “Middle Eastern” admixture.  I’ve actually come to expect it.  I don’t believe it’s accurate.  I believe, for some reason, tri-racial admixture is being measured as “Middle Eastern.”  If you look at the non-Jewish Middle East, this actually makes some sense.  There is no other place in the world as highly admixed with a combination of African, European (Caucasian) and Asian.  I’m not surprised that early admixture in the US that includes white, African and Native American looks somewhat the same as Middle Eastern in terms of the population as a whole.  Regardless of why, this is what we are seeing on a regular basis.

New technology is on the horizon which will, hopefully, resolve some of this ambiguous minority admixture identification.  As new discoveries are made, as we discussed when we talked about “Ethnicity Finders” in the blog a few days ago, we learn more and will be able to more acutely refine these minority amounts of trace admixture.

If Ray’s ancestor in 1750 was a Hatteras Indian, and if there was no Lost Colonist European admixture already in the genetic mix, then using a 25 year generation, we would see the following percentages of ethnicity in subsequent generations, assuming marriage to a 100% Caucasian in each generation, as follows:

  • 1750 – 100% Indian
  • 1775 – next generation, married white settler – 50% Indian
  • 1800 – 25% Indian
  • 1825 – 13.5% Indian
  • 1850 — 6.25% Indian
  • 1875 — 3.12% Indian
  • 1900 – 1.56% Indian
  • 1925 – 0.78% Indian
  • 1950 – 0.39% Indian

Remember, however, about endogamy.  This group of people were neighbors and lived in a relatively isolated community.  They married each other.  Every time they married someone else who descended from someone who was a Hatteras Indian in 1750, their percentage of Native Heritage in the subsequent generation doubled as compared to what it would have been without double inheritance.  So if Ray’s Uncle is descended several times from Hatteras Indians due to intermarriage within that community, it’s certainly possible that he would carry 6-10% Native admixture.  There are also records that suggest possible African admixture early in the Native community.

So now to answer Ray’s last question about inheritance.

Ray wanted to know why he didn’t show any “Middle Eastern” admixture when his uncle did.

Remember that Ray’s Uncle has two “genetic transmission events” that differ from Ray’s line.  Ray’s Uncle, even though he had the same parents as Ray’s father, inherited differently from his parents.  Children inherit half of their DNA from each parents, but not necessarily the same half.  Maybe Ray’s father inherited little or none of the Native admixture.  In the next generation, Ray inherited half of his father’s DNA and half of his mother’s.  We have no way of knowing in which of these two transmission events Ray lost the Native admixture, or whether it’s there, but in such small pieces that the technology today can’t detect it.

Hopefully the new technology on the horizon will improve all aspects of autosomal admixture analysis and ethnicity detection.  But for today, if you see the dreaded “Middle East” result appear as one of your autosomal geographic locations and your family isn’t Jewish and has been in the states since colonial times, think to yourself ‘racial admixture’ and revisit this topic as the technology improves.  In other words, as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out!



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226 thoughts on “The Dreaded “Middle East” Autosomal Result

  1. Roberta, I hope you definitely expand more on this in the future. In my FF results, I show up as 9.36% Middle East which I figure is around 1G to 2G grandparents. All my family was in the U.S. before the mid-1700s and many in the 1600s. So if what I am reading is correct, this could also be showing for Native American. I have also done 23andMe, and they have me as 99% European and >1 African. This is all so confusing.

  2. Your article about racial admixture was very very interesting to me and very very well written. Keep up the good work.

  3. It is extremely common for people who have all British Isles ancestry back as far as they can go to report similar percentages in FTDNA’s Population Finder. Doug McDonald has explained that a result such as 88% Orcadian and 12% Middle Eastern does not mean that 1/8th of your ancestors are from the Middle East. Rather, if you draw a line between the Orcadian reference sample and the Middle Eastern reference samples, your “center of gravity” would be 12% along the way.

    • Ann, that’s incredibly helpful and makes perfect sense. Now, why hasn’t anyone told me that, all this time?
      I have 11% “Middle Eastern” and the rest “Orcadian,” while my father and brother both have 100% “French.” I’m not surprised that my brother and I inherited different combinations, from what I’ve seen at 23andMe..The “Orcadian” comes from my mother’s mother’s side, which I have a bit more from than my brother. So I suppose they had a strong, clear “Orcadian” signal for me, and in order to show it, they had to put something to balance it on the opposite end of the spectrum.

      • Hello,
        I just received my results last night. I have the exact same configuration. 11.something% Middle Eastern and 88.something Orcadian. I was all excited, thinking I might be part Jewish but then started to read this article. Whether or not I have a distant Native American/African relative (possibly a great great grandmother from North Carolina) or if this indicates I’m all British descent I guess remains to be seen. My family, on both sides, have been here since Colonial times, so very hard to say.

        • According to me family tree I don’t have any Middle Eastern family either. But I have a couple of illusive ancestors, one named Ross and the on my Wolf line. Also I match positively to more than one person who is a registered member of the Cherokee Tribe. Just today I found an autosomal match, but not X match to someone listed on the Native American with a Y Q1a3a1 DNA.

  4. II do not believe that these Middle Eastern percentages are anything to do with Native American ancestry. I have numerous people in my projects living in the UK, including my husband and my father, who can trace their ancestry back for many generations in the UK who are showing up with this Middle Eastern percentage. None of their ancestors have ever been to to America and had any contact with Native Americans, Africans or any mysterious Middle Eastern gentlemen in the last few hundred years. The problem is that the reference databases are currently inadequate. There are no reference samples in Population Finder from the British Isles other than from Orkney. In the absence of any other reference populations the Middle East simply happens to be the nearest match. I hope that Family Tree DNA will eventually be able to incorporate the data from the People of the British Isles Project (POBI) in their database so that they can give more meaningful percentages for UK testees. POBI has shown that there are marked differences within the British Isles and distinct clusters can be found in Orkney, Devon, Cornwall, etc:

    It might perhaps be significant that the people I’m seeing who do have this Middle Eastern percentage often have a large chunk of ancestry from Devon.

    • One of the things about genetic genealogy that is so interesting is that each person with a specialty brings focused expertise to the table. I would agree that the Middle Eastern found in England has nothign to do with Native American heritage here. However, in the US, Native heritage is often found in an admixed population, and by admixed, I mean with both Eurpean and African. In many of these families, ranging from the Carribbean through the Carolinas and Virginia to Maryland and west through Kentucky and Tennessee, we have proven admixture, proven by haplogroups and records which list these people at Mulatto in the late 1800s and in some cases, even into the 1900s. Yet, their DNA autosomal results are all “missing” African and Native, the possible two sources of admixture with Europeans that would cause a mulatto listing, and all have Middle Eastern, some in just about the correct percentages. And I see this consistently. It’s a pattern, and it is not correct. Perhaps the pattern you are seeing and the pattern I am seeing are caused by different things, but for what I’m seeing, it certainly suggests that admixture, likely mixed Native/African admixture, is showing up as Middle Eastern. This is also very prevalent in the Caribbean projects and was actually first noticed in Peter Robert’s Bahamas DNA project where every person taking the FF test was returned with Middle Eastern ancestry. That simply doesn’t wash. That population is very admixed, not primarily European, so the Euro influence there would be significantly less, yet they were consistently received 10-12% Middle East results as well. I am extremely hopeful that these new autosomal SNPs that will be used in the Geno 2.0 kit will sort this out.

    • Thank you Debbie, the last comment you made ( “the people I’m seeing who do have this Middle Eastern percentage often have a large chunk of ancestry from Devon”) suddenly helps me make a lot more sense of the results I recently received through FTDNA for myself and my Dad! Thanks.


      It might perhaps be significant that the people I’m seeing who do have this Middle Eastern percentage often have a large chunk of ancestry from Devon…….A very interesting comment and one I believe bears considering.With our british history maritime travel.I believe we may have more of an admixture than we think.My own population finder had Tunisian,Albanian,Egyptian ,Spanish,Basque and Southern slavic as my top matches.I have uk ancestry to 1700,s/1600,s in many cases ,although my grandmother was adopted and coud prove an anomaly.I have a lot of kent/devon and dorset ancestry and having discussed this with a genetiscist ,it is possible that my results are throwing up Romany gypsy.A lot of my trees surnames travellers used.It will be so interesting when the technology tightens!

    • I sent Ancestry DNA raw data to Familytree DNA and got back similar resutls-87% Orcadian and about 12% Middle East. My brother tested with Familytree and got 73% Europe (French) and 26% Easter European (Russian Finish). My mother’s Familytree DNA test was 100% Europe(several sub-populations listed). On my dad’s side english ancestry from exeter, devon coming to US i 17th century.

      • I got my results two years ago: 91.45% West European (French/Orcadian) and 8.55% ME. Nat Geno pegs me at 41% Northern Europe, 40% Med and 18% Middle East. Question: Is FTDNA still in BETA phase? I’ve seen no changes. My known ancestry is roughly 3/4 French Canadian, 1/4 English(mostly New England Puritan types) with an Irishman, a Portuguese, a Basque, a couple of Germans and Micmac woman thrown into the mix back in the 1600’s and early 1700’s.

        Ancestry tried to say is was 21% Finnic-Uralic. Their 21% British isles was almost on the money.

        So has FTDNA upated its databases?

  5. Roberta, thanks so much for answering my question. I will have to dig deeper into my ancestry to see if any of those Scarborough, Basnett or Whidbees show up. Interesting hypothesis. Actually I was wondering after doing my FF why eastern European didn’t show up from my mother’s side. Is that because of the lack of a reference samples from eastern Europe?

  6. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather both ere born in Trapani/Marsala, Sicily. Sothern Italy
    My mother, maternal grandfather and great grand father were born in Calabria. Southern Italy.
    I took the Family Finder, Y-paternal, mt-Maternal, Deep Clade and Markers up to 67 with FTDNA
    On Family Finders I am:
    62% from the Middle East, Palestinian, Jewish, Beduin and Druze.
    38% from Europe, Sardinian, Tuscan, Orcadian, Basque, Spanish, French.
    On my mt-Maternal it shows HV1
    On my y-Paternal shows I1
    On my Deep Clade, shows: I1-M253
    I am classified as I1-EE and they asked me to take the SNP Z140 to see if I am positive or negative to it!
    When I asked FTDNA and its coordinators about this above confusion to me they weren’t able to tell me much about the above results and I did spend quite a bit of money.
    They only told me that perhaps my gene goes to the Normans.
    Can you be able to shed a little better light on my research about myself?
    Why my percentage (%) is more Middle East than European? If I am I1 is because of my Y-paternal side so who were my mother ancestors where I have a larger percentage (5)?
    Thanks for your time and explanation.

    • Italy is another matter. It was settled by the Etruscans, in part, and they were from the Middle East. We find a great deal of Middle Eastern influence in the Mediterranean basin. Your haplogroup I1, remember, is only reflective of one of the many genealogical lines that combine to make up your autosomal self.

      • Roberta,
        I got your message. Thanks.
        Still I am puzzled by your answer. I know how many people lived in sicily and several culture intermingled. Still, after paying quite a large sum of money to FTDNA to pin point my DNA it seems I am more ignorant than before.
        I gave you all the test results from FTDNA on both paternak and maternal side and the only wyayou can describe my results is: (Roberta wrote):<> So kindly I ask if you can to tell me what are the other genealogical lines that combine to make up my autosomal sel, beside I1? I hope you understand my dilemma and puzzlement! Thanks!

        • Ok, let me try to explain this a different way. Your I1 is paternal and your mitochondrial is maternal. They represent your father’s, father’s, father’s father up the tree and your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother up the tree. At your great grandparent level, you have 8 great grandparents, but your I1 only represents one of them and your mitochondiral only one of them. At your great-great grandmother level, you have 16 great grandparents, but your I1 only represents one of them and your mitochondrial only represents one of them. The other 14 are n ot represented by your Yline or mitochondrial DNA, but each of them contributed approximately 6.25% of your autosomal DNA to you.

          • Roberta,
            Thnks for your explanation. I start to have a better picture now but still I cannot say that I grasped all of it.If only one great grandparent represent my Haplogroup I1 and not my entire lineage how sure is FTDNA to put me into this group I1? Why they allocated me in the branch I1EE ?
            If the contribution genetically is more on my mother side why still I am I1 from my Y-paternal?
            I really really hope I am not a pain on the neck to you but this field is quite new and for some people of a certain age like me unless we hear something logically and easy explained in simple english it is hard to grasp it. Please tell me more! Thanks a million!

          • Roberta, I guess you did not get the above question about tmy haplogroup. Can you be so kind to answer my questions in a easily way for me to understand? Thanks! 🙂

          • Each different male ancestral line in your pedigree chart has a different haplogroup. The only line they can test you for is your direct paternal line. That is the line they assign a haplogroup to. In your case, it’s your paternal surmane line. Your mother’s maternal line has a different haplogroup. To find the haplogroup of any of the rest of your ancestral lines, you need to find people descended from those lines to test. For example, if your mother’s maiden name was Smith, to discover your mother’s father’s haplogroup, you’d need to find one of her Smith male relatives to test, such as her brother, father or Smith uncles. So the haplogroup isn’t for all of your ancestral lines, but just the specific one that is being tested.

          • On my Y-paternal by FTDNA testing I am in the Haplogroup I1-EE (Short hand M253+)
            On my mt-Maternal I am HVR1 (16172C – 16298C) also by FTDNA.
            Can you be able to tell me what these 2 groups represent?
            Geographically and genetically?
            Unless I am wrong, I believe that on my paternal side my gene is Scandinavian/Germanic/Norman
            while on my maternal side the haplogroup is more related to the Middle East.
            Am I right or you can shed more light to it?
            Thanks. Molte grazie!

    • I’m Greek. My mother, grandmother and great grandmother were born on Crete, Rethymno, port city built by Venetians. My mtDNA says I’m Italian. Tuscan shows up as a population on 23andme. My mutations have Enna, Sicily, Abbruzzo, Eritrea. I have a lot of SouthWest Asian, 7% Baloch (Iranian), Druze, Palestinian, Bedouin and Ashkenazi@4.29%. I’m Orthodox Christian. On GEDmatch it said they used iranian Jew, Moraccan Jew, Tuscan. I read online that Italian and Greek cluster with Ashkenazi and have strong Near Eastern component. I’m H17 maternal.

    • Antonino,
      Your example of your ancestral painting makes complete sense given the history of Sicilia. For example, your Haplogroup of I1 is one of the modal (signature) haplogroups of Scandinavia. We know that King Roger of Normandy conquered the western side of the island and ruled for hundreds of years. If you ever have been, or plan on going to Sicilia, you will be showered with the Norman influence in everything there, architecture, culinary, wine making, literature, and even puppet shows.

      Southern Italy (the Magna Graecia) also shares a great history with many different cultures, including those of the Middle East. Sicilia was a maritime springboard during the crusades in Jerusalem (if you’ve ever seen the film “Kingdom of Heaven” they actually depict this). Not to mention that the western part of the island was once ruled by the Arabs, who left a brilliant footprint in dna signatures, architecture, culinary, wine making, language (much of the Sicilian language is based upon Arabic in one form or another), gelato (!), pasta- all the inventions of the Arabs.

      We also see a great influence of French and Spaniards.

      Our bodies are all individual computers and we have recorded information in our dna that tells the story of our migrations for time immemorial. We are only at the beginning of deciphering the coding of our chromosomes.

      Sicilia was never really European (which is a geopolitical designation) and even to this day it is an autonomous island (think Puerto Rico), so having majoral Middle Eastern components in your dna makes complete sense in this instance.

      For the others who have more Northern European genetic signatures, the Middle Eastern designation on Population Finder could be reflective of a wide variety of things. NOT NECESSARILY MIDDLE EASTERN ANCESTRY. I have really struggled with this for years until I understood the algorithms of the calculators as well as the reference populations that were utilized.

      On FTDNA, since it still is in “Beta” testing, it is reflecting what GEDmatch considers Mediterranean_Atlantic. Which encompasses the Basque region of Spain into France. Why this is the way it is? You’ll have to ask Bennett Greenspan.

      For a more precise understanding of your possible Middle Eastern ancestry I would recommend uploading your raw data to GEDmatch (which is AMAZING and FREE) and utilizing the autosomal utilities there. Each utility will run your data and present pie charts (which always make me hungry), and percentages of your ethnic components. Each utility employs a different methodology and reference populations. Once you understand them, then you can begin to paint a clearer picture of what PF (Population Finder) is actually trying to tell you.

      For more clarity, “Orcadian” is a generic composite of the British Isles as there were no population samples from England/Wales/Ireland included in Family Finder. In sum, take nothing as literal!

  7. Is there a DNA for dummies………like a little golden book of DNA…on a first grade level.
    I am not a stupid person, but all of this makes my eyes cross…..but I want to know and understand.

    • There isn’t. The problem is that this field changes so quickly. An early book that has been the primer every since is Trace Your Roots with DNA : Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner. It’s a bit dated now, and doesn’t include things like we’ve been discussing, but I think it’s still a good basics book.

      • Thank you. It really threw my family when I received the news of 9.37% Bedouin.
        We were expecting Cherokee…as we knew the history of our great great grandmother. Your reply to another explains it pretty well. That makes sense. We were very confused.
        Thanks for the blog, I think it is great.

  8. Roberta, I have almost the same results as the father. We were looking for Cherokee or Algonquin because of tribal negotiations. I suspected the same thinning of DNA contributions by 50% each generations, but I tested myself and my mother at FTDNA with the FF test. Her results were the same as mine, but more Middle Eastern ratio. We do have a Rosenberger which is in E Haplogroup of Middle Eastern DNA. I thought the Cherokee/Algonquin was too far back to show results, but reading your post, now I wonder!! Also new archaeological finds of European remains in an area that suggests the Europeans were here before or near the same time as Native Americans and add mixed earlier to suggest European DNA origins in Native tribes today.

  9. I have a question about my recent results. I’ve read all the comment in this thread and understand ‘most’ of it. My results showed 97% Orcadian, 3% Papuan. The best to my knowledge my ancestors have always lived in what is now Western Ukraine and Eastern Poland. I understand that Scandanavians at one time ruled, lived and intermarried with the locals. Also the Mongolians swept through the are and probably fathered some children of the local population.
    One of your comments and one on the FTDNA site say something about your “center of gravity”; what would this mean for my results?

  10. My FTDNA results were similar. 91.25 French/Orcadian and 8.25 Palestinian, Jewish, Bedouin, Mozabite, etc. My known ancestry is roughly 3/4 French Canadian and 1/4 new England Puritan stock English with the oddball here and there way back, such as a Portuguese in the 1700’s, a German and an Irishman also from roughly the same time and a Spanish basque from the 1600’s. Now I realize that the Portuguese have a good amount of moorish ancestry, but this ancestor died in 1720. Let’s say he had the typical amount of moorish ancestry for a Portuguese person, say 5-10 percent. By my generation, that should be down to almost nothing, especially since I am only descended once from him. Also I have a documented 11th great grandmother who was a Micmac Indian from Nova Scotia. We believe that a 3rd great grandmother was an Abenaki Indian from Vermont. Her family were referred to as Indians in their day, but she was listed as white on the census. there is a good circumstantial case for her being native, but how much DNA would I expect after 5 generations?

    I sent my results to Doug McDonald, and he says according to what he sees, The best match for me is a mix of Irish-Spanish and Basque. ok, Atlantic European. He thought I had a dab of Indian that might very well be real.

    So I tried They have me as 36 southern European, 21 per cent British isles, 18 percent central European, 21 percent Finno-Uralic (yes, Finno Uralic!) and 4 per cent uncertain. I wanted to take 23 and me’s test but I can’t legally do so as I am a Maryland resident.

    Whatever the actual breakdown turns out to be, I’m a member of two very old and not terribly diverse gene pools, French Canadian and New England Puritan so my results ought to reflect more or less what people with my background have.

    • Hi Steve, RE the confusion about your Native ancestry, I might be able to help. I am of French-Canadian/Acadian ancestry, and I have studied the genealogy of the North american French for 20 years. I know that there has been a lot of erroneous information published online about certain French women being supposedly native (usually Micmac). Mitrochondrial DNA has actually proved these women were European, not Amerindian. Please drop me a line on here if you wish :o)

      • I had about the same percentage of Orcadian and Middle Eastern. When running my results through Gedmatch and Promethease Siberian, Amerindian, and South American Indian do show up. Run the information through these and see what comes up. I see this as a very young science and new information is coming out everyday. I have no recent middle eastern ancestor, but my Beverforden (Baeverfjord) line were Vikings and for sure they left their traces in the Middle East and and Cambria

      • My results came back about the same percentages. Down load your raw data into Gedmatch and Promethease, then look at you results. Mine came back with Siberian, Amerindian, and South American Indian. Also Promethease showed recessive genes for shovel teeth, and the diego blood type genes which are indicators of Native American blood. My family history does not indicate Middle East, but my Beverforden (Baevefjord) ancestors were Vikings and may have left their traces in the Middle East and Cambria. Both have Viking intermixing.

      • This is what happens when I try to type something when I am not awake :D. Should be Calabria not Cambria. Why the double entry of my comment I have no idea. This has been happening for the last few days on facebook too.

  11. Hello, I am a female and had the autosomal test done because I don’t have access to my father’s DNA. It came back 100% Orcadian with no margin of error. I know both of my parents had Irish ancestry (we were raised Irish Catholic) but honestly, I expected to find some admixture. I have lineage in North America that goes back to the 1590s in one maternal line and Southern heritage that goes back to the 18th century in one line in my Dad’s family. I cannot believe no one in those families got with people who were not Orcadian in origin. Are these results capturing the whole picture or is it open to interpretation?

  12. I am about an eighth Native American or maybe a little more and being female had a snp done. I do have a ggrandfather who immigrated from Constantinople and was quite dark and Greek. I came out overwhelmingly Arab with a second high score from Yemen. Also Beduoin, and the Indias, then Northern European, and japanese, Tibetan, and so forth. All my scores were very low for matching, and I figured my native scores would be low because I heard our bloodlines died out, well from a registered tribal perspectives. People still alive would have separated from the community and therefore wouldn’t be represented in the pools for comparison.
    I am wondering about your comment on the Arabic thing, I don’t see how I could come out so primarily Arabic and East Indian when my relatives were Scottish, German, English, French on the white part and Souian and Mohegan/Pequot/Mohawk on the Indian part. Except for that one relative from Turkey (then Greece). New maps and analysis say there is no basis for Arabic dna in (thru migrations) into europe and asia and the surrounding areas. Is it a catchall bucket they stick things in when they don’t fit elsewhere? Can Europeans have that much Arabic? I was very little caucasian. And not African American to any extent.

  13. People in the Southern Appalachians, specifically Northeast Georgia near the old Cherokee Nation, show almost identical proportions of Western European 95%, 5%Middle Eastern. Some claimed partial Native American blood, but no traditional Asian Native American DNA was found by autosomal testing.

    On retesting at Ancestry DNA we found a mixture of Scandinavian, British Isles and Southern European, which reflected the history of invasions into Great Britain, whose original inhabitants were darker and more Mediterranean, with remnants localized in Wales and Western Great Britain. Think of the Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones, the singer Tom Jones and others who look almost Spanish.

    The next invasions of Romans also left behind a DNA imprint, since the island was occupied under Roman rule for generations. Next came waves of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Normans, actually Norsemen or Vikings who invaded Normandy in France then Britain. Accounting for a generous dose of Viking/ Germanic or Scandinavian DNA, intermixed with Native British Isles.

    During subsequent generations, slaves from Eastern Europe or Slavic areas also came to Britain. Others having genetic influences there might have been the French. Spanish, Sephardic Jews and Moors, who were actually Middle Eastern or North African rather than SubSaharan. The Moors were familiar enough to Shakespeare to give clear image to his audiences in Elizabethan England. Jews such as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice were also recognized and characterized, especially after the Spanish Inquisition which sent Sephardic Jews to Britain and other places where tolerance and freedom prevailed.

    The net result would be admixtures in the distant past, before emigration to America. Perhaps Europeans with darker hair or good tans could claim deliberately or mistakenly that they were part Native American. Perhaps such claims allowed them to live in greater peace and harmony with their neighbors who were in fact Native Americans. My ancestors in Northeast Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia learned Native languages such as Cherokee for purposes of trade and fellowship. Some married Cherokees and went with their wives and part Cherokee children to Oklahoma Indian Territory on The Trail of Tears in the 1830’s.

    Traditions of Cherokee heritage seem present in European and African American populations, but often show the same mixture of majority Western European/ Orcadian with Middle Eastern or Southern European. Might the endogamy have occurred in Britain before emigration to the Americas? After all, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s daughter also showed small amounts of Middle Eastern when tested on the show 100% English in 2006.

  14. I’ve received my Family Finder results from FTDNA, and I show up as 94% Orcadian and 6% Middle Eastern (Palestinian, Adygei, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Iranian, Jewish). Perhaps I could chalk my mom’s Celtic side up to being Orcadian, but why is none of my dad’s Dutch/Germanic showing up?? I’m baffled that I could be 94% Orcadian. My dad’s mtDNA tests as Haplogroup J, so the Middle Eastern isn’t overly surprising, but I expected some Native American results, too. What evidence is there that Native American autosomal results can read as a false positive for Middle Eastern? Thanks!

  15. Something is definitely up with Yemeni results. I have looked at a bunch of people’s dna results they published and most of them come up Yemeni, and one woman was told there was no Native American population to match against so she would just get whatever non-Native American matches that group usually gets. Many people with Native American heritage are coming up Yemeni. Many people with heritage come up with none and Asian and Yemeni results. So why not just tell people those populations aren’t available before they buy the test? I also wonder about contamination, is that possible? It used to be quite a common problem in dealing with such tiny samples.

  16. We just got our family finder results. Surprise! 83 Orcadian and 17 Middle Eastern – Druze, Palestinian, Iranian, Jewish, and something from the Caucasus. Not at all what the eighteenth-century Pennsylvania frontier family lore indicated.

    I have noted the optimism that many on this board have about new data clearing up these possible – likely?- misinterpretations. To those more knowledgeable than I, what is your time frame?

    And what do you see as the likelihood of being able to pinpoint tribes?

    • Okay, I’m new to this, but I’m seeing that a great many of us are mostly Orcadian and Middle Eastern. Mine says about the same as your, same Middle Eastern groups. So what gives? Are we really all related? My husbands and mine were kinda creepy, way too similar!

  17. Roberta, this is good stuff! I’m from a group of people that fall into this grouping, we are called. MELUNGUEN’S, I’m David Gibson and both lines from my Fathers side (Gibson /Collins ) fall in this group, I did a 67 marker Y-DNA and it was true as we thought so now I’m waiting for the test you are speaking of can’t wait. Thanks for the info. David Gibson

  18. Thank you for your explanation/comments. I submitted my aunt’s dna and her results show a 5 % East Indian admixture, which is confusing to me. At the time we received the results I was reading a book by W. Ralph Eubanks, ” The House At The End of The Road”, that chronicles several generations of a family similarly admixed to mine. He reported this Eastern Indian result as well. My maternal African American family is from a remote area in far North East Louisiana. They are completely admix’d. Both sets of my aunt’s grandparents were half black/ half white. The white ancestors trails are fairly easy to track, but she has several “unknown” ancestors. Many of her folks have been in the Ouachita since the late 1700′s, and of course intermarried or intermingled over and over again, very limited gene pool. There have always been stories of Native American admix, but the autosomal from Family tree showed none, just the surprising result of East Indian. There are pictures of ancestors in NA dress (maybe costumes? abt 1900), and family who moved away from the harsh conditions for FPOC in that area before the Civil War, who have lived for generations it appears, as Native American. The only lines we can identify that came into the area before 1805, came from North Carolina (a mix’d race child born of a white mother and unknown black father), first generation male born in Louisiana, who’s parents were born in France, African born woman. Those ancestors who can in later times (1805 to 1820) came from Virginia through Kentucky, and from Mississippi near Natchez. Auntie’s result reflect 51% Orkanian (whom I knew nothing of) 44 % African/Mandenka and the rest the East Indian bit. Though I have several unknowns, East Indian just does not make sense. So thanks for your explanation, I’m sure it will clear up others must be experiencing. Especially those of us who next to nothing about this whole dna world.

    • Romani or Rom or Dom people came over from Eastern Europe when France owned Louisiana in the 1700’s. Their ethnicity is East Indian – from Northern part of India. They also immigrated to New Orleans – 1860s & 1870s. I also have grandparents – both sides – from New Orleans. I was always told we had Indian – African & SE European showed up in my autosomal test -no American Indian. Europe does include Turkey & Romania. The Dom, Rom or Romani are in Romania – immigrated to US after 1864 (end of their slavery). The Rom left India due to religious reasons – mistreated. If you were told you have Indian heritage, it might be East Indian. The Melungeons were also found to be of North Indian (East Indian) heritage. There are certain last names -surnames – they used over here Davis, Griggs, Johnson, Presley – can google them.

      Here’s what Wikipedia states: Modern history

      Romani began emigrating to North America in colonial times, with small groups recorded in Virginia and French Louisiana. Larger-scale Roma emigration to the United States began in the 1860s, with groups of Romniachal from Great Britain. The largest number immigrated in the early 1900s, mainly from the Vlax group of Kalderash. Many Romani also settled in South America.

      Hope this helps out.

      • Dude, only the Romani (which are the defining Rom group; “Rom” is singular, male of “Romani” and “Roma” which are synonyms) live in Romania. Like, “Rom” is the term used for all Romani and Romani-related groups, i.e., “Rom-descended”, as well as what a Romani man who is Roma such as myself would call himself. It’s also the term used for the O.G. Romani. Like, they were the Rom. There are no modern, 100% Dom people in Europe. Groups like the Romani and Domari are not only Rom-descended, but also Lom & Dom-descended, but Roma (Central, Eastern and Southern European and Balkan Romani) have nothing to do with the Dom in the way that you’re suggesting. — Signed an actual Hungarian Rom of considerable Romanian descent.

  19. Hi…I am supposed to have Native American ancestry. FTDNA reported about 5% Middle Eastern and 23andme reported about the same percentage as unspecified Southern European (Italian or Spanish), which I took to mean Mediterranean. My ancestors (mainly British, German and Dutch) have been in North American since the 1600s and 1700s so, I’m wondering if what you wrote pertains to me. Any ideas? Great blog by the way!

    • Hi John,

      I would suggest downloading your raw data to GedMatch and taking a look there where you can actually see very small segments. Take a look at “The Autosomal Me” series on the blog – it shows exactly how I did this. You probably won’t want to do everything I did, but the tools are still valid one at a time.


  20. I have a well documented Romany line. My results came out as 95% Orcadian and 5% Middle Eastern. I was not surprised about the Orcadian result, as one line of my ancestors has been traced back to the Bishop of Orkney. I thought that the Middle Eastern influence was perhaps evidence that my Romany ancestors had come from the MIddle East and not India, but, having read other peoples’s entries, it would seem as though the Middle Eastern influence is quite common. It would also appear as though being described as Orcadian does not have anything to do with coming from the Orkney Islands!

  21. Can someone explain to me Why Orcadian is the only population group for the British Isles? Where are the Germans and Frisians?

    • Yes! Is that the only British Isle group? I know they are a mix of all the other groups that invaded, Norse, Gaels, Normans, etc. so is that just THE name for British Isles?

  22. What does Palestian mean? I’m trying to remove The Roman Era and 20th Century political concept of the term. The British Mandate actually included a number of different population groups including Arabs, Druze, bedowin, etc.

  23. “Middle Eastern”/”Palestinian”, etc., may in fact refer to the percentage of Y-DNA ancestry that belongs to haplogroup G2a, which reputedly had its origin in that part of the world (currently estimated at about 12,800 years ago). Various G2a lineages moved westward into Europe at various times during the Neolithic and Bronze and Iron ages – there was Neolithic settlement of the Greek and Italian peninsulas, for example. Some researchers also believe that the Romans, recruiting troops from the Middle East, may have been responsible for spreading it around Western Europe, including the British Isles. “Middle Eastern” ancestry therefore most likely refers to remote ancestry, not recent. And please, could we drop the “dreaded” from the title here? I see nothing dreadful about being descended from the people who are believed to have invented agriculture.

    • @ Bobdarling – My Paternal line was G2a – on paper they were GERMANS from the Baden region which trace back prior to 1650 ……and earlier Switzerland by way of Austria …. Had not thought about the Roman factor …Thanks for the share …will have to explore that avenue ….!!

  24. Roberta, My grandmother was a Scarborough and I too was confused about the FTDNA FF test. 88.45 Orcadian and 11.55 Palestian, Bedouin South, Druze, Jewish. Never knew any jewish in the family. My line is Spruill, Etheridge, Parker, Perry and so on. I’m a native Outer Banker. Thanks for explaining it alittle better for me. I don’t feel quite as confused! smile

  25. Wow Roberta How do you keep up with all of this stuff-DNA I am native american,German,french on my dads side and Alaskan Aleut, Tlingit, Haida Simseon and Denmark from my moms side. This is a new area still on going research and to me it is like trying to read greek. You all these people with different DNA and family trees and personality and yet you deal with all of us in a kind matter and that in itself is a task. How about the foods each race ate, would not that create a difference and would you be able to find at least the area the person comes from from what there ancestress ate. would not that change anything meaning the DNA results sense maybe the same people from certain places show a greater level. Just a question
    Thank You

  26. Hi Roberta Your blog is such a great community service. My FTDNA came back 92.87% Western Europe, Basque, French and 7.13% Middle East Adygei. I am Australian and I have a strong English Scottish heritage and probably a small amount of Australian Aboriginal. The high percentage of Basque,French was a surprise. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  27. I just got my test results today for my husband and for me. How could it be that we are about the same? 88% Orcadian for him the rest Middle Eastern and me 92% Orcadian the rest ME? I now for a fact my grandmother was Czech and her parents from Morovia. I also know for a fact 7 generations back, my grandparents (7 generation ago) were born in Madrid. So, is this where my MIddle Eastern came from? My husband does have Russian several generations back, so it that the source of his Middle Eastern? What do they mean when they give you actual groups like Bedouin and Iranian??? Is that for sure??

  28. Thank you Roberta for sending me to your blog! Helps me to realize that I’m not alone with my unsuspected autosomal test results. However, I wouldn’t consider them “dreaded”. 🙂 I do believe that my family knew what the “mix” was that entered my Cooper line as they referred to themselves as “black dutch” when asked about their ethnicity and dark skin. They were “hiding” something that was considered undesirable in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I look forward to the testing labs fine tuning their mechanism for narrowing in on the “middle eastern” results.

    Again, thank you for blogging on this mystery that so many people are apparently sorting out!

  29. I’m lost. DNA has only been available for 40+ years maybe. So how is DNA traced back so many, many, many years?

  30. Like some others here, I too come from a family that has been living a relatively isolated existence in the Mts of NE TN since the dawn of time, or at least the late 18th century when they migrated from the tidewater yet my father’s geno 2 results show a mtDNA of W1, a relatively rare heavily Iberian and Middle Eastern haplogroup. There has been virtually no recent migration into the area where my father is from. I notice that others are pondering similar odd results. I haven’t seen anyone make reference to the supposed existence (and disappearance) of Sephardic Jewish colonies in the Southern Highlands circa 1615.
    What are the chances we are dealing with hidden history here?

  31. Robert, I fully understand that you’d want corroboration. This is the only other reference to the Hooper Bald writing I found.
    I only discovered the author’s writings when looking for information on my mtDNA which is rare (or so they say on the internet) and heavily Iberian/Middle Eastern. The author has several articles on related subjects here

    I’d only note, for the curiosity of it, that my mother and father’s families are both very old (for E. TN) and they are fifth cousins. My mother grew up with John Tipton’s descendents and she and my father share an ancestor who was an associate of the John Tipton mentioned in the article (who reported finding Jewish villages). My mother grew up not far, as the crow flies, from Hooper Bald. This is one reason the mtDNA W1 finding for my father arouses my curiosity (aside from it being a puzzle generally).

  32. Interesting an well written! Thanks for the info.

    I have some interesting trivia about Britain

    The word British answers many questions as to where many Britain’s as a people come from.

    In Hebrew, Brit is spelled without the i, therefore Bryt in Hebrew means covenant.

    We’ve all heard the word Yidish. Ish in Hebrew infers belonging, or people belonging to a certain thing, idea, ideal or belief.

    British, spelled in Hebrew literally means people of the covenant, or people belonging to the covenant. Could British, just be an anglicized spelling of the Hebrew word Brytsh?

    When I learned this, I a few weeks later went to a Messianic Jewish synagogue in Springdale Ar near where I live. I asked the Rabbi is the above was true. He told me yes it was.

    The idea many Britains DNA results contain Hebrew/Palestine/Middle East DNA does not surprise me. The pageantry and standards of the English, Scottish, Irish Royals all bear the Lion of Judah.

    Most notable, the Scottish and English Royal shields and banners, Contain the Bull Unicorn, symbol of the tribe of Ephraim as mentioned in (Deuteronomy 33:17), The Lion of Judah, with the harp of King David center between them.

    The Unicorn Represents Joseph/Ephraim and Manasseh:

    Further suggestive evidence Britain once originally was populated by Hebrew descending peoples is found in Genesis 48 with the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim was to be come a “great multitude of nations” and Manasseh was to be come a single great nation.

    I believe it is no coincidence the sun never set on the British Empire, so large was it reach, power and influence, it became the greatest single multitude of nations in history. America, the single greatest nation on the face of the earth, well answers description of Manassehs’ “great nation”.

    That science is finding many the North American Indians, and British Isles peoples, having a remnant of Middle East DNA is no surprise to me.

    • Roberta

      Thank you for posting the connection between Hebrew and the word British. I’m believe the same applies to the French location Brittania which is my understanding of where the word Brittain came from. And I’m guessing that your thinking is that if most people who hail from Brittain have a teensy bit of “North Africa/Middle Eastern” blood. And that the small cumulative result would show up in our autosomal tests. Assuming that is true, would that also explain very dark skin that continues to be passed down in our family? I have one great uncle who was so dark that his nickname was “Blackie”. And yet, in all census data, my mother’s family is listed as “white”. But when asked about their skin tone, they referred to themselves as “Black Dutch”.

      I just don’t know what to think. While the science is being refined I keep looking at the pictures of my family members that “look” middle eastern. And I keep asking myself, why they referred to themselves as Black Dutch. Unfortunately, my Mom never asked her mother what that meant. She just assumed it meant she descended from people from Holland with dark skin.

      Any ideas on when the testing labs will refine their procedures to provide better indicators for the “North Africa/Middle Eastern” results?

      • For clarification, it was James, not me who posted the commentary about a Hebrew connection. My policy is to allow postings from divergent viewpoints so long as people are courteous and any links are not inflammatory and are in good taste. If I know something to be incorrect or highly suspect, I won’t let it post. Yes, there are scammers out there. Regarding a Hebrew connection, people can read and decide for themselves. There is a crypto-Jewish contingent that sees Jewish under every rock. So, like anything else, read and use your own good judgment.

        Regarding new technology, read this article –

    • This makes sense to me, many early Christians would have been ethnically either Jewish or middle eastern, since that is where the whole thing started. My Britsh part of my family that includes Churchill and Jones, the Woodruffs, my mom said she heard way back were actually Jewish, this would be very far back and maybe why the family came to America. As for the Ndn side of things, I think it is a problem with the interpretation, from what I’ve read, how they assign all the bits and pieces to form a certain ethnicity, which ethnicities they look at first and give precedence to, and whwther or not they consider your genealogical info. Some companies will look at your dna and say you are a mixture of asian, siberian, and so forth, while others will look at your info and consider if you might be native american, does the rest fit. People with mixed native american heritage would probably have more trouble, or people from first nations of first contact, where few members are left and many bloodlines gone. Altian is what they are calling the unique defining dna last I read. I have no idea what makes up that designation and how much overlap is there with all other groups.

  33. Last incidental note I forgot to mention.

    Scottish Declaration of Indepenence mentions the people of Israel crossing the red sea, to their home in the west.

    Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the TYRRENIAN SEA and the PILLARS OF HURCULES, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years AFTER THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL CROSSED THE RED SEA, TO THEIR HOME IN THE WEST WHERE THEY LIVE TODAY.

    Link below.

  34. Thanks for the interesting article. My son found it and told me about it. I am by FTDNA
    Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error
    Europe (Western European) Orcadian 86.79% ±3.88%
    Middle East Palestinian, Adygei, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Iranian, Jewish 13.21% ±3.88%
    I was surprised to find this out. My father is English and (Irish) Scot. My mom is German and English. I supposed that before genealogical time there were some Jews in my mother’s background that converted? I go back to the 1600’s for many lines and they are all Protestant. The only other thought is that all races went through the Middle East to get where they were going assuming a genetic Adam in Africa. I would like to put this through the 3rd party program that you mention to get a second opinion. Also I thought that I had read on the FTDNA site that a German person may get a result that was part Orcadian and part Southern Indian, which made no sense to me. Reading above there seems to be some kind of geographic averaging that is going on(?) I hope I eventually figure all this out.

    • I have a whole autosomal genealogy match to the Cherokee going back to the Revolutionary War, but no Middle Eastern matches. This line is currently registered Cherokee and participated in the Trail of Tears. I am wondering if there are just not enough Native American samplings to draw from. We have to remember that what is known about the Native People is an origin from Asia. Just my thoughts.

  35. I am posting here because my autosomal result was:
    Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error
    Europe (Western European) French, Orcadian 90.06% ±7.06%
    Middle East Palestinian, Iranian, Jewish, Adygei, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze 9.94% ±7.06%.
    There are 3 names on the population of Hatteras that match and when I compare these to my 4th and 5th cousins I get the Carolinas. As far as I know we have always lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The only lines that come to a dead end are Scottish surnames. And it is among this group that we have the very dark haired, dark eyed ancestors.

  36. I think this might explain the results. There is no sampling from German populations or Eastern/Oklahoma Native American populations. My own documented family tree is 82% Germanic and 18% Scots. Three lines of the Scots have Native American from the Eastern US. But since there are 0 samplings from these areas then the results cannot be accurate. I do have both Swiss/German and Cherokee matches using the matching filter within FTDNA. .

    This is from the FTDNA website.

    • Hello Roberta, I had the same ME results. I have documted Cherokee Dawes Comission and Choctaw Final Dawes rolls. Now, here the thing that gets me, I also had 2nd cousins who were mixed Brazilian and African American L2b haplo (her profile NOT WHITE) but a 2nd cousin now and several Hispanic A, C, Q etc ect or direct North American Indian haplogroups. Some looked white other Hispanic in profile. So I asked FTDNA and they said no not normal. I also read where North African from the Middle Eastern can be African mixed with Native American. That is right on FTDNA test site. Conclusion: Don’t test for admixture with FTDNA but look at your cousin matches. So these tests are NOT perfect and I believe you are correct with your theory. I do think 23 and me from what I have seen is more accurate on admixture. I know DNATribes was even more accurate on my admixture. Cheers, Al

      • I’m getting cousin matches with documented Cherokee. Even back to those that fought in the Revolutionary War.

  37. I had another thought on the sources of the Middle Eastern result. Although it pretty hard to explain 10 %. The Spanish explored all along the southeastern shore and up the Mississippi before the Dutch, French and the English. The Spanish descendants in New Mexico are discovering cryptoJewish ancestry. This might explain a very small portion of the DNA because there had to be females involved in this exchange of DNA, so it should be at the very least 50/50.

    • I’m starting to wonder if this is more accurate than I had first thought. Like so many who have tested and shown Middle Eastern or Southern European (e.g., Spanish of Italian) genes, all of my families have been in what is now the southern and eastern US since Colonial times. However, my paternal grandmother’s mother’s family was supposed to be of eastern Native American descent but, we never could discover the connection.

      The features in the family are olive skin, black hair, dark eyes and dark circles under the eyes which seem more Italian, Iberian or Middle Eastern than Native American. In fact, when my father (who had these features) lived in Puerto Rico as a young man, many there believed him to be a native and would address him in Spanish). With the new findings that the NC Cherokees are showing the same admixture (e.g., Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern), I am beginning to believe that my great grandmother’s family was possibly part Cherokee (they were from NC); therefore, the results could be accurate.

      That being said, there is the possibility that with the Roman occupation of Britain for so long that the Mediterranean reading could be from intermarriage between Britons and Roman soldiers. I really think we have to look at the specifics of a lineage in order to ascertain and determine the true meanings of these results. People from the UK probably are of Roman descent, whereas some of us who are descendants of colonial Americans may likely be of Iberian or Jewish ancestry via Spanish settlers possibly from Florida who moved inland and intermarried with Native Americans.

    • If the Pop finder tests were accurate it would show European, Native American/Asian and African for me which DNAPrint and DNATribes showed…but wait, in a way it did. NO ONE descends from the same ancestry, there is no such thing as a homogenious population unless you go to the rainforest. In other words your “middle eastern” is not my “middle eastern” does that make sense people? Even FTDNA said look at the reference populations along with family history. Even FTDNA said that endentured servant Africans mixed with Native Americans can account for North African “mozabite” scores. That is why pop finder sucks in my opinion. It just gives a “canned report” and pulls your “other” ancestry from the nearest population. It does not mean you are middle eastern, not in Europe and for sure not with people in United States. You can’t just put in what you think are “pure” genetics as Western European from Orkney and help people with their genetic ancestry as you are afraid it will “muck up” the waters. Jews having only Orkney should show that the pop finder report is a failure in current beta form and that has happened.

      The real value of FF is the matching genetic cousins. I had 2nd cousin matches in FF with 40plus cms who were in profile not white with clear African/Native ancestry. I also had 2nd cousin matches in FF with Mexican/Spanish surnames with clear Native American haplogroups…well DUH I have documented Choctaw and Cherokee and what most do not understand is SE Native Americans migrated North from Mexico from the Mayan areas. I also have a GGG Grandmother listed as black.

      The truth is autosomal is not accurate enough without a lot samples, and the truth is FTDNA is not good for admixture results as they only want canned as not to offend the white geneaologist or afraid it will “muck up” and taint their cred as a DNA company.

      However the matching 2nd cousins of African and Native American descent is awesome! and gave a much more clear picture to admixture than pop finder or any autosomal test can give because autosomal genes are just too similar to each other anyway to really give good proof of genetic ethnic ancestry.

      • Thank you for stereotyping all of us “white” genealogists as racist with a need for “pure” ancestry. Most people who are interested in genetic genealogy understand that no one is “pure” and we are trying to understand the results and reconcile those finding with the legal documentation we have. I have many matches with African Americans but, the majority match me through a common “white” ancestor. I have tried to determine if I have African ancestry but, the chromosomes don’t indicate that I do. I think it’s time to leave the 1950s mindset and move into the new millennium.

      • I don’t know why you would assume that indigenous people who live in a rainforest would be more genetically “pure” than any other group. They would not be and assuming so is just another fallacy. Archaeological evidence shows mmigrations early on from many different groups of people, polynesian, japanese, etc. The real problem is the assumption that there were one or two migrations to America, and that the indigeous peoples who remain after centuries of genocide are the definitive bearers of all the indigenus dna that ever exiisted, when entire nations, and bloodlines have been wiped out. Now Brazilian indigenous dna is said to be the true unique native american dna because they have a mutstion found in one other groyp, the Chuvash people of Russia.

        Based on this analysis, North American indigenous peoples have much less Native American dna. If they picked Tibetan or Manchurian or another group, the results could be much different.

        • I know the Hopi claim they are related to the Tibetan and Mayan connections. And from appearance it seems that western native people have more recent Asian admixture where the eastern natives have a different heritage.

  38. Would grandparents 7 generations back who were born in Madrid, Spain be the source of the Middle Eastern DNA in my tests? The map shows all of North Africa for mine. Also, could my Czech grandmother be the source of the Jewish part shown? I think it’s so cool to find this out. All my life I thought I was just a WASP!

  39. Thank you for a very useful blog. Makes me wonder if I am more English/Irish than I had considered if I discount the 6% Iranian etc from the Family Tree results. I guess the other question I have is how useful the 23andme Ancestry composition percentages are ? (34.4% British/Irish, 1.8% Scandinavian, 50% unspecified Northern European and 12.9% Nonspecific European at Standard level) Hardly surprising that there is a bit of Scandinavian in there considerig the regular influxes to the British Isles from that direction (including via Normandy)

  40. Interesting read – I wonder if this same “middle east” percentage is being used for those of Maori or other islander descent as well. If it is, then I’ve prove the family rumour true. If not, then I have a new mystery on my hands since I have no pedigree collapses and no jewish, no middle eastern, and no native american person within my ancestry in at least 7 generations.

    • I wonder when/if is going to release updates to their population finder that they say is in’Beta.’ For months I have seen no expansion of my Orcadian results , and no changes in percentages or further explanation of my. ‘Dreaded’ middle eastern result

      • I uploaded my raw data to Gedmatch. This really clarified and validated much of my dna. Only the Middle Eastern does not track with my family tree. But when I started researching online there is some information that is finding the Eastern Tribes are connected to Western Asia and the Middle East. The migration is estimated to have taken place prior to 22,000 years ago. This is not recent contact dna. I am hoping that familytreedna is including these findings in their updates. I do have positive matches to registered members of the Cherokee/Shawnee tribal members.

  41. Reblogged this on Study by Night and commented:
    Having recently had by own origins tested via DNA and having received a small percentage of “Middle East” within those results, I wondered where it may have come from. Reading this article makes me wonder if a certain family rumour may actually have some truth to it. I’ll be following this up a bit to see if something comes of it.

  42. Pingback: 2013 – DNA-eXplained in Review | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  43. Roberta, thank you very much for this blog entry and for your patience in answering readers’ replies. We’re all hungry for more knowledge.

    After hitting a brick wall with my paper trail, we decided to turn to DNA testing with the hope that we would learn why our family was listed as “mulatto” in census records until 1900 when they began being listed as “white.” They lived in Jones County, NC since before 1800 (that’s as far back as I can go with the paper trail.)

    With a last name like Conner, the Irish/Western European element was a given. Our assumption on the “mulatto” angle was that they had intermarried with the Tuscarora Indians who were left behind after the tribe moved up to NY in the 1700s (they are listed in U.S. Civil War records as having black hair, BLUE EYES, and mulatto “light skinned.”)

    This Tuscarora theory was given further support by a professor at ECU who is studying “Indian Enclaves” in NC. He said my theory had legs because according to census records, my family lived among a small community of other people with Anglo last names but who were listed as “mulatto.” All were free, owned land, and later were listed as “white” in the census. There is no evidence of any of them ever being slaves. Still, though, noting is proven.

    My brother’s FTDNA Family Finder test just returned an 86.5% Western European (Orcadian) and an 11.62% Middle Eastern (Jewish, Mozabite).

    Until I read your blog post, I assumed some Mediterranean/Northern African sailors had intermarried with an Irish or English ancestor several hundred years ago. But now I am wondering if the “Middle Eastern” percentage could be evidence of a more recent Native American or tri-racial admixture.

    Do you have any suggestions for anything I can do to prove this one way or another?
    Thank you for your hard work!

    • You may be able to track this using autosomal DNA through a different technique. I wrote a series about how to do this.

      Another gentleman wrote about how he did just that successfully.

      I also have this from my Native Names project:

      Tarrence Conner, white on the list of 1786 Bladen County NC. In 1850 mulato family named Conner in Robeson reported birth in Jones Co in 1770 and 1818. Married into Bass family which may be what made them Lumbee. Name listed in N Robeson in 1850 as mulatto and self-identified in 1900 as Indian. Conner listed as Indian in Alfordsville Twp in 1870 Robeson census and on the 1900 census schedule.

      Implosion, the Secret History of the Origins of the Lumbee Indians by Morris Britt

      • I was just reading one of your blog posts on the Native Names project when I got your email. Yes, I read Gerald Sider’s book, “Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora People in North Carolina” and it was a pretty good base layer of knowledge about that subject.

        My earliest known ancestor on that side was William Conner (b. abt. 1810 in NC).

        I’ll take a look at the links you posted and see if I can come up with anything. (I’m awaiting FTDNA Y-67 results and my full mT DNA results now.)

        Every little bit counts when you’ve had as much trouble finding these people as I’ve had.

        Thanks again, and I’ll keep reading your posts!

    • My ancestry is from what is now the U.K (most recently English) and some lines from France and Germany. The overwhelming ancestry is Colonial American (coastal Maryland and Virginia). Your brother and I have almost the same Family Finder results. There is no known Indian ancestry, something I would be proud to have, however.

  44. Thanks! Yes, of course you’re welcome to repost it to your blog. I wish that I were taking part in the challenge this January, but there’s just no way. Next time for sure!

  45. I think this is all BS, 8% is almost on the margin of error, what you should consider is the 92% . I have 85% middle east according to ftdna and 78 according to 23 and me so yeah I should really be from middle east (even though it does not really show in my physical apperance, I look more european). both of my parents are lebanese so it is consistent, now for the few percentages I don’t take them into account

  46. wonder when/if is going to release updates to their population finder that they say is in’Beta.’ For months I have seen no expansion of my Orcadian results , and no changes in percentages or further explanation of my. ‘Dreaded’ middle eastern result

  47. I am waiting also. Considering that all of my grandparents spoke German as their first language one would think I would not have 90% Orcadian and 10% Middle East. If I had Middle Eastern ancestry I might think differently.

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