Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA

Every day, I receive e-mails very similar to this one.

“My family has always said that we were part Native American.  I want to prove this so that I can receive help with money for college.”

The reasons vary, and not everyone wants to prove their heritage in order to qualify for some type of assistance.  Some want to find their tribe and join to reclaim their lost heritage.  Some want to honor their persecuted and hidden ancestors, undoing some of the wickedness of the past, and some simply seek the truth.  Regardless of why, they are all searching for information lost to them.

I’d like to talk about three topics in proving Native Ancestry.  First, I’d like to do some myth-busting.  Second, I’d like to talk a little about conventional research and third, I’d like to discuss what DNA can, and can’t, do for you.

As you read this blog, please click on the links.  I’m not going to repeat something I’ve already covered elsewhere.

Myth-Busting

Myth 1 – Free College

There is no free college for Native Americans.  There are sometimes scholarships and grants available, mostly by the individual tribes themselves, for their official members.

Myth 2 – Joining a Tribe

Many people think that if they can only figure out which tribe their ancestor descends from, they can join.  This is untrue.  Each tribe is a sovereign nation, and they get to determine their criteria for membership.  Most tribes require a specific percentage of Native “blood,” called blood quantum, in addition to being able to document which tribal member you descend from.  Some tribes require as much as 25% Native heritage, and most require at least 1/16th Native heritage, which is one great-great grandparent.  If you don’t know who in your family was a tribal member it’s unlikely that you would be able to meet the blood quantum requirement.

Myth 3 – DNA Testing Will Reveal my Tribe

Generally, DNA testing does not provide us with the information needed to determine a tribe, although it can clearly tell, using y-line or mitochondrial DNA testing, whether your direct paternal or maternal line was or was not Native.  Sometimes you will be able to infer a tribe based on your matches and their documented history, but the definition of tribes, their names and locations have changed over time.  We are working on improving this ability, but the science simply isn’t there yet and the number of Native people who have tested remains small.

Simply put, most federally recognized tribes aren’t interested in more tribal members.  More members mean a smaller piece of the pie for existing members.  The pot of resources, whatever resources you’re discussing, is only so large and it must be shared by all tribal members.

What is a Tribe?

Tribes in the US fall into two categories.  When most people think about tribes they are talking about federally recognized tribes.  Those are tribes that have some continuity with the past, such as they have always been a tribe, or they still retain tribal lands, etc., and the federal government recognizes them as such.  These are the tribes that qualify for government programs and many own casinos.  As you might imagine, with the influx of casino money, the desire to join a tribe has increased significantly.

The second category is non-federally recognized tribes.  Some are state recognized and others, not at all.  State recognition does not in any way guarantee federal or state funding and there are no universal standards for state recognition.  In other words, your mileage may vary, widely.  Non-federally recognized tribes are often run as non-profit entities.  In many cases, these tribes will help people research and document their genealogy and may be more open to tribal membership for those connecting with their Native heritage.

Be aware that some “tribes” that fall into the non-federally recognized category may be less than ethical.  Some tend to come and go.  In one case, to apply to join, one had to provide information such as social security numbers and a complete family pedigree including your children. In some cases, membership is very expensive, hundreds of dollars, but is available to almost anyone for the right price.  When evaluating tribes that are not federally recognized, if something sounds fishy, it probably is.  Caution is the watchword.

In general, the federally recognized tribes do not feel kindly towards the non-federally recognized tribes and view them as “fake,” interlopers trying to get part of that pie.  Of course, the non-federally recognized tribes feel differently; that they are reclaiming their heritage denied them.  Native American politics is nothing new and is fraught with landmines.

No federally recognized tribes, to the best of my knowledge, have considered DNA testing as a criteria for membership.  No federally recognized tribe has endorsed or participated in DNA testing that I’m aware of.  This does not mean that individuals have not privately tested.

Traditional Genealogy Research

Given the criteria for membership in federally recognized tribes, traditional genealogy is the only way to obtain the type of information required.  If your family history includes a tribal name, and east of the Mississippi, that most often is Cherokee, contact the various Cherokee tribes to inquire about membership criteria.  If the membership criteria is 25% blood quantum, and you must live on the reservation, you’re toast…..no need to continue that line of research if your goal is to join the tribe.

If your goal is simply to find your Native ancestor, that’s another matter entirely.  Begin by using the traditional research tools.

First, look at where your ancestor or that family line was located.  Did they migrate from elsewhere?  How were they listed in the census?  Was someone listed as other than white, indicating mixed race?  Check the records where they lived, tax records and others to see if there is any indication of non-European heritage.  Remember that your non-white ancestor would have retained their “darker” countenance for at least 2 generations after being admixed.  Many Native people were admixed very early.

So first, check the normal genealogy records and look for hints and traces of non-European ancestry.

Second, turn to Native resources that might reflect the Native people in the areas where your family is or was found.  The Access Genealogy site is absolutely wonderful and has an amazingly complete set of records including searchable tribal rolls.  In addition, I add information almost daily to the Native Heritage Project at www.nativeheritageproject.com, which is searchable.  There are many more resources including several collections at Ancestry.com.

Hopefully, these records will help narrow your focus in your family tree to a particular person or two, not just a general branch.  Family rumors like “Grandma was a Cherokee Princess” are particularly unuseful.  What they more likely mean is that there was indeed some Native ancestry someplace in her line.  Cherokee has become a generic word like Kleenex.  It may also have meant that Indian heritage was claimed to cover much less desirable African heritage.  Institutionalized discrimination existed against any people of color in pre-1967 America, but Indians generally retained some rights that people of African ancestry did not.  Laws varied by state and time.  Take a look at my blog about Anti-Miscegenation Laws and when they were overturned.

Now, let’s look at DNA testing to see what it can do for you.

DNA Testing to Prove Native Ancestry

There are three types of DNA testing that you can do to prove Native Ancestry.  Two are very focused on specific family lines, and one is much more general.

  • Mitochondrial for your direct maternal line.
  • Y-line for your direct paternal line – if you are a male. Sorry ladies.
  • Autosomal to test your ethnic mix and one direct marker test for Native ancestors.

On a pedigree chart, these genealogical lines look like this:

adopted pedigree

You can see the path that the blue Y chromosome takes down the paternal line to the brother and the path the red mitochondrial DNA takes down the maternal line to both the brother and the sister.  Autosomal tests the DNA of all of the 16 ancestral lines shown here, but in a different sort of way.

Let’s look at each type of testing separately.

Y-Line DNA – For Paternal Line Testing for Males

The Y-line testing tests the Y chromosome which is passed intact from father to son with no DNA from the mother. This is the blue square on the pedigree chart. In this way, it remains the same in each generation, allowing us to compare it to others with a similar surname to see if we are from the same “Smith” family, for example, or to others with different surnames, in the case of adoption or Native heritage.  Native American genetics isn’t terribly different than adoptees in this situation, because different English surnames were adopted by various family members, into the late 1800s and sometimes into the early 1900s, depending on the location.

Y-line DNA can tell you whether or not you descend from a common male genealogically when compared to another testing participant.  Small mutations do take place and accumulate over time, and we depend on those so that we don’t all “look alike” genetically.  It can also tell you by identifying your deep ancestral clan, called a haplogroup, whether or not you descend from early Native Americans who were here before contact with Europeans.  For that matter, it can also tell you if you descend from those of African, European or Asian ancestry.

Scientists know today that there are only two primary haplogroups indicating deep ancestry that are found among Native American males who were here prior to contact with Indo-Europeans, and those haplogroups are C and Q3.  It is not accurate to say that all C and Q3 individuals exist only in the American Native population, but the American Native population is part of the larger group worldwide that comprises C and Q3.  We find some haplogroup C and Q3 in Europe but none in African populations, although we do learn more every single day in this infant science.

This sometimes becomes confusing, because the single most common male haplogroup among current Cherokee tribal members who have tested is R1b.  How can this be, you ask?  Clearly, one of three possibilities exists:

  1. The Cherokee (or those tribes who were assimilated into the Cherokee) adopted a European male into the tribe or a European male fathered a child that was subsequently raised as Cherokee.
  2. The R1b ancestor was not adopted into the tribe, maintained their European/American identity but married a Cherokee individual woman and their descendants are recognized as Cherokee today.
  3. There is some level of R1b admixture in the Native population that preceded contact with Europeans that we have not yet identified.

Because of the unique haplogroups for Native Americans who preceded European contact, Y-line is the only way to positively confirm that a specific line is or is not of Native American descent.  This obviously applies to all of the individuals in the pedigree chart who directly descend from the oldest known ancestor in this paternal line.

Y-line testing does not indicate anything about the contributions of the other ancestors in this family tree.  In other words, you could be 3/4th Native, with only the direct paternal line being European, and this test would tell you nothing at all about those other three Native lines.

When ordering DNA tests at Family Tree DNA, which is where I recommend that you test, everyone is encouraged to join projects.  There are several types of projects, but to begin with, you should join your surname project.  Not only does this group you with others whom you are likely to match, but this also assures that you receive the project based discounts.  I blogged about how to find and join relevant projects.

You can test at 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 marker “locations” on the Y chromosome. I generally recommend 37 or 67 to begin which gives you enough to work with but isn’t terribly expensive.  At Family Tree DNA, you can always upgrade later, but it’s less expensive in total to test more initially.  Right now, 37 markers cost $119 and 67 markers are $199, but a sale is currently underway.

After your results are returned, you can then upload or manually enter your results at www.ysearch.org (upload directly from your Family Tree DNA matches page), www.smgf.org and www.ancestry.com. You can then check for matches at these sites as well. Not all of these other sites test as many markers as Family Tree DNA, but the comparison is free and useful.  Even if your haplogroup is not Native American, you may match others with a similar heritage story for their paternal line.

Family Tree DNA also provides significant tools for Y-line DNA as well as Mitochondrial DNA. You can see both Family Tree and Ancestry Y-line results compared on this blog, which shows you how to use both companies’ tools. At Family Tree DNA, for all their tests, you are provided with the e-mail addresses of your matches. At Ancestry and 23andMe, you contact matches through their internal message system. My experience has been that direct e-mails have a better response rate.

The person looking for Native Heritage will be most interested in their haplogroup designation.  If your haplogroup is either Q or C, you’ll want to join your haplogroup project, minimally, as well as other relevant Native American projects, and work with the administrators for further testing.  Remember, neither haplogroup Q nor C are always Native, so deeper testing may be in order.  You may also match others with confirmed Native heritage, including a tribe.

If the haplogroup is not Native, then you’ll have to take a look at possible reasons why.

One can never interpret non-Native haplogroup results of any one line to answer the much broader questions of, “do I have Native heritage”, “how much” and “where?”  What you can do at that point is to continue to test other lines in order to discover the identity of your Native American ancestor.

Obviously, the Y-line test is only for males. Ladies, I feel your pain. However, these next tests are for both sexes.

Mitochondrial DNA – For Direct Maternal Line Testing for Both Sexes

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by all children from their mother only, with no admixture from the father. Women obtain their mitochondrial DNA from their mother, who got it from their mother, on up the line into infinity. This is the red circle on the right hand side of the pedigree chart. Like Y-line DNA, mitochondrial DNA is passed intact from one generation to the next, except for an occasional mutation that allows us to identify family members and family lines.

Unfortunately, it does not follow any surname. In fact the surname changes with every generation when women marry. This makes it more challenging to work with genealogically, but certainly not impossible. Because of the surname changes in every generation, there are no “surname” projects for mitochondrial DNA, per se, but there are other types of projects.  For example, the Mothers of Acadia project is using mitochondrial DNA to reconstruct the Acadian families including those of Native American heritage.

There are three levels of testing you can take for mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, which is where I recommend that you test. The mtDNA, the mtDNAPlus and the Full Sequence. The mtDNA test is a starter test that will provide you with a base haplogroup, but will leave people searching for Native ancestry needing a more complete test for full haplogroup identification confirming Native ancestry. I strongly recommend the full sequence test, but if the budget just won’t allow that, then the mtDNAPlus will do until you can afford to upgrade. Family Tree DNA is the only major lab that tests the full sequence region, plus, they have the largest matching data base in the industry.

To put this in perspective for you, the mtDNA and the mtDNAPlus tests both test about 10% of your mitochondrial DNA and the full sequence test tests all of your 16,569 mitochondrial locations. You can then compare them with other people who have taken any of those 3 tests.  Pricing for the mtDNAPlus is currently $139 and the full sequence is $199.

MtDNA testing is not as popular as Y-line testing because it’s more difficult to use genealogically as last names change every generation.  When you look at your matches, you have no idea whatsoever if you might be related to these people in a genealogically relevant time frame by looking at their last names.  Those who have invested the effort to collaboratively work on their mtDNA matches, assuming a full sequence match and a shared geographical history as well, have been pleasantly surprised by what they’ve found.

A haplogroup assigning deep ancestry is provided through mitochondrial testing, so like the Y-line, depending on the haplogroup assigned, you will know if your ancestors were here before European contact.  Maternal haplogroups that indicate Native heritage include A, B, C, D and X.  Like Y-line DNA testing, none of these haplogroups are exclusive to Native Americans, so a full sequence level test will be required to confirm a Native American subgroup.

After you receive your results, you can enter the mtDNA and mtDNAPlus portions into public data bases. There are no public data bases for the full sequence segment because there may be medical implications in some of those mutations, so they are not displayed publicly although they are compared privately within the Family Tree DNA data base. You will want to enter your data and check for matches at www.mitosearch.org (upload directly from your matches page at Family Tree DNA), www.smgf.org and www.ancestry.com, although beware of Ancestry’s accuracy issues.

Testing the Y-line and mitochondrial DNA individually gives us a great deal of very specific information about 2 lines in your pedigree chart.  The best method of identifying Native American ancestors is indeed to test as many lines on your DNA pedigree chart using this methodology as possible.  Let’s take a minute to look at how to create a DNA pedigree chart.

DNA Pedigree Chart

If your Y-line and mitochondrial DNA have proven not to be Native, that doesn’t mean that the rest of your lines aren’t.

Let’s take a look at how to create a DNA pedigree chart so that you can focus your Y-line and mitochondrial DNA testing for other lines.

The purpose of a DNA pedigree chart is to provide guidance in terms of inheritance and also to provide a way of documenting your progress.  My chart is shown below, as an example.

DNA Pedigree

You can see the Y-line of my father and the mitochondrial line of my mother, on both ends of the pedigree chart.  At the top of each line, I have recorded the haplogroup information for each family.  Color coding each line helps in tracking descendants who would carry the DNA of the ancestor of that line.  For example, my mother’s father’s mother’s line is the yellow Miller line.  I need to find a daughter of my grandfather’s sisters, or their children, or their daughter’s children, to test for that mitochondrial DNA line.  Which reminds me, I need to call my cousin.  Family reunions, picnics and holidays are great for this type of thing.  Sadly, so are funerals.

I blogged about how to put together your own DNA pedigree chart.  You can get a free copy and instructions on my website too, at www.dnaexplain.com under the Publications tab.  If you’re Native and adopted, then refer to the adoptee blog instead, or in addition.

But sometimes, we can’t find the right people in order to test, so we move to autosomal testing to help us fill in the blanks.

Autosomal Testing – For Both Sexes – The Rest of the Story 

Autosomal DNA testing tests all of your 23 pairs of chromosomes that you inherit from both of your parents. You get half of each chromosome from each parent. You can see this pattern on the pedigree chart, represented by all of the 16 genealogical lines. Therefore, as you move up that tree, you should have inherited about 25% of your DNA from each grandparent, about 12.5% of your DNA from each great-grandparent, as have all of their other great-grandchildren.

Therefore beginning with your parents, you carry the following approximate amount of DNA from each of these ancestors. I say approximate, because while you do receive exactly 50% of your DNA from each parent, there is no guarantee that their parents DNA was admixed in your parents such that you receive exactly 25% from each grandparent, but it’s close.  You can see the percentages in the chart below.

Generation Relationship % of Their DNA You Carry

1

Parents

50

2

Grandparents

25

3

Great-grandparents

12.5

4

GG-grandparents

6.25

5

GGG-grandparents

3.125

6

GGGG-grandparents

1.56

7

GGGGG-Grandparents

0.78

Given this chart, if the Native percentage is back beyond 6 generations and drops below the 1% threshold, it’s extremely difficult to discern today.

Autosomal testing will pick up relationships reliably back to about the 6th or 7th generations, and sporadically beyond that.

Autosomal testing provides you minimally with two things.  First, with a list of “cousin matches” by percentage and estimated relationship.  Second, percentages of ethnicity.  It’s this second part that’s most important for the person seeking to prove Native American heritage.

Percentages of Ethnicity

As the field of genetic genealogy has moved forward, research has begun to indicate that certain autosomal markers are found in higher or lower frequencies in different ethnic populations.

For example, if someone has the Duffy Null allele, or genetic marker, we know they positively have African admixture.  We don’t know how much African admixture, or from which line, or when that individual with African admixture entered their family tree, but we know for sure they existed.

Attempting to determine the population frequency of varying markers and what that means relative to other populations is the key to this analysis.  Few markers are simply present or absent in populations, but are found in varying frequencies.  Some populations are widely studied in the research literature, and others are virtually untouched.  Thousands have only been recently discovered as part of the National Geographic, Genographic project.

The process of compiling this information in a meaningful manner so that it can be analyzed is a formidable task, as the information is often found in nearly inaccessible academic and forensic research publications.  It’s difficult to determine sometimes if the DNA analysis of 29 individuals in a small village in northern Italy is, for example, representative of that village as a whole, of northern Italy, or more broadly for all of Italy.  Is it representative of Italy today or Italy historically?  These and other similar questions have to be answered fully before the data from autosomal testing can be useful and reliable.

Having said this, the recent release of the National Geographic, Genographic Project version 2.0 holds great promise.  It’s one of 4 autosomal tests on the market today that provide next-generation chip based wide spectrum testing which replaces the older CODIS type testing.   The difference between the old and new technology is using 15 or 20 markers versus a half a million or so.  They aren’t even in the same ballpark.  If you want to see a comparison of the older type tests, read my paper titled Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage Using Y-Line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosome Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis.

Let’s take a look at all 4 of the contemporary autosomal tests and what they have to offer.

Genographic 2.0

Of the 4 tests, the Geno 2.0 is the newest and appears to reach back the deepest in time, meaning it may well be picking up anthropological results, not just genealogical results.  We don’t know exactly how the analysis is done, but we do know, in general, that if you evaluate segments, you will get results closer in time than if you evaluate individual ancestry informative markers (AIMS).

You can take a look at the results of a man with Native ancestry on both his paternal and maternal sides.  You can also take a look at the reference populations used by National Geographic in this overview of their test results.

If you want to order this test visit www.genographic.com.  The price is $199.  You also receive your Y-line and mtDNA haplogroups, but no marker values for comparison to others. However, the Y haplogroup testing is the most advanced in the world.  You can see why in the Geno 2.0 announcement here.

I have found the Geno 2.0 test to be somewhat more sensitive autosomally than others, but it’s still very new and I have not yet been able to do a complete comparison.  Results have only been coming back for a couple of weeks.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA sells the Family Finder test. Right now it is priced at $199 or bundled with attractive pricing with either the Y-line or mitochondrial DNA tests. I often like to use this tool in conjunction with the Y-line and mitochondrial DNA tests to see, if you match someone closely, whether you are actually related to them in a recent timeframe or if it is further back. Family Tree DNA is the only one of the autosomal testing companies that has the ability to do this type of advanced comparison.  Compared to 23andMe and Geno 2.0, they are the only ones to offer traditional Y-line and mitochondrial DNA testing which provides individual marker results and matches.

In addition to a list of autosomal matches, you will receive your breakdown of ethnicity, by percent.  The results below are for the same man with Native ancestry whose Geno 2.0 results are shown in the Geno 2.0 – First Peek blog.

native pop finder

You can read more about the Family Tree DNA autosomal product on their FAQ.

23andMe

Another company that sells autosomal testing is www.23andme.com. In addition to a list of cousins, you also receive admixture percentages, and their specialty, health traits.  You also receive a paternal and maternal haplogroup, but with no markers for personal comparison.  These Y-line and mitochondrial results are not as accurate at the Geno 2.0 nor the Family Tree DNA Y-line and mitochondrial DNA full sequence tests.

Be aware that while people who test at Family Tree DNA are interested in genealogy, the typical person at 23andMe tested for the health portion, not the genealogy portion, and may not answer contact requests or may know very little about their family history.

Right now, their test is $99, and you can download your results and upload them to Family Tree DNA for an additional $89, making the total price similar to the Family Tree DNA test. However, you need to be somewhat technically savvy to complete the download/upload process.

23andMe recently released a new version of their software which added quite a bit of resolution after years of being woefully behind.  Native American wasn’t even a category previously.  You can take a look at the new format here.

Ancestry

Ancestry.com recently introduced an autosomal test.  You receive matches and ethnicity percentages.  However, their ethnicity percentages have significant issues and I would not recommend them at this time.  Their cousin matches come with no analysis tools.  So for now, just skip Ancestry and concentrate on the other resources.

One Last Autosomal Test

One marker value in particular, known as D9S919 is present in about 30% of the Native people.  The value of 9 at this marker is not known to be present in any other ethnic group, so this mutation occurred after the Native people migrated across Beringia into the Americas, but long enough ago to be present in many descendants.  You can test this marker individually at Family Tree DNA, which is the only lab that offers this test.  If you have the value of 9 at this marker, it confirms Native heritage, but if you don’t carry 9, it does NOT disprove Native heritage.  After all, many Native people don’t carry it.

To order this test, for existing Family Tree DNA clients, click on the “Order Upgrade” orange button on the right hand side of your personal page, then on “Advanced Test”, then enter “autosomal” in the drop down box, then you will see the list below. D9S919 is the last one and it costs $15.  There may be a $10 one time transfer fee as well if your DNA sample is not in the Houston lab.

native d9s919 order

Swimming in Many Pools

As you can see there are lots of tools available to you that can be used individually or in conjunction with each other.  Like anything else, the more work and effort you are willing to devote to the search, the more likely you are to be successful.

Most people test their Y-line and mitochondrial DNA, not just for Native ancestry, but to learn more about the lines they can test for themselves without reaching out to other family members.

Use your DNA pedigree chart to plan who to ask in your extended family to test for which lines.

Plan to test with multiple autosomal testing companies.  Autosomal testing in particular is still in its infancy. I like to use the results of multiple companies, especially when you are dealing with small amounts of admixture.  They use different markers, combinations, analysis tools and reference populations, so you can expect slightly different results.  One company may pick up slight minority admixture while another may not.  This has happened repeatedly with both my Native and African minority admixture.

GedMatch

After you obtain your results from either Family Tree DNA or 23andMe, you’ll want to download your raw data results and then upload the file to www.gedmatch.com. This is a privately run “donation” site, not associated with any of the testing companies, meaning there is no subscription or fee to use the tools, but they do appreciate and are funded by donations.

After uploading your results you can utilize several admixture tools to compare and contrast your results.

Getting Help

If you’re struggling with working through your family possibilities for who to test, I do offer a DNA Test Plan service.

If you would like a Personalized DNA Report for Y-line or mitochondrial results, those are available as well.

If you have what amounts to a quick question that I can answer in less than an hour, including prep, I offer the Quick Consult service.

For more extensive consulting, contact me.  You can see my services here.

In Summary

Finding our Native ancestors is a way to pay homage to their lives and to the culture that was stripped from their descendants, ironically, by using their own DNA that has been gifted from them to us.  Native people, after contact with Europeans were marginalized, and that’s the best that can be said.  Many were killed, either intentionally or by European diseases, or enslaved.  The results are that Native people left few if any individual records and those that might be available often can’t be identified or linked to them personally.  For those who cannot unearth their Native ancestry using conventional genealogical means, genetic testing is the last hope left.  Fortunately, the tools and our knowledge improve every day.  We’re making great strides with what we can do, enlarging what was a pinhole into a keyhole, allowing us to peer into the past.  So, click your heels, order your tests and let’s see where your DNA takes you.

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854 thoughts on “Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA

  1. I just got my AncestryDNA.com test telling me I am 48% Native American is there anyway I can find out what tribe? I’m trying to find family members I am the youngest of 9 who were all adopted.

  2. My Ancestry DNA came back 30% Native American (New Mexico, Texas, California coast and central Mexico) Can I obtain Native American Indian status?

  3. Hi my name is Lisa. I have a question. My mom is part Apache and Yaqui and I would like to know how would I go about being tested but. my mother does not have a number to verify her percentage. My mom does not Know her father or mother because they gave her up and she grew up not knowing her parents and I looked into finding her parents and they passed away because I do have my moms dads death certificate but I could not find my moms mother. I would like to get Native American Funds and how can I prove that I am Native American Indian. Where can start to get the help I need? I also found out that I would have to do a DNA test. And how can I go about getting a number so I can qualify for funds.

  4. Hi, I have no idea who my father was & my mother cannot (will not?) provide any details. She met him in San Antonio. I was born in Texas where I currently live. I recently purchased a DNA test from Ancestry & received the results yesterday. It reports that I am 20% Native American & 20% Iberian Penensula (Spain region). The Native American seems to focus on South Texas, Northeast Mexico region. Initial research led me to Coahuiltecan tribe potentially? My mother’s side is mostly European with no Native American traces (as far as I know) so this must be from my unknown father. Being in my 50s, I question whether it’s even worth the trouble to consider finding out who my father was but must admit, this DNA result has me curious (I always suspected I may be some percentage of Mexican). If I wanted to go further into researching my fathers line, what do you suggest next step? Family DNA Y-testing?

    • Guess I won’t be too offended that I’m the only person you chose not to respond to. I’ve done the required research to understand what my next steps should be. Thanks anyway…

      • You know, I answer an awful lot of questions for free. It’s sometimes difficult on a phone, but I try to keep current when traveling. It’s hard to complain about a free resource not performing for you isn’t it. Glad you’re not taking it personally and have figured out what to do. Why didn’t you do that in the first place instead of asking me?

  5. I recently had my DNA done and was quite confused as to my results. I went through My Heritage. In reading this article I am even more confused. My results honestly weren’t what I expected however I am open to them. This article and the different remarks say that in doing a DNA that because a specific marker might be diluted since they were so far back. Here is my confusion. I know for sure thanks to someone doing my family history for me that I have Native that runs in my family, both on my mother’s as well as my father’s. BUT I can go through the family genealogy that was prepared for me and knowing the people through history (through pictures) I have no Nigerian relatives and no African American ancestral background what so ever. So when I saw I have Nigerian and it shows no Native and no Irish which I know for sure there is I’m confused beyond measure. Can this be a total mistake? Is my family history all a lie? How do I know for sure of anything any more? Heck the point of even doing it was to help me know my family genealogy and history more but now I am more dumbfounded than before.

  6. Both parents have passed just try to find out what tribe and how much Indian I am I was told my dad was Cherokee his mom was 100 percent and I’m try to find out but all this is confusing please help me tyvvm

  7. Hi my name is Sylvia Reyes my older bother did DNA test it came back that we are 50% Indian what exactly do I have to do look into a tribe!! Or what is my next step

  8. Got my 23andMe DNA results back, and it says I am 69.7% Native American. My MtDna comes from the L haplogroup, and ran all from Africa all the way to South America through the Bering stretch. What does that mean when it comes to this topic?

  9. Hi My Name is Belinda.
    Last year I took an Ancestry DNA test and was told I am 81% African American and 19% European. However I have always been told that my Grandparents (materal and paternal), Great-Grandparents (materal and paternal) Great-Great Great Grandparents (maternal and paternal) were Afraicn, Caucasian and Native American (Black Cherokee and Black Foot) . When I called Ancestry DNA to find out why my Native American DNA was un founded they said it was because their Database could not detect Native American DNA for African American.

  10. You are wrong about the blood quantum for the five civilized tribes! The Dawes act states that your direct family has to have been enrolled in the specific nation in order for you to be enrolled!

  11. There’s a problem with surnames, it relies on marital fidelity!
    As today, many are distant from their wives at different times, where she steps out on her husband and here comes a child. I think previous generations may have been more devoted to higher morals. But as an old song says, lonely women make good lovers. A case in point comes to mind, where this guy was very successful business wise, but he also enjoyed coming home and getting passed out drunk, which made his wife very lonely and she had a boyfriend.
    Then I know of one guy, his grandmother told him, “Your grandfather was an apache indian”. Where likewise, she was displeased with a drunk husband and lonely. Where her husband was of English decent, so she must have been admitting to an affair with an apache indian.
    Not being profane, but simply staying simple facts.
    So if a persons’ paternal lineage going to the grandfather is indian, would it show up in the grandsons’ dna? Providing he isn’t a product of his mother having an affair?
    Then would other nationalities be possible to be determined? As from the maternal grandmother, would French and/or German be possible to distinguish?
    I’d like some feedback on this.
    As I even know of women who claimed they loved the man they married, but sexual relations were better with other men. Then a relative who was a police officer who saw different people at different times, along with things that full in the gaps accepted these things as truths.
    I’d really like some answers here.
    Oh, I can see where a tribe would not want to accept anyone with less than 25 or even 50% native american. Where they’d be aware of their lineage and may want to preserve it. I’m contrast to some inferior types wanting a free ride off the sufferings of someone elses’ bloodlines. Forget the federal guidelines, as they’re a problem telling others who others who they have to eat with, love with, go to school with and everything else they’ve done to destroy morality of people in this nation. Where tribes are their own nation and I can also see where they wouldn’t accept anyone with 50% native american “unless”, they were going to marry another who is pure bred native american.

  12. So I am a little confused about the DNA testing. I was adopted. My biological mother was adopted. She found her biological family. I found her. It is very obvious the family has Native American in their genetics (black hair, brown eyes, permanent tan). My biological grandfather supposedly was 100% Black Foot Indian, although not associated with a tribe. I have the adoption paperwork stating this. Since I am a female and the Native American gene came from my mother would this still show up correctly on a DNA test? I think my biological grandmother was part Irish. Not 100% sure.

  13. One of my great grandmothers was born on the reservation and my other great grandmother was born off the reservation! Both grand mothers were full blooded Indians and my grand dad on my father’s side was French!! How do I determine how much Indian I have in me? I believe I’m half or three quarter Indian!

  14. I believe there is a typo in the article “Be aware that some “tribes” that fall into the non-federally funded category” I think the write mean “non-federally recognized…” in the 3rd paragraph of “What Is A Tribe”

  15. I did the ancestry DNA test on our Dad and the result was not what we were expecting for his Native American heritage and I want to do another test on Dad and was wondering if the MT DNA is the best one to do. I know that his Grandmother on his maternal side lived and was married on the Choctaw Reservation in the late 1890s according to the the marriage bond, the family stories say that it was down the grandmother’s father’s side that was supposed to be native American but no real knowledge of which parents it truly is. I’m confused by which test to buy and I don’t want to buy the wrong one or test the wrong person.Thank you.

  16. I know I have two Great Grandmas, on my dads side. And a Great great Grandma
    On my mom’s side . But no paroof , but
    photos they are real you can tell.

    • I have pictures of my grand parents they are not white.

      On Sat, May 5, 2018, 3:09 PM DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

      > Dale Kenyon commented: “I know I have two Great Grandmas, on my dads side. > And a Great great Grandma On my mom’s side . But no paroof , but photos > they are real you can tell.” >

  17. It’s disappointing that our ancestors didn’t do their part. My mother used to claim Cocopah native and she used to hang around them in AZ. She’s now desease.I tested myself my blood type with Ancestry.com and found out I’m 75% Native but I’m lost on what to do next. I’m not looking for benefits just hoping to belong.

  18. I just got my AncestryDNA.com test telling me I am 53% Native American. As far as I know my grandparents lived in Texas only. Is the AncesrtyDNA test reliable ? If so, where do I begin to start my research?

  19. I would like a DNA kit
    I’ve been told that I have indian blood
    My grandfather had land at the reservation the indians adopted him he died about 7years ago
    His name was Rito salas

  20. I did a DNA test and it says I’m 30% Native American my mother was Cherokee and my dad was Apache how do I verify if I qualify 4 Indian assistance for college thanks Donna Noland

  21. I did a DNA test and it shows I’m 30% Native American all I know my mom was Cherokee and my dad was patchy I want to know what I can do to get assistance for college if I’m proving to be some qualified.

  22. Hi, is it possible to get South American DNA for Native American- ancestors? My great grandfather was adopted by his father’s sister, but my Grandmother had her dna tested and it came back a South American, Spanish and West middle east and European. His father migrated from Germany but mother is a mystery. He was married a couple times and the woman he married before my great grandfather was born, says her birthplace is Ireland so the dna results don’t make sense!. They Settled in the Illinois and Iowa area. My great grandfather also traveled back and forth to Canada

  23. Hello, my name is Darby Noland. My aunt informed me about 5 years ago that my grandfather, my biological father’s grandfather was full blooded native American but I forgot what tribe. My father passed away around 15 years ago and his father and grandparents were gone before I was born. I’m now 31 and very interested in learning about my family’s history and genealogy. Can anyone point me in a direction I should go? My father was raised in st. Francisville, Louisiana and woodville, Mississippi. His last name was brown, I kept my mothers name being they weren’t married. I would love to hear some advice to start this journey. Thanks
    Darby Noland

  24. Hello, my name is Evelyn J. Lightfoot. I know that I am native American, I just need proof and percentage. The only reason I want this is because I was denied this. It is the right of every one to know their heritage no one has the right to take that away from anyone.

  25. My husband’s grandmother was 100% Cherokee. He heard he could receive money for being part Cherokee. Is this not correct?

  26. I got my results back from 23andMe today and it is showing I am 56.6% Native American. I am not trying to find out how to get anything. I live a very blessed life. I just would love to learn more about my heritage. Any suggestions?

  27. I just received my DNA results and I was told I’m 39% native American what would be my next step wasn’t expecting this.

  28. No aunts or uncles that are close to me father past away and my mom doesn’t like to take any kinds of test very old fashion.

  29. Hello Roberta,
    I thank you for your efforts and your heart-felt passion to help others on this path. I can’t absorb it all in one sitting so I will begin again very soon. My DNA genealogy is quite new and now begin my second company’s autosomal. Sadly, it seems, my known ancestors of interest are not on the Y axis or the mt, as they hop scotch from the middle. As I learn I will take additional steps.On this journey it is so valuable to find a lighthouse for genuine direction through this maze .. you.
    F Lee T

  30. To whom it may concern,

    My name is Jonathan, I was adopted from Colombia as an infant who was very I’ll. I was brought to the United States, where in Washington D.C I recovered at the children’s hospital. Later in life, we tried to find my biological family, but to no avail. I completed a 23andme test in an effort to find anyone. I was found to be 38 percent North American Indian from my mothers side. If anyone should know how I can find my tribe, please Email me.
    Thankyou. Jonathan J Joe joejonathan050@gmail.com

  31. My father’s grandmother was aboriginal. She was from Bad Axe Michigan. She married my great grandfather and they floated across lake Huron and starting farming where they landed. They eventually became owners of the land through squatter’s rights. They had several children one which was my grandfather. I can find my great grandmother’s name but I know nothing about her. My grandson is really interested in this subject and wants to know if he has a chance to be classified as a Metis. Would I be able to? I have always said I am Aboriginal. I had read that I have the right too and no one can dispute it. It would be nice to make it legal by achieving a Metis status if possible. My mother tried to do this for us when we were young but was told because my great grand mother left the reservation and married a non aboriginal man we did not qualify. However I hear this has changed. The only problem is my parents are dead and I don’t know the family history. So what are the chances through DNA testing and how do you go about doing it? Thank you for your help
    Duane Mousseau

  32. I would like to talk to someone about any funds that are available to help with living expenses due to divorse. I have profe that my family is recorded in our county court house as being native American. Please tell me how to get started. Should I maybe go to the county court house? Thank you

  33. I did a AncestryDNA test and it says I am 41 percent Native American, I apparently have Indian blood coming for every side of my family. So far I have found one census 1860 with a great, great, great grandmother claiming Indian. This still does not identify a tribe but she was born in Socorro, Texas. What should I do next?

  34. I’m happy to announce I’m 49% Native American, I was born and raise in Mexico. I know my family is from the Yaqui Tribe from the municipio de Cajeme in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora. My grandfather use to say he was Yaqui and knew many of the Yaqui dialect words. I have no interest in “funds” or status, o know where I come from and very proud of my Yaqui blood! EHUI!

  35. Looking for inheritance allotment passed DNA on my ID FULL BLOOD CHEROKEE who do we contact ? P.o.Box 141 Erick Ok. 73645

  36. Tribes do not require a blood quantum. The federal government does that. We only “require” a way of life to be Blackfeet.

  37. Hi Roberta! I’m kind of stuck in that I don’t know what my next steps are and would really appreciate your help. My mother’s father was half Mi’Kmaq from Nova Scotia Canada. I was told my great-great grandmother was the daughter of a Chief which would make her a princess. My grand father was half Mi’Kmaq and half Irish. However; since she married an Irish man she denounced her Aboriginal status according to Bill C-31. So if my grandfather was half then my mother would be a quarter which would make me an eighth. I have done a 23 and Me DNA test and it showed up positive for Aboriginal ancestry. It could not pinpoint exactly which band I came from but I’m assuming since we were told about our ancestry being Mi’Kmaq then obviously my family would know. The idea of quantifying “how Native are you” is absurd to me. I know I am not “enough’ and don’t qualify for status which is fine with me but I would like to become more active in my community and do not know where to begin. I am in school for nursing and really want to give back and help make positive change. How do I get involved in my Mi’Kmaq community? Please help!

    Thank you for taking the time to read this! : )

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