Ethnicity Results – True or Not?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many questions I receive that go something like this:

“I received my ethnicity results from XYZ.  I’m confused.  The results don’t seem to align with my research and I don’t know what to make of them?”

In the above question, the vendors who are currently offering these types of results among their autosomal tests are Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and Ancestry along with National Geographic who is a nonprofit.  Of those four, by far, Ancestry is the worst at results matching reality and who I receive the most complaints and comments about.  I wrote an article about Ancestry’s results and Judy Russell recently wrote an article about their new updated results as did Debbie Kennett.  My Ancestry results have not been updated yet, so I can’t comment personally.

Let’s take a look at the results from the four players and my own analysis.

Some years back, I did a pedigree analysis of my genealogy in an attempt to make sense of autosomal results from other companies.

The paper, “Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis” was published in the Fall 2010 issue of JoGG, Vol. 6 issue 1.

The pedigree analysis portion of this document begins about page 8.  My ancestral breakdown is as follows:

Geography Percent
Germany 23.8041
British Isles 22.6104
Holland 14.5511
European by DNA 6.8362
France 6.6113
Switzerland .7813
Native American .2933
Turkish .0031

This leaves about 25% unknown.  However, this looks nothing like the 80% British Isles and the 12% Scandinavian at Ancestry.

Here are my current ethnicity results from the three major testing companies plus Genographic.

Ancestry

80% British Isles

12% Scandinavian

8% Uncertain

Family Tree DNA

75% Western Europe

25% Europe – Romanian, Russian, Tuscan, Finnish

23andMe (Standard Estimate)

99.2% European

0.5% East Asian and Native American

0.3% Unassigned

Genographic 2.0

Northern European – 43%

Mediterranean – 36%

Southwest Asian – 18%

Why Don’t The Results Match?

Why don’t the results match either my work or each other?

1. The first answer I always think of when asked this question is that perhaps some of the genealogy is incorrect.  That is certainly a possibility via either poor genealogy research or undocumented adoptions.  However, as time has marched forward, I’ve proven that I’m descended from most of these lines through either Y-line, mitochondrial DNA or autosomal matches.  This confirms my genealogy research.  For example, Acadians were originally French and I definitely descend from Acadian lines.

2. The second answer is time.  The vendors may well be using different measures of time, meaning more recent versus deep ancestry.  Geno 2.0 looks back the furthest.  Their information says that “your percentages reflect both recent influences and ancient genetic patterns in your DNA due to migrations as groups from different regions mixed over thousands of years.  Your ancestors also mixed with ancient, now extinct hominid cousins like Neanderthals in Europe and the Middle East of the Denisovans in Asia.”

It’s difficult to determine which of the matching populations are more recent and which are less recent.  By way of example, many Germans and others in eastern Europe are descendants of Genghis Khan’s Mongols who invaded portions of Europe in the 13th century.  So, do we recognize and count their DNA when found as “German,” “Polish,” “Russian,” or “Asian?”  The map below shows the invasions of Genghis Khan.  Based on this, Germans who descend from Genghis’s Mongols could match Koreans on those segments of DNA. Both of those people would probably find that confusing.

genghis khan map

3. The third answer is the reference populations.  Here is what National Geographic has to say: “Modern day indigenous populations around the world carry particular blends of these regions. We compared your DNA results to the reference populations we currently have in our database and estimated which of these were most similar to you in terms of the genetic markers you carry. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you belong to these groups or are directly from these regions, but that these groups were a similar genetic match and can be used as a guide to help determine why you have a certain result. Remember, this is a mixture of both recent (past six generations) and ancient patterns established over thousands of years, so you may see surprising regional percentages.”

Each of the vendors has compiled their own list of reference populations from published material, and in the case of National Geographic, as yet unpublished material as well.

If you read the fine print, some of these results that at first glance appear to not match actually do, or could.  For example, Southwest Asia (Geno 2.0) could be Russia (Family Tree DNA) or at least pointing to the same genetic base.

This video map of Europe through the ages from 1000AD to present will show the ever changing country boundaries and will quickly explain why coming up with labels for ethnicity is so difficult.  I mean, what exactly does “France” or “Germany” mean, and when?

4. The fourth answer is focus.  Each of these organizations comes to us as a consumer with a particular focus.  Of them, one and only one must make their way on their own merits alone.  That one is Family Tree DNA.  Unlike the Genographic Project, Family Tree DNA doesn’t have a large nonprofit behind them.  Unlike 23andMe, they are not subsidized by the medical community and venture capital.  And unlike Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA is not interested in selling you a subscription.  In fact, the DNA market could dry up and go away for any of those three, meaning 23andMe, National Geographic and Ancestry, and their business would simply continue with their other products.  To them, DNA testing is only a blip on a spreadsheet.  Not true for Family Tree DNA.  Their business IS genetic genealogy and DNA testing.  So of all these vendors, they can least afford to have upset clients and are therefore the most likely to be the most vigilant about the accuracy of their testing, the quality of the tools and results provided to customers.

My Opinion

So what is my personal opinion on all of this?

I think these ethnicity results are very interesting.  I think in some way all of them are probably correct, excluding Ancestry.  I have absolutely no confidence in Ancestry’s results based on their track record and historylack of tools, lack of transparency and frustratingly poor quality.

I think that as more academic papers are published and we learn more about these reference populations and where their genes are found in various populations, all of these organizations will have an opportunity to “tighten up” their results.  If you’ll notice, both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA still include the words “beta.”  The vendors know that these results are not the end all and be all in the ethnicity world.

Am I upset with these vendors?  Aside from Ancestry who has to know they have a significant problem and has yet to admit to or fix it, no, I’m not.  Frustrated, as a consumer, yes, because like all genealogists, I want it NOW please and thank you!!!

Without these kinds of baby steps, we will never as a community crawl, walk, or run.  I dream of the day when we will be able to be tested, obtain our results, and along with that, maybe a list of ancestors we descend from and where their ancestors originated as well.  So, in essence, current genealogy (today Y-line and mtdna), older genealogy (autosomal lines) and population genetics (ethnicity of each line).

So what should we as consumers do today?  Personally, I think we should file this information away in the “that’s interesting” folder and use it when and where it benefits us.  I think we should look at it as a display of possibilities.  We should not over-interpret these results.

There is perhaps one area of exception, and that is when dealing with majority ethnic groups.  By this, I mean African, Asian, Native American and European.  For those groups, this type of ethnicity breakdown, the presence or absence of a particular group is more correct than incorrect, generally.  Very small amounts of any admixture are difficult to discern for any vendor.  For an example of that, look at my Native percentages and some of those are proven lines.  For the individual who wants more information, and more detail into the possibilities, I wrote about how to use the raw autosomal data outside of the vendors tools, at GedMatch, to sort out minority admixture in The Autosomal Me series.

Perhaps the Genographic Project page sums it up best with their statement that, “If you have a very mixed background, the pattern can get complicated quickly!”  Not only is that true, it can be complicated by any and probably all of the factors above.  When you think about it, it’s rather amazing that we can tell as much as we can.

188 thoughts on “Ethnicity Results – True or Not?

  1. So if it doesn’t say Native American, in Ancestry.com results, does that mean I don’t have that in my blood?

    • Wondering the same. I am told there is some native blood in there but 23andme said 100% European and that’s what I look like.

      • My brother in-law had the test done, but the results were all over the board. He has a long line with the 5 Civilized Tribes thru Oklahoma and the Roll Numbers to prove it. Test was heavy European. My wife is my fifth cousin on my mothers side and am Lakota, and 5 Civilized Tribes. They did my DNA because I survived terminal cancer and it just did not match the family records. From the newest done they recommended I go to Native American Health because my Tribal roll. For some reason my family did not find the DNA testing withing reasonable correlations with European, and Tribal Ancestral Research.

    • I too received 0% native American in my Ancestry.com results but my Father’s grandmother was Full Blooded Native American…so I expected something….should I go elsewhere to do another DNA?

      Very confused. 😦

      • You can try another company or you can upload to GedMatch and utilize their tools. It’s very unlikely that your father’s grandmother was a full blood. Most Native people east of the Mississippi were very admixed by the 1800s.

      • If u have 1/16 or less, it will not show up more than likely.. It only finds stuff that is 5 or less gen away. Think of this, most natives who think they are full blood are usually only holding at most 75% of the DNA that scientists claim is true indigenous DNA. So a full blood like this is almost a generation away from a 100%. So if ur great grandparent says they r full blood, they are a full blood native, but they are not a genetically full blood. So blood is already diluted and hard for them to trace.

        THIS IS JUST MY OPINION. No need to respond rudely

      • Thanks for answering. I will try another one as well as getting my dad to do one. My family is from Texas and I have seen a picture of great grandmother and she was definitely American Indian. And though she looked full blooded and I was told she was I can’t say for sure.

      • Just because one “looks” Native American doesn’t mean they truly are. Genetics don’t lie. Sorry.

    • My grandfather showed all the signs of Native living in the white world. He always went to sweat lodge. When asked ethnicity my father would say “French-Indian” . After years of searching I traced back to Acadian, my great grandmother was a Cyr. A 2nd cousin says NO to that. I thought this might be the connection. Ancestry DNA just arrived. 0% Native, 1% Mali. The only thing that matched up was Mother’s Irish and Dad’s French. Very disappointed to find out they only had a little over 400 people in their data base.

      • These tests only tell accurate detail up to 5 generations back, which means that if ur relative was an eastern Indian, his great grandparents were prolly heavily mixed, so even if they were registered on the rolls as full blood, these full blood relatives would probably not allow ur relative to have enough actual “blood” to show up in these somewhat arcane tests

    • Tyler, I did an Ancestry DNA test looking for the Indian grandma my grandfather talked about. It showed nothing Native American. But my tree did: a 5th great grandfather who had no parents. Records were nonexistent for him. What also helped was a fourth cousin who posted a picture of a lady who looked part Indian. She was my 5th great grandfather’s granddaughter. Turns out her mother’s side of the family was part Indian too, in that another grandmother farther up her mother’s line had no records. So, doing a tree will help. When I contacted the 4th cousin about this, he hired a researcher in the area they came from, and proof was found of the Indian connection.

      It turns out the Indian grandma that my grandfather was talking about was his great grandmother. She was only part Indian, the rest being English.

      A lot can be said for making a family tree, also for social networking!

      • On FTDNA it shows 7% Middle Eastern. When I check the Gedmatch tools I consistently get Native American and various forms of Asian. On Promethease I have Native American specific genes. The calculators on Gedmatch are being updated as new dna becomes available.

      • Be careful about your interpretation of Promethease information as “Native American specific genes.” Having a gene found among a population is not the same as “Native American specific.” All of the tools and companies do update as more information becomes available. They still differ widely though.

      • Oh I am matching the segments to the paper trail and to matches with the same paper trail. I rely on gedmatch more because it matches my paper trail. FTDNA still has my ethnicity in areas where I do not have a paper trail which goes back to between 1500AD-1700AD. And they have shaded areas where I have no paper trail. Not sure why, but that is what is. And I have multiple matches with the same paper trail. Only one great-grandparent remains illusive in that I do not have matches to date.

  2. I am so confused about DNA companies and results. Our family verbal info is that my great grandmother was 1/2 Native American. My sister and mother took the Ancestry DNA test and have 0% Native American. My grandmother had long black hair and pictures I have seen of her younger as well as of my great grandmother I could ‘think’ they had Native American in them. So how can the tests say ‘0%’? It does not match family verbal history. Is verbal history definitely wrong? What company would be the best confidence in this test for us to know one way or the other if we have Native American in our background? Why would verbal history say this, in such close generation that when my grandmother was alive this was what she thought?

    • Many people find that their oral history is “off”. Perhaps you have a Native ancestor that was further back in time. Ethnicity testing can’t reliably pick up small amounts – in the 1 or 2 % range which would results from a Native ancestor generations ago.

      • I was told Grandpa’s grandma was 1/2. Research disproved that percentage. So we explored her Mother who was supposed to be the full blood. Nope, she wasn’t 1/2 either. We found notes that her father was native. Hmmmm NOPE. Ultimately we found documentation that HIS grandfather was an adopted native boy in Virginia. MORAL: People are lousy at fractions. If people are mixed, rather than describe the exact fraction people simply say 1/2. NEVER believe the “1/2” stories, although there may be an ancestor who is native chances are the fraction is in error.

      • Yea, I’ve heard that “half” story many times too. I think “half” just keeps getting passed down as half and with each generation half needs to get halved…pardon the pun.

    • I have 3 native American grandmother’s . The nearest one is my great grandmother. It only showed. 5 percent native on me.

      • Regardless of what they tell you, there really isn’t a “native American” test. All tribes actually originated somewhere else. Now it is popular to track migration routes to determine “native Americans”. If one were looking for past relationships that might include natives, one might look at geographical locations versus time stamps. My 1st great grandmother (I have her picture) looked like she lived on a reservation but she claimed to be white until she was 78 years old. Then in the final census record before her death, she finally admitted she was Choctaw. She was born in an area that was “native”. She lived in “native” areas all her life. However, to this day, the tribe rejects her. So go figure. And my DNA, no “native American “chromies” here.

  3. According to recent testing test my aunt is 54% Scandinavia and her daughter is 5% Scandinavian. How is this possible? (They are genetically mother and daughter.)

  4. Hi,

    23andme says 100% European, 96+ Nordic and that’s what I always looked like. My great grandmother (mothers side) was very dark though and I am told there is likely some native blood. I would love to find out, and they say they are 90% confident. I am really POed now. My grandfather (child of this dark person) looks Scottish however. It’s all a mystery.

  5. Not bothered about British Colombia and Irish after seeing a “Lietuvan” family, (shrugs)

    ‘others’ were a minority there and were either unnecessary or unwanted, besides South & Western Irish – many think are illegal immigrants in Chadwell or ‘peoples republic of England’ ..

    Saying “Holland” and ‘Brussels’ or Peterborough sends a ‘cold’ and uncertain chill down spines..

    Correct “Swedes” and Ukrainian people have nothing to do with modern Russia and that ‘however’ is something that never changes whatever – Sweden or Finland and “Köln”, “Vilnius,” “Perkūnas” or “Snoras” and “Lietuva” is, friends its not “Bayern München” or “Caledonia” or “Coleen” or “Nolan” etc. have anything at all to do with one another (laughs)!!!

  6. My results showed no American Indian but some with who has the same Gr-Gr. Grandparents came back with American Indian.

  7. After having my DNA tested by FTDNA, I asked everyone I could find, including some so called “experts” from FTDNA whether or not I have Native American blood. As a lot of people on here have posted, family history passed down on both sides, says that I do. One “expert” agreed to look at my results an for a certain amount of dollars, she said she could determine whether or not family history is true in my case, but only if I got at least two more “tests”. I’m beginning to think that ALL of this DNA testing is a money making scheme. Sure, there are scientific results, but each company has a different viewpoint as to what those results actually mean. To determine the absolute truth would take an analytical brain much greater than the one I possess. I’ve pretty much decided I’ve spent all of the money I intend to spend only to be told “This is exactly why we call these estimates and nothing more.” The ESTIMATES are pretty much what I had to go on BEFORE I had my DNA tested.

    • The Y and mtDNA tests will tell you positively if you have Native but only on the one line in your tree that they represent. The autosomal above about 5% is pretty definitive, but it doesn’t tell you which line. No one can look at your autosomal results and tell you “for sure.” The ethnicity estimates should be used in conjunction with traditional genealogy research and testing of others. For example, if you think one of your ancestors was Native, then find their descendants who can test on the mtDNA and Y lines and see what those tests tell you. DNA is one more tool in your toolbox.

  8. so, as i look at all these possibilities, and knowing what a good portion of my background is, I would like to test for “others” I believe there’s more to my background that no one knows, judging by features, characteristics, and health issues. Which company do you believe would give the best answers? I would want to be sure testing would show things like “Jewish”, “Native”, etc.I think the former is a good possibility, and would like to know if im wrong or not.

  9. Just sent off my AncestryDNA sample. The only ancestry I know for certain is that I’m 1/16 Irish. Will this show up on the DNA test?

  10. I read that even a whole sibling may have inherited different stains of ethnicity? If not true can my brother or sister take a test and I can use their results? I was tested once in the military (without my permission) and they mentioned I was majority percentage of something else (which I knew ) and was surprised for them to have been able to find out about. The test was never shared with me but I’m thinking about testing on my own and sharing with family. Depending on your answer maybe they won’t have to test! 🙂

  11. My dna shows 12% western Europe and her fathers show the same 12% western Europe, how can my daughters show 57% western European. Dont you get half from you mother and half from you father. How can she have more?

  12. Well, I’m glad I’m adopted so I get to pick whatever I want to be! I had heard I was German/Scottish/Scandanavian, but decided Russian sounded pretty interesting, so I added that in. Then, decided I’d like a little bit more pigmentation, so now I am adding in Mexican. No one can tell me any different because there’s no way to get my original birth certificate. I tried. 😦 When the tests get a bit more reliable, I’ll take one and see for sure what I am. Oh, and my biological half sisters also told me that according to my mom, who never lied to them, and had told them about me for years (I tracked them down after she had passed away), I am Al Capone’s nephew’s daughter, which they believe. I would laugh if that ended up being true. Hahaha…

  13. My wife who was born in Kalelingrad Russia, her parents both came from the Ural’s was wondering if these DNA Test would give a more detailed look at where her ancestors came from. How good are any of these DNA Companies when it comes to tracking different DNA’s from Russia and Asia? Or will they just lump them all together a and tell her that her Ancestry is 72% Asian with out narrowing it down more? Thanks for your imput. Ron

  14. So what is the most accurate? Husbands family says they are one eighth American Indian .Ancestry says they are less than 1%. We would like to see.

  15. Ancestry.com, I feel like I have been lied to, my great grand parents on my mom’s side are native american(I don’t know if they are full blooded but my mom says as a little girl she was afraid of them bc they looked very different from people she had seen. They were dark with extremely long silk hair), and my dad’s mom is white/black but I ended up <1% native american, 87% african, and 11% european. And a small trace of Polynesian.
    My heart literally sunk when I first got my results. It just didn't feel truthful in my gut.
    I wish I found this article sooner.

  16. I’m Asian, and I found most of the tests look more like for European or American. Do they have a lot of Asian data base? Or will they at least distinguish different part of Asia?

  17. My mother also has confusing and conflicting DNA results between Ancestry.com and the Genographic Project, but I think I’ve finally figured out that they aren’t ultimately conflicting at all. Genographic has some regions that Ancestry doesn’t have and vice versa, and when they do have the same regions the totals are very different. If you compare them side to side they look like different people. But! I think what is different is that Ancestry is more reflective of recent populations, the past several hundred years, and Genographic Project goes into much deeper population movements.

    This would explain why Ancestry would say my mother is 18% Great Britain and 9% Ireland, but Geno said she had no DNA from the British Isles. Obviously my mother has ancestors from the British Isles, but further back in time those people would have come from West/Central/East Europe and Scandinavia through multiple migrations, invasions and general mingling. And when you total up the North European regions from Ancestry (Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, West Europe and East Europe) the total is 81%. When you total up the North European regions from Genographic (West/Central, Scandinavia, East Europe) you get 81%.

    Doing it this way even explains the conflicts in my mother’s DNA for Southern Europe. Ancestry has her at 14% Italy/Greece and 2% Iberian Peninsula, for a total of 16% for Southern Europe. But Geno only says 9% for Southern Europe. However! If you include all her regions bordering the Mediterranean on Geno (Southern Europe, Northern Africa and Asia Minor) this totals up to 15%. Obviously a lot of intermingling between the peoples in the Mediterranean the further back you go. This would explain why Ancestry got the Southern Europe, but not the deeper past which includes North Africa and West Asia. There’s only a 1% difference. And that percent difference matches the remaining group: Finland/Northern Siberia: 3% from Ancestry and 4% from Geno.

    I’m not sure if this sort of figuring would work for everyone, but it does for me and I’m so happy those conflicts make sense to me now. And thank you, your summing up of Genographic 2.0 made me realize I hadn’t tried to figure out the combined totals for larger regions, which just made everything fall into place for me

  18. Miss Roberta Estes,
    My Geno 2.0 DNA (NG4V936U4V) Test Results were I: 1,2% Neanderthal – 0,6% Denisovan, My Y DNA Haplogroup O-CTS5492 / O-M117 +M133 and My Mitochondria Haplogroup B4c2, My Autosomal World Region: 65% Northeast Asian + 35% Southeast Asian, 1st Chinese and 2nd Kinh Vietnamese.
    But,
    My Cousins Geno 2.0 NG (NGCXJCFEEK) Test Results were he have: 1,4% Neanderthal DNA (Average 2,1%). Y DNA Haplogroup O-CTS4960 / O-M117 and His mtDNA belongs to Haplogroup M8a3a (Dr Miguel Vilar told me this is a rare Maternal Haplogroup). His Autosomal World Region: 56% Southeast Asian and Oceanian + 44% Eastern Asian = 1st Filipino and 2nd Bougainville Nasioi (Oceanian). I already tranferred His Raw DNA results to FTDNA. After i payed around USD $ 35 to FTDNA, he automatically got an FTDNA – Family Finder DNA Test and from his “my origins” section from Family Finder, he have 100% East Asian (56% Southeast Asian + 44% Northeast Asian).

    Personally i think when my Geno 2,0 Autosomal World Region Results are quite plausible for me based in fact i’m an Indonesian with Chinese Hokkian Ancestors or a simply i’m a Chinese Indonesian Peranakan / Peranakan Baba Nyonya for Malaysians (Southern Chinese Father + Southeast Asian Mother). Very Average and nothing special at all…..
    But, frankly, I really confused with his unusual mtDNA Hg M8a3a / M8a2’3 (Firstly i think He have an mtDNA Haplogroup D or M7 and it’s subrances: M7a, M7b and M7c) which these Haplogroup are pretty common in Northeast Asian, more referred to Northern Chinese, Japanese and North + South Korean. And His Autosomal DNA. I have no idea with His Autosomal DNA but i really surprise when His mtDNA Hg M8a3a are strongly associated with Native Siberian (Mongolian, The Kazakhs), Manchurian and Tungusic People around Lake Baikal, Amur and Yennisei Rivers and perhaps, an Eastern European, Asia Minor (Turkish) and Middle Easterner (Arabic, Iranian Khawarism around Southern Caspian Sea / Mazandaran Sea and Caucasus Mountains). Even His M8a3a are quite rare in the Northern Chinese Maternal Haplogroup, said Dr Miguel Vilar from The Genographic Project.
    Only His Y DNA Hg O-CTS4960 / O-M117 and he maybe have about 1,4% Neanderthal DNA weren’t surprise at all from The Genographic Project Geno 2.0 Next Generation.

    From Adrian Yohanes Purnomo.

  19. Due to an admin fault my sister had herself tested twice on ancestry.Both tests within a week of each other. We were told the first test had been de activated. This was not the case and she received 2 results with the matches declaring her as a twin.We were surprised to discover that there were some small differences in her results. The first test resulted in her being 49% GB the second as 45% GB. Her Irish on the first test was only 46% yet 50 on the second. There were differences on her other regions as well.This surely proves these tests are estimates only as how can two tests that belong to the same person and tested by the same company a week apart be different..

    • Interesting. If the tests were done in mid-May 2016, there is a slight possibility that she managed to test on the two platforms, V1 and V2, but other than that, there is no logical explanation.

      • Hello.and thank you for your reply ref my sister’s two d n a tests. Both tests were in June of this year. First test 11June second one week later. Best wishes.

  20. Hello Roberta……very interesting answers to various situations! My wife and I tested through Ancestry in August and we found the results, although fairly accurate, to be ‘generic’ with wide swaths of ethnicity e.g. “Western European” “Great Britian” “Scandinavia” and so forth. I took my raw results to another level by uploading them to GEDmatch. Although it seems a powerful tool, there are so many differing tests that it offers, I’m inquiring as to which, in your opinion, would produce the most accuracy relative to my particular Ancestry Ethnicity Estimate. My reported percentages are: Europe West – 56%, Great Britain – 20%, Iberian Peninsula – 10%, Scandinavia – 5% with trace regions showing as Ireland – 5% and Italy/Greece – 4%. Thank you in advance for your suggestion(s) and keep up the wonderful work!

    • It’s very common for the stories about Native American heritage to be incorrect. Check the census for your grandmother and her parents. That’s the easiest way to verify. If she was 100% Native, she won’t be listed as white, and she will probably be living on a reservation. Also check death certificates.

  21. Hi Roberta,
    My younger sisters name was Roberta. :). We called her Robbi.

    Have you heard of DNA Consultants? If so, I was curious as to your findings there. They are supposed to be quite accurate.
    I am looking to find my Jewish lineage, as we are Cherokee and I know that there is much Jewish blood there, specifically the Levine Tribe. I believe we have had 3 chiefs from the Levites (priests).

    Can you share what you might know?
    Blessings to you and THANK YOU for all your research in this area. I am looking to use DNA Consultants, so just needing some more input.

    Sharri

    • I do not recommend DNA Consultants. I would also encourage you to evaluate your sources carefully as there are no credible sources that ascribe Jewish heritage to the Cheroke. Papers published academically that have gone through a peer review process are considered credible.

      • You are quite right on DNA Consultants. Their claims to Jewish Cherokee are fiction and cannot be verified through any academic peer review process. The Yates fellow can’t be deemed credible through any of the 3 federally recognized tribes, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of CN and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

  22. I was contacted by a 2nd cousin on Ancestry. Apparently, Ancestry told her that my brother was a DNA match to her, but I was not. I find it interesting that Ancestry knows this, since I have not had them do a DNA test like my brother did. His test shows Irish, but no Scottish. I know for certain that Great Grandmother’s family emigrated from Scotland. This clears things up a bit for us. Thank you for writing it.

  23. Nov, 2016….I have just received my DNA results from Ancestry.com through Australian testing. The results show that my heritage is made up of Irish, UK ,Scandinavian and European Jewish. So what is European Jewish? I thought to be Jewish was a religion…..not a country…….so that 12% of me is very confused. Were my European relatives German……Polish…….French……Unknown?????

    • Judaism is a religion, but to be Jewish is also a culture and an ethnic group. That’s why you have the phrase “non-practicing Jew”: someone of Jewish ancestry, but who does not practice the religion. Judaism has predominantly been passed down through descent rather than conversion. That’s why no one is of “Christian” ancestry, anyone can be a Christian. Jews in Europe were often also segregated, so you have a people of Middle Eastern descent who mixed very little with their European neighbors over centuries and hey presto: you have a genetically distinct ethnic group in Europe. Go to your Ancestry DNA results and click on “European Jewish” and read the information.

  24. Hello my name is Lance Jestes and I am curious myself about getting a DNA test done myself and that is how I came upon your article. Being that we both have the same very uncommon last name maybe you could give me a little information. Thanks

  25. yes I’m beginning to understand! Ancestry broke it down more than My Origins. What confused me was that Ancestry said I was 48% Italian Greek with 2 % Asia Minor. On the other hand, Family tree said I was 46% western and central European(includes British Isles) but here’s the surprise- 24% Asia Minor and North Africa. There is no mention of southern European (Italy and Greece)This I’m presuming is my dad’s side. Mom is Scottish and Irish and ancestry did identify that with also a 14 % western European and 2% Scandinavian.That made sense. But as to the other, I’m more confused than ever lol.

  26. Mais, who is your cajun ancestor, him? My grandmother was a pure strain cajun Boudreaux from Ascension Parish, but I got no French in my test results. Probably part of the 49% scandinavian listed.

  27. Interesting article. My daughter used 23 and me which seemed to completely leave my Swedish and Scottish heritage and lumped her as British and German and Irish. While I am part English from both parents there was no mention of my Scottish heritage a cousin traced nor my Swedish heritage on my mothers side. Enjoyed your information thanks

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  29. Hi there! I just got my results recently and am very new to all this. I did it through Ancestry which said 12% Caucasus and 2% middle eastern, but when I put the raw data up on Gedmatch I got about 30% west Asian/east Mediterranean/Red Sea. Are either of these significant? Do either of them reflect any recent ancestors, like, actually being from these areas? Are they accurate? These results aren’t quite what I was told by my family (mostly Italian is what they said, Italian did come up in both but they never mentioned any ancestors from the Middle East) but I wouldn’t say they were completely unexpected either (I had a hunch).

  30. I totally agree that Ancestry is 100% wrong. It showed my only ancestry is from Africa! I know proof positive that my ancestry is German and Irish/Scottish/English.

  31. I took two dna tests withat Ancestry…it took the longest time to get my results but I finally did about 3 weeks apart… my results are slightly different…. how are my results different when they’re bothe for me? The same saliva etc…?

    • Be sure to read the information under the little “?” button on the Ancestry site. That includes several white papers which discuss how the ethnicity results are produced at Ancestry. From that page, the sentence “randomly selected portions of your DNA” is probably what holds the clue for you. See below.

      “When we calculate your estimate for each ethnicity region, we run forty separate analyses. Each of the forty analyses gives an independent estimate of your ethnicity, and each one is done with randomly selected portions of your DNA. Your genetic ethnicity estimates and likely ranges for these estimates come from these forty analyses (learn more about how we create the range for each estimate).”

  32. I have recently been thinking about doing one off these tests. Mostly because no one know who my father is as well as my body features. I’m short, have dark blonde hair and bright blue eyes, but I do also have epedemic folds and a slightly yellow skin tone. I do have harsh profile features though. My face is not flat. My mom has bright blue eyes and black hair, she also kinda has a slight yellow skin tone too.

    My mom has no contact with any of our relatives, and most of them are not alive any longer. The only thing I know is that I’m from Russian roots. I’m very curious about my roots, not family members but more what kind of ethics I migh carry.

    But I’m really confused about which test to take…

  33. I am shocked that DNA results can be that off. My mom is Italian and Swiss ancestry going back 300 years. But her ethnicity came back with British and Irish 49%. Her Italian was 48% which would be correct. However she is French Swiss by at least 48%. Anything recent must have higher percentages from what I understand. f the British and Irish came back 1 or 2 % as did Iberian and Sardinian, it would be understandable. But no Swiss or French is impossible. I used My heritage DNA. I m awaiting mine and expect something weird as I hear they are unreliable. Too bad I used them. They gave her 2 matches where it was impossible that she was 1st second third fourth or fifth cousins as they had extensive trees as our us if not more so and there were no matches.

  34. Why is it that every time someone finds out they’re not native after all, they bring up some relative that had long straight black hair and high cheeknones. That proves exactly nothing.

  35. A year has passed now since you wrote about Ancestry.com being the worst of the 4. Does your research still have the same results?

    I only ask because I just got my results back from them and wondering if I wasted my money.

    Kind regards
    🙂

  36. I haven’t read all the replies yet but my wife and I took one these tests. She used Ancestory. I used 23 and me. I have not received my results back but she got here’s the other day.

    Her’s came back over 90% European, Irish, and Scandinavian. OK I could see Scandinavian/Irish since the Vikings invaded Ireland but my wife’s father was 100% Cherokee. Her mother’s father was of Irish decent and his wife was 100% Cherokee.

    So technically she would be 75% Cherokee and 25% Irish/European.

    Why did this test not pick up any Native American in her DNA at all? Perhaps this company does not test for Native American DNA markers?

    Also 23 and me’s website said “white” people East of the Mississippi river do no contain any Native American ancestry because all the Native Americans were forced to move to Oklahoma. I don’t buy this. There are lots of people around here who’s Grandmother or Grandfather was 100% Cherokee.

    I’m also wondering if they use history. Just because the dominant ethnic group in Tennessee is Scotch Irish, doesn’t mean if your family dates back 200 years in this state, doesn’t mean everyone has Scotch Irish heritage.

    Just like not everyone in New York has Italian ancestry. Since that’s supposed to be a dominant ethnic group in that state.

  37. I totally understand what you wrote. I read so much that I’m so unclear on what is real and not. I really am hurt for what I’ve paid for is still confusing to me. I cannot explain to my children what their culture is. It would be of a asset to have a choice to follow who we are or not. I would like know me for me. I’m tan skin and even my dad was the only one in . His has pasted I met him to late. So it’s only me. I’m so lonely, I think finding out who we are will help me find peas .

  38. My family tree contains currently over 8000 names and goes back to 9th and 10th g-grandparents. In direct line of ascendance I estimate 98% plus French origins and a lot of that is due to the fact that French Québec has been a very insular population from the beginning in the early 1600’s to the more recent generations. In my case, the more recent non-French generations apply only to my siblings.

    Ancestry reports my ethnicity as 38% Great Britain, 23% Italy/Greece, 20% Ireland and much smaller percentages in other European areas. I can understand all of the possibilities, except for the Great Britain portion with absolutely no mention of France? All of my documented 9th great grandparents are from France. I was expecting a least a smidgen of French ethnicity.

    I had my husband’s done too with Ancestry shortly after mine. I’ve also done his family tree. It closely resembles mine in origin and we even share a number of 9th great grandparents (the Québec insularity again). But his analysis shows 59% Western European which includes France. This is so bizarre for me.

    Do you think that FT DNA could produce an analysis that would more closely reflect my expectations?

    P.S. I love all the info you have provided. Thanks for that.

      • Actually, you can upload your ancestrydna results to ftdna.com and they will also provide an ancestry mix. Like Maureen, I have a pretty solid tree and ancestry says I am 38% Scandinavian…. which I question. I accept that much of my English and Scottish ancestors might have viking blood… but the percentage seems out of wack. I uploaded my results to ftdna.com and at first they said I have 32% Scandinavian ancestry, but a week or so later they indicated that their panel had been updated and this dropped to 8% which seems more reasonable to me. It seems like quite a difference…even factoring in ancestry’s range of 18-59% for my Scandinavian ancestry. I just don’t feel that this is correct.

  39. I saw someone above stating middle eastern found instead of Native and I have a similar result depending on the service.

    23andme on 50% speculative
    42.3 British Irish
    9.9 French German
    8.1 Scandanavian
    34.1 Broadly NW European
    1.6 Iberian
    1.0 Broadly Southern European
    .2 Eastern European
    2.5 Broadly European
    .2 sub saharan African all West African
    <.1 East Asian Native American (last two disappear on more conservative)

    MyHeritage
    43.2 Irish Welsh Scottish
    29.0 Scandanavian
    .8 Finish
    22.9 Iberian
    1.5 Greek
    2.6 SW Asia

    Family Tree DNA
    45 British
    47 West Central European (German French)
    5 Turkish
    <1 each Iberian, West African, West Middle East

    The British Irish consistent. My mom's side pretty much all British/Scottish except for the possible Native American. The other European and trace not really consistent. Turkish on Family Tree seems way high as there is no known Turkish at all in Family history and that high would be a 2nd or 3rd great grandparent being Turkish. I know all except one line at great grandfather born in Canada can't go back further that that. Others think I have found about 7 generations all in US and white European and one probable native american (based on a photo female in mother's line about 2nd great grandmother but don't have a name). One possible Russian great grandmother (she was listed as German on one document and Russian on another).

    GEDmatch it depends on the tool but usually has West Asian at 8% and if any native just a little and usually the ArcticNativeAmer I think Eskimo or Icelandic? I will show some native on in particular the 5th gene. Not sure if that means anything.

    From what I've read my German heritage (Dad's side) could give a false Native American read. Then I also see there are some saying that Native Ameicans could have a relation to Turkish of some sort in addition to Asian relation 15k+ years back.. The wide read on the Iberian I think is because I can see on the X from my dad is probably 3/4 southern european and most Iberian which passed from my Grandma to Dad and I got dad's X duplicate he had from her. Then overall there is not too much Southern European specific.

    Just wondering if the Turkish that FamilyTreeDNA sees at 5% could actually be Native American. I do know my mitochondrial group is not Native – is the K1b1a and I guess that would be called one of the slightly less common European maternal halogroups..

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