Finding Native American Ethnic Results in Germanic People

I’m often asked about the significance of small percentages of autosomal DNA in results.  Specifically, the small percentages are often of Native American or results that would suggest Native admixture.  One of the first questions I always ask is whether or not the individual has Germanic or eastern European admixture.

Why?

Take a look at this map of the Invasion of the Roman Empire.  See the Huns and their path?

Hun map

It’s no wonder we’re so admixed.

Here’s a map of the Hunnic empire at its peak under Attila between the years 420-469.

Hun emplire

But that wasn’t the end of the Asian invasions.  The Magyars, who settled in Hungary arrived from Asia as well, in the 800s and 900s, as shown on this map from LaSalle University.

magyar map

Since both the Hungarians and some Germanic people descend from Asian populations, as do Native Americans, albeit thousands of years apart, it’s not unrealistic to expect that, as populations, they share a genetic connection.

Therefore, when people who carry heritage from this region of the world show small amounts of Native or Asian origin, I’m not surprised.  However, for Americans, trying to sort out their Native ethnic heritage, this is most unhelpful.

Let’s take a look at the perfect example candidate.  This man is exactly half Hungarian and half German.  Let’s see what his DNA results say, relative to any Asian or Native heritage, utilizing the testing companies and the free admixture tools at www.gedmatch.com.

He has not tested at Ancestry, but at Family Tree DNA, his myOrigins report 96% European, 4% Middle Eastern.  At 23andMe in speculative view, he shows 99.7 European and .2 sub-saharan African.

Moving to the admixture tools at GedMatch, MDLP is not recommended for Asian or Native ancestry, so I have excluded that tool.

Eurogenes K13 is the most recently updated admixture tool, so let’s take a look at that one first.

Eurogenes K13

 JK Eurogenes K13 v2

Eurogenes K13 showed 7% West Asian, which makes perfect sense considering his heritage, but it might be counted as “Native” in other circumstances, although I would certainly be very skeptical about counting it as such.

However, East Asian, Siberian and Amerindian would all be amalgamated into the Native American category, for a combined percentage of 1.31.

jk eurogenes k13 chart

However, selecting the “admixture proportions by chromosome” view shows something a bit different.  The cumulative percentages, by chromosome equate to 10.10%.  Some researchers mistakenly add this amount and use that as their percentage of Native ancestry.  This is not the case, because those are the portions of 100% of each individual chromosome, and the total would need to be divided by 22 to obtain the average value across all chromosomes.  The total is irrelevant, and the average may not reflect how the developer determines the amount of admixture because chromosomes are not the same size nor carry the same number of SNPs.  Questions relative to the functional underpinnings of each tool should be addressed to the developers.

Dodecad

I understand that there is a newer version of Dodecad, but that it has not been submitted to GedMatch for inclusion, per a discussion with GedMatch.  I can’t tell which of the Dodecad versions on GedMatch is the most current, so I ran the results utilizing both v3 and 12b.

jk dodecad v3

jk dodecad v3 chart

I hope v3 is not the most current, because it does not include any Native American category or pseudocategory – although there is a smattering of Northeast Asian at .27% and Southwest Asian at 1%.

Dodecad 12b below

jk dodecad 12b

The 12b version does show .52% Siberian and 2.6% Southwest Asian, although I’m not at all sure the Southwest Asian should be included.

HarappaWorld

jk harappaworld

jk harappaworld chart

Harappaworld shows .09 Siberian, .27% American (Native American), .23% Beringian and 1.8% Southwest Asian, although I would not include Southwest Asian in the Native calculation.

In Summary

Neither Family Tree DNA nor 23andMe find Native ancestry in our German/Hungarian tester, but all 3 of the admixture tools at Gedmatch find either small amounts of Native or Asian ancestry that could certainly be interpreted as Native, such as Siberian or Beringian.

Does this mean this German/Hungarian man has Native American ancestry?  Of course not, but it does probably mean that the Native population and his ancestral populations did share some genes from the same gene pool thousands of years ago.

While you might think this is improbable, or impossible, consider for a minute that every person outside of Africa today carries some percentage of Neanderthal DNA, and all Europeans also carry Denisovan DNA.  Our DNA does indeed have staying power over the millennia, especially once an entire population or group of people is involved.  We’ve recently seen this same type of scenarios in the full genome sequencing of a 24,000 year old Siberian male skeleton.

Our German/Hungarian man carries 2.4% Neanderthal DNA according to 23andMe and 2.7% according to the Genographic Project, which also reports that he carries 3.9% Denisovan.  The European average is about 2% for Neanderthal.

The net-net of this is that minority admixture is not always what it seems to be, especially when utilizing autosomal DNA to detect small amounts of Native American admixture.  The big picture needs to be taken into consideration.  Caution is advised.

When searching for Native admixture, when possible, both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA give specific answers for specific pedigree lines relative to ancestry.  Of course, to utilize Y or mtDNA, the tester must descend from the Native ancestor either directly paternally to test the male Y chromosome, or directly matrilineally to test the mitochondrial line.  You can read about this type of testing, and how it works, in my article, Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA.  You can also read about other ways to prove Native ancestry using autosomal DNA, including how to unravel which pedigree line the Native ancestry descends from, utilizing admixture tools, in the article, “The Autosomal Me.”

57 thoughts on “Finding Native American Ethnic Results in Germanic People

  1. Any thoughts about a totally unexpected Eurasian heartland result from MyOrigins? And a somewhat similarly surprising North Circumpolar? And how often do you think they’ll be updating results based on new data submissions?

    Thanks for all that you do.

    Sent from my Etch A Sketch

    >

  2. In the case of Germanic people who have intermarried with the Lakota people how is this sorted out? Are there specific SNPs that indicate NA rather than Germanic? I have a cousin that is Santee through his Truedell line. Distantly related to John Truedell. But the rest of his dna is German and French ( going back to the French fur trading in Fort Wayne).

    • There really isn’t any good way to sort this out today. Utilizing The Autosomal Me process is your best bet, and it’s long and tedious and not always possible. The only other clue would be the value of the D9S919 SNP.

  3. I get the feeling that sorting out your genetic mixture is easiest if you know your parents, you know their names and are sure that this woman is your mother and that man is your father. Those of us who do not have this information are pretty much in the dark. 23andMe and Family Tree and the other genomic profile companies can provide a genetic pie chart of chromosomal breakdown, but it really is sort of saying that building is a tall and so is that one, neglecting to note that one was designed by Louis Sullivan while the other by I.M. Pei. Huge difference in style and function.

    I have been identified as anywhere from just under 5% to almost 51% Native American (NA. I’ve learned a couple things regarding genetics and the American Indian.

    1. The database of American Indians is limited to 108 individuals, all of whom are members of Central or South American tribes. Because scholars can’t agree on when or how the Western Hemisphere was populated, and because the door of discovery remains wide open and because many researchers and organizations give little weight to native accounts (or rather choose to see their research or knowledge as the definitive source), that area is going to be in flux for some time.

    2. Establishing your genetic base for your genealogy is likely to open a can of worms if you are looking to validate your NA status, regardless of whether or not you are enrolled in a tribe. Tribes are understandably suspicious of the presence of Western (namely white) culture in tribal life. It rarely ends well for the Native American. Genomic profiles can call into question someone’s enrollment status or simply challenge their identity. Tribes are suspicious of people who are now claiming native status (and thus, perhaps, hoping for a share of casino profits).

    To be honest I was shocked to see as much Native American in my profile. It conflicts with what I have been told. BTW, those figures reflect the genetic information that the genome service (23andMe) actually identify as NA, the rest is simply categorized as East Asian/Native American. I have read a geneticist explain that the slim amount of genetic data for NA would explain the wide fluctuations. My European component doesn’t fluctuate nearly as much, but then there are so many more people with European ancestry in the database.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’m glad if people can and do find their ancestry, but it’s going to take a lot more than a genomic profile.

    • I agree with you. Most of my lines I know something about. I have a couple that I know almost nothing. One thing I know is I have 3 different matches who are tribal members. But communicating with them they say that according to the scientists that they are not NA. So in my opinion the basic gene pool of NA is not yet adequate. What is needed is old bones. Testing current populations doesn’t work. Even most of my Europeans don’t match people from where they came. I did see an interesting video about 50,000 year old skeletons that were found in South America. These may match both the South Eastern tribes and Kennewick Man. And after listening to stories from Navajo and Hopi people for 21 years the scientists should listen. People that do not have a written language pass their history orally. At this point though NA are very leery about sharing their oral histories.

    • Although 108 samples are South of the Boarder for Indians is the smallest in the databases, most Native Americans from the America’s and peopel with Native Ancestry seem to cluster with them or East Asians. Can better samples broaden the database and enhance results? Sure. However, with 23anMe, if you have at least a 3rd great grandparent fullblood you should be showing something now, today. People who are not seeing Native/Asian I think have their own expections which are not realistic if they cannot support on paper Indian ancestors. I’ve seen too many results for this group of people to remain genetically ambiguous. Even people from the Southeast of the US.

      This is the only ancestry, people claim never shows up in their results.

      • Actually my Ross/McCullough/Henry/Gaff/McGregor do not show up at all. My NA does show up in small amounts along with other Asian/Australasian/Oceanian/and Subs-Saharan that I cannot account for. My Grandmother is 1/2 Ross and 1/2 German 1st generation. Her grandmother was 100% Scots. The Gaff and McGregor are on my Dad’s side. He is 1/8 so I am 1/16th. Maybe there is another scientific explanation for this.

      • Keep in mind that it is theoretically possible, albeit not very likely, that you could inherit *none* of an ancestor’s genetic information in a generation as close as your grandparents. Going back another 3 generations only increases the likelihood of having genetic blind spots.There is a very real possibility that by 3rd Great Grandparents that one or more ancestors will be missing from the genetic picture.

        I tend to agree with you though, that many people who expect native results without a paper trail have unrealistic expectations.

      • Hi Steve. I think this is where the theory and the reality diverge. I have never seen anyone who carries none of their grandparents DNA. While it is indeed theoretically possible, I think it would be functionally impossible – somewhere along the odds of winning the lottery 100 times in a row:) I have seen some second and third cousins who share much less DNA than I would have expected though.

      • I do have a 4th cousin that I match through Hannah Henry/Harvey McCullough using gedmatch. These are both British Isles origin bloodlines but MyOrigins did not pick up on this dna as British Isles. So the dna is present, it is just not being recognized for some reason.

      • Roberta,

        I should have said *extremely* unlikely. I was just using an extreme example to illustrate a point…at some point the genetic information from specific ancestors is going to start disappearing from the picture. The data might not be there yet, but I would be interested in a statistical analysis of inheritance patterns (akin to what you did in your “Generational Inheritance” article, but on a larger scale) that might give an idea of how frequent that might be…..”on average one ancestor is lost every 5 generations”…or 10 generations…or whatever.

        And Cynthia, keep in mind that while that *line* came from the British Isle, the small segment of *DNA* you share could be similar to any number of other reference populations (Western Europe, Scandinavian, etc). The DNA is probably still being recognized, just not categorized under “British Isles”.

      • Steve if it was just one Scots ancestor I would agree. My Grandmother Edna Ross was 50% Scots except what might be mixed with Native. Ross, McCullough, and Henry are the known ancestors. And on my Dad’s side his mother is 1/4 Scots, with McGregor, Gaff, Rule. This is confirmed by DAR records. And this is only going back to the 1700’s.

  4. After reading this blog, I am now wondering if this could possibly be Native American. Minute bits but still showing up. My family said we were Black Dutch, whatever that means, I am not sure because I find no Dutch in our line.

    98.2%

    European

     

    Northern European

    19.2%

    British & Irish

    67.9%

    Nonspecific Northern European

    11.2%

    Nonspecific European

    0.7%

    Sub-Saharan African

    0.6%

    West African

    0.1%

    Nonspecific Sub-Saharan African

    0.1%

    Middle Eastern & North African

    0.1%

    North African

    < 0.1%

    Nonspecific Middle Eastern & North Afri

  5. Roberta, I’ve found the Dodecad World9 tool from GedMatch most useful for detecting Native American admixture. It was specifically designed by Dienekes as “a tool that could be used by persons of partial Amerindian ancestry”. He does add the following, “This is a very important caveat for Americans who suspect that they may have an Amerindian ancestor. Small levels of this component may be noise, and this component is also found in Siberia, and may represent either backflow from the Americas or the common ancestry of Siberian and Amerindian populations.”

    23andMe shows my having just 0.5% Native admixture. But using World9, I was able to find that chromosome 10 has 3.5% and chromosome 15 has 10.3% Native admixture, surely above what can be considered “noise”. And its cool to see it all “painted” when one uses the chromosome painting function.

      • I have a question. I noticed that the number of snps evaluated varies between different admixture tools. I wonder why and how much this effects accuracy.

      • The why is which references they are using as ancestrally informative markers. Some markers are more informative than others, some have been more widely studied, etc.

  6. I am 1.9 Neanderthal according to 23andme.com. I just uploaded my raw data to gedmatch.com so I have to wait to to the admixture. I did something that made a painting from your genes and saw a tiny bit of red which is listed as “AmeriIndian”.

  7. Hi Roberta

    Try Eurogenes K9b on Gedmatch as it was designed for GPS plotting for one’s origins. It has Native American.

    below is mine to show you the naming formats
    Population
    Southwest_Asian 11.96%
    Native_American 0.57%
    Northeast_Asian –
    Mediterranean 29.66%
    North_European 55.93%
    Southeast_Asian 1.41%
    Oceanian 0.24%
    South_African –
    Sub-Saharan_African 0.23%

    and
    MDLP-world is also good
    Population
    Caucaus_Parsia 12.48%
    Middle_East 13.47%
    Indian –
    South_and_West_European 46.82%
    Melanesian –
    Sub_Saharian 0.15%
    North_and_East_European 27.03%
    Arctic_Amerind –
    East_Asian –
    Paleo_African –
    Mesoamerican 0.06%
    North_Asian –

    • Population
      Southwest_Asian 9.56%
      Native_American 1.47%
      Northeast_Asian 0.37%
      Mediterranean 20.82%
      North_European 65.67%
      Southeast_Asian 0.74%
      Oceanian 0.36%
      South_African – 0.00%
      Sub-Saharan_African 1.01%

      In another most of the Mediterranean breaks down into Iberian and Basque. This makes sense if the Scots names fall into this category. The Southwest Asian/Northeast Asian/Oceanian/Sub-Saharan_African could tie into the Brazilian NA considering the cave of 50,000 skeletons found in a cave in Brazil with those same characteristics.

    • I would caution folks against taking Native American results from the Eurogenes K9b at face value. I am now in the middle of a very long comment thread at Facebook of folks posting their results, and many people of European descent whose ancestors have never been to the Americas (as far as they know) are showing NA results. So far everyone of European descent has at least a little NA admix. with this test–most have enough to show in the pie chart. This test may be picking up very ancient admixture that is common to both Europe and the Americas.

      • I totally agree. The Dodecad world9 calculator can be used by persons of partial Amerindian ancestry. This test is for Americans who suspect that they may have an Amerindian ancestor. Small levels of this component may be noise. A friend of mine who works in Forensics told me that anything below 0.66% is “noise”. Here is a link to learn more info about the Dodecad world9 calculator.
        http://dodecad.blogspot.com/2011/12/world9-calculator.html

  8. I posted this in another of your blogposts but since this is also relevant here I am posting it here too. The latest Dodecad calculator by Dienekes is called globe13 and is available for download at http://www.y-str.org/2013/07/diy-dodecad-21-wrapper.html You can compare the results to the source populations with the spreadsheet found at http://dodecad.blogspot.com/2012/10/globe13-calculator.html which will allow you to see how much each country has of what percentage of each component.

    You can see how the Amerindian percentages of 9 individuals shows up in Pop Finder, globe13, and myOrigins with some results from K13 and K36 included in the following spreadsheet – https://www.dropbox.com/s/f4wiwm6rhswhr7d/Amerindian%20Comparison.xlsx

    Once Gedmatch is back up I can add some other Gedmatch calculator results.

    • Eurogenes K13
      North Atlantic 51.39%
      Baltic 21.78%
      West Med 12.83%
      West Asian 5.62%
      East Med 4.81%
      Red Sea 0.60%
      South Asian 0.20%
      East Asian 0.22%
      Siberian 0%
      Amerindian 0.99%
      Oceanian 0.68%
      Sub Saharan 0.88%

      World 9
      Amerindian 1.22%
      East Asian 0.15%
      African 0.43%
      Atlantic Baltic 71.86%
      Australasian 0.29%
      Siberian 0%
      Caucasus Gedrosia 12.56%
      Southern 13.44%

      I have documented Cherokee application for ancestors in 1896 Dawes Commission Fort Bragg, Oklahoma

    • I haven’t seen most Europeans with their ethnicity as high as 10% Asian, although those in the Slavic and Germanic regions often tend to have some, generally very small, trace amounts.

      • My Asian runs over 13% and Mediterranean over 27% and I am mostly German with Scots and Native. When I run the gedmatch numbers on my McCullough/Henry cousins they have the same high amounts of Asians and Mediterranean. They have very small amounts of German. We are only related through Harvey McCullough b 1814 Ohio and Hannah Henry b 1817 New Jersey.

  9. Pingback: Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. Pingback: Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA | Native Heritage Project

  11. Pingback: Are You Native? – Native American Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  12. Pingback: Are You Native? – Native American Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins | Native Heritage Project

  13. Hi There, I transferred my raw autosomal data a couple of times, and 1x to gedmatch. Interestingly, it gave me .13% Amerindian, which might be fairly unlikely. So, the Hun explanation helped with that tidbit. However…even though it’s such a minutia, gedmatch showed that I’m .31% Oceanic! I know it’s a trifle, but, wow – really? If there’s a bit of a (brief) history lesson to that one, I’d be curious. Thank you 🙂

  14. Pingback: Yamnaya, Light Skinned, Brown Eyed….Ancestors??? | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  15. Pingback: Ethnicity Testing and Results | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  16. Pingback: DNAeXplain Archives – Introductory DNA | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  17. We believe that my father’s mother had North American native heritage. While I’ve had two or three of the FTDNA tests, nothing in their results indicates the Native connection. In reading your website, it does appear that y-DNA excludes maternal lineage, and since this is my father’s mother, does that mean I’m at a dead end?

  18. Pingback: Native American Haplogroup X2a – Solutrean, Hebrew or Beringian? | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  19. Pingback: Native American Haplogroup X2a – Solutrean, Hebrew or Beringian? | Native Heritage Project

  20. Pingback: Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  21. Had my dna ran thru ancestry dna said I was 83 percent European and 17 percent sub seharian but no explanation

  22. Southwest Asia refers to the Middle East. West Asia refers to Asia Minor and the Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, Abkhazia and others). None of those parts of Asia have anything to do with NA ancestry. Altaic, Central Aisa and Siberian could, though, as could East Asian. The South Asian refers to India. the West Asian is one of the founding peoples of the Europeans. The Southwest Asian is where farming was introduced into the continent…and so there is a bit of that as well. Asia and Europe are connected and there have been a lot of movements of people back and forth. As someone noted there is another element of European ancestry that comes from the Northeast and stretches into the Steppes. These Ancient North Eastern Hunter-Gatherers split….some went into Europe and some went to the Americas. This is why so many Europeans have a small amount of “Native” ancestry. It’s actually some DNA/ancestry that both peoples share.

  23. I too show up with a very tiny bit of Amerindian DNA in some calculators on GEDmatch, And I know that it’s virtually impossible I have any Native American in me because I’m not American nor do I have any American ancestors. I’ve see many people of European descent show up with a little bit of it as well as Siberian/North Asian. Interestingly, I get no or very little of the latter and instead get a little bit of East/Southeast Asian and South Asian/Indian. Weird! I wonder where it comes from.

  24. I originally tried posting this comment with my WordPress account the other day, but for some reason it never showed up. Hopefully this works correctly:

    Hi! I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. I was hoping to get your thoughts on the following.

    I am researching possible Native American ancestry on some “missing” branches of my father’s side of the family tree, which is *overwhelmingly* English with a number of Colonial American lines of descent.

    One great-grandmother was full German, and an 8th Great-grandfather may possibly have been of Eastern European ancestry, so I was wondering if those might lead to false positives of Native American indicators, in consideration of what this article discusses.

    I finally got my 23andme results, which I basically ignored and proceeded to upload the raw data file to gedmatch for various analyses.

    EDIT/UPDATE: I think I have ruled out the possibility of the line with the German great-grandmother and the possibly Eastern European 8th GGfather leading to false positives of NA ancestry, as I found a couple of second cousins on 23andme who also descend from that line, and they have no trace at all of “East Asian & Native American.” I am now looking at my paternal grandmother’s line for the possible Native American ancestry. There is a 7th GGfather on that line who was possibly German. It seems that would be too far back to lead to the following NA admixture result:

    Using Eurogenes K13, I get 0.89% Amerindian in the admixture utility. The chromosome viewer shows the following percentages for Amerindian: #1: -, #2: -, #3: 2.6%, #4: -, #5: 2.3%, #6: -, #7: -, #8: 8.6%, #9: 0.2%, #10: -, #11: 5.5%, #12: -, #13: 0.5%, #14: -, #15: 0.6%, #16: -, #17: 0.2%, #18: 4.1%, #19: 3.6%, #20: 2.6%, #21: 5.5%, #22: 0.1%

    Dodecad World9 returns 0.55% Amerindian in the admixture tool. And the chromosome viewer shows the following percentages: #1: 1.2%, #2: -, #3: 1.2%, #4: -, #5: 2.0%, #6: -, #7: -, #8: 6.8%, #9: 0.8%, #10: 1.0%, #11: 5.5%, #12: -, #13: 0.5%, #14: -, #15:-, #16:-, #17:-, #18:2.5%, #19:1.4%, #20:4.3%, #21:3.5%, #22:0.3%

    They both show the highest percentages of Amerindian on the 8th and 11th chromosomes, while there’s some variation among other chromosomes. I’m not sure of the significance of that.

    Does this look like a good indication of North American native ancestry?

    To further complicate things, I am half Asian on my mother’s side. Eurogenes K13 admixtures shows 34.94% East Asian and 15.4% Siberian, which both add up to 50.34%. And Dodecad World9 shows 38.26% East Asian and 12.92% Siberian, adding up to 51.18%. So I’m thinking a small portion of that “Siberian” part could actually be North American native. Harappaworld gives me a result of 0.44% American and 0.52% Beringian, besides the Siberian category.

    • Oops, that possibly German ggfather was actually 4th ggfather, not 7th… I was counting generations wrong (rookie mistake). Still, even if he had 1% Siberian/Hun/Etc. ancestry, any trace of that particular DNA would be long gone by my generation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s