Are You Native? – Native American Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins

At Family Tree DNA, having Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins indicating Native American ancestry does not necessarily mean you are Native American or have Native American heritage.

This is a very pervasive myth that needs to be dispelled – although it’s easy to see how people draw that erroneous conclusion.  Let’s look at why – and how to draw a correct conclusion.

The good news is that more and more people are DNA testing.  The bad news is that errors in the system are tending to become more problematic, or said another way, GIGO – Garbage in, Garbage Out.

I want to address this problem in particular having to do with Native American ancestry – or the perception thereof.

At Family Tree DNA, everyone who tests their Y DNA or their mitochondrial DNA have both Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins tabs as two of your 7 information tabs detailing your results.

haplogroup and ancestral orgins tab

The goals of these two pages are to provide the testers with locations around the world where their haplogroup is found, and locations where their matches’ ancestors are found – according to their matches.

Did a little neon danger sign start flashing?  It should have.

Haplogroup Origins

Haplogroup Origins provides testers with information about the origins of other individuals who match your haplogroup both exactly and nearly.  This data base uses the location information from both the Family Tree DNA participant data base and other academic or private databases.

haplogroup origins 2

Ancestral Origins

Ancestral Origins is comprised primarily of the results of the “most distant ancestor” country of your matches at Family Tree DNA.  This tab is designed to provide you a view into the locations where your closest matches are found at each of the testing levels.  After all, that’s where your ancestors are most likely to be from, as well.

ancestral origins 2

Most of the time this works really well, providing valuable information to testers, assuming two things:

1. Participants who are entering the information for their “most distant ancestor” understand that in the case of the Y line DNA – this is the most distant direct MALE ancestor who carries that paternal surname. Not his wife or someone else in that line.

Sometimes, people enter the name of the person in that line, in general, who lived to be the oldest – but that’s not what this field is requesting – the most distant – meaning further back in that direct line.

For mitochondrial DNA, this is the most distant FEMALE in your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s direct line – directly on up that maternal tree until you run out of mothers who have been identified. I can’t tell you how many male names I see listed as the “most distant ancestor” when I do DNA reports for people – and I know immediately that information is incorrect – along with their associated geographic locations.

mtdna matches

In this mitochondrial example, the third match shows a male Indian Chief.  The first problem is that this is a mitochondrial DNA test, so the mitochondrial DNA could not have descended from a male.  If you don’t understand how Y and mitochondrial DNA descends from ancestors, click here.

Secondly, there is no known genealogical descent from this chief – but that really doesn’t matter because the mtDNA cannot descend from a male and the batter is out with the first problem, before you ever get to the second issue.  However, if you are someone who is “looking for” Native American ancestry, this information is very welcome and even seems to be confirming – but it isn’t.  It’s a red herring.

Unfortunately, this may now have perpetuated itself in some fashion, because look at the first and last lines of this next entry – again – another male chief.  The second entry with a name is another male too, Domenico.  Hmmm….maybe information entered by other participants isn’t always reliable and shouldn’t be taken at face value….

mtdna matches 2

2. This approach works well if people enter only known, verified, proven information, not speculation. Herein lies the problem with Native American heritage. Let’s say that the family oral history says that my mother’s mother’s line is Native American. I decide to DNA test, so for the “Most Distant Ancestor” location I select “United States – Native American.”

united states selection

The DNA test comes back and shows heritage other than Native, but that previous information that I entered is never changed in the system.  Now, we have a non-Native haplogroup showing as a Native American result.

Unfortunately, I see this on an increasingly frequent basis – Native American “location” associated with non-Native haplogroups.

non native hap

This scenario has been occurring for some time now.  Family Tree DNA at one point attempted to help this situation by implementing a system in which you can select “United States” meaning you are brick walled here, and “United States Native American” which means your most distant ancestor in that line is Native American.

Native American Haplogroups

There are a very limited number of major haplogroups that include Native American results.  For mitochondrial DNA, they are A, B, C, D, X and possibly M.  I maintain a research list of the subgroups which are Native.  Each of these base haplogroups also have subgroups which are European and/or Asian.  The same holds true for Native American Y haplogroups Q and C.

In the Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins, there are many examples where Non-Native haplogroups are assigned as Native American, such as haplogroup H1a below.  Haplogroup H is European..

non native hap 2

A big hint as to an incorrect “Native” designation is when most or many of the other exact haplogroups, especially full sequence haplogroups, are not Native.  As Bennett Greenspan says, haplogroups and ethnicity are “guilt by genetic association.”  You aren’t going to find the same subhaplogroup in Czechoslovakia, Serbia or England and as a Native American too.

non native hap 3

Haplogroup J is European.

non native hap 4

Haplogroup K is European, and so is U2e1, below.

non native hap 5

Unfortunately, what is happening is that someone tests and see that out of several matches, one is Native American.  People don’t even notice the rest of their matches, they only see the Native match, like the example above.  They then decide that they too must be Native, because they have a Native match, so they change their own “most distant ancestor” location to reflect Native heritage.  This happens most often when someone is brick walled in the US.

non native hap 6

Another issue is that people see haplogroup X and realize that haplogroup X is one of the 5 mitochondrial haplogroups, A, B, C, D and X. that define Native American DNA.  However, those haplogroups have many subgroups and only a few of those subgroups are Native American.  Many are Asian or European.  Regardless, participants see the main haplogroup designation of X and assume that means their ancestor was Native.  They then enter Native American.

In the example above, haplogroup X1c has never been found in a Native American individual or population, although we are still actively looking.  Haplogroup X2a is a Native American subgroup.

In some cases, we are finding new subgroups of known Native haplogroups that are Native.  I recently wrote about this for haplogroup A4 where different subgroups are Asian, Jewish, Native and European.  This is, however, within an already known base haplogroup that includes a Native American subgroup – haplogroup A4.

When testers see these “Native American” results under Haplogroup and Ancestral Origins, they become very encouraged and excited.  Unfortunately, there is no way to verify which of your matches entered “Native American,” nor why, unless you have only a few matches and you can contact all of them.

When someone has tested at the full sequence level, remember that their results will show on these pages in the HVR1 section, the HVR2 section and the full sequence section.  So while it may look like there are three Native American results, there is only one, listed once in all three locations where it “counts.”  In the example below, there are two V3a1 full sequence matches that claim Native American.  Those were the chiefs shown above.  There are those two, plus one more HVR1+HVR2 individuals who has entered Native American as well.  However, if the match total was one for the HVR1, HVR2 and coding regions, that would mean there is one person who tested and matched in all 3 categories, not that 3 people tested.  In other words, you don’t add the match totals together.

non native hap 7

What Does A Native Match Look Like?

Of course, not all matches that indicate Native heritage are incorrect.  It’s a matter of looking at all of the available evidence and finding that guilt by genetic association.

In this first confirmed Native example, we see that the haplogroup is a known Native haplogroup, and all of the matches from outside the US are from areas known to have a preponderance of Native Americans in their population.  For example, about 80% of the people from Mexico carry Native American mitochondrial DNA.

Native 1

In this second example, we see Native American indicated, plus Mexico and Canada, which it typical.  In addition we see Spain.  Just like some people assume Native American, some people from Mexico, Central and South America presume that their ancestors are from Spain, so I always take these with a grain of salt.  Japan is a legitimate location for haplogroup B as well, especially given that this result is listed at the HVR1 level. If this individual tested at the HVR2 or full sequence level, they might be assigned to a different subgroup, and therefore would no longer be considered a match.

native 2

It’s not just what is present that’s important, but what is absent as well.  There is no long list of full sequence matches to people whose ancestors come from European countries like the U2 example above.  Spain is understandable, given the history of the settlement of the Americas, and that can be overlooked or considered and set aside.  Japan makes sense too.  But a European haplogroup combined with a long list of primarily European high level matches with only one or two “Native” matches is impossible to justify away.

What Does Native American Mean?

This discussion begs the question of what Native American means.

It’s certainly possible for someone with a European or African haplogroup to descend from someone who was a proven member of the a tribe.  How is that possible?  Adoption, slavery and kidnapping.  All three were very prevalent practices in the Native culture.

For example, Mary Jemison is a very well-known frontierswoman adopted by the Seneca with many descendants today.  Was she Native?  Yes, she was adopted by the tribe.  Is her DNA Native?  No.  Were her ancestors Native?  No, they were European.  So, are her descendants Native, through her?  She married a Native man, so her descendants are clearly Native through him.  Whether you consider her descendants Native through her depends on how you define Native.  I think the answer would be both yes and no, and both should be a part of the history of Mary Jemison and her descendants.

If a European or African women was kidnapped, enslaved or adopted into the tribe, and bore children, her children were full tribal members.  Of course, today her descendants might have be unaware of her European or African roots, prior to her tribal membership.  Her mtDNA would, of course, come back as European or African, not Native.

This is a case where the culture of the tribe involved may overshadow the DNA in terms of definition of “Indian.”  However, genetically, that ancestor’s roots are still in either Europe or African, not in the Americas.

How Do We Know Which Haplogroups Are Native?

One of the problems we have today is that because there are so many people who carry the oral history of grandmother being “Cherokee,” it has become common to “self-assign” oneself as Native.  That’s all fine and good, until one begins to “self-assign” those haplogroups as Native as well – by virtue of that “Native” assignment in the Family Tree DNA data base.  That’s a horse of a different color.

Because having a Native American ancestor has become so popular, there are now entities who collect “self-assigned” Native descendants and ancestors and, if you match one of those “self-assigned” Native descendants and their haplogroups, voila, you too are magically Native.

I can tell you, being an administrator for the American Indian, Cherokee, Tuscarora, Lumbee and other Native American DNA projects – that list of “self-assigned” Native haplogroups would include every European and African haplogroup in existence – so we would one and all be Native – using that yardstick for comparison.  How about that!

Bottom line – no matter how unhappy it makes people – that’s just not true.

A great deal of research has been undertaken over the past two decades into Native American genetic heritage – and continues today.  The reason I started my Native American Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup list is because it’s difficult to track and keep track of legitimate developments.  Any time someone tells me they have “heard” that haplogroup H, for example, is Native, I ask them for a credible source.  I’ve yet to see one.

How do we determine whether a haplogroup is Native, or not?

The litmus paper test is whether or not the haplogroup has been found in pre-contact burials.  If yes, then it can be considered that the ancestor was living on this continent prior to European contact.  Native people arrived from Asia, across Beringia into what is now Alaska, and then scattered over thousands of years across all of North and South America.  We see subgroups of these same haplogroups across this entire space.

In some locations, the Native people are much less admixed than, for example, the tribes that came into the earliest and closest contact Europeans.  These tribes were decimated and many are now extinct.  I wrote about this in my paper titled, “Where Have All the Indians Gone.”

The tribes that are less admixed are probably the best barometers of Native heritage today.

We are hoping for new discoveries every day, but for today, we must rely on the information we have that is known and proven.

Interpreting Results Today

Native American haplogroup results today are subsets of Y DNA haplogroups Q and C.  If you find a haplogroup O result that might potentially be Native, PLEASE let me know.  This is also a possibility, but as yet unproven.

Mitochondrial Native American haplogroups include subgroups of A, B, C, D, X and possibly M.

If anyone tells you otherwise, personally or indirectly via Haplogroup or Ancestral Origins – keep in mind that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and data is only as good as its source.  Look at all of the information – what is present, what is absent, the testing level and what kind of documentation your matches have to share.

Finding your haplogroup listed as Native American in the Haplogroup or Ancestral Origins doesn’t make you Native American any more than it would make you an elephant if someone else listed “purple elephant.”

purple elephant

The only things that make you Native American are either a confirmed Native haplogroup subgroup, preferably with proven Native matches, or a confirmed genealogical paper trail.  Best of all scenarios is a combination of a Native haplogroup, matches that suggest or confirm your tribe and a proven paper trail.  That combination removes all doubt.


Of the various kinds of evidence, some can stand alone, and some cannot.

Evidence Type Evidence Results Comments
DNA Y or mitochondrial Confirmed Native American subgroup – can stand alone sometimes With deep level testing, this can be enough to prove Native ancestry.  For Y  this generally means advanced SNP testing or matching to other proven Native participants.  For mitochondrial DNA, it means full sequence testing.
Proven paper trail Proven Native tribal membership, but does not prove ancestral origins Needs DNA evidence to prove whether the tribal member was admixed.
Matches to Haplogroup or Ancestral Origins If Native is indicated, need to evaluate the rest of the information. Level of testing, haplogroup, locations of most distant ancestors of other matches need to be evaluated, plus any paper trail evidence.
Autosomal DNA matches To people with Native ancestry Unless you can prove a common ancestor through triangulation, those individuals with Native ancestry could be related to you through any ancestor.  Matches to several people with Native ancestry does not indicate or suggest that you have Native ancestry.
Native DNA ethnicity through autosomal testing Native American results You can generally rely on these results, especially if they are over 5%.  Unless you have reason to believe that other regions could be providing some interfering results, this is probably a legitimate indication of Native heritage.  Locations that sometimes give Native results are Asia and eastern European countries that absorbed Asian invaders, such as the Slavic countries and Germany.  I wrote about this here.

If you don’t test, you can’t play.  If you think you have Native American ancestry, you can take the Y DNA test (at least to 37 markers) if you are a male, the full sequence test if you are testing mitochondrial DNA, or Family Finder to match family members from all ancestral lines and discover if you show any Native American in your ethnicity estimate provided in myOrigins.  Men can take all 3 tests and women can take the mitochondrial DNA and Family Finder tests.  Family Tree DNA is the only testing company providing this comprehensive level of testing.



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57 thoughts on “Are You Native? – Native American Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins

  1. Roberta, I’m curious what you think of this DodeCad World 9 admixture:
    Amerindian = 1.24%
    East Asian = 0.38%
    African = 0.06%
    Atlantic Baltic = 74.35%
    Australasian = 0%
    Siberian = 0%
    Caucasus Gedrosia = 11.04%
    Southern = 12.58%
    South Asian = 0.35%

    Dr. D. McDonald did his analysis and offered the opinion that the Native American “was small but very real” (I was lucky and caught him just before he got to the point where he just wasn’t able to keep up with the demand and started only accepting special cases for analysis) .

    There is a comparable incident on my mother’s paternal line similar to Mary Jemison’s, only with a male abductee, and enough circumstantial evidence on my paternal line to suspect Native American heritage in a couple lines.

    I know the percentage is small, but should I believe it or is it probably noise?

    • Roberta, my brother was kind enough to submit his DNA to FTDNA for Y-37 and Family Finder. He and I follow the results. There were two questions that we were seeking answers to. First, we had never known for sure who our Dad’s biological father was. We knew what his birth certificate said and we were inundated with rumors and comments from various people in the community. Some wanted to recognize a kinship and others wanted to make sure that we knew we were not really Armstrong’s. (My Dad started using the Armstrong surname when our grandmother married an Armstrong man. There was no legal name change.) We are still waiting for the comparison of Tommy’s Y-DNA to the DNA of a half-uncle who was also kind enough to share his DNA with us. Secondly, I have a picture of my great-great-great grandparents on my Dad’s family line. The first time I saw this picture my paternal grandmother emphatically stated, “She’s not black, she’s Indian.” The loudness and abruptness of her proclamation peaked my interest and made me wonder. My brother’s Family Finder Origins show the following: European 98% (Scandinavian 43%, Western and Central Europe 37%, British Isles 17%, Southern Europe 1%,) Middle Eastern 2% (North Africa 2%.) Prior to sampling my brother’s DNA, I had located three documents that made me wonder more about Fanny Burns Lovett’s ethnicity. Her son, William Lovett, died November 20, 1894 and his death record states that he is white. His mother, Fannie Lovett died November 27, 1894 and her death record lists her as mulatto. Eighteen-ninety-four was a bad year for typhoid fever. In the 1850 DeKalb County, Alabama federal census I located the family of Jeremiah Burns and his wife Frances Durham Burns. Fannie is not listed (her birth date on her tombstone states 1850, some family members believe that she may have been born in 1851.) But she was not born as of the official census date. Along with Frances and Jeremiah’s children, there is a free man of color listed as a mulatto (the only person on the page to have something in this column.) I find all of this so fascinating. I have even traced the free man of color through other censuses. But it has created more questions. There are so many possibilities and so much more research to do. Our family is thankful to each one of our ancestors. Without them, we would not exist. I love your blogs. They teach me so much.

      • Y-DNA (37) results are in. The closest match, genetic distance of 0 to my brother was a male son of the man (Brock) family members identified to us as my Dad’s father. Suggested relationships includes brother, nephew, or uncle (leaving the feminine out here.)

  2. Have you seen what was posted 5/19/15 concerning A10? There has been an animated discussion claiming Catherine Pillard was a Huron, but her mtDNA is A10
    French Heritage DNA Project Facebook, a public group at

    Pierre-Jacques Beaugrand in Corroy-Le-Grand, Brabant, Belgium

    Les ancêtres ADN-mt A10 de la Fille du Roi Catherine PILLARD vivaient en Sibérie de

    l’Ouest à l’âge du Bronze.

    Pilipenko A.S. et al (2015) MtDNA Haplogroup A10 Lineages in Bronze Age Samples

    Suggest That Ancient Autochthonous Human Groups Contributed to the Specificity of the

    Indigenous West Siberian Population.
    Published: May 7, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127182…

    Ces auteurs présentent les résultats d’analyse des échantillons d’ADN mitochondrial (N =

    10 sujets) appartenant à l’haplogroupe A10, à partir de populations qui vécurent âge du

    bronze dans la forêt-steppe de Sibérie occidentale (V-I millénaire avant JC) qui ont été

    identifiés dans le cadre d’une étude de dépistage d’un large échantillon diachronique (N =

    96). Les lignées A10, qui sont très rares dans les populations eurasiennes modernes, ont été

    trouvées dans tous les groupes âge du bronze qui ont été étudiés.

    Leur Figure 3 indique la présence de A10 dans les Alpes italiennes. Je joins cette figure plus

    loin dans un commentaire.

    Rough translation using the tool available:

    The Ancestors DNA-Mt A10 Of The King’s daughter Catherine Pillard lived in Siberia from

    West To The Bronze Age.

    Pilipenko A.S. et al (2015) MtDNA Haplogroup A10 Lineages in Bronze Age Samples

    Suggest That Ancient Autochthonous Human Groups Contributed to the Specificity of the

    Indigenous West Siberian Population.
    Published: May 7, 2015DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127182…

    These authors present the results of analysis of Mitochondrial DNA Samples (n = 10

    subjects) belonging to the Haplogroupe A10, From People Who Lived Bronze Age In The

    Forest-Steppe of Western Siberia (V-I Millennium BC) That have been identified in the

    framework of a study of screening of a broad diachronic sample (N = 96). The Lines A10,

    which are very rare in the modern eurasian populations, were found in all groups bronze

    age who have been studied.

    Their figure 3 indicates the presence of a10 in the Italian Alps. I join this figure later in a


  3. I feel your pain 🙂 i have lost count of the number of people regardless of ethnicity that have a female name listed as their oldest known ancestor on their paternal line and conversely on the maternal line, i believe FTDNA should send a general email out to all participants asking them to check the information they have supplied and correct it as needed.

  4. So do I, Leigh, and wish FTDNA would require people to fill in blanks (e.g., labeled “mother of __ previous entry” or “father of __ previous entry”) leading from the person to his her/his most distant ancestor on an mtDNA or yDNA line. It’s certainly not a solution to all the problems Roberta described above but it would educate people and improve the quality of the data available to us.







    • As I mentioned in the article, haplogroup X is one of those that has both European and Native subgroups. Without knowing your subgroup, from full sequence testing, it’s impossible to tell. The answer is to take the full sequence test at Family Tree DNA.

  6. So Mitochondrial Haplogroup C, 2 grandparents from Mexico, and 8-9% Native American on Family Finder pretty well backs up that my maternal great-grandmother qualifies as Native American even though she wasn’t tribal?

    • ronaldhankey – I do not know how to interpret your response. What are you referring to by “Garbage In, Garbage Out”…? Thanks.

  7. Roberta, I recently submitted swabs to ftdna for a y37 marker test. My paternal ancestor is from Mexico. My autosomal results show 13% Native American, 2% North African, and the rest European. My only real goal for Y testing was to ascertain what part of the world my paternal Adam came from. Given the high rates of miscegenation and the ethnic groups involved, the most likely candidates would be African, Native American or European. Judging from this blog post, it would seem that I may not necessarily get a definitive answer without spending more money on extra testing. I guess I was under the impression that Native American (Q – the most prominent in Mexico) and African (?) are distinct haplopgroups when compared to the many European haplogroups currently in use, are you saying that they are not and results can sometimes be “fuzzy”?

    • Yes, some results can be fuzzy and some may not be. African haplogroups are pretty definitive. Haplogroup Q can be either European or Native. Each situation is different. If you’re Q and you match a lot of Mexican men and not a group of European men – they it’s likely Native. It could be indeterminate though. You’ll need to wait for your results and see.

  8. Can you tell me how I can find help from someone more experienced that can help me understand my results? MtDNA is Haplogroup – V3a1 and YDNA is Haplogroup G-M201. When my results for MtDNA were received it had auto populated my most distance relative as Chief White Eyes aka Koquethagechton b.1730 d.1778 (which is obviously male). Unfortunately, there is much of these results that I just do not understand but would love some help. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time and attention.

    • First, I do consulting on these topics if you are interested. But secondly, the “autopopulate” comes from what you filled into the “most distant ancestor” field. If you go in and fill that field in correctly for your matrilineal line, it will populate Ancestral Origins correctly. The instructions for how to do this are in the article. That field is under the Genealogy Tab of your personal information, under most distant ancestor, under direct maternal.

  9. Does anyone here know if any of the testing companies are planning to give trace regions for Native Americans?

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

  11. Re: “She’s not black, she’s Native American.” Sounds like my g-grandma. Almost shoeboxed her death certificate because they listed her as “black.” Family lore says Cherokee, but my own suspicions are she is Creek.

  12. Pingback: DNAeXplain Archives – Intermediate DNA Articles | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  13. Let’s be real here, most of the people being pointed at as falsely claiming descent are descended from colonials in North America and a substantial number have proved it via autosomal DNA.

    As far as being considered culturally a Native most tribes require a paper trail and no DNA test in the world can change that.

    There are some folk interested in constituting new tribes based off of DNA evidence and vague histories fabricated from the history books and other that make outrageous claims in books and other media for notoriety and sales. It’s the behavior of the people in this last paragraph than makes folks descended from an Amerindian line via colonial North American times, white or black, look ridiculous.

    Others should recognize these different motives listed above and other motives too. Being told you have a bit of injun via the bit of injun in your Great Great Grandmother does not constitute a populist fad. And for those embarassing cases of an adult still claiming to be 1/4 Cherokee many generations after their ancestor that actually was 1/4 Cherokee lived – well it’s a testament that some oral traditions verbally stay relatively intact even when the facts they are meant to convey no longer apply. A child doesn’t think 1/4 Cherokee means one of that person’s ancestors was full Cherokee or that 2 of their grandparents were 1/2 Cherokee or some silly combinations of partial inheritance that would sum up to a person being 1/4 Cherokee – they think that means that person is 1/4 Cherokee. It’s rote memorization. Sometimes you have to have a little respect for people having respect for what they’ve been told even when you know they must have been told wrong, especially when it is essentially harmless. The thing to do is politely correct their math and suggest ways to prove their claim, should they wish to do so.

  14. I tried to read this article and it was so confusing!!! It didn’t help me at all! I had my DNA tested and I was 43% native American. But I never considered myself Native American Indian. Is there a difference? The other parts are mostly European, from different areas. Mostly Iberian Peninsula. But I even had European Jewish! (16%). But to me… I will always be Mexican. 😉

    • Just because you have Native American DNA, and you find out about it later on in your life, doesn’t make you culturally Native American. It changes nothing in regards to your identity. You would have to be culturally affiliated with your NA community. Being Mexican is a Nationality, not a race. Mexicans could be White, Black, Native American or a mixture of all three. If you were born in America, you are a American not Mexican. Mexicans usually are a mixture of hundreds of tribal nations and unless you grew up in Mexico and in a tribal community it is usually impossible to say where your native ancestors came from, because they Christianized, intermarried, and moved to distant lands to work. You may have 42 Percent NA DNA, but it isn’t from one tribe, it’s from a mixture of hundreds of tribes from Mexico , along with European and African admixture.

    • I am on your boat. Regular Mexican with 40% NA DNA. When you look back at your ancestors, I am sure you (we) have hundreds of Natives in our family tree (as well as Spanish et alia). What I clearly see is that Mexican culture is very indigenous; what gives our culture it’s flavor and distinction is the fact that is a Mestizo culture based on indigenous traditions. For instance, when I look at our food, I see indigenous food (tacos, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, frijoles, chiles etc…). The fact that you are around 40% NA tells me that your origins are from the north of Mexico; but in the south of Mexico, the percentages switch around and our compatriots show results of an average of 60% NA with some regions as high as 80% averages. With most people in Mexico being high in NA%, I’d say Mexico is a much more NA country than European country.

  15. Dear Roberta,

    Good morning. My mother’s Mtdna & autosomal results are in. Her haplogroup designation is J1b1a1b. I have been pouring over articles to understand the J designation and its subgroups and am happy with what we already knew & assumed: Hundreds of years in America, but having Great Britain ties.

    However, I am disappointed with the autosomal results. My mother’s paternal great great grandmother, Mary W. Smith, of Yellow Creek Ohio is purported to have been native Mingo/Seneca. Also supposedly she was born in Pennsylvania in 1798. She married great great grandfather Reason Clendenning b. 1810 in 1825 in Jefferson County, Ohio. He was 15 & she was about 25-27. They appear in 1830, 1840, 1850 census & all three of these census show the wide gap in age. Cannot find them in 1860 census. Mary appears for the last time in 1870 census with her son, Great Grandfather Daniel Clendenning. We assume she passed on between this census and 1880 but Daniel & his family are also missing from the 1880 census as well. As of now there is no known record of death for both Mary & husband Reason. Great grandfather Daniel’s civil War military records mention his children but not his parents. It does note he is dark complected.

    Here is my thorn. Wouldn’t autosomal show any little thing giving a clue that there is some bit of native. Or would all the scots/Irish/ English Dna override it. This same family story of Seneca native mother is also shared by Great grandfathers Daniel’s brother’s, William, line, (which is substantial) some of whom are up in Canada and we have been in touch with.

    Is there anything I can look for in mom’s autosomal that might give us some confirmation. We are also trying to get mom’s brother to do all three of male tests but…..we will hope for the best!
    Any suggestions, ideas, comments welcome.

  16. My question: Is this likely a mix-up in sampling, so that these Sephardic ancestry genes were “mislabeled” as Amerindian ? Was there reverse migration to Russia by Native Americans?I ask because was surprised to see Amerindian pop up in my gedmatch analysis. I read this thread and tried dodecad world 9. Analysis 1.05% Amerindian. MDLP WORLD 22 called it mesoamerican. I thought I was European Jewish, now found out some likely Sephardic/north African jewish, and matches with people in Mexico , Cuba, Jamaica, Chile and Spain. When I look at chromosomes, I found the Amerindian portion was as high as 8% Amerindian on a single chromosome and went through others where it is as high as 6% mesoamerican on a same chromosome. 23andme says 0.2% Chinese.
    Typical HV5 MtDna and father y Q1b by 23andme. So no help there.

  17. This was an amazing article to read! My mother and I just received our genetic test results, and wanted to look further into this “Native American” ancestry. This article definitely helps with piecing together our history, in the most accurate way possible. Thanks!

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  19. I did the mtdna full sequence with results c4c2 my matches are from South and North Dakota from the Lakota reservations but all my ancestors have been documented from New Mexico with church records now I have been matched with a third great uncle that lived on the Southern Ute reservation could it be that at sometime one of my maternal ancestor was from Dakota reservations? It just got confusing after I did the full sequence since my mother and grandmothers are listed to be from New Mexico.

    • You may be matching from long ago. We don’t know the full history of the tribes or people or wars or captives. Clearly, there is some connection but how long ago or exactly how will probably remain a mystery.

  20. Am I misunderstanding you, or are you saying that a person can’t be considered as descended from NA unless they have a maternal or paternal Native haplogroup, or were adopted, enslaved or kidnapped into a tribe?

    What about a situation in which a Native father and European mother produce a female child that is 1/2 Native, but has a European maternal haplogroup, and because she is female, no paternal haplogroup? If she marries a European male and they have children, their kids have European haplogroups on both sides. Now, granted, they may not be a member of a tribe, but that doesn’t make their claim of having NA ancestors any less valid, does it?

    • No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that if you’re Native on those lines, the haplogroups will convey that. If you have European haplogroups on those lines, that particular direct line is not Native by birth.

  21. Question: If MDLP K16 Modern Admixture Proportions says I am 21.70% Steppe, how does that apply to Amerindian vs European? I have a distinct heritage. Of my 8 great-grandparents, 7 were French Canadian ( migration prior to 1700’s). There is one or two known native 8 to 10th level native Great Grandmothers. I guess the basic question is if Natives obtained their DNA along the way to the Americas, how can these utilities be sure my “steppe” connection is European vs Amerindian? I am not asking to prove I am one group or other , I’m proud to be all of me, but how or why are all the Admixture programs slanted towards Europe vs the Americas?

    • Every program uses different calculation methods. If you can isolate the location, you can look at different results from different tools. Bottom line is that you can’t “prove” it but you can look for consistency between tools and then in matching results.

  22. I have a question about the MTdna group X2b. I’m writing a biography of a well-known man and am trying to determine the identity, or at least the general ethnicity, of the unknown woman who gave birth to his first child. This man was deeply involved with, and was adopted by, the Cherokee before Removal. So it is, in fact possible that he had a child with a Cherokee woman. We had a MTdna test done on a maternal-line descendant and the result was X2b-T226C-C16192T. Some X lines are Native, some are not. I’ve read various things about X2b, but I found the info often confusing. Any thoughts or suggestions of articles a layman like myself might read to clarify this result?

  23. My friend follows you and thought you would like to hear my DNA journey to locating my newly found Native American family. I have been involved with since it started so of course I used their DNA kit. It came back showing 10% Native American so I searched and could not locate my relative even though I had a couple of hunches. So I put it aside. Then started publishing their expanding work. I was contacted by a DNA match person that had Native American and was from my birth town but looking into his Tree I found no matches and told him so. His wife then kept insisting we were closely related and I was ignoring her as I felt she was just too pushy. So she had her husband’s Aunt Nancy Witt take the test and of course that popped up on both our DNA matches. So she again contacted me and asked me to put my DNA results on another chromosomal web sight. This showed how close we were. said this mans Aunt was my first cousin but his wife insisted she was my Aunt. So me being skeptical called’s DNA dept. and asked for one of their specialists, She agreed that the number of chromosomal matches made this lady as really close and asked me what the other person thought. So I told her that her thought was that the Aunt’s father was possibly my mothers biological father also. My mother was born out of wedlock but her mother had named the father as William Eisbrenner. So they wed 2 weeks after my mother was born. I had been in touch with a 2nd cousin of the Eisbrenner family so I contacted her to see if she had DNA test. She had and we were definitely NOT a match. So I conceded that my biological grandfather is the Native American of the Miami of Indiana Tribe (they are still trying to get recognition from Congress). I have met my Aunt Nancy Witt and her daughter Kellie we have shared pictures and to our surprise our late teens and onward pictures show so much likeness that we look like sisters and my mothers high school picture looks like her biological father. Now I am on a quest to enroll on their tribal books. However my mother’s birth certificate needs to reflect her biological father’s name for submission. We are all from Peru, Miami County, Indiana what should I do to have this corrected? Thank you, Nancy Eisbrenner

  24. Greetings Roberta,

    Thanks for the awesome article! I hope you can help me or direct me.

    One company reports that my Maternal Haplogroup is “A” – Native American – with 100% confidence, and it was a mtDNA only test.

    Another company reports that my Maternal Haplogroup is L3d1a – African, and it was an Autosomal DNA test that also offers Haplogroups. They also said that L3d1a is a rare Haplogroup in their database.

    I’ve gone back to both companies and asked how is it that two companies in the same industry can assign me two different Maternal Haplogroups. Science is science, isn’t it?

    I’ve read all of their info on their websites, and they both say the Maternal Haplogroup assignment is for ONE LINE only and that’s your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s…. line. I am a woman, and I alone took both tests. My admixture is mostly African, some European and a bit Native American.

    They both stand by their tests. Can you help me figure this out? I have no desire to try to claim any Native American rights. I’m just a hopeless self-appointed family historian and long-time family genealogist now genetic-genealogist junky who loves this stuff!! I make presentations at family reunions, and as a semi-retired business professional with a master’s degree, I just like learning, understanding, helping and sharing, and I prefer to be knowledgeable and credible.

    I just want to know which it is: the L3d1a-African Haplogroup or the Haplogroup “A” -Native American? My limited understanding tells me it can’t be both, or can it? Can they both be right? Are they some how related or connected and as a result of migrations and mutations one became the sub-group of the other???

    BTW, I’ve read that the Choctaw are 75% Haplogroup A–more than any other NA’s, and that at one time they were the most populous tribe of NA’s in Mississippi and Alabama, and I do have ancestors that were born in those states during the mid 1800’s, before and after. FYI, my family has never boasted about being Native American and there is no folklore about my 2x-great-anything being 100% Cherokee! If I have one or some NA ancestry–great! If I don’t–life is still great! I just want to know the TRUTH, so I can put it in my next family reunion presentation and focus my traditional genealogical research on Mississippi or Nigeria!!!

    Lastly, if L3a1a is African, what does that tell me. Africa is the 2nd largest continent in size and 2nd most populous with about 3,000 ethnic groups in 54 countries. Is it possible to find out where one would find the L3a1a Haplogroup most often, which people, which region, which present day country? ANYTHING? I’ve surfed the internet for hours for answers. In doing so I found you. I hope you can help.

    As you can see this is driving me mad! I read somewhere that Haplogroup assignments are just a bonus and don’t tell you much anyway. WELL, if they don’t matter much, why tell us? And, if they do tell us, why can’t there be some industry standards that require consistency and accuracy when reporting the findings to an individual.

    Thanks for your help. Stay healthy and well. I look forward to your reply. Hopefully, others can learn and benefit from my dilemma and your assistance.

    • The only way to obtain a full, accurate haplogroup us through full mitochondrial sequencing at Family Tree DNA. Having said that, those haplogroups are no place close. Something is badly wrong with at least one. If I knew who the companies were, I could probably predict which one is inaccurate. It will be interesting to see who you match as well and where your matches are from at FTDNA.

      • Thank you for such a swift reply!

        The mtDNA Haplogroup A – Native American assignment came from, and that test was done in 2008. The mtDNA Haplogroup L3D1a1 – African assignment is from, and the test was done in 2014.

        I don’t know if the test dates matter, but they say that due to upgrades and improvements to technology and additional information, results may change, and they have, but not the Haplogroup. My Maternal Line Haplogroup has remained the same, and both companies stand by their results.

        Boy, but did my test results change big time last year!!! And then it flipped back!!! I went from being mostly Something to 1% the same Something then back to mostly the same Something, again!

        It’s things like these drastic changes with AncestryDNA and the Haplogroups A and L3D1a1 discrepancy between 23andme and AfricanAncestry for mtDNA testing that make the industry look bad and untrustworthy. Hopefully, in the future they will be forced to develop some industry standards. No wonder part of my family and some friends are skeptical about DNA test companies.

        You recommended FamilyTreeDNA, and I thank you. Well, that’s $159. I don’t know if I can handle a possible third outcome. I’m going to take a break from all of this research for a while. Meanwhile, AfricanAncestry’s claim to fame is that there focus and purpose has always been from the start on the African continent and helping the peoples of the African diaspora connect to their lost, strayed, stolen, forgotten roots. They said they have an African database of lineages that is 33 times more than 23andme. Since my admixture is mostly African, some European, and a little bit Native American – I’m going to assume that the reason my mother’s mother’s mother’s line is not in AfricanAncestry’s vastly larger African database is because on that ONE LINE, I share ancestry with Native Americans and not Africans. So be it!

        If I should decide later on to follow your recommendation to test with FT-DNA, I’ll be sure to access them through your website. I appreciate your insight. Thanks again!!!

        • My “guess” based on the companies and the dates is that 23andMe is accurate. However, they only do a partial sequence, so your actual haplogroup could be more specific, and you may have matches from African countries at FTDNA.

  25. Sorry, but I just sent you a long email regarding mtDNA Haplogroups. I just want to make sure that I gave you the right one. It’s L3D1a1. I look forward to your reply. All the best!

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