I receive lots of questions every day about testing for Native American DNA, ethnicity, heritage and people who want to find their tribe.
I’ve answered many questions in articles, and I’ve assembled those articles into this handy-dandy one-stop reference about Native American DNA testing.
Where to Start?
If you are searching for your Native American heritage or your tribe, first, read these two articles:
Father’s and Mother’s Direct Lines
Y DNA is inherited by men from their direct paternal line, and mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both genders from their mother’s direct matrilineal line. You can read a short article about how this works, here.
If you’re interested in checking a comprehensive list to see if your mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is Native American, I maintain this page of all known Native American haplogroups:
Information about Native American Y DNA, subsets of haplogroup Q and C:
- Big Y DNA Results Divide and Unite Haplogroup Q Native Americans
- Haplogroup C3* – Previously Believed East Asian Haplogroup is Proven Native American
- New Haplogroup C Native American Subgroups
- Native American Y Haplogroup C-P39 Sprouts Branches
How Much Native Do You Have?
Estimating how much of your Native ancestor’s DNA you carry today:
Projects – Joining Forces to Work Together
Native American DNA Projects you can join at Family Tree DNA:
Regardless of which other projects you choose to join, I recommend joining the American Indian project by clicking on the Project button on the upper left hand side of your personal page.
News and How To
Some articles are more newsy or include how-to information:
Utilizing Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins at Family Tree DNA:
I’ve written about several individual Native haplogroups and research results. You can see all of articles pertaining to Native American heritage by entering the word “Native” into the search box on the upper right hand corner of my blog at www.dna-explained.com.
Ancient Native Remains
Family Tree DNA is the only vendor offering comprehensive Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, meaning beyond basic haplogroup identification. However, there are several levels to select from. Several vendors offer autosomal testing, which includes ethnicity estimates.
These articles compare the various types of tests and the vendors offering the tests:
My blog, Native Heritage Project is fully searchable:
For other DNA related questions, please check the Help page, here.
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- Family Tree DNA
- MyHeritage DNA only
- MyHeritage DNA plus Health
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload
- 23andMe Ancestry
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
- Legacy Tree Genealogists for genealogy research
I recently talked with a young women who is part Cherokee. She is a social worker and her area of interest is improving the health care of indigenous peoples. Our conversation took a turn to genetic genealogy. As I was beginning to tell her the story of Princess Mary Kittamaquund (one of my ancestors) she announced to me that there are no such thing as markers which identify one as Native American. I did/do not want to argue with her, but for my own education, what is the most recent evidence in that regard? Can you suggest a source for a lay person?
She is clearly misinformed.
It isn’t impossible that she meant that there are no genetic markers which can legally establish that you are Native American, which is true, even though from a factual, as opposed to a legal, perspective, one can establish ancestry from the founding population of the Americas.
For example, Mestizo people from Mexico are factually derived in part from the founding population of the Americas, although they are not legally Native Americans in U.S. law because they are not affiliated with any Indian Tribe recognized by the United States government.
Conversely, someone who is legally a member of an Indian Tribe recognized by the United States government because they or their ancestors were adopted by a member of the Indian Tribe, even if they have no ancestry from the founding population of the Americas.
Given that this woman is a social worker who may have determination of Native American status for legal purposes such as eligibility for programs and rights limited to members of legally recognized Indian Tribes on a regular basis, she may have been truthful and accurate but using the term “Native American” in a different sense of the word than she is, a distinction which the fuzzy English language can fail to acknowledge.
Yes, that is accurate. Tribe can’t be determined, and legality/membership is a function of the tribes.
Comanche and Apache tribes occupied Northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and they are legally recognized Indian Tribes!
I found many cuisines from my fathers grandmothers side have the Haplogroup Q and X.
They are from the northern parts of Sweden and the are not nativ American
How come they belong to the Q Haplogroup?
Haplogroup Q is found in Europe, Asia and the Americans. Only a subset of Q is Native. Another subset is Jewish.
Roberta, first, you Ireland photos were amazing. Now I really want to go there and visit
County Tyrone. Second, we talked previously about NA ancestry showing up 1% in a Turkish
friend who has no known roots in America and you said that Hungarian DNA can sometimes
get confused as NA. I am now asking about my own DNA. Ancestry does not show me with
any NA DNA, but when I do searches in GEDmatch ethnicity, I keep coming up with 1% NA DNA. At first I thought it was a mistake, but it seems to be consistant. Deep DNA in GEDmatch illustrates some Hungarian roots. How does one differentiate between Hungarian roots and
NA roots? It is possible that my Gray family who were very early into Maryland could have had
NA connections. However, the Scots/Irish and the Mennonite were too late into the USA
for that option and the Newcombs and Johnsons of New England are a less likely scenario.
It’s difficult if not impossible to sort through small amounts of Native to know if it’s real or an artifact.
It bears noting that the amount of genetic diversity among the founding population of the Americans was not great. So, any genetic markers (NRY-DNA, mtDNA or autosomal DNA) showing Native American ancestry is not unique to any given tribe, except in the case were autosomal DNA is so similar to a known member of that tribe that one can establish that you are a close family member of the known member (e.g. a sibling).
At best, one could establish whether someone has Na-Dene or Inuit ancestry as opposed to other Native American populations, or whether one has North American as opposed to South American ancestry (in many cases using Y-DNA or mtDNA), and a likely origin within a broad geographic region that includes many tribes (with autosomal DNA, although the U.S. databases for this kind of comparison are not as good as those for South America and Canada).
For example, DNA alone, without an established relationship to a particular tribe member, is probably insufficient to distinguish a Sioux tribe member from a Miami tribe member.
What does my DNA mean: mtDNA is A2d; and my yDNA is Q-M242. I received these results when I tested with FTDNA. I range from 47% to 53% NA on AncestryDNA; and 50% on FTDNA. Thanks
Both look to be Native.
Thank you very much and look forward to reading all your posts …
I would encourage you to join the American Indian project.
I have joined the project… thank you very much!!
I have joined the project… thank you very much
Thank you for all the information. I will read up and hopefully will get somewhere. Thanks again.
my father ,my mother said,was a small part indian, can’t find out his tribe, some in the family say it was seneca indians, being him and my mother were born in new york., have not found anyone to help me find if this is so,,, james gravelle
There are professional genealogists and companies recommended on the Help tab, here: https://dna-explained.com/help/
I was tested by Family Tree DNA several years back. They had a test called “DNA Print” which showed that I was 12% East Asian. Which test would you recommend for Native American?
That test was later shown to be quite inaccurate, which is why they stopped selling it. The Family Finder test today gives you ethnicity estimates as well as cousin matching.
I have been told my grandfather is half Cherokee his mom was full-blooded Cherokee. This is my mothers father. The problem I am having I can’t find anything on my moms dads I know.nothing about him. I think my mother got her Indian card I’m trying to figure out how do I find out if she did I need help
I’d start by calling the tribe.
My first cousin and I both tested with FTDNA. Our supposed American Indian comes from my paternal and his maternal side. His Y DNA shows 8% native American and mine shows naught. He took the Y67 and I the Y12, mtdna, native match, DNA Print and most recently the Family Finder tests. Would the larger sampling of the Y DNA likely show different results for me?
Y DNA does not provide you with ethnicity percentages. You may be mistaking the haplogroup or ancestral origins pages. If you both took the Family Finder autosomal, that does provide ethnicities. However, his Native could come from a line you’re not related on.
My cousin did not taken the Family Finder test. I have lost track of him.
My father was raised in “The Home for Dependent and Neglected Children” in Waco, Texas. He was born in 1917 and placed there when he was nine years old. I started his family tree with a copy of his Social Security application which listed the name of his mother. I was very fortunate to find a member of his family who was interested in Genealogy. My cousin and I found one another through the Internet. He drove from Washington state to visit with me. He was in his 70’s at that time.
Although I don’t understand very much about DNA studies I am so very thankful for the science!
Thank you for your time.
Joe, Can you use a service like Intellys to find your cousin? Is start out by googling for his obituary thought.
would you recommend FTDNA’s or AncestryDNA’s autosomal testing for Native American ethnicity & family finding/cousin matches?
Both. People don’t all test in both places. Plus Family Tree DNA has projects to join and several are focused on Native Americans in one way or another.
In regards to FT DNA testing , I am curious as to why one with Native American ancestry (east coast tribal admixture) would recieve Asian (only Specifically Siberian) DNA, but not “New World” DNA ? Could this be that certain tribes of people in the east came in a later migration giving certain people this Asian Siberian marker instead of the “New World” markers?