FamilyTreeDNA rolled out an update that includes new designations for nations, regions and territories – in essence the origins of where your direct patrilineal (direct Y chromosome male line for males) and matrilineal line (mother to mother to mother lineage for everyone) originated.
If you need a quick refresher on the different kinds of DNA we can use for genealogy, please read 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.
These locations are places that can be represented by flags or geographic designations of some sort. Political boundaries move, over time, and Family Tree DNA has attempted to quantify “peoples” as best they can – both in terms of geography and genetic differentiation.
This is a great time to check your personal account to be sure that you have completed your Earliest Known Ancestor information – or update it if a new region has been added that pertains to your genealogy.
Customers can change their earliest known ancestors to these new countries of origins – but they won’t show up on the haplotree with their associated flags until the following day.
These designations are for your direct maternal and paternal lines ONLY. If you want to add a flag and you want to help others identify the origins of their ancestors too, you need to select a location from the drop-down list which translates into a flag on the tree. Hopefully your matches will do the same thing to benefit you.
Quite a few new locations have been added thanks to several dedicated project administrators who focus on specific regions, peoples or areas of the world.
I think you’ll be pleased!
New Indigenous Origins
- Australia (Aboriginal Australian)
- Canada (Inuit)
- Canada (First Nations)
- New Zealand (Māori)
- Sápmi (Sami)
- United States (Kānaka Maoli) – This is what the Hawaiian community prefers over “Native Hawaiian”
Let’s look at an example. A customer changed their designation to New Zealand (Māori) and they now have a Māori flag on their Y DNA Block Tree, provided with the Big Y-700 test.
Look at haplogroup C-FT133627. There are two results in the database for this haplogroup, and both are Māori, as are the two to the right of this haplogroup as well. This entire branch appears to be indigenous Māori!
This view shows the entire tree branch below C-M208 which includes self-identified patrilineal lines from United States Kanka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiian), Native American, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Māori and New Zealand (without a more specific Māori designation.)
Below is a similar view on the public block tree.
Of course, you can then click on the tree dots at far right of the little flags to view that specific haplogroup and branch locations, shown below.
This works equally as well for the mitochondrial tree.
My cousin and co-administrator of the Acadian AmerIndian Project who discovered that her ancestor, Anne Marie Rimbault, was Native American through her A2f1a mitochondrial DNA haplogroup changed her most recent known ancestor’s origin to “Canada – First Nations,” as did two other people. All 3 have the new Canada – First Nations flag.
Looking at the Country Report for A2f1a, here’s what we see.
These reports (plus Matches Maps) help testers identify the location where their ancestor was from more granularly than just “Native American” which could encompass the entire North, Central and South America land mass. You can walk your ancestor “back in time” by climbing up the tree.
What other new locations are available? Lots!
New Islands for Oceania and Surrounding Areas
- Admiralty Islands
- American Samoa
- Austral Islands
- Christmas Island
- Cocos Islands
- Cook Islands
- East Timor
- Gambier Islands
- Marquesas Islands
- Marshall Islands
- Norfolk Island
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Pitcairn Islands
- Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
- Society Islands
- Solomon Islands
- Tokelau Islands
- Torres Strait Islands
- Tuamotu Islands
- Wallis and Futuna
Instructions for How to Select (or Change) your Maternal or Paternal Origin Location
Now would be a great time to check to be sure you’ve completed this information, or update it to something more granular, more useful.
You can sign on to your account by clicking here, then click on the down arrow by your name to reveal “Account Settings.”
Click on Account Settings, then on Genealogy and Earliest Known Ancestors.
If you’ve already entered an ancestor and location, that information will show. You may have pushed that brick wall back a few more generations, or discovered that your ancestor was (or wasn’t) Native American based on the mitochondrial or Y DNA results. Update that information. I didn’t realize my own needed attention.
By way of example, I’m entering the name of my earliest known Canadian First Nations ancestor and then in the drop-down box, I’m selecting “Canada First Nations.” Of course, if they were Inuit (or something else,) I’d select that instead.
The actual location, meaning a town or specific location is also recorded elsewhere.
Let’s say that I thought my ancestor was from Germany, but now I’ve learned differently. All I need to do is to click on “Update Location” to be taken to the “Plot Ancestral Locations” map where I can select a specific location.
The page above shows only YOUR patrilineal and matrilineal ancestors’ locations – that pink and blue pin – not the locations of your matches. That’s the Matches Map screen available from your account page.
On the Plot Ancestral Locations page, click on “Edit Location” for either maternal or paternal and follow the steps to document the location of your earliest known ancestor on each your maternal (matrilineal) and paternal (patrilineal) lines.
This information, plus your matches ancestors’ locations can be seen on your Patches Map under either Y or mitochondrial DNA results on your personal page, shown below.
Here’s my ancestor in Wirbenz, Germany, is shown with the white pin, plus pins representing the earliest known ancestors of my full sequence matches who have entered their geographic information.
Check Your Match Results – Again
So often, we forget to check the results of our own kits and the ones that we manage, even though FamilyTreeDNA sends notifications of matches. That means it’s easy to miss important information.
In this case, if people update their Earliest Known Ancestor field under Account Settings, you’ll see their ancestor in your match list. Or, you’ll see a blank space if they didn’t enter anything – or if you forget to check periodically and they’ve updated their information.
The great irony is that some of these people with no Earliest Known Ancestors (EKA) do have trees, indicated by the blue pedigree icons. Several of the people with trees also have matrilineal ancestors listed, like my first match who did NOT enter her earliest known ancestor in her account information, but whose ancestor is found just 12 km away from my ancestor in Germany. Now THAT’S interesting!!!
Many people will just glance at that empty Earliest Known Ancestor space and pass on by. It’s important to provide your earliest known ancestor information – important for your matches and for the Matches Map feature to provide as much information as possible.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone added their Earliest Known Ancestor? Feel free to make friendly contact with your matches and suggest doing so, because it can benefit them too. You can even forward this article with handy-dandy instructions.
What gems might be waiting for you?
10 Gems Waiting!
Here’s a checklist for the 10 things described above to discover more information:
- Check/Update matrilineal and patrilineal EKA information.
- Update or add your ancestral map location.
- Check your mitochondrial and Y DNA Matches Map for ancestral locations of your matches.
- Check your matches page to review new matches and the EKA of existing matches.
- Contact matches with no trees or EKA to ask them to add both in order to receive the maximum benefit from their tests.
- Build out your matches’ trees where possible, looking for a common ancestor or location.
- Check your Y and mitochondrial DNA matches to see if they are also Family Finder matches using the Advanced Matches feature on your personal page.
- Check the Block Tree for Big Y testers (who mayor maynot be matches to you) and their ancestral locations.
- Check the public Y Tree and countries of origin report for your haplogroup and those of your ancestors. Instructions here, if needed.
- Check the public mitochondrial tree and countries of origin report for your haplogroup and those of your ancestors. Instructions here, if needed.
Enjoy, and tell me if you find something fun!
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Thanks for the update!
I remember back in 2013 when I did my mtDNA, it didn’t matter to me about the location until I started the Polynesian DNA project (2014) & starting grouping people, realizing that knowing the earliest known ancestor location just didn’t make sense.
And then came the flags that would be used in the BIG Y results and it really made no sense as some of my project members including myself resorted to the United States (Native American) category and one user had Micronesia listed for Hawai’i.
I also requested that they used the term that many of us prefer to use – Kanaka Maoli, along with the Hawaiian flag (since 1843). So happy that they did this.
More astonishing are the various categories that they’ve added particularly for Oceania, and to our cousins across the Pacific, New Zealand Maori. I saw others reply concerning Pitcairn, which is nice since I have DNA cousins, as many Polynesians do with Pitcairn people and also to Norfolk.
I applaud you for encouraging people to fill in the earliest known ancestors, especially for the matrilineal side. It is very valuable for mt–dna researchers. I still wonder what some testers were thinking when I see a MALE name as the matrilineal earliest known ancestor, which is not uncommon.
They are thinking “oldest ancestor” as being the ancestor who lived the longest.
Do you have new countries of origin for the mtDNA haplogroup u6a7a1b? My earliest known maternal ancestor is from Ukraine. This haplogroup originated in North Africa and Spain.
My father’s Y-DNA haplogroup, as tested by my 1st cousin is E-M35. His earliest known ancestor is from Poland. My cousin tested at just the Y-37 level and had just three matches at genetic distance 3.
The only way to determine that is to go to the mtDNA public tree and take a look.
Looked up the public Y-DNA and mtDNA trees. The most common country of origin for E-M35 is Germany rather than East Africa (surprise). For u6a7a1b, the most common country is Ukraine (5, thanks to my sister and I), and the next most common countries are Spain, Poland, Morocco, Mexico, Hungary. I wonder whether u6a7a1b exists in Puerto Rico?
The question by Karen Smith above raises a question – does FTDNA include flags or other relevant logos for Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews ? I know FTDNA shows autosomal ethnicity breakdown for such groups, but determining Sephardic or Ashkenazi Y-DNA or mtDNA haplogroups may be somewhat problematic.
Good question. I doubt it because I don’t think it translated into a flag very well. I will ask.
My mtDNA haplogroup u6a7a1b is called a Sephardic cluster. Four other haplogroups are common for Ashkenazi Jews – K1a1b1a, K1a9, K2a2 and N1b2. Interestingly, a few of my relatives who have tested belong to the h3, j1c, v7a and U5 haplogroups. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Jews#Mt-DNA_of_Ashkenazi_Jews
Roberta, I updated and noticed that if you update under Settings it didn’t carry over to mtDNA EKAs. I went to the map and updated the information from there. I like it when they add new features…wish they would get more servers/processing speed!