Concepts – Endogamy and DNA Segments

Members of endogamous populations intermarry for generations, creating many segments that match, especially at small centiMorgan levels. These matching segments occur because they are members of the same population – not because they are genealogically related in a recent or genealogical time-frame.

Said another way, endogamous people are all related to each other in some way because they descend from a small original population whose descendants continued to intermarry without introducing people outside of the community into the genetic line. In other words, the DNA segments of the original population simply keep getting passed around, because there are no new segments being introduced.

If you only have 10 segments at a specific genetic location to begin with, in the original population – then the descendants of those original people can only have some combination of the DNA of those original people until another person is introduced into the mix.

Examples of endogamous populations are Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans, Acadians, Mennonite, Amish and so forth.

If you have some family lines from an endogamous population, you’ll match with many members of that group. If you are fully endogamous, you will have significantly more matches than people from non-endogamous groups.

I suggest that you read my article, Concepts: The Faces of Endogamy to set the stage for this article.

In this article, I want to provide you with a visual example of what endogamy looks like in a chromosome browser. It doesn’t matter which vendor you use so long as you can drop the cM count to 1, so I’m using FamilyTreeDNA for this example.

I’ve used three people as examples:

  • Non-endogamous European
  • Ashkenazi Jewish
  • Native American (Sioux)

For all testers, I selected their closest match above 200 cM total plus the following 4 for a total of 5 people to compare in the chromosome browser. I have only shown chromosomes 1-8 because I’m trying to convey the concept, not exact details of each chromosome, and 8 chromosomes fit into one screen shot.

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, you can read about cM, centiMorgans, in the article “Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs, and Pickin’Crab.”

Let’s take a look at our 3 examples, one at a time.

Non-Endogamous European Individual

The tester is non-endogamous. Four of the 5 individuals are known family members, although none were target tested by the tester.

Endogamy non-endogamous.png

The tester’s matches at 1 cM are shown below:

Endogamy non-endogamous 1cM.png

Note that the grey hashed regions are regions not reported, so no one matches there.

Below, the same 5 matches shown at 7 cM where roughly half of the matches will be identical by chance. Identical by descent segments include identical by population. You can read about the various types of “identical by” segments in the article, “Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance”.

Endogamy non-endogamous 7cM.png

Ashkenazi Jewish Individual

The tester, along with both of their parents have tested. None of the matches are known or identified relatives.

Endogamy Jewish.png

Even though none of these individuals can be identified, two are related on both sides, maternal and paternal, of the person who tested.

In the chromosome browser, at 1cM, we see the following:

Endogamy Jewish 1cM.png

At 7cM, the following:

Endogamy 7cM.png

Native American Individual

The tester is 15/16 Native from the Sioux tribe. It’s unlikely that their matches are entirely Native, meaning they are not entirely endogamous. None of the matches are known or identified family members.

Endogamy Native.png

At 1 cM shown below:

Endogamy Native 1cM.png

At 7 cM, below:

Endogamy Native 7cM.png

Side by Side

I’ve placed the three 1 cM charts side by side with the non-endogamous to the left, the Jewish in the center and the Native, at right.

endogamy side by side.png

It’s easy to see that the Jewish tester has more 1 cM segments than the non-endogamous tester, and the Native tester more than both of the others.

Summary Comparison Chart

The chart below shows the difference in total number of segments, number of segments between 1 and 6.99 cM, and number of segments at 7 cM or larger. I downloaded these results into a spreadsheet and counted the rows.

Total Segments Total segments at 1 – 6.99 cM Total at 7 or > cM % 7 or >
Non-Endogamous 98 70 28 29
Jewish 168 139 29 17
Native American 310 295 15 5

You’ll note that the non-endogamous individual only has 58% of the number of total segments compared to the Jewish individual, and 32% compared to the Native American individual. The Jewish individual has 54% of the number of segments that the Native person has.

I was initially surprised by the magnitude of this difference, but after thinking about it, I realized that the Native people have been endogamous for a lot longer in the Americas than the Ashkenazi Jewish people in Europe. At least 12,000 years compared to roughly 2000 years, or approximately (at least) 6 times longer. Furthermore, the Native people in the Americans were entirely isolated until the 1400s, with no possibility of outside admixture. Isolation lasted even longer in the tribes that were not coastal, such as the Sioux in the Dakotas.

Note that the Jewish person and non-endogamous person have almost as many 7cM segments as each other, but the Native person has roughly half as many when compared to the other two. That means that because I made my selection starting point based on total cM, and the Native person has a LOT more 1-6.99 cM segments than the others, at that level, there are fewer strong segment matches for the Native individual.

The Native person’s percentage of 7 cM or greater segments is a much smaller percentage of the total segments.

As a percentage, the 7 or greater cM segments are 29% of the non-endogamous person’s total, 17% of the Jewish person’s, but only 5% of the Native person’s total.

Endogamy not only makes a difference when comparing results, but the specific endogamous population along with their history, how heavily endogamous they are, and how long they have been endogamous appears to factor heavily into the comparison as well.

2018 – The Year of the Segment

Looking in the rear view mirror, what a year! Some days it’s been hard to catch your breath things have been moving so fast.

What were the major happenings, how did they affect genetic genealogy and what’s coming in 2019?

The SNiPPY Award

First of all, I’m giving an award this year. The SNiPPY.

Yea, I know it’s kinda hokey, but it’s my way of saying a huge thank you to someone in this field who has made a remarkable contribution and that deserves special recognition.

Who will it be this year?

Drum roll…….

The 2018 SNiPPY goes to…

DNAPainter – The 2018 SNiPPY award goes to DNAPainter, without question. Applause, everyone, applause! And congratulations to Jonny Perl, pictured below at Rootstech!

Jonny Perl created this wonderful, visual tool that allows you to paint your matches with people on your chromosomes, assigning the match to specific ancestors.

I’ve written about how to use the tool  with different vendors results and have discovered many different ways to utilize the painted segments. The DNA Painter User Group is here on Facebook. I use DNAPainter EVERY SINGLE DAY to solve a wide variety of challenges.

What else has happened this year? A lot!

Ancient DNA – Academic research seldom reports on Y and mitochondrial DNA today and is firmly focused on sequencing ancient DNA. Ancient genome sequencing has only recently been developed to a state where at least some remains can be successfully sequenced, but it’s going great guns now. Take a look at Jennifer Raff’s article in Forbes that discusses ancient DNA findings in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and perhaps most surprising, a first generation descendant of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan.

From Early human dispersals within the Americas by Moreno-Mayer et al, Science 07 Dec 2018

Inroads were made into deeper understanding of human migration in the Americas as well in the paper Early human dispersals within the Americas by Moreno-Mayer et al.

I look for 2019 and on into the future to hold many more revelations thanks to ancient DNA sequencing as well as using those sequences to assist in understanding the migration patterns of ancient people that eventually became us.

Barbara Rae-Venter and the Golden State Killer Case

Using techniques that adoptees use to identify their close relatives and eventually, their parents, Barbara Rae-Venter assisted law enforcement with identifying the man, Joseph DeAngelo, accused (not yet convicted) of being the Golden State Killer (GSK).

A very large congratulations to Barbara, a retired patent attorney who is also a genealogist. Nature recognized Ms. Rae-Venter as one of 2018’s 10 People Who Mattered in Science.

DNA in the News

DNA is also represented on the 2018 Nature list by Viviane Slon, a palaeogeneticist who discovered an ancient half Neanderthal, half Denisovan individual and sequenced their DNA and He JianKui, a Chinese scientist who claims to have created a gene-edited baby which has sparked widespread controversy. As of the end of the year, He Jiankui’s research activities have been suspended and he is reportedly sequestered in his apartment, under guard, although the details are far from clear.

In 2013, 23andMe patented the technology for designer babies and I removed my kit from their research program. I was concerned at the time that this technology knife could cut two ways, both for good, eliminating fatal disease-causing mutations and also for ethically questionable practices, such as eugenics. I was told at the time that my fears were unfounded, because that “couldn’t be done.” Well, 5 years later, here we are. I expect the debate about the ethics and eventual regulation of gene-editing will rage globally for years to come.

Elizabeth Warren’s DNA was also in the news when she took a DNA test in response to political challenges. I wrote about what those results meant scientifically, here. This topic became highly volatile and politicized, with everyone seeming to have a very strongly held opinion. Regardless of where you fall on that opinion spectrum (and no, please do not post political comments as they will not be approved), the topic is likely to surface again in 2019 due to the fact that Elizabeth Warren has just today announced her intention to run for President. The good news is that DNA testing will likely be discussed, sparking curiosity in some people, perhaps encouraging them to test. The bad news is that some of the discussion may be unpleasant at best, and incorrect click-bait at worst. We’ve already had a rather unpleasant sampling of this.

Law Enforcement and Genetic Genealogy

The Golden State Killer case sparked widespread controversy about using GedMatch and potentially other genetic genealogy data bases to assist in catching people who have committed violent crimes, such as rape and murder.

GedMatch, the database used for the GSK case has made it very clear in their terms and conditions that DNA matches may be used for both adoptees seeking their families and for other uses, such as law enforcement seeking matches to DNA sequenced during a criminal investigation. Since April 2018, more than 15 cold case investigations have been solved using the same technique and results at GedMatch. Initially some people removed their DNA from GedMatch, but it appears that the overwhelming sentiment, based on uploads, is that people either aren’t concerned or welcome the opportunity for their DNA matches to assist apprehending criminals.

Parabon Nanolabs in May established a genetic genealogy division headed by CeCe Moore who has worked in the adoptee community for the past several years. The division specializes in DNA testing forensic samples and then assisting law enforcement with the associated genetic genealogy.

Currently, GedMatch is the only vendor supporting the use of forensic sample matching. Neither 23anMe nor Ancestry allow uploaded data, and MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA’s terms of service currently preclude this type of use.

MyHeritage

Wow talk about coming onto the DNA world stage with a boom.

MyHeritage went from a somewhat wobbly DNA start about 2 years ago to rolling out a chromosome browser at the end of January and adding important features such as SmartMatching which matches your DNA and your family trees. Add triangulation to this mixture, along with record matching, and you’re got a #1 winning combination.

It was Gilad Japhet, the MyHeritage CEO who at Rootstech who christened 2018 “The Year of the Segment,” and I do believe he was right. Additionally, he announced that MyHeritage partnered with the adoption community by offering 15,000 free kits to adoptees.

In November, MyHeritage hosted MyHeritage LIVE, their first user conference in Oslo, Norway which focused on both their genealogical records offerings as well as DNA. This was a resounding success and I hope MyHeritage will continue to sponsor conferences and invest in DNA. You can test your DNA at MyHeritage or upload your results from other vendors (instructions here). You can follow my journey and the conference in Olso here, here, here, here and here.

GDPR

GDPR caused a lot of misery, and I’m glad the implementation is behind us, but the the ripples will be affecting everyone for years to come.

GDPR, the European Data Protection Regulation which went into effect on May 25,  2018 has been a mixed and confusing bag for genetic genealogy. I think the concept of users being in charge and understanding what is happened with their data, and in this case, their data plus their DNA, is absolutely sound. The requirements however, were created without any consideration to this industry – which is small by comparison to the Googles and Facebooks of the world. However, the Googles and Facebooks of the world along with many larger vendors seem to have skated, at least somewhat.

Other companies shut their doors or restricted their offerings in other ways, such as World Families Network and Oxford Ancestors. Vendors such as Ancestry and Family Tree DNA had to make unpopular changes in how their users interface with their software – in essence making genetic genealogy more difficult without any corresponding positive return. The potential fines, 20 million plus Euro for any company holding data for EU residents made it unwise to ignore the mandates.

In the genetic genealogy space, the shuttering of both YSearch and MitoSearch was heartbreaking, because that was the only location where you could actually compare Y STR and mitochondrial HVR1/2 results. Not everyone uploaded their results, and the sites had not been updated in a number of years, but the closure due to GDPR was still a community loss.

Today, mitoydna.org, a nonprofit comprised of genetic genealogists, is making strides in replacing that lost functionality, plus, hopefully more.

On to more positive events.

Family Tree DNA

In April, Family Tree DNA announced a new version of the Big Y test, the Big Y-500 in which at least 389 additional STR markers are included with the Big Y test, for free. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive between 389 and 439 new markers, depending on how many STR markers above 111 have quality reads. All customers are guaranteed a minimum of 500 STR markers in total. Matching was implemented in December.

These additional STR markers allow genealogists to assemble additional line marker mutations to more granularly identify specific male lineages. In other words, maybe I can finally figure out a line marker mutation that will differentiate my ancestor’s line from other sons of my founding ancestor😊

In June, Family Tree DNA announced that they had named more than 100,000 SNPs which means many haplogroup additions to the Y tree. Then, in September, Family Tree DNA published their Y haplotree, with locations, publicly for all to reference.

I was very pleased to see this development, because Family Tree DNA clearly has the largest Y database in the industry, by far, and now everyone can reap the benefits.

In October, Family Tree DNA published their mitochondrial tree publicly as well, with corresponding haplogroup locations. It’s nice that Family Tree DNA continues to be the science company.

You can test your Y DNA, mitochondrial or autosomal (Family Finder) at Family Tree DNA. They are the only vendor offering full Y and mitochondrial services complete with matching.

2018 Conferences

Of course, there are always the national conferences we’re familiar with, but more and more, online conferences are becoming available, as well as some sessions from the more traditional conferences.

I attended Rootstech in Salt Lake City in February (brrrr), which was lots of fun because I got to meet and visit with so many people including Mags Gaulden, above, who is a WikiTree volunteer and writes at Grandma’s Genes, but as a relatively expensive conference to attend, Rootstech was pretty miserable. Rootstech has reportedly made changes and I hope it’s much better for attendees in 2019. My attendance is very doubtful, although I vacillate back and forth.

On the other hand, the MyHeritage LIVE conference was amazing with both livestreamed and recorded sessions which are now available free here along with many others at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Family Tree University held a Virtual DNA Conference in June and those sessions, along with others, are available for subscribers to view.

The Virtual Genealogical Association was formed for those who find it difficult or impossible to participate in local associations. They too are focused on education via webinars.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland continues to provide their yearly conference sessions both livestreamed and recorded for free. These aren’t just for people with Irish genealogy. Everyone can benefit and I enjoy them immensely.

Bottom line, you can sit at home and educate yourself now. Technology is wonderful!

2019 Conferences

In 2019, I’ll be speaking at the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, Journey of Discovery, in St. Charles, providing the Special Thursday Session titled “DNA: King Arthur’s Mighty Genetic Lightsaber” about how to use DNA to break through brick walls. I’ll also see attendees at Saturday lunch when I’ll be providing a fun session titled “Twists and Turns in the Genetic Road.” This is going to be a great conference with a wonderful lineup of speakers. Hope to see you there.

There may be more speaking engagements at conferences on my 2019 schedule, so stay tuned!

The Leeds Method

In September, Dana Leeds publicized The Leeds Method, another way of grouping your matches that clusters matches in a way that indicates your four grandparents.

I combine the Leeds method with DNAPainter. Great job Dana!

Genetic Affairs

In December, Genetic Affairs introduced an inexpensive subscription reporting and visual clustering methodology, but you can try it for free.

I love this grouping tool. I have already found connections I didn’t know existed previously. I suggest joining the Genetic Affairs User Group on Facebook.

DNAGedcom.com

I wrote an article in January about how to use the DNAGedcom.com client to download the trees of all of your matches and sort to find specific surnames or locations of their ancestors.

However, in December, DNAGedcom.com added another feature with their new DNAGedcom client just released that downloads your match information from all vendors, compiles it and then forms clusters. They have worked with Dana Leeds on this, so it’s a combination of the various methodologies discussed above. I have not worked with the new tool yet, as it has just been released, but Kitty Cooper has and writes about it here.  If you are interested in this approach, I would suggest joining the Facebook DNAGedcom User Group.

Rootsfinder

I have not had a chance to work with Rootsfinder beyond the very basics, but Rootsfinder provides genetic network displays for people that you match, as well as triangulated views. Genetic networks visualizations are great ways to discern patterns. The tool creates match or triangulation groups automatically for you.

Training videos are available at the website and you can join the Rootsfinder DNA Tools group at Facebook.

Chips and Imputation

Illumina, the chip maker that provides the DNA chips that most vendors use to test changed from the OmniExpress to the GSA chip during the past year. Older chips have been available, but won’t be forever.

The newer GSA chip is only partially compatible with the OmniExpress chip, providing limited overlap between the older and the new results. This has forced the vendors to use imputation to equalize the playing field between the chips, so to speak.

This has also caused a significant hardship for GedMatch who is now in the position of trying to match reasonably between many different chips that sometimes overlap minimally. GedMatch introduced Genesis as a sandbox beta version previously, but are now in the process of combining regular GedMatch and Genesis into one. Yes, there are problems and matching challenges. Patience is the key word as the various vendors and GedMatch adapt and improve their required migration to imputation.

DNA Central

In June Blaine Bettinger announced DNACentral, an online monthly or yearly subscription site as well as a monthly newsletter that covers news in the genetic genealogy industry.

Many educators in the industry have created seminars for DNACentral. I just finished recording “Getting the Most out of Y DNA” for Blaine.

Even though I work in this industry, I still subscribed – initially to show support for Blaine, thinking I might not get much out of the newsletter. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong. I enjoy the newsletter and will be watching sessions in the Course Library and the Monthly Webinars soon.

If you or someone you know is looking for “how to” videos for each vendor, DNACentral offers “Now What” courses for Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Living DNA in addition to topic specific sessions like the X chromosome, for example.

Social Media

2018 has seen a huge jump in social media usage which is both bad and good. The good news is that many new people are engaged. The bad news is that people often given faulty advice and for new people, it’s very difficult (nigh on impossible) to tell who is credible and who isn’t. I created a Help page for just this reason.

You can help with this issue by recommending subscribing to these three blogs, not just reading an article, to newbies or people seeking answers.

Always feel free to post links to my articles on any social media platform. Share, retweet, whatever it takes to get the words out!

The general genetic genealogy social media group I would recommend if I were to select only one would be Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques. It’s quite large but well-managed and remains positive.

I’m a member of many additional groups, several of which are vendor or interest specific.

Genetic Snakeoil

Now the bad news. Everyone had noticed the popularity of DNA testing – including shady characters.

Be careful, very VERY careful who you purchase products from and where you upload your DNA data.

If something is free, and you’re not within a well-known community, then YOU ARE THE PRODUCT. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it sounds shady or questionable, it’s probably that and more, or less.

If reputable people and vendors tell you that no, they really can’t determine your Native American tribe, for example, no other vendor can either. Just yesterday, a cousin sent me a link to a “tribe” in Canada that will, “for $50, we find one of your aboriginal ancestors and the nation stamps it.” On their list of aboriginal people we find one of my ancestors who, based on mitochondrial DNA tests, is clearly NOT aboriginal. Snake oil comes in lots of flavors with snake oil salesmen looking to prey on other people’s desires.

When considering DNA testing or transfers, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions, where your DNA is going, who is doing what with it, and your recourse. Yes, read every single word of those terms and conditions. For more about legalities, check out Judy Russell’s blog.

Recommended Vendors

All those DNA tests look yummy-good, but in terms of vendors, I heartily recommend staying within the known credible vendors, as follows (in alphabetical order).

For genetic genealogy for ethnicity AND matching:

  • 23andMe
  • Ancestry
  • Family Tree DNA
  • GedMatch (not a vendor because they don’t test DNA, but a reputable third party)
  • MyHeritage

You can read about Which DNA Test is Best here although I need to update this article to reflect the 2018 additions by MyHeritage.

Understand that both 23andMe and Ancestry will sell your DNA if you consent and if you consent, you will not know who is using your DNA, where, or for what purposes. Neither Family Tree DNA, GedMatch, MyHeritage, Genographic Project, Insitome, Promethease nor LivingDNA sell your DNA.

The next group of vendors offers ethnicity without matching:

  • Genographic Project by National Geographic Society
  • Insitome
  • LivingDNA (currently working on matching, but not released yet)

Health (as a consumer, meaning you receive the results)

Medical (as a contributor, meaning you are contributing your DNA for research)

  • 23andMe
  • Ancestry
  • DNA.Land (not a testing vendor, doesn’t test DNA)

There are a few other niche vendors known for specific things within the genetic genealogy community, many of whom are mentioned in this article, but other than known vendors, buyer beware. If you don’t see them listed or discussed on my blog, there’s probably a reason.

What’s Coming in 2019

Just like we couldn’t have foreseen much of what happened in 2018, we don’t have access to a 2019 crystal ball, but it looks like 2019 is taking off like a rocket. We do know about a few things to look for:

  • MyHeritage is waiting to see if envelope and stamp DNA extractions are successful so that they can be added to their database.
  • www.totheletterDNA.com is extracting (attempting to) and processing DNA from stamps and envelopes for several people in the community. Hopefully they will be successful.
  • LivingDNA has been working on matching since before I met with their representative in October of 2017 in Dublin. They are now in Beta testing for a few individuals, but they have also just changed their DNA processing chip – so how that will affect things and how soon they will have matching ready to roll out the door is unknown.
  • Ancestry did a 2018 ethnicity update, integrating ethnicity more tightly with Genetic Communities, offered genetic traits and made some minor improvements this year, along with adding one questionable feature – showing your matches the location where you live as recorded in your profile. (23andMe subsequently added the same feature.) Ancestry recently said that they are promising exciting new tools for 2019, but somehow I doubt that the chromosome browser that’s been on my Christmas list for years will be forthcoming. Fingers crossed for something new and really useful. In the mean time, we can download our DNA results and upload to MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch for segment matching, as well as utilize Ancestry’s internal matching tools. DNA+tree matching, those green leaf shared ancestor hints, is still their strongest feature.
  • The Family Tree DNA Conference for Project Administrators will be held March 22-24 in Houston this year, and I’m hopeful that they will have new tools and announcements at that event. I’m looking forward to seeing many old friends in Houston in March.

Here’s what I know for sure about 2019 – it’s going to be an amazing year. We as a community and also as individual genealogists will be making incredible discoveries and moving the ball forward. I can hardly wait to see what quandaries I’ve solved a year from now.

What mysteries do you want to unravel?

I’d like to offer a big thank you to everyone who made 2018 wonderful and a big toast to finding lots of new ancestors and breaking down those brick walls in 2019.

Happy New Year!!!

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Ethnicity is Just an Estimate – Yes, Really!

Lots of people will have received DNA tests as gifts over the holidays. This pleases me to no end, because I know I’ll match any number of them and maybe, just maybe, those matches will help me fill in those pesky blanks in my tree or break down brick walls.

However, for the most part, those testers probably aren’t genealogists, at least not yet. They are most likely curious about “who they are” or didn’t even realize they might be curious about anything until they unwrapped that gift and discovered a DNA test inside.

Let’s hope they test with one of the major 4 companies, being Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry or 23andMe. (Sale prices are still in effect.) Some additional firms are certainly reputable and provide ethnicity only tests (meaning no matching), such as the Genographic Project, LivingDNA and Insitome, but then there are also a growing number of questionable pop-up DNA testing, upload sites and interpretation “services.” And yes, I’m using that word loosely. Buyer beware.

For genealogists, the gold is in the cousin matching. We already know that DNA is more than ethnicity, and ethnicity is far more than percentages.

Ethnicity, for the most part, is a shiny red bauble that the magic wand of advertising transforms from a diamond in the rough into the glittery Hope diamond with a free kilt to lederhosen conversion (or vice versa) thrown in to boot.

Ethnicity bauble

Yay – Results are Back

Everyone who received DNA test kits during the holiday season has hopefully spit or swabbed and mailed and is now waiting excitedly. Waiting is always the hardest part!

Soon, they will be discussing their ethnicity results. Reactions will vary, swinging like a pendulum – and you may well get to help interpret.

  • Some people will be thrilled because their results will confirm what they see or believe and their family stories. For example, if their family carries oral history of a Native American ancestor and their DNA ethnicity results show Native American heritage, they’ll be thrilled.
  • Some people will be pleasantly surprised with whatever information they receive – treating their ethnicity results as a nice package to unwrap, regardless of what’s inside.
  • Another large group will be confused? My mother said her grandmother was French! Why don’t I see France? Substitute <country of your choice> for French/France.
  • And then we have the truly upset. The distraught. The entirely disbelieving. “My great-grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee. Why don’t I show Native American? These tests are wrong!”
  • Some people will doubt their parentage based on ethnicity results alone. This is NOT under any circumstances appropriate. Please have them read Ethnicity and Physical Features are NOT Accurate Predictors of Parentage or Heritage.

Explanations

To help people understand, you may need to explain about how Native Americans, especially east of the Mississippi were admixed very early in our national history, so their “fully Native” ancestor probably wasn’t.

You can explain about how autosomal DNA is diluted in each generation since their Native (or French, or Italian, etc.) ancestor lived – to the point that the Native DNA might not show today.

You can talk about reference populations, or the lack thereof, and that people in France and Israel can’t legally take DNA tests for recreational purposes.

You can educate people about how we all need to research our genealogy, and how, as Blaine Bettinger writes in this classic article, we have both a genetic and genealogical tree. The ancestors are always there in our tree, but we may not have inherited measurable DNA from a particular individual if they are several generations back in time.

If that coveted Native ancestor doesn’t appear in their DNA, then they need to look in their family tree. She or he might be waiting there, AND, they may still be able to prove their Native heritage using either Y or mitochondrial DNA testing at Family Tree DNA.

There’s more than one kind of DNA and more than one way to prove Native heritage.

The Underlying Truth

But the truth of the matter is, while each and every one of those statements above is entirely valid, the fundamental truth about ethnicity testing is that…

Ethnicity percentages.png

Yes, really.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

Size Matters

Everyone in the Americas (except for Native American, First Nations or aboriginal peoples) wants to know where their ancestors “came from.” As genealogists, we deal with no records, damaged records, misplaced records, burned records, rapid westward migration with no links “back home” and at least three wars on our soil. It’s no wonder that we often can’t track those ancestors back across the pond or even to the shore.

Therefore, we hope that DNA testing can help us bridge that gap. And indeed, both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing is wonderful for doing just that for matrilineal and patrilineal lines.

But ethnicity results, in most cases, are really only useful for making continental-level discoveries. What we really want, refinement and granularity to the country level within Europe, for example, isn’t really feasible.

Size is part of the reason why. Look at the size of the contiguous 48 US states as compared to Europe, courtesy thetruesize.com.

Ethnicity US over Europe.png

Would you expect to be able to tell the genetic difference between people that live in Washington State from people that live in Idaho? That’s roughly the same distance as from the UK to Germany. France is located down in California and Nevada.

Can you tell the difference genetically between people who live in Washington State from California or Nevada? That idea sounds rather preposterous when you look at it that way. Now, is it any wonder that your ancestor’s “French” doesn’t show up, but German does?

Ethnicity Texas over Europe

Here’s Texas compared to Europe. Can you tell the people in Dallas from the people who live in San Antonio from the people who live in Houston, genetically? That’s the same difference as Germany, Italy and Austria. The Czech Republic is over near Shreveport. You get the drift.

Western European Countries are the Size of US States

Western European countries are even more difficult.

Ethnicity states over Europe

How about discerning the difference between Indiana and Illinois residents, or Illinois and Missouri? European countries are the size of medium sized US states. Larger states, like Texas cover most of the Iberian Peninsula including Spain and Portugal and reach over into Morocco.

To make this relatively small region even more complex, people have moved freely across these areas for thousands of years. The people from the Russian Steppes moved into Eastern Europe displacing and assimilating with the hunter-gatherer population that had resided there for millennia.

The Germanic tribes moved towards the coast and into the British Isles. The people from “Indiana and Ohio” moved into “Illinois” and then that entire group populated parts of Scandinavia. According to a recent genetic paper, some of those “New Yorkers” and on east moved into Scandinavia too.

Oh, and the Sephardic Jewish people moved from the Middle East into “Texas” aka Spain and then on up to “Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania” some 500 years ago to join their Ashkenazi brethren. Fortunately, Jewish people generally stayed together and didn’t intermarry or assimilate much into the local population, so we can still identify them genetically.

Europe is indeed a great melting pot.

Ethnicity Alaska and states over Europe and Asia

Adding the largest US state, Alaska onto the map makes the rest of the states and their corresponding European countries look really tiny.

Ethnicity is Really Only Reliable at a Continental Level

Ethnicity really is only reliable at a continental level, plus Jewish and in particular, Ashkenazi. Very small or trace percentages may not be reliable at all. We’ll discuss ways to prove or disprove minority admixture in my next article, Minority Ethnicity Percentages – True or False?.

This continental-level-only phenomenon is more understandable if you look at a world map.

Ethnicity continents

It’s extremely difficult to discern any reliable level of granularity between regions as tiny as US states in Europe, no matter how badly testers want to know. Of course, that doesn’t keep the testing companies from trying, and kudos to them. As they make improvements, your intra-continental estimates will change over time – so don’t fall in love with them. And don’t trade that lederhosen for a kilt or vice versa – or get that Viking tattoo just yet.

It’s much more reasonable to rely on ethnicity estimates based on much larger regions, where people after migration have been separated from people in the other regions for a much longer period of time, allowing time for unique mutations to develop.

Less admixture happens with greater geographic distance. People who aren’t neighborly don’t produce offspring because begetting requires proximity. Mutations that occurred after the populations split into different regions are found only in the new or the old populations, but not both – at least not in high frequencies. Of course, population boundaries are fluid and people (continue to) move from place to place, back and forth.

What You Can Do!

When your family and friends begin to discuss their confusion or disappointment with their ethnicity results, you’ll have this article to explain the situation visually. Please feel free to share and encourage them to learn more.

Sometimes it’s difficult to be the cold voice of reason in a positive way, but there is so much more to learn. I always hope to spark curiosity about why, and then provide ways that the person can fall in love with discovering their ancestors and ancestry.

Another good resource is the article, Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum which explains how DNA ethnicity testing actually works – in terms that everyone can understand.

If your family is wondering what happened to their Native American DNA, you’re not alone. I’ve put together a page of Native American Resources to help everyone!

Have fun, enjoy and let’s hope that newly baptized ethnicity testers will like the water enough to engage in a bit of genealogy. You can encourage them by helping construct their first tree by recording what they know about their parents and grandparents. Maybe give them a taste of success by helping them find a record or two. Give them a taste of genealogy crack.

You never know, it just might be habit forming!

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I receive a small contribution when you click on some (but not all) 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.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Native American DNA Results: What They Mean

Elizabeth Warren has released DNA testing results after being publicly challenged and derided as “Pochahontas” as a result of her claims of a family story indicating that her ancestors were Native America. If you’d like to read the specifics of the broo-haha, this Washington Post Article provides a good summary, along with additional links.

I personally find name-calling of any type unacceptable behavior, especially in a public forum, and while Elizabeth’s DNA test was taken, I presume, in an effort to settle the question and end the name-calling, what it has done is to put the science of genetic testing smack dab in the middle of the headlines.

This article is NOT about politics, it’s about science and DNA testing. I will tell you right up front that any comments that are political or hateful in nature will not be allowed to post, regardless of whether I agree with them or not. Unfortunately, these results are being interpreted in a variety of ways by different individuals, in some cases to support a particular political position. I’m presenting the science, without the politics.

This is the first of a series of two articles.

I’m dividing this first article into four sections, and I’d ask you to read all four, especially before commenting. A second article, Possibilities – Wringing the Most Out of Your DNA Ethnicity Test will follow shortly about how to get the most out of an ethnicity test when hunting for Native American (or other minority, for you) ethnicity.

Understanding how the science evolved and works is an important factor of comprehending the results and what they actually mean, especially since Elizabeth’s are presented in a different format than we are used to seeing. What a wonderful teaching opportunity.

  • Family History and DNA Science – How this works.
  • Elizabeth Warren’s Genealogy
  • Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Results
  • Questions and Answers – These are the questions I’m seeing, and my science-based answers.

My second article, Possibilities – Wringing the Most Out of Your DNA Ethnicity Test will include:

  • Potential – This isn’t all that can be done with ethnicity results. What more can you do to identify that Native ancestor?
  • Resources with Step by Step Instructions

Now, let’s look at Elizabeth’s results and how we got to this point.

Family Stories and DNA

Every person that grows up in their biological family hears family stories. We have no reason NOT to believe them until we learn something that potentially conflicts with the facts as represented in the story.

In terms of stories handed down for generations, all we have to go on, initially, are the stories themselves and our confidence in the person relating the story to us. The day that we begin to suspect that something might be amiss, we start digging, and for some people, that digging begins with a DNA test for ethnicity.

My family had that same Cherokee story. My great-grandmother on my father’s side who died in 1918 was reportedly “full blooded Cherokee” 60 years later when I discovered she had existed. Her brothers reportedly went to Oklahoma to claim headrights land. There were surely nuggets of truth in that narrative. Family members did indeed to go Oklahoma. One did own Cherokee land, BUT, he purchased that land from a tribal member who received an allotment. I discovered that tidbit later.

What wasn’t true? My great-grandmother was not 100% Cherokee. To the best of my knowledge now, a century after her death, she wasn’t Cherokee at all. She probably wasn’t Native at all. Why, then, did that story trickle down to my generation?

I surely don’t know. I can speculate that it might have been because various people were claiming Native ancestry in order to claim land when the government paid tribal members for land as reservations were dissolved between 1893 and 1914. You can read more about that in this article at the National Archives about the Dawes Rolls, compiled for the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole for that purpose.

I can also speculate that someone in the family was confused about the brother’s land ownership, especially since it was Cherokee land.

I could also speculate that the confusion might have resulted because her husband’s father actually did move to Oklahoma and lived on Choctaw land.

But here is what I do know. I believed that story because there wasn’t any reason NOT to believe it, and the entire family shared the same story. We all believed it…until we discovered evidence through DNA testing that contradicted the story.

Before we discuss Elizabeth Warren’s actual results, let’s take a brief look at the underlying science.

Enter DNA Testing

DNA testing for ethnicity was first introduced in a very rudimentary form in 2002 (not a typo) and has progressed exponentially since. The major vendors who offer tests that provide their customers with ethnicity estimates (please note the word estimates) have all refined their customer’s results several times. The reference populations improve, the vendor’s internal software algorithms improve and population genetics as a science moves forward with new discoveries.

Note that major vendors in this context mean Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, the Genographic Project and Ancestry. Two newer vendors include MyHeritage and LivingDNA although LivingDNA is focused on England and MyHeritage, who utilizes imputation is not yet quite up to snuff on their ethnicity estimates. Another entity, GedMatch isn’t a testing vendor, but does provide multiple ethnicity tools if you upload your results from the other vendors. To get an idea of how widely the results vary, you can see the results of my tests at the different vendors here and here.

My initial DNA ethnicity test, in 2002, reported that I was 25% Native American, but I’m clearly not. It’s evident to me now, but it wasn’t then. That early ethnicity test was the dinosaur ages in genetic genealogy, but it did send me on a quest through genealogical records to prove that my family member was indeed Native. My father clearly believed this, as did the rest of the family. One of my early memories when I was about four years old was attending a (then illegal) powwow with my Dad.

In order to prove that Elizabeth Vannoy, that great-grandmother, was Native I asked a cousin who descends from her matrilineally to take a mitochondrial DNA test that would unquestionably provide the ethnicity of her matrilineal line – that of her mother’s mother’s mother’s direct line. If she was Native, her haplogroup would be a derivative either A, B, C, D or X. Her mitochondrial DNA was European, haplogroup J, clearly not Native, so Elizabeth Vannoy was not Native on that line of her family. Ok, maybe through her dad’s line then. I was able to find a Vanoy male descendant of her father, Joel Vannoy, to test his Y DNA and he was not Native either. Rats!

Tracking Elizabeth Vannoy’s genealogy back in time provided no paper-trail link to any Native ancestors, but there were and are still females whose surnames and heritage we don’t know. Were they Native or part Native? Possibly. Nothing precludes it, but nothing (yet) confirms it either.

Unexpected Results

DNA testing is notorious for unveiling unexpected results. Adoptions, unknown parents, unexpected ethnicities, previously unknown siblings and half-siblings and more.

Ethnicity is often surprising and sometimes disappointing. People who expect Native American heritage in their DNA sometimes don’t find it. Why?

  • There is no Native ancestor
  • The Native DNA has “washed out” over the generations, but they did have a Native ancestor
  • We haven’t yet learned to recognize all of the segments that are Native
  • The testing company did not test the area that is Native

Not all vendors test the same areas of our DNA. Each major company tests about 700,000 locations, roughly, but not the same 700,000. If you’re interested in specifics, you can read more about that here.

50-50 Chance

Everyone receives half of their autosomal DNA from each parent.

That means that each parent contributes only HALF OF THEIR DNA to a child. The other half of their DNA is never passed on, at least not to that child.

Therefore, ancestral DNA passed on is literally cut in half in each generation. If your parent has a Native American DNA segment, there is a 50-50 chance you’ll inherit it too. You could inherit the entire segment, a portion of the segment, or none of the segment at all.

That means that if you have a Native ancestor 6 generations back in your tree, you share 1.56% of their DNA, on average. I wrote the article, Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You? to explain how this works.

These calculations are estimates and use averages. Why? Because they tell us what to expect, on average. Every person’s results will vary. It’s entirely possible to carry a Native (or other ethnic) segment from 7 or 8 or 9 generations ago, or to have none in 5 generations. Of course, these calculations also presume that the “Native” ancestor we find in our tree was fully Native. If the Native ancestor was already admixed, then the percentages of Native DNA that you could inherit drop further.

Why Call Ethnicity an Estimate?

You’ve probably figured out by now that due to the way that DNA is inherited, your ethnicity as reported by the major testing companies isn’t an exact science. I discussed the methodology behind ethnicity results in the article, Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum.

It is, however, a specialized science known as Population Genetics. The quality of the results that are returned to you varies based on several factors:

  • World Region – Ethnicity estimates are quite accurate at the continental level, plus Jewish – meaning African, Indo-European, Asian, Native American and Jewish. These regions are more different than alike and better able to be separated.
  • Reference Population – The size of the population your results are being compared to is important. The larger the reference population, the more likely your results are to be accurate.
  • Vendor Algorithm – None of the vendors provide the exact nature of their internal algorithms that they use to determine your ethnicity percentages. Suffice it to say that each vendor’s staff includes population geneticists and they all have years of experience. These internal differences are why the estimates vary when compared to each other.
  • Size of the Segment – As with all genetic genealogy, bigger is better because larger segments stand a better chance of being accurate.
  • Academic Phasing – A methodology academics and vendors use in which segments of DNA that are known to travel together during inheritance are grouped together in your results. This methodology is not infallible, but in general, it helps to group your mother’s DNA together and your father’s DNA together, especially when parents are not available for testing.
  • Parental Phasing – If your parents test and they too have the same segment identified as Native, you know that the identification of that segment as Native is NOT a factor of chance, where the DNA of each of your parents just happens to fall together in a manner as to mimic a Native segment. Parental phasing is the ability to divide your DNA into two parts based on your parent’s DNA test(s).
  • Two Chromosomes – You have two chromosomes, one from your mother and one from your father. DNA testing can’t easily separate those chromosomes, so the exact same “address” on your mother’s and father’s chromosomes that you inherited may carry two different ethnicities. Unless your parents are both from the same ethnic population, of course.

All of these factors, together, create a confidence score. Consumers never see these scores as such, but the vendors return the highest confidence results to their customers. Some vendors include the capability, one way or another, to view or omit lower confidence results.

Parental Phasing – Identical by Descent

If you’re lucky enough to have your parents, or even one parent available to test, you can determine whether that segment thought to be Native came from one of your parents, or if the combination of both of your parent’s DNA just happened to combine to “look” Native.

Here’s an example where the “letters” (nucleotides) of Native DNA for an example segment are shown at left. If you received the As from one of your parents, your DNA is said to be phased to that parent’s DNA. That means that you in fact inherited that piece of your DNA from your mother, in the case shown below.

That’s known as Identical by Descent (IBD). The other possibility is what your DNA from both of your parents intermixed to mimic a Native segment, shown below.

This is known as Identical by Chance (IBC).

You don’t need to understand the underpinnings of this phenomenon, just remember that it can happen, and the smaller the segment, the more likely that a chance combination can randomly happen.

Elizabeth Warren’s Genealogy

Elizabeth Warren’s genealogy, is reported to the 5th generation by WikiTree.

Elizabeth’s mother, Pauline Herring’s line is shown, at WikiTree, as follows:

Notice that of Elizabeth Warren’s 16 great-great-great grandparents on her mother’s side, 9 are missing.

Paper trail being unfruitful, Elizabeth Warren, like so many, sought to validate her family story through DNA testing.

Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Results

Elizabeth Warren didn’t test with one of the major vendors. Instead, she went directly to a specialist. That’s the equivalent of skipping the family practice doctor and going to the Mayo Clinic.

Elizabeth Warren had test results interpreted by Dr. Carlos Bustamante at Stanford University. You can read the actual report here and I encourage you to do so.

From the report, here are Dr. Bustamante’s credentials:

Dr. Carlos D. Bustamante is an internationally recognized leader in the application of data science and genomics technology to problems in medicine, agriculture, and biology. He received his Ph.D. in Biology and MS in Statistics from Harvard University (2001), was on the faculty at Cornell University (2002-9), and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010. He is currently Professor of Biomedical Data Science, Genetics, and (by courtesy) Biology at Stanford University. Dr. Bustamante has a passion for building new academic units, non-profits, and companies to solve pressing scientific challenges. He is Founding Director of the Stanford Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics (CEHG) and Inaugural Chair of the Department of Biomedical Data Science. He is the Owner and President of CDB Consulting, LTD. and also a Director at Eden Roc Biotech, founder of Arc-Bio (formerly IdentifyGenomics and BigData Bio), and an SAB member of Imprimed, Etalon DX, and Digitalis Ventures among others.

He’s no lightweight in the study of Native American DNA. This 2012 paper, published in PLOS Genetics, Development of a Panel of Genome-Wide Ancestry Informative Markers to Study Admixture Throughout the Americas focused on teasing out Native American markers in admixed individuals.

From that paper:

Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) are commonly used to estimate overall admixture proportions efficiently and inexpensively. AIMs are polymorphisms that exhibit large allele frequency differences between populations and can be used to infer individuals’ geographic origins.

And:

Using a panel of AIMs distributed throughout the genome, it is possible to estimate the relative ancestral proportions in admixed individuals such as African Americans and Latin Americans, as well as to infer the time since the admixture process.

The methodology produced results of the type that we are used to seeing in terms of continental admixture, shown in the graphic below from the paper.

Matching test takers against the genetic locations that can be identified as either Native or African or European informs us that our own ancestors carried the DNA associated with that ethnicity.

Of course, the Native samples from this paper were focused south of the United States, but the process is the same regardless. The original Native American population of a few individuals arrived thousands of years ago in one or more groups from Asia and their descendants spread throughout both North and South America.

Elizabeth’s request, from the report:

To analyze genetic data from an individual of European descent and determine if there is reliable evidence of Native American and/or African ancestry. The identity of the sample donor, Elizabeth Warren, was not known to the analyst during the time the work was performed.

Elizabeth’s test included 764,958 genetic locations, of which 660,173 overlapped with locations used in ancestry analysis.

The Results section says after stating that Elizabeth’s DNA is primarily (95% or greater) European:

The analysis also identified 5 genetic segments as Native American in origin at high confidence, defined at the 99% posterior probability value. We performed several additional analyses to confirm the presence of Native American ancestry and to estimate the position of the ancestor in the individual’s pedigree.

The largest segment identified as having Native American ancestry is on chromosome 10. This segment is 13.4 centiMorgans in genetic length, and spans approximately 4,700,000 DNA bases. Based on a principal components analysis (Novembre et al., 2008), this segment is clearly distinct from segments of European ancestry (nominal p-value 7.4 x 10-7, corrected p-value of 2.6 x 10-4) and is strongly associated with Native American ancestry.

The total length of the 5 genetic segments identified as having Native American ancestry is 25.6 centiMorgans, and they span approximately 12,300,000 DNA bases. The average segment length is 5.8 centiMorgans. The total and average segment size suggest (via the method of moments) an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the pedigree at approximately 8 generations before the sample, although the actual number could be somewhat lower or higher (Gravel, 2012 and Huff et al., 2011).

Dr. Bustamante’s Conclusion:

While the vast majority of the individual’s ancestry is European, the results strongly support the existence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor in the individual’s pedigree, likely in the range of 6-10 generations ago.

I was very pleased to see that Dr. Bustamante had included the PCA (Principal Component Analysis) for Elizabeth’s sample as well.

PCA analysis is the scientific methodology utilized to group individuals to and within populations.

Figure one shows the section of chromosome 10 that showed the largest Native American haplotype, meaning DNA block, as compared to other populations.

Remember that since Elizabeth received a chromosome from BOTH parents, that she has two strands of DNA in that location.

Here’s our example again.

Given that Mom’s DNA is Native, and Dad’s is European in this example, the expected results when comparing this segment of DNA to other populations is that it would look half Native (Mom’s strand) and half European (Dad’s strand.)

The second graphic shows Elizabeth’s sample and where it falls in the comparison of First Nations (Canada) and Indigenous Mexican individuals. Given that Elizabeth’s Native ancestor would have been from the United States, her sample falls where expected, inbetween.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions being asked.

Questions and Answers

I’ve seen a lot of misconceptions and questions regarding these results. Let’s take them one by one:

Question – Can these results prove that Elizabeth is Cherokee?

Answer – No, there is no test, anyplace, from any lab or vendor, that can prove what tribe your ancestors were from. I wrote an article titled Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA, but that process involves working with your matches, Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, and genealogy.

Q – Are these results absolutely positive?

A – The words “absolutely positive” are a difficult quantifier. Given the size of the largest segment, 13.4 cM, and that there are 5 Native segments totaling 25.6 cM, and that Dr. Bustamante’s lab performed the analysis – I’d say this is as close to “absolutely positive” as you can get without genealogical confirmation.

A 13.4 cM segment is a valid segment that phases to parents 98% of the time, according to Philip Gammon’s work, here, and 99% of the time in my own analysis here. That indicates that a 13.4 cM segment is very likely a legitimately ancestral segment, not a match by chance. The additional 4 segments simply increase the likelihood of a Native ancestor. In other words, for there NOT to be a Native ancestor, all 5 segments, including the large 13.4 cM segment would have to be misidentified by one of the premier scientists in the field.

Q – What did Dr. Bustamante mean by “evidence of an unadmixed Native American ancestor?”

A – Unadmixed means that the Native person was fully Native, meaning not admixed with European, Asian or African DNA. Admixture, in this context, means that the individual is a mixture of multiple ethnic groups. This is an important concept, because if you discover that your ancestor 4 generations ago was a Cherokee tribal member, but the reality was that they were only 25% Native, that means that the DNA was already in the process of being divided. If your 4th generation ancestor was fully Native, you would receive about 6.25% of their DNA which would be all Native. If they were only 25% Native, that means that while you will still receive about 6.25% of their DNA but only one fourth of that 6.25% is possibly Native – so 1.56%. You could also receive NONE of their Native DNA.

Q – Is this the same test that the major companies use?

A – Yes and no. The test itself was probably performed on the same Illumina chip platform, because the chips available cover the markers that Bustamante needed for analysis.

The major companies use the same reference data bases, plus their own internal or private data bases in addition. They do not create PCA models for each tester. They do use the same methodology described by Dr. Bustamante in terms of AIMs, along with proprietary algorithms to further define the results. Vendors may also use additional internal tools.

Q – Did Dr. Bustamante use more than one methodology in his analysis? What if one was wrong?

A – Yes, he utilized two different methodologies whose results agreed. The global ancestry method evaluates each location independently of any surrounding genetic locations, ignoring any correlation or relationship to neighboring DNA. The second methodology, known as the local ancestry method looks at each location in combination with its neighbors, given that DNA pieces are known to travel together. This second methodology allows comparisons to entire segments in reference populations and is what allows the identification of complete ancestral segments that are identified as Native or any other population.

Q – If Elizabeth’s DNA results hadn’t shown Native heritage, would that have proven that she didn’t have Native ancestry?

A – No, not definitively, although that is a possible reason for ethnicity results not showing Native admixture. It would have meant that either she didn’t have a Native ancestor, the DNA washed out, or we cannot yet detect those segments.

Q – Does this qualify Elizabeth to join a tribe?

A – No. Every tribe defines their own criteria for membership. Some tribes embrace DNA testing for paternity issues, but none, to the best of my knowledge, accept or rely entirely on DNA results for membership. DNA results alone cannot identify a specific tribe. Tribes are societal constructs and Native people genetically are more alike than different, especially in areas where tribes lived nearby, fought and captured other tribe’s members.

Q – Why does Dr. Bustamante use words like “strong probability” instead of absolutes, such as the percentages shown by commercial DNA testing companies?

A – Dr. Bustamante’s comments accurately reflect the state of our knowledge today. The vendors attempt to make the results understandable and attractive for the general population. Most vendors, if you read their statements closely and look at your various options indicate that ethnicity is only an estimate, and some provide the ability to view your ethnicity estimate results at high, medium and low confidence levels.

Q – Can we tell, precisely, when Elizabeth had a Native ancestor?

A – No, that’s why Dr. Bustamante states that Elizabeth’s ancestor was approximately 8 generations ago, and in the range of 6-10 generations ago. This analysis is a result of combined factors, including the total centiMorgans of Native DNA, the number of separate reasonably large segments, the size of the longest segment, and the confidence score for each segment. Those factors together predict most likely when a fully Native ancestor was present in the tree. Keep in mind that if Elizabeth had more than one Native ancestor, that too could affect the time prediction.

Q – Does Dr. Bustamante provide this type of analysis or tools for the general public?

A – Unfortunately, no. Dr. Bustamante’s lab is a research facility only.

Roberta’s Summary of the Analysis

I find no omissions or questionable methods and I agree with Dr. Bustamante’s analysis. In other words, yes, I believe, based on these results, that Elizabeth had a Native ancestor further back in her tree.

I would love for every tester to be able to receive PCA results like this.

However, an ethnicity confirmation isn’t all that can be done with Elizabeth’s results. Additional tools and opportunities are available outside of an academic setting, at the vendors where we test, using matching and other tools we have access to as the consuming public.

We will look at those possibilities in a second article, because Elizabeth’s results are really just a beginning and scratch the surface. There’s more available, much more. It won’t change Elizabeth’s ethnicity results, but it could lead to positively identifying the Native ancestor, or at least the ancestral Native line.

Join me in my next article for Possibilities, Wringing the Most Out of Your DNA Ethnicity Test.

In the mean time, you might want to read my article, Native American DNA Resources.

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Disclosure

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.

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Milestone! 1000 Articles About Genetic Genealogy

Today is a big day for DNA-eXplained. I christened this blog on July 11, 2012 with an invitation for the world of genetic genealogy to follow along. Wow, what a ride!

Today, about 5 weeks shy of the blog’s 6th birthday, I’m publishing my 1000th article – this one. I don’t even want to know how many words or pages, but I do know I’ve gone through two keyboards – worn the letters right off the keys.

My original goal in 2012 was to publish one article per week. That would have been 307 articles this week. I’ve averaged 3.25 articles a week. That’s almost an article every other day, which even surprises me!

That’s wonderful news for my readers because it means that there is so much potential in the genetic genealogy world that I need to write often. Even so, I always feel like there is so much to say – so much that needs to be taught and that I’ll never catch up.

I wonder, which have been the most popular articles?

Most Popular Articles

The most popular article has received almost a million views.

I’m not surprised that the article about Native American heritage and DNA testing is number one. Many people want to verify their family stories of Native American ancestry. It was and remains a very large motivation for DNA testing.

One link I expected to see on this list, but didn’t, is my Help page. Maybe because it’s a page and not an article? Maybe I should publish it as an article too. Hmmm….

What Do These Articles Have In Common?

Four are about ethnicity, which doesn’t surprise me. In the past couple of years, one of the major testing companies has pushed ethnicity testing as a “shortcut” to genealogy. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

Unfortunately, it encourages a misperception of DNA testing and what it can reasonably do, causing dissatisfaction and kit abandonment. Fortunately, advertising encourages people to test and some will go on to get hooked, upload trees and engage.

The good news is that judging from the popular articles, at least some people are researching ethnicity testing – although I have to wonder if it’s before or after they receive their test results.😊

Three articles are specifically about Native American heritage, although I suspect people who discover that they don’t carry as much Native as they expected are also reading ethnicity articles.

Two articles are specifically not about autosomal results, which pleases me because many autosomal testers don’t know about Y and mitochondrial DNA, or if they do, they don’t understand what it can do for them or how to utilize results.

Several articles fall into the research category – meaning an article someone might read to decide what tests to purchase or how to understand results.

Key Word Searchable

One of the things I love about WordPress, my blogging platform, is that DNA-eXplained is fully keyword searchable. This means that you can enter any term you want to find in the search box in the upper right-hand corner and you’ll be presented with a list of articles to select from.

For example, if you enter the phrase “Big Y,” you’ll find every article, beginning with the most recent that either has those words in the title, the text or as a tag or category.

Go ahead, give it a try. What would you like to learn about?

More Tools – Tags and Categories

Tags and categories help you find relevant information and help search engines find relevant articles when you “Google” for something.

If you scroll down the right-hand sidebar of the blog, you’ll see, in order:

  • Subscription Information
  • Family Tree DNA ad
  • Award Received
  • Recent Posts
  • Archives by date
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Top Posts and Pages

Bloggers categorize their articles, so if you want to view the articles I’ve categorized as “Acadians” or “Art,” for example, just click on that link.

I use Tags as a more general article categorization. Tags are displayed in alphabetical order with the largest font indicating the tags with the most tagged articles.

You can see that I categorize a lot of articles as Basic Education and General Information. You can click on any tag to read those articles.

My Biggest Surprise

I’ve been asked what’s the most surprising thing that I’ve learned.

I very nearly didn’t publish my 52 Ancestors series because I didn’t think people would be interested in my own family stories about my ancestors and the search that uncovered their history.

Was I ever wrong. Those stories, especially the research techniques, including DNA of course, have been extremely well received. I’ve learned that people love stories.

Thank you for the encouragement. This next week will be the 197th article in that series.

I encourage everyone to find a way to tell the story of your ancestors too. If you don’t, who will?

My Biggest Disappointment

I think my biggest disappointment has been that not enough people utilize the information readily available on the blog. By this, I mean that I see questions on Facebook in multiple groups every day that I’ve already written about and answered – sometimes multiple times in different ways.

This is where you can help. If you see questions like that, please feel free to share the love and post links to any articles. With roughly 12 million testers today and more before year end – there are going to be lots of questions.

Let’s make sure they receive accurate answers.

Sharing

Please feel free to share and post links to any of my articles. That’s the purpose. You don’t need to ask permission.

If you would like to reproduce an article for any reason, please contact me directly.

Most of all, read, enjoy and learn. Encourage others to do so as well. The blog is free for everyone, but any support you choose to give by way of purchasing through affiliate links is greatly appreciated. It doesn’t cost you more, but a few cents comes my way from each purchase through an affiliate link to help support the blog.

What’s Coming?

I have a few articles in process, but I’d like to know what you’d like to see.

Do you have suggestions? Please leave them in the comments.

I’ve love to hear from you and I often write articles inspired by questions I receive.

Subscribe

Don’t miss any articles. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe by entering your e-mail just above the Follow button on the upper right-hand side of the right sidebar.

You can also subscribe via an RSS feed, or follow me on Twitter. You can follow DNAexplain on Facebook, but be aware that Facebook doesn’t show you all of the postings, and you won’t want to miss anything. Subscribing via e-mail is the most reliable option.

Thank You

There’s so much available today – it’s a wonderful time to be a genealogist that’s using DNA. There used to be a difference between a genealogist and a genetic genealogist – but I think we’ve moved past that stage and every genealogist should be utilizing all aspects of DNA (Y, mitochondrial, autosomal and X) as tools.

Thank you for subscribing, following or however you read these articles. You’re an amazing audience. I’ve made the unexpected wonderful discovery that many of you are my cousins as well.

Thanks to you, I’ve unraveled mysteries I never thought would be solved. I’ve visited ancestral homelands as a result of your comments and assistance. I’ve met amazing people. Yes, that means YOU!

I’m extremely grateful. I started this blog to help other people, never imagining how much it would help me too.

I love writing for you, my extended family.

Enjoy and Happy Ancestor Hunting!

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Cherokee Ancestry – The Most Persistent Native American Family Legend

Cól-lee, a Band Chief, painted at Fort Gibson in 1834 by George Catlin who refers to the subject as Jol-lee in Letters and Notes. Also known as John Jolly who died in 1838.

“An aged and dignified chief. … This man … as well as a very great proportion of the Cherokee population, has a mixture of red and white blood in his veins, of which, in this instance, the first seems decidedly to predominate” (Letters and Notes, vol. 2, p. 119, pl. 217).

Does Your Family Have a Cherokee Story?

It seems that just about every family with a lineage east of the Mississippi before about 1800 has a Cherokee Indian ancestor – at least according to oral history passed down in the family. I certainly did, even though the person in my tree who was supposed to be Native was subsequently proven to have no Native ancestry. In that process, I did, however, find different lines that have been proven to be Native using genealogical records along with mitochondrial and Y DNA testing.

Does your family have a “Cherokee story”? Has DNA testing proven or disproven your family lore? Have you been disappointed by an ethnicity test? Have you had any luck proving that lineage with traditional genealogical research? Many people are disappointed that their family has claimed Cherokee heritage, sometimes for generations, but they have been unable to corroborate that information by either genetic or traditional research methods.

There are lots of reasons this might happen, including the possibility that your ancestors weren’t Native. But that’s not the only reason. A recent article in Slate is one of the best I’ve read that presents the reasons without undue drama or prejudice.

Before you read the article, I want to make four things crystal clear:

  • Having no discernable Native DNA in ethnicity tests does NOT mean you DON’T have a Native ancestor. It only means that you need to do traditional genealogy to find that ancestor, combined with Y and mtDNA testing of relevant family lineages. Y and mtDNA is the only way to prove or disprove who in your tree was Native other than through genealogy research, unless that Native ancestor was in a very recent generation.
  • Showing small percentages of Native DNA in ethnicity tests does NOT mean you DO have a Native ancestor. Small amounts can be noise or can be residual from a common Asian population source. For example, I have seen German people with as much as 3% Native American DNA, which clearly isn’t. You need more evidence before confirming Native ancestry.
  • Without additional research, you cannot prove your lineage to a tribe using DNA – no matter what any company tells you, although Y and mitochondrial DNA matching may lend important clues. Family Tree DNA is the only testing company that combines Y and mitochondrial testing, matching and maps.
  • No matter how much Native DNA you have, only a tribe can tell you how to qualify for their membership – and each tribe’s rules differ. You’ll need to contact the tribe directly for that information. DNA identified as Native through DNA testing for genealogy (alone) will not qualify you for tribal membership in any federally US recognized tribe.

For a comprehensive list of resources, please refer to Native American DNA Resources.

Now, for the Slate article:
Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood?

Enjoy.

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Native American DNA Resources

Spokane and Flathead men circa 1904

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:

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

Which Tests?

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:

Additional Resources

My blog, Native Heritage Project is fully searchable:

For other DNA related questions, please check the Help page, here.

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Upcoming Speaking Events – In Person and Online – Ireland, Native Americans and More

Generally, I don’t travel to speak much, but clearly, I’ve lost my mind this fall and scheduled back to back events. What was I thinking? I hope you can join me, in person, or online.

There are three fantastic opportunities!

Genetic Genealogy Ireland

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be both attending and presenting at Genetic Genealogy Ireland this upcoming week from October 20-22 in Dublin. I hope to meet many new friends and see where my Irish ancestors were from.

I’ll be presenting at the GGI conference on October 21 and 22, as well as participating in a roundtable on Saturday.

After the conference, Maurice Gleeson, wonderful man that he is,  puts (most of) the sessions online at YouTube on GGI’s own YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look. Past sessions are available too and all are free. It doesn’t get better than that, unless you can join in the festivities in person.

This is an incredible lineup and you won’t be sorry. When I’m not speaking, you’ll find me in the other sessions – that’s for sure.  Many of these speakers seldom appear and these are truly unique opportunities.

Family Tree DNA 13th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy

I’ll be presenting sessions in Houston, Texas at the Family Tree DNA conference November 10-12. That conference registration is now full, so if you’re a project administrator and you’ve registered, I’ll see you there.

This conference is one I’ve literally never missed! It’s always wonderful.

In the Mean Time…

Yes, I do have articles scheduled for publication during this time. I’ll try to catch anything that comes up spontaneously as well.

The great news is that the two conferences, plus my rambling around Ireland will provide great blog fodder, so be sure to stay tuned!

Who knows, maybe I’ll be visiting where your ancestors were from too.

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project

The Acadians – settlers, pioneers in a new land allied with and intermarried into the Native population of seaboard Nova Scotia beginning in 1603. They lived in harmony, developing their farms and then, roughly 150 years or 6 generations later, in 1755, they found themselves evicted, ruthlessly and forcibly deported, losing absolutely everything. They became landless refugees, living off of the benevolence of strangers…or dying. The Acadian diaspora was born. You can view a timeline here.

Marie Rundquist, Acadian and Native descendant, genetic genealogist, researcher and founder of the original AmerIndian project visited the Acadian homeland this past summer and is graciously sharing her experience through some of her photography and narrative.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

Marie Rundquist:

This cross, located on the beach near Grand Pre where the Acadians were herded onto ships, is a priceless icon of our Acadian ancestry and represents all of our ancestors who were forcibly removed from their lands – marched on to the awaiting boats at gunpoint – and who left their footprints on this beach. Their last footprints in the land into which their effort and blood had been poured for 150 years.  This cross is very symbolic and meaningful to all who look at it.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

This photo was taken at Waterfront Park in the town of Wolfville which borders the Minas Basin and the historic Acadian dykelands our ancestors once farmed. The area is known for the spectacular tides that rush into the basin bordering the park, totally changing its landscape.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

Sabots, the wooden shoes pictured above were worn by Acadian ancestors who farmed the wet, marshy dykelands and were also worn on boats.  Wolfville is within a short distance of the Grand Pre UNESCO Historic Site where my husband and I stayed while attending the 2017 Acadian Mi’kmaq Celebration of Peace and Reconciliation this past August.

If you have Acadian ancestors, these pictures probably caused you to catch your breath.  Your ancestors walked here, stood here and the blood in their veins ran thick with fear, here, as they boarded the ships that would disrupt their lives forever, destroying what they had built over a century and a half.

Focus on the Homeland

Marie has recently begun a new chapter in her life which allows her to focus more directly on the Acadian and AmerIndian homelands and communities. She has been preparing for this transition for years, and all Acadian and AmerIndian researchers will be beneficiaries.

Marie initially founded the AmerIndian out of Acadia project in 2006 to sort out the relationships between the various Acadian and Native families both in Nova Scotia, and wherever their descendants have dispersed since “Le Grand Derangement,” their forced removal in 1755. The story of the Acadians didn’t end in 1755, it began anew in different locations throughout the world, the Acadian diaspora.

Through traditional genealogy research paired with genetic genealogy, we are breathing life into those ancestors once again, honoring their memory and sacrifices, and along the way, getting to know them better and finding unexpected surprises as well.

This is an exciting time in genetic genealogy for descendants of Acadians and those with American Indian roots in eastern Canada and the northeastern portion of the US.

The Acadian homeland is located in the easternmost portion of Canada, Nova Scotia.

By Mikmaq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1351882

Many, if not most, Acadians were admixed with the Native population in the 150 years that the French colonists lived in harmony with the Native Mi’kmaq (also referenced as Micmac) people on the Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia. It’s impossible to study one without studying the other. Their fates, genealogies and DNA are inextricably interwoven.

Having Acadian and Native ancestors as well, and after several years of working together on other projects, I joined Marie as a co-administrator of this project in early 2017.

Today, Marie and I have several exciting announcements to make, the first of which is the renaming of the project to more accurately reflect a new, expanded, focus.

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project

You might have noticed that the AmerIndian project was renamed a few months ago as the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project to reflect our expanded goals. Specifically, our goal is to create a one-stop location in which to discover Acadian genetic roots. While the Acadia – Metis Mothers and Mothers of Acadian DNA projects have existed for several years to document proven matrilineal Acadian lines, nothing of the same nature existed for Y DNA for paternal surname lineages, or for those who want to connect with their Acadian roots through autosomal DNA.

After weighing various options, Marie and I, in conjunction with Family Tree DNA, decided that the best option was to expand the existing AmerIndian project to include Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA of the entire Acadian population into our existing project which already has over 1000 members.

In a word, our new project focus is FAMILY!

In Marie’s words:

Primary project goal: Through genetic genealogy research techniques combined with advanced Y DNA testing, it is our goal to add to and develop Y DNA signatures for male descendants of our legacy Acadian ancestors that may be referenced by others in verifying genealogies.

We want to assure that in our surname studies we are informed by Y DNA results primarily but take into account the mtDNA Full Mitochondrial Sequence results when considering the spouse, and Family Finder (autosomal) DNA results when researching all who may share ancestry.

Surname variants and dit names are of particular interest and factor into our development of a database of surname signatures as related to Acadian genealogies.

We encourage all who have tested and have the surname lineages listed in our project profile to join our project as their combined DNA results help us see through the genealogy brick walls and help us find answers to our genealogy questions.

We want to let new and existing members know how their results have contributed to our ability to develop and verify Acadian genealogies – and for the men in particular, the attainment of Y DNA “signatures” for surname lineages against which all may compare their own Y DNA results – and reference in genealogy research. Adoptees with matching Y DNA results for Acadian surnames (as we already have a number of these) are welcome to join and participate. Our team is expert in the areas of Y DNA testing and analysis, including the latest Big Y DNA tests only through years of practical experience with geographical and haplogroup-related DNA projects.  Both Marie and Roberta have extensive project administration experience and both are affiliate researchers with The Genographic Project.

Introducing Deadre Doucet Bourke

Marie and I realized that we needed assistance, so we are very pleased to welcome our new co-administrator, Deadre Doucet Bourke. Many Acadian researchers already know Deadre, a long-time genealogist and contributor from within the project, so adding her expertise as a project administrator is a natural progression. Deadre will be focused on communicating with people regarding their genealogy and utilizing social media.

You can read the bios of our administrators here.

Welcome Deadre!!!

The DNA Focus

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project is primarily focused on Y DNA and autosomal DNA. While we aren’t competing with the two mitochondrial DNA projects, we certainly welcome those with direct mitochondrial lineages to join this project as well. We encourage researchers to combine all of the DNA that makes us family to confirm our Acadian heritage and connect to our ancestors.

Acadian researchers struggle with the inability to find their Acadian ancestor’s Y DNA signatures gathered together in one place. Marie and I decided to fix that problem, hence, the redesign of the project.

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project welcomes everyone with Acadian heritage!

If you descend from a particular line, but aren’t male or don’t carry the surname today, you’ll be able to discover information about your ancestors from the Y DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA carried by other project members. Genetic genealogy is all about collaboration and sharing and finding all types of results in one project location makes that search much easier!

Who Should Join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project?

  • If you have an ACADIAN SURNAME in your family lines, as listed in the project profile or on the surname list later in this article, and you’ve had the Y DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder test, you are qualified to join this project.
  • If you are a MALE with an ACADIAN SURNAME, please join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project by ordering (minimally) a Y Chromosome 37 marker test.
  • If you are either male or female and have Acadian MATRILINEAL ANCESTRY (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line) that leads to a Native and/or an Acadian grandmother through all females, please join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project by ordering the mtFull Sequence mitochondrial DNA test.
  • If you have Acadian or Native American ancestors from the Acadian region of Canada or diaspora regions where Acadian families settled after the 1755 deportation, and would like to discover new leads for ancestry research and close, immediate and distant cousins, please join the project by ordering a Family Finder test.
  • If you have Acadian ancestry and have already taken the Y or mitochondrial DNA test at Family Tree DNA, please click here to sign in to your account and order a Family Finder test by clicking on the “Upgrade” button on the top right of your personal page.
  • If you have already tested and have Y DNA, mtDNA, or Family Finder matches with members of the Acadian Amerindian Ancestry project and are researching your ancestry, you are welcome to join this project.
  • If you have already tested your DNA at Family Tree DNA, but are not yet a project member, please click on the Project tab at the top left of your personal page to select a project to join. If the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestors project is not showing on your list, just type “Acadian” into the search box and click on the “Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry” link to join the project.
  • If you have tested your autosomal DNA at either Ancestry or 23andMe, but not at Family Tree DNA, you can download your autosomal results into the Family Tree DNA data base and use many tools for free – including the ability to join projects. You can read more about this here.

Not sure which kinds of DNA you can test for, and the difference between the different tests, please read 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

Questions? Just ask!

Saving Money by Joining the Acadian AmerIndian Project

Please note that DNA testing discounts are available through our project site for people who have never ordered a test from Family Tree DNA previously.

First, click here to go to the Family Tree DNA webpage. Scroll down, then, type the word Acadian into the search box, as shown below. This search process works for surnames as well.

Then, when the results are returned, select the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project and click that link, shown below, to see DNA testing prices available to project members, example shown below.

You’ll need to scroll down to see test prices. The screen shot below only shows a portion of what is available.

DNA testing prices through the project are less than ordering the same test without joining a project.

As A Project Member

Of course, the point of DNA testing and projects is to share.  Family Tree DNA has provided several tools to help genealogists do just that.  We would ask that project members complete the following four easy steps, unless for some reason, you can’t.  For example, adoptees may not have this information.  Just do the best you can.

First, please upload a tree of at least your direct line ancestors at Family Tree DNA.

Just sign in to your personal page and click on “My Family Tree” to get started.

DNA and family trees are extremely powerful tools together – the genetic and genealogy parts of genetic genealogy.

Second, please complete the name and location of your earliest known direct matrilineal ancestor (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line) and your direct patrilineal line (your father’s father’s father’s line) by clicking on the orange “Manage Personal Information” link below your profile photo on the left side of your personal page.

Then, click on the Genealogy Tab, and then click on Earliest Known Ancestors. Please note that you can click on any image to enlarge.

You’ll need to complete:

  • Both Earliest Known Ancestor fields on the left side of the page.
  • Both Ancestral Locations by clicking on the orange “update location” for the patrilineal AND matrilineal ancestor on the right side.

Be sure to click “Save” at the bottom of the page when you’re finished.

Third, under the Privacy and Sharing tab, please consider allowing your Y and mitochondrial DNA results to show on the public page of the project.

When Acadian descendants are searching for projects to join, or information about their ancestral lines, the public project display is often what they find and how they decide if participation or DNA testing is worth their time.

Here is what our public Y DNA project page displays and here is what our mtDNA project page displays.  There is also an option for administrators to display the participants surname, but we do not have this field enabled at this time.  Other projects that you may have joined probably do have this field enabled, and your selection affects all projects of which you are a member.

Under “My Profile,” you’ll see an option to “Share my Earliest Known Ancestor with other people in the projects I’ve joined.”  If you don’t have this option enabled, only a blank space will appear, which doesn’t help anyone determine if you share a common ancestor.

A second option on this page under “My DNA Results is “Make my mtDNA and Y DNA public” which allows your results to show on the public project page.  If you select “project only” then only project members will be able to see your results when logged in to their account. Your results will no show on the public project page unless you select the public option.

Remember to click “save.”

Fourth, if your mitochondrial line (mother’s mother’s mother’s line) is Acadian or Native, you’ll need to provide the project administrators with the ability to see the coding region of your mitochondrial DNA so that your mitochondrial DNA can be properly grouped within the project.  If your direct matrilineal line does NOT pertain to Acadian or Native ancestry, then you’re done.

If your matrilineal line is Native or Acadian, on the Privacy and Sharing page, under “Account Access,” please click on the “Only You” answer to “Who can view my mtDNA Coding Region mutations.”

You will then see a drop down list of the projects you have joined.  You can select any of the projects by clicking the box beside the project.  Only the administrators of the projects you’ve selected can see your coding region results, and you can change this at any time. In my personal account, I’ve selected all of the projects that my mtDNA is relevant to.

Your coding region results are NEVER displayed publicly and no one other than project administrators can see those results.  Family Tree DNA does not offer the option of displaying coding regions in any project.

Again, don’t forget to click “save,” or you haven’t.

Need Help?

Need help? Just ask. We’re here to help.

Project administrators can help you by completing some fields, like most distant ancestor, with your permission, but Privacy and Sharing fields can’t be changed or edited by administrators for everyone’s security.  However, we’d be glad to step you through the process, as would Family Tree DNA customer support.  You can call or contact customer support by scrolling down to the very bottom of your personal page.

Acadian Surnames

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

I compiled the following list of Acadian surnames along with dit names (surname nicknames) from the following Acadian website where you can view which ancestral families were recorded in various census documents including 1671, 1686, 1714 and a deportation list from 1755.

Brenda Dunn’s list was prepared for the Canadian National Parks Service for the Grand Pre National Historic site.

Variant spellings were retrieved from this site and may not be inclusive.

Surname Various Spellings Source
Abbadie, de Saint-Castin d’ Brenda Dunn
Allain Alain, Alin, Allain, Halain, Halin Brenda Dunn
Allard Alard, Allard, Allart, Halard, Hallard Acadian-Cajun.com
Amirault dit Tourangeau Amireau, Amireault, Mero, Miraud, Mirau, Miraux, Mireau, Mireault, Moreau Brenda Dunn
Angou dit Choisy Brenda Dunn
Apart Brenda Dunn
Arcement Brenda Dunn
Arnaud Arnaud, Arnault Brenda Dunn
Arosteguy Brenda Dunn
Arseneau Brenda Dunn
Aubin Aubain, Aubin, Obin Acadian-Cajun.com
Aubois Brenda Dunn
Aucoin Aucoin, Coin, Ocoin Brenda Dunn
Ayor Brenda Dunn
Babin Babain, Babin Brenda Dunn
Babineau dit Deslauriers Babinau, Babineau, Babineaux, Babino, Babinot Brenda Dunn
Barillot Brenda Dunn
Barnabe Acadian-Cajun.com
Barriault Bariau, Bariault, Barieau, Barillault, Barrillaut, Barillon, Barillot, Bario, Barrio Acadian-Cajun.com
Bastarache dit (Le) Basque Brenda Dunn
Bastien Baptien, Basquien, Bastien, Vasquais Brenda Dunn
Beaulieu Baulieu, Baulieux, Beaulieu, Beaulieux Acadian-Cajun.com
Beaumont Beaumon, Beaumont Acadian-Cajun.com
Belisle Belisle, Bellisle, de Bellisle Acadian-Cajun.com
Bellefontaine Bellefontaine, Bellefontenne Acadian-Cajun.com
Belleville Beliveau Brenda Dunn
Belliveau dit Bideau Beliveau Brenda Dunn
Belliveau dit Blondin Brenda Dunn
Belou Brenda Dunn
Benoit dit Labriere Benois, Benoist, Benoit Brenda Dunn
Bergereau Brenda Dunn
Bergeron d’Amboise Brenda Dunn
Bergeron dit Nantes Bargeron, Bergeon, Bergeron, Berjeron Brenda Dunn
Bernard Bernar, Bernard Brenda Dunn
Berrier dit Machefer Brenda Dunn
Bertaud dit Montaury Brenda Dunn
Bertrand Bartrand, Berterand, Bertran, Bertrand, Bertrant Brenda Dunn
Bezier dit Lariviere Brenda Dunn
Bezier dit Touin Brenda Dunn
Bideau Acadian-Cajun.com
Blanchard dit Gentilhomme Blanchar, Blanchard, Blanchart Brenda Dunn
Blondin Blondain, Blondin Acadian-Cajun.com
Blou Acadian-Cajun.com
Bodard Brenda Dunn
Boisseau dit Blondin Boissau, Boisseau, Boisseaux Brenda Dunn
Bonnevie dit Beaumont Brenda Dunn
Borel Brenda Dunn
Boucher dit Desroches Bouché, Boucher, Bouchez Brenda Dunn
Boudreau Boudrau, Boudraut, Boudreau, Boudro, Boudrot Acadian-Cajun.com
Boudrot Brenda Dunn
Bourg Bourc, Bourg, Bourgue, Bourk, Bourque Brenda Dunn
Bourgeois Bourgeois, Bourgois, Bourjois Brenda Dunn
Boutin Boudin, Boutain, Boutin, Bouttain, Bouttin Brenda Dunn
Brassaud Brenda Dunn
Brasseur dit Mathieu Brasseur, Brasseux Brenda Dunn
Breau Brenda Dunn
Breton Berton, Breton, Lebreton Acadian-Cajun.com
Brossard Brosard, Brossar, Brossard, Brossart, Broussard Brenda Dunn
Brun Brun, Lebrun Brenda Dunn
Bugaret Brenda Dunn
Bugeaud Brenda Dunn
Buisson Buisson, Busson, Dubuisson Brenda Dunn
Buote Brenda Dunn
Buteau Butau, Butaud, Buteau, Buteux, Buto, Butteau Brenda Dunn
Cadet Caddé, Cadet, Cadette Acadian-Cajun.com
Caissy dit Roger Brenda Dunn
Calve dit Laforge Brenda Dunn
Carre Caray, Caré, Caret, Carr, Carré, Carret Brenda Dunn
Cassy dit Roger Brenda Dunn
Celestin dit Bellemere Brenda Dunn
Cellier dit Normand Brenda Dunn
Champagne Champagne, Champaigne Acadian-Cajun.com
Chauvert Acadian-Cajun.com
Chauvet Chauvet, Chauvette, Chovet Brenda Dunn
Chenet dit Dubreuil Chenay, Chenet, Chenette, Chesnay Brenda Dunn
Chesnay dit Lagarene Brenda Dunn
Chiasson dit La Vallee Chiasson, Giasson Brenda Dunn
Chouteau dit Manseau Brenda Dunn
Clemenceau Brenda Dunn
Cloustre Brenda Dunn
Cochu Cochu, Cochus Acadian-Cajun.com
Cognac Cognac, Coignac Brenda Dunn
Comeau Brenda Dunn
Cormier dit Bossigaol Cormié, Cormier, Cornier Brenda Dunn
Cormier dit Thierry Brenda Dunn
Cornelier Brenda Dunn
Corporon Brenda Dunn
Cosse Acadian-Cajun.com
Cosset Cosset, Cossette Brenda Dunn
Coste Brenda Dunn
Cottard Brenda Dunn
Cousineau Brenda Dunn
Crepeau Crepau, Crepaux, Crepeau, Crepeaux, Crepos, Crespau, Crespeau, Crespel Brenda Dunn
Creysac dit Toulouse Brenda Dunn
Cyr Cir, Cire, Cyr, Cyre, Sir, Sire, Siree, Syr, Syre Brenda Dunn
Daigle Daigle. Daigles, Dehegue Acadian-Cajun.com
Daigre Brenda Dunn
Damboue Acadian-Cajun.com
D’Amours de Chauffours Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Clignancour Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Freneuse Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Louviere Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Plaine Brenda Dunn
Daniel Daniel, Daniele, Danielle, Deniel Brenda Dunn
Darois Brenda Dunn
David dit Pontif Davi, David, Davit, Davy Brenda Dunn
Debreuil Acadian-Cajun.com
Delatour Delatour, Latour Acadian-Cajun.com
Delisle Delile, Delille, Delisle, Delisles, Brenda Dunn
Denis Deni, Denis, Dennis, Denys Brenda Dunn
D’Entremont Acadian-Cajun.com
Denys de Fronsac Brenda Dunn
Depeux Acadian-Cajun.com
Derayer Brenda Dunn
Desaulniers Desaulnier, Desaulniers, Desaunié, Desaunier, Desauniers Acadian-Cajun.com
Deschamps dit Cloche Dechamp, Dechamps, Dechant, Deschamps Brenda Dunn
Desgoutins Brenda Dunn
Desmoulins Demoulin, Desmoulin, Desmoulins, Dumoulin Brenda Dunn
Desorcis Acadian-Cajun.com
Després Depre, Depres, Despre, Despres, Desprez Brenda Dunn
Devaux Acadian-Cajun.com
Deveau dit Dauphine Devau, Devaux, Deveau, Deveaux, Devot, Devots Brenda Dunn
Dingle Brenda Dunn
Doiron Doiron, Douairon, Doueron Brenda Dunn
Domine dit Saint-Sauveur Brenda Dunn
Donat Acadian-Cajun.com
Douaron Acadian-Cajun.com
Doucet dit Laverdure Doucet, Doucette Brenda Dunn
Doucet dit Lirlandois Brenda Dunn
Doucet dit Mayard Brenda Dunn
Druce Brenda Dunn
Dubois dit Dumont Debois, Desbois, Dubois, Duboy Brenda Dunn
Dufault Dufau, Dufault, Dufaut, Dufaux, Duffault, Duffaut, Duffaux, Dufo, Dufos, Duphaut Brenda Dunn
Dugas Duga, Dugas, Dugast, Dugat Brenda Dunn
Duguay Dugai, Dugaie, Dugay, Duguay, Dugué Brenda Dunn
Dumont Dumon, Dumond, Dumont Acadian-Cajun.com
Duon dit Lyonnais Brenda Dunn
Dupeux Acadian-Cajun.com
Duplessis Duplaissy, Duplassis, Duplassy, Duplecy, Duplesis, Duplessis, Duplessy, Placy Brenda Dunn
Dupuis Dupui, Dupuis, Dupuit, Dupuits, Dupuy, Dupuys Brenda Dunn
Egan Brenda Dunn
Emmanuel Acadian-Cajun.com
Esperance Lespérance, Lesperence Acadian-Cajun.com
Fardel Acadian-Cajun.com
Flan Brenda Dunn
Fontaine dit Beaulieu Delafontaine, Fonteine, Lafontaine, Lafonteine, Lafonteinne Brenda Dunn
Forest Fores, Forêt, Laforêt, Laforest Brenda Dunn
Foret Forest Acadian-Cajun.com
Forton Brenda Dunn
Fougere Brenda Dunn
Fournier Fournié, Lefournier Brenda Dunn
Froiquingont Brenda Dunn
Gadrau Brenda Dunn
Galerne Brenda Dunn
Galle Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Boutin Garco, Garso, Garsot Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Richard Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Tranchemontagne Brenda Dunn
Gardet Gardai, Garday, Gardé Brenda Dunn
Gareau Garau, Garaud Brenda Dunn
Gaudet Gaudais, Gaudé, Gaudette, Godé, Godet, Godete, Godette Acadian-Cajun.com
Gauterot Brenda Dunn
Gauthier Gaultier, Gautier, Gotier Brenda Dunn
Gentil Brenda Dunn
Giboire Duverge dit Lamotte Brenda Dunn
Girouard Geroir, Gerroir, Giouard, Giroir, Girroir, Jirouard Brenda Dunn
Gise Brenda Dunn
Godin Boisjoli Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Beausejour Gaudain, Gauden, Gaudin, Godain, Goddin, Godin Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Bellefeuille Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Bellefontaine Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Catalogne Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Chatillon Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Lincour Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Preville Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Valcour Brenda Dunn
Godon Gandon, Gaudon, Godon Brenda Dunn
Gosselin Gaucelin, Gauscelin, Gausselin, Goscelin, Gosselain Brenda Dunn
Goudreau Gaudrau, Gaudrault, Gaudreau, Gaudreault, Gaudro, Godereau, Godrault, Godreault, Godro, Godrot, Goodrow Brenda Dunn
Gougeon Gougeon, Gougon, Goujon, Goujou Acadian-Cajun.com
Gourdeau Acadian-Cajun.com
Gousille Acadian-Cajun.com
Gousman Brenda Dunn
Gouzille Brenda Dunn
Grandmaison Degrandmaison Brenda Dunn
Granger Brenda Dunn
Gravois Brenda Dunn
Grosvalet Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Labine Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Labrador Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Laverdure Brenda Dunn
Guedry Grivois Guidry, Guildry Brenda Dunn
Gueguen Brenda Dunn
Guenard Brenda Dunn
Guerin dit LaForge Guerrin Brenda Dunn
Guilbault Guibau, Guibaut, Guibeau, Guibo, Guilbau, Guilbaud, Guilbaux, Guilbeau, Guillebault, Guillbeau, Guilbaut Acadian-Cajun.com
Guilbeau Brenda Dunn
Guillot Brenda Dunn
Guy dit Tintamarre Degui, Deguy, Gui Brenda Dunn
Guyon Dion, Dionne, Gion, Guillon, Guion, Gyon, Yon Brenda Dunn
Hache dit Gallant Brenda Dunn
Hamel Amel, Amell, Emmel, Hamell, Hamelle, Hornel Brenda Dunn
Hamet Brenda Dunn
Hamon Brenda Dunn
Hébert dit Manuel Abaire, Abare, Abbot, Ebart, Éber, Ébert, Heber, Heberd, Hébere, Herber, Herbert, Hesbert, Hibbart, Hubert Brenda Dunn
Helys dit Nouvelle Brenda Dunn
Henry dit Robert Henri Brenda Dunn
Hensaule Brenda Dunn
Heon Brenda Dunn
Herpin Arpin, Guertin, Harpin, Hertin Acadian-Cajun.com
Heuse Brenda Dunn
Hugon Brenda Dunn
Jasmin Jassemin Acadian-Cajun.com
Jeanson Jeansonne Brenda Dunn
Joseph Brenda Dunn
Kimine Brenda Dunn
Labarre Delabarre, Labar, Labard Brenda Dunn
Labat, dit Le Marguis, de Labatte Brenda Dunn
LaBauve Brenda Dunn
Lachaume Delachaume Brenda Dunn
Lacroix Delacroix Brenda Dunn
Lafond Lafon, Lafont Acadian-Cajun.com
Lafont Acadian-Cajun.com
Lagasse Lagace, Lagacee, Lagassee, Lagassees, Lagasset Acadian-Cajun.com
Lalande dit Bonnappetit Delalande, Lalande Brenda Dunn
Laliberte Laliberte, Liberte Acadian-Cajun.com
Lambert Lamber, Lembert Brenda Dunn
Lambourt Brenda Dunn
Lamontagne Delamontagne, Montagne Acadian-Cajun.com
Landrom Brenda Dunn
Landry Landri, Landrie, Landril, Landrille, Lendry Brenda Dunn
Langlois Anglais, Anglois, Langlais, Langloi, Langlouois Brenda Dunn
Lanoue Brenda Dunn
Lapierre dit LaRoche Delapierre, Lapeer, Pierre Brenda Dunn
Latour Acadian-Cajun.com
Laurier Lauriere,Lorier Acadian-Cajun.com
LaVache Brenda Dunn
Lavallée Lavale, Lavalee, Vale, Valee, Valle, Vallee Acadian-Cajun.com
Lavergne Laverne Brenda Dunn
Lavigne Delavigne Brenda Dunn
Lebasque Acadian-Cajun.com
Lebert dit Jolycoeur Abare, Hébert, Labare, LeBear, Leber, Leberre, Libest Brenda Dunn
Leblanc dit Jasmin Blanc, Leblan, Lebland, Leblant Brenda Dunn
LeBorgne dit Belisle Brenda Dunn
Lebreton Berton, Beurton Acadian-Cajun.com
Leclerc dit Laverdure Clair, Claire, Clerc, Leclair, Leclaire, Lecler, Leclerq Brenda Dunn
Lecul Brenda Dunn
Lefebvre Febur, Febvre, Lefaivre, Lefebre, Lefebur, Lefeuvre, Lefevre Acadian-Cajun.com
Leger dit La Rozette Legere, Legey, St-Leger Brenda Dunn
Lejeune dit Briard Jeune, Lejeunne Brenda Dunn
LeJuge Brenda Dunn
Lemaistre Acadian-Cajun.com
LeMarquis dit Clermont Brenda Dunn
Lemire Lemir, Lemirre, Lemyre, Lemyrre, Mire Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de Beaubassin Lenef, Leneuf Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de Boisneuf Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de LaValliere Brenda Dunn
L’Enfant Brenda Dunn
LePoupet de Saint-Aubin Brenda Dunn
LePrieur dit Dubois Brenda Dunn
LePrince Brenda Dunn
Leroy Leroi, Roi, Roy Brenda Dunn
L’Eschevin dit Billy Brenda Dunn
Lespérance Delesperance, Lesperence Acadian-Cajun.com
Lessoile Acadian-Cajun.com
LeVanier dit Langevin Brenda Dunn
LeVasseur dit Chamberlange Brenda Dunn
Leveille Leveiller, Leveillez, Leveillie, Leveillier Brenda Dunn
Levron dit Nantois Leveron Brenda Dunn
Loiseau Laiseau, Laizeau, Loisau, Loisseau, Loizeau, Loseau, Loyseau, Lozeau Brenda Dunn
Long Brenda Dunn
Longuepee Brenda Dunn
Loppinot Brenda Dunn
Lord dit Montagne Lore Brenda Dunn
Lort Acadian-Cajun.com
Lucas Luca Brenda Dunn
Lyonnais Acadian-Cajun.com
Maffier Brenda Dunn
Maillard Acadian-Cajun.com
Maillet Brenda Dunn
Maisonnat dit Baptiste Brenda Dunn
Malboeuf Malbeuf Brenda Dunn
Mangeant dit Saint Germain Brenda Dunn
Manseau Manceau, Mansau Acadian-Cajun.com
Marcadet Brenda Dunn
Marchand dit Poitiers Marchan, Marchant Brenda Dunn
Marres dit LaSonde Brenda Dunn
Martel Martelle Brenda Dunn
Martil Acadian-Cajun.com
Martin dit Barnabe Martain Brenda Dunn
Massé Macé, Macés, Masset, Massey Brenda Dunn
Massie Brenda Dunn
Mathieu Mathieux, Matthieux Brenda Dunn
Maucaire Brenda Dunn
Mazerolle dit Saint Louis Brenda Dunn
Melanson dit LaRamee
Melanson dit Laverdure Melanson, Melençon, Melenson, Menançon Brenda Dunn
Mercier dit Caudebec Lemercier, Mersier Brenda Dunn
Messaguay Brenda Dunn
Meunier Megné, Menié, Mesnier, Meusnier, Munier, Musnier Brenda Dunn
Michaud Michau, Michault, Michaut, Michaux, Micheau Acadian-Cajun.com
Michel dit LaRuine Bichel, Miché, Michelle, Micher Brenda Dunn
Migneau dit Aubin Mignau, Mignaud, Mignault, Mignaux, Migneaux, Mignot, Migneau Brenda Dunn
Mignier dit Lagasse Brenda Dunn
Mignot Mignau, Mignaud, Mignault, Mignaux, Migneaux, Mignot Brenda Dunn
Mirande Brenda Dunn
Mius d’Azit Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
Mius de Entremont de Plemarais Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
Monmellian dit Saint Germain Brenda Dunn
Mordant Brenda Dunn
Morin dit Boucher Maurain, Maurin, Morrin Brenda Dunn
Morpain Brenda Dunn
Moulaison dit Recontre Brenda Dunn
Mouton Brenda Dunn
Moyse dit Latreille Brenda Dunn
Muis de Entremont de Pobomcoup Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
NaQuin dit L’Etoile Brenda Dunn
Nogues Brenda Dunn
Nuirat Brenda Dunn
Olivier Oliver, Olivie, Ollivier Brenda Dunn
Ondy Acadian-Cajun.com
Onel O’Neale Brenda Dunn
Orillon dit Champagne Aurillon, Aurion, Orion, Oriont Brenda Dunn
Oudy Brenda Dunn
Ozelet Brenda Dunn
Paris Deparis, Parisis, Parisse, Pary Acadian-Cajun.com
Parisien Leparisien, Parisiens, Parizien Acadian-Cajun.com
Part Brenda Dunn
Pellerin Pelerin, Pelrin Brenda Dunn
Pesseley Acadian-Cajun.com
Petitot dit Saint Sceine Brenda Dunn
Petitpas Brenda Dunn
Pichot Brenda Dunn
Picot Brenda Dunn
Pincer Brenda Dunn
Pinet Brenda Dunn
Pitre dit Marc Lepitre, Pistre, Piter, Pittre Brenda Dunn
Poirier Poerier, Poirie, Poiriers, Poirrier, Porier, Poyrie, Poyrier Brenda Dunn
Poitevin dit Cadieux Lapoitevin, Paudevin, Poidevin, Poitvin, Potdevin, Potevin, Potvin Brenda Dunn
Poitevin dit Parisien Lapoitevin, Paudevin, Poidevin, Poitvin, Potdevin, Potevin, Potvin Brenda Dunn
Poitier Brenda Dunn
Porlier Brenda Dunn
Pothier Pauthier, Pautier, Poitié, Poitier, Poitiers, Potier, Potiers, Pottier Acadian-Cajun.com
Poujet dit Lapierre Brenda Dunn
Poulet Acadian-Cajun.com
Poupard Poupar, Poupare, Poupart Brenda Dunn
Prejean dit LeBreton Pregeant, Pregent, Prejan Brenda Dunn
Pretieux Brenda Dunn
Pugnant dit Destouches Brenda Dunn
Racois dit Desrosiers Brenda Dunn
Raymond Raimon, Raimond, Raymont, Raymon, Remond, Remont Brenda Dunn
Renaud dit Provencal Rainaud, Raynaud, Raynalt, Regnault, Regneault, Renau, Renauld, Renault, Renaut, Renaux, Reneau, Reneault, Renaux, Renod Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Beaupri Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Boutin Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Lafont Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Sancoucy Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Rimbeau Rimbaut Brenda Dunn
Rivet Rivais, Rive, Rivest, Rivette, Rivez Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Cades Robichau Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Niganne Robichau Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Prudent Robichau Brenda Dunn
Rodoham Brenda Dunn
Rodrigue dit DeFonds Rodrigues, Rodriguez Brenda Dunn
Rossette Roucet, Roucette, Rouset, Rousette Acadian-Cajun.com
Rousse dit Languedoc Leroux, Rousse, Roux Brenda Dunn
Roy dit Laliberte Leroi, Roi, Roy Brenda Dunn
Rullier Brenda Dunn
Saindon Brenda Dunn
Saint Etienne de La Tour, de Brenda Dunn
Saint Julien de La Chaussee, de Brenda Dunn
Saint Scene Acadian-Cajun.com
Samson Sanson Brenda Dunn
Saulnier Saunier Brenda Dunn
Sauvage dit Chrystophe Sauvages, Sauvagesse, Sauvaget, Savage Brenda Dunn
Sauvage dit Forgeron Sauvages, Sauvagesse, Sauvaget, Savage Brenda Dunn
Savary Brenda Dunn
Savoie Brenda Dunn
Semer Brenda Dunn
Sereau Serot, Serreau Brenda Dunn
Serreau de Saint-Aubin Brenda Dunn
Simon dit Boucher Cimon Acadian-Cajun.com
Simoneau Simonau,   Simonaud, Simoneaux, Simonneau, Simono, Acadian-Cajun.com
Soulard Soular, Soulard, Soulart, Soullard Brenda Dunn
Soulevent Brenda Dunn
Surette Brenda Dunn
Tandau Brenda Dunn
Teriot Teriau, Teriaut, Teriot, Terriau, Terriaux, Terriau, Terriaux, Terriot, Theriault, Theriaux, Therieau Brenda Dunn
Testard dit Parish Testar, Testard, Tetard, Tetart Brenda Dunn
Thebeau Brenda Dunn
Thibault Brenda Dunn
Thibeau Acadian-Cajun.com
Thibodeau Brenda Dunn
Tillard Brenda Dunn
Tourangeau Tourangeau, Tourangeaux Acadian-Cajun.com
Tourneur Brenda Dunn
Toussaint dit Lajeunesse Tousain, Toussain, Toussaint, Toussin, Touzin Brenda Dunn
Trahan Brenda Dunn
Triel dit LaPerriere Brenda Dunn
Turcot Brenda Dunn
Turpin dit LaGiroflee Brenda Dunn
Vallois Brenda Dunn
Veco Acadian-Cajun.com
Vescot Brenda Dunn
Viger Brenda Dunn
Vigneau dit Maurice Vignau, Vignault, Vignaux, Vigneau, Vigneaux Brenda Dunn
Villatte Vilatte Brenda Dunn
Vincent dit Clement Vincant, Vincent Brenda Dunn
Voyer Brenda Dunn
Yvon Acadian-Cajun.com

 Additional Resources

In addition to the resources utilized to compile the Acadian surnames listed above, we recommend the following resources for genealogical research:

  • View the Acadian family tree contributed and maintained by genealogist Karen Theriot Reader at this link.
  • The Acadian Rootsweb list hosted by Paul LeBlanc provides an invaluable resource for sharing information.  To subscribe to the list, please send an email to ACADIAN-request@rootsweb.com with the word ‘subscribe’ without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message.  If you are not already a member, you can browse the archives here or you can search the Acadian list archives for keywords like surnames by utilizing the search engine here.
  • Please visit the Family Heritage Research Community to read exciting articles about how real people like you discovered their roots by way of DNA testing.

Additional projects administered by Roberta Estes and Marie Rundquist that may be relevant to Acadian descendants include:

Thank You

We want to extend a big thank you to the incredible members of the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project for recruiting new members, for their individual research, and for sharing so willingly. A project is only as strong as the members!

We hope you’ll be joining us soon!

Photography Credit

The location photos used in this article were taken this summer at the Annapolis Royal Historic Site, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and the Grand Pre UNESCO World Heritage Site by Marie Rundquist. Thanks to Marie for being our project ambassador, for permission to use her photography here and on the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project page as well.

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You?

One of the most common questions I receive, especially in light of the interest in ethnicity testing, is how much of an ancestor’s DNA someone “should” share.

The chart above shows how much of a particular generation of ancestors’ DNA you would inherit if each generation between you and that ancestor inherited exactly 50% of that ancestor’s DNA from their parent. This means, on the average, you will carry less than 1% of each of your 5 times great-grandparents DNA, shown in generation 7, in total. You’ll carry about 1.56% of each of your 4 times great-grandparents, your 6th generation ancestors, and so forth.

As you can see, if you’re looking for a Native American ancestor, for example, who is 7 generations back in your tree, if you carry the average amount of DNA from that ancestor, it will be less than 1% which will be under the noise threshold for detection – and that’s assuming they were 100% Native at that time.

Everyone inherits 50% of their DNA from their parents, but not everyone inherits half of each of their ancestors’ DNA from a parent. Sometimes, the child will inherit all of a segment of DNA from an ancestor, and in other cases, the child will inherit none. In some cases, they will inherit half or a portion of the DNA from an ancestor. In reality, the DNA segments are very seldom divided exactly in half, but all we can deal with are averages when discussing how much DNA you “should” receive from an ancestor, based on where they are in your tree.

The generational relationship chart above represents the average that you will inherit from each of those ancestors. Of course, few people are actually average, and you may not be either. In other words, your ancestor’s DNA may not be detectible at 5, 6 or 7 generations, because it was lost in generations between them and you, while another ancestor’s DNA is still present in detectable amounts at 8 or 9 generations.

How Does Inheritance of Ancestral Segments Actually Work?

For you to inherit a particular segment from one GGGGG-grandparent, the inheritance might look something like this. “You” are at the bottom of the tree. You can click on any graphic to enlarge.

In the above example, you inherited one tenth of the segment from your GGGGG-grandparent which was one third of the DNA that your parent carried in that segment from that ancestor.

A second example is every bit as likely, shown below.

In this second scenario, you inherited nothing of that segment from your GGGGG-grandparent.

A third scenario is also a possibility.

In this third scenario, you inherited all of the DNA from that ancestor as your parent.

Now, think of these three scenarios as three different siblings inheriting from the same parent, and you’ll understand why siblings carry different amounts of DNA from their ancestors.

Of course, the child can only inherit what the parent has inherited from that ancestor, and if that particular segment was gone in the parent’s generation, or generations before the parent, the child certainly can’t inherit the segment. There is no such thing as “skipping generations.”

In this fourth scenario, the parent didn’t receive any of the segment from the GGGGG-grandparent, but maybe their brother or sister did, which is why you want to test aunts and uncles. Testing everyone in your family available from the oldest generation is absolutely critical.

This, of course, is exactly why we test as many relatives as we can. Everyone inherits different amounts of segments of DNA from our common ancestors. This is also why we map our matching segments to those ancestors by triangulating with cousins – to identify which pieces of our DNA came from which ancestor.

Seeing examples of how inheritance works helps us understand that there is no “one answer” to the question we want to know about each ancestor – “How much of you is in me?” The answer is, “it depends” and the actual amount would be different for every ancestor except your parents, where the answer is always 50%.

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Disclosure

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

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research