There are numerous reasons why someone would want to take a DNA test to confirm Native American ancestry. Most commonly, people expect to receive some sort of financial assistance after they prove their Native American heritage. Other reasons include wanting to find and join an ancestral tribe or honor hidden and persecuted ancestors. Some people simply want to know the truth or undo some of the wrongs from of the past.
Regardless of specific reasons, people are willing to tap into their DNA in order to find lost information and complete the puzzle of their genetic origins. Our today’s blog will start off by providing a list of our top DNA ancestry testing solutions for your genetic exploration. Then, we’ll disperse some popular myths associated with Native American origins and DNA testing. Finally, we’ll talk about the types of DNA tests and ultimately go over the potential scope and limits of DNA testing.
Here’s our list of your top options for a successful and reliable confirmation of your Native American ancestry:
- AncestryDNA – Ancestry.com is still more focused on genealogical research than genetic analysis. We would recommend it as an excellent tool to complement your genetic exploration but not as a stand-alone test to prove Native American heritage.
- Family Tree DNA– Apart from the standard autosomal, Y-chromosome, and mitochondrial DNA testing, Family Tree DNA also runs a project specifically dedicated to uncovering Native American heritage.
- 23andMe – This company offers traditional autosomal testing with admixture percentages. You can also receive health-related results for an extra fee. Their paternal and maternal haplogroups, however, are less accurate than the ones offered by Family Tree DNA or National Geographic’s Genographic Project.
- National Geographic’s Genographic Project 2.0 – This is the youngest test in this group but goes deeper into the past than other tests. You’ll be able to check Native American heritage on both sides of your family and even get anthropological results.
Dispersing The Myths
There are many popular myths when it comes to Native Americans and DNA testing. We’re about to bust the most prominent ones and set the right tone for the rest of the blog. So, without further ado, let’s go over some of the most common misconceptions and inaccuracies.
Native Americans Get Free College
This is not true by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes, individual tribes might offer scholarships and grants for their official members. There isn’t any law granting college financial relief to particular Native American tribes.
Joining A Tribe Is Easy
The fact that your ancestors descended from a certain tribe doesn’t mean you can just join automatically. Native American tribes are sovereign nations and they have full discretion in determining their membership criteria. They usually set a so-called “blood quantum,” which represents the required percentage of native blood. You’ll also have to document your connection to a certain tribal member, which adds a genealogical note to this endeavor. Some tribes require 25% native heritage, others 1/16 th Native heritage. This translates to your great-great-grandparent. So, if you don’t already know who in your family was a member of a certain tribe, it’s hard to imagine you’ll be able to meet the required blood quantum.
DNA Testing Also Reveals My Tribe
Ancestry DNA tests will be able to show your Native American origins and even isolate your direct paternal or maternal lines if you perform Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA testing as opposed to autosomal. On the other hand, DNA tests will only be able to infer your specific tribe in some cases. Tribes have changed their names and locations over the years and science has a tough time trying to catch up. Furthermore, the database of Native Americans who have performed ancestry DNA tests still remains rather small and scattered across different DNA testing companies
Types Of Native American DNA Testing
There are no specific subgroups of DNA tests designed for Native American ancestry. Similar to Jewish or any other origins, you have the following tests at our disposal:
- Autosomal testing These tests will check your “autosomal chromosomes,” meaning pairs 1-22. They will definitively confirm or deny Native American genetic heritage, but they won’t be able to pinpoint the family line with Native American genes.
- Y-chromosome testing (direct paternal line) The Y-chromosome is used to test the paternal side of the family and it’s only available to males since females don’t have the Y chromosome.
- Mitochondrial testing (direct maternal line) Mitochondrial DNA is used to explore potential Native American heritage in your maternal family tree.
After offering our recommendations and dispersing the most common myths regarding Native American ancestry, we believe it’s quite obvious that DNA testing is the only way of establishing a potential genetic link to a recognized tribe. Genealogical exploration can take you only so far, a few generations in the past at best, and only if you’re able to find and follow a relevant paper trail. If you want to go further than that, ancestry DNA testing providers are the only link you’ll have at your disposal.
We hope our guide managed to shine some additional light on the matter and familiarize you with the entire process enough to enable you to make a fully informed choice and decide on the best testing company for your needs.