Best DNA Test For Native American Ancestry

April 6, 2017

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. 

The DNA tests offered by the companies recommended in this article cannot be used to legally establish Native American ancestry. The tests can be used to confirm Native American ancestry and determine the validity of the decision to pursue tribal enrollment.

Ancestry-Best DNA Test For Native American

Our Recommendations 

Here’s our list of your top options for a successful and reliable confirmation of your Native American ancestry:

  • AncestryDNA 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 regarding Native Americans and DNA testing. Let’s go over some of the most prominent misconceptions.

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

Even if your ancestors descended from a certain tribe, you cannot join that tribe 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 may also have to document your connection to a certain tribal member, which adds a genealogical note to this endeavor.

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

Testing Types Of Native American DNA

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 – This type of testing checks your “autosomal chromosomes,” meaning pairs 1-22. It will confirm or negate Native American genetic heritage, but it will not pinpoint the family line with Native American genes.
  • Y-chromosome testing (direct paternal line) – This test, which is used to explores your paternal line, is 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 can find and follow a relevant paper trail. If you want to go further into the past, ancestry DNA testing is your only option.

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