People have all sorts of motivations for doing an Ancestry DNA test. One popular reason is to search for Native American Ancestry, or to confirm it. This leads to an obvious question: Does Ancestry DNA Test For Native American ancestry?
In this article, I’ll show you what Native American results look like on the Ancestry DNA test, and talk a little bit about why this ethnicity will (or won’t) show up on your DNA results. The quick answer to your original question is that Ancestry DNA does test for Native American ancestry.
What is Native American ethnicity?
I’m planning to write a much more extensive explanation for another post, but for now a short description will do. Here are some quick facts:
- The Native American ethnicity, as reported by Ancestry DNA, covers both North and South America, including islands in the Caribbean, and Central America.
- The generally accepted explanation as to why Native American DNA found in Canada is very similar to that found in Guatemala, for example, is that all indigenous Americans are descended from two small original “populating” groups that traveled from East Asia to North America through what is now Alaska.
- These small groups of people thrived, and quickly populated both continents.
- For thousands of years, these communities never (very, very rarely) admixed (mixed genetically) with people from other areas, and that is why there is a strong genetic connection between their descendants – even today.
(Fun fact: There is evidence that some of these original Native Americans actually migrated back to Asia to stay! Scientists are able to determine that this occurred through the study of mitochondrial DNA.)
Does Ancestry test for Native American?
A close friend from Latin America and he shows a very high percentage of Native American. Most people from Latin American countries show at least a small percentage of Native American DNA, and many show large percentages. Ancestry DNA will pick up on your Native American ethnicity, as long as it is higher than 0%. This is what it will look like if you have some show up in yours:
The Ancestry DNA test is sensitive, so it can pick up on a wide variety of ranges. Here is the Native American ethnicity of another family member:
And yet another family member shows an even smaller amount of Native American:
Even if you only have a minute “trace” of potential Native American ancestry, it might show up. In the results below, the person might have zero Native American, but the test picked up an amount large enough to state that there is a possibility of 1%:
If the test picks up on absolutely no Native American DNA, then it will display a very definitive 0%, and a range of 0%-0%:
(Note: If your Ancestry DNA test shows no Native American ethnicity, it is still possible to have a Native American ancestor. The ancestor is probably too far back in your tree to show up in your DNA.)
So What Does It Mean if Native American DNA Shows Up in My Results?
If you find out that you have Native American ethnicity in your DNA, it means that you have ancestors tracing back to the original inhabitants of North and South America. In order to figure out where you got your Native American, you will need to resort to traditional genealogy: building a family tree and finding the paper trail.
It’s important to note that there is no 100% reliable genetic genealogy DNA test that can tell you which “tribe” you descend from. There are some companies working on developing a test that can tease out more information from the Native American ethnicity, and I would assume that as soon as it becomes possible to accurately do so, Ancestry would add this to their ethnicity estimate information. For now, we are limited to the general “Native American” classification.
Additionally, there are no Native American tribes in the United States (as of 2017) that accept a DNA test as proof for membership. If you do find Native American DNA in your results, you will have to do traditional research to find your Native American ancestors, and then check with the individual tribe to determine if you qualify for membership.
If you have a high percentage of Native American (over 10%, approximately), there is a chance that Ancestry DNA will place you in a Genetic Community. This can help give you a clue about where you got your Native American ancestry, and where to look to trace your family tree.
There are many reasons to be curious about whether or not you have Native American ethnicity in your DNA, and how much you might have. No matter the reason that you are interested, I wish you the best of luck in your search.
Are you thinking of doing a DNA test to see if you have Native American ancestors? If you found Native American in your DNA, were you surprised, or was it more or less than you expected? Were you able to trace your family tree? I would love to hear your story in the comments.
Thanks for stopping by!