Does Iberian Peninsula Mean Native American?

Many people are puzzled when they get their Ancestry DNA, 23 and Me, or Family Tree DNA results back and see that they have a percentage of Iberian.  A question that sometimes comes to mind, especially because of some misinformation that has been spreading online, is whether or not having Iberian ethnicity also means that someone is Native American.

In this post, you will learn:

  • Whether Iberian is Native American
  • A little about appearance and Iberian DNA
  • What it really means to have Iberian ancestry

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Does Iberian Peninsula mean Native American?

The answer to this question is a resounding “no”.  The native peoples of the United States, and other North American countries, had no DNA connection to those of the Iberian Peninsula before the arrival of Europeans about 500 years ago. 

If you have Iberian in your DNA results, it simply means that you have ancestors who lived on the Iberian Peninsula at some point – though it could have been a very long time ago, and you might not be able to trace your family back that far.

An important item to mention: If you have Iberian Peninsula and you have Native American on your results, there are a few common reasons that this might have happened. 

You might have ancestors who descend from Spanish-speaking North or South America, who could likely have had both Native American and Iberian admixture.  But just because you see both Iberian and Native American, it doesn’t automatically mean you have Hispanic heritage, as some people say. 

It could also be that you have Native American ancestors from the US, along with European ancestors who descended from countries with a high Iberian percentage.

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Appearance:  What do Iberians look like?

This question leads me to the discussion of the reason that many people do a DNA test in the first place.  They are wondering if their olive skin, dark eyes, and dark hair mean that they have Native American ancestry. 

I’m not judging – I promise.  We had a very similar situation in our family, and boy were we surprised by what we found using DNA.

Finding Iberian DNA in test results might lead some people to try to find out what Iberian people look like, in order to find some sort of explanation for their looks.  If their olive-toned complexions cannot be explained by having Native American ancestry, then maybe it comes from the Iberian?

While there is no “typical” way that someone from the Iberian Peninsula “looks”, you could just take a look at the geography of the region in order to get an idea of the types of features that are common to people native to the region.   Spain, which is the biggest country on the peninsula, is separated from Morocco (North Africa) by the Strait of Gibraltar. 

In addition, Spain lies close to France, which is connected by land to Italy.  There has also historically been trade and travel with Italy.

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What it really means to have Iberian ancestry

If you have found Iberian ancestry in your DNA results, you might be wondering what it really means.  There is no easy answer to this question, but I will give you a list of possibilities. 

In order to determine which situation most closely applies to you and your family, you will have to take a good look at your family tree (and start building one if you haven’t already).

Here are some ideas on how you might have inherited the Iberian ethnicity:

  • You have a relatively recent ancestor from Portugal, Spain, France, or Italy
  • You have many ancestors with Iberian ancestry, common in the United States as well as Latin American countries
  • You are of Hispanic descent
  • You are of French-Canadian descent
  • You are descended from families who have long histories in French Louisiana
  • A combination of the above, or something different

As you can see, there are all sorts of explanations as to why you might have inherited the Iberian Peninsula ethnicity.  In order to really know, you will have to do some of the more traditional research and see where it leads you. 

I like building my family trees on Ancestry, and it’s easiest to use with a subscription (you can get a two-week trial by using this sponsored link: Ancestry Free Trial )

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I hope that this post has helped explain a little bit about whether Iberian Peninsula means Native American, and what it really means to have Iberian Peninsula DNA.  If you have any questions or comments, or would like to share your story about when you found Iberian Peninsula in your DNA results, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

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