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Native American DNA Haplogroups

Are you wondering what are the most common Native American haplogroups seen on mtDNA or Y-DNA results? In this post, I’ll give you information about which haplogroups people with Native American ancestry find the most in their DNA results.

This list of Native American DNA haplogroups will help you learn whether your direct maternal or paternal line can be traced to the indigenous peoples of North and South America.

Native American DNA Haplogroups

Our mtDNA haplogroup traces our direct maternal line. In other words, it can provide information about our mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother (etc). Our Y-DNA teaches us about the origins of our father’s father’s father’s father’s father (etc).

It is important to note that our direct paternal and maternal lines only account for about 1-2% of our total ancestors. This means that you can still have Native American heritage and have maternal or paternal haplogroups from different parts of the world.

How do they know which haplogroups are Native American?

While haplogroup testing is very accurate, scientists don’t know 100% for certain which haplogroups typically belonged to every group of people.

The information that we do know comes from many studies telling us the haplogroups that are most commonly seen among people with little to admixture from other areas, as well as from studies of ancient remains found in various parts of the world.

What are the most common Native American Y-DNA haplogroups

If you are male, you have Y-DNA and can therefore determine whether your Y-DNA haplogroup is Native American. Y-DNA is inherited by males from their fathers, and so Y-DNA reveals information about the unbroken paternal line in a family.

Tip: If you are female and therefore don’t have Y-DNA, ask your brother, father, or paternal uncle to do a Y-DNA test to learn about your father’s paternal line.

While scientists haven’t yet discovered every possible Y-DNA haplogroup, they do know the most common seen Y-DNA haplogroups among people with indigenous ancestry.

Below is a list of the most common Native American Y-DNA haplogroups:

  • Q-M3, formerly known as Q3 (certain Native American direct-line paternal ancestry)

Some “branches” of following paternal haplogroups can often indicate Native American ancestry, although these haplogroups are sometimes found in other parts of the world, especially Asia:

  • C (especially C3)
  • Q

Many Native Americans from the Northeast US and Southeast Canada have the Y-DNA haplogroup of R1b, which is most commonly found in Western Europe. The reason that this haplogroup is found among Native Americans in some parts of Eastern North America is unknown, though there are multiple theories.

What are the most common Native American mtDNA haplogroups?

Everyone has mitochondrial DNA, which is also written as “mtDNA”. mtDNA is passed down from mother to both her male and female children.

The mtDNA haplogroups that are most commonly found to be indigenous Native Americans are:

  • A2
  • B2
  • C1
  • C4
  • D1
  • X2a

What does it mean to have a Native American haplogroup?

If you have one of the haplogroups listed in this article, then you most likely have a direct-line maternal or paternal ancestor who was Native American.

The best way to learn about your Native American ancestors is to begin the process of building a family tree. While it might not be possible in every case to identify your most recent Native American ancestor, you might be able to determine which line of your family tree passed down your indigenous ancestry.

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How to find out if you have a Native American Y or mtDNA haplogroup

If you haven’t yet done a DNA test, but you would like to know whether your direct line maternal or paternal ancestry was likely Native American, you have two main options.

23andMe offers an affordable autosomal / Y-DNA / mtDNA option where you can learn your general haplogroups. I like this test because you also get autosomal DNA matches that can be used for genealogy, as a well as an ancestry estimate.

If you want a more specific Y-DNA or mtDNA test, the best option is Family Tree DNA. They offer high resolution options that can provide definitive information, but general haplogroups are also included in the more economically priced Family Finder results.


I hope that this post has helped you understand more about Native American DNA haplogroups, and that you know which test to take if you are interested in learning this information about your ancestry.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to share your own haplogroup if you have Native American heritage, I would love to hear from you in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today.

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Sunday 26th of May 2024

I hope this doesn't embolden the mormons.

Daniel Rey Cox Vasquez

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Hello. Informative article. I have taken both the Ancestry DNA test and the 23&Me DNA test. Similar autosomal results. My paternal haplogroup is Q-M971. My maternal haplogroup is A2. My next goal is to affirm these results by taking the Family Tree DNA haplogroup tests.

Linda Keefer

Monday 19th of December 2022

Interesting. I am sending a complete sequence mtdna to a cousin supposedly her female line traces back to a lady of Native American heritage. Now since you wrote on the mtdna haplogroups. Do you have an article on mtdna from Africa too? I suspect some of that in my dna too.

Clifford Tomos

Sunday 9th of October 2022

In 2002 I had an mtDNA test with Oxford Ancestors, whic said that I am Haplogroup C. Then I had a test with Ancestry, but this is only autosomal, so in 2020 I had a full test with LivingDNA. This confirmed that I am mtDNA C, and that my subclade is C4a1a, and that this is common amongst the Ojibwe. Can anyone confirm this for me?

Connie Quintana

Saturday 11th of September 2021

My 23 and me is B2a1 it states I'm Native American I would like to know from what tribe. Do I need to a more extensive DNA?

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