Can AncestryDNA or 23andMe Detect Native American


It can be so amazing to learn from your parents or other relatives that you have Native American blood running through your veins. That’s because it only means that you are from a line of people with a rich culture and long history. But of course, before you fully embrace you’re partly Native American, you will need to get your hands on some proof. So now, you are wondering if AncestryDNA or 23andMe can help give you the ultimate peace of evidence.

Can ancestry or genealogy sites such as AncestryDNA and 23andMe tell you whether or not you are Native American? Yes, they can detect you if you have Native American heritage. Something as simple as buying a DNA testing kit from your preferred company is the first step to take if you want to learn more about your Native American roots.

However, it is not all the time that the result of the DNA testing carried out by AncestryDNA or 23andMe will be able to show what percentage of you are Native American. You can actually have Native American blood in you, but that truth may not be stated on the DNA testing result.

Whether you have already had your DNA analyzed or you are still thinking about it, read on. Below you will learn about some of the reasons why AncestryDNA or 23andMe may fail to tell you that you are in part Native American even though your blood relatives are saying so.

Sometimes Ancestry or Genealogy Sites May Fail to Reveal the Fact

Before we proceed with the discussion, it is important to note that AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and other trusted ancestry or genealogy sites out there are using DNA testing methods that are reliable. As a matter of fact, DNA results that these companies provide are regarded as 99.9% accurate. Yes, it is that precise!

In some instances, however, problems may be encountered. And these issues can have an impact on the DNA testing results. Some of those that can have an effect on the accuracy or outcome, in general, are:

· Exchanging of your DNA sample on purpose

· Failure of the technician to follow the procedure in testing and analyzing a DNA sample

· Inability of the service provider to properly interpret the results

DNA testing results, in particular, the part about your ethnicity, may also be affected by certain factors. One of the most common of the bunch is the size of the DNA database of the ancestry or genealogy site (more about this later).

Even if the things mentioned above are not present, it is still possible for the DNA testing results to say that you do not have Native American blood in your veins. This true even if your family members are saying that you are from a Native American lineage and that you should be very proud of it.

Here is a fact from ancestry or genealogy experts: any person who has at least one Native American ancestor — yes, even just a single ancestor! — has a Native American heritage. This is a scientific fact. So if it is true that you have, in fact, a Native American ancestor, then it is for certain that you have Native American DNA in you.

Unfortunately, it is possible for you to have just a very small amount of Native American DNA in you. Such can be blamed on the fact that a parent only passes half his or her DNA to the child. Experts say that half of the DNA of the child was randomly selected by the body of one of his or her parents.

With every generation that goes by, the amount of randomly selected Native American DNA is passed to the child decreases.

The Size of the DNA Database Matters

Needless to say, one of the reasons why AncestryDNA or 23andMe may say that you have no Native American DNA in you is that you could have only very small amounts of Native American DNA. Again, it is because you have randomly received DNA from your parents, and a lot of their Native American DNA could not have been included.

Let’s sum up this specific topic: the farther you are from your Native American ancestor, the smaller the chance of you having enough Native American DNA that DNA testing can help to identify.

There is one more very common reason why it would seem like you are not part Native American even though you were told time and again that you have Native American ancestors. It has something to do with the ancestry or genealogy site that you have selected: the size of its DNA database.

You see, the DNA of every customer that has availed of DNA testing is kept by AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Such is a very important move that has to be made in order for these companies to have rich DNA databases.

By the way, a DNA database is in the form of a server, not a typical office file cabinet filled with folders and papers. So, in other words, DNA results are stored in DNA databases as digital files. It makes it easy for them to be accessed as well as updated.

The rule of thumb is the bigger the DNA database, the more informative the DNA testing results. Such is because newer DNA testing results are matched by AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or any other site with older ones. Such is also done in reverse — older DNA testing results being matched with recent ones.

Such is how the ancestry or genealogy site of your choice is able to help you find your cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that you never thought you had. By means of matching DNA testing results, you can complete your family tree and also learn more about your roots.

Unfortunately, it is this same process of matching DNA testing results with each other that could keep you from learning about your actual heritage. It is primarily due to the fact that most of the ancestry or genealogy sites nowadays have DNA databases that are by and large made up of the DNA of Caucasians.

It Doesn’t Mean You Have No Native American Blood

Worry not if AncestryDNA or 23andMe is saying that you have no Native American roots. Again, it could be simply due to a few factors that can impact DNA testing results. It goes without saying that there is no need for you to feel frustrated if you have just been told that you are not from a lineage with a very interesting and colorful culture and history.

 Just like what was mentioned earlier in this article, DNA testing yields 99.9% accurate results. Despite this, it doesn’t necessarily mean that DNA results are perfect.

Maybe it’s just that your parents do not have enough Native American DNA in them. This is why you may have very little Native American DNA in you, to the point that DNA testing cannot detect it — but this does not mean that it is not there!

Or maybe it’s just that the ancestry or genealogy site you have chosen does not have a sizeable DNA database. The absence of enough DNA testing results from people with Native American blood can affect your very own DNA testing results quite a lot.

 If you would like to celebrate your ancestry, sometimes there is no need to have a solid DNA testing result. More often than not, what you need as a proof is your family members themselves.

Kindly check out the following questions:

  • Do you have cousins that look like they have Native American blood in them?
  • Do you have relatives that celebrate Native American festivities or observe Native American traditions?
  • Do your relatives fill their homes with Native American decorations?
  • Do some of your family members live on reservations?

If you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, then feel free to celebrate your Native American ancestry just like what your parents or other relatives have been telling you that you all have. But then there are other ways to have your Native American heritage proven if that’s what you really want.

Steps to Find Out If You Have Native American Ancestors

If you want proof that you are, in fact, partly Native American in the form of DNA testing results, there’s good news! It is possible for you to get your hands on DNA testing results saying that a percentage of your DNA is Native American. Actually, there are a couple of ways that this could be done.

The first solution: get your DNA tested by a different ancestry or genealogy site.

Again, DNA testing results provided by ancestry or a genealogy site is partly the result of DNA database matching. If the service provider to where you have submitted your DNA testing kit has a small DNA database, there is a possibility for your DNA testing results to say that you are not related to a Native American in their DNA database.

It is a different story if the company has a massive DNA database — some of the DNA saved, there could be Native Americans, and they could be related to you.

The second solution: ask a sibling or cousin to get his or her DNA tested.

Remember earlier, when it was discussed that half of the genes you have are from one of your parents? And do you remember earlier when it was mentioned that the genes that were passed to you by your parents were the result of the random selection? Well, these are the reasons why it is a good idea for the DNA testing to be also taken by a relative of yours, such as your brother, sister, or first cousin.

If the genes passed by a parent to his or her offspring are chosen at random, then there is a possibility for one of your relatives to have more Native American DNA than you.

This is the reason why having his or her DNA tested by AncestryDNA or 23andMe may reveal the fact that he or she is Native American to a degree. This only means that you have Native American blood coursing through your veins as well!

Through the DNA testing of someone who is related to you, it is possible to prove that you have Native American roots. You can safely say “case closed” upon the receipt of the DNA testing results of your relative.

The Information You Need

Have you already taken DNA testing from either AncestryDNA or 23andMe? Are you not happy with the results because it doesn’t say there that you have Native American ancestry? Then don’t lose hope. That’s because you can actually take your DNA testing results to a service provider that can help to provide further DNA analysis.

Such a company is what’s referred to as a personal genomics database and genealogy site. It offers a tool that allows you to track down your family members as well as learn about your family history.

In order to take advantage of such a service, you will have to upload your DNA testing results to the company’s website. Then it matches your DNA with the entries stored on a DNA database that is much bigger and wide-ranging than the DNA database that ancestry or a genealogy site uses.

This results in a higher chance of finding your Native American family members. Due to this, your Native American lineage can be confirmed once and for all.

Actually, there are a number of personal genomics databases and genealogy sites out there. There is a particular company that is more well-known than all the rest. It is referred to as GEDmatch.

Does the name of the company ring a bell? If truth be told, GEDmatch has been around since 2010. This service provider is based in Florida, and it was created in order to help genealogists, researchers, and even adoptees find what they are looking for using its various tools. Some of them can even be used free of charge.

It was back in the middle part of 2018 when GEDmatch gained a boost in popularity. That’s because it played a very important role in the pinning down of the Golden State Killer — a serial killer who was responsible for a string of murders, rapes, and thefts that took place in California from 1974 to 1986. It was GEDmatch where law enforcement took DNA found at crime scenes. Thanks to the company, the Golden State Killer was put behind bars.

You, too, can also approach GEDmatch to have your DNA testing results analyzed.

Other Means to Learn About Ancestry

Do not assume that getting your DNA tested by ancestry or genealogy sites such as AncestryDNA and 23andMe is your last resort. The truth of the matter is that there are many other ways to figure out if you are part Native American or not. Some of the steps available that you may take do not involve filling a plastic tube with your saliva.

One of the simplest ways to get started is by interviewing family members. The best ones for you to approach are those who can give you important pieces of information about your grandparents as well as great-grandparents.

Consider yourself as lucky if you could find a relative who has stories to share about your great-great-grandparents. The goal is for you to get your hands on as many clues regarding your Native American roots.

Make sure that you ask about some of the things that could help you piece together your Native American family tree later on. Remember to obtain full names, names of brothers and sisters, birthdays, birthplaces, addresses, and education. It’s also a good idea for you to ask about where dead relatives are buried.

The moment that you have gathered all the important data, you may sit in front of your computer and log on to the web. These days, there are various sites in cyberspace that you can pay a visit for your research needs.

You can choose from among the many different genealogy sites out there. Some of the most popular ones include Archives.com, Ancestry.com, and FamilySearch.org. What’s so amazing about these websites is that they have databases that are updated constantly. In addition, there are all kinds of tools and services that are added on a regular basis.

This approach requires time and patience. It is nothing like having your saliva submitted to AncestryDNA or 23andMe in which someone else will do the hard work for you.

The Takeaway

Do not feel frustrated if AncestryDNA or 23andMe says that you have no Native American blood in your veins. That’s because, in some instances, the technology that they use is not able to become aware of small amounts of Native American DNA present in your body.

This does not mean that DNA testing is not accurate. The process is 99.9% accurate. The problem is that there is a possibility for ancestry or a genealogy site to fail to see your Native American heritage. Such can be due to reasons like you have very little Native American DNA in you or that your Native American ancestors are simply too distant.

Luckily, there are ways for you to find out more about your Native American roots, aside from DNA testing. For example, you may take your DNA testing results to GEDmatch or a similar site. You may also interview family members and then research on the internet.

Photo credit: ©pexels/IMG_1979

Ryan Sanders

Ryan Sanders is an aspiring genetics science enthusiast. His journey started with curiosity about his roots. He keeps learning more about genetics every day.

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