When it comes to choosing a DNA test kit you want one that will give you results that you are after. That’s why in this Best DNA Test For Native American Ancestry post I WILL show you which test kit that you should buy. Interested? Then please read on.
DNA testing has become the next big thing in genealogy research. There is no denying it.
But can a DNA test actually tell you whether you have Native American ancestry?
Well obviously they can, otherwise I wouldn’t write an entire post about it, lol. But seriously there are DNA test kits out there that can help you in so many ways with your research.
So which one do you buy?
The Best DNA Test For Native American Ancestry Is …
And there you have it. The answer to your question. But if you want to learn more about why I recommend Family Tree DNA then please read on.
Topics discussed in this post:
- What do you want to achieve with DNA testing?
- The 3 types of DNA testing!
- More in depth view of the 3 DNA tests!
- Why do I recommend Family Tree DNA?
- Family Tree DNA’s competition!
- My Final Thoughts on the best DNA test for Native American ancestry to buy!
I would like to acknowledge Roberta Estes for her lengthy article Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA which I have referred to in part.
What Do You Want To Achieve With DNA Testing?
As I mentioned at the start of this post DNA testing has become the next big thing in genealogy. But why is that?
Quite simply because it has enabled people to break down brick walls in their research that they thought were impossible to penetrate. If you have been researching your family history for a number of years then you will know full well that you will inevitably hit a brick wall.
And there are sometimes no ways to break through. Or so it seems.
DNA testing CAN show you where to turn your attention to. It can show you where your ancestors likely came from and also it can connect you with distant cousins.
Both are excellent benefits of a DNA test.
Let me ask you a few questions:
- Do you know if you do indeed have Native American ancestry?
- And if so, do you know how much?
- Also, do you know whether it is along your paternal or maternal line?
Besides DNA testing being able to show you where your ancestors are likely to have come from and connecting you with living relatives, it can also help you to answer the above questions.
And that is pretty cool right? Yeah I thought you would say yes!
Ancestry DNA that show incorrect test results!
But before I continue I must point out something. You maybe reading this because you have already taken an Ancestry DNA test and are unsatisfied with the results.
You were probably expecting the test to confirm that you do indeed have Native American ancestry, only to be shown that you have no trace of your proud heritage.
But why is that?
Well this may have occurred for a number of reasons:
- Your DNA sample was invalid, i.e. the sampling process was inadequately performed.
- The test sample used to compare against your DNA sample did not match resulting in no trace of Native American ancestry.
- Your family’s Native American DNA may not have been passed down to you.
- Despite you being told about your rich Native American ancestry you may not actually have such heritage in your family, i.e. it was a lie!
Hoping to join a particular Native American tribe?
If you believe that you do indeed have such a rich heritage I do want to tell you about the limitations of DNA testing. If you were hoping to find out which tribe your family belonged to then I have something to say.
DNA testing will not be able to show you which is your tribe!
Sure it will tell you that you do have Native American ancestry but it CANNOT tell you what tribe your family belonged to. So if you were wanting to take the test in order to join a tribe I am afraid to tell you that it is not possible.
And also it is not that easy. As Roberta Jestes discusses at DNAeXplained even if you know what tribe your family joined you cannot be granted automatic membership.
It just doesn’t work like that. The tribe will determine membership based on your blood quantum. That means that you need to have at least a certain amount of Native “blood”.
And also you need to provide proof in the form of documentation. So you won’t be able to join a tribe based solely on your DNA test results.
The 3 Types of DNA Testing!
There are many different DNA testing companies out there and each of them are different in their own unique way. On top of that they do offer different tests to be conducted on your DNA sample.
These 3 DNA tests include:
- Autosomal (atDNA) – This type of testing will look at both your maternal and paternal lines. Seeing results from both lines is great but there is a drawback to this type of test. And that is results are only really accurate to about 4 or 5 generations back. That means the further back you go then the less accurate your results will be.
- Mitochondrial (mtDNA) – This test will look at your maternal line, i.e. looking at your mother’s mother’s mother, and so on. This type of testing is great as you can see your heritage up to about 25 generations back. This is despite only looking at one particular branch of your family tree.
- Y-Chromosome (yDNA) – Similar to the previous test this type will look at your paternal heritage, i.e. your father’s father’s father, and so on. And again results will show your heritage up to 25 generations back even though this is only on one line.
All of the DNA testing companies will perform an autosomal test. But to know more about your family history you will need to buy both mitochondrial and y-chromosome testing.
In my opinion it is worth going that extra mile and learning all that you can about your family history. So that does mean paying a bit more.
For me though there is no doubt that this is the best approach because as family historians it is our job to discover all that we can about our ancestors.
What would you rather do?
Learn just a small snippet about your family tree? Or learn the whole story of your heritage? I know what I would choose.
Limitations of Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosome testing!
Even though these approaches will give you more detailed results there is unfortunately a drawback shared by these two types of tests. Because each of them look at one particular line only you may not be guaranteed to find your Native American ancestry.
For example, your Native American ancestry may come through your mother’s father’s side of the family. But do not despair as you can still learn about your heritage through the help of your relatives.
So why not ask your cousins, second cousins or third cousins to take the test. And see what results that they give. After all genealogy is a sharing hobby and we can all learn from each other, especially what information our family hold.
The limitation of Y-Chromosome testing!
One more point that I would like to make is that Y-Chromosome testing can only be done by males. You can though learn the whole spectrum of your DNA heritage even if you are female.
What you will need to do is to ask a male relative to take this type of test. This family member could be your father, brother, father’s brother or his children, or your brother’s sons.
More In Depth View of the 3 DNA Tests!
I have just given an overview of the 3 different DNA tests that today’s DNA testing companies offer. But let us look a little closer at these tests shall we and see what they have to offer.
Autosomal DNA (atDNA)
As I mentioned in the previous section there is a limitation to this type of testing. Sure it can tell you whether you do have Native American ancestry, or not.
But the problem with this type of testing is that the further back you go then the less accurate the results will be.
But why is that?
Well it’s because we get 50% of our DNA from our father and the other 50% from our mother. Take that further and we get 25% from each of our four grandparents. The following table will show you the level of percentage that we get from each generation.
The problem is that there will be a mixture of our DNA due to all these different branches. And so Autosomal DNA testing is only really accurate up to about the 5th generation back.
The other issue that you may have proving your Native American ancestry with this test is that you need to prove that you have such heritage up to 4 generations back, i.e. your great-great grandparents.
So if you do have Native American ancestry and it is only between 0 to 6% you will not be able to join a tribe.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Due to the mixing of your DNA from all of your branches I have shown that the Autosomal test will give you less accurate results the further back you go. But it is quite different for the Mitochondrial test.
But why is that?
Well it is because you are only looking at one particular line, i.e. your mother’s mother’s mother, and so on. This therefore means that there will be only a slight change in the DNA the further back, (or forward), that you go through the generations.
And so with this approach you get far better results, in other words more accurate.
Through this testing you will be assigned a particular haplogroup. A what?
Don’t worry by this term. What it means is that the world is divided into different areas or rather haplogroups. So by taking a Mitochondrial test you may be assigned a haplogroup that will show you have ancestry that dates back to before Europeans visited the Americas.
So what this means is that your ancestors were here before European settlements, and so you have Native American ancestry.
Y-Chromosome DNA (yDNA)
The obverse of Mitochondrial testing is to look at your paternal line, i.e. your father’s father’s father, and so on. Similar to your maternal line, your paternal line DNA changes slightly over time.
To check the variance in your DNA through the generations there are different tests that are offered through this type of testing. They include Y-37, Y-67 and Y-111.
The number refers to the genetic markers in your DNA that will be measured. So the higher the more detailed your results will be.
Similar again to Mitochondrial testing you will be assigned a haplogroup. And so you will be shown whether you have ancestors that predate the European settlers.
Why Do I Recommend Family Tree DNA?
The great thing about Family Tree DNA is that when you join you are asked to join a project. But why should you do that? Well projects can help give you further information and clues about your ancestry.
There are surname projects that you can join. So why not join your surname project?
Being part of this project will mean that you will be connected to other Family Tree DNA members that you share a connection with, i.e. they are a match.
If your results do not show Native American ancestry then why not ask your matches, who are actually your cousins for help. Check out what their results show and see if they have such heritage.
Family Tree DNA’s Competition!
I don’t want to sound bias and only show you what Family Tree DNA offer you. For that reason I will show you what both 23andMe and Ancestry DNA have to offer.
- 23andMe – Offers you Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosome testing but these results will be based on your Autosomal test results. So your results will be less accurate than for Family Tree DNA.
- Ancestry DNA – Can show you whether you do have Native American ancestry or not. But the Autosomal testing will only be able to show you this up to about 5 generations back for your family tree. Plus the results will less accurate the further back you go.
My Final Thoughts on The Best DNA Test For Native American Ancestry To Buy!
There you have it. I hope that I have helped you in making the decision on which is the best DNA test to test for your Native American ancestry. There are many DNA companies out there as I have said. And so you need to make the right choice when it comes to choosing which is the best one for you.
And that is why I recommend Family Tree DNA. In my opinion they do offer you more out of all the different companies out there.
One thing though that I must stress that I forgot to stress is that you may want to either take the Y-37 or Y-67 to begin with. You can always get your Y-111 at a later time.
The reason I say to take the lesser marker tests is because that these tests will give you more than enough information to work with. If you are beginning your DNA journey then you do not want to get too overwhelmed by the information that you will receive.
Trust me I have been there when I had mountains of census records in front of me to sift. It did make me question why am I doing this and whether I should continue or not.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed this post showing you what is the best DNA test for Native American ancestry to buy. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.
If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.