Are my Kids Actually Native American? The DNA test results.

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Back in August, I posted about the possibility of my children being partially Native American.  I brought it up to pose the question, “Is it right for white kids who are 1/64 Native American to apply for/claim scholarships meant for a marginalized minority?”  The responses to that question were interesting, but what was even more interesting was that many of you encouraged me to research the possible link.  Not for college money, but to allow my children to connect to a possible part of their heritage.

Well, genealogy is right up my alley.  So I followed your encouragement.  I’ve teamed up with Ancestry.com to discover the mystery of the Native American great-times-who-knows-how-many grandmother, who may or may not exist.  I’ve been working with them to research databases and records (which I’ll share in another post soon,) but also to get a scientific view of their heritage through a DNA test.

How the DNA test works.

About a decade ago, I was familiar with mitochondrial DNA tests.  Mitochondrial DNA carries information maternally, so you could trace back really far, but only on one line, and the results wouldn’t be diverse.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Ancestry’s DNA test looks at your entire genome through an autosomal DNA test, pulling all kinds of information and getting really specific about as many lines as possible.  Granted, you only inherit 1/2 of each of your parent’s DNA, and that half is selected randomly.  And that happens every generation.  So while the test can definitively tell you where a lot of your ancestors came from, it’s can’t definitively rule out any ethnicity.  If you’re a visual person like me, here’s how that all works:

dna mix

This happens every generation.

Before I could convince anybody to take the test, there were some major privacy concerns.  Who will have my DNA?  They’re going to store it, as in keep it?  What will they use it for?

Honestly, I initially had those concerns, too.  But every last question was answered to my satisfaction.  Ancestry does store your DNA, but it is only identifiable by a serial code number.  Only two people in the entire company have access that links your serial code to your Ancestry account, and the only reason they have it is so that they can, in fact, link the two and allow you to see the results.  You don’t have to use your real name when you submit your sample.  We sure didn’t.

Genetics is a field we’re learning more and more about everyday.  By storing your DNA (under serial number, and a pseudonym that only 2 people in the company have access to,) Ancestry is able to let you know if they can gather further information as science advances.  Remember, 10 years ago we were really only testing one, very specific branch from the family tree through mitochondrial DNA.  Now we have access to so much more.  Imagine what you could find out 10 years from now?

We gave the test to the oldest person in the line that supposedly had the Native American blood.  The reason we did this is because of that picture above:  DNA splits every generation, so the older the person generation-wise, the more of the original family DNA they have from that line.  They spit in a tube, we shook it with some magical blue solution, and we mailed it in.  It’s a super simple process if you just follow the directions they send along with your kit.

Tell me the results, already!

Ok, ok.  So you want to know how things turned out?  Here you go:

dna test

Click on the image to open in a new window if the details are too small for you to view. If you’re checking this out via e-mail, be sure to click here to see the image!

As you can see, for this specific branch of the family (the one there was a rumor about,) there was no Native American blood.  Like we talked about above, that does not mean it doesn’t exist.  There’s a small possibility that it could have been phased out when DNA split generation after generation.  I’ll talk more about what I’ve found through researching records in an upcoming post.

But Native American-ness aside, how interesting is this?  The colored in areas are the dominant ones, while the outlined ones mean there are only trace amounts of this “ethnicity” in your genes.  This test can trace back 1,000 years, so the trace of Scandinavian blood made sense to me.  There were without a doubt family members from England, and England was settled originally by Germanic tribes, and then these people underwent a Norman invasion.  The Viking-descendant people dominated, influencing culture and the English language for eternity, on top of having children with the people of the isle.  Thus the trace amounts of DNA.  At least that’s my hypothesis.

I’m going to have to do some more historical research on the other trace areas.  I currently have no records to back up these parts of the DNA findings, which is exactly why finding out the results is so cool.

Worth the Money?

100%.  On top of getting those results back, Ancestry hooks you up with all other DNA participants who are potential relatives. (Think cousin, third cousin, ad infinitum.)  These people are on Ancestry, so there’s a good chance they’ve already done some family history research.  If you can figure out where you’re related, you may just find that they’ve got that part of your tree done pretty far back.  You can compare records and potentially discover new parts of your family that you never knew existed.  (Concerned about privacy on this part, too?  Don’t worry; there are all types of privacy options that you can put up from sharing everything to preventing anyone from contacting you/seeing your Ancestry account.)

The test is $99, though I received this one for free so I could write about it.  I plan on buying another one to research a branch of my family that we don’t really know much about.  We know a specific war caused an immigration in the not-so-distant past, but we have zero clue as to where they came from before that, making research crazy difficult, if the records even still exist after such tumult. This test would allow us to finally figure that out.

If you’re interested in getting your own DNA test, I can get you get you a 20% off discount in honor of DNA Day through April 27, 2015.

How have you connected to your own ancestry?  Have you ever done a DNA test?
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21 thoughts on “Are my Kids Actually Native American? The DNA test results.

  1. Messy Money

    It is fascinating isn’t it? I am a genealogy nut and had my Dad and husband both do DNA tests (only y-DNA though.) I have hit dead ends on both of their male lines and thought it would help – and it did in the sense that we know their ancient origins. With time I hope that it will help augment the paper trail. I tell my husband that he is viking and Dad that his ancestors spoke German at some point. I will do mine one day to find out more about female line. Oh maybe a Christmas present idea!

    Reply
    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      That’s so neat! The awesome thing is that this test would give you answers from all lines, not just the maternal line. You could even expand your dad/husband’s results beyond the y test! Then when you connect with cousins however far removed, they may have research that helps you get past those dead ends. And it’s an awesome Christmas idea.

      Reply
  2. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    This is actually super interesting. It’s amazing what science can do now. In our family the elusive ancestor is one who stole Champlain’s horse. We’re pretty sure it’s a lie.

    We know a couple that did DNA testing for their whole family one year for Christmas and it sounded awesome. Their test focused more on health risk factors and such though.

    Reply
    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      Well, the story may or may not be true, but it sounds like one worth researching! If he was close enough to steal his horse, odds are there are records about him whether he was a thief or not!!!

      And that’s super cool. If you don’t know your background, it can be hard to pin point health risks.

      Reply
  3. kay ~ lifestylevoices.com

    I love this idea. My dad was adopted by his aunt and her husband, so we really don’t know anything about his biological father. His aunt’s husband may even BE his biological father. Yeah, that’s how screwed up the family is. I love this idea. I know my sister got some kind of help with a scholarship by claiming some Native American ancestry. I have no idea how or even if she had to prove that.

    Great post! I may just have to do this, just for the sheer fun of it! 🙂

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Whoa that’s some family drama! It would be really interesting to see where that side of the family was from, though I don’t know if this specific test could tell if his adopted dad was the biological one or not, unless “uncle” or one of his known biological children took it, too.

      Either way, it’s super fun and interesting. Highly recommend!

      Reply
  4. The Frugal Exerciser

    I took an admixture test years ago but I need to do Ancestry.com. My results were 58% Sub Saharan African, 41% European, and 1% Native American. I went through African Ancestry.com to see what parts of Africa my family originated. However if you trace the AA male line, 30% usually goes to Europe due to planation rape or slave master relationships with slave women. My dad’s line goes back to Sweden and Germany. I also did my dad’s uncle on his mother’s line and it went back to the Ibo tribe of Nigeria.

    I’m thinking about Ancestry because it will give me more countries and the price is right.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      That is crazy interesting, Shiela! I don’t know if you experienced this same feeling, and this is so far removed that I’m sorry if it’s not the best way to relate. When y tests were the only thing available, I watched a National Geographic documentary on it. They got all these people to test, but only one male of African descent. He really wanted to know his family’s origins because all he knew was that they were slaves in the south east US. His results came back the same as your dad’s. He put on a good face, but I know if I wanted to know the answer, other than there was at some point a biological slave owner patriarch, he must have, too. It gave him answers, but not the ones he was looking for.

      The autosomal test by Ancestry changes all that. I hope you gain so much info through it! There’s also the cousin match… You may be able to find more documented history by doing the test that way, too.

      Reply
  5. Budget Loving Military Wife

    How interesting! I have been wondering about the DNA testing. My dad has really been into tracing our ancestry the past couple of years and it’s quite fun now that we live in England. Many of my husband’s ancestors lived in England and my dad has tracked down several castles and estates that the ruins still stand that were built for some of my husbands great grandfathers (like 20+ generations back). Unfortunately most of my ancestors are relatively new to the U.S. late 1800’s, early 1900’s and come from non-English speaking countries and names were changed when they arrived to the U.S. so I guess it’s quite difficult to track (since we only speak English). It is all very interesting though. 🙂

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      So neat! I’m finding a lot of the castle type stuff on my husband’s side, too. My tip for you, as my own ancestors were still across the sea during colonial times, is to check records of naturalization in whatever town they settled in. They often reveal at least the country, and sometimes the city of origin, including names of family and friends that knew them well enough to vouch for them.

      Reply
      1. Budget Loving Military Wife

        Thanks for the tip! We do know the cities and countries they came from to the U.S. My dad is just having a hard time finding information beyond that. He has said he would have to go to the country with a translator to get records or by chance find someone through ancestry.com who has already done that work. 🙂 Maybe there is an easier way though.

        Reply
        1. femmefrugality Post author

          Just shot you an email with a couple of languages I may be able to help with! If that doesn’t work, try calling the main LDS Family History library in Salt Lake City. They have a desk for each region, and are likely able to find records you find on sites like Ancestry so they can look at it with you over the phone and help you translate.

          I realize that’s a long distance call for you right now, though. :p

          Reply
  6. femmefrugality Post author

    It does, Tenille! It’s super exciting to anticipate the results: will they match what you think you know, or will they surprise you?

    Reply
  7. Mel

    That is pretty interesting. It would be cool to see my mom’s results since she’s adopted. We’ve just always called her a mutt although really none of us have any idea.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Frugal Time Travel: Make Genealogy Come to Life | Femme Frugality

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