Many Americans have ‘Native American DNA’. What does that mean?

Credit: Ancient Pages
Credit: Ancient Pages

Whether or not you have “Native American DNA,” it’s important to understand what it means — and doesn’t mean — to find evidence of this ancestry in your DNA.

What it does mean

  • With some degree of statistical confidence, some sections of your DNA match a limited set of Indigenous American reference individuals more closely than they do other global reference populations.
  • If information about a possible Indigenous American ancestor is new to you, you can be excited about this ancestry and use it as a starting place to learn more about the diverse Indigenous histories of the Americas in a respectful way. But your test result should be viewed with caution in the context of the technology’s limitations.
Related article:  'Illogical and inappropriate': How anti-vaxxers use 23andMe genetic tests to avoid vaccines

What it does not mean

  • You cannot use these results to seek or confirm membership in a Tribe or Nation. There is simply not enough information provided by these tests to confirm this kind of affiliation…
  • It doesn’t mean you should start identifying as Native American based on the results of a genetic ancestry test.
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Being Native American isn’t just about having Indigenous American ancestry. It’s about being part of a culture…part of a community, with shared beliefs, histories, and experiences. And no matter where you’re from, biology is ultimately not how group membership is determined.

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