A couple months ago I sent off for DNA results to learn what I’m really made of. I’ve been working on a family tree for several years and wanted to confirm a few things. I got my results back and I was very surprised in that they both confirmed records I wasn’t 100% sure of and that they completely discounted some family stories that had been passed down for years and years. (See the update at the end of the post.)
It seems like everybody believes that they are Native American through some ancestor way back and the evidence seemed strong that it was true for my family. My paternal grandfather always claimed that his mother was Cherokee.
I was sure that I had Native American blood but according to my DNA I don’t even have the smallest trace of it. Instead, I’m 97% European and 3% West Asian. Elizabeth Warren is more Native American than I am. I learned I’m more European Jewish and Middle Eastern than Native American!
I wasn’t surprised by the high amount of British (English, Scottish, Welsh) and Irish DNA but I sure thought I had a lot more German in me. I also had no idea that I was part Scandinavian and Italian/Greek.
Though there were some surprises, the results did confirm much of the family history I had found through Ancestry.com and other records. I had traced my father’s side back to the earliest European settlers of America in Virginia and my DNA results confirmed it. So, my genealogical research was correct, even though our family stories of Native American roots were, well, just stories.
I’m still digesting the results, now that I’ve discovered I’m not quite who I thought I was. I would have bet a lot of money that I was at least part Native American but Scandinavian is cool too.
The results also linked me to other family members that have taken the DNA test. My aunt and a 2nd cousin popped up in my results and indicated that we are very close matches genetically. That is pretty amazing. Hundreds of 3rd, 4th and more distantly related cousins are also indicated and many are confirmed in my family tree.
So, if you’re interested in learning about who you really are genetically, I’d recommend the test through Ancestry.com, especially if you have already compiled a family tree through the site. It confirmed much of what I had discovered but I guess I’ll have to come up with some Scandinavian family stories to pass down instead of Cherokee. That might be difficult considering I hardly know anything about Scandinavian history.
Update: I uploaded my raw DNA data to GEDMatch and it gives much more data than Ancestry.com. Lots of interesting stuff! I do have a little bit of Native American in me but more interesting than that it shows ancient DNA, including Siberian from 50,000 years ago, Denisovan, and Clovis from 12,500 years ago (which are thought to be one of the earliest groups of humans in North America). The picture below shows just some of the data. Anyway, I know my DNA isn’t that interesting to anyone else but if you have had or might have a DNA test done in the future, if you upload it to GEDMatch.com you’ll get a lot more out of it and it’s a free service.
For example, from GEDMatch, I can tell when my ancestors entered different parts of the world. The rest of the information doesn’t conflict much with what Ancestry.com indicated but the data through the different tests available on GEDMatch go back much farther in time. Ancestry.com’s tests appear to focus more on recent human history, as in 500 – 1,000 years ago, which is what most people are interested in because if we keep going back we’ll find we all originated from pretty much the same places.