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DNA Testing and Native American Ancestry

John LaCoste is our Wednesday afternoon volunteer at Fort Myers-Lee County Library. Dr. LaCoste is considered our local expert on DNA testing and has first hand experience with the most current battery of tests. His knowledge of these tests also extends to helping patrons interpret their results. DNA testing for Native American Ancestry (NA) is one of the fastest growing areas of interest nationwide. This article was in response to a recent patron query. Feedback or questions may be forwarded to Dr. Lacoste at his e-mail address: Based on your answers to various questions, Dr. Lacoste may be able to provide some recommendations on what test, or tests, to have conducted, and what companies offer such tests.

There are three different tests that you can have conducted which may prove your Native American ancestry. The first would be the Y-DNA test, which tests your ancestry from your father's lineage. If you believe that you inherited your Native American ancestry through your father, or your father's father, ancestry going back on your paternal line can be tested from the Y-DNA test. The second test would be the MtDNA test. You inherit your MtDNA from your mother; thus, if you believe that your mother brought the NA into your family, you may want to have this test conducted. The MtDNA test shows your maternal ancestry only, from your mother or her mother. Both of these tests limit the number of ancestors, the Y for male ancestors only, and the MtDNA for female ancestors. The third type of test is the Autosomal DNA test. This test tests your Genome for all ancestors within a modern ancestral context. Your results could indicate Native American ancestry. If your NA ancestry came into your lineage through any of your distant ancestors who married into your Y-DNA lineage, or who married into your MtDNA ancestry, the Autosomal DNA test could bring this out. In my case, I knew the Great-Grandparent who had my NA influence on my lineage, and after having the Y, and MtDNA tests conducted, these tests showed no NA ancestry. However, my Autosomal DNA results did show 14% NA ancestry within the last 1000 years or so. Although this test could not tell me which tribe, it did prove that the family stories were correct, and it proved that I did have NA ancestry.

Based on your knowledge, or lack of knowledge about the probable origin of your NA ancestry, you may have to take all the tests to determine your chances and percentage of NA. These tests will help determine the answers to the following questions. Was it on your father, or mother's side of the family? Was it your mother's mother, or father that may have brought it into your line, or was it your father's father, or possibly his mother? You may have to conduct the Autosomal DNA test to determine the amount of NA admixture in your DNA. This test will indicate the chances and percentage of NA.

JLC/BLM 6/10/2008

Bryan L. Mulcahy
Reference Librarian
Fort Myers-Lee County Library
2050 Central Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901-3917
Tel: (239) 479-4651
Fax: (239) 479-4634

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