Ask Ancestry Anne: Where Is My Native American DNA?

Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on November 24, 2014 in Ask Ancestry Anne
inheritance 50_50

DNA Inheritance

 

Question: I recently had my DNA analyzed and was surprised when the results did not show any evidence of my Cherokee connection.

My great-great-grandmother was one-fourth Cherokee (Tiptendille Tribe-TN). Would the traces of the Native American heritage be so minute that they would not be evident anymore?

– Shauna

 

Answer: The short answer is yes, the traces of Native American DNA in your test may be too small to detect.  Let’s look at why.

If your great-great-grandmother was ¼ Cherokee, then it was her grandparent that was 100% Native American. And that would be your 4th-great-grandparent. Now your great-great-grandmother would get 50% of her DNA from her mother and 50% from her father. To make this easy, let’s divide by 2 for every generation.

dna percentage1

So how much of your great-great-grandmother’s DNA are you likely to have?  Probably around 1.5625%! And that may not be enough to detect Native American ethnicity.

dna percentage2

If you can find older generations on that line to test, I recommend that.  Also, get brothers, sisters and cousins tested.  You never know who might have enough DNA to be detected.

Even if you find the DNA connection, you will still want to follow the paper trail.  I recommend our Native American Research Guide to get you started.

Happy searching!

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