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better breakdowns for Native Americans (No, I don't mean tribal breakdowns)

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  • better breakdowns for Native Americans (No, I don't mean tribal breakdowns)

    My wife is from the Andes in Peru. She is obviously mostly Native South American. I had my daughter test with My Heritage. The purpose was to get an idea of how much native DNA she has.

    Unfortunately My Heritage, and most of the other companies, from what I'm gathering, don't give any true breakdown for those they determine are native North, South or Central Americans. For instance, they told me my daughter was 67% Central American and 21.6% Northwest European, 11.4 East European.

    67% is impossible, as per 23andMe, DNA Land, WeGene, and my family tree, I'm 100% Northwest and Eastern European (and paternity is confirmed). But ignoring the erroneous percentages, I still find the classification simple and lazy. There is very little doubt that she has southern European DNA from her mom. It may not be much, but it's there. I have a feeling that My Heritage simply deduced that the small amount of S. Europe DNA was handed down directly mixed with the high amount Native, and automatically threw them together.

    Couldn't it be that a customer thus so classified could have one parent who's 100% Native and one parent who is 10% S. European, handing down a full 5% to her? Without taking the time to divide these ethnicities properly, they are failing to answer the basic question that most South and Central Americans have: How Native am I, how European am I, how African am I?

    The only companies that it seems will give a proper break down are 23andMe, WeGene, and DNA Land. I am planning to test her with 23andMe and import to WeGene. For now, I have plugged her MH results into DNA Land. I am assuming their results are somewhat on the speculative side, but they told me she was 39% Native American (broken down as 34% broadly Native American and 5% Amazona) and 2.7% Asian (broken down as 1.5% Siberian and 1.1% Tubalar, along with 58% European, including 7% SW European. If I can trust their assessment to a decent degree, their model is leaps and bounds above most.

  • #2
    It seems that has a true Native American classification. FTDNA should make one too.


    • #3
      The reference DNA samples that classify a person as Southern European, or East African, etc. come from living people in every one of those DNA companies. The way they determine that the reference DNA is "Polish" or "British" is they just ask them. That person's heritage could be from Anywhere! We're taking the word of a person that is "sure" his/her family is 100% *insert ethnic group*

      I'm sure those ethnic rules are true on very general level, like Europe or Africa, but it'll be on a level that would be visually obvious as well.

      Personally, I wouldn't put any stock in the those ethnic percentages.


      • #4
        In my experience, MyHeritage is great for other purposes but for Native American, they still have much work to do. I think they basically hyperinflated the Native American. My Uncle tested at 33-34% at other companies, but for MyHeritage it was 48% and further broken down into what percentage was NoAmerican, 1.4%, but they didn't show any SoAmerican for him.

        Ancestry may have breakdown categories but they don't necessarily commit to them so don't be misled. I found they just gave a general geographical group, with no sub-group. They got the general location right which I was happy to see. They did not allocate any percent to that category, but overall he was 33%.

        FTDNA, they actually picked out two categories for my Uncle, North/Central 30% and South 3%. They highlighted on the map three locations, one in NoChihuahua/SoUSA and another in Yucatan, the other near Colombia/SoAmerica.

        DNALand gave him 34% which covered both continents and with 2.6% of it being Amazonian.

        You can also try GEDMatch MDLP World22 or other calculators there if you want to get specifics but I don't know how reliable those are.

        My Uncle's results there were:
        MDLP World 22
        Mesoamerican 17.57
        North-Amerind 10.96
        South-America_Amerind 4.90


        • #5
          @ asapiens77 I know they are supposed to be able to account for their grandparents at the very least, but even then they may've come from another area or the information may be incorrect. But I'm assuming they need to get enough from each reference group that show enough of a similarity to be included, and that the anomalies are discounted. It isn't a perfect system, but it is the best we have to work with.

          @ RebeccaR The highlighting on the FTDNA map sounds promising, but FTDNA specifically mentions that they're South American reference panel is a mix of Amerindian, European, and African. So, going by this, I would think that someone who is 75% Amerindian, 25% southern European, will be labelled 100% South American. For all they know, they may have three Amerindian grandparents and one southern European grandparent. But FTDNA will assume 100% South America. At least that's what MyHeritage does.

          I can't say that is absolutely the case for FTDNA, but going by their South American description, it seems it is.


          • #6
            Well, to me, it appears to be an "evolving" science I don't mind so much. The more people that help them the better, I think. I tried to join a project with my Uncle's native DNA but then everyone had Q (native) haplogroups and my Uncle had an R (euro) haplogroup so I left immediately, wrong group! Oh well, I tried. I think his mtDNA "might" come back as native, so if that's the case, I'll look for another project to join. Maybe that will help.

            Whatever they are doing though, they are doing so far so good, to have highlighted/heatmapped the correct location of my known heritage. The other locations they highlighted, I didn't know about. So I'll take that as accurate on those if they were accurate on the first. They could have done like some of the others and just highlighted the two continents, with no detail.. but they didn't. So I'm good with the science so far. I don't need to know percentages but I understand why that's important to some. To me, I want to know tribe.

            My brother (half-sibling, we have different fathers) all his life claimed his father told him he was Aztec. If my brother's autosomal test comes back as substantially native, instead of so much euro like the rest of us, then I'll encourage him to test further and join a project.