June 29, 2019
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Parsing out Native American ancestry on GEDmatch?

If you were hoping to find a relation to a specific tribe, such as the Cherokee tribe, the results from GEDmatch will not be that specific.
Tomohiro Takano

What can GEDmatch do for me if I’m Native American?

If you have already taken a DNA test, GEDmatch is a tool used to analyze a raw DNA data file for admixture, similar to an ethnicity estimate. If you are Native American or suspect you have Native American ancestry, GEDmatch can offer you a free opportunity to identify this connection using their free tools. To do this, GEDmatch compares components of your autosomal DNA to reference populations of Native American peoples.

What reference populations exist?

GEDmatch has a wide variety of reference populations, but like most other ancestry testing companies, they are not super specific. For Native Americans, there are really only two reference populations. There is a category for American Indian called AmerIndian, relating to Native Americans in the US, Canada, Mexico, and other central or northern American populations. There is also a category for Native Americans from South America. However, this is as specific as the results can get -- ie. not particularly specific.

If you were hoping to find a relation to a specific tribe, such as the Cherokee or a Baltic tribe, the results from GEDmatch will not be that specific. However, the platform does have a large number of other admixture categories. You can find Mexican heritage, relations in Oceanian, or South Asian family members. Generally, users use the Eurogenes K36 tool to find DNA results relating to Native American ancestors.

AncestryDNA or 23andMe did not find Native American ancestry. Will GEDmatch be better?

The beauty of GEDmatch is that you can alter the parameters of each test. This can help you “tease out” Native American ancestry if it is there. But, user beware, you can also find false positives if you edit the analysis without knowing what you are doing. Check out this article for more information on using GEDmatch tools to find Native American DNA.

However, after a certain number of generations outside of a Native American population, no DNA testing will be able to accurately identify Native American DNA. For example, if your great-grandparents were part Native American and part European but your family history has not involved Native Americans since, there is a good chance that you have very few markers left to identify the Native American part of your DNA. 

Other ways to analyze your raw DNA data

With GEDmatch, you can complete a number of other actions. You can analyze your family tree using a GEDCOM file, which can help you identify African, East Asian, French, Siberian, British, Spanish, or other populations which your family has mixed with. In addition, you can recreate the DNA of a lost family member, which may help you in your search. However, there are a wealth of other sites which can analyze your ancestry, health, and other test results. Check them out here.

To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"

Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO