Tag Archives: Ancestry DNA

Ancestry DNA by the Numbers

Parents 50
Grandparents 25
Great grandparents 12.5
Great great grandparents 6.25
Great great great grandparents 3.125

Source: Understanding Genetics – Standford at the Tech Museum

In the case of using ancestry DNA to trace your roots, less is more.  You’ve probably seen the ancestry show on tel-e-vision where a majority of the black celebrities’ roots are traced back to African tribes.  This would make sense if you’re looking at the larger composition percentage to determine ancestry, but the larger number represents your most recent ancestors.  You inherit 50% of your DNA from your parents and the percentages get lower the further you go down in generations, as illustrated in the table above.  So, your most ancient ancestor (where you originated) would be signified by the lowest composition percentage.

CoffeeDr. Yaffa Bey gave the following analogy that’s a great example.  If you take a cup of coffee, it will look and taste different when you add cream and sugar to it.  Think of the coffee as your most ancient ancestor, the cream as what got into your blood line next and the sugar as what got into your blood line last.  After all of the additives, there would be very little trace of the original coffee left, but it is still a cup of coffee.  If you go back and watch some of the ancestry shows, you’ll see that a lot of the black celebrities had high African composition percentages and extremely low Native American composition percentages.  That’s because their most ancient ancestors were from right here in America and the African DNA entered the bloodline the most recent.

Statistics listed in an article titled “Exactly How Black is America?” by Henry Lewis Gates, Jr.  for the Root.com, reveal the average African-American has 0.6%-2% Native American ancestry.  This tells us that the average African-American’s most ancient ancestors were Native American.

  • According to Ancestry.com, the average African-American is 65 % sub-Saharan African, 29 % European and 2 % Native American.
  • According to 23andme.com, the average African-American is 75 % sub-Saharan African, 22 % European and only 0.6 % Native American.
  • According to Family Tree DNA.com, the average African-American is 72.95 % sub-Saharan African, 22.83 % European and 1.7 % Native American.
  • According to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the average African-American is 80 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 1 % Native American.
  • According to AfricanDNA, the average African-American is 79 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 2 % Native American.

A lot of our families have stories that great-grandma was Indian or great-grandma said her mother was Indian and we pass them off as just fleeting tales, without seeing their significance.  Our people don’t know who we are because we allow others to dictate to us who we are.  One day we’re Black, the next Colored, then Negro and don’t forget about African-American.  The truth of the matter is, you are who your mother is.

For instance, maternal (mother) is to material as paternal (father) is to pattern.  Every seamstress knows that you must first have “material” before it can ever be put with a “pattern” to make a dress.  Also, you’ve all heard the saying, “Mother’s baby, Father’s maybe.”  Taken literally, this phrase means if a baby comes out of a woman’s womb, it’s a fact that is her child.  On the other hand, a man can say he fathered a child, or the woman can tell the man he fathered a child, but it’s anybody’s guess (outside of the DNA technology we have today).

What does this all mean?  The copper-colored women, the Europeans found in America, eventually had children with foreign men (whether by choice or force) erasing the pure blood line (the coffee).  Whether the foreign men were from Africa, Europe, Spain or Asian (the additives), the pure blood line will show up in your DNA less and less the further away you get from it throughout the generations.  Which is why it’s important for us to document who we are now, either through the paper trail or through genealogical DNA testing, because if the results are coming back 2% and lower now, our children or children’s children may not show any traces of Native American in their bloodline at all.

Know Better:
Understanding Genetics – Standford at the Tech Museum
Exactly How ‘Black” is Black America – TheRoot.com 

Do Better:
For those of you who had your DNA tested and were disappointed with the low percentage you received for Native American, look again from the lens of this clarity about Ancestry DNA results.  If your grandmother or great-grandmother said she was Indian, then believe her and stop letting other people tell you what or who you are!  You are what your mother is and she is what her mother was and don’t ever forget it!