Friday, May 6, 2016

Native American Genetic Testing Extremely Problematic

Genetic Testing is effective at determining paternity but is unreliable when it comes to establishing one's "Nativeness", blood quantum, or tribal affiliation.  Depending on what anthropological theory you want to believe many Natives apparently crossed the land bridge from Asia/Siberia.  Some believe Polynesians migrated to South America.  While others contend there were Native Americans here before the apparent Mongolian/Siberian invasion.  Most Anthropologists believe in the "Out of Africa" theory meaning all homo sapiens originated first in Africa and then migrated throughout the rest to the world.

And, if you happen to submit your DNA to 23 and Me for testing you are likely to find out you are not only part African but are also 3% to 5% Neanderthal.

Here is a good article on Native American Genetic testing.  I will post an excerpt but encourage everyone to read the full article.


by Brett Lee Shelton, J.D. and Jonathan Marks, Ph.D.


Tribes Do Not Differ From One Another In Ways That Geneticists Can Detect

Another issue is the widespread belief that genetics can help determine specific tribal affinities of either living or ancient people. This is quite simply false. Neighboring tribes have long-standing, complex relationships involving intermarriage, raiding, adoption, splitting, and joining. These social-historical forces insure that there cannot be any clear-cut genetic variants differentiating all the members of one tribe from those of nearby tribes. At most, slight differences in the proportions of certain genetic variations are identifiable in each group, but those do not permit specific individuals to be assigned to particular groups.


The concept of using genetic tests to prove Native American ancestry is of relatively recent origin, but there are many problems with it. Perhaps foremost of these problems is that to make a genetic test the arbiter of whether someone is Native American is to give up a tribe’s sovereign ability to determine its own membership and relations. But, even taken on their own scientific terms, these tests cannot do much to identify who is and who is not Native American, because they yield many false negatives and false positives. Therefore, they readily misidentify non-Native people as Native, and misidentifying Native people as non-Native, and the positive results they do yield are at best only probabilities. If these were medical diagnostic tests, they would never be approved or adopted.

But the most important argument against this type of testing to establish tribal affiliations is that biology (and genetics) track just part of our tribal inheritance. These DNA tests treat “Native American biology” as though all Indians were essentially the same. But in reality, it is our traditions that make us who we are, not just our biology.



Bitter Fight to Determine Who Is an American Indian Turns to DNA

By Kevin Taylor


A thornier question for Cory, and for Laura Wass of the American Indian Movement, is finding due process for people facing expulsion from several central California tribes that are in casino-induced turmoil. This is a challenge when tribes, citing sovereignty, make arbitrary rulings and provide limited options for appeal. The federal government, despite lawsuits grinding through U.S. District courts, refuses to step in.

So the nice person in the lab coat just used a giant Q-tip to swab some saliva from inside your cheek. Does it go through some shiny, space-age machine that eventually spits out the answer: “Yup. Dude’s Indian” or “Nope. Dude’s lying”?

In a word: No. In a few more words: “Anybody who claims that they can find out if you are an Indian through DNA testing, that’s a fairy tale,” says Mills.

While there are different ways to use DNA to determine ancestry—even as far back as prehistoric times—tribes use a far–more specific, and less-anthropological, type of test. “The only way it’s really used is determining whether or not you are the child of the parent that you claim,” Mills explains.

Read Full Article Here->Bitter Fight to Determine Who Is an American Indian Turns to DNA

See Also:

Tribal Enrollment and Genetic Testing


TheReal_Kilma_Lattin said...
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Anonymous said...

Just give up RR and blog owner. You know you are dealing with somebody who is mentally unstable.

Tukumay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheReal_Kilma_Lattin said...


False negatives and false positives exist in a variety of scientific testing procedures, including STD testing and pregnancy. Which is why multiple tests are sometimes needed. So there is always that risk of false negatives or false positives and it's good to bring it up.

But the actual prospect of DNA testing someone who has long passed to prove anything, is extreme and a bit concerning.

My recollection is that we set up the DNA testing because someone falsely claimed to be related to a tribal member to gain tribal citizenship, and it turns out they weren't actually related to that member (per the DNA test), so it was good that we set it up to safeguard our enrollment.

That being said, it does work. And science is getting more accurate with time.

Tukumay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tukumay said...

This is Joseph Harris. Paternity and Maternity testing works. My problem is with any notion we can just start digging up ancestors and use genetic testing to determine their blood degree. It's jut not going to work. Sure, companies will offer services, screen for known Native American markers, and give their opinion as to how "Indian" someone could or could not be. But to then have the EC, especially the current EC then make a judgement based on these results should be a troubling concept for everyone to even consider.

Just for your information I have a degree in Biochemistry and did research in academia for over 10 years. I have several Scientific publications in peer reviewed journals. The research I did routinely involved manipulating DNA with techniques such as PCR, northern blotting, southern blotting, restriction enzyme mapping, DNA and RNA purification, as well as genetic cloning. I know a little bit about this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Joseph. I think some people are just under the belief that all natives are as dumb as the ones that follow smith and his cohorts. It's hard for them to believe that a few of us are actually educated beyond the fifth grade. That some of us actually have had and currently hold positions in fields that are beyond their comprehension or understanding. Not everybody sits around and puffs the peace pipe or crack pipe if it's easier for some of the readers to understand. Some us actually did further ourselves with the complete understanding that the blood money may not last.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off the DNA topic but isn't it illegal for the chairman to do the opposite of what the general council votes for? Because the general council voted on the MB issue in the 80s and now Robert is doing the exact opposite of what they voted for. Even with the new enrollment ordinance the brittians were illegally dis enrolled

Anonymous said...

@the real_kilma_lattin

If you are so adamant about the purpose of utilizing DNA testing to make sure the tribal rolls are accurate, then why are is Cindy Lavatos and her children still allowed to collect per-capitia from the tribe, and utilize tribal services like education benefits, housing, water access, voting, state-tax difference for vehicle and appliance purchases, etc., etc.,. I have family members that have more Cupeno blood than her, since she is not Duane Lavatos blood daughter and is in fact adopted, but they are not enrolled because their blood-quantum is not 1/16th, they are decendants that have lived their whole lives within the community, but yet they have no access to any of these resources. In 50 years a lot of people are going to be in this same boat, unless you keep adopting non-bloods, than you might as well just open the rolls to anybody that the GC deems fit to be "accepted."

Anonymous said...

????where did kilma go??????

Anonymous said...

Back under the rock he crawled out from under

Anonymous said...

There is no rock big enough to hide Kilma. We all knew your dad was gay. So who was your mother? Mel? Tanty? Common village knowledge. Since he couldn't get it up for women how is it that you came to be. We need DNA testing starting with you. Strange that you are an only child. Yes lonely child. Leroy hate is contagious. Maybe you came from a tube. Does plastic and glass show up in a DNA test?

Anonymous said...

start the d.n.a. with cindy leal.

Unknown said...

Vincent Marruffo wants to publish his information on Robert~~Joseph~~ on my Gmail account~but I'm having problems ~ can you Gmail me☆ pop on the name Jo ☆please. Thanks God Bless.

Anonymous said...

thy knocked down that house where Bradley,was killed today,why doesent the e.c. make that that guy pay for that house.And kick him off this res.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Trying to cover up some evidence. I guess the murder investigation didn't lead to the arrest of a suspect. Everyone knows that Pala residents are innocent until evicted.

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