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