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    What To Do After Discovering You Have Native American DNA

    Recently, DNA testing for Native American heritage has moved into the spotlight as major players like Senator Elizabeth Warren have discovered their genetic connection to indigenous American communities. 

    By definition, Native Americans are the indigenous peoples of the United States.

    Native Americans may also be referred to as American Indian, Amerindian, Amerind, Indian, aboriginal American, or First Nation person.

    There are a few important factors you should consider if you have recently discovered that you have Native American DNA.

    In this article, learn about discovering your Native American history and the critical impacts of that information.

    What Can A DNA Test Tell You About Native American Ancestry?

    A specialized DNA test can tell you if you have a match to indigenous populations in the United States. It is important to note that the test cannot tell you the following:

    • What tribe you are a descended from 
    • What it means to be Native American
    • Detailed family history

    A specialized DNA test can match you with Native American DNA, but it cannot tell you the specific tribe your relative was a member of.

    Additionally, due to the trauma and expulsion Native American communities experienced, detailed family history and migration can be nearly impossible to track. 

    A test can, however, give you a valuable headstart into building your family tree.

    Once you have identified a link to an indigenous ancestor, you can begin investigating potential ties to specific tribes. You can consult Native American genealogical records like census rolls and more. 

    Why Discover Your Native American History?

    Perhaps you have heard a rumor in your family of Native American ancestry. Like for many other Americans, this is a hugely valuable piece of information regarding building a family tree or understanding your family heritage. 

    It is important, however, to understand your motives for discovering your Native American history. As an extremely persecuted group of people, some people are under the impression that if they can prove a link to indigenous populations, then they will receive amazing federal benefits. This is simply not true.

    It would be best if you double-checked your reliance on stereotypes about Native Americans before you start the process.

    Indigenous cultures are incredibly complex, vibrant, and beautiful - and are not to be taken lightly.

    If understanding your Native American heritage can provide you with a fuller sense of identity and an understanding of who your ancestors are and what they went through, then taking a DNA test may be right for you. 

    What Should You Do?

    Many Native Americans want people to know that just because you have a genetic match, does not make you part of the community.

    You should explore, learn, and discover more about the culture and its history before you make a direct claim that you belong.

    It is a two-way street; the community must accept you, just as you wish to accept them. 

    If you find out you have Native American ancestry, consider doing the following:

    • Begin working on a family tree by researching and talking to family members
    • If you are successful in identifying a tribe, reach out with the intention to learn more. Explore all aspects of the culture in a respectful manner
    • Think critically about what this discovery means to you and how it fits into your identity

    It is crucial to remember that many tribes were forcibly expelled from their land and suffered greatly from horrors like genocide, rape, expulsion, hunger, and much more.

    Your newly found ancestry can make an impact socially and politically on awareness of Native American history, its role in today’s society, and rights for Native American communities.

    Using your knowledge to empower and support communities is a beautiful way to learn more about your heritage and take an active role in the community today.

    Try researching advocacy groups in your area to start learning more about how you can make a difference. 


    It is important to remember that typical consumer DNA tests do not reveal results about Native American ancestry.

    In order to understand your genetic link to indigenous populations, you will need to consult a company that specializes in precisely this field. 

    Once you have the results and a confirmed link to an indigenous ancestor, your journey has only just begun. From there, an entire world can open up based on your level of proactiveness and thirst for knowledge. 

    Digging deeper into your family tree, expanding your connections with living relatives, and writing down your family history can be wonderfully valuable and fulfilling.

    Additionally, joining advocacy groups and learning more about Native American cultures in a respectful manner is a beautiful way to honor your new-found heritage.