February 5th, 2019 Last Updated on: November 24th, 2019
Just got your DNA test and want to know more? Or do you want to validate the family stories about your heritage?
It is no surprise that many of us have a mixture of ethnicities in our blood. One of those dominates which come directly from our parents but if we consider our grandparents or our great-grandparents then the story changes a little.
A very frequently asked question is the percentage or fraction of Native American a person is and there are many ways to depict that but first, we must clear out some things so that the calculations are clearer, easier and more accurate. The real question is what percentage of a particular ethnicity you have on paper in comparison to what you have genetically.
Keep in mind that having Native American ancestry in your DNA does not make you part of a tribe. Being Native American is more than just blood, it is about being a part of a tribe, community, and culture.
If you look at the Oral History of the family that tends to be a little inaccurate as it becomes either diluted or condensed as the time passes.
An example of this can be seen that if someone's grandmother claims that she is 3/4th, she might not really be that because maybe she has more ethnicities that came from her grandparents further. Plus how does one have exactly 2/3rd of ethnicity because each person has four grandparents?
So yes there can be some sort of ambiguity so the story that you hear might not be the whole truth. It takes two people in each generation so the fraction can only be divisible of 2 or 4 but not 3. So in the case of grandparents it ¼ and in the case of great-grandparents, it's 1/8. This is the mathematical form to add some sort of clarity.
Blood Quantum Chart
It is not actually as hard as it sounds just because it has math in it.
Let’s take a look at it.
First and foremost we must know that the DNA of a person is diluted in half so for that reason each ancestral generation is reduced to half because it makes more sense this way. So if for instance, a person mother has 1/8 of a particular ethnicity then the person they would have a fraction of 1/16 because they inherited half of their mothers DNA. So by this, you can calculate.
After that, you find the common denominator. I know this is a lot of math but we are dealing with genetics here so this is necessary. So if you have, let's say the numbers 1/16 and 2/16 then they are easy to add because they have the same denominator. Although if you have two number with different denominators like 2/16 and 3/32 then you will make their denominators the same in order to add them. So you multiply 2/16 with two and you get 4/32. Now you can add both these fractions.
Now once you are done with this, you move on to adding the numerators or the top numbers together. Once you have added those you have the fraction of the Native American Ethnicity that you have in you on paper and you can now convert that into percentage form and know exactly. For this, you must know fractions in your family tree to make sure those are accurate.
So in simpler words, we get the equation:
Mothers blood degree + Fathers blood degree = Total blood degree/Total divided by half = Childs blood degree
Blood Quantum Calculator
All this mathematical game was too easy to be true. But now you have to figure out how to prove this particular information. This is where genetics step in. If we talk about Native ancestry then the answer varies upon the purpose i.e. general interest, tribal identification or tribal membership etc.
For this, you can, of course, take a DNA test from Family Tree DNA called Family Finder which will further provide you with the percentage of ethnicity you have including Native American with the addition of the list of cousin matches. You are also offered additional tests in the case of relevance to figure out if you descend from the Native person paternally (male) or matrilineally (for both the sexes).
Information that will be useful is that the Y DNA is inherited by males from their fathers and the mitochondrial DNA is always inherited by their mothers. These particular tests of the mitochondrial and Y give you very specific information. On the other hand, Family Finder provides you with the information of your ethnicity judging by all your lines giving you more in-depth and accurate information. The only thing it cannot tell you is that from which lines or line the Native American heritage came from.
The information is such that a person can be considered a full Native tribal member although the person might have just half Native Heritage. So what do we learn from this? It is that you should always enjoy and cherish your family history and heritage. Another thing that you must keep in mind is that tribal memberships were not based on percentages in history at least not until the 1800s and early 1900s. You must also know that your ancestor was either an Indian tribal member or was not one and this is based on the tribal status of their mothers. In history, there was no concept of halfway or mixed so percentages and fractions did not really matter.
By DNA testing, the percentages will also help you figure out from where you got the Native heritage from. The calculations are translated as:
For instance, if you are 50% / Half Blooded Quantum meaning One Parent
If you are 25% / One-Fourth Blood Quantum meaning One Grandparent
12.5% is One-Eighth Blood Quantum meaning One Great-Grandparent
6.25% is One-Sixteenth Blood Quantum meaning One Great-Great-Grandparent
And so on, showing that this is how the percentage helps in finding where you got your heritage from.
If you want to confirm Native heritage then a DNA test is the best way. It can also do so in a variety of ways such as how is the heritage descended on you with the tests of Y and mitochondrial DNA. Depending on whether the person is a male or a female and how the person descends from his or her Native ancestors. If the person gets the Y or the mitochondrial DNA test done then there could be an abundant amount of information added in the person’s family history. In the case of some people, DNA testing is used to deduct and discover if they have a Native ancestor. So if accurate information without any ambiguity is what you are looking for then the best way to find out is through DNA testing and also finding out the percentage you have on paper.
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