What Percentage Native American Am I? – What is Blood Quantum?

What Percentage Native American Am I? – What is Blood Quantum?

Posted By PowWow Articles February 5th, 2019 Blog

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.

Related Info – How Much Percentage of Native American Do You Have To Be To Enroll With a Tribe

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.

Solve this with Math

blood quantum marty two bulls

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 marty two bulls 2

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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18 thoughts on “What Percentage Native American Am I? – What is Blood Quantum?

  1. Paul Goodnough says:

    My grandmother (maternal) was born on the Indian Territories before it became Oklahoma. the 1910 US Census state that she and my Great Grandmother were “Indian” The family “tradition is that my Great Grandmother was found by settlers on the Trail from Missouri to thre territories and was brought into the family , and that she was considered “Black Dutch”. My Grandmother stated to me that her mother was from the Kiowa-Apache tribe near the Stockade of Ft. Sill. No birth records from the pre statehood days is making it hard for me to trace true lineage. the K-A were not listed as a tribe on the Dawes Rolls, so i am at a quandry.

  2. Monica Verdugo- Thomas says:

    I’ve done my DNA test and it shows 63% Native American… of course this mean nothing since I’ve no clue what Tribe or anything else. At a lost as to where begin to search.

  3. Tammy Lyle says:

    I am 16% American native, l don’t know where l fit in and if l have a right to belong in group.

  4. Jeannette Clarke says:

    Where and what is the name of test I have to take to get the quautam test done , is it by blood or saliva ? My great grand father is Cherokee and Choctaw need percentages in blood line of blood quantum . What the name of the tests ?

  5. I do not claim any Native heritage. I am Welsh on my fathers side and English on my mothers side by birth, and yet since childhood I have identified with the Navajo people, I love to read about the country and have three Navajo pen pals. I have no idea what is inside my head and I do not share this with others as a matter of course, I just know that I have a spiritual connection. It may sound strange but it keeps me happy.

  6. mamie steeds says:

    hi i had my dna done it says i m 1percent native how do i find out how much that is and what tribe

  7. Patricia Cole says:

    I was going thru my Ancestry DNA results and i came across Chief Red Bird and it says that he is my 5th great-grandfather, does that mean that i have some Cherokee in me? Which would make me very proud.

  8. Anna Madewell says:

    hi I recently summited an Ancestry test for my DNA.the results determined I am 75% Native American. How do I go about finding out what tribe I am etc.

    • JudyAdkins says:

      By DNA testing through 23&me and Ancestry.com I am 24.6% Native American. It seems to come from my mother’s side but was told by my paternal grandmother that she was part Cherokee and my paternal Greatgrandmother (my grandmother’s mother in law) was full blooded Blackfoot and spoke only that language. My paternal half brothers and paternal cousins do not show any Native American blood on DNA testing. Can you explain why the Native American blood is not showing up? Thanks.

  9. Tawana giffen says:

    My great grandmother and grandfather was full-blooded Cherokee what percentage would that make me

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