Genealogy Vs. Genetics
by Christina Berry
"How can I get my blood tested to prove that I am a Cherokee?"
This is one of the most commonly asked questions on this site. Unfortunately, the simple answer to this question is, "You can't." It's true that there is a "Native American" genetic markers which can be found using both the Mitochondrial and Y-chromosome testing methods, but this is only indicates if a person is possibly Native American, it can not go so far as to indicate which tribe a person may descend from. Additionally, each genetic test is limited by gender. Specifically, the Mitochondrial test can only test the ethnic heritage of an unbroken female line, and the Y-chromosome test can only test the ethnic heritage of an unbroken mail line.
What does that mean? If, for example, your mother's father was half-Cherokee and he received his Cherokee ancestry from his mother, then both the Mitochondrial test and the Y-chromosome test would result in a false negative for the Native American genetic marker, because the Cherokee heritage went from female to male to female to male -- not an unbroken female or unbroken male line.
Despite this hitch, DNA testing has come a long way in recent years and is advancing all the time. A popular initiative within the Genetic Genealogy community is to link a tree of people together based on both genetics and genealogy, thus allowing science to prove who is and who is not related, while allowing genealogy to fill in some of the gaps that science can't yet test for. Organizations like Ancestry.com are working to link individuals together based on genetic links. Perhaps some day we will all be linked together in one giant genetic tree.
Today, though, we have to content with the current limitations of science. Additionally, none of the federally-recognized Cherokee tribes accept DNA evidence as proof for enrollment. So, at least for the time being, genealogy is still required, and is a fun and exciting way to discover and understand our family histories.
Ancestry.com DNA Testing - Ancestry now offers DNA testing to link distant you to cousins and give you a full picture of your genetic history.
Excerpts from this article appear in the All Things Cherokee Customized Cherokee Rolls Report, which also includes detailed Cherokee enrollment information, as well as a custom surname search of the Cherokee rolls, including the Dawes and Baker Rolls.
December Featured Items
Unhallowed Intrusion: A History of Cherokee Families in Forsyth County, Georgia
This 806-page tome is the only historical and genealogical work published on any Georgia county's Indian population.
365 Days of Walking the Red Road
This superb collection of Native American philosophy and culture helps you on your path along the Red Road in your quest for truth, light & love.
Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook
The book is organized around seven geographical hubs or communities within the orginal Cherokee homeland. Each chapeter covers sites, side trips, scenic drives, and events.
All Things Cherokee has helped thousands of families with their Cherokee genealogy research. We offer tons of free information as well as genealogy services to help you find answers to your genealogy questions.