~ Discovering Your Family's Past To Shape Your Future ~
DNA is a fascinating topic for genealogy, and an increasingly popular one as well. I’m talking here about autosomal DNA – not the father-to-son (Y chromosome) or mother-to-daughter (mitochondrial) DNA that goes back to forever. Autosomal gets at all the other ancestors in between the strict maternal and paternal lines. Here’s the catch – from each parent, you inherit half your DNA. That means that you do NOT inherit the other half. This can lead to some surprising results.
A friend of mine whose great-grandparent was American Indian (making him 1/8th by blood according to tribal reckoning) was raised with this knowledge of his heritage. He decided to get his DNA tested for fun recently. The results were quite interesting – if DNA determines ethnicity, then he is not American Indian at all! That is to say, he did not inherit the American Indian DNA that was in his family. (You share only 12.5% of DNA with any of your great-grandparents- meaning you DON’T share 87.5% of their DNA.)
Being a cultural anthropologist by training, this was fascinating to me. If we are to take these findings and extrapolate from them, ethnicity really is self-identification. What heritage do you identify with – traditions, groups, or cultures? My friend still identifies as part American Indian. The fact that he didn’t happen to get the DNA is irrelevant. He still has that heritage and identity regardless of the DNA he received.
They say that blood is thicker than water…it seems that heritage is stronger than DNA. What do you think?