However, you won’t see me claim I’m African-American
Or a Black person… though I’d be thrilled and honored to make these claims. My Senegal, Ivory Coast/Ghana and Nigeria DNA together has Elizabeth Warren’s Native-American DNA beat 3 times over, but I don’t know my African ancestor(s). I haven’t lived a life with any of their experiences. I can’t own this.
It is cool though!
I estimate within 4-6 generations ago that I had at least one African ancestor and I may someday discover the confirmed genealogy of this person.
My curiosity runs wild and that would be a super exciting day, but I still won’t be able to own it. An ally is the most I’ll ever be.
First of all, it is extremely important to state that DNA does NOT make you Native or Jewish. Or any other culture for that matter. DNA is cool, but as they say – strictly for entertainment.
To be Native
To be Native, you must at minimum, have lineal descent from a Native Nation citizen. This means you must know your Native Nation. If you do not know your Native Nation citizen relative, you cannot claim you are Native, Native-American, Indigenous, First Nations, etc. on the basis of DNA results or family lore. You must know exactly who your relatives are. I feel ya, sometimes this means some difficult, time and money consuming research, but it is not optional.
Individual Native Nations may also have other citizenship requirements that I won’t discuss in this post. Whether you are a Native Nation citizen or are a lineal descendant, DNA or family lore is not enough. There must be a clear and unbroken record of birth certificates to the last Native Nation citizen in your lineage.
Clans and family membership are usually matrilineal or passed from mother to child. There are exceptions to this but that is usually how it rolls. Citizenship though is usually derived from either parent, but Native Nations have a wide variety of requirements, so do your research.
In my opinion the terminology would be as the following example. I am a Mvskoke citizen, so I would generally say I am a Mvskoke citizen or Mvskoke. A relative of mine with lineal descent that is not a citizen, would generally say they are a Mvskoke descendant or of Mvskoke descent. In my opinion, either of us could say we are Native or Indigenous. This of course applies to North America.
To be Jewish
To be Jewish, is traditionally matrilineal or from conversion. My Father and I are patrilineal descendants, and therefore I and others in my family have had conversions. These days there are some denominations that accept matrilineal, patrilineal, or conversion.
None of these possibilities include DNA. In my opinion, like Native ancestry, if you do not know your lineal relatives, you need to do some research before you say you are a Jew or of Jewish descent. No one recognizes DNA or family lore, it is that simple.
DNA is great for finding relatives, or factually determining who your biological parents are though. It does not make someone Native or Jewish.
My Native and Jewish heritage is mixed obviously
Before we get into DNA percentages, remember there is no such thing as a part-Native or part-Jew. The only valid percentages for either are 0% or 100%. People are not fractional, they are whole. Racial/ethnic percentages also known as blood quantum are not real. Blood quantum is a white invention meant to bolster white supremacy. I’m sure to discuss blood quantum in greater detail in a future post.
Like blood quantum, DNA should also not be used to bolster white supremacy.
Generally Ancestry.com revises their estimates once every year or so. In 2022 they revised mine twice. 2022 included for the first time not just ethnicity estimates, but also whether maternal or paternal.