Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interpreting Your Ethnicity Admixture Results (Amerindian)

Yes, we know that our ethnicity admixture estimates should be used casually, not causally, and is conversation-starter fodder best reserved for social events. We're reminded the best use of our DNA results (autosomal DNA) is synergistically utilizing them with our genealogies to build our family pedigrees, to connect with our genetic relatives and to trace our roots. But the truth is some of us are seriously hung over on our ethnicity admixture estimates and have found them useful.

 you're one of those people who loves to imbibe ethnicity admixture cocktails, like any other intoxicator you should at least enjoy them responsibly. In this blog I'm going to explain how you should be interpreting your ethnicity admixture results when trying to determine what they could mean. Essentially my goal is to get beginner and intermediate genetic genealogists to think more like population geneticists ("5% of my DNA is similar to British Isles populations...") rather than genealogy astrologers ("I have 5% Irish in me..."). Therefore I've adapted these 10 lessons from my inaugural Admixture Centrifuge blog and your questions over the years for quick reference.(NOTE: Although these lessons focus on Native American admixture you can substitute any ethnicity here as the principles of interpretation remain the same.) Enjoy and SHARE:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Admixture Centrifuge: Cherokee DNA

(Read about Admixture Centrifuge blog series and Submission Requirements here.)
Bijon Levels Hughes (left) and highway marker showing his 6th-great-grandfather Chief Drowning Bear Yonaguska (1759–1839), first chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee during Indian Removals aka Trail of Tears. Highway marker is located on US 19 northeast of Bryson City, North Carolina.
Osiyo ("hello"). If I had an Indian Head cent or buffalo nickel for every person claiming a connection to the Cherokee tribe, I'd be filthy rich. It's more sought after than even the ubiquitous lust for any Native American heritage at all. Of course I see nothing wrong with it if you honestly believe you have Cherokee heritage. And with over 300,000 members the federally recognized Cherokee Nation certainly seems plausible for many seekers. However, the majority of people just can't find that connection to the Cherokee or any other tribe (and you can read my blog Native American Is Not That Into You to explore reasons why). There's also no shortage of dissenters ready to lynch you for daring to make such claims  I call dissenters belonging to Amerindian tribes members of the collective Ku Klux clan and non-Amerindian ones the Radical Anti-Indian Terrorists. Luckily there are instances when someone is unequivocally Cherokee by "blood." 

I came across such a bona fide Cherokee descendant in my Facebook group Native American Ancestry Explorer. This person was not interested in joining the Cherokee tribe (he was already a member) nor trying to prove if he was Native American (he already knew). So for my inaugural Admixture Centrifuge series, this allowed me the perfect opportunity to examine how the Cherokee's Native American component breaks down on ethnicity admixture calculators.  I also wanted to know if my client's admixture results could tell us anything about the Cherokee's ancient origins vis a vis did they migrate from Great Lakes region of US/Canada or had they been in the American Southeast for millenniums?

Meet Bijon Levels Hughes (aka "client"). First I'd like to bid an immense Wado ("thank you") to  my client for agreeing to participate. Bijon gave me expressed permission to publish all of the information provided in this blog. My client  is Cherokee and African-American. To note Bijon does not descend from  Cherokee Freedman but is a progeny of Cherokee chiefdom. However since claiming Cherokee roots is so controversial I decided to preface my client's analysis with brief genealogical records of his claim but this blog focuses more on genetic admixture. 

"My 6th-great-grandfather is Chief Yonaguska aka Drowning Bear (1759–1839). He was the first chief of the Eastern Band Cherokee during the trail of tears when the Cherokees where sent into Oklahoma. He led a band of Cherokees to stay in there homeland in present-day North Carolina. He refused to leave. I am 1/4 Eastern Band Cherokee. I received 20 plus percent of Native American DNA on my AncestryDNA results which wasn't a surprise being that my grandmother was 15/16 and 1/16 European. I have family records through the Baker Rolls where it kept blood quantum of Native Americans. My mother is African-American but we have a mix of European and a lot of mulatto ancestors." 
Client submissions: AncestryDNA results; Gedmatch results (DodeCad World9 with chromosome painting, MDLP World22, MDLP K23, Eurogenes K13, Eurogene K36, HarappaWorld); DNA.Land results, and selected genealogical records.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Genealogical DNA Testing AFFORDABLE Again

Source: http://www.busandcoach.travel/en/affordable/affordable_resources.htm

The "Big-3" DTC DNA companies (23andMe, AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA) now offer autosomal DNA testing (ethnicity admixture and genetic relative matching) at affordable prices again. Finally. I believe competition is great because it allows those of us serious about genetic genealogy and adoptees to fish in all the big ponds. That's right, you should be testing at all three of these companies for a full-circle experience. Don't listen to the biased agenda-mongers because these tests are totally worth it. Your budget may allow you to do only one test at a time, but still plan to test at all three even it takes a year or two. (For an in-depth analysis on what each of these DTC DNA tests have to offer, you can read my "Best DNA Tests For..." blogs here and here.) I have all three listed here (in alphabetical order):

23andMe is now offering an ancestry-only test (includes autosomal-DNA testing; mitochondrial-DNA and Y-DNA haplogroup predictions; Neanderthal testing, and raw data) at its former low price of $99 ... Order here.

AncestryDNA is normally $99 but can be ordered anytime for $79 by using one of these methods below:

via DNA Testing Advisor: 
1. Click this link first: http://bit.ly/1ayAtBx. This gives [DNA Testing Advisor] credit for the referral. Don't worry that the price will still show as $99.
2. Click this link second: http://bit.ly/1l3wtEC. This opens an order form where you enter your contact information or sign in if you already have an Ancestry account. On the next page you will see the $79 price. Enter the number of kits you wish to order and continue.

via Facebook group DNA Detectives:
Please join Facebook group DNA Detectives here and then visit the PINNED POST at the top of the page where you will see instructions to order at the $79 price. 

FamilyTreeDNA lowered its FamilyFinder test from $99 to $79 ... Order here.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Family Reunions: A Finding Your Roots Review

Welcome to the ROOTS section of my blog where I focus on general and personal genealogical subjects of my interest. Most of the time these blogs will be short digs where only limited research is performed. Last year I promised to join fellow bloggers covering the sensational "PBS Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." In order to fulfill my covenant I'm using my "ROOTS" blogs to review this award-winning TV series in a creative way. Enjoy:

The fifth installment of season three's PBS Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr: Family Reunions (FYR 3:5) aired on February 16, 2016 (8pm EST), and was arguably the best episode ... ever. Join me as I discuss the reuniting genealogical stories of: (I) LL Cool J; and (II) Sean Combs.

Family Reunions. The summertime fodder when we're all under the blazing Ra gettin' stuffed, making moments with kinfolk and who's-dat-girls on alopecia-riddled tuft. Paper plates buffed with fire-grilled delights and smokescreen cups filled with igniting nutcracker spikes. Ma Dukes spilling oolong family teas, and havin' hissy fits at the kids tryin' to get dibs on Grandpa's famous ribs. Nearby banshee boys cocking stunts on dirty-red bikes, performing Tasmania Devil stunts that would make even Evil Kniviel crunk. New jacks being told to pull up their sags by OG’s imbibing down libations in brown paper bags. Apple-synched ladybugs acting all laissez faire while well-I-never Aunt Tee throwing shady side-eyes at Uncle Dee's wandering stare. Soul train', Cha-Cha vs. electric slidin', the running man and Frankie Beverly finger-snapping thanks to cousin DJ. But here's the remix:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Adoptee Ancestors in Genealogical Research

"Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called ..."... Genetic Genealogy. 
Welcome to the ROOTS section of my blog where I focus on traditional genealogical and DNA stories of my interest. This short  and fun   dive discusses the discovery of "adopted" ancestors in genealogical research. Dedicated to the legendary music Icon PRINCE Rogers Nelson (1958 - 2016). Enjoy: 

"I was dreamin' when I wrote this, So sue me if I go 2 fast, But life is just a party, and parties weren't meant 2 last." ...  You always party like it's 1999 when you're able to advance the family tree backward (or forward) another generation. That is, until you find yourself in 1899 and discover that your ancestor is listed as "Adopted" in a genealogical record! Have you ever unexpectedly come across such an ancestor in your research? If yes, what challenges were presented to you? Were you ever successful in finding your ancestor’s adoptive and biological family roots?  

Now remember I'm talking about your ancestors from say a century ago. Not your living or recently deceased relatives. I suspect many adoptions 100+ years ago were informal and never even made public. For African-Americans think of how the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, subsequent institution of human chattel bondage, and eventual emancipation were catalysts and a continuum for many informal adoptions of children, adults and their own family members. 

Blessedly or cursedly be damned, discovering an ancestor documented as "adopted" is actually not a bad thing. At least you know it happened. But you're also at the mercy of the record keepers and census enumerators of yore, and the latter often recorded what they saw or were told  — on-site and sight unseen. Not to mention your return to the proverbial drawing board in a hardscrabble attempt to document your "new" family branch and to recalibrate your genealogical pedigree. The good news is there's something you can do about it!

"Let's go crazy. Let's get nuts." By now I know you're wondering what does all of this have to do with Prince? ...  I can tell you now  — I won't be revealing that I'm his long lost relative. I'm just strung lovesexy for his artistry and song! So I know you'll believe me when I tell you that the musical demigod himself gave me a departing wink. And you'll soon learn why as I discuss: (1) adopted ancestors in genealogical research; (2) tips for researching adopted ancestors, and (3) a glimpse of early Americana. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

New IN COMMON WITH tool at 23andMe

On May 26, 2016, 23andMe.com announced a new DNA Relatives In Common With feature for users on its new platform. This is very exciting news because the new tool will help us figure out who's related to whom among our DNA matches. Of course there are some caveats. Please read the announcement by 23andMe's moderator in the site's new community forum as seen here:

"We have a new tool in DNA Relatives - Relatives in Common. 

Using our Relatives in Common feature, you will be able to see the current matches that you and a DNA Relative have in common, and whether you share an overlapping segment of DNA among all three of you. 

Once you have selected a relative to compare with, you will be able to review a list of relatives that you have in common, as well as the percent DNA shared and the predicted relationship between each pair. 

You will also be able to see whether you have any overlapping genomic region among you, the person you are comparing with, and the relative you have in common. If there is a region of any overlap among all three of you, then we say that you have “Shared DNA”. Clicking on the blue “Yes” or “No” under Shared DNA will take you to DNA View where you can see the segment data. 

This is what happened when I chose "Shared DNA" and clicked on the blue "Yes" ... The chromosome browser (used for Family Inheritance: Advanced tool) opens up and shows where you match the chosen common relatives on the chromosomes. It also shows if there is overlapping segments between you and the two other relatives that you share DNA with in the same location (see chromosome #18); if I had chosen "No" then it would show the locations shared between me and two other relatives who don't match each other in the same location (but are still related to each other).

23andMe shows each pair of chromosomes on one display. Even though you share DNA along the same stretch along the chromosome pair, the actual DNA that matches may be different as one individual may match on one chromosome of the pair while the other matches on the sister chromosome. So, it’s possible that even if it appears that the three of you have Shared DNA, it may be that you match each profile on the same region but through different sides of your family. 

We’re really excited about our Relatives in Common tool. We are rolling this out gradually, so users who are opted in to Open Sharing will be the first to access the feature. If you want to start using this today, you can opt in to Open Sharing here. 

Let me know if you have any questions!"

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to Search Facebook Groups

Somethings are just hiding in plain sight, and I'm going to show you one of them. If you belong to a Facebook group and want to search for something you or someone else previously wrote or posted, it can be very difficult to do. Especially in active FB groups. So you create a brand new topic...much to the chagrin of fellow posters and group administrators. As such, I'm going to show to SEARCH for a topic or comment you or someone else posted previously. It's really easy:

(1) On the FB group page there is a "Search this group" field located on the top, right-hand side of the page (and just below the group photo). In this screen-shot below using my Native American Ancestry Explorer FB group (join here), I show you exactly where the "Search this group" field is located (and note there is a magnifying glass icon next to it): 

(2) You can put in a Name, Subject or any identifying words to help the FB group search engine do its job. After you put the information in the "Search this group" field,  several topics that you or others created or where you or others commented with the Name,  Subject or identifying information will come up (Note: for additional scrolling there is a "Show More" button at the top of the page). In the example below, I wanted to search for a previous topic I posted about Southeast Asian admixture showing up in Afro-diasporans with Native American ancestry (you can read it here). So I put "Amerindian Southeast Asian" in the search field and it came up as the second topic. As you can see the FB group search engine highlighted Amerindian and Southeast Asian in the places where I and others previously mentioned the two terms: 

(3) Finally in the example below, I entered my name "TL Dixon" in the "Search this group" field to see my and other member's topics or comments showing where my name was previously tagged: 

See I told you it was really easy to do. Be sure to practice using it.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Coming Down the Ethnicity Admixture Pike

Source: http://www.nature.com/collections/vbqgtr
Fasten your seat-belts! The year 2016 reveals two of the major direct-to-consumer DNA companies — AncestryDNA ($99 US) and FamilyTreeDNA's FamilyFinder ($99 US) — will be updating their Autosomal DNA tests' ethnicity admixture tool and reference population clusters. AncestryDNA pleasantly surprised some of us with a temporary preview to its upgraded "Ethnicity Estimate" (now in BETA stage) shortly after announcing kits will available in 29 additional countries, while competitor FamilyTreeDNA promised a new version of its FamilyFinder "myOrigins" for the first quarter of this year at its 11th International Conference of Genetic Genealogy. I cover both offerings in this blog.

Let me tell you something! We've been thirsting hard for such updates, like waiting for admixture Godot stuck in a traffic jam of displeasure because our current results never quite stack up to our expectations and beliefs. Just four years ago our admixture estimates were infantile at best; our admixture was clumped into three to five broad continental-level categories. In rearview, AncestryDNA was first to market on October 17, 2013, with its finer-scale "Ethnicity Estimate" [see story here]. Soon after on November 19, 2013, 23andMe announced an update to its "Ancestry Composition" [see blog here]. And finally on May 6, 2014 FamilyTreeDNA introduced myOrigins, a make-over of its former admixture offering [see Roberta Estes blog here]. It's worth noting on August 10, 2015 National Genographic 2.0 updated its product with an overhaul of reference populations and "regional affinities" [see article here]. Currently 23andMe is caught up in a transition quagmire after winning FDA green-light to market health testing [see Estes' DNA-Xplained] so it's not clear when an upgrade to its "Ancestry Composition" (arguably the best admixture tool in show) will be released. Newcomer TribeCode hasn't announced a timeline for future changes to its Next Generation Sequencing-based "Ethnicity Composition" (which includes 62 reference population clusters). But before we sojourn on the long road ahead, we need to make a quick pitstop so I can gas your think-tanks up with some premium food for thought:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sharing Your AncestryDNA Matches List with Other Members

If you're an AncestryDNA (from Ancestry.com) member, did you know that you can share your DNA MATCHES list (and full Ethnicity Estimate results) with other AncestryDNA members? And you can do it without giving up your log-in information? Chances are you didn't know, but that's cool. It's a real simple process and I'm going to show you how to do it.


  • Deciding to share your AncestryDNA matches with another Ancestry member either means you're a serious genealogist, very liberal-minded, have nothing to hide, or just wants someone else to do all the work for you (which case can be a blessing to some of us). In any case you must be comfortable with sharing your DNA MATCHES list. 
  •  If you share your DNA MATCHES list with another AncestryDNA member, it means this AncestryDNA member can see your list of DNA matches. 
  • You must receive a sharing invite from an AncestryDNA member in order to see that person's results. You don't automatically see their results when you share with them.
  • None of your personal or account information will be shared with the AncestryDNA member(s) viewing your results.
  • Nor will the AncestryDNA member be able to make changes to or hostilely take over your account, raw data, ethnicity estimate, family trees or DNA MATCHES list.
  • You can stop sharing your DNA MATCHES with other members at any time.
  • Relax. If you've uploaded your DNA results to GEDmatch.com then you can see the DNA matches of any kit on your own list. Nothing has happened, right?
  • Sharing your DNA MATCHES works the same way as inviting someone to view your  Ancestry.com's Family Trees -- you invite AncestryDNA members to view your list by sending them a request by username or e-mail address
  • You are the Administrator of your AncestryDNA account. You can ONLY invite another member in the role of "Guest" (invitee limited to viewing your DNA matches list) OR "Editor" (invitee can write/edit notes and "star" your DNA matches) as explained in this screen-shot:
Source: AncestryDNA


(1) On your AncestryDNA Home page go to "SETTINGS" icon as seen here:

(2) Toward the bottom of your "Test Setting for..." page, you will see an "Invite others to access DNA results" button as shown here:  

(3) Once the "Invite others to access DNA results" page opens, you must: 
  • put invitee's username or e-mail address in the "Email or Ancesty username" field;
  • decide which role you want the invitee to have by choosing "Guest" (invitee can view your list only) or "Editor" (invitee can write/edit notes and star your matches) as shown here:

(4) After you've invited the member to view your DNA matches, AncestryDNA will send the member an e-mail to view your results. Once the Ancestry member accepts your invite he or she will be able to see your DNA MATCHES list (and full Ethnicity Estimate). 

  • NOTE: If you're the recipient of an invite to share DNA matches (and you accept), then the AncestryDNA member's  kit name will appear in your "VIEW ANOTHER TEST" drop-down menu. To demonstrate, in the screen-shot below I [prevously] invited my [twin kit] KingGenome to share so the kit name appears on the drop-down list:

  • If I click on my "KingGenome" kit, then it takes me to [my twin kit] King Genome's list of DNA matches, which I can happily explore: 
Good will hunting!

The Stories I Tell: Finding Your Roots Review Special (Episode 3:1)

Welcome to the ROOTS section of my blog where I focus on general and personal genealogical subjects of my interest. Most of the time these blogs will be short digs where only limited research is performed. Last year I promised to join fellow bloggers covering the sensational "PBS Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." In order to fulfill my covenant I'm using the next few "ROOTS" blogs to review this award-winning TV series in my creative way. Please join me, and enjoy: 
PBS Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr, Episode 1, Season 3 screenshot. Source: PBS.org
SEASON THREE'S premier of PBS Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (FYR) launched on January 5, 2016 (8pm EST) with outstanding success. After a harrowing delay due to Affleck-gate, FYR did not skip (no pun intended Dr. Skip Gates) a heartbeat with fantastic genealogical journeys into the pasts of political strategist Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrel and artist Kara Walker. This particular FYR episode (view here) focused on each guest's "deep" family mysteries and discussed how slavery may have influenced their identities. Curiously FYR investigations utilized Autosomal DNA testing as in past seasons but opted NOT to include admixture analysis for its guests (perhaps forbidden fruit now because many of us (ab)use it to define our identities). Instead FYR turned to the more reliable DNA relative matching (DNA is not supposed to lie). However this minor shift in programming was majorly compensated by the illustrious stories we learned about Donna's unusual surname Brazile; Ty's free Black great-great-grandmother Susannah Weeks, who became a homesteader in Oregon, and Kara's emancipated great-great-great-grandfather Henry Fordham, a free man of color working for the Confederates during the US Civil War. Of course I've always longed to become famous or successful enough to be featured on FYR and handed a Book of Life. While I'm waiting my turn to sit across from Dr. Gates, I'll pacify the time by finding something on FYR that connects to one my relatives. 

Immediately after FYR's season opener aired I logged on AncestryDNA to research my family tree and to check for new genetic matches for myself and DNA-tested relatives with whom I'm sharing my DNA match list. Pay dirt...sort of. I discovered that Donna Brazile has something in common with one of my relatives -- the surname Brazil(e) and Braswell. It turns out that my relative's granduncle had a daughter whose maiden name was Brazil (variation of Brazile) by a woman with last name Braswell. To rewind, Donna discovered that her last name had originally been Braswell and earlier Bracewell.  FYR showed Donna's family living in Louisiana by way of her ancestor Della Braswell, who was born in North Carolina. Her Brazile ancestors were enslaved by a large slave-owning Brawell family that migrated from Virginia colony to the Tar Heel State; Dr. Gates says they all "descended from one man" Richard Bracewell of England. So I wanted to see if my relative's cousin with the Brazil surname underwent a similar transformation, and if there was evidence my relative cousin's Brazil ancestors enslaved by the same Braswell family that enslaved Donna's ancestors. Here's what I found out: