One Tin Soldier rides away


Back in the early months of the year I started getting messages from various people that I needed to connect with my Native American ancestors because they were going to play an important role in the next phase of my work. The first couple times someone passed this on I just smiled, nodded and said I would take it under advisement. I did not let on that this was a sensitive subject for me, owing to the disappearance of my father when I was 3 and how those ancestors had completely rebuffed me in my teens when I first attempted to reach out to them. After all, the people were just trying to be helpful and transmit what they had received. And those transmissions kept coming, so by midsummer I finally broke down and got one of those DNA testing kits. If I was going to get anywhere in untangling my ancestral line I’d need something concrete to bring the tribal authorities and right now all I had were the poorly remembered stories of my father. Even the names of my grandparents were hidden from me.

Well, I finally got the results back and it turns out I am 99.4% European. The numbers break down as follows:

30.8% Italian
26.9% British
13.1% French & German
1.6% Swedish
0.9% Iberian
0.3% Finnish
0.4% West Asian & North African

And the rest was a mix of “Broadly Northern European” and “Broadly Southern European,” whatever that means, plus I have less Neanderthal variants than 64% of the people tested.

I had them run their additional medical test and I don’t have any of the genetic conditions Native Americans are commonly predisposed to and my paternal haplogroup came out of Africa less than 10,000 years ago, too late for the Bering Land Bridge. All of which strongly suggests that those stories I was raised with about being Blackfoot were false. Either that, or my Native ancestors are doing their damndest to conceal their genetic contribution.

Now, these tests aren’t perfect and they apparently have trouble identifying Native Americans because there isn’t a large enough pool of contributors … or so some websites claim. I’m going to have myself tested again through another company and see if they can turn anything up, but at this point I kind of feel like I’ve reached a dead end with this. Annoying. 




  1. Welcome to the club of “Whatta ya mean I’m not…”
    You’re still more Italian than me. My results were updated due to a larger sample group and now I’m only 21% Italian instead of the assumed 50! 64% Irish/Scottish and a smattering of northwestern European in the mix. Hey Dionysos! I’ll be the guy in the corner drinking a Guinness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. don’t be annoyed!
    it actually validates your experience in your teens, and the overall lack of pull you’ve felt about the whole situation.
    i call that simply another DING DING DING!


  3. That happened to my father. He was told throughout his life that he was part Native American by way of a grandmother. Test results came out. Turns out he and I are Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Portuguese, Italian, French, Scandinavian, and possibly Jewish. The grandmother in question turns out to have been an immigrant from Portugal who for some reason just never told anyone she wasn’t Cherokee. I have yet to test my own blood to see what my particular makeup is (which I’ve been told should be Hispanic, Portuguese, West African, and Taino). Though I’m sure I’ll be just as surprised


  4. I learned from a video on that this is not at all uncommon. Either it’s a family myth or, as you seem to already know, the ancestor is just too far back to register on the test.

    Your two tacks are to engage them directly through ancestor veneration, and to work on uncovering more information through genealogical research. I know this is frustrating, but you are well positioned to do both of these things.


  5. All of this genetic testing people are getting raises interesting questions for me about technological objectification of one’s corporeal being. This impersonal entity intervenes and tells one what is the “truth” (materialist truth, of course) about one’s ancestry. I’m not necessarily against it—Platonist, so the body is already an object for me in some sense—but it certainly does shuffle the deck a bit.


  6. My family went through when my great aunt did a genealogical search and later tracked down all the loose ends. It disrupted all of us and the ground was shaky under us. What seemed to be granite to build an identity upon turned out to be water. We were lost until we could reorient ourselves and move forward.

    What we learned is that family myths and beliefs cover a multitude of things that people want to keep in the dark.


  7. Same thing happened to me. All those stories of German ancestors didn’t show up in my ‘ethnicity’ estimate. You don’t have to test again, though! You can upload your DNA raw data (a downloadable file) and upload it to other websites for free or a small charge. It cleared things up for me. They update their references every now and then, too, to refine their accuracy.


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