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Best Native American DNA Test (2023)
Updated on April 14, 2023
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Best Native American DNA Test (2023)
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Many people are curious whether or not they have Native American ancestry and wonder if DNA testing will be able to tell them. But what does DNA testing really say?

This blog post explores the history of DNA testing, how it works, and whether or not you can learn more about any Native American heritage you may have through a DNA test.

Best Native American DNA Test (2023) 2

Can a DNA test help you determine if you have Native American ancestry?

Yes. DNA test kits reveal your ethnic lineage, so you’ll be able to determine where your relatives came from. Many family trees house different origins, and Native American ancestry may just be in your genes. 

Despite the benefits of DNA testing for Native American heritage, there are a few flaws in at-home test kits for this purpose.

At-home kits are basic and provide an estimation of your DNA makeup. They are also based on modern populations or are mapped by regions. The better a testing company’s database, the more thorough the results, which means not everyone is going to get a complete look into their heritage from their DNA sample. 

Therefore, if the test you take has a smaller database that doesn't necessarily have a good representation when it comes to Native American DNA, you may have a more difficult time finding answers.

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At-Home DNA Testing is a Crowd-Sourcing Effort

DNA test kits rely on people to participate. If they are unable to grow their database or a certain heritage refuses to participate, it’s incomplete data. 

Additionally, who is or is not a Native American based on the criteria of each tribe also varies widely. There are more than 550 federally recognized Native American tribes, and each has specific guidelines for determining tribal membership.

Most tribes do not require DNA testing for membership and rely solely on paternity and familial connections of the last four to five generations. This makes it difficult to track heritage genetically. 

Some tribes even prohibit DNA testing of members. This has limited the Native American information in databases, and it’s more difficult to establish connections with your ethnic heritage. 

And although some tribes are interested in exploring the use of DNA for tribal enrollment, to date, science can’t come up with a genetic signature for this purpose.


At-home DNA tests can help you determine whether or not you have Native American ancestry by tracing your lineage.

They aren't perfect, however, as they have their own limitations. Database-wise, information is pretty scarce if a DNA testing company just doesn't have enough people of a certain demographic. Still, it's a good way to learn more about yourself and your roots, and it's not a total impossibility to determine Native American ancestry.

Should You Use DNA Testing to Establish Native American Heritage?

The simplest answer to this is that it’s likely impossible to do so. Add to that the fact that it isn’t worth trying for most people.

Most people connect to their tribes through tangible family heritage. They might have even moved on from their tribal reservation, but still have a connection to it through their spirit stronger than their blood connection. 

The only reason for establishing a genetic connection to a tribe would be to satisfy your curiosity. It’s interesting to understand your genetic roots, and if that helps you feel more grounded, it wouldn't hurt to know more.

DNA Tests Might Be a Great Way to Learn about Native American Ancestry for Some People

Some people consider DNA testing for Native American ancestry something of a novelty, but it does offer more than that.

Just as learning you have ancestors from Italy or Africa or China or anywhere else in the world, knowing that you have Native American DNA is interesting. It can also help you identify health risks and understand things about yourself better. 

It’s highly unlikely genetic testing will reveal anything that will be recognized by a tribal council. That doesn’t mean it knowing your heritage isn’t an important endeavor.

Connecting to your Native American roots through your DNA allows you to explore your history and learn more about your family. And something like that is never a wasted effort. 


Satisfying your personal curiosity about whether or not you have Native American ancestry is never a superficial reason to seek out DNA testing. Who knows, it may even help you figure out any genetic predispositions or congenital disorders that people from a certain lineage often suffer from.

Popular DNA Testing Services for Native American Ancestry


Services like have perks beyond simple guesses on your genetic lineages. Their vast database has the capacity to connect you to actual relatives, which reinforces your connection to their communities. If you suspect you might have Native American heritage, this is the only path worth spending any money on.

Living DNA

As mentioned, each large direct to consumer DNA testing service keeps its own database. If you’re seeking to cast your net as wide as possible, it’s best to submit your sample to multiple analysts. LivingDNA offers the ability to upload your DNA to their ‘One Family, One World’ project, where they aim to connect all individuals on earth. It comes with the added benefit of a free analysis against others in their system.

Unfortunately, for the same reasons that prohibit the Navajo from allowing DNA testing of their peoples, Native Americans may hesitate to opt into these databases for several reasons ranging from data security to personal fear of being discovered by their tribes.

For better or worse, these choices hamper the process of connection between individuals—and your ability to join a tribe. They should also create time for reflection on whether your DNA is worthy of handling by any more than what is necessary—to preserve your essence to yourself as we proceed into an unpredictable future.

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Updated on April 14, 2023
Joel Hirsch
Joel Hirsch
Content Contributor
Joel Hirsch is a health enthusiast and gym rat with a degree in Health Sciences. He spends his time writing about products that help people reach their health goals.
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