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Published on
March 30, 2021 by Joann Slover

7 Best DNA Tests for Native American Ancestry

7 Best DNA Tests for Native American Ancestry

If you live in the Americas, it’s not strange to wonder if you have Native American roots. However, it can be difficult to know for certain because historical records can be hard or even impossible to find.

One of the easiest and most accurate ways to determine if you have indigenous blood in your background is to take a DNA test. But there are so many out there, and not all have the ability to pinpoint Native American heritage.

We spend hours researching the best DNA tests for Native American ancestry to help you find the ones that can truly shed light on your background. My top recommendation is MyHeritage because it has excellent coverage in Native American regions and is super affordable.

Short on time? Here are the best DNA tests for Native American ancestry

Discover Your Ancestry with MyHeritage!

What We Look for in the Best DNA Tests for Native American Ancestry

To determine which tests would make it on our list of the best DNA tests for Native American ancestry, we considered a number of factors. Here’s what we looked for:

  • Accuracy: A DNA test is only useful if it’s correct, so we looked for companies with extensive databases and high accuracy ratings.
  • Speed: You don’t want to be waiting months for the results of your DNA test, so we considered each company’s turnaround time.
  • Relevance: If you’re looking to confirm your Native American ancestry, you have to choose a test that actually has data to back up its findings.
  • Value: We wanted to ensure you got your money’s worth, whether you chose a basic test or something more detailed.

Detailed Look at the Tests Offered

1. MyHeritage — Best for a Thorough Breakdown of Your Ancestry

  • Covers over 2,100 geographical regions
  • Offers a repository with billions of historical records
  • Includes relative finder and family tree builder
  • Results in 3 to 4 weeks

It was easy to choose MyHeritage as the best DNA test for Native American ancestry because it makes the DNA testing process as simple as possible. It’s an ideal choice whether you’re testing your DNA for the first time or are looking to do additional research.

MyHeritage covers more geographical areas than all of its competitors, and it compares against over 40 ethnic groups, including Native Americans. This means your results will be thorough; you’ll see your possible Native American roots and so much more.

As thorough as MyHeritage is, it’s important to note that it doesn’t give you a lot of different testing options. This is a good thing for beginners, but advanced users might want something more.

Its autosomal DNA test can trace your ancestry back several generations — but it can’t tell you which parent contributed which ethnicity. So if you’re looking to confirm Native American roots (which means you probably already have a good idea of which parent potentially shares it), this test will accomplish the job.

Another benefit of autosomal tests is that they’re the best for DNA matching, or finding other people who share your DNA — your relatives! Best of all, MyHeritage includes this matching service at no additional cost, even allowing you to send messages to matches so you can connect and learn more about each other.

MyHeritage’s testing process typically takes 3 to 4 weeks, and when your DNA test results are ready, they’re uploaded to your online portal for easy access anytime. You’ll receive an ethnicity estimate and genetic group breakdown.

I really liked how these reports are displayed. The ethnicity estimate breaks down your genetic makeup by continent and then drills down into country or region with individual percentages.

The genetic group breakdown is even more fascinating. When you click on one, you’ll see information about the group, including migration maps that make it easy to trace the steps of your ancestors.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With MyHeritage!

2. AncestryDNA — Best for Connecting With Genetic Relatives

  • Covers over 1,400 geographical regions
  • Analyzes over 700,000 genetic markers
  • Includes relative finder and family tree builder
  • Results in 6 to 8 weeks

As one of the most popular DNA testing companies, AncestryDNA has the largest genetic database around. This means it’s the best DNA test for Native American ancestry if you’re hoping to connect with others who share your genetic makeup.

As part of your DNA results, you’ll be given details about other AncestryDNA users who are matched to you. You’ll see how much DNA you share so you can determine familiarity and learn about which ancestors you have in common. You also have the chance to reach out via private message.

When it comes to your own DNA results, you’ll find that AncestryDNA provides an incredibly detailed report. While I liked the look and feel of MyHeritage’s report more, AncestryDNA definitely comes out on top when it comes to ethnicity breakdown.

Rather than just confirming Native American ancestry, it also offers more info about your ethnic regions, such as North, Central, and South. While you won’t see info about possible tribal roots (no DNA test can tell you this), you can use the info you receive along with historical records to paint a more complete picture of your past.

Another aspect of the ethnicity report is details about each ethnicity with which you matched. Click on each, and you’ll see region history and several comparisons between your DNA and the company’s reference panels. The sheer amount of info you receive here definitely makes this a perfect pick if you’re testing your DNA for the first time.

Like many companies, AncestryDNA only offers an autosomal DNA test, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to confirm or rule out Native American ancestry. If you have to know which side of your family has indigenous roots, you won’t find that answer here.

You can expect to receive your AncestryDNA results in about 6 to 8 weeks. This is longer than some other companies, but I think the wealth of info you receive justifies waiting a couple more weeks.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With AncestryDNA!

3. Living DNA — Best for Tracking Migration Routes

  • Covers over 150 geographical regions
  • Motherline and fatherline migration maps
  • Upload raw data for free DNA matching
  • Results in 6 to 8 weeks (but up to 12 weeks)

Living DNA only covers 150 geographical regions in its genetic testing — fewer than my other top choices. But if you’re looking for a DNA test for Native American ancestry, you have no reason to worry. That’s because the company includes indigenous North and South America in its analysis, as well as the Amazonian and Mesoamerica regions.

However, if you’re also interested in seeing what other ethnicities are included in your genetic makeup, your results won’t be as thorough due to the company’s limitations.

Your DNA results will include an ethnicity estimate as you’d expect, along with an interactive map that allows you to learn about each region from which your ancestors came.

But here’s where Living DNA stands out: Its basic test also looks at your mtDNA (mitochondrial = mother) and, if you’re male, your Y-DNA (Y-chromosome = father). This means in addition to your genetic makeup, you also get to see the migration routes of your parent(s)’ ancestors so you can trace the steps they took to get you where you are today.

Living DNA can’t tell you to which Native American tribes your ancestors may have belonged. But because its ethnicity and region results are so detailed, you can sometimes make reasonable assumptions. For example, if your family history claims Navajo lineage and Living DNA returns a genetic match to the southwest United States, you may be on the right track.

Another feature I like about Living DNA is that it offers a free DNA matching service. If you already have raw data from a handful of other DNA testing companies, you can upload the info into Living DNA’s database to see if any of its customers may be relatives.

One thing I don’t like about Living DNA is that its processing times can be lengthy. While it generally promises results in 6 to 8 weeks, it cautions that it can take up to 12 weeks. I think three months is just way too long.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With Living DNA!

4. FamilyTreeDNA — Best for Decoding Maternal and Paternal Lineage

  • Offers autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA testing options
  • Relative finder through the last five generations
  • Results in 2 to 8 weeks

FamilyTreeDNA has options for both confirming Native American roots and determining which side of your family has the indigenous ancestors — I love this, but there are some things you need to know.

Its standard Family Ancestry kit is an autosomal DNA test that breaks down your ethnic makeup in percentages and provides a heat map for a visual representation of your background. It also compares your results to the company’s database to find DNA matches within the last five generations. If you find a relative, you can reach out.

It’s this test that helps confirm whether or not you have Native American ancestry. However, if you want to know whether that lineage comes from your mom or dad, you have to upgrade — and that costs money.

FamilyTreeDNA also has mtDNA and Y-DNA tests for tracing your mother and father’s heritage. While this is definitely great for providing more details so you can more accurately trace your Native American roots, you have to buy each test separately. You can save some money if you know which parent has a potential indigenous background; but if you don’t, you’ll have to pay for both tests.

Note that Y-DNA tests can only be performed on males as the Y-Chromosome is only passed down from fathers to sons. (Also note that this isn’t unique to FamilyTreeDNA — it’s the same for every DNA testing company.) So if you think your paternal side is the source of your Native American ancestry, you’ll need to have a male relative (like a brother or cousin), take the test for you.

I really like that FamilyTreeDNA has the options to narrow down your indigenous history, but I don’t like that you have to pay so much for all the details. If you choose the Family Ancestry test, mtDNA test, and the expert-level Y-DNA test, you’ll pay well over $500.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With FamilyTreeDNA!

5. 23andme — Best for Analyzing Genetic Traits

  • Compares your DNA against 45 known populations
  • Includes traits report with its basic screening
  • Results in 3 to 4 weeks

23andme determines Native American ancestry by comparing your DNA to its database of 45 confirmed populations. If you have indigenous roots, you’ll see your ethnic percentage listed as part of the larger East Asian and Native American population.

If you’ve been putting off building a family tree, 23andme is the test for you. It automatically builds one for you based on your DNA results, filling in the blanks where it can with relatives that have also used 23andme’s services.

It’s able to do this thanks to its Relatives feature. Based on the percentage of DNA you share, 23andme can determine whether another person in its database is your sibling, aunt, cousin, and beyond. Using this information, you can trace who your common ancestor is — this can be big when documenting your Native American ancestry.

I love how easy it is to get a family tree going with 23andme, but I don’t like that you have to opt into the Relatives finder to use it — or that other users have to opt into it to appear on your tree. I wonder how many people have overlooked that and are thus missing from your tree. I’d rather have 23andme ask you to opt out of this important feature.

One area where 23andme stands out from other DNA testing companies is that it includes a traits report with its basic testing package. This feature helps to map out why you look and act the way you do, based on your genetic makeup. For example, it can tell you whether you’re more likely to get freckles or have a fear of heights; and what your ice cream flavor or sweet vs. salt preferences are. It can also reveal health predispositions and disease carrier status.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With 23andme!

6. Vitagene — Best for Additional Health and Wellness Info

  • Covers more than 20 geographical regions
  • Includes several health reports with its basic kit
  • Results in 4 to 6 weeks

Vitagene offers a unique take on a DNA test for Native American ancestry. In addition to an ethnicity estimate, it provides a number of additional reports relating to diet, supplements, and genetic traits.

If you’re researching your indigenous roots, the reports that will interest you the most are the ethnicity breakdown and genetic traits, so we’ll cover those first.

Vitagene covers about 25 geographical regions — compared to other Native American ancestry tests, this isn’t much. But it does include North, Central, and South American regions, so if you have indigenous ancestors, this test will see it.

The traits report provides interesting information. As it outlines your propensity for gluten sensitivity, stress eating, and high cholesterol, among others, it could substantiate family history about medical conditions and traits that have been passed down through generations.

As Vitagene’s health reports are more detailed and its ethnicity estimate rather basic, this Native American ancestry test is best suited for those who are more interested in health and fitness. You’ll get info about whether you have indigenous roots, but that’s about it — all the other reports are geared towards how you can help yourself health-wise in the future rather than looking towards your past.

And this isn’t a bad thing — but it’s important you understand what you’re getting into. With Vitagene, there are no relative finders or family tree builders. You’ll have the opportunity to confirm your curiosity about whether there might have been Native Americans in your lineage, but you won’t know which side of the family that comes from or have the opportunity to connect with others who also share your DNA.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With Vitagene!

7. EasyDNA — Best for Tracking Recent Ancestral Migration

  • Offers autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA testing options
  • GPS Origins traces back your ancestry just 1,000 years
  • Results in 4 to 6 weeks

EasyDNA is another company that offers autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA testing options — this means you can confirm Native American ancestry or determine which side of the family it comes from, depending on the test you choose.

EasyDNA also has another unique DNA testing option called GPS Origins. When you choose this Geographic Population Structure test, EasyDNA will trace back your ancestry just 1,000 years. Other companies map out your roots over millennia, so going back about 1,000 years may seem underwhelming, but I think it’s actually rather fascinating.

What this does is offer more accurate results about the region from which your most recent ancestors came from. While other companies sometimes provide regional results that may be large and sweeping, EasyDNA may be able to pinpoint the specific countries and even cities where your ancient relatives lived.

Keep in mind that detailing where your ancestors were living 1,000 years ago is sort of like looking at a snapshot in the history of your ancestral story. It’s possible that those people had lived in the area for a very long time, but it’s also possible that they were explorers or migrants who’d recently settled in the region. You’ll need to use additional tools, such as birth records and family history, to further prove Native American heritage.

Other tools you can use also include EasyDNA’s other DNA testing kits. Its Ancestral Origins is a standard autosomal test, but it also offers mtDNA and Y-DNA options. Unfortunately, these are all separate tests with separate costs, so if you want them all, you can expect to pay over $700.

Explore Your Native American Ancestry With EasyDNA!

What’s in the Fine Print?

Some companies like to hide additional fees in their fine print. This means the price you see on a product page may not be the price you ultimately pay at checkout. Here are examples of some extra costs you may be subject to.

Surprisingly, most DNA testing companies don’t offer free shipping to you. This means you’ll have to pay an additional $5 to $15 at checkout. The only exceptions on my list: MyHeritage includes free shipping when you order 3 or more tests, while Vitagene offers free shipping with the purchase of 2 or more tests.

However, most do include free return shipping via a prepaid label. All the DNA testing companies on my list include this benefit.

Another thing to keep in mind when determining costs is the price of additional testing. If you just want to confirm whether you have Native American ancestry, an autosomal test like you find with MyHeritage or AncestryDNA is sufficient.

However, if you want to know which side of your family has Native American roots, you’ll need mtDNA and Y-DNA tests. Some companies, like FamilyTreeDNA and EasyDNA, charge extra for these screenings, and their costs can run into the hundreds. Other companies like Living DNA include this information in the cost of a basic kit.

If you purchase a Native American ancestry DNA test kit from a company that also includes a family tree builder, you’ll want to pay attention to any additional fees that come with the use of the service. For example, MyHeritage offers a basic tree with 250 people for free, but you’ll need to upgrade to an ongoing subscription service for more than that.

How Accurate Are Native American Ancestry DNA Tests?

Thanks to advances in technology, at-home DNA tests are extremely accurate. Most offer accuracy rates of 95% and greater, so you can trust that the information you receive is on point.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that no DNA test is 100% accurate. The room for error is very small, but it is something to be aware of.

In addition to the inherent margin of error, there are other factors that can affect how accurate your DNA results are. At the top of the list is the quality of your DNA sample. If you don’t follow the testing instructions exactly, you may not provide enough DNA or possibly send in tainted DNA that can alter your results. Examples of diverging from testing instructions include swabbing right after eating and not properly preparing your sample for mailing.

What Will the Results From a Native American Ancestry DNA Test Tell Me?

DNA tests can be incredible tools for unlocking the secrets of your Native American ancestry, but that’s not all they can do. Here are other things you may learn:

  • A comprehensive estimate of your ethnicity, covering millennia of ancestors
  • Migration data that can show when and where your distant relatives moved
  • The existence of other people around the world who share your genetic makeup
  • Details about your genetic traits, such as your likelihood of developing freckles

It’s important to note that while Native American ancestry DNA tests can help confirm whether you have indigenous ancestors, no test can tell you what tribe they may have belonged to. This means you can’t use a DNA test to claim tribal affiliation.

How Do Our Top Picks Compete on Price?

Priced at $79.00, MyHeritage is the most comprehensive DNA test for Native American ancestry, and also one of the most affordable. It also has a faster turnaround time than most, so you won’t wait long to receive your results.

FamilyTreeDNA is also similarly priced for its basic autosomal test. However, if you want to learn more about your maternal or paternal heritage (or both), you’ll have to pay extra for those tests. Together, all three tests cost about $350, which is pricey, but not the priciest I’ve seen.

Ancestry costs a little more at about $100, but I think the cost is justified when you consider its enormous DNA database. When you purchase a DNA test for Native American ancestry from this company, you have the best chance of finding living relatives.

Living DNA’s basic test is also in the $100 range, but its cost is also justifiable because it includes mtDNA and Y-DNA readings for which some other companies charge more.

With another offering for about $100, 23andme includes a traits service with its basic test. This interesting feature can reveal why you look the way you do and clue you in on health predispositions.

Vitagene’s entry-level DNA test is in the same cost range as its competitors, but it stands out because the company is more health-focused. Along with an ethnicity estimate that can confirm Native American heritage, you’ll also receive several health reports relating to diet and fitness.

EasyDNA has the distinction of offering the most options when it comes to DNA testing, but it’s also the most expensive. Its GPS Origins test will trace your ancestors to 1,000 years ago for just over $150, while its more comprehensive Origins Ancestry test costs over $200. If you want mtDNA or Y-Chromosome testing, you can tack on an extra $150+ for each.

Which Native American Ancestry DNA Test is the Best?

If you’re looking for a comprehensive ethnicity estimate that will confirm your Native American ancestry plus thoroughly outline the other ethnic groups that complete your genetic makeup, you won’t go wrong with MyHeritage. It’s also affordable, and you’ll receive your results fast.

In addition to shedding light on your Native American heritage, AncestryDNA also gives you the option to connect with other people who share your DNA. This means you’ll have the chance to talk to people who are actually related to you.

If you suspect you have indigenous roots but aren’t sure which parent contributes to it, Living DNA is the best Native American ancestry test to take. It includes mtDNA and Y-DNA analysis at no extra cost so you can see whether it was mom or dad who had native ancestors.

Native American Ancestry DNA Test Kits Comparison Table

DNA Testing Company Ethnicity Estimate DNA Relative Matching Free Shipping
Available
Time to Results Starting Price
MyHeritage 3-4 weeks $79.00
AncestryDNA 6-8 weeks $99.00
Living DNA 6-8 weeks $99.00
FamilyTreeDNA 2-8 weeks $79.00
23andme 3-4 weeks $99.00
Vitagene 4-6 weeks $99.00
EasyDNA 4-6 weeks $169.00

Confirm Your Native American Ancestry

Lots of people wonder if they have Native American ancestors. If you count yourself among them, a DNA test can help confirm your suspicions and possibly point you in the right direction to learn more. Along with further research, a DNA test can help you unravel the secrets of your family legends.

Of all the kits I researched and reviewed, I consider MyHeritage the best DNA test for Native American ancestry. Its ethnicity estimate is so detailed, so you’ll get plenty of answers about where you come from. You’ll also find it’s among the most affordable tests.

Best Native American Ancestry DNA Tests in 2021

FAQs

Can Native American ancestry DNA tests tell me what tribe I belong to?

No, a DNA test cannot tell you which tribe your ancestors belonged to, nor can it be used to claim tribal affiliation today.

Because all Native Americans descended from Asia to settle in the Americas, their genetic makeup is very similar, even though they came to inhabit far-reaching areas. The DNA of some groups did evolve, but even then, the diverge is not great enough to pinpoint a specific tribe — the best a DNA company can do is pinpoint a smaller region where your ancestors lived.

If you’d like to confirm your indigenous history, I recommend MyHeritage. Its report will reveal your Native American heritage and detail the other ethnicities in your DNA.

What percentage do you need to be considered Native American?

Every indigenous tribe has its own criteria for determining membership. For example, the Navajo Nation requires at least 25% Native American blood, while the Comanche Nation requires at least 12.5%.

It’s important to note that having a particular percentage of Native American ancestry in your DNA is typically not enough to claim tribal affiliation. Many tribes consider membership based on your documented family history and participation.

Using tests from companies like MyHeritage are best suited for satiating your curiosity about your lineage or to get hints about where to conduct further research.

Can Native American ancestry DNA tests tell me which side of my family is indigenous?

Yes, you can determine which side of your family has indigenous roots if you take a DNA test that does mtDNA and Y-DNA analysis.

Living DNA is a good example of a company that analyzes your maternal and paternal roots. Best of all, it includes this info as part of its basic package.

If you’re looking for even more in-depth analysis, take a look at FamilyTreeDNA’s offerings. The expert-level test is pricey, but it offers a wealth of info.

Why don’t my DNA results show my Native American ancestry?

There are two common reasons that your DNA results may not show Native American ancestry: you don’t actually have any or it wasn’t passed down.

It’s not uncommon for families to claim Native American heritage, and there are lots of reasons for it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a misunderstanding, and other times it’s simply a case of storytelling.

But what about when you have documented evidence of indigenous history? In this case, your DNA may not show Native American heritage because your ancestors were several generations removed.

Remember: Your parents each contributed about half of their DNA to you. The DNA they passed down was made up of 50% of each their mother and father, whose parents each contributed 50%, and so on. This means that if you had Native American ancestors 10 generations ago, very little or none of their DNA may be present in your genetic makeup.

How much do Native American ancestry tests cost?

DNA tests for Native American heritage vary in price, but they generally start at about $80 to $100.

My vote for the best Native American ancestry DNA test is MyHeritage. It will confirm whether you have indigenous DNA and detail all the other ethnicities in your past. It’s also one of the most affordable tests.

Which is the best DNA test for Native American ancestry?

MyHeritage offers the best DNA test for Native American ancestry. Its ethnicity estimate will paint an accurate picture of where your ancient relatives came from so you can confirm your suspicions or set off on a journey about learning more about your heritage.

About Author
Joann Slover
Joann Slover

Joann's a freelance health and wellness writer who loves learning something new — especially the insights provided by DNA tests.

Joann's a freelance health and wellness writer who loves learning something new — especially the insights provided by DNA tests.