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DNA for Native American Genealogy, by Roberta Estes, earns Strong Endorsement from National Genealogical Society Quarterly

DNA for Native American Genealogy Review

The following review appeared in the December 2022 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

DNA far Native American Genealogy. By Roberta Estes. Published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.; 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 229; Baltimore, MD  21211-1953;; 2021; ISBN’ 978-0-8063-2118-9. xiii,176 pp. Charts, glossary, illustrations, maps. Paperback. $34.95.

“If you have a family story of Native American, First Nations, or Indigenous American heritage, have you wondered whether DNA testing could provide proof? An expert in the field of genetic genealogy, Roberta Estes provides a clear path to discovering evidence of such ancestry. Estes writes and lectures extensively on DNA and specifically on using testing-company­ provided tools to discover Native American ancestry. Her book distills her years of research and experience. No other book on genetic genealogy delves so deeply into discovering Native American ancestry­-either modem or ancient.

Estes capably handles the broad scope of using DNA in genealogy research. She encourages the reader to seek additional information from various online articles. Her blog, DNA Explained, holds over 1,500 articles and will be a source of updates in the future. The focus on the main principles keeps the narrative flowing, and ample footnotes give specific URLs for the curious reader. Citations point mainly to online sources-­ appropriate for the ever-changing DNA world.

Estes shows how researchers can use ethnicity estimates and haplogroups from the four major DNA testing companies to confirm or identify Native American ancestors. She explains how to use company and third-party tools like DNA Painter and includes screenshots to guide the reader. Much of the book provides an in-depth study of using haplogroups and explaining mutations and branches on the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA haplotrees. Maps of Native American. haplogroups with tribal affiliation are particularly informative and valuable.

The book begins with a definition of Indigenous people and lays a foundation with an overview of terminology and locations. A summary of challenges facing modern tribes provides a perspective for those seeking tribal membership. An overview of Native American history in the United States helps the reader understand the basis for the ancestral stories. Estes reviews DNA inheritance patterns and highlights those most useful for Native American DNA analysis. She clearly denotes what DNA can and cannot do. Estes’s advice? Test multiple family members. Part 6 provides a roadmap and a checklist for the genealogist to follow and record progress.

For readers with no Native American ancestry, the discussion on ethnicity can help anyone better understand ethnicity estimates of each testing  company. Estes points out discrepancies and how comparisons between company estimates may be unclear. Large screenshots accompany the discussion and help the novice navigate and understand company tools. Complicated concepts throughout the book are clearly explained and illustrated. For example, the chapter mitochondrial DNA explains the relevance of Native American DNA research and shows how the researcher could use this unique inheritance pattern.

The glossary includes definitions of terms used throughout the book. Adding an index would allow the reader to locate topics quickly and improve the usefulness of the text.  Also, directing the reader to specific figures or tables throughout the narrative would help with clarity and understanding.

DNA for Native American Genealogy is a must for any genealogist interested in understanding and using ethnicity in research–particularly  those  who  want to identify or confirm a Native American ancestor. This valuable book provides a unique contribution to the body of genetic genealogy literature. It addresses a common need of researchers with a Native American aspect to their family story and offers a clear path to discovering answers.”

Diana Elder, AG
Highland, Utah

4 thoughts on “DNA for Native American Genealogy, by Roberta Estes, earns Strong Endorsement from National Genealogical Society Quarterly

  1. Is this book available thru any Library?

    1. Many libraries have purchased DNA FOR NATIVE AMERICAN GENEALOGY. If you go on the site OCLC, you can find one near you.

  2. Do you have to buy the book tofind out what companies do the DNA testing for Native American Ancestry???

    1. Sorry for the belated reply to your question about DNA for Native American Ancestry. In theory all the DNA testing companies could give you the information that, in theory, links you to Native American ancestry. However, the book has far more information about what to do with your results, and it evaluates each of the major testing companies for the kinds of results they deliver.

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