Looking for me in the spit: DNA Testing

It’s been a little more than two years since I took my first DNA test with AncestryDNA™, and I still remember the headaches that I got, trying to sort through the matches and what they meant to me. Now, two years later, I’m still a little confused, and I’ve taken another test with 23andMe, Inc. This past year both my mother and my sister have also tested with 23andMe. I can say that things have gotten a lot better. I can now identify some of my mothers relatives, and I have become friends with relatives that I call the two Stephanie’s and another one that I call Gina. They are like bloodhound on this trip. If a relative is to be found they will find him/her. What I like about the three of them is that they are like me. We are not pretentious, and we don’t have to put ourselves out there to be noticed. We just quietly do what we do and the ancestors show up! We have all learned a lot from the DNA spit that we sent to the labs. I want to expose some specific lessons about my ancestors that I’ve learned these past two years.

What I Know

I still don’t have proof of my biological grandfathers, but I know my grandmothers.  Therefore, I learned that it’s best to start with what you know. My paternal grandmother was Bertha Foreman. She was from Indian Ridge, Alabama. From oral history, I was told that she was part Native American.  I remember that my dad had a photograph of her when she was about fifteen years old. She was dressed in Native American apparel with a native head band around her head.  Her hair had been braided in two plaits, one on each side.  From the photograph, it appeared that she was attending some type of celebration.  The odd thing was that the photograph was hidden underneath some things. When I asked my father about why it was hidden, he wouldn’t answer. I got the impression, after asking my grandfather about the portrait, that it was better not to let people know that you were Native American.

My grandfather gave me a bag of Indian coins once to take to school for show and tell. After school, the kids and one of the teachers, snatched the bag from me and took almost all of the coins.  I was of the first group of African American children to attend the all white elementary school. I had mixed emotions of anger, hurt, and disbelief over this episode.  To this day, I can’t believe what happened and that this would happen to me, a sixth grader, at a public school.  I was so afraid to tell grand daddy, but when I did, he just laughed and said he knew that would happen. He was not angry at all, and said he had more coins put away, and he showed me some other native artifacts.  I knew at that point that we were descendants of Native Americans. However, when I received my first DNA results from AncestryDNA™, there was not a hint of Native American DNA reported. I was more than a little disturbed. I was irate!  Why would they withhold my true results. The feelings from sixth grade came flooding back. I felt as if something had been stolen from me again.  They only reported that I was sub Saharan African and Scandinavian.   This told me nothing, so I decided to test with another company.

My test results with 23andMe were a little better, but not as much as I thought.  Below are my ethnicity results from 23andMe.

My 23andme snip2

So, what happened to the “Indian” in me? As of December 2013, 23andMe started to report only .7% NA and 1.2% total East Asian and Native. Several months ago the percentages were higher.  I could give you a genetics lesson on recombination, but I would rather like to provide a word to express my true feelings; thus, allowing you to read between the lines. That word is poppycock!  Suddenly, 23andMe was reporting my ethnicity as Non- specific sub Saharan African, European, and Asian.  At least 30% of me couldn’t be accounted for, which left me feeling a little bewildered. What happened?

I still longed for more. Why couldn’t at least one company tell me to which tribes I belonged? Why were there suddenly major blank pages in my story?  In the meantime, Ancestry was working on their revisions. They had promised to show a breakdown of African American ethnicity, and they were true to their promise as shown below. As a matter of fact, it appeared to me, and is of my own opinion, that the two companies had a meeting of the minds on the Native American issue.  Their results were similar, but still questionable.

Ancestrydna NA Asian Europe Results African Ancestrydna Results

Although I am not totally satisfied with these results, I am definitively closer to discovering family than I was. As a matter of fact, some of my cousins and I have already connected some dots and confirmed our kinship. You will hear more about that in the days to come.  First, I want to fill some gaps for my cousins who may be reading this blog here or in our Facebook group.  I hope to encourage some of you to take a DNA test to see how you match with me or other DNA test family members. If you want to know more, just contact me. I’m here to help.

The next blog will discuss the possible connections of Ben Ogle to at least three Maryland governors.  See you on the next quest for family!

4 thoughts on “Looking for me in the spit: DNA Testing

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