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DNA for Native American Genealogy by Roberta Estes: Book Review

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

Roberta Estes is one of my favorite bloggers, so I was excited to receive a copy of her new book to review.

Many Americans claim Native American heritage in the family tree, but their beliefs are based on family lore, not documentary evidence.

Roberta Estes is well known in the genealogy world for her DNA expertise, which she shares on DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy.

As with her blog, Roberta has a detailed book covering everything one needs to know about documenting Native American heritage through DNA analysis.

The book is divided into 6 parts:

Part 1: Seeking Native Ancestors
Part 2: Ethnicity and Population Genetics
Part 3: DNA Testing Vendors and Autosomal Tools
Part 4: Mitochondrial DNA – Ancient and Modern
Part 5: Y DNA – Ancient and Modern
Part 6: Your Roadmap and Checklist

The most common question, I think, from someone who wants to prove Native American ancestry is “Can I join a tribe?” Roberta’s answer is perfect – the short answer is NO and the longer answer is that it’s complicated and it takes a thorough reading of the book to understand the whys.

Part 1 goes in depth identifying who the Indigenous People of the Americas are, what DNA results can and can’t tell the tester and background history of tribes and Native American life and how it connects to today’s world and how family stories fit into the research picture.

Part 1 is extremely important in understanding the overall DNA picture as it relates to possible Native American ancestry.

Part 2’s subtitle Ethnicity, Biogeographic Ancestry, Populations and Communities best explains what it is about and is the first step into understanding DNA results, based on ethnic groups and geography.

Part 3 introduces the main companies involved in DNA testing – FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry, 23andMe and their products. Getting into specifics can be confusing, particularly for a beginner in the DNA process. However, there are multiple images accompanying the explanations about how each company reports and groups results and the testing tools that they offer.

Parts 4 & 5 provide an in-depth explanation of DNA in mankind through both mitochondrial (maternal) DNA and paternal Y-DNA and the haplogroups that indicate indigenous ancestry. Parts 4 & 5 are key to identifying Native American roots.

Part 6 is a checklist of steps to take before making the decision to jump into DNA testing. Roberta also suggests further steps to take after DNA test results are received.

The 9-page Glossary includes specialized terms with which the reader might not be familiar and is a helpful addition to the book.

Having read Roberta’s blog for years, I can vouch that she is a careful, methodical and thorough researcher who presents information in an easy-to-follow format.

DNA for Native American Genealogy is written in the same familiar style, so even though she provides a great deal of information in 165 pages, beginners will understand the process and more advanced researchers will also benefit.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who seriously wants to pursue documenting Native American heritage in the Americas.

DNA for Native American Genealogy by Roberta Estes is hot off the presses and can be ordered online from Genealogical Publishing Company for $34.95.