I am filming guest interviews for Season 2 of the genealogy series “Finding Your Roots,” airing on PBS this September. One of the most intriguing pieces of information shared with our guests is the “admixture” results contained in their DNA – their percentages of European, Native American and sub-Saharan African ancestors over the past 200 years or so.
The record of your ancestral past, in all of its complexity, is hidden in your autosomal DNA.
African-Americans almost always guess that they have much higher percentages of Native American ancestry and much lower percentages of European ancestry than they have. That is not surprising since African-Americans have long embraced the myth that their great-grandmother with “high cheeks and straight black hair” looked that way because of a relationship between an ancestor who was black and another one who was Native American.
But scientific results show that very few African-Americans have a significant amount of Native American ancestry: In fact, according to a study just published by 23andMe researcher Katarzyna “Kasia” Bryc, only about 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 2 percent of Native American ancestry, while the average African-American has only 0.7 percent Native American ancestry.