Think You Know Your Ethnicity? Think Again.

Think you know your ethnicity?  Think again.

If you would like to learn your precise ancestral origins rather than being lumped into a broad category like “Western European” or “Native American”… this article is for you!

There are lesser known DNA tests available that utilize additional reference points comparing these to numerous populations around the world for a refined look at your familial roots.

My wife of Hispanic descent, long dark hair, high cheek bones, took an Ancestry DNA test to discover she was 57% Native American.  This result provoked her to want to learn more about her Native American roots.  What particular tribes did she belong to?  Being from Mexico would she be able to pinpoint the tribes her father and/or mother descended from?

The answer is yes.  She was able to discover the top two Native American tribes: the Huastecs, an indigenous tribe to the Mexican region, a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican culture, descendants of the Aztecs; and the Otomi, another indigeous Mexican tribe that live in the La Huasteca mountain region.

My wife remembered her father saying something about the Huastec people in the past, so this name was familiar to her.  Needless to say, she was ecstatic with the overall results.  Now she has an answer when people ask her about her ethnicity, rather than a categorization.

For these results we used a company known as DNA Tribes found at

From their website they are “the only personal genetic analysis that compares your genetic profile to a population database that includes over 560,000 individuals from 1,200+ populations around the world, including 950+ indigenous populations.”

Time in testing: took about 2 weeks.  Cost: just $119.

DNA Tribes differs from other autosomal tests in that they utilize STR rather than SNP testing.  How does this differ?

“The primary benefit of STR rather than SNP testing is the availability of rich reference data. DNA Tribes® tests industry standard autosomal STR systems, which allow the identification of a person’s DNA profile not shared with any other person. Because these STR markers have been tested and used in the court systems around the world, they allow DNA Tribes® to perform the most thorough comparison of a person’s own DNA profile to over 1,200 ethnic groups (populations) around the world. At present, SNP testing does not yet match the geographical detail of DNA Tribes® autosomal STR analysis.”

Want to know what you will receive?  There are sample reports available onsite for several ethicities.

DNA Tribes is a great little company that deliver some rather big results.  I highly recommend the company only if you are seeking to refine your ethnicity down to the precise geographic location.  This test is not for finding living cousins.

For my own testing I have used the big three: AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and FamilyTree DNA.  I like all three companies and have used all three in order to find cousins around the globe in hopes of breaking through a few brick walls in my tree.  Please don’t read this article thinking that I have a personal complaint against any of these… I don’t.  They are perfect for what they are – finding cousins.  I just feel that their ethnicity results could take a lesson from the little guys in seeking to refine geographic regions.

For my own testing I downloaded my AncestryDNA raw data and sent the file to GPR Origins, a second company that seems promising.

Found at, GPS Origins references 862 populations around the globe and uses their own lab for results.  This large reference group enables GPS Origins to pinpoint accurate geographic results.  The cost is $199 for a full DNA test or $79 if you provide raw data from either of the big three.

GPS Origins “tests over 800,000 autosomal markers from your DNA to pinpoint your origins.  It identifies when and where your DNA formed by matching the populations that came together to create a genetic line that eventually leads to you.”

“The GPS Origins test then traces the migration route of your DNA back to where it originated from and dated the age of your DNA signature.  It does that for both your maternal and paternal lineages indicating where your DNA began.”

This is the next Generation of Ancestry DNA Testing…

“The GPS Origins test is a revolutionary test that enables you to trace where your DNA was formed over 1,000 years ago, along with its migration routes, down to the nearest village or town.”

I am eager to receive my results.  I figure for $79 I can’t go wrong.

If you would like to utilze GPS Origins here is how to download your raw data from Ancestry and 23andMe.

Download Raw Data:

1) log in
2) select “DNA” – “Your DNA Results Summary”
3) upper right corner – click “Settings”
4) right column – “Download Raw DNA Data” – you will be prompted to enter Ancestry password for security purposes.
5) you will receive an email with download instructions.
6) download will be a zip file named “dna-data” with date analyzed.

1) log in
2) from top menu select “Tools” – “Browse Raw Data”
3) from secondary menu select “Download”
4) you want to choose “All DNA” and then enter password.
5) download will be a zip file named “genome” with your name attached.

FamilyTree DNA:
1) log in
2) under “Family Finder” select “Download Raw Data”.
3) select arrow adjacent “Build 37 Autosomal Raw Data”.
4) this is a gzip file that begins with your user number.  You will need to use a program that is able to extract this type file… there is a link provided.

Again, the purpose of both these testing companies is not to find new cousins, to break through brick walls in your tree, or to solve age-old family mysteries (do I have royal blood)?

What you will discover is your precise genetic make-up that delivers very accurate geographical locations that determine the origin(s) of your ancestors on both the paternal and maternal sides of your tree.

Please post your results.  I would like to know how this article helped you refine your origins.

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