[I recently received a question from a friend whose DNA results I manage.]
Q: I was looking over these results & I’m confused. I have always been told that my biological father’s mother was like half Cherokee Indian. I didn’t see any makers on the results for that. Could you please explain?
A: DNA test results are intended to help interpret known genealogical situations as well as to provide basic genetic information. So, Let’s take a look at both.
Lura’s parents were George Scoggins & Minnie Estelle Jackson. If Lura was half Cherokee, one of her parents must have been full Cherokee.
The 1900 Census shows George living with his parents, all of whom are identified as white. I haven’t found them in the 1880 Census, but George’s father, Sylvanus “Bud” Scoggins is in the 1870 Census also as white. So, it doesn’t appear that George would be the source for Lura being Cherokee.
The 1900 Census shows Minnie Estelle Jackson with her parents, all of whom are identified as white. I don’t have anything on her parents, James H. Jackson and Indie E. (?) before 1900. Now, Indie (or India) is an interesting name. I suppose it is possible she was Cherokee, but if so, based upon the 1900 census, which said she was white, she is more likely white. That said, family stories often get twisted in the retelling. Knowing that Minnie’s mother’s name was India, I can speculate that the name could of morphed to Minnie’s mother was Indian. Because this took place in Georgia, a Cherokee land, I can see how if people thought that Minnie’s mother was Indian, she had to be Cherokee.
On the Genetic Side:
You inherited about 50% of your DNA from your father.
He inherited about 50% of his DNA from Lura and you received about 25% of your DNA from Lura.
Lura inherited about 50% of her DNA from Minnie and you received about 12.5% of your DNA from Minnie.
Minnie inherited about 50% of her DNA from Indie and you received about 6.125% of your DNA from Indie.
If Minnie was 100% Cherokee, I’d expect you to have about 6.125% Native American. DNA has a “stickiness” that results in the actual transfer of DNA not being 50% every time, but more like 45-55% every time. If Indie was 100% Native American, and every generation dropped more Native American markers, I could easily see your Native American amount to be between 4% and 8%. (100x.45x.45x.45x.45).
Your Family Tree DNA results indicated 99% Europe and 1% Central Asian.
All this said, DNA testing ethnic makeup is not an exact science. When the testing companies indicate your ethnicity, they are comparing your markers to people from the area with, purported long ties to the place, to the markers you have. It isn’t an exact science, but much better than existed only a few years ago.
Certainly, I would want to do more research on Indie E [Jackson] before I gave a definitive answer to your question, but at this point, I suspect that a family story metamorphed. I suspect that the name India/Indie became race of Indian and her being Indian became her being Cherokee.
Of course, I could be totally wrong. As I say, DNA results aren’t definitive, but I think the Indie story makes a lot of sense. I’d hold onto that notion until we find something that contradicts it.