Thursday, July 27, 2023

Were Ancestors Native American?

Can You Prove it Using DNA?
If you were told your great-grandpa or great-grandma were Native Americans raise your hand. 

Although all the data on applications were not correct, the applicants told their story. Again, often based on folklore, they may have failed to get their information collaborated within the required timeframe, but even then, we can extract as much form a rejected application as that of an accepted admittance.  Know that sometimes, the applicant and family were rejected on a technicality. Such was the case on the Tyesky project.  

Cherokee Connection?

Before you claim Native American ancestry, let's do some Fact Checking. Sometimes with DNA, we can prove or disprove our the family lore. Not sure what the Freedmen Applications are? Read here: Dawes Rolls and Enslaved Practices.

Years ago I penned this Preface for my own family book that uncovers the fact that 2nd Great Grandpa Tobe was not Native American after all:

For as long as I can remember, I would boast, to any victim who would listen,…[about] the Indian blood I possessed…  To me, these stories were a necessary reality of unproven truths that defined the “me” of me.  I willingly accepted the twisted family stories, spinned them and massaged them into epoch size fairy tales that defied logic. Perhaps under microscopic review, one could find 20% reality but the other 80% was clearly muddied by the storyteller’s liberty.                                                             
I continued to explain that in less than two months of research, I came to some “mouth-dropped-open realities.  Tobe wasn’t Tobe,[and] we had no Indian blood…”  This scene was repeated with Dina on the Hittin' the Bricks with Kathleen podcast (S2: Ep11). As Kathleen walked  through her DNA and her presumed Tyeskey Native American bloodline, you could feel it everytime she exclaimed "WHAT?" "WAIT A MINUTE."

DNA and Native American

If your 100 percent Native America was 6 generations back, your inheritance from that Mative American will be less than 2%.  This is not to say "4th Great-Grandpa" was not Native American, but that you are so removed that your inheritance can't be detected. In Dina's case though, even with abt 2% reported in her mother's DNA test results, we could prove it wasn't from the expected line (a Tyeskey Native) as she thought. She did, however,  carry detectable amounts of Native American inherited through the Harnage line. 

The family historically claimed both names. 

DNA Inheritance

Native American Bloodline




Tyeskey (first name unknown)


Mother of Jeff Tyeskey born 1816, was Cynthia Harnage


Jeff Tyeskey, 1816


Jeff Tyeskey and Alzie Harnage were the parents of Joshua


Joshua Tyeskey, 1843


Joshua was father of Jeff B Tyeskey 1843-1897. Wife of Joshua was Sealy Chariton (Harnage).


Jeff B. Tyeskey, 1874


Parents of Stanford were Jeff B husband of Mary Thompson (as per 1910; Rusk, Tx Marriage


Stanford B Tyeskey, 1895


Son of Jeff B Tyeskey. Stanford & Rose Moore are the parents of Mary B Tyeskey


Mary Bernice Tyeskey,1918


Married to Edward Austin


Dina's Mother, 1938


  2% reported


5 Pointers
So before any others suffer from the embarrassment of a genealogical morass, know that there are a few key points to remember when searching your Native American Connection: 
  1. Just because your ancestor lived in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) does not make them an “Indian”
  2. Facial features and hair texture are not valid arguments for Native American heritage.
  3. Not all Cherokee ancestors were properly listed on the various rolls. Others were rejected.
  4. As many Freedmen Indians already know: just because you aren’t officially a member of the Cherokee Nation, doesn’t speak of your bloodline. We’ve proven a few DNA connections to Native American bloodline, but more data is needed to claim tribal status.  
  5. And finally, don’t confuse family lore with fact.
For more information be sure to reference the Native American tab on the a3Genealogy blog.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible, answers


  1. Dear Kathleen, I just read your latest article. Would you be interested in reviewing our 2022 book, DNA FOR NATIVE AMERICAN GENEALOGY, by Roberta Estes? If so, let me know where to send a copy. Regards, Joe Garonzik, Marketing Director,

    1. Yes, I would love to review the book. Please send a copy to a3Genealogy, Kathleen Brandt P.O. Box 414640 Kansas City, MO. 64141. You did not leave contact information. My email is