Native American Genealogy. Did Something Strange Just Happen?

This new world of genealogy is getting harder to explain. We’re now taking DNA tests and using new jargon like “populations” and “ethnicity calculators.” We use different terms for ethnicities, like Natufian, Baltic and Basal Eurasian. And the new concept that there are no ethnicities, only places where our ancestors went through different periods.

But I must try to explain how this new era offers opportunities for discovery. There’s a website called Gedmatch where those who took DNA tests, can upload their raw data. Once uploaded, thousands of other’s DNA “kits,” are available to analyze and compare with yours. Quite by accident, I’ve discovered that my husband and I share a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of DNA. Probably best described as, we found our tribal intersection.

How I discovered this point of intersection, was by using a Gedmatch “tool” that let me enter his and my kit numbers to see if anyone matches some DNA with BOTH of us. About forty or fifty people came up. This was a huge surprise. I was able to take the eight highest matches and analyze them. Having their kit numbers allowed me to run all ten of us through an ethnicity calculator and compare. I think what might unite us is ancestry from Southwest and or Eastern-Asia.

I tend to get giddy like a kid when I think I may have discovered something, so I emailed all eight of the matches. Only one person responded. She downplayed my discovery. “Too small” of a DNA match and since it was her son’s DNA and none of her other children appeared on the list of matches, she couldn’t get excited about it. So basically, she pretty much rejected my finding.

I persisted though and wrote her back stressing the Southwest and or Eastern-Asian connection. That got her attention. “Well maybe,” she said. “It could be a Native American connection. We have several Cree ancestors.” She went on to say that the DNA testing companies don’t have markers yet for the Cree. I have been looking for my husband’s French-Canadian-Native ancestry for decades and guess what tribe it’s supposed to be? That’s right… Cree.

It’s late Sunday night as I write this. Tomorrow, I’m going to pursue this further. I could say, “Oh, it’s probably nothing.” But nothing about genealogy is inconsequential. There’s an otherworldliness to genealogy. It’s downright spooky.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here:

Genealogy… Well This is Fun… and Unexpected

While exploring my husband’s ancestry, I’ve discovered a tool that finds people who are related to BOTH of us. The implications of this are fabulous, provided that those related, want to share their research and provided that they know who their ancestors were. I’m sure that people will agree to share about themselves, otherwise, they wouldn’t have uploaded their raw data to a DNA sharing website.

Here’s what happened. I put my and my husband’s kit numbers into the tool and a list of people who share our DNA came up. It looks like there are forty or more names, in descending order. So I took the very first name, the person who shares the most DNA with my husband and I and I googled it. Voila! That was easy because it’s a very unusual name. This fellow has a Facebook page. He doesn’t have much on his page but one of the few things jumped out at me: Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New York. My ancestors were in Hoboken, New Jersey in the 1700s. Funny, isn’t it? My husband’s going to get a kick out of this, so will our new “cousin.” And we just might learn something new about our family tree. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here

Using Gedmatch to Find Native American Ancestry

As usual, I’m poking around with genealogy, trying to find my husband’s Native American ancestry. I’ve turned to to see what I can find. It’s a free site but you’ll need to upload your raw data from your DNA testing company. Once you do that, Gedmatch will give you a kit#. With a kit# you can make comparisons with others. Because my husband’s Native American is on his mother’s side, I’m going to go to others related to him to see if they turn up any Native American from the maternal side. Before I do that, there are quite a few “calculators” that I can run his kit# through, like North Amerindian.

After trying many of the different calculators and nothing turns up, I’ve gone to a list of participants who share his DNA. I’m reaching out to someone who shares the same surname as my husband’s grandmother. They have provided an email address. Maybe through him and through my further poking around at Gedmatch, I’ll get some answers. It’s one thing to be told that you have Native American ancestry, quite another to prove it. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here:

The Jewish banker, the Sicilian Mafioso, the Chinese Spy, the Irish Guinness-lover and the two “bad girls.”

Last Friday, I had a delightful summer evening spent talking about the 1970’s, the tech industry, genealogy and life in general. In many minds, the above stereotypes would dominant as they gazed upon the table, where the group sat, their auras illuminated as if someone had plugged them in. The handsome Jew wasn’t a banker. The Italian was one of many New Yorkers, just trying to keep peace, the Chinese gentleman was the groom’s best friend, twenty-five years in America, with kids. No interest in spying. The Irishman looked twenty years younger than his age and wasn’t the least bit inebriated. And the two women; intelligent, honorable grandmothers, only longing for vindication as they relived their shotgun weddings. What an enlightened evening we would have missed, had we let stereotypes take control. We are one people. We are one-derful.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here: