• I Know Who I Am: My Ancestry DNA Results Are In!

    In the world of genealogy we have two family trees: one genealogical and one that is genetic.

    Three weeks earlier than I expected I woke up to an email from Ancestry.com letting me know my results were in.  Up until this point the only things I knew about my ancestry was that part of it was from Africa (obviously) and the other part was Native American.  Aside from my skin color, I knew nothing about what areas in Africa my ancestry was from. So imagine my surprise to open that email and find out that I’m 89% African and 11%…EUROPEAN?

    According to the Ancestry.com Autosomal DNA test I took, my African ancestry is 29% Ivory Coast/Ghana and 28% Cameroon/Congo.  These are two regions that are quite distant from one another. Coming in quite distant was 8% Senegal, 7% Benin/Togo and 5% Nigeria.  Drilling further down into the Trace Regions there was 5% Mali, 3% Africa Southeastern Bantu and 2% Africa South-Central African Hunter Gatherers and 2%…NORTH AFRICA?!?

    Needless to say when I informed my aunt that the test didn’t show any Native American ancestry but showed European instead, she was speechless.  The elders in my family would often tell stories of ancestors from the Seminole, Creek and Cherokee nations.  Interestingly enough this is a common story in a lot of black American families.  Contrary to cultural belief, most black Americans are not ‘part indian’ and in my case my DNA test revealed quite clearly that I do NOT have ANY Native American Ancestry.  Wait, let me correct that–any Native American ancestry my parents may have had did not win the chromosomal powerball for inclusion in my genetic makeup.  My 11% European ancestry consists of 9% Western European which could mean anything from France to Switzerland to Germany.  Even more interesting is how the 2% trace regions in Europe broke down: 1% Italian (Southern) and 1% SCANDINAVIAN?  Yes, Italian as in Sicily/Sardinia. Yes, Scandinavian as in Vikings.

    Some people have asked me what it is like to finally get this piece of the puzzle of my ancestry ‘solved.  While it feel satisfying to know all of this information including the few ‘surprises’, I didn’t feel some urgent need to go back to the likes of Cameroon to see the slave castles the Portuguese used.  I certainly don’t feel any ounce of desire to go to Ghana to see those places where my ancestors were sold by their own people to French and British slave traders in exchange for guns and alcohol.  While most of my ancestry is there from long ago, I am a United States citizen and my story is here in America. I would rather tell the stories of their successes and failures building a life here in America instead of visiting an alien land to which I hold no affection, affinity or allegiance.

    I am 89% African, 11% European but make no mistake–I am 100% AMERICAN.

    Trish Williams

    Trish Williams is a former engineering major, who resides in Philadelphia. Trish is an avid reader, advocate for STEM education in schools, and a firearms enthusiast. She hopes to relocate to the coastal South for warmer weather and conservative political surroundings.

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