Alabama Native Americans Can Securely Test DNA

Alabama Cherokee at an intertribal event in Floridatown

Alabama Cherokee at an intertribal event in Floridatown, Fla.  Photo © 1999 Christine Grabsky. Used with permission.

For nearly 200 years, Native Americans hid out or kept low profiles in the mountainous backwoods and creek bottoms of Alabama, as they did in Georgia, Tennessee and other southeastern states. As much as possible, they assimilated into the white populace and claimed to be Black Dutch or some other type of European to explain their appearance and customs.

Created by the Legislative Act in 1984, the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission (AIAC) represents more than 38,000 American Indian families who are residents; even more Alabama Native Americans live outside the state. As of May 2023, there were nine officially recognized Indian tribes with headquarters in the state of Alabama.

In 2023, DNA Consultants inaugurated an independent DNA project to establish a benchmark of Alabama tribes’ biological history and diversity designed to supplement similar forensic samples of other states, including Florida, North Carolina and Vermont.

Administered by K. J. Watkins, the project is called Alabama Tribes Reference Population STR Profile DNA Project. Participation in it is open to anyone enrolled in an Alabama tribe or claiming Native American ancestry in Alabama.

Like other projects in the news, the purpose of the testing is to preserve a snapshot of the genetic composition of Alabama Native Americans at a time when admixture, secularization, intermarriage and other factors endanger the coherence and continuity of all ethnic groups. More widely, the purpose is to underpin educational and cultural awareness goals.

Though not a formal sponsor, DNA Consultants has helped make such goals possible with its unique test, the Basic American Indian DNA Fingerprint Test. The Alabama project agrees with similar STR studies and is expected to extend over a number of years.

STR stands for Short Tandem Repeats, values spread across standard locations in the chromosomes used to identify people. Different ethnic populations have different STR frequencies on an aggregate basis. A strong random probability match to a population in the reference database can point to common ancestry—though no percentage of admixture can be calculated, since all populations are mixed and none is “pure” or 100%.

The study follows the same method and procedures used in J. Ng et al, “Native American Population Data Based on the Globalfiler Autosomal STR Loci,” Forensic Science International: Genetics 24 (Sept. 2016) e12-e13, DOI:, a much-praised research study of American Indian biological profiles that includes , for instance, U.S. Cherokee Enrolled (n=33) among 31 tribes sampled.

“We’ve found that today is perhaps the last great opportunity for surveying the diversity of forensic profiles and frequencies of populations given today’s frequent mixing, easy air travel, increasing secular culture and changing group identities,” said Donald N. Yates, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific director at DNA Consultants. “Many Indian descendants in the Southeast are admixed—with white, black and other native blood, so we are not focusing on anything other than self-recognition and self-identification.”

He cited the formation of the European Union, more fluid borders between countries and aging of our society as demographic factors in a “golden moment” for the biological history of modern populations.

DNA Consultants, whose method is forensic, not genomic, matches a subject to living populations and is the only DNA service that can specify all countries of Europe, including Ukraine and several regions of Scotland, Spain and Italy, as well as up to 65 Indian tribes or groups in North, Central and South America.

Other similar reference populations in the company’s database are: Admixed Cherokee (n=62, n=92), Lumbee (n=251), Northeastern Mexico Mestizos (n=143), Southern Mexico Mestizos (n=251), Guatemalan Mestizos (n=200), Melungeon (n=40) and Puerto Ricans (n=205). The database also has Alabama White (n=75).

Anyone interested in taking part in the project and furthering the scientific aims of the initiative is encouraged to contact the administrator at k*j*w* (remove asterisks). Please state your roll number, if applicable, and reason for volunteering in your email. Elders or those with restricted income or means may, at the sole discretion of the administrator, test on a cost-free basis or deep discount. Others will normally purchase the Basic American Indian DNA Fingerprint Test or similar forensic identity test.

If you have already taken an STR profile (DNA fingerprint) test and are an Alabama Native American please send the administrator an email with your name and enrollment number. In either case, the administrator will reply with a download for the consent form, which must be mailed to her signed in hard copy before you are considered for participation.

Remember, you must contact the administrator, at k*j*!

Disclaimer: No candidate receives any compensation for his or her participation in this research project. Inclusion is randomly representative and anonymous and entails no benefit beyond helping establish a scientific sample for future study. No applicant is guaranteed admission to the project but is accepted or rejected upon the exclusive decision of the administrator, without appeal. Numbers may be capped at a sample size of her own determination. The project may be discontinued at any time, for any reason, without notification of parties.

Disclaimer for all Tests: This DNA Test is a probabilistic prediction of ancestry for personal knowledge only. It is a non-chain of custody form of testing and is not intended for legal or official purposes. Its results may or may not confirm expected ethnic composition, family history or genealogical determinations. Alone, it may not be used to prove identity, biological relationships, nationality, citizenship, immigration or tribal enrollment.

Note: Several projects advertised before on this website have been discontinued owing to lack of participation. Others are ongoing. The Virginia Recognized Tribes Reference Population STR Profile DNA Project was discontinued. First phase Shawnee projects have been concluded. All Cherokee DNA Studies (mitochondrial surveys) have been concluded and published.


Related links

Alabama Indian Affairs Commission (AIAC)

Basic American Indian Test (reg. $179, ask for special price for registered Native Americans $89.50)

Shawnee Reference Populations Introduced (news item, Aug. 6, 2022)

Populations in DNA Consultants Database (list with links)

Abenakis Added (news item, Jan. 26, 2023)

Participants Wanted for Eastern Canadian Metis DNA Project (news item, Nov. 12, 2022)

DNA Consultants Company Video (1:49)