Sorry, that DNA test doesn’t make you Indigenous

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Sorry, that DNA test doesn't make you Indigenous

CBC Radio - Sunday November 06, 2016


So you send your DNA off to an ancestry company, and get a report back that says you’re part Native American, or part Italian, or part Nigerian. So what?

Maybe you’re excited to learn about your roots, but can you really consider yourself part of that culture?

Not really, says Kim TallBear.

“We construct belonging and citizenship in ways that do not consider these genetic ancestry tests. So it’s not just a matter of what you claim, but it’s a matter of who claims you.”

TallBear is an indigenous scholar based at the University of Alberta. She’s reacting to a particular advertisement for DNA ancestry tests, that shows a woman who learns she is “26 percent Native American,” and can’t wait to learn more about her heritage. It got regular play in Canada during Major League Baseball playoffs this year.

But learning about one’s “Native American heritage” is not simple. For one thing, “Native American” is a pretty broad term: whose heritage does she learn? Inuit? Maya? Coast Salish? The tests don’t give you that much detail.




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By |2017-10-01T22:10:38+00:00November 6th, 2016|Categories: Kim TallBear, Media|0 Comments

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Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society (Indigenous STS) is an international research and teaching hub, housed at the University of Alberta, for the bourgeoning sub-field of Indigenous STS. Our mission is two-fold: 1) To build Indigenous scientific literacy by training graduate students, postdoctoral, and community fellows to grapple expertly with techno-scientific projects and topics that affect their territories, peoples, economies, and institutions; and 2) To produce research and public intellectual outputs with the goal to inform national, global, and Indigenous thought and policymaking related to science and technology. Indigenous STS is committed to building and supporting techno-scientific projects and ways of thinking that promote Indigenous self-determination.

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