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Does A DNA Test Make You Indigenous?

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DNA ancestry tests are growing in popularity, but they come with many questions about racial politics.

With the advent of modern DNA tests, people can now find out their genetic makeup within days. For many the tests can help strengthen a sense of heritage and ancestry. But according to indigenous scholar Kim TallBear, a specialist in racial politics in science, the results of a DNA test do not give people a license to adopt or claim membership to a Native American community.

 

TallBear speaks with host Frank Stasio about the wave of North Americans who take DNA tests in hopes of proving and claiming native heritage. TallBear discusses how claiming indigenous identity may be a remnant of colonialism and how a DNA test does not mean membership for most Native American tribes.

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Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.