My grandfather used to enjoy driving around the back roads of Louisiana. When he’d see some old folks sitting on rocking chairs out on their porch, he’d often pull over to chat. The most common topic of conversation was: who were your parents and who are your kin? Since almost everyone was related (often in multiple ways), this was how they worked out exactly how they were connected to each other. My grandfather had memorized an elaborate ancestral tree, and this type of knowledge was pretty widespread among the older people, so he and his new contacts could generally end up classifying each other as cousins.
For all his detailed command of our family history, a few of his claims in this area always seemed to me vague and speculative. In particular, he used to assure me that we were “part Choctaw.” This was not entirely implausible. There are still a few Choctaw left in my ancestral region on the northeastern side of Lake Ponchartrain and there were more a couple of hundred years ago. But although my grandfather could recite a long list of fathers and mothers going back to the first arrival in this country in the seventeenth century, he never could identify that Choctaw forbear precisely. I always thought that he might, on occasions, allow his love of a good story to interfere with strict adherence to the truth. At any rate, if we do have any Amerindian background, I’m sure that any genetic traces have been lost in the larger pool of inheritance, and I certainly retain no cultural traits from our putative Choctaw heritage.
My own children, in addition to their Louisiana background, are also half-Filipino. I usually tell them not to list themselves on applications as “Asian” because being Asian is generally more of a disadvantage than being white in systems of selection by racial and ethnic categories. If they're looking to fit into the diversity slots, they could conceivably use their mother’s maiden name and claim to be “Hispanic-surnamed." Or maybe they could just be Choctaw. In today’s world, genealogy has many more uses than just making connections with your kinfolk.