Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Indian DNA Found From 10,000 Years Ago

Remember “Kennewick Man”? The discovery of his bones, not too many years ago, launched a furious struggle between American Indians and anthropologists. The struggle had been going on for a long time, but in a sort of passive-aggressive manner. Anthoropologists loved studying Indians: they spoke, mostly, the same language, were accessible but exotic, and generally friendly. Indians were ambivalent about the anthros: the academics were gullible but intrustive; had money to spend but blabbed everything they learned, and tended to regard Indians as subjects in a laboratory. Anthropologists and their close cousins, archeologists, though, liked to dig up the bones of dead Indians. For years and years, Indians could not prevent this intellectualized grave-robbing; things gradually changed, and the law came to protect the remains of America’s First Nations people.

The anthropologist who first examined the Kennewick bones, remarked that they appeared to be “caucasian.” That was enough for some white supremacist groups to claim that caucasians had first inhabited North America. And for other groups, who firmly believed that Indians were every bit as warlike and ferocious as Europeans, to raise up old claims that the pre-Columbian history of North America was parallel to that of Europe: one wave after another of invaders, crashing into cultures already present and overwhelming them. In other words, Indians had no more claim to North America than later waves of European invaders. Therefore, there was no moral problem in justifying the conquest. “See, we just did what others already had done.”

Colonialism, then, was normal.

Ah, well. Kennewick Man was tested out at 9,500 years old, more or less.

Now, DNA taken from a tooth of someone who died in S.E. Alaska a thousand years before Kennewick Man, turns out to be as Indian as Indian can be…. And related to thousands of other Indian people of North and South America.


DNA links 10,000-year-old man to tribal descendants
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

DNA tests on a 10,300-year-old man discovered in Alaska links him to 47 tribal descendants in North and South America, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Paleontologist Timothy Heaton extracted DNA from "On Your Knees Cave Man" and compared it to a database of Native people. He found 47 descendants belonging to tribes as diverse as the Chumash in California, the Zapotec in Mexico and the Quechua of Peru.

The connection was uncovered by examining the haplotype, or DNA mutation, of the ancestor and his descendants. According to researchers, there are five different haplotypes found among all Native Americans.

On Your Knees Cave Man was found in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska in 1996. The U.S. Forest Service worked with the Klawock Tribe and the Craig Tribe on the excavation. Tribal members participated and observed the dig. The tribes agreed to the DNA test, which was restricted to two teeth.

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