DNA proves that Native American and indigenous Canadian groups along the northern Pacific Ocean have been living there for more than 10,000 years.
Scientists did a genetic analysis on people from the British Columbia coast and southern Alaska and compared it with samples from ancient skeletons to show the connection to the humans who first settled North America, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There were four ancient skeletons involved in the project. The oldest was of a man dubbed Shuká Káa who lived about 10,300 years ago and whose remains were found in a southeastern Alaskan cave. The three others range in age from 1,750 to 6,075 years and were found south of that cave, on the coast of British Columbia in Canada.
Humans first arrived and settled in the Americas after migrating from Siberia over the now-underwater land bridge called the Bering Strait. For that reason, according to the study, the genetic lineage of that region “proves an intriguing focus.”
In addition to showing that some indigenous groups descended from those early settlers, the DNA analysis also showed different historic population structures.
“The data suggest that there were multiple genetic lineages in the Americas from at least 10,300 years ago,” Ripan Malhi, anthropology professor from the University of Illinois and one of the study’s leaders, said in a statement from the university.
That statement also notes that DNA confirmation of the native peoples’ lineage backs up information from their societies’ oral histories.
This is not the first study to analyze the DNA of indigenous people to confirm their ancestry. Researchers recently showed that the aboriginal people living in Australia were descendants of the same people who first settled that nation 50,000 years ago.