Will DNA link Alaska Indians to 10,300-year-old man?

June 6, 2008 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians gathering in Juneau on Friday will get a chance to prove they're directly related to one of the very first Alaskans — a 10,300-year-old mariner whose bear-chewed bones were discovered a decade ago in a cave on Prince of Wales Island.

In return, molecular anthropologists collecting the participants' DNA hope to add to their knowledge about how the earliest Americans spread across the Western Hemisphere — possibly along a coastal sea route — in spite of the ice-choked plains.

First, however, they'll have to gather a little saliva, about a single milliliter per customer, by inducing potential relatives of the ancient Alaskan to spit into a laboratory test tube.

The fact that Southeast Native elders approve of the experiment — just as they earlier endorsed requests to examine the human remains — contrasts sharply with the protests and pitched legal battles Indian leaders in Washington state waged over the fate of "Kennewick Man," the 9,000-year-old Columbia River skeleton.

Read the full story at adn.com.

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