Tsimshian Indigenous People’s Ancient Genomes Show Important Facts About their Past

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Researchers have analyzed genes from the DNA of ancient Tsimshian people and showed them that 6,000 years ago, the population was declining at a steady rate. The findings were recently published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

John Lindo, first author of the study and geneticist in Emory University’s Department of Anthropology said that their study “contradicts a popular notion”. He then explains the statement:

“There is this idea that after Native Americans came in through the Bering Strait that they were all expanding in population size until Europeans showed up. At least for this one population, we’ve shown that was not the case.”

Scientists used a new field in DNA sequencing called nuclear DNA, which helps to see a person’s bloodline – and they can track it back in time.

Using nuclear DNA helps scientists see a person’s bloodline which can be traced thousands of years back.

DNA Sequencing To Prove A New Story

DNA sequencing technology was used to prove otherwise. After sequencing the genome of 25 ancient DNA from Tsimshian people and of 25 modern-day DNA of this time’s population, they discovered an interesting fact.

“Over thousands of years, various Native American populations have adapted to living in every ecology throughout North and South America, from the Arctic to the Amazon. That’s about as an extreme as you can get for differences in environments.”

The Tsimshian people lived in coastal British Columbia and southern Alaska, relying on fishing to survive. Lindo said that, looking at both DNAs, the ancient and the modern one:

“We find a more nuanced story, that despite the population collapse, the genetic diversity of modern Tsimshian people varies significantly.”

Genetic diversity helped Tsimshian people survive, and it was done through intermarriage with other Native American groups and non-native people. Lindo explains the importance of “gene flow between populations, especially following catastrophic events such as the smallpox epidemics that the Tsimshian endured.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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