Cooper, Alan, Ray Tobler & Wolfgang Haak: DNA reveals Aboriginal people had a long and settled connection to country

Alan Cooper, Ray Tobler & Wolfgang Haak

DNA reveals Aboriginal people had a long and settled connection to country‘, Guardian Australia, 9 March 2017

Summarises research reported in Nature (behind expensive paywall) that used historic hair samples collected from Aboriginal people in the 1920s and 1930s to show that, following an initial migration 50,000 years ago, populations spread rapidly around the east and west coasts of Australia – and then settled in place.

While the anthropological collection at the University of Adelaide is extensive, the most rewarding part of it are the hair samples. Collected for a minor project about hair types, the samples ‘preserve an incredible record of the genetic diversity and distribution of Indigenous Australia prior to European disruption’.

The research ‘could help people of the stolen generation to reconnect with family and country’ and ‘facilitate the repatriation of Aboriginal samples and artefacts held in museums’.

The genetic lineages within each region are clearly very divergent. They tell us that people – once settled in a particular landscape – stayed connected within their realms for up to 50,000 years despite huge environmental and climate changes. We should remember that this is about ten times as long as all of the European history we’re commonly taught.

The brief summary video is recommended. ABC News Report.


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