Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Dorset Tuniit Inuit

By comparison with the Smithsonian's Kennewick story noted a couple of days ago, this Toronto Star story on DNA analysis of early people in the North American Arctic is exemplary.  Here is evidence of a people "before" the people who are there now, but without the lurid speculation, and with a nice synthesis of traditional knowledge and scientific evidence.

The Inuit speak of Tuniit, a people who were already present when the ancestral Inuit came into Arctic Canada and who "went away" thereafter. The archaeologists found sites that suggested the same thing:  an earlier and different material culture at sites like the Cape Dorset one that gave its name to the archaeologists' "Dorset" (that is, pre-Inuit) culture. Now the DNA researchers suggests a significant genetic separation between the Dorset/Tuniit and the Inuit; they really do seem to have had the degree of separation the Inuit always said. And no crazy speculation about people come from Mars, or from Europe.
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