Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
SEATTLE - A just released study by the University of Washington, Seattle, and Göttingen University in Germany confirm what American Indians have long known:
There was significant decline in indigenous populations in the Americas, both North America and South America.
Their Findings Confirm Historical Records
“These losses were not limited to specific regions, but rather distributed across both American continents, with the severest impacts occurring in the most densely populated regions,”
anthropologist Dr. Lars Fehren-Schmitz at Göttingen University explains.
What is significant about the study is it used genetic studies that indicate the indigenous populations were decreased by 50 percent.“This new population growth suggests that the causes of the decline can only be attributable to fast and short-acting factors, for example, from diseases brought by the Europeans in combination of war and famine, and was not due to centuries-long processes, as is commonly assumed,”
continues Dr. Fehren-Schmitz.
By extensively analyzing female genomes, the researchers succeeded in proving that a transient contraction in population sizes by around 50 percent took place after the Europeans arrived in the Americas.
Their findings confirm historical records indicating how significantly the diseases, wars and famine brought over by the European settlers affected the peoples living in the Americas.
These findings have been published online in the prestigious American Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This was not the first time that scientists used genetic data to demonstrate a significant bottleneck in American Indian populations, but they were able to determine the breadth of the phenomenon as well. In their investigation, the researchers combined genetic information from "modern" and those who lived in the Americas prior to European contact. In total, they analyzed 137 mitochondrial gnomes and 63 subsequences of this gnome, the latter between 800 and 5,000 years old. The mitochondrial is passed on through maternal lineage.
posted January 25, 2012 6:45 am est
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