DNA LINKS NATIVE ALASKANS
TO ANCIENT MAN FOUND IN GLACIER
Juneau Man Among First of
Alaskans to be Notified
May 02, 2008
Juneau resident Fernando Rado found out Thursday he is one of
17 Native people in Alaska and Canada related to an ancient man
whose remains were found in a glacier in 1999.
from Klukwan, Alaska, now a Juneau
Rado was one of 250 Native people to be tested for a DNA match
in a project sponsored by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations
(CAFN) and Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI). The DNA results
show 9 people from Alaska and 8 people from Canada are related
to the ancient man, named by tribes Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi (Long
Ago Person Found).
"It's kind of overwhelming and it's kind of very exciting
because I feel like I'm related to a piece of time in history,"
said Rado, an Eagle Killerwhale whose family is from Klukwan,
Hunters found the remains in
a melting glacier in British Columbia, and scientists believe
he died roughly 200-300 years ago, possibly longer. He was wearing
a spruce-root hat and a robe made of squirrel skins. In 2001,
a DNA study was launched to determine whether Long Ago Person
Found had any living descendants in Canada and Alaska. Mitochondrial
DNA was extracted from blood samples given by Native people in
Canada and Alaska. Of the Alaskans related to him, three are
affiliated with CAFN and have been notified by the tribe, including
Rado, who believes his mother enrolled him with the Champagne
tribe. The remaining six Alaskans have yet to be notified and
Sealaska Heritage plans to work with CAFN to locate them. Their
identities will be kept confidential unless the individuals authorize
public release of their names. Fifteen of the people identified
themselves as Wolf or Eagle moiety (two did not identify their
It's not a huge surprise Long Ago Person Found is related to
tribes from both Alaska and Canada. Oral histories and genealogical
studies have shown there were migrations of Southeast Tlingits
into the Interior and of Interior Natives to Klukwan. There were
also intermarriages between the two tribes. It's also known that
people from the Yanyeidí (Wolf) clan live in both Alaska
"Alaska Native oral traditions talk about extensive contact
between Southeast Natives and Canadian tribes," Dye said.
"Oral histories also indicate Native people did travel from
Southeast to the Interior and from the Interior to Southeast.
So, the test results really just strengthen that bond that already
existed between Alaska and Canadian tribes."
The news has strengthened Rado's ties to Canadian Natives, too.
"With this information, I need to go and visit the Champagne
tribe because there's a whole piece of family that has 100 percent
enlarged my family," said Rado, also a shareholder of Sealaska,
the regional Native corporation for Southeast Alaska.
Long Ago Person Found may have been from Southeast Alaska. One
study found more than 90 percent of the protein in his diet was
from marine sources. That study, by the University of Glasgow,
concluded he "had strong coastal connections during his
life and had been on the coast shortly before he died about 550
to 600 years ago."
Some Southeast Alaska Natives believe him to be Kaakaldeini,
who was immortalized in oral traditions. Many years ago Kaakaldeini
was hurt while traveling to the Interior to trade. When a storm
rolled in, he told his companions to leave him, fearing if they
carried him, they would go too slowly and all die in the storm.
His companions piled blankets on him, left and he was never seen
again. Kaakaldeini was of the Sockeye Clan.
Source of News & Photograph:
Sealaska Heritage Institute
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