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In 1999, hunters looking for sheep stumbled upon the remains of a man in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, British Columbia, Canada. The man was found at the foot of a glacier. After reporting the discovery, a team of archaeologists and forensic anthropologists worked with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations to recover the remains. His affiliation wasn’t really well known.

Several months later, carbon dating on the hat and robe found on the man was completed. The remains of the man, named Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi, was calculated to be at least 340 years old. The closer interval of Kwaday was calculated to be 160 years old. That puts his death somewhere between 1670 and 1850 AD. Because many of these indigenous people in modern day Yukon and Alaska practice an oral tradition, this date didn’t help figure out which tribe Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi belongs too.

Since 1999, not much was heard from Kwaday. But, a symposium dedicated to Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi just wrapped up this weekend in Victoria. All sorts of research has been done on Kwaday, such as analysis of the clothing, tools associated, migratory patterns, even the contents of his stomach. People shared their studies at this symposium. The most interesting research shared was an analysis of the genealogy of Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi.

The genealogy was constructed by sampling some DNA from Kwaday’s remains. The results linked Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi to 17 living people. 15 of these people self-identify with the Wolf Clan, meaning the young man was may have been a member of the Wolf Clam as well. I don’t know which genetic loci was screened, I’m guessing a basic STR marker screen, the ones used in criminology, was done. I’d like to know what was done, because the thoroughness and robusticity of the test greatly effect the results. So does the comparison pool. Who were the outgroups? And how many people was the DNA compared too?

The news article reporting this doesn’t drop names about who did this study. A shame really, the author, Murray Langdon, discusses the ethics of working on and with Native Americans, but no mention was made to who did the genetic study. If you’re out there, mystery researcher, please comment and let us know how you analyzed and compared Kwaday Dän Ts’inchi ancestry.

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