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DNA confirms Aboriginal people have a long-lasting connection to country

Date posted: 10 March 2017

Members of the Stolen Generations may finally find a way back to their country, thanks to new research that reveals differences in Aboriginal DNA can be linked to specific geographic areas.

The discovery is based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA found in hair samples taken from Aboriginal people during expeditions run between 1928 and the 1970s.

The DNA analysis, published today in Nature, again confirms modern Aboriginal Australians are descended from one founding population that arrived about 50,000 years ago when the continent was still connected to New Guinea.

But lead researcher Professor Alan Cooper of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA said the study shows the first people then rocketed around the west and east coasts, meeting somewhere in southern Australia around 2,000 years later.

The analysis indicated some populations stayed in specific areas during that continental migration and have been continuously present in those same regions ever since — having connection to country for as long as 50,000 years.

'We can see a very pronounced and distinct pattern of genetic types around Australia that clearly says Aboriginal people haven't moved from those areas,' Professor Cooper said.

The researchers analysed mitochondrial DNA, which allows maternal ancestry to be traced from 111 hair samples that were originally collected, with permission, from Aboriginal families who had been forcibly relocated to the communities of Cherbourg in Queensland and Koonibba and Point Pearce in South Australia.

Co-author Lesley Williams, an Indigenous woman from Cherbourg Queensland, was a key adviser on the project and is also the granddaughter of one of the hair sample donors.

She said the picture of settlement provided by the study was an 'absolutely important finding'.

Ms Williams said the technology would help those members of the Stolen Generations whose records had been lost or destroyed to trace their families and the cultural lands they were from.

Sorce: ABC News

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Last updated: 10 March 2017
 
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