Last week Nature published the first findings from the Aboriginal Heritage Project, which aims to build the first genetic map of Aboriginal Australia and help indigenous Australians trace their ancestry and family history. Analysing DNA in samples of hair has revealed that since their initial arrival in Australia around 58,000 years ago, communities of Aboriginal people have remarkably remainded in the same regions across the continent.
Studying the mitochondrial DNA from over 111 Aboriginal hair samples collected from across Australia between the 1920’s and 1970’s has uncovered that all Australian Aboriginal’s living today are decedents of the first population to arrive in the country and over 1,500 to 2,000 years, groups of people spread across the land to both east and west coasts before eventually meeting in South Australia. Mitochondrial DNA is often used to trace maternal ancestry and map out ancient linages from deteriorated samples.
“These findings confirm what the Aboriginal community have known all along – that their deep ties with country stretch back thousands of years,” said Dr Raymond Todler, co-author of the study from the University of Adelaide. The study confirms that there is a real deep connection between Aboriginal people and country that has developed over thousands of years.