View Full Version : European Diseases Left Their Mark on First Nations’ DNA

11-16-2016, 04:25 PM

Change to immune-system genes in indigenous Canadians linked to epidemic introduced by Europeans

Epidemics from Europe that killed thousands of indigenous Canadians in the nineteenth century have left their signatures in the genomes of the people living there today, researchers say.

The Tsimshian people, who live in coastal British Columbia and Alaska and are among Canada’s First Nations, suffered a severe population crash around the nineteenth century, as European colonizers brought diseases including smallpox to communities that had not acquired resistance.

The population decline is documented in reports from the time and in oral histories. But it may also show up in changes in immune-system genes, say geneticists who sequenced the genomes of 25 Tsimshian people and compared them with the DNA of 25 people who lived in the same region between 6,000 and 1,000 years ago. The ancient DNA was obtained—with permission from Tsimshian communities—from corpses stored in the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau.

11-25-2017, 10:38 PM
At least some Indigenous people have adapted.