DNA links local woman to ancient man

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008

JUNEAU - Juneau resident Marilyn Doyle is one of 17 Native people in Alaska and Canada related to an ancient man whose remains were found in a glacier in 1999.

Doyle was notified in early June by the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations that she is related to the ancient man, named Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi (Long Ago Person Found) by tribes.

Doyle was one of 250 Native people to be tested for a DNA match in a project sponsored by CAFN and Sealaska Heritage Institute.

The DNA results show nine people from Alaska and eight people from Canada are related.

"I think it has a big impact not just on my personal family and clan history but as a whole to our people," said Doyle, who is the third person in Southeast Alaska to publicly disclose her connection to the ancient man. "We always say we've been here since time immemorial, and I think this unique discovery of the 'Long Ago Person Found' confirms it."

Hunters found the remains in a melting glacier in British Columbia, and scientists believe he died roughly 200-300 years ago, possibly longer.

Doyle is Tlingit/Nisga'a and a Wolf/Eagle from the Yanyeidí Clan whose lineage through her mother (Irene Roberts), grandmother (Mary Young Sutton) and great-grandmother (Jenny Young) connect her to Juneau/Douglas, Angoon, Klukwan and British Columbia,.

She said her mother told her stories about her great-grandfather from Klukwan who traveled by foot into interior Alaska and Canada to hunt, trap and trade. Doyle agreed to the DNA testing in 2001 because she thought there might be a connection.

Doyle helped coordinate a meeting in Juneau to bring together new relatives who met one another for the first time, and to begin planning a Memorial Potlatch in the Fall to honor Kwaday Dan Ts'inchi.

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