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Dissertation Research: MtDNA Genetic Diversity of the Prehistoric Northeast

Analysis of mitochondrial DNA obtained from skeletal materials can be used to examine the relatedness of long extinct populations. This award will be used to investigate the biological relationships of four populations, totaling approximately 75 individuals, located in the Great Lakes region, as well as indicate some aspects of demographic history that are reflected in the pattern of genetic diversity. This investigation will test ancestral relationships proposed by linguists and archaeologists regarding the relationship between the diverse and expanding populations of the Archaic and Woodland periods in this region. <br/><br/>Specifically, this study will test the genetic relationships within Glacial Kame and Red Ocher populations, as well as between these and Old Copper, Mississippian, and modern Algonquian speaking populations in the lower Great Lakes region. This study can help determine if archaeological similarities were primarily the result of cultural spreads or population expansions, in addition to estimating the extent of genetic differentiation that existed in the Great Lakes during the last 4000 years. The mtDNA of populations included in this study will also be compared with that of other ancient populations of the Lower Great Lakes region including Archaic Indian Knoll, early Woodland Adena, Hopewell, and Late Prehistoric Fort Ancient populations, all previously or currently being studied. In addition, data generated from this study will contribute to the growing body of information that can be used to address broader questions regarding the peopling of the New World.

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