Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 1    May 2011

Scientists Suggest Native Woman Traveled to Europe 1,000 Years Ago
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Condensed by Native Village

Iceland: A Native woman may have traveled from America to Europe 1,000 years ago.

This bold theory is based on genetic research by Agnar Helgason from Iceland’s deCODE Genetics and the University of Iceland. As Helgason researched the origin of the Iceland's people, he discovered about 350 carried the C1 genome. C1 is usually seen only in Asians and Native Americans. It's passed down from mother to daughter.

 “We figured it was a recent arrival from Asia,” said Helgason. “But we discovered a much deeper story than we expected.”

Helgason’s graduate student traced the genetic sequence to a much earlier date than Asian arrival in Iceland. She believes those carrying the C1 genome are descended from one of four women who lived around 1700. These four women likely shared a common female ancestor.

The occurrence of the C1 genome was also studied by Spain’s CSIC scientific research institute.

“As [Iceland] was virtually isolated from the 10th century, the most likely hypothesis is that these genes corresponded to an Amerindian woman who was brought from America by the Vikings around the year 1000,” said CSIC researcher, Carles Lalueza-Fox.

Scientists agree that the Vikings -- and not Columbus -- were the first Europeans in the New World.  In 1960, a Viking settlement was discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The site is identified with Vinland – the Vikings' name for the area of North America they found in 1000.

In addition, the Sagas of Icelanders, a collection of 1,000 year old Iceladic stories, describes events in Iceland about 1,000 years ago. They tell of a settlement at Vinland established by Leif Ericson, the Norse explorer. It was those Viking sailors, scholars think, who could have taken a Native woman back with them to Europe.

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