Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Demography of the Aleutian Islands

The Oct-Dec 2010 issue of Human Biology is dedicated to various biological, archaeological and biohistorical studies of the indigenous populations of the Aleutian Islands.  Of particular interest to this blog is the article by Katherine Reedy-Maschner regarding the demographic shifts that impacted the male Aleut population throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.  Using both historical data and ethnographic fieldwork, Reedy-Maschner recounts how various political and economic forces acted to effectively replace the male population via cultural assimilation and displacement.  Today, many Aleuts bear Russian, Scandinavian and other European ancestry within their lineages.  This article also contains a cautionary tale for demographers using surnames as genetic analogs.  Aleut men baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church often took the names of their Russian sponsors, which obviously complicates the direct analogy between surnames and Y-chromosome pattern. 

Reedy-Maschner, Katherine, 2010.  Where did all the Aleut men go? Aleut male attrition and related patterns in Aleutian historical demography and social organization.  Human Biology, 82(5-6): 583.

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