A Century in the Life of an Aboriginal Hair Sample
Making his way home from the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress, British ethnologist Alfred C. Haddon stopped at a remote railway siding on the Trans-Australian Railway to Perth. In the space of twenty minutes, he cut locks of hair from the head of an unidentified “young Aboriginal man.” It contributed to Haddon's extensive collection, the basis of his theory of three races based on hair form. This chapter traces the postcollection journey of the hair sample from Golden Ridge to evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev, who used it to produce the “first Aboriginal genome” in 2011. Willerslev's research established a new narrative of Aboriginal occupation of the continent. In eventually consulting with Indigenous owners of the land from where the sample was taken, he also established a new standard of international ethical practice. The chapter considers the shifting notions of “good science” in Indigenous ancient DNA research.