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Eske Willerslev adopted by the Crow tribe – University of Copenhagen

11 July 2014

Eske Willerslev adopted by the Crow tribe

Reburial of a 12.600 year old skeleton from an ancestor to present day Native Americans led to an unexpected honor for CGG’s director, Professor Eske Willerslev.

Recently on a rainy day in Montana, USA, representatives from about 30 American Indian tribes and a few locals and scientists gathered to fulfill a promise: The reburial of the remains of the only skeleton from the prehistoric Clovis culture – that of a young boy who was buried 12.600 years ago.

In February 2014 Professor Willerslev and his international team of scientists published a paper in Nature with the mapping of the skeleton’s genome. The results showed that 80 % of all present-day Native Americans on the two American continents are direct descendants of the Clovis boy’s family.

An agreement was made earlier between representatives of the Native Americans, the scientists and the Anzick family that the skeleton would be reburied after the scientists had sampled the bones. It was on the Anzick family's land the boy's skeleton was originally found almost 50 years ago.

In order to honor the American Indians’ wish of a proper reburial of the remains a ceremony was held on the 28. June.

New member of the Crow tribe

After the reburial Eske Willerslev was invited to the Crow tribe’s nearby reservation where the tribe’s sundance chief told him that they wanted to adopt him into the tribe. Professor Willerslev recalls:

- So I was adopted and given the name ‘Well-known Wolf’. It was very touching – and I am very honored.

The ceremony. (Photo: Helen Anzick).