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DNA is a link to past

TRACING HERITAGE: The Board for Anthropological Research visited many sites between 1927 and 1965.
TRACING HERITAGE: The Board for Anthropological Research visited many sites between 1927 and 1965. SA Museum Archives

AUNTY Lesley Williams can trace her family history back at least 1200 generations.

Since 2006, Aunty Lesley has been involved in a study of Aboriginal DNA to reconstruct Aboriginal heritage.

A La Trobe University analysis of mitochondrial DNA allows the tracing of maternal ancestry, and the results show that modern Aboriginal Australians are the descendants of founding populations that arrived in Australia at least 50,000 years ago, while Australia was still connected to New Guinea.

Aunty Lesley is from Cherbourg and was able to retrace where her grandmother was originally from in north-west Queensland near Winton, through information from the government and her grandmother.

But the two DNA studies have allowed Aunty Lesley to understand that her family had been living in the Winton area for 1200 generations.

She has since been involved in a project with the University of Adelaide, which has been tracing the DNA off hair samples that were taken with consent from indigenous Australians all over the country, including Aunty Lesley's grandfather in Cherbourg.

The hair was collected from the 1930s-1960s.

"The mitochondrial is the female line.

"They can go right back to when the first granny came out here to Australia, which goes back 1200 times,” she said. "We were blown away by it.

"It absolutely proves what we've always been told and supports our claim and confirms that we have lived here for tens of thousands of years.

"So it's great for families to have a sense of where they are from and where they belong.”

Aunty Lesley said the DNA ancestry was great for the stolen generation as through all the information they could retrace where they were from.

She said it had been a wonderful journey working on the project and it had been respectful to her ancestry and ancestors.

South Burnett

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