Interview with Christiana L. Scheib, Cambridge University, UK, and Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia

08 May 2018

Virginia R. Dominguez (VRD): Could you please describe what you do with respect to genomics and what it has to do with Indigenous people? Christiana L. Scheib (CLS): Humans across the globe share a preoccupation with our own history. We want to know who our ancestors were, how they lived, where they came from. This knowledge provides an anchor in a rapidly changing world. There are many ways in which people investigate the past and many sources of evidence: oral history, civic records, historical artifacts, linguistic analysis, archaeological excavation, and now genomics. Each one comes with its own benefits and limitations. Civic records may tell you what date your great-grandparents married, but it doesn’t tell you what they looked like or what kind of food they had at the ceremony. Oral history may tell you what sort of life they lived in general, but modern biological archeology gives us the chance to see whether they as individuals conformed to that ideal or not. The best way to get a well-rounded view of our past is to combine complementary approaches.