Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Sealaska Heritage Institute will employ the use of artificial intelligence in working with researchers to further explore the root of the ancestry of Native people in Southeast Alaska.
The institute will team with a group of university academics and Sunfish, Incorporated, to explore ancient, submerged caves around Prince of Wales Island. The team will explore the caves using robots this year and in 2023.
Institute President Rosita Worl said during an interview with News of the North, "Our people have always said that we have lived and owned Southeast Alaska since time immemorial. That's what we say and this is what our oral traditions affirm. So now we also have the opportunity to look at scientific evidence."
Worl says the area around Prince of Wales has been of interest to scientists for years. In 1996, a paleontologist exploring a cave there discovered human remains that proved to be those of a young Native man who lived more than 10,000 years ago. At the time, they were the oldest ever found in Alaska and Canada. She says that much of the terrain that is below sea level now was above ground and accessible to people about 17,000 years ago.
The project is funded by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration