There’s a new paper out on the genetic prehistory of the Canadian Arctic. Basically, it says that existing Eskimos replaced a genetically different population less than 700 years ago, and that those earlier Paleo-Eskimos (Dorset culture) represent yet another separate migration from Asia (in addition to the PaleoIndians, the Na-Dene, and the Eskimo). They put this in such a nice way: “the genetic continuity characterizing the Paleo-Eskimo period was interrupted by the arrival of a new population.”
Which likely means that the neo-Eskimos killed off the Dorset people. Obviously they weren’t farmers, the usual suspects in replacement, but the new guys had a more sophisticated technology ( and probably greater numbers) , with bows, large skin boats, dog sleds, whale-hunting gear, etc. The neo-Eskimos have certainly done their share of fighting in recent historical times – they went at it hammer-and-tongs with various Amerindian tribes.
This is fairly obvious, so much so that even the New York Times and the Washington Post mentioned extermination by the newcomers as a possible explanation. There is no mention of that possibility in the original research article, but I’m sure that some of the authors were quite aware of it. What they said is probably influenced by the fear that saying anything negative, no matter how true, might cause the Eskimos to refuse cooperation in the future.
This pre-agricultural genocide makes you wonder just how often similar wipeouts may happened in the past. Maybe the Gravettians and Aurignacians weren’t the same people.