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      Towards estimating the indigenous population in circumpolar regions

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          Despite the importance of indigenous people in the Arctic, there is no accurate estimate of their size and distribution. We defined indigenous people as those groups represented by the “permanent participants” of the Arctic Council. The census in Canada, Russia and the United States records status as an indigenous person. In Greenland, a proxy measure is place of birth supplemented by other information. For the Nordic countries we utilized a variety of sources including registered voters’ lists of the various Sami parliaments and research studies that established Sami cohorts. Overall, we estimated that there were about 1.13 million indigenous people in the northern regions of the 8 Member States of the Arctic Council. There were 8,100 Aleuts in Alaska and the Russian North; 32,400 Athabaskans in Alaska and northern Canada; 145,900 Inuit in Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland; 76,300 Sami in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia; and 866,400 people in northern Russia belonging to other indigenous groups. Different degrees and types of methodological problems are associated with estimates from different regions. Our study highlights the complexity and difficulty of the task and the considerable gaps in knowledge. We hope to spur discussion of this important issue which could ultimately affect strategies to improve the health of circumpolar peoples.

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          Most cited references 10

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          Population based study of health and living conditions in areas with both Sámi and Norwegian populations--the SAMINOR study.

          The overall aim of the SAMINOR project was to study health and diseases in relation to living conditions among the Sámi population and to compare these with the Norwegian population in the same area. This article provides an overview of the background of the study and a description of the methods employed for the data collection. We give sample characteristics and elaborate on different definitions of ethnicity. Cross-sectional, population-based study, including questionnaires, a clinical examination and analyses of blood samples. All individuals 30 or 36 to 79 years of age who were living in defined municipalities or specified local areas with a known Sámi population were invited to a cardiovascular screening program. The data were collected during 2003-2004. The questionnaires focused on living conditions, health, Sámi traditions and ethnicity. The eligible population consisted of 27,987 individuals and 16,865 (60.6%) participated by answering at least one questionnaire. Analyses were restricted to the 36 to 79 year-old age group which had 16,538 participants. The screening program comprised a blood sample, measurements of blood pressure, height, weight, and waist and hip ratio. Different definitions of Sámi ethnicity were explored. Of the sample, 35.6% reported Sámi background, and 13.2% reported that they, their parents and their grandparents had Sámi as their domestic language. This stringent definition of Sámi produced clearer differences between Sámi and Norwegians, as shown for some measures of socioeconomic status. The findings that are related to more strict definitions of Sámi ethnicity have important implications for the interpretation of earlier works and for future studies.
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            Uncovering the Genetic History of the Present-Day Greenlandic Population

            Because of past limitations in samples and genotyping technologies, important questions about the history of the present-day Greenlandic population remain unanswered. In an effort to answer these questions and in general investigate the genetic history of the Greenlandic population, we analyzed ∼200,000 SNPs from more than 10% of the adult Greenlandic population (n = 4,674). We found that recent gene flow from Europe has had a substantial impact on the population: more than 80% of the Greenlanders have some European ancestry (on average ∼25% of their genome). However, we also found that the amount of recent European gene flow varies across Greenland and is far smaller in the more historically isolated areas in the north and east and in the small villages in the south. Furthermore, we found that there is substantial population structure in the Inuit genetic component of the Greenlanders and that individuals from the east, west, and north can be distinguished from each other. Moreover, the genetic differences in the Inuit ancestry are consistent with a single colonization wave of the island from north to west to south to east. Although it has been speculated that there has been historical admixture between the Norse Vikings who lived in Greenland for a limited period ∼600–1,000 years ago and the Inuit, we found no evidence supporting this hypothesis. Similarly, we found no evidence supporting a previously hypothesized admixture event between the Inuit in East Greenland and the Dorset people, who lived in Greenland before the Inuit.
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              Causes of death in the Sami population of Sweden, 1961-2000.

              Indigenous people often have a pattern of mortality that is disadvantageous in comparison with the general population. The knowledge on causes of death among the Sami, the natives of northern Scandinavia, is limited. The aim of the present study was to compare gender and cause specific mortality patterns for reindeer herding Sami, non-herding Sami, and non-Sami between 1961 and 2000. A Sami cohort was constructed departing from a group of index-Sami identified as either reindeer herding Sami or Sami eligible to vote for the Sami parliament. Relatives of index-Sami were identified in the National Kinship Register and added to the cohort. The cohort contained a total of 41 721 people (7482 reindeer herding Sami and 34 239 non-herding Sami). A demographically matched non-Sami reference population four times as large, was compiled in the same way. Relative mortality risks were analysed by calculating standardized mortality ratios (SMRs). The differences in overall mortality and life expectancy of the Sami, both reindeer herding and non-herding, compared with the reference population were relatively small. However, Sami men showed significantly lower SMR for cancers but higher for external causes of injury. For Sami women, significantly higher SMR was found for diseases of the circulatory system and diseases of the respiratory system. An increased risk of dying from subarachnoid haemorrhage was observed among both Sami men and women. The similarities in mortality patterns are probably a result of centuries of close interaction between the Sami and the non-Sami, while the observed differences might be due to lifestyle, psychosocial and/or genetic factors.

                Author and article information

                Int J Circumpolar Health
                Int J Circumpolar Health
                International Journal of Circumpolar Health
                Taylor & Francis
                22 August 2019
                : 78
                : 1
                [a ]School of Public Health, University of Alberta , Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
                [b ]Department of Health, Centre for Public Health Research in Greenland, Greenland Government and University of Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark , Nuuk, Greenland
                Author notes
                CONTACT T. Kue Young kue.young@ 123456ualberta.ca ; pb@ 123456niph.dk School of Public Health, University of Alberta , Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
                © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Tables: 7, References: 30, Pages: 15
                Theory and Methods article


                circumpolar health, arctic, indigenous people, population, census, registry


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