The Ainu People of Japan

An aboriginal man ... in Japan? The 1920s photo to the left is that of a chief of the Ainu, an indigenous people of the island of Hokkaido, whose tradition and culture was completely different from that of the Japanese.

The Ainu was virtually destroyed during the Meiji Period in an attempt to (forcibly) assimilate their people into the rest of Japan.

Scribal Terror blog has a neat synopsis about the Ainu People:

The Ainu inhabited an island called Ainu Mosir before the Japanese colonized it, changed its name to Hokkaido, and "decimated" the population. The origins of the Ainu were a subject of speculation until genetic studies determined that they were “the descendants of Japan’s ancient Jomon inhabitants, mixed with Korean genes of Yayoi colonists and of the modern Japanese.”

The New York Times reports (via Japundit )that just this year, Japan has finally recognized the rights of the indigenous Ainu. This recognition was apparently timed to coincide with Japan's hosting of an international conference of indigenous peoples on the island of Hokkaido (formerly the home of the Ainu) but it comes a little late for this rapidly disappearing culture.

Link | Photo: Old Photos of Japan

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I have always been intrigued by the connections between the Ainu and the Basque ( and the potential of a Ainu origin of some North American aboriginal populations.

With regard to the latter, some studies have pointed to the Kennewick mann as an example of this tie in addition to similarities of language.
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