Document Type



The Polynesian motif, a mitochondrial DNA marker of ancestral Polynesian communities, has filled a critical role in reconstructions of remote Oceanic history. Although the motif provides an effective narrative for Polynesian females, no equivalent male history is available from paternal lineages. Here, we describe a Y-chromosome binary polymorphism with absolute Polynesian affinity. We illustrate its unique spatial and temporal connections to early Polynesian communities, and through an analysis of associated short tandem repeat variation, we describe the first clear genealogic structure within Polynesia. Unlike the eastern and western regions advocated by archeology, we identify a tripartite structure comprising interaction spheres in the west (Tonga and Samoa), center (Tahiti), and east (Rapanui/Easter Island). Such patterning, a product of early regional contact and subsequent isolation, signals the conflicting roles of mobility and seclusion in Polynesian prehistory.