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Forum Home - Go Back > General > Native Life > Native Issues DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory

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Old 03-11-2014, 04:27 PM   #1
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DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory

DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory

Read more at DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory - ICTMN.com

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen and Texas A&M have analyzed the DNA of the remains of a young boy ceremonially buried some 12,600 years ago in Montana. Their new data sheds light on the ancestry of one of the earliest populations in the Americas, known as the Clovis culture, but also rekindles the debate over the ethics of handling ancient remains and the political consequences of scientific studies of Indian peoples. It also undercuts recent attempts by archaeologists to deny the antiquity of Indians and thus avoid the political and legal repercussions of disturbing ancient burial sites or mistreating ancient human remains.

The analysis, published last month in Nature, shows that today’s indigenous groups spanning North and South America are genetically related to the early peoples who roamed this continent, overturning previous, controversial findings by scientists and the courts. Over the past 15 years a subtle shift has occurred in the nomenclature of the oldest period in America’s prehistory. Whereas previously the inhabitants of this hemisphere in the period before 8,000 BC were known as Paleoindians (Ancient Indians), starting in 1999 a number of archaeologists began to insist on referring to them as Paleoamericans (Ancient Americans).

According to these archaeologists, recent scientific studies cast doubt on whether these ancient peoples were related to modern Indians. The change in terminology was needed to “avoid an inference of biological continuity between the current Native American populations and the earliest populations.”

There were concerns from some quarters that the change was due less to science and more to politics. It did not go unnoticed that the principle advocates for the term Paleoamerican were the archaeologists Robson Bonnichsen, the director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University, and Richard Jantz, director of the Center for Forensic Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Both had also been lead plaintiffs in the famous suit brought by archeologists against the federal government, Bonnichsen, et al. v. United States, et al., otherwise known as “Kennewick Man.”

The Kennewick Man case brought to the fore simmering animosities between Indigenous Peoples and the archaeological community. The remains of a prehistoric person had been discovered in 1996 on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick County, Washington. Over the next eight years, a bitter legal battle ensued between archaeologists, who wished to study the body and store it for posterity, and the federal government, which was enforcing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) on behalf of the Umatilla tribe, which wished to rebury him.

The archaeologists emerged victorious in 2004 when the courts ruled that there was no scientific evidence that the remains were Umatilla or related to any contemporary Indians. Given the length of time since Kennewick Man’s death, more than 9,000 years, and the then state of science, it was virtually impossible for the Umatilla to have scientifically proven a connection to him, and indeed, scientists could only speculate as to who he might or might not have been related to.

Thus the introduction of the new term, Paleoamerican, represented a legal coup as well as a political statement. If the most ancient peoples in the Americas were not Indians, then the past belonged to science, both as the arbiter of truth, and as the lawful owners (or legal guardians) of anything they might uncover.

David Hurst Thomas, curator of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, had already discussed the threat simple changes in language could pose in his book Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity, when he argued that, “The power to name reflected an underlying power to control the land, its indigenous people and its history.” The Choctaw anthropologist Joe Watkins took this a step further and noted ominously that “If the naming of geographic features carries with it such power, imagine the power of being able to name the culture that used that geography.”

The new genetic analysis of the Anzick child–found in Montana in 1968 but only recently was the technology available to retrieve and analyze his DNA–undercuts the idea that ancient Indians were not related to modern Indians and has now removed any reason for using the term Paleoamerican; these ancient people were not Americans, they were Indians.

The Anzick infant, less than two-years old, died about 12,600 years ago. His family stained him with red ochre and he was buried carefully in a grave, likely wrapped in leather which subsequently disappeared over time, along with 115 bone and stone artifacts, all stained with red ochre as well. The child rested undisturbed until his remains were hit by a bulldozer in 1968. As the naturalist Doug Peacock relates in his book, In the Shadow of the Sabertooth:

It’s possible that no ancient American human skeleton has been treated more shabbily than the Anzick child. The discoverers, not understanding the significance of their find, took the burial materials home and scrubbed them hard with brushes in the sink, trying to get all that red stuff off. The fragmented human remains have been separated and handled by dozens, maybe many dozens of modern humans since their discovery. Cranial fragments were glued together with rubber cement. Everybody who came through carried off a few pieces of the child’s skeleton.

But in a sign that times are changing, the Anzick family, on whose land the child was found and who own the tiny skeleton, are working with Indian tribes in Montana to rebury the infant.

The scientists claim the genetic analysis proved that Indians were originally from Siberia and migrated across the Bering Strait 15,000 years ago. Michael Waters, the co-author of this study, published February 12 in the journal Nature, said to the press:

The genetic data… confirms that the ancestors of this boy originated from Asia… A single migration of humans introduced the majority of the founding population of the Americas south of the ice sheet at the close of the last Ice Age [15,000 years ago].

But this statement is by no means the consensus among those who study American prehistory, nor are his conclusions necessarily born out by the findings. If anything they actually raise more questions than they answer.

Waters and his associates found that the child is a member of one of the five “haplogroups,” of Mitochondrial DNA (passed from mother to children) that are commonly found among Indian people, haplogroup D. This halpogroup is widely found in Asia and Siberia, and there is no question that there are genetic links between the two hemispheres. What was very interesting was the Y-chromosome (passed from father to son) results, which was not reported in the press.

Branches 21 and 25 represent the most recent shared ancestry between Anzick-1 and other members of the sample. Branch 19 is considerably shorter than neighbouring branches, which have had an additional ~12,600 years to accumulate mutations.

In other words, compared to other similar DNA, for example those of certain Mayan Indians (the “neighboring branches”), the Anzick child’s DNA was approximately 12,600 years younger. Since the child was already 12,600 years old, it would mean that the Mayan DNA was at least 25,000 years old and imply that the Mayans had left Asia, or genetically separated from Asians (if indeed they actually came that way), more than 10,000 years before the current theory says they should have. Genetic studies have consistently shown that Indian DNA is very ancient, but since most archaeologists do not accept the idea that Indians have been in the Americas longer than 15,000 years, the discrepancies between the genetic dates and the mainstream archaeological views have yet to be explained to anyone’s satisfaction.

The theory that Indians first crossed into the Americas through the Bering Strait 15,000 years ago, although firmly held by archaeologists for more than 100 years, has come under increasing challenge, not simply from genetic evidence, but also from new archaeological discoveries in South America.


Read more at DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory: Page 4 of 4 - ICTMN.com
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Old 03-11-2014, 04:30 PM   #2
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More Reasons to Doubt the Bering Strait Migration Theory
Read more at More Reasons to Doubt the Bering Strait Migration Theory - ICTMN.com

Recently newspapers have trumpeted new scientific discoveries that lead some scientists to conclude that early American Indians lived in the area of the Bering Strait, known as Beringia, for more than 10,000 years before colonizing the Americas around about 15,000 years ago. Headlines such as “First Americans May Have Been Stuck in Beringia for Millennia” from NBC News, and “On Way to New World, First Americans Made a 10,000-Year Pit Stop” from National Geographic have once again brought attention to a long-held, scientifically entrenched theory–but one that is still highly controversial–that the ancestors of American Indians walked across a land bridge from Asia to settle in the Americas.

The media attention stems from an article in the February 28 issue Science magazine authored by paleoecologists from three universities and entitled “Out of Beringia?” Digging up sediment cores from that region dated to between 15,000 to 30,000 years ago, they found in the spores of shrubs and other plants, “evidence that central Beringia supported a shrub tundra region with some trees during the last glacial maximum and was characterized by surprisingly mild temperatures, given the high latitude.” During that time (the “last glacial maximum” or LGM as it is known), the massive ice sheets over North America and Europe lowered the ocean levels by hundreds of feet, making Beringia a large vast plain that connected the two continents.

Beringia was left uncovered by the ice because of the dryness of the region, which produced little snowfall despite the cold. The assumption is that the region could have supported a large population of ancient Indians. As one of the co-authors, Scott Elias of the University of London explained, "We believe that these ancestors survived on the shrub tundra of the Bering Land Bridge because this was the only region of the Arctic where any woody plants were growing. They needed the wood for fuel to make campfires in this bitterly cold region of the world."

The idea that Paleoindians (Ancient Indians) made a long pit stop, known scientifically as the “Beringian Standstill,” is by no means new, it was first proposed in 1997 by the geneticists Sandro L. Bonatto and Francisco M. Salzano. This new study merely proposes that the plant life that existed there might have made it possible for humans to inhabit this region during this time. But another co-author of this study, John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado takes this assumption further, flatly stating that “There is now solid evidence for humans in Beringia before the last glacial maximum, as geneticists first predicted in 1997.”

But not all are convinced the evidence is so solid. As a review in Past Horizons, an archeology magazine, noted, “the weakest link to the Out of Beringia theory is the lack of archaeological evidence.” There is absolutely no sign that humans lived in this region during this time. In addition, although the study showed that the area had “surprisingly mild temperatures” during the summer (for an ice age), it was still cooler than the area is now, which is not particularly hospitable.

Indeed, if anything, the study findings set the Beringian Standstill theory back. According to a review in Scientific American, “This kind of vegetation would not have supported the large, grazing animals – woolly mammoth, woolly rhino, Pleistocene horses, camels, and bison.” It had previously been presumed that Beringia was covered in grass, and that the large animals were what the Paloeindians had lived on, but the shrub tundra would have only supported small mammals, “perhaps some bighorn sheep,” and possibly elk.

The Beringian Standstill theory is in itself an attempt to reconcile conflicting evidence that has made the Bering Strait Theory, as it has been understood for the past century, untenable. Archeologists have generally not conceded any dates of campsites, hunting sites, or other signs of human habitation older than 13,000 years in North America, and thus have long argued that Indians must have arrived before 15,000 years ago. The reason for this date is that before 15,000 years ago, a massive ice sheet over a mile in height covered much of eastern Alaska, all of Canada, and parts of the northern United States, blocking any land passage from Asia into the Americas. Otherwise Indians, if they walked from Asia, would have had to have arrived more than 30,000 years ago, but this is generally not acceptable to archeologists.

Since the early 1990s, however, the genetic evidence indicates that Indians, as a distinct peoples, are at least 30,000 years old, and likely much older. Linguistic evidence has also pointed to Indians being at least 35,000 years old, and possibly 50,000 years old. The Beringian Standstill theory thus allows the archeologists and the geneticists to have their cake and eat it too, as it gives the time for the Paloeindians to develop unique genetic and linguistic characteristics, while at the same time, it keeps them out of the Americas.

But like the Bering Strait theory, the Beringian Standstill theory requires some unusual circumstances to make it work, the most important of which is that the Paleoindians who lived in Beringia were completely isolated from any other humans for more than 10,000 years and maybe up to 20,000 years, to prevent genetic and linguistic mixing. Rather than confirming that Paleoindians lived in Beringia, the new study seems to be anther example of “science by press release,” where the conclusions are hyped well beyond what the actual findings show. New evidence, especially from South America, is rapidly changing our understanding of the ancient past, making it hopeful that a century and a half of long-held dogma may be overturned, and other views about Indian origins will finally see the light.

Alexander Ewen, a member of the Purepecha Nation, holds a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia. He has written numerous articles, chapters, and papers about Native American issues. He lives in New York.


Read more at More Reasons to Doubt the Bering Strait Migration Theory - ICTMN.com
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Old 03-11-2014, 07:27 PM   #3
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Being from the area of Beringia...and knowing my creation stories we've been there for a lot longer than 15,000 years...lol

Again, none of my creation stories include a massive migration... the raven yes, but migration no mention at all.

ETA, my territory also has the largest deposit of wooly mammoth remains/ warm blood prehistorics... it is a given that the ice age did not affect the Beringia so why so hard to include my ancients in that theory...those beasties were hunted by humans.
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Old 03-14-2014, 11:17 AM   #4
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Bering Straight Theory

In Pitt County, North Carolina, about 13 years ago they discovered an ancient Indian village that predates the Bering Straight Theory. I've always believed that our ancestors possibly left America and traveled across the Bering Straight instead of the other way around.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:21 PM   #5
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YES!! They are showing stronger genetical ties to among the peoples of the Arctic - this continent and Asia - with a supposed eastern migration date of 10,000 years ago or less.

AND they have sites in S. American PROVEN to 35,000 years ago - while Europe was still populated with Neanderthals.

AND some Polynesean populations are more closely related genetically to Native Americans than Asians.

NOW....were are my sources, darn it....must have misplaced them here somewhere.

SO...apparently there were populations originating in the Americas and spreading north and westward.

BUT...the politics of science noted above will undoubtedly cloud or obscure dissemination to the general public regarding any new discoveries.
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Old 03-15-2014, 01:31 PM   #6
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In Pitt County, North Carolina, about 13 years ago they discovered an ancient Indian village that predates the Bering Straight Theory. I've always believed that our ancestors possibly left America and traveled across the Bering Straight instead of the other way around.
No wonder I think Asian women are so hot!

Just saying. lol
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Old 03-15-2014, 03:49 PM   #7
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No wonder I think Asian women are so hot!

Just saying. lol
Oh this Asian Chick was asking for you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ORkUYaD50I

She said she has fortune cookie for you!
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Old 03-16-2014, 02:58 AM   #8
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Oh this Asian Chick was asking for you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ORkUYaD50I

She said she has fortune cookie for you!



Dang it! Joes Dad stole my girl!
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Old 03-16-2014, 06:09 PM   #9
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Oh this Asian Chick was asking for you

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ORkUYaD50I

She said she has fortune cookie for you!
You're sick.

It did kinda look like G&B.
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:52 AM   #10
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It did kinda look like G&B.
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Old 03-17-2014, 05:41 AM   #11
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The last thing I remember reading had to do with tracing dna markers coming up from south america... and that we share more markers with southern asia than northern.
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Old 03-19-2014, 07:52 PM   #12
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Now if we could just find some foot prints. Then. we'd really know which way people went.
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