The Oregon Coast, pictured here, may have been a byway for the first Americans as they followed the nutrient-rich coast southward on foot and by boat, says the new book, Atlas of a Lost World.
The Oregon Coast, pictured here, may have been a byway for the first Americans as they followed the nutrient-rich coast southward on foot and by boat, says the new book, Atlas of a Lost World.
Photograph by Ty Milford, Aurora
The first Americans weren’t one group of people; they arrived at different times, and likely by different methods.
Published June 9, 2018
13 min read
How did human beings first come to North America? Across the Bering Strait, on foot? Down the “kelp highway” by boat? Across the Atlantic via the polar ice cap? And when did they reach here? 10,000 years ago? 40,000? Or were they always here, as the Navajo and other Native American tribes believe? In his new book, Atlas Of A Lost World, author Craig Childs sets off to test these different theories on the ground, traveling from Alaska to Chile, Canada to Florida. What he finds, despite the best efforts of archaeologists and the latest technology, still remains in many ways a mystery.
Speaking from his home in Colorado, he explains why many Native Americans reject the idea that their ancestors migrated from somewhere else; how an archaeologist nicknamed Dr. Poop believes he has identified the first human excrement in America; and why diversity seems to have been built into America’s DNA.
Let’s cut straight to the chase: when did humans first arrive in North America?
The first arrivals keep getting older and older because we’re finding more evidence as time goes on. Right now we can solidly say that people were across the Americas by 15,000 years ago. But that means people were probably already well in place by then; and there’s enough evidence to suggest humans were widespread 20,000 years ago. There’s some evidence of people as far back as 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, but the evidence gets thinner and thinner the further back you go. It appears there’s not a single arrival date. No doubt there was a first person walking in, but when that happened is well before 20,000 years ago.
The solid dates of 15,000 are based on sites where you can find fire pits, burned bones and work stones that have been turned into scrapers and hammers and spear points. When you go back further, you’re finding mammoths that have been shattered open in a way that’s characteristic of humans. Then you start getting into these questions of what really counts as a sign of human presence, and what is just a trampled mammoth bone that happens to look like it was struck by a human with a rock.
Equally thorny is the question of how humans got here. Give us a quick 101.
[Laughs] The easiest way to get here is by foot. The Bering Land Bridge has been the longstanding theory because that’s the clearest connection between Asia and North America, up in the Arctic, and it only appears when ice is locked up on land and sea levels drop. It’s the only place where you could walk from one side to the other.
I spent some time up on an island that is a remnant of the land bridge between the coast of Siberia and Alaska. There, you can see walking across. But when you got to the other side, you’d be facing 5 million square miles of ice; and that’s when you start looking at coastal migrations. People in the Ice Age were already moving up and down the coast of Japan, Kamchatka, and Korea, using boats, and the evidence is clear that they were getting out to places you can only reach with boats.
It makes sense that you would keep following the coast around. The land bridge has a coast, which would bring you down Alaska and British Colombia, to Washington and Oregon. This is the more viable way into North America, because there’s what is called the kelp highway, a biotically rich region that follows the entire coast. During the Ice Age this coast was continuous from Sumatra to the tip of South America. But that coast is now under water, so any evidence of boats and people moving along it is much thinner than people being on the land mass.
The idea of an Atlantic crossing has also gained some traction. Tell us about the Clovis people, and why their stone tools may suggest a European origin.
This has been a big debate for some time, that people some 13,500 years ago were making distinct tools that you can find all over the Americas, so-called Clovis Weapons. This is a new style of weaponry: finely crafted, relatively flat spear points no thicker than an envelope, which required unique skills, and therefore stand out in the record.
Something happened, a cultural change or an arrival. For a long time they were seen as the first people. Now, we’re seeing it more as the middle-age arrival in the Ice Age. Where these weapons came from has also been a huge question for archaeologists. Many have been trying to trace them back to the Bering Land Bridge, but the evidence just doesn’t stack up. Others have tried to trace them to an Atlantic arrival by Palaeolithic Europeans around 20,000 years ago.
The weapons being found along the Eastern Seaboard are in some ways also identical to ones made in Palaeolithic Spain and Southern France during the Solutrean industry. So, it looks like people were crossing the Atlantic, hunting along the ice packs—following ice flows—with skin boats, and arriving in Maryland and Virginia.
I was fascinated to discover that many Native American tribes flatly reject the idea that their ancestors migrated from somewhere else. Tell us about the Navajo theory of the first people.
The first people there came out of the ground. These are stories related to origin and creation stories all over the Americas. Native tribes have clear stories about how they got here, coming out of caves or up through springs and underground sources.
The idea of coming from somewhere else might threaten the notion that they have primacy on the lands. But, they obviously do because they are coming from these much older stories than anybody else. I look at these stories of arrival and think, “Yeah, they come out of the ground because that is how deep their history goes.” It’s a non-scientific view of the world, but it gives us a window into what it means to be in a place for that long.
Of course, the world looked very different 15,000 years ago. Summon up a picture for us from the mists of time, and explain the importance of the woolly mammoth.
The landscape people walked into was substantially different. The animals were much larger. You have mammoths, dire wolves, and sabre tooth cats.
Everything is very big and very woolly, and in some places armoured. There were 300-pound armadillos living in Florida and Louisiana, so you’re talking about a very different landscape and way of living. But there were many places that looked the same. Other parts, including most of Canada, were completely covered with ice.
There are a number of sites in Alaska, like Swan Point, where you can see signs of mammoth hunting. But mammoths probably weren’t their mainstay. Early people were eating salmon, seaweed, deer, and rabbit. The mammoth hunts were probably culturally important, much like the northern whale hunts. At Swan Point multiple mammoths were killed at once, which you can imagine was a dramatic scene of people and dogs gathering together and going after this animal that’s 13 feet tall and extremely dangerous. Hunting whales in the north out of skin boats is also a dangerous endeavour, and people have often been killed. I imagine the same thing happened while hunting mammoths. You would have these stories of epic mammoth hunts, who died and who lived, and these stories would have been passed down for thousands of years.
You actually recreated part of the journey across the land bridge on Alaska’s Harding Icefield. Take us inside that adventure and what it told you about the first arrivals. Did you get dressed up in furs and carry a spear?
No, I decided that if I dressed up in furs and carried a spear, I would have probably died. [laughs] I took modern gear—sleds, skis, and backpacks— and made about a 4,000-foot ascent through fresh snow, trying to hit the ice field at the right time of year, just as winter was letting off. Once we got up there, we clicked in the skis, put our gear on a sled, and headed across the ice.
I wanted to get a sense of what it’s like to travel as a group into a desolate ice landscape, climb up on the peaks that stand out on the ice field and get a sense of navigation in this landscape, which is a remnant of what was there during the Pleistocene. In one sense, it told me that this is the worst way to do it. [laughs] That crossing a giant ice field is a ridiculous notion. That’s not to say it didn’t happen. Humans have often done ridiculous things! Being out there on the ice I thought this is maybe where the crazy people went, the ones who were looking to fall off the edge of the Earth. At the same time, as we climbed the mountain ranges sticking up through the ice, I could see how you could have hopped your way from one summit to the next down the entire length of the ice sheet to arrive in the rest of North America.
But it also made me turn to the coastal migration theory, and say, “That makes sense!” There, you would be moving through a water landscape of islands and coasts rich with kelp and fish, as opposed to eating lichens and trying to catch birds on a 2,000-mile journey across an ice sheet. [laughs]
One of the experts you consult has the wonderful nickname, Doctor Poop. Tell us about him and his work on what you call “the earliest identified human craps in America.”
This is Paisley Caves, in the desert of southern Oregon. There, Dr. Dennis Jenkins, aka Doctor Poop, found the oldest human coprolites, which I believe are 14,300 years old. He explained to me that, in the caves, he has also found the scat of American lions and other predators. My question to him was, “How do you know that these were pieces of human faeces and not humans that were eaten by American lions and then shat out in the caves?” His response was that either way, you’d know that humans were here. This is such a basic function: a human goes into a cave, craps, and leaves it there. This is a story of people arriving and leaving their sign behind.
Bring it home for us, Craig, by telling us what you believe is ultimately the real story of the populating of North America, and what surprised you most during your travels?
What I took away was that people came from everywhere. We think of the arrival of the first people as one group braving their way across a land bridge, when in fact it was many groups, many different languages, and technologies arriving at different times from different directions. This makes sense because that’s how we do things as humans. It’s not just one group. It is this complex story of many people, with many different stories.
For me, it was an opportunity to explore landscapes I wouldn’t normally go to, like an island off the coast of Siberia or crossing an ice field in Alaska. The most fascinating place I saw was a back woods river south of Tallahassee, Florida, where human evidence from 14,500 years ago was found. Just being in these swamps with a boat, surrounded by alligators and poison snakes, gave me a sense of coming into a landscape I didn’t know and encountering animals I wasn’t familiar with. There were many moments like this, where I felt this must have been something like how it was to be first in a place; to have to figure out which direction is which, what animals you have to avoid, what plants you can eat or can’t touch. For me, this was a new beginning, a way of coming into my own continent.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Simon Worrall curates Book Talk. Follow him on Twitter or at simonworrallauthor.com.
Who were the real first people in America?
In the 1970s, college students in archaeology such as myself learned that the first human beings to arrive in North America had come over a land bridge from Asia and Siberia approximately 13,000 to 13,500 years ago. These people, the first North Americans, were known collectively as Clovis people.
Who was the first indigenous person in America?
The “Clovis first theory” refers to the hypothesis that the Clovis culture represents the earliest human presence in the Americas about 13,00
Where did the Americans first come from?
Scientists generally agree that the first Americans crossed over from Asia via the Bering land bridge, which connected the two continents. This exodus most likely began between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. But some researchers have argued that Alaskan glaciers would have blocked entry into North America
When did Indians come to America?
The First Amerindian Natives are postulated to have come from Asia through the Bering land bridge between 30,000?12,000 years before the present (BP). These conclusions have been based on cultural, morphological and genetic similarities between American and Asian populations.
How did Indians get to America?
Most Amerindian groups are derived from two ancestral lineages, which formed in Siberia prior to the Last Glacial Maximum, between about 36,000 and 25,000 years ago, East Eurasian and Ancient North Eurasian.
When did Indians come to America?
The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia.
How did Indians get to America?
Scientists have found that Native American populations – from Canada to the southern tip of Chile – arose from at least three migrations, with the majority descended entirely from a single group of First American migrants that crossed over through Beringia, a land bridge between Asia and America that existed during the …
What race did Native American come from?
The Hopi Indians are the oldest Native American tribe in the World.
Who founded America?
The settlement of the Americas began when Paleolithic hunter-gatherers entered North America from the North Asian Mammoth steppe via the Beringia land bridge, which had formed between northeastern Siberia and western Alaska due to the lowering of sea level during the Last Glacial Maximum (26,000 to 19,000 years ago).
Who were the first people on earth?
Previous genetic work had suggested the ancestors of Native Americans split from Siberians and East Asians about 25,000 years ago, perhaps when they entered the now mostly drowned landmass of Beringia, which bridged the Russian Far East and North America.
How did Indians get to America?
Explorer Christopher Columbus (1451?1506) is known for his 1492 ‘discovery’ of the New World of the Americas on board his ship Santa Maria.
Where did the Indians come from?
The First Humans
One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or ?handy man,? who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Did all humans come from Africa?
The ancestors of the American Indians were nomadic hunters of northeast Asia who migrated over the Bering Strait land bridge into North America probably during the last glacial period (11,500?30,000 years ago). By c. 10,000 bc they had occupied much of North, Central, and South America.
What was the color of Adam?
Color and cancer
These early humans probably had pale skin, much like humans’ closest living relative, the chimpanzee, which is white under its fur. Around 1.2 million to 1.8 million years ago, early Homo sapiens evolved dark skin.
Did all humans come from Africa?
Our species likely arose in many places around Africa, not just around the Kalahari Desert, critics say. A new genetic study suggests all modern humans trace our ancestry to a single spot in southern Africa 200,000 years ago.
What color was the first human?
God himself took dust from all four corners of the earth, and with each color (red for the blood, black for the bowels, white for the bones and veins, and green for the pale skin), created Adam.
An unprecedented DNA study has found…
An unprecedented DNA study has found evidence of a single human migration out of Africa and confirmed that Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest civilization.
The First Americans – Scientific American
The First AmericansIn the sweltering heat of an early july afternoon, Michael R. Waters clambers down into a shadowy pit where a small hive of excavators edge their trowels into an ancient floodplain. A murmur rises from the crew, and one of the diggers gives Waters, an archaeologist at the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M University, a dirt-smeared fragment of blue-gray stone called chert. Waters turns it over in his hand, then scrutinizes it under a magnifying loupe. The find, scarcely larger than a thumbnail, is part of an all-purpose cutting tool, an ice age equivalent of a box cutter. Tossed away long ago on this grassy Texas creek bank, it is one among thousands of artifacts here that are pushing back the history of humans in the New World and shining rare light on the earliest Americans. Waters, a tall, rumpled man in his mid-fifties with intense blue eyes and a slow, cautious way of talking, does not look or sound like a maverick. But his work is helping to topple an enduring model for the peopling of the New World. For decades scientists thought the first Americans were Asian big-game hunters who tracked mammoths and other large prey eastward across a now submerged landmass known as Beringia that joined northern Asia to Alaska. Arriving in the Americas some 13,000 years ago, these colonists were said to have journeyed rapidly overland along an ice-free corridor that stretched from the Yukon to southern Alberta, leaving behind their distinctive stone tools across what is now the contiguous U.S. Archaeologists called these hunters the Clovis people, after a site near Clovis, N.M., where many of their tools came to light. Over the past decade or so this Clovis First model has come under sharp attack as a result of new discoveries. In southern Chile, at a site known as Monte Verde, archaeologist Thomas D. Dillehay, now at Vanderbilt University, and his colleagues found traces of early Americans who slept in hide-covered tents and dined on seafood and a wild variety of potato 14,600 years ago, long before the appearance of Clovis hunters. Intrigued by the findings, some scientists began looking for similar evidence in North America. They found it: in Paisley Five Mile Point Caves in Oregon, for example, a team uncovered 14,400-year-old human feces flecked with seeds from desert parsley and other plants—not the kinds of comestibles that advocates of the big-game hunters scenario expected to find on the menu. Now, along Buttermilk Creek, Waters and his team have made one of the most important finds yet: a mother lode of stone tools dating back a stunning 15,500 years ago. In all, the team has excavated more than 19,000 pre-Clovis artifacts—from small blades bearing tiny wear marks from cutting bone to a polished chunk of hematite, an iron mineral commonly used in the Paleolithic world for making a red pigment. Publicly unveiled in the spring of 2011, the site has yielded more pre-Clovis tools than all other such sites combined, and Waters has spared no expense in dating each layer multiple times. “It is easily the best evidence for pre-Clovis in North America,” says Vance T. Holliday, an anthropologist and geoscientist at the University of Arizona. Energized by such finds, archaeologists are now testing new models for the peopling of the New World. Drawing on evidence from a range of sciences—from genetics to geology—they are searching for answers to a host of pressing questions: Where did the earliest Americans come from? When exactly did they arrive, and what route did they take into the New World? For the first…
A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas
A New History of the First Peoples in the AmericasEuropeans arriving in the New World met people all the way from the frozen north to the frozen south. All had rich and mature cultures and established languages. The Skraeling were probably a people we now call Thule, who were the ancestors of the Inuit in Greenland and Canada and the Iñupiat in Alaska. The Taíno were a people spread across multiple chiefdoms around the Caribbean and Florida. Based on cultural and language similarities, we think that they had probably separated from earlier populations from South American lands, now Guyana and Trinidad. The Spanish brought no women with them in 1492, and raped the Taíno women, resulting in the first generation of “mestizo”—mixed ancestry people.Immediately upon arrival, European alleles began to flow, admixed into the indigenous population, and that process has continued ever since: European DNA is found today throughout the Americas, no matter how remote or isolated a tribe might appear to be. But before Columbus, these continents were already populated. The indigenous people hadn’t always been there, nor had they originated there, as some of their traditions state, but they had occupied these American lands for at least 20,000 years.It’s only because of the presence of Europeans from the 15th century onward that we even have terms such as Indians or Native Americans. How these people came to be is a subject that is complex and fraught, but it begins in the north. Alaska is separated from Russian land by the Bering Strait. There are islands that punctuate those icy waters, and on a clear day U.S. citizens of Little Diomede can see Russians on Big Diomede, just a little over two miles and one International Date Line away. Between December and June, the water between them freezes solid.From 30,000 years ago until around 11,000 B.C., the earth was subjected to a cold snap that sucked up the sea into glaciers and ice sheets extending from the poles. This period is known as the Last Glacial Maximum, when the reach of the most recent Ice Age was at its fullest. By drilling mud cores out of the seabed, we can reconstruct a history of the land and the seas, notably by measuring concentrations of oxygen, and looking for pollen, which would have been deposited on dry ground from the flora growing there. We think therefore that sea level was somewhere between 60 and 120 meters lower than today. So it was terra firma all the way from Alaska to Russia, and all the way down south to the Aleutians—a crescent chain of volcanic islands that speckle the north Pacific.The prevailing theory about how the people of the Americas came to those lands is via that bridge. We refer to it as a land bridge, though given its duration and size, it was simply continuous land, thousands of miles from north to south; it’s only a bridge if we view it in comparison to today’s straits. The area is called Beringia, and the first people across it the Beringians. These were harsh lands, sparse with shrubs and herbs; to the south, there were boreal woodlands, and where the land met the sea, kelp forests and seals.Though these were still tough terrains, according to archaeological finds Western Beringians were living near the Yana River in Siberia by 30,000 B.C. There’s been plenty of debate over the years as to when exactly people reached the eastern side, and therefore at what point after the seas rose they became isolated as the founding peoples of the Americas. The questions that remain—and there are many—concern whether they came all at once or in dribs and drabs. Sites in the Yukon that straddle the U.S.-Alaskan border with Canada give us clues,…
Indigenous peoples of the Americas – Wikipedia
Indigenous peoples of the Americas Indigenous peoples of the AmericasCurrent distribution of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas (not including mixed people like mestizos, métis, zambos and pardos)Total population~54 millionRegions with significant populations Mexico11.8–23.2 million Guatemala6.4 million Peru5.9 million Bolivia4.1 million United States3.7 million Chile2.1 million Colombia1.9 million Canada1.6 million Ecuador1 million Argentina955,032 Brazil817,963 Venezuela724,592 Honduras601,019 Nicaragua443,847 Panama417,559 Paraguay117,150 Costa Rica104,143 Guyana78,492 Uruguay76,452 Greenland50,189 Belize36,507 Suriname20,344 Puerto Rico19,839 French Guiana~19,000 El Salvador13,310 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines3,280 Dominica2,576 Cuba~1,600 Trinidad and Tobago1,394 Grenada162LanguagesIndigenous languages of the Americas, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, Danish, French and Russian (historically)Religion Inuit religion Native American religion Mesoamerican religion Related ethnic groupsIndigenous peoples of SiberiaMestizosMétisZambosPardos The Indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European settlers in the 15th century, and the ethnic groups who now identify themselves with those peoples. Many Indigenous peoples of the Americas were traditionally hunter-gatherers and many, especially in the Amazon basin, still are, but many groups practiced aquaculture and agriculture. While some societies depended heavily on agriculture, others practiced a mix of farming, hunting, and gathering. In some regions, the Indigenous peoples created monumental architecture, large-scale organized cities, city-states, chiefdoms, states, kingdoms, republics, confederacies, and empires. Some had varying degrees of knowledge of engineering, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, writing, physics, medicine, planting and irrigation, geology, mining, metallurgy, sculpture, and gold smithing. Many parts of the Americas are still populated by Indigenous peoples; some countries have sizeable populations, especially Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and the United States. At least a thousand different Indigenous languages are spoken in the Americas. Some, such as the Quechuan languages, Arawak language, Aymara, Guaraní, Mayan languages, and Nahuatl, count their speakers in the millions. Many also maintain aspects of Indigenous cultural practices to varying degrees, including religion, social organization, and subsistence practices. Like most cultures, over time, cultures specific to many Indigenous peoples have evolved to incorporate traditional aspects but also cater to modern needs. Some Indigenous peoples still live in relative isolation from Western culture and a few are still counted as uncontacted peoples. Terminology Diné boy, in the desert of Monument Valley, AZ, United States of America. The Three Sisters buttes are visible in the background. Application of the term “Indian” originated with Christopher Columbus, who, in his search for India, thought that he had arrived in the East Indies. Eventually, those islands came to be known as the “West Indies”, a name still used. This led to the blanket term “Indies” and “Indians” (Spanish: indios; Portuguese: índios; French: indiens; Dutch: indianen) for the Indigenous inhabitants, which implied some kind of ethnic or cultural unity among the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. This unifying concept, codified in law, religion, and politics, was not originally accepted by the myriad groups of Indigenous peoples themselves, but has since been embraced or tolerated by many over the last two centuries. Even though the term “Indian” generally does not include the culturally and linguistically distinct Indigenous peoples of the Arctic regions of the Americas—such as the Aleuts, Inuit, or Yupik peoples, who entered the continent as a second, more recent wave of migration several thousand years later and have much more recent genetic and cultural commonalities with the Aboriginal peoples of the Asiatic Arctic Russian Far East—these groups are nonetheless considered “Indigenous peoples of the Americas”. The term Amerindian, a portmanteau of “American Indian”, was coined in 1902 by the American Anthropological Association. However, it has been controversial since its creation. It was immediately rejected by some leading members of the Association, and, while adopted by many, it was never universally accepted. While never popular in Indigenous communities themselves, it remains a preferred term among some anthropologists, notably in some parts of Canada and the English-speaking Caribbean. Indigenous peoples in Canada is used as the collective name for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. Aboriginal peoples as a collective noun is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act, 1982, though in most Indigenous circles Aboriginal has also fallen into disfavor. Over time, as societal perceptions and government-Indigenous relationships have shifted, many historical terms have changed definition…
Native Americans in the United States – Wikipedia
Native Americans in the United States Native AmericansProportion of Indigenous Americans in each county of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico as of the 2020 United States CensusTotal populationAmerican Indian and Alaska Native (2020 Census Bureau)One race: 3,727,135 are registeredIn combination with one or more of the other races listed: 5,938,923Total: 9,666,058 ~ 2.9% of the total U.S. population.Regions with significant populationsPredominantly in the Western United States; small communities also exist in the Eastern United StatesLanguagesEnglish Native American languages(including Navajo, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, Tlingit, Haida, Dakota, Seneca language, Lakota, Western Apache, Keres, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Kiowa, Comanche, Osage, Zuni, Pawnee, Shawnee, Winnebago, Ojibwe, Cree, O’odham) Spanish Native Pidgin (extinct) French Russian (some in Alaska)Religion Traditional Native American religions, unique to specific tribes or bands Native American Church Protestant Catholic Russian Orthodox (Mostly in Alaska) Syriac Orthodox Church (Arameans, mostly in New Jersey) Related ethnic groups Indigenous peoples of the Americas Indigenous peoples of Mexico Indigenous peoples of Canada Indigenous peoples of South America Métis Native Americans, also known as First Americans, Indigenous Americans, American Indians, and other terms, are the Indigenous peoples of the United States, including Hawaii and territories of the United States, and other times limited to the mainland. There are 574 federally recognized tribes living within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. “Native Americans” (as defined by the United States Census) are Indigenous tribes that are originally from the contiguous United States, along with Alaska Natives. Indigenous peoples of the United States who are not American Indian or Alaska Native include Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Chamorros. The US Census groups these peoples as “Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander”. The ancestors of living Native Americans arrived in what is now the United States at least 15,000 years ago, possibly much earlier, from Asia via Beringia. A vast variety of peoples, societies and cultures subsequently developed. European colonization of the Americas, which began in 1492, resulted in a precipitous decline in Native American population because of new diseases, wars, ethnic cleansing, and enslavement. After its formation, the United States, as part of its policy of settler colonialism, continued to wage war and perpetrated massacres against many Native American peoples, removed them from their ancestral lands, and subjected them to one-sided treaties and to discriminatory government policies, later focused on forced assimilation, into the 20th century. Since the 1960s, Native American self-determination movements have resulted in positive changes to the lives of many Native Americans, though there are still many contemporary issues faced by them. Today, there are over five million Native Americans in the United States, 78% of whom live outside reservations: California, Arizona and Oklahoma have the largest populations of Native Americans in the United States. Most Native Americans live in small towns or rural areas. When the United States was created, established Native American tribes were generally considered semi-independent nations, as they generally lived in communities separate from white settlers. The federal government signed treaties at a government-to-government level until the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 ended recognition of independent native nations, and started treating them as “domestic dependent nations” subject to applicable federal laws. This law did preserve the rights and privileges agreed to under the treaties, including a large degree of tribal sovereignty. For this reason, many Native American reservations are still independent of state law and the actions of tribal citizens on these reservations are subject only to tribal courts and federal law, often differently applicable to tribal lands than to U.S. state or territory by exemption, exclusion, treaty, or superseding tribal or federal law. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States who had not yet obtained it. This emptied the…
Extended Trailer | Native America: A Documentary Exploring …
Ancient DNA reveals complex migrations of the first Americans
Ancient DNA reveals complex migrations of the first AmericansScienceNewsNewly sequenced Native genomes showcase a wealth of surprises, from previously unknown populations to unique high-altitude adaptations.Published November 8, 201812 min read“Where do I come from?” That’s perhaps one of the most fundamental questions for humanity. Now, three studies of ancient and modern human DNA are offering some intriguing answers by providing a detailed new look at the complex peopling of the Americas.Once modern humans left Africa about 60,000 years ago, they swiftly expanded across six continents. Researchers can chart this epic migration in the DNA of people both alive and long-dead, but they were missing genetic data from South America, the last major stop on this human journey. The trio of new papers—published today in the journals Science, Cell, and Science Advances—dramatically increases the number of sequenced whole genomes from South America’s indigenous peoples, both living and ancient.“This basically provides the first picture of whole-genome data more than a thousand years old,” says Nathan Nakatsuka, a Ph.D. student at Harvard Medical School who coauthored the Cell study. Based on the results, researchers show evidence of several human migrations into South America, including two previously unknown to science. The data also help flesh out the story of how people settled and thrived in the highlands of the Andes.“With the addition of these genomes and others published earlier this year, we’re starting to see the details of that history emerge,” Jennifer Raff, a geneticist at the University of Kansas who was not involved in the studies, says in an email.What DNA can revealForty years ago, researchers thought the peopling of the Americas was fairly straightforward. It was thought that humans arrived in a single southern wave of migration about 13,000 years ago, which corresponds to the spread across North America of distinctive stone tools attributed to a group called the Clovis culture.But thanks to new archaeological discoveries and more precise dating techniques, we now know that the Clovis people wielding these tools weren’t the first Americans. At several sites in North and South America, researchers have convincingly shown that pre-Clovis people arrived centuries before these tools appear. (Learn more about the first Americans.)Studying ancient DNA adds extra detail to this picture, revealing the presence of genetically distinct groups who didn’t leave behind unique physical traces. That said, it offers only a fuzzy, zoomed-out view. After all, early Native Americans didn’t march across the land in one fell swoop. Instead, small groups of hunters and gatherers meandered through the region as they lived day to day collecting food, seeking shelter, making clothing and tools, and socializing with others.“It’s easy to fall into the trap of oversimplifying what was probably an extremely complex process, depicting it as straight arrows southward,” Raff says.Unexpected migrationsThe studies published in Cell and Science tackle the broader tempo of humans’ movement into South America. In large part, they agree on the big picture. About 25,000 years ago, Native Americans’ ancestors split from the people living in Siberia. Later, they moved across a land bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska, making it into the Pacific Northwest between 17,000 and 14,000 years ago.Once they got south of the ice sheets coating much of Canada, ancestral Native Americans split into two genetically distinct groups. One moved east, with some descendants settling in what’s now southern Ontario. The other branch—sometimes called the Southern Native Americans—rapidly moved south about 14,000 years ago, becoming the main ancestors of today’s indigenous Central and South Americans.Both papers also show that there wasn’t just one migration southward.The researchers behind the Cell study, led by Max Planck Institute geneticist Cosimo Posth, found evidence for…
Tracking a Mystery: When and How the First Americans Arrived
When, How Did the First Americans Arrive? It’s Complicated.The Oregon Coast, pictured here, may have been a byway for the first Americans as they followed the nutrient-rich coast southward on foot and by boat, says the new book, Atlas of a Lost World. The Oregon Coast, pictured here, may have been a byway for the first Americans as they followed the nutrient-rich coast southward on foot and by boat, says the new book, Atlas of a Lost World. Photograph by Ty Milford, AuroraBook TalkThe first Americans weren’t one group of people; they arrived at different times, and likely by different methods.Published June 9, 201813 min readHow did human beings first come to North America? Across the Bering Strait, on foot? Down the “kelp highway” by boat? Across the Atlantic via the polar ice cap? And when did they reach here? 10,000 years ago? 40,000? Or were they always here, as the Navajo and other Native American tribes believe? In his new book, Atlas Of A Lost World, author Craig Childs sets off to test these different theories on the ground, traveling from Alaska to Chile, Canada to Florida. What he finds, despite the best efforts of archaeologists and the latest technology, still remains in many ways a mystery.Speaking from his home in Colorado, he explains why many Native Americans reject the idea that their ancestors migrated from somewhere else; how an archaeologist nicknamed Dr. Poop believes he has identified the first human excrement in America; and why diversity seems to have been built into America’s DNA.Let’s cut straight to the chase: when did humans first arrive in North America? The first arrivals keep getting older and older because we’re finding more evidence as time goes on. Right now we can solidly say that people were across the Americas by 15,000 years ago. But that means people were probably already well in place by then; and there’s enough evidence to suggest humans were widespread 20,000 years ago. There’s some evidence of people as far back as 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, but the evidence gets thinner and thinner the further back you go. It appears there’s not a single arrival date. No doubt there was a first person walking in, but when that happened is well before 20,000 years ago.The solid dates of 15,000 are based on sites where you can find fire pits, burned bones and work stones that have been turned into scrapers and hammers and spear points. When you go back further, you’re finding mammoths that have been shattered open in a way that’s characteristic of humans. Then you start getting into these questions of what really counts as a sign of human presence, and what is just a trampled mammoth bone that happens to look like it was struck by a human with a rock.Equally thorny is the question of how humans got here. Give us a quick 101. [Laughs] The easiest way to get here is by foot. The Bering Land Bridge has been the longstanding theory because that’s the clearest connection between Asia and North America, up in the Arctic, and it only appears when ice is locked up on land and sea levels drop. It’s the only place where you could walk from one side to the other.I spent some time up on an island that…
The earliest Americans arrived in the New World 30,000 years …
The earliest Americans arrived in the New World 30,000 years ago | Evidence of very early occupation has been found in the cave in Chiquihite, central Mexico. A decade of archaeology has uncovered a ‘failed colonisation’ – one that has left no genetic link to the First Peoples of the Americas Share This HomeNewsThe earliest Americans arrived in the New World 30,000 years ago People travelled by boat to North America some 30,000 years ago, at a time when giant animals still roamed the continent and long before it was thought the earliest arrivals had made the crossing from Asia, archaeological research reveals today. Researchers from the University of Oxford have published a study, showing important new insights into our understanding of these ‘First Americans’, who made the journey from eastern Eurasia before the last Ice Age. And it reveals that the arrival of humans in numbers coincided with the ‘catastrophic decline’ in now-extinct large animals, including camels, horses and mammoths.The arrival of humans in numbers coincided with the ‘catastrophic decline’ in now-extinct large animals, including camels, horses and mammothsBased on a powerful statistical approach, the international team, led by Oxford’s Professor Tom Higham, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, School of Archaeology, was able to build a chronological framework for the arrival of humans into North America – and their dispersal across the continent.This showed that people were present long before previous estimates – before, during and after the ‘Last Glacial Maximum’, the peak of the Ice Age, when temperatures fell to their lowest for tens of thousands of years. But, the research, also shows that they must have come by sea, rather than across a land bridge.According to Professor Higham, ‘A combination of new excavations and cutting-edge archaeological science is allowing us to uncover a new story of the colonisation of the Americas. The First Americans came from eastern Eurasia, and it looks as though there was a surprisingly-early movement of people into the continent.‘The people that travelled into these new lands must have come by boat, because the northern parts of North America were impenetrable and sealed off from eastern Eurasia by a massive ice sheet until 13,000 years ago.The discovery that people were here more than 30,000 years ago raises a range of key new questions about who these people were, how they lived, how widespread they were and, ultimately, what their fate was‘The discovery that people were here more than 30,000 years ago raises a range of key new questions about who these people were, how they lived, how widespread they were and, ultimately, what their fate was.’In addition, when the timeline for humans was compared with dates obtained for extinct animals, the analysis showed human expansion, during this warmer period, happened at broadly the same time as their disappearance. The team suggests an increase in human population seems to be linked to a significant impact on the catastrophic decline of these large megafauna.One of the team, Dr Lorena Becerra-Valdivia (now with the University of New South Wales), says, ‘The peopling of the Americas was a complex and dynamic process…What is…
Native American | History, Art, Culture, & Facts | Britannica
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