While we’re on the subjects of archaeology and legends of world-wide floods and evidence of gigantic but localized floods, I thought we might just as well throw in some more controversy by discussing the latest findings about who discovered America first.
We all know the scenario: the very first human beings to set foot in America came across the now-vanished land bridge from Siberia, and worked their way down to the very tip of Tierra del Fuego. They were northern Asian people, from whom the present-day Native Americans are descended, and before them, nobody was here. The Clovis culture (11,000 years ago) was the first, and since nobody was here before that, there’s no need to dig any deeper than that. Right?
Maybe. Or maybe not. Some of the latest findings are causing whole new theories to be thought up. Examples: artifacts and skeletons are being found which bear no resemblance to Native American models. In the past, anything which pre-dated Clovis was airily dismissed as either misdated or as hoaxes, but archaeologists are finding too many of them now to ignore. Stone tools have been found in Virginia and South Carolina which do not match Native American models----but they are identical to tools made by people of the Solutrean culture…in Stone Age Spain and France. The kicker? These tools have been dated to 15,050 years old—about 4000 years before anybody was even supposed to be entering North America from Siberia. And if people did enter from Siberia and trek down from the Northwest, why are the oldest artifacts showing up in the Southeast?
Another finding: many skulls and skeletons discovered in N and S America do not bear any racial or ethnic similarities with Native Americans. A skeleton found in Brazil from 11,500 years ago bears bone structure similar to that of present-day native Australians. Another one is identical to modern Polynesians. Was Thor Heyerdahl correct after all, when he said that people first came to America on rafts across the Pacific? Skulls from Nebraska and Minnesota, all of them anywhere from 7,840 to 8,900 years old, seem to be of European origin----even though no Europeans were supposed to be in North America prior to the Vikings in the 10th century. One celebrated find called “Spirit Caveman” resembles either a Japanese Ainu or an African Bushman.
Finds such as the Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania suggest that America was a pretty crowded place for a continent that was supposed to be uninhabited before 12,000 B.C. Remains of settlements, hearths, tools, butchered animals, etc., have been found that are thousands of years older than Native American examples and bear no resemblance to them. The Pennsylvania findings consist of stone tools and woven material possibly 17,000 years old, and mastadon bones along with stone tools in an ancient firepit in Virginia are 14,000 years old.
Researchers are now speculating that prehistoric peoples from the Pacific area and southern Asia came across the Pacific to South America (a la Heyerdahl), and from Europe (following the ice sheets and living off fish and seals) to eastern N America anywhere from 3000 to 4000 years before any Native Americans ever showed up.
The political implications of this are profound. If these findings are accepted, some Native American leaders fear that their hard-won priviliges will soon be lost, since it would mean that the Europeans were here first, after all, and the Native Americans were simply another group of foreign immigrants. Some tribes, like the Shoshone, the Paiutes, and the Umatilla, are already demanding that any skeletons found in their tribal areas are to be immediately turned over to them for reburial instead of scientifically examined and (possibly) be found to be carrying non-Native American physical traits.
Anyway, it appears that America has always been a “rainbow-coalition melting-pot”, even back into prehistory. I wonder, are there any Native Americans out there who read this board, and if there are, what are your thoughts concerning this issue?