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Where Did the American Indians Come From?
Evidence shows the indigenous peoples of Asia and the Americas share a common ancestry
Young Kim (kimsoft)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2005-07-27 14:47 (KST)   
I have been living in an old Indian village called Snoqualmie (a corruption of the Indian word sdohkwahlb, meaning, "the moon") in Washington state. Since the Native Indians and I are believed to come from the same stock -- being Mongoloid and from Siberia -- I felt that I had a vested interest in these fellow Asians and did some research on the history of the Snoqualmie Indian tribe, where they came from and how they -- who owned much of the Seattle area -- have become almost extinct.

The Snoqualmie Indians

Since the Native Indians -- except the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans -- had no written language, the written history goes back to the arrival of the white man in 1790. The newcomers were welcomed and trade flourished between the two camps until mid-1800, when the newly established United States began to exterminate the "Red Indians" and take over their land.

Within a generation, the Native Indians were killed off by whole-scale massacres, starvation, and epidemics brought in by the white settlers, and by the 1840s, the Indian population shrank to fewer than one tenth the population before the Caucasians arrived.

In 1848, the U.S. Congress established the Oregon Territory of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming. In 1855, the Snoqualmie tribe signed a treaty with the Big White Chief that effectively handed over their ancestral land to the white man.

White settlers forced Indians off their land -- supposedly protected by the Big White Chief, and the Indians were forced to move to barren shrublands. Finally, the Indians had had enough and took up arms to drive away the white invaders. Thus, the Puget Sound Indian War began in mid-September 1855 when Charles H. Mason, acting governor of the territory, Lt. William A. Slaughter and his men journeyed to Naches Pass to investigate a murder case. This act in turn roused the Indians into a rampage.

The last battle of the war was fought in March 1856 near Seattle. Lt. Gilmore Hays led a force of 100 men against about 150 Indian braves. The battle lasted all day and the poorly armed and led Indians were defeated, and the last armed resistance by the Native Indians was crushed. White settlers lynched Indians and the few survivors fled to the mountains. Today, only a handful pure-blood Indians survive.

White Indians?

The popular belief, based on genetics and archeological evidence, is that the Indians came to America from Asia when the North American continent was connected to the Eurasian continent through a land bridge (Berringia) exposed during the latest ice age some 11,000 to 26,000 year ago. It is believed Alaska and Canada were connected during the last ice age.

Archeological evidence suggests that humans lived in Brazil and Chile as early as 11,500 years ago, which means the migrants had passed over Berringia centuries earlier and gradually spread south on foot. (Until the white settlers came, the Native Indians had no horse or wheels for transport.) It is even possible that some of the early migrants came to America during an earlier ice age, 37,000 years ago, or even earlier.

Some scientists believe that Caucasians had arrived in boats eons before Mongoloids did. Mormons, who believe the Brown Indians wiped out the White Indians, promote the notion of White Indians.

The proponents of the White Indian theory claim migrants from Oceania arrived either by sailing across the Pacific or over the land route through Beringia at a much earlier date. The oldest human remains in South America resemble Australian Aborigines or the Negritos of southern and southeastern Asia or the Ainu of northern Japan.

Recently, an 8,900-year old skeleton, nicknamed the Kennewick Man, after the village of Kennewick in the state of Washington, has stirred up the controversy on the origin of the American Indians. Although the skeleton was discovered more than nine years ago by college students on the bank of the Columbia River, local Indian tribes filed legal actions to rebury the remains and had the boned locked up, preventing scientific examination.

Fortunately, the court ruled against the Indians recently and allowed anthropologists to examine the bones. (Chatters, 2005). The Kennewick Man shows Caucasian facial features. In fact, he bears an uncanny likeness to Egypt's Pharaoh Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut.

It is commonly believed that Egyptians are Caucasoid. However, closer examinations of King Tut and the Kennewick Man indicate that they are closer to the people of Oceania -- the Ainu, Polynesians, Australian Aborigines, and the Negritos -- a cross between Caucasoid and Negroid or perhaps hominids -- a mix of modern and ancient man -- before the differentiation into today's ethnic taxonomy.

The immigrants came to America in small groups of tens or so and scattered throughout the Americas in search of food. These bands remained largely isolated and grew into thousands of tribes with their own languages and customs.

Although most tribes eked out a subsistence living, some managed to develop advanced civilizations. The Maya, Olmec, Zapotec, Toltec, Aztec, Inca and some other tribes developed cities and states that were far more advanced than the contemporary European civilization.

Archaeological evidence in Australia, Melanesia, and Japan indicate "coastal" people who were neither Mongoloid, nor Caucasoid, nor Negroid, and who had their own physical characteristics populated the vast Sunda Shelf, now under water.

It is believed that some of these Sunda people migrated to America some 56,000 to 73,000 years ago during an earlier ice age. When the Sunda Shelf sank with deglaciation, some residents got stranded on isolated islands such as Japan, the Pacific islands, Australia, Egypt, and so on, while others moved inland and mixed with the native inland people.

As the ice ages came and went, the Berringia land bridge came and went, controlling the flow of immigrants from Asia and the Sunda land. It appears the first immigrants were Sunda people -- a Caucasoid-Negroid mix, and later arrivals were mainly Mongoloid.

Mitochondria DNA research on American Indians support the multiple migration theory. The Indians and people in Siberia and Korea have nearly identical genomes. However, the Indians have some genes that are not found among their Asian cousins. These "strange" genes are believed to be from the Sunda people now extinct. (Wikepedia, 2005)

Linguistic studies of 300 or so Indian languages indicate that they may have come from three or four ancestral languages. Strangely, these languages are more similar to Polynesian languages than to Asian languages. It is probable the earlier immigrants heavily influenced the later immigrants linguistically.
References:

Chatters, J. (2005). Meet Kennwick Man. Nova, PBS. Retrieved July 25, 2005, from World Wide Web http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/kennewick.html

Daffodil Daily Times. (2005). The Indian War of 1855. Retrieved July 24, 2005, from World Wide Web http://www.daffodilvalleytimes.com/history/indian_war.html

Doughton, S. (2005). Kennewick Man will let his bones do the talking. Seattle Times. July 6,,2005. Retrieved July 25, 2005 from World Wide Web.

Kelly, J. (2005). The Fall City History. Retrieved July 24, 2005 from World Wide Web http://www.fallcity.org/history.html

King Tut's New Face. (2005). National Geographic. May 2005. Retrieved July 25, 2005 from World Wide Web.

Lee, W. (2004). The Origin of the Korean People. Retrieved July 24, 2005, from World Wide Web http://www.kimsoft.com/2004/go-chosun.htm

Milankovitch Cycle, (2005), Wikipedia. Retrieved July 14, 2005, from World Wide Web http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

Muskleshoot Indian Tribe. (2005). The Tribal History. Retrieved July 22, 2005 from World Wide Web http://www.muckleshoot.nsn.us/history.htm

Wikipedia (2005). Classification of Native Americans. Retrieved July 22, 2005 from the World Wide Web http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classification_of_Native_Americans
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Young Kim

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