Native Americans and European Roots

One of the things that’s quite clear when looking at American History is that it isn’t like taught in school. Especially about the Native Americans.

The “classic” story is that everyone came over the land bridge from Asia.

That’s bunk.

OK, I keep my eyes open for things that fit, or don’t fit. One was a lady who worked for me for a while. She was 100% pure blood “Indian”. When she told me this, I said something she noticed. I said “Oh, you have a rather European look to your tribe”. Seems most folks said “You don’t LOOK Indian”… which implied not-Indian, where mine is simply making an observation about an objective fact. She appreciated that difference. Her tribe was from somewhere back east and sort of north. I’ve forgotten exactly which one.

But one of the things I’d first noticed as a young kid was that the images and photos of the Mohicans and similar tribes were not “Asian like” the way the Indians of the West were. Then there were the “long houses” that look like a European house, not a Tee-Pee. Finally, there was one “lost tribe” in Virginia that were reputed to have blue eyes. That particular allele formed around the Baltic sea and spread out from there… ( As we learned in my Genetics 100A class at University…) Add in the “Clovis Points” that are nearly identical to some spear and arrow points from France and it all adds up. A second immigration path from Europe along the edge of the ice during the Glacial.

Here I’m not going to do a lot of analysis. Mostly just showing some images and data and letting folks “see what I see”. The first one is a gene map.

Haplogroup R Y-DNA

Haplogroup R Y-DNA

Original Image

Notice that this is the Y chromosome distribution map in native populations. Now look at it for a minute. Where’s the dense blobs of color? Yup, Around the Great Lakes and Celtic Europe. Exactly the starting and ending points of a boat migration along the ice into North America from Iberia / Britain / France, with subsequent spreading out as the ice retreated.

Now look at the alternative route. They had to leave Europe, or maybe the Asian Steppes, then walk all the way to the very far side of North America. There also were either none who ‘settled’ in the middle of Asia, or they got overrun / killed later. It just doesn’t look right for a diffusion map from that point of view. Yet there will be (must be?) some of that overlay process going on to explain things like the blob (likely the original origin point) north of India and the decrease between there and Iberia. There are inevitable wars and extirpations in history.

Yet even the North America map alone shows a strong concentration in East, shading out to the west. And with the same shading trend in all directions. That just can’t be easily explained with population overlays, or displacements.

It is my opinion, this map alone says that the Indians of that area have a significant European root.

How about if we take a look at a portrait of one of the early (pre any genetic mixing) Ojibwe people:

 Boy Chief - Ojibbeway

Boy Chief – Ojibbeway

Original has a lot more detail on these folks. Including a map showing them living around the great lakes.

Now look at the face. Long straight nose. Not much in the way of flattened nose, nor a very Asian shape to the face. Notice the corners of the eyes. No epicanthic folds. For comparison, this picture from the wiki

Epicanthic Fold

Epicanthic Fold

Notice too the nasal ridge. High and ‘European like’ vs low and Asian.

OK, that’s a painting. True, it is a portrait painted by someone who ought to be exacting, but they might have just painted the usual European Look from long training. How about some photos of Indians from various tribes? Preferably early enough to not be too influenced by gene introgression post contact:

These are from another tribe, the Oneida:

Oneida Portraits

Oneida Portraits

Original Image

Those faces would not look out of place at all in Spain or France.

More on the Oneida, part of the Iroquois tribes. That group included the Mohawk of hair cut fame ;-)

These are also the people who build “long houses” reminiscent of European home shapes.

Wiki on longhouses

The Iroquois (Haudenosanee or People of the Longhouses) who lived in New York, Ontario, and Quebec built and lived in longhouses. Longer than they were wide, these longhouses had openings at both ends that served as doors and were covered with animal skins during the winter to keep out the cold. On average a typical longhouse was about 80 by 18 by 18 ft (24 by 5.5 by 5.5 m) and was meant to house up to twenty or more families, most of which were typically matrilinearly related.

We also see a small echo of the matriarchy so common in Celtic Europe.

As you head down toward Tennessee and George, there are still significant European features to the faces, but there is an increasing degree of more “Western Indian” genes showing up. We start to get some more Asian features, and the characteristic high cheekbones.

Here are the Cherokee that originally were in the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee, later relocated to Oklahoma by a forced march along the “Trail Of Tears”.



Original Image

Again we have some folks substantially indistinguishable from a European “look”, but some with the more Western Indian features starting to show up.

As you reach the far west, more Asian features show up, but still in an overall context that looks more like a blending of Asian with European (or Caucasian Asian ) genetics. The Navajo have one of the largest, and most isolated, reservations in the USA. I’ve driven through it. We drove several hundred miles, stayed over night in a hotel at the far end of the Grand Canyon (where a bridge can cross it) and only later the second day left the property. That was only one end, and well away from most of the population. There is a Navajo radio station that can sometimes be picked up in California. They have largely remained a distinct people and have not had much genetic drift.

Navajo Portraits

Navajo Portraits

Here we can see the more coarse dark hair characteristic of Asians, along with swarthy skin color (easy to do in the Desert Southwest with lots of sun!). A more frequent rounder face profile, with higher cheekbones, and the occasional flatter nose. Yet even here, there are echoes of a European mixed genetics. Though it would be much harder to claim that these were not just folks from central Asia with a European like look about them. The Han Chinese are a recent introgression north from a more tropical location. Even in Japan, the Ainu were the original peoples, and they have a more European look about them. Though they tend to full beards, a feature not common in American Natives.

So there is some evidence for an “intrusion” of an Asian type over the top of an ancestral non-Asian type in the band from Japan over through China to the Steppes of Asia where redheaded folks in tartan were found buried. And the “intrusion” came long long after North America was populated.

Due to that, it isn’t possible to say that the genetic empty swath of Asia could not be due to later over run of that area by a different population. The door has to be left open to multiple “out of Asia” groups arriving in North America via a land bridge. That, then, leaves the “Out of Europe” thesis for the East Coast population to some extent dependent on those gene maps showing a ‘backwards diffusion pattern’ if all groups had to come out of Asia.

So lets look at one more haplogroup. The X group is not the dominant one in North American natives, but it is an instructive one.

Haplogroup X mtDNA

Haplogroup X mtDNA

At this point, it says that the mothers of that small part of the band, had to start near Turkey, cover all of Asia and a lot of North America and end up in a cluster on the far side, THEN have daughters. Or just hop a boat to North America and be done…

Yet the majority genotypes have presence in Asia and not in Western Europe (both for Y and mtDNA). This means that, even if they did originate from Europe, they were overlain by later waves of population in those European areas. We know, from language study, that the Basque type peoples were displaced and surrounded by Indo-European language speakers long after people were living in America. So any folks who did originate from that earlier population might well not be similar to those in that part of Europe now. Or be a minority genetic type.

What this all says to me, is that a minority genotype in the American Indian population shows clear evidence for the easiest path of immigration having been from Western Europe, likely by boat or along the ice pack margin, into the Great Lakes area and on down toward The Carolinas. That the majority of the Native Americans came from Asia via a land bridge, and spread out. And the two populations blended along the margins and into the interior of the groups. Further, a significant part of that migration from Asia was not a stereotypical Asian / Mongoloid type, but the older Caucasian type that had been across the center of Asia and out to Japan prior to the arrival of the Chinese type.

Some other folks have looked at this too. There’s a quoted text from another place in this link:

“On the basis of comprehensive RFLP analysis, it has been inferred that approximately 97% of Native American mtDNAs belong to one of four major founding mtDNA lineages, designated haplogroups “A”-“D.” It has been proposed that a fifth mtDNA haplogroup (haplogroup X) represents a minor founding lineage in Native Americans. Unlike haplogroups A-D, haplogroup X is also found at low frequencies in modern European populations. To investigate the origins, diversity, and continental relationships of this haplogroup, we performed mtDNA high-resolution RFLP and complete control region (CR) sequence analysis on 22 putative Native American haplogroup X and 14 putative European haplogroup X mtDNAs. The results identified a consensus haplogroup X motif that characterizes our European and Native American samples. Among Native Americans, haplogroup X appears to be essentially restricted to northern Amerindian groups, including the Ojibwa, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Sioux, and the Yakima, although we also observed this haplogroup in the Na-Dene-speaking Navajo. Median network analysis indicated that European and Native American haplogroup X mtDNAs, although distinct, nevertheless are distantly related to each other. Time estimates for the arrival of X in North America are 12,000-36,000 years ago, depending on the number of assumed founders, thus supporting the conclusion that the peoples harboring haplogroup X were among the original founders of Native American populations. To date, haplogroup X has not been unambiguously identified in Asia, raising the possibility that some Native American founders were of Caucasian ancestry.”

Given the probability of a Younger Dryas impact event killing off most of the Clovis People, and then a significant repopulation from Asia: It looks like a larger part of America was populated with folks from Europe, most of whom were wiped out in that Cloves Event strike, and then they blended in with the later arrivals over most of the continent.

There is also a small matter of how genes ‘assort’ over time. When a bit of genetics is only inherited from one parent, and is sex linked (as both mtDNA and the Y-Chromosome are) then any time a family has children all of the same sex, one of those sets of genes is lost. Due to this, over time, a sex linked genetic type will tend to dominate based only on which gene has the largest starting number. Minority types are more at risk for a ‘bad luck’ event wiping out a larger percentage of them. Over very long periods of time, this can result in a large number of a few genotypes for that gene based only on the math of it. During that process, all the OTHER genes are mixing, sorting, and ‘moving on’. So to say that a given Y-chromosome is at 2% does not mean that the original percentage was 2%, or even particularly low. So, say, your starting populations where 40% and 60%. After a very large number of generations you might well find the sex linked trait at 10% / 90%. Yet the rest of the genome would still largely reflect a 40 % – 60 % split. So to ‘do this right’ really requires using non-sex linked genetics.

In short, from the mtDNA and Y-chromosome, you can say some Europeans were part of the ‘Founders Stock’, but you can’t say what the proportion was. For that much more complicated methods are needed. But the ‘poor mans method’ is to just look for things like how much one population ‘looks like’ a given founder source. That’s why we ‘looked at their faces’.

In Conclusion

What I think this shows, however tepidly, is that the Native American populations were and are a mixed people. Some part Western European (especially in tribes from the North East). Some part Asian (especially in the West and South America). The European contribution likely comes in two forms. Via boat / ice corridor, and via Asia as an older pre-Chinese expansion stock.

Oddly, as the existing population of immigrants, a mix of Western Europeans, Hispanics with significant Native American ancestry, and new Asian immigrants slowly have genetic drift into one mixed population, the most likely outcome is a people looking, once again, remarkably like the American Indians.

It will not be that different from what happened before. 20,000+ years ago.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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33 Responses to Native Americans and European Roots

  1. Ian W says:

    It appears that there has been a continual stream of hunters and traders to and from northern Europe, Britain, Iceland, Greenland and North America. See reports here of Inuit traveling in kayaks:
    and the more famous:
    (This also gives an idea of how cold it was toward the end of the Little Ice Age.)

    It does not look like this was a once and done event. Viking settlements have also been found in northern Canada and and of course

    So Inuit were regularly reaching as far as Scotland and Vikings were reaching as far as Canada presumably in the Medieval Warm Period. It is just as probable that people were journeying well before these especially with the sea levels very much lower when the North Sea was a flat plain with a large river valley sometimes called Doggerland. see (You will have to put up with the ‘Climate Change’ genuflection text though) . Assumptions that the current coastlines match those in the preceding glacial are incorrect. a 400ft lower sea level could make the entire ‘continental shelf’ around Europe a low lying landmass. A quote from the National Geographic Article above is interesting as it is ‘unforced’:

    Finds of much larger concentrations of artifacts suggest that Mesolithic people, like later North American hunter-gatherers, came together for annual social events—possibly in the early autumn, when the seals came in and the salmon were running. In western Britain, these gatherings took place on cliff tops, overlooking sealing grounds. They would have allowed young men and women from localized groups to find mates, and information to be exchanged about other river systems beyond each group’s territory—knowledge that became crucial as the sea continued to disrupt the landscape.

    We tend to think with our technology that we are the first to be able to travel large distances. Our forebears may have taken more time – but they would appear to have dispersed or traveled as widely.

  2. Stuart Elliot says:

    Lots to see here.

    The Ainu on Hokkaido and Arctic Innu (“the people”).
    Evidence of Chinese fleets on coasts around the world in the 1420s. (See the book “1421” by ex submariner Gavin Menzies).
    My Japanese visitors noting the resemblance between west coast natives and Japanese facial features.
    The stable currents and and wind patterns of the Atlantic.
    Your observations on N E native genetic markers.

    To me it looks like good reason to challenge conventional wisdom.

  3. Adam Gallon says:

    One theory about the populating of North America, is passage of people from Western Europe, along the sea ice, during glacial periods. Hunting seals and fishing along the ice margins.

  4. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.SMITH: YOU ARE RIGHT AGAIN!, if you search for CARAL or Low SECHIN, you will find that Caral city, (about 90 miles north of Lima, where I live) was built ….5,000 years ago:

    And Low Sechin:( BTW: Silly archeologists interpret the wall carvings at its front as images depicting kind of sacrifices: I must tell you that I was lucky enough to be there in company with the late Mrs.Dorothea Dooling, the publisher of Parabola Magazine; these really depict “sacred movements”, well known in antiquity and brought to occident by G.I..Gurdjieff)

  5. adolfogiurfa says:

    And….not to mention this City, under 4 miles of sea water, under the pacific, also near to Lima:

  6. adolfogiurfa says:

    And…what about the Piri Reis map, showing Antarctica BEFORE THE ICE?

  7. Jason Calley says:

    Here is a well done dramatization of a possible Solutrean voyage to North America, a fictional account based on best present evidence:

  8. omanuel says:

    Thanks, E.M. Smith, for your analysis. Before reading it, I blindly accepted textbook reports but now I can see that they are inconsistent with factual information.

    Recently Dr. Alberto Boretti and I tried to remind the editors and readers of Nature magazine, governments were established to protect our God-given right to live happy, joyous and free !

    Click to access Yes_the_Sun_is_a_pulsar.pdf

    The document proclaiming those rights in 1776 also assured us of the right to abolish any government that becomes destructive of these ends, i.e., by scaremongering.

    That includes politicians and the “UN Climate Scientists” who already “Plead for Immunity from Criminal Prosecution”

    May Peace Return to Earth,
    – Oliver K. Manuel
    PhD Nuclear Chemist
    Postdoc Space Physics
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  9. George says:

    Well, we know that they migration happened before smallpox appeared. Smallpox didn’t appear in Europe and Asia until around the 4th century BC or so. Smallpox probably first appeared at about the same time as the Younger Dryas, probably in North Africa, as far as I can tell.

  10. George says:

    Also, measles appeared at about the same time as the Younger Dryas, probably a mutation of the virus that causes distemper in dogs or rinderpest in cattle. This is associated with the time humans began to domesticate animals. There is no evidence of domestication of animals by native cultures until the introduction of horses by Europeans. There is evidence of agriculture so the period of migration is likely sometime between the development of agriculture and animal domestication.

  11. DirkH says:

    George says:
    22 December 2012 at 9:12 pm
    “There is evidence of agriculture so the period of migration is likely sometime between the development of agriculture and animal domestication.”

    Agriculture was allegedly developed during the Younger Dryas in the Levante (Lebanon etc). Either the early Americans developed it independently or there was ongoing, maybe sporadic exchange of travellers and ideas. I would argue for independent invention – native Americans never developed the plough (to my knowledge). Another possibility: Early primitive agriculture is older than we think.

  12. George says:

    The extent to which they developed agriculture varied. They were aware of the concept of seeds but they didn’t really make and till fields. The Delaware indians would simply burn out the underbrush and leave the canopy of what was then chestnut forest alone. They would then plant things such as squash that would grow on the forest floor. When those areas became depleted, they would burn out a different area, and rinse/lather/repeat. Corn would be grown in meadow areas and only in areas of Ohio do we see extensive areas of forest clearing. Though we do see that in South American areas. One other problem is that by the time settlers moved into North America in the 1600’s, as much as 90% of the population had already died from measles and smallpox introduced by earlier explorers. The populations we found in places like Ohio in the 1700’s were probably only 10% of what the populations had been in the 1400’s.

    An interesting read:

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Dirk; the use of a plough or wheels is fairly recent and require large beasts of burden. the Amerindians had only small beasts for such use. Gardening type agriculture requires “picks” and pointed sticks as digging tools. Modern agriculture has evolved over many thousand years, the plough is a fairly late creation for breaking sod for field crops. pg

  14. DirkH says:

    p.g.sharrow says:
    22 December 2012 at 10:47 pm
    “the plough is a fairly late creation for breaking sod for field crops. pg”

    Well, “mid neolithic” is what I find…

  15. George says:

    The culture in the Americas had not even reached the bronze age. So the migrations were certainly longer than 5000 years ago. The migrations likely happened back during the last ice age. My guess is that what we know as the “Dorset people” were the originals. They were likely cold adapted hunters that ranged from Europe to North America across the ice living on mostly seals. They did not have bow and arrow technology, for example, and were wiped out when modern Eskimos invaded their territory. They could have migrated across the ice during the ice age. The Dorset people could not adapt to the Medieval Warm Period and the Thule took over their territory. I do not agree with the notion that the Dorset are an evolutionary branch of the other older cultures because the Dorset lacked some technologies such as bow and arrow and drills. The Dorset was an older culture. They ranged across Canada, Greenland, and what is now Newfoundland. During the ice age, one could practically walk from Greenland to Iceland and from Iceland to Europe. Dorset did not use boats. They relied on seals. I believe the Dorset was the oldest surviving culture. They were taller than the Eskimos from Siberia / Alaska, they were genetically different. They built sod and stone longhouses.

  16. George says:

    The wooden plow is quite old. It was basically a stick that was pulled and created a furrow.

  17. George says:

    This is a map of roughly how things looked during the ice age:

    Notice that Iceland is quite a bit larger. Also notice that one can hop/skip/jump to Greenland from Europe over fairly short distances of sea ice. It is also a rather narrow run to Labrador from Greenland. We would have interstadials during the last glacial so the climate could vary considerably but I would not be surprised to see a civilization that hunted seals being able to migrate between Europe and North America. Iceland would have been an interesting place for them with the geothermal heat but so far as I know, no trace of human settlement has been found prior to 871 AD in Iceland.

    Remains of Saqqaq inhabitants of Greenland have been DNA sequenced and seem to be related to the Chukchi and Koryak people who now live in the area around the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia. They appear in Greenland around 4500 years ago (2500 BC). They do not appear to be related to a group who lived farther North, (Independence I culture) and there seems to be a bit of dispute over which group arrived in Greenland first, Saqqaq or Independence I but we seem to want to say that both migrated from Canada. I don’t think we can really TELL from which direction they migrated because I believe that many of the places of habitation are now under water due to sea level rise over the past 5000 years. In the past 8000 years, sea level has risen 20 meters. My feeling is that very old places of habitation in North America are long inundated.

  18. Jason Calley says:

    For anyone interested in pre-columbian agriculture in the Americas, don’t miss the Moray site in South America.
    Current popular interpretation is that it was a sophisticated agricultural research station. (For what it is worth, I suspect a pre-Inca construction and ritual usage of the site as well.)

  19. George says:

    This might also be interesting in this context. My favorite radio show (the John Batchelor Show) had a segment the other night that seems like it might be of interest. It is the section marked

    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Hour 1 Guests: Michael Vlahos, Naval War College, Peter Bogucki, Princeton, Henry Miller, Hoover Institution

    In the iTunes popup it is the fourth segment (segments go in reverse chronological order, newest at the top) for the day of Dec. 21. Start at the 20 min mark. It is talk about wordworking that is nearly 1000 years earlier than thought before.

    Maybe this link will work:

    If it doesn’t, try this one:

  20. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Jason Calley: What it is scarcely known is that, in spite of all the destruction made by the saint church priests during the conquest and colony, traditions and even religion prevails among the Incas. BTW: Several companies are fighting to introduce genetic modified crops which would ruin all the crops developed by the Inca culture, from tomato to yellow potatoes, from quinua to almost everything we know of foods; it would be a criminal action against humanity.

  21. Thanks for a giving us a great conversation for our Sunday morning breakfast!

    You’re the best E.M., and I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.

  22. John Robertson says:

    Maori are way ahead of us, standard greeting, “Hows it going cusi-bro”?
    I am fascinated by the hole in archaeology , we know sea levels were about 300 ft lower and yet we have found no signs of ancient habitats here in the modern foothills.
    Human nature is to see what lies beyond those hills and those hills beyond.
    Kennicott Man caused all the fuss,cause those bones could not lie?
    Merry Christmas to all.

  23. wolfwalker says:

    Chiefio, I think you might want to think twice about deducing the origin of ancient Amerinds based on either the appearance or the genetics of modern Amerinds. There have been many groups of Europeans that visited the East Coast in historic times, even before the English and the Dutch came to stay, and there was certainly a lot of interbreeding between them and the locals. There probably isn’t a single person left east of the Mississippi with pure Amerind genetics. The “lost tribe with blue eyes” you refer to are probably descendants of the “lost” Roanoke colony.

  24. bruce says:

    John R. would that be the Kennewick man?

    wiki suggests the remains are in custody, its my recollection the remains are buried under twenty tons of rip-rap.

  25. Steve Tabor says:

    In the 1970s and 80s I spent a lot of time in the old San Francisco Public Library (open stacks), which at the time boasted 880,000 volumes. I recall a book explaining this same contention about multiple origins for tribes in N America. It had a full- or multi-page collection of photographs from various tribes, juxtaposed. Long faces, square chins, short round faces, subdued eyebrows, rigid eyebrows, tall in stature, short in stature, endless variations. Not all “Mongoloid”. From that time on I’ve never believed the old saw about the Bering Strait being the exclusive route of immigration.

    Interesting to think that most of these “tribal” characteristics with regard to face and stature likely derived from one patriarchal figure or an extended family of same that simply bred, spread and colonized over a given local area and became the prevailing type. Those distinctions, I think, have given us great diversity, which I fear is being lost due to racial mixing. (A good thing politically, not so good esthetically IMHO.)

    I also note the “kon tiki” efforts in the 1950s, to establish the ability of ancient explorers to move across the Pacific in boats from Polynesia to South America. An African-American (? or South African) author wrote a book a while back linking African explorers in the period around 600 A.D. to the carrying of culture practices (pyramids?) and language from West Africa to Central America by boat — 100-foot long six-foot wide single trunk canoes as I recall, carried across the Atlantic on strong westward currents.

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, as much as possible I tried to get 1800s or earlier photos, other than the Navajo who were known to be a relatively isolated population.

    Furthermore, there are a bunch of other gene markers that are relatively (or completely) unique to North American natives. So we can get something of a ‘quality of purity’ metric. Generally it shows that the mixed folks tended to blend into the general populace while the reservation populations stayed more true to type. Yet, there is and always has been mixing.

    But there is an art to “spotting it”. Some traits are dominant, or co-dominant, so they carry forward in the mixed generation. That, then, lets you see the base type trait, even if mixed. Other traits are recessive. They mark an individual as low mixing rate (at least for the first few generations… then the individual gene can have time to ‘jump’ to a new context and become mobile in the broader populations.)

    So yes, it takes care. But I’ve been ‘paying attention’ to looks and heritage and genetics for a very long time now; and I think I’ve gotten fairly good at it. I’ve successfully ‘pegged’ folks histories fairly well when asked. (Over beer once, while about 1/2 gone, I got one guy ‘dead on’ and the second was a ‘partial miss’. How partial? I had his ancestors as ‘probably Celts from England’. They were Breton Celts from France. 20 miles of water off… That’s from a guy I’d met about an hour, in a bar in Florida…

    FWIW, there are also a large number of paintings from the 1700s that look similar to the “modern” natives and to the photos of the 1800s. So it’s pretty easy to pick out the ‘drift of type’ over time. It has pretty much always been the case that the Iroquois tribes were described as not being very Asian like.

    With all that said:

    Yes, the case would be much better made with a comparison of skeletons and DNA from the 1500s. But that is forbidden by US Law. So you work with what you have.


    the DNA maps are pretty clear. Even when a Y-chromosome or mtDNA is of “european type’, it is in a context that just does not show the full set of modern European DNA. Take that X mtDNA type. It is NOT found in Europe with that exact set of minor changes. The ‘drift’ is a reasonably well calibrated clock, and that clock says ‘about 10,000 years ago”, not 500 years ago.

    So yes, some tribes would be a very bad choice for “look at them now” and make a call. Like the tribes in California. About 300 years of LOTS of European presence, and a very small local population. Any cross contamination will have a major effect. Yet even here we had Ishi found as a free living native American during the age of photography:

    We know from the story of his tribe that they were killed by Europeans, not blended. His photo shows the same typical Native American distinctive look that is NOT simple Asian. (There are also teeth characteristics that differ, the curve of the back of the tooth, and some skull shape items, and not just the cheekbones). But for Ishi, we know his family was not subject to genetic pollution, they were murdered by the Gold Rush invasion (as where they lived was substantially unexplored prior to the gold rush).

    Being a West Coast tribe, they have somewhat more of the Asian type influence, you you can still see the differences. Almost a Polynesian strength to the face, and with more European heavy brow / nose features.

    Per the Lost Colony vs the Blue Eyed Tribe: IIRC, the blue eyed tribe was found on their arrival, and then when folks came back looking for the lost colony, they could find neither it, nor the blue eyed tribe. (Though later some folks think they found a more inland tribe with some gene markers that indicate a potential absorption of some of the colony and, IIRC, some oral tradition of some straggler / starving colonists joining the tribe). Again, it’s important to listen to the tribal history to know how they were treated and who all might have moved in…

    On the mtDNA, again, we can use that to discount the impact of “French Trappers” and mountain men. Yes, some number ‘went native’ in that area as early as the 1600s. BUT, they don’t have mtDNA… So can’t explain that marker…

    (There’s a whole lot more to this, frankly, more than can be put in one comment, or even a few postings. Things like the 10s of percent level of “Black” DNA markers found in post Olmec populations. That tends to corroborate the notion of an Africa / Central America connection in pre-history. It is also found in graves from prior to the European arrival, so it’s not a contamination artifact… Going the other way, there’s very good evidence for both Chinese and Japanese populations arriving in South America and staying. In the case of the Japanese, it includes genetic markers, pottery style, and even a virus found in both the expected source population, and in Peru in the destination population from graves prior to modern times but not in other groups in either place.)

    In short, there’s a whole lot of evidence that The America’s were not “Found” by Europeans, that the “Age of Discovery” is more about “The Age of Europeans Being Arrogant and Not Knowing Their Depth of Ignorance”. That The Americas have had some contact (albeit sporadic and small) over tens of thousands of years with the rest of the world. And that the “Land Bridge Only” theory is just junk. Yes, at least a couple of waves likely DID come that way, and contributed most of the genetics in the Americas. Perhaps even some European type genetics from before the southeast tropical Asian type headed up to dominate what would eventually become China and Japan (and killing off or driving out the Ainu / more European or Austronesian types). But that does not explain the more Asian types as introgressed populations into South America on the Pacific Coast, nor the “Polynesian” type skulls on the coast of California (they have a distinctive shape, pentagonal form the rear, IIRC), nor the overlay of BOTH R1 (but NOT the same sub-type as in Europe now… it drifted…) and X mtDNA with a more European look to the tribes of the Iroquois.

    Note that it is R1-M173 in north america… it’s drifted to the R1a and R1b types in Europe. The R1-M173 is the much older ancestral type. The ‘odds’ of getting just that one to show up from modern European introgression from a gene pool of Western European origin are just very very slim. (It would be easier to start with Africans)

    From there Haplogroup R (M207) arose in west Central Asia between 34,300-19,900 years ago (perhaps closer to 26,800 years ago). Then at the height of the last glacial age (around 18,500 years ago), subgroup R1 (M173) emerged and moved into Europe and split into subgroups, R1a, ancestors of proto-Indo-Europeans (India/Pakistan/Afghanistan, Central Asian steppes, Altaians, and East European Slavs); and our R1b (M342) subgroup of Western Europe, appearing in over 70% of Western European males. R1b migration correlates to Italic and Celtic peoples.

    Yet that same 18,000 years ago is right in line with those folks spreading from “west Central Asia” either east or west into the Americas. ( I lean toward the western ice bridge / boats just because that’s where all the other R1a R1b folks ended up.)

    So, you see, it isn’t JUST looking at faces. In fact the ‘looking at faces’ to some extent comes last on the evidentiary list. More as “golly, and you can even see it reflected in the faces” (or more precisely, “you can see the phenotypes reflecting the genotypes.”

    Finding divergent microsites on the X mtDNA and finding an older form of the R1 Y-chromosome and spread win just the kind of way one would expect from an old founder population around the lake area is just not what you would get from a few 1700s era French Trappers and / or a lost boat load of UK colonists. The gene details are just wrong.

    The genes are more like the ancient populations of Western Europe before the R1a / R1b “Indo-European-Caucasians” invaded Western Europe from near Iran / Anatolia and killed off the original population there, too; leaving only a isolate of Basques. (This does not speak well of modern Europeans, IMHO…) To the notion that saying a founder group of 18,000 Year Ago Europeans made up part of the North American native population does not, in any way, grant ‘precedence’ to Modern Europeans. They came from the edge of Asia, much later, about 12,000 years later, and killed off that “native European” population via invasion…

    That’s part of what I find so maddening about modern Native Americans wanting to hide any evidence of “European” roots. It’s just denying their own genetic history (in part) and also denies that their ‘trail of tears’ includes a similar history of invasion and displacement from Western Europe long long ago. It enables the invader by assisting in hiding the truth.

    On the other side, the Asian side, it endorses the south east Asian type invasion and destruction of the founder population areas there. The Central and Northern Asian stocks were not Han Chinese back then. The Ainu are not Japanese type. To demand “Asian” roots as Mongoloid is again to embrace the historic conqueror who killed off the indigenous folks in that area, too. From both sides, an older population has been killed off, driven out, and over run. That’s what the genetics and written history says.

    Oddly, as some of those stocks were headed over the land bridge in the last wave (post Clovis event), it looks like they ran into stragglers from what had come the other way (Kenniwick Man) and got into more fights. The Native Americans has a fair numbers of wars between tribes before modern Europeans showed up. So in a real sense it was a failure to recognize self vs “other” and form a group response to either the Ethnic Asians headed up into China or the Moder Europeans sweeping over Western Europe (and on to the Americas) that ended in the invasion of North America by moderns.

    To try to pretend that Native Americans are some kind of pure unique type, and “European” is a distinct and foreign type, while “Asian” is a long lost heritage… well, it’s not just wrong, but it is ‘enabling’ of the aggressors to whitewash the true sweep of their aggression. IMHO.

    To recognize the Native Americans as a mix of folks, but from a long ago Asia AND a long ago Europe; makes for a much more rich history and points up even more fully “the issues” and that they started 12,000 years ago. Not just 400.

    In short: The “Clovis People” if they came from France where similar Clovis Points were found, were NOT French, and were not even genetically the same stock. They most likely were closer to the Basques, but even there, at a distance. (That then most of them got wiped out by the YD impact event, more folks from Asia came in, and so the West and South America have a much stronger Asian component; that doesn’t remove their contribution to America… nor does it give French People any kind of ‘claim’ on being First Americans… no more than a Turk can claim Armenian rights for having killed them and taken their lands.)

    @Steve Tabor:

    There are a lot of parallels between central American history / material goods and African / Egyptian. While I don’t agree with a lot of the more inflammatory stuff at this site, it has a photo presentation of ‘parallels’ that is quite curious… (Warning: He indulges in a fair amount of ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘invisible government’ junk down near the bottom. I do NOT endorse it.)


    Thanks! And you are most welcome!


    I think we’ll eventually find out we have been doing advanced things for 10,000 years longer than first thought… There are cities under several hundred feet of water…

  27. plazaeme says:

    I think the name is: Solutrean hypothesis.

    [Reply: I deliberately avoided the “Solutrean Hypothesis” name as it comes ‘with baggage’. Folks think it means Europeans like now, as opposed to Europeans like those killed off by the present Europeans about 6,000 years ago… But yes, that’s what folks call it. -E.M.Smith ]

  28. George B says:

    Here we have the problem of the Dorset people supposedly “losing” the bow and arrow technology. This is a technology that is not likely to be “lost” as it affords such a great advantage and is so easy to construct that the ability to make even a makeshift bow can be accomplished by children with a stick and some sinew. The idea is basically nothing more than a dart launcher. In order to lose the technology you would need to lose everyone who could make one AND everyone who had ever SEEN one. In other words, one does not need to be a master bow maker to gain at least some advantage of the concept. The Dorset people lacked bow and arrow technology and had only spears and clubs. ( ) They were also extremely cold-adapted and were taller than tribes migrating from Asia. A culture coming from Europe after about 10K years ago would have bows. A culture coming from Europe before 10K years ago likely not. A culture attaining bow and arrow technology would not likely “lose” it. Chances are, in my personal unprofessional opinion, that the Dorset culture is from before bow and arrow technology and were adapted to living in very cold areas. The Dorset culture lacked many of the technologies of later migrants including “drill” technology. Making holes in things was through the process of gouging and not drilling.

  29. Gail Combs says:

    DirkH says:
    22 December 2012 at 9:34 pm
    ….. Early primitive agriculture is older than we think.
    From my very old (1970) Anthropology course:

    Pre-historic hunter-gather tribes in the USA (mid west ?) traveled great circle routes coming back to the same places on a yearly basis. Comparison of present day “wild” versions of the native plants to pre-historic remnants showed there had been improvement in the plants such as enlargement of eatable seeds presumably via selection and planting for harvest the next season. (Haven’t been able to find the internet version of that information.)

    Women were probably the first farmers, possibly as a result of burying an offering of the ‘best’ gathering to appease the gods. The women who did this can back the next year to better plants. the ones who did not found a scanty harvest. The other possibility was the observation that the kitchen midden had better plants and someone made the connection and experimented with intentional planting.

    A midden might include ash from fires, an excellent fertilizer, plus other organic matter. Primitive people are going to be very observant and just because they moved did not mean the were not shaping their environment.

    Fire on the Edge: Prehistoric Fire Along the Escarpment Zone of the Cumberland Plateau
    ……By examining the fossil and charcoal record from Cliff Palace Pond with the archaeological record recovered from nearby prehistoric sites, a 9,500-year record of the vegetational development can be established for the escarpment zone of Eastern Kentucky. This record indicates that anthropogenic fires played a central role in shaping the forest structure, especially after the transition from a hunting and gathering economy to one based on swidden agricultural practices….

    …With the hundreds of accounts penned by early observers we have no problem accepting the purposeful use of fire by American Indians for a multitude of purposes during the historic era. In fact, it is generally agreed that Native Americans had a sophisticated knowledge of the use of fire (Patterson and Sassaman 1988)….

    One of the specific goals of the excavations was to address how human cultural disturbance, especially early horticultural practices affected or altered the local environment.

    The careful excavation of the complex cultural layers at Cloudsplitter provided a 9000-year record of human habitation and interaction with their local environments. At the time of initial occupation the shelter circa 7,000 B.C. the people were faced with a still-evolving postglacial landscape where a dense stand of hemlock shielded the front of the overhang. Today, the mature hemlock first occurs midway down the slope from the site. However, by 1,000 B.C. the deposits of Cloudsplitter, like Newt Kash began to reveal anthropogenic modifications of the local floristic communities. Non-economic plant remains recovered from the Late Archaic deposits (circa 1,000 B.C.) which are indicative of a fringe environment in an otherwise closed canopy forest led Cowan (1985:330-343) to speculate that areas within the immediate vicinity of the shelter had been cleared away. The several cultivars recovered from the Late Archaic deposits including squash (Cucurbita pepo), gourd (Lagenaria siceria), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), and goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri) probably reflects upland garden plots within the clearings (Ison 1991)….

    …Slash and burn agriculture along the Cumberland Escarpment, which had its beginnings over 3000 years ago was a common practice for farming the hill slopes well into the current century (Otto 1983)….

    Interval 9500 to 7300 Years Before Present.
    During the early Holocene interval the forests near Cliff Palace Pond were composed of cool-temperate to boreal trees…

    During this period the native people are becoming less nomadic and more territorial. Although they tended to live for longer periods of time in one place, they were still nomadic peoples, never staying in one place longer than a few months. Their camps were placed within areas rich in a variety of natural resources. Anthropogenic fires were used primarily for game drives.

    Interval 7300 to 4800 Years Before Present
    …Although this is a time of increased moisture, the total values for fire-tolerant taxa range from 8 to 25 percent. The range of fire-intolerant taxa with a range between 16 to 31 percent shows a slight decrease. These differences are thought to reflect the steady increasing Native American populations’ continued use of fire to promote hunting and foraging…..

    Interval 4800 to 3000 years Before Present.
    Coincident with the hemlock decline is a large peak in the charcoal accumulation rates at Cliff Palace Pond indicating a major fire event. Following the hemlock decline and the catastrophic fire, extensive stands of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) were established on Keener Point. Cedar pollen dominates the pollen assemblage at 80 percent, with oaks persisting at 3 to 6 percent and ahs at 5 percent. Fire-tolerant trees and shrubs decrease to a minimum of 2 percent, whereas fire-intolerant taxa increase to a maximum of 82 percent. [A massive fire gave everyone a good scare??? GC]

    Interval 3000 to 200 years Before Present.
    Paradoxically, during the Late Holocence time of climatic cooling and increased participation, the forest on and around Keener Point was dominated by fire-adapted taxa. The overall values for fire-tolerant woody plants increase up to 82 percent, while fire-intolerant trees and shrubs diminish to less tan 5 percent. This complete shift in forest composition is considered to have been brought about in large part to Native Americans bringing several plants under domestication. The charcoal record for this interval shows a steady increase… This is in line with the slash and burn agriculture techniques that would have been employed by the prehistoric framers to clear their upland garden plots.

    In using fire for hunting, human groups changed the land they inhabited – at first perhaps inadvertently, and later deliberately.

    Goudsblom, Johan. Fire and Civilization. Allen Lane: The Penguin Press, 1992.

    A cleared area attracts deer and makes them easier to see and kill. (I have a herd of about 8 chomping on my newly planted grass at dusk every night.)

  30. Really interesting, and the east to west scenario makes a lot more sense. Particularly when you take into account the later history of the United States. Russia sold Alaska, they never really moved south or west.

    For who hadn’t really thought much about it, it seemed as if the land bridge “story” was an accomplished fact. Just goes to show that I should have looked at all the facts before accepting just what I was told.

    Two other quick things. Came here as a result of your “pacifist” article being re-blogged so I thought I’d give credit, as well as mention I had just made a similar point in an article published by another WP blogger. No biggy there, just ended up finding this more interesting.

    The second, and larger point to me, was to wonder why the politicization of the issue? I don’t see this as an indictment of Europeans, regardless of time period, and was wondering why you did.


  31. glenndc says:

    Mr. Smith, apropos of your recent post on red-headed pharoahs… Honi soit qui mal y pense!

  32. jamm says:

    When I read that a number of explorers, as well as the Icelandic sagas, mentioned “Indians” who looked European, I began looking online for photos of my own people, the Oneida. I have long wondered why my great-grandmother looked entirely European while her children and grandchildren looked Indian. Here it is in a nutshell.

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