Over the entire week I have languished over what to write, or whether to write anything, about the inaccurate and downright false material found in the two Rez newspapers this past week. Sometimes it simply gets discouraging to those of us who value reason, rational though, and firm evidence over stories and beliefs to deal with the constant stream of misinformation. The decision here is to review, in two postings, one article from each newspaper.
An article in Two Row Times (15 June, 2016, p.4) entitled, 100,000 year old stone tools found in Haldimand, the author maintains that the Ancestors of Aboriginal People in the Americas Have Been Here for 80,000 years more than scientific research has revealed, and furthermore, the ancestors did not come across the Bering Strait during the last Ice Age (the theory that has thousands of peer reviewed articles in multiple disciplines behind it). Where do I start.
The finding of some rocks with a red patina at a quarry near Hagersville seems to have ignited the same folks who believe we have been visited by extra terrestrials in the distant past - and have brought up the "ancient oral histories" sacred cow. Bunk. No evidence. Almost no one at Six Nations even knows (for sure) their true (direct maternal line) clan, the knowledge has been forgotten in 100 years, yet somehow there are memories of 100,000 years ago that can be relied upon?
While I do respect the amateur archaeologist and others (very few) who would give credence to the longevity of Aboriginals in say Canada based on the geology, there is no evidence that these are tools worked by human beings, and there is no evidence as to the age of these artifacts except very indirect. The claim is they are human made artifacts and are about 100,000 years old, the entire foundation of this belief, is not based on evidence but belief and coincidence. In truth, it is much easier to believe that these "artifacts" are simply part of the quarry debris, or that someone brought these unusual stones from say Europe as "curios" and later generations saw them as junk and tossed them out.
Just as an example of how unrealistic this "evidence" is, all scientists agree that just over 10,000 years ago a glacier over a mile high stood over where Hagersville is today, having scoured the entire surface of the landscape and pushed it south, and extended all the way down to just north of the Meadowcroft site in Pennsylvania. The latter, which has seen a lot of skeptics in the academic world, is now largely accepted as one of the two earliest sites of man in the Americas, being occupied sometime between 16,000 and 19,000 years ago (click here). The other ancient site is in South America, specifically Monte Verde in Chile radiocarbon dated to about 18,500 years before present (click here). Both are now gaining acceptance even from the most ardent skeptic.
Interest in a really really ancient American has been around for quite a while, and even an archaeologist with the impeccable reputation of Dr. Louis B. Leakey was quite interested in a quarry site in Calico California where some of the rocks dating back 500,000 years looked as if they may have been "worked" by man (click here). Alas, these were later shown to be simply naturally cracked rocks and by chance some mimicked what you would expect if a human were to have worked it.
It reminds me of other attempts to discount the Asian origins of Native Americans - such as those who believe in the Solutrean Hypothesis (click here). A single spear head was supposedly trawled up with a Mastadon skull (long extinct "hairy elephant"). Authors such as Bradley and Stanford assert that the spear point is almost identical to the Solutrean assemblages (e.g., 21,000 years old) from what are today France and Spain. Thus, the theory goes, mankind somehow managed to cross thousands of miles of frozen ocean or pack ice (there being no flint sources in between is somehow overlooked) to make Europeans the first Native Americans (or at least joining those coming in from Beringia) - thereby of course enhancing the European primacy factor and "explaining" how structures as complex as Mayan temples could be constructed (as if "true" Native Americans were incapable of such feats - if this is not racist, I don't know what is). Recent attempts to re examine the original artifacts allegedly supporting this hypothesis, and to determine their provenance, have not proven successful.
So, in the world of today with far more sophisticated tools of analysis, these rather crude looking stones today can be dismissed due to evidence that is infinitely more persuasive. For example the major advances in population genetics in the last 15 years tell a clear and coherent story. It is now known from North American populations of today and ancient DNA samples such as the Kennewick Man from the State of Washington and the even earlier Anzick, Clovis Era boy whose remains are about 12,500 years old, as well as the even earlier Mal'ta fossil from Siberia (see here), that the people living today in all the Americas are descendants of immigrants from Northern Asia and Eastern Asia circa 20,000 years ago. People today share the same DNA signatures as the above ancient fossils (whose DNA has been sequenced) and also share these with the people of Eastern Siberia. Most "Native Americans" descend from a small group of pioneers who came across the Bering Strait when it was above water. The ancestors of the Athabaskans appear to be later arrivals. Furthermore, the descendants of the Inuit came much later, after the bridge was long submerged. The data is crystal clear. I have read all of the relevant papers on mitochondrial DNA (direct maternal line), Y-DNA (direct paternal line), as well as the more recent studies on autosomal DNA (22 pairs of chromosomes) - there are no inconsistencies, the evidence could not be more clear. There are still some open questions such as whether there was a contribution from Australasians in the distant past, but with more data that question will likely soon be answered. So Aboriginal people of say Canada are related to Asians, and are aboriginal to that region (depending on one's definition of "aboriginal"). For sources there are numerous Wikipedia articles, or you can try any of the academic ones upon which these are based such as the paper seen here.
It is only if one wishes to take creation myths at face value (e.g., Sky Woman and the back of the turtle) that you can make a pitch for Native Americans having originated here. For those who turn to multi - disciplinary science for answers, we know that myths are just that, and that the weight of evidence shows that all human beings of the past and all those alive today trace their early ancestry to Africa.