Bering Strait – nowadays

The accepted theory for decades. The logic escaped those who crave alternatives – including the inevitable small arrivals of adventurers from Polynesia becoming predominant.

Did a relatively small number of people from Siberia who trekked across a Bering Strait land bridge some 12,000 years ago give rise to the native peoples of North and South America?…

University of Michigan scientists…have produced new genetic evidence that’s likely to hearten proponents of the land bridge theory. The study is one of the most comprehensive analyses so far among efforts to use genetic data to shed light on the topic.

The researchers examined genetic variation at 678 key locations or markers in the DNA of present-day members of 29 Native American populations across North, Central and South America. They also analyzed data from two Siberian groups. The analysis shows:

* genetic diversity, as well as genetic similarity to the Siberian groups, decreases the farther a native population is from the Bering Strait – adding to existing archaeological and genetic evidence that the ancestors of native North and South Americans came by the northwest route.

* a unique genetic variant is widespread in Native Americans across both American continents – suggesting that the first humans in the Americas came in a single migration or multiple waves from a single source, not in waves of migrations from different sources. The variant, which is not part of a gene and has no biological function, has not been found in genetic studies of people elsewhere in the world except eastern Siberia.

A collateral discovery that I find interesting from my interest in the etymology of ethnology is that groups that are similar genetically turned out to be linguistically similar.



  1. cheese says:

    genetic diversity, as well as genetic similarity to the Siberian groups, decreases the farther a native population is from the Bering Strait – adding to existing archaeological and genetic evidence that the ancestors of native North and South Americans came by the northwest route.

    This study clearly ignores Native written and oral history of the Odjibwe in Canada and North America which talks about a migration from a great sea where the sun rises — which is in the East.

    Is it not possible that a migration of Siberians came over and JOINED existing tribes in America at some point in time, much like Europeans have done?

  2. Personality says:

    This is a ‘No Shit Sherlock’ study. People still find this hard to believe? Just look at photos of Siberians, Eskimos and Indians. They all look like brothers.

  3. moss says:

    Oral history means as little as religious script when it gets more than a few generations back.

    When I lived in the Navajo Nation, it was only amusing to listen to the Legend of Spider Woman – when the introduction of weaving to the region by conquering Spaniards is thoroughly documented.

    Sorry, folks. I’ll take genetic tracks over my friendly neighborhood shaman.

  4. ArianeB says:

    “A collateral discovery that I find interesting from my interest in the etymology of ethnology is that groups that are similar genetically turned out to be linguistically similar.”

    Which is why some theorize at least two bering strait migrations. The Dineh natives of western Canada, who also include the Navajo and Apaches of Arizona have distinctually different language than the rest of the American tribes. They are also closer tied genetically to the Siberian people than other American tribes as well.

  5. Frank IBC says:

    I’ve heard there were three waves of migration (starting with the most recent):

    -Inuit (Eskimos) and Aleuts
    -Athabaskan Tribes of northern Canada, Navajo, Apache
    -All other Native American tribes

    The second group has been tied to the Ket tribe of the Yenesey valley of central Siberia.

  6. gquaglia says:

    I never understood why they called them Native Americans, when they are no more native to this land then the Europeans are. Maybe “first Americans” or “first ones” would be more appropriate.

  7. jdm says:

    The linguistic link between the languages of the American Indians and the indigenous people of Central Asia was establish back in 1984 by Dr. Otto J. von Sadovsky. He created a glottochronology using the languages of the Miwok Indians of Northern California and the Vogul- and Ostyak-speaking tribesmen east of the Ural Mountains in Siberia. Sadovsky’s findings showed such a strong linguistic correlation as to indicate these two people would have been able to understand the other’s language. The finding also seem to indicate the Miwok arrived in NoCal 3000 years ago and after a 30-year migration, but this cannot be conclusively verified.

  8. Phillep says:

    “Migration” is somewhat misunderstood. People did not decide to pack up and “go thataway” as far as they could, they just spread into country that had something they wanted or lacked something they wished to avoid (like hostile neighbors). So, the Siberians simply moved camps onto the Bering see land bridge, and some more moved camps a bit further, and some more a bit further, and so on. So, there could have been several tribes moving along, more or less at the same time.

    Similarly, horses (native to the US) did not all decide to pack up their oats and head for Siberia, leaving none behind. Some just spread into new range as it opened, and those that did not move, eventually died out.

    Yeah, this stuff should be obvious, but I keep running into people who have not realized it.

    (Why call them “Native Americans”? Butt kissing, mainly, like replacing “Negro”, a “white man” word, with “African-American”, two “white man” words. Dumb.)

  9. This addresses only the circa 12000 yrs ago migration. There is strong scientific evidence for earlier arrivals. The strongest one is also supported by the DNA evidence. First arrivals by that theory came by about 40000 yrs ago from the south and have great genetic links to the Australian aborigine people. “New” native-americans arrived indeed about 12000 yrs ago from north and (by archaeological evidence) violently pushed previous inhabitants all the way South. Descendants of the initial inhabitants can be found (with their DNA matching 12000-40000 old remains and Australian natives genes) down on Tierra del Fuego. Theoretically even earlier arrivals are possible, just it is hard to find their traces.

  10. Though, as pointed out, this is sort of a duh, there have been many sites that have been dated, albeit not that reliably, to much earlier times. I think a study like this is important as an independent and less disputable confirmation of the events, in this case, coinciding with the main stream view. Either result would have been extremely interesting. It’s good to have a bit more definite answer than we’ve had previously.

    Of course, there is still the possibility of an earlier crossing that left no survivors. This seems unlikely though. Unlike Easter Island, Greenland, and some other remote locations, there would have been sufficient resources here for an earlier settlement to survive, even if cut off from their culture.

    #7 – gquaglia,

    Excellent point. All of us here in the Americas are African American. The rest are African Europeans, African Asians, African Polynesians, African Australians, etc., and just plain Africans. Yes. We are native to only one continent, Africa. Elsewhere, we are an introduced species, and a highly invasive one at that.

  11. cheese says:

    #11: Thank you. This is what I was trying to say.

    #10: I’m inclined to think a civilization whose existence in an area can be traced over 7,000 years can safely be called Native. I’m also inclined to think a group who thought they had found India does not warrant the same privilege.

    #12. Well said.

  12. Frank IBC says:

    Similarly, horses (native to the US) did not all decide to pack up their oats and head for Siberia, leaving none behind.

    You are misinformed, Phillep. Horses originated in the steppes of what is now the Ukraine and southern Russia. Horses did not enter “the New World” until the European colonists brought them over.

    I never understood why they called them Native Americans, when they are no more native to this land then the Europeans are. Maybe “first Americans” or “first ones” would be more appropriate.

    The Canadians use the term “First Nations”. That seems like a good idea. (Especially considering that “America” was not actually called “America” until many years after Columbus.

  13. MikeN says:

    So why’d they leave, and why’s they want to go THERE?

    And where’d this land bridge come from? Was this also global warming?

  14. DeLeMa says:

    I’d have to side with the skeptics on this one. Kennewick mans’ data hasn’t been completely published, at least, I haven’t read anything as regards his genetic history to date. He’s purported to have “arrived” here around 20 to 30 K ago. Dunno, just never believed you should hang “native” on any one group unless it’s a bunch of monkeys ?

  15. #14 – Frank IBC,

    Minor correction about horses. Horses evolved in North America. Some crossed the land bridge to Siberia at the same time as people were crossing into North America from Siberia.

    Once the transfer was made, the people that migrated to North America proceeded to eat all of the horses into extinction within North America. In the steppes, they were instead domesticated and used as nature’s battle tank for many generations.

    Years later when Europeans came to North America via the ocean, for the second time, the committed a huge genocide on the earlier immigrants and brought back the horse for reintroduction to its native continent.

  16. Angel H. Wong says:

    And then of course came the christians and screwed things up.

  17. acer says:

    # 17 Misanthropic Scott said, on December 1st, 2007 at 10:01 am

    #14 – Frank IBC,

    Minor correction about horses. Horses evolved in North America. Some crossed the land bridge to Siberia at the same time as people were crossing into North America from Siberia.

    Once the transfer was made, the people that migrated to North America proceeded to eat all of the horses into extinction within North America. In the steppes, they were instead domesticated and used as nature’s battle tank for many generations.

  18. laptop-battery says:

    it seems right . Minor correction about horses. Horses evolved in North America. Some crossed the land bridge to Siberia at the same time as people were crossing into North America from Siberia.

    Once the transfer was made, the people that migrated to North America proceeded to eat all of the horses into extinction within North America. In the steppes, they were instead domesticated and used as nature’s battle tank for many generations.

  19. Mary Mekko says:

    Why is it so alarming to find out that one’s people came from a place further back? I think that the Irish know their ancestors, the Celts, came from East of the Urals, some 4000 or more years ago, then pushed to the edge of Europe. I cannot really grasp that the local natives of the USA and CAnada would NOT want to know their origins and long-lost “cousins”, out of sheer curiosity. Why such obstinate resistance? In my tourbus business in San Francisco, I meet people from all over the world. Yesterday’s computer-conference group had one Southern lady, spit and image of a classic Japanese painting – she was very overweight but her face was beautiful. I asked her if she were part Japanese. She said, “No, I’m a white Southerner!” with a quite offended tone. Later I thought about it= she was probably part American Indian far back, but her family had obliterated any records or discussion of it. Japanese people themselves also descend from Mongolia and Siberia, so no wonder! But yes, she was “white” (VERY pale!), only Asian.


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