Manual The Archaeological Northeast (Native Peoples of the Americas)

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The boy's remains and the artifacts were uncovered by a tractor moving earth. Over subsequent years, portions of the collection were sent to various scientific groups for study across the United States.

Native Americans Have Actually Been There Since the Beginning, Say Archaeologists

For decades, Native Americans were outraged by what they see as disrespectful treatment of remains -- their link to "the ancient ones" -- which were displayed in museums and shipped around like baggage. They fought tenaciously for their rights, earning in a federal law allowing for repatriation of human remains along with funerary artifacts. However, the legislation only affected finds from government-owned land. The Montana boy's bones were found on private land.

Thus it was up to the Anzick family to make the only known Clovis bones available to scientists for DNA sequencing. Such genetic analysis of Native American bones is highly controversial. It is a sacrilege to some. Others fear it could link their ancestors to Europeans, as this study has done.


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And some worried it could be misused in tribal disputes over who shares in the economic bounty from casinos that operate on the sovereign reservations. An ongoing federal court case shows just how explosive the issue is. University of California archeologists are fighting for the right to conduct DNA analysis on a pair of 9, year-old skeletons found on the San Diego campus.

If the scientists lose the case, many such human remains could be repatriated to the tribes. The sequencing plans first materialized when Willerslev took on the project four years ago.

In addition to being a renowned authority in decoding ancient DNA, Willerslev also has experience in negotiating with indigenous peoples on such sensitive projects. This enabled him to show that Australia's original inhabitants descended from peoples who had left Africa a full 70, years ago. Willerslev sought Aboriginal leaders' permission to publish the results. He remembers arriving in the Outback after a long drive, exasperated by his driver's assertions' that he would not get consent. After meeting Aborigine leaders, Willerslev won their endorsement for publication, even securing a written proclamation from the governing council.

American Indian culture of the Northeast

After starting the Clovis project about four years ago, Willerslev and colleagues planned to follow the same course and seek permission from Montana tribes for publication. The first meeting was organized by year-old Montana archeologist Larry Lahren, who has helped the Anzicks to look after their collection for decades. He knew well the sensitivities, too. It was always white man's rule," he said. On a blue-sky September afternoon last year, the scientists finally were to meet Doyle of the nearby Crow Nation.

Willerslev and some members of his team waited anxiously on the Anzick ranch for Doyle to arrive. Doyle knew nothing about the bones, but from the hill he could point to landmarks of more than a century of his family's history. While Doyle grew up amid poverty on the Crow reservation, he now has a doctorate and teaches at Montana State University in Bozeman.

Gathered at the burial site, Willerslev revealed the team's results: the remains' age, the boy's ancestry to native tribes of the Americas and the links to Siberia and Europe. Doyle's reaction would determine whether or not Willerslev's study could be published or not because the scientist had promised to destroy it if he didn't obtain permission.

After learning the results, Doyle was emotionally overcome. But then, with the tension relaxed, he joked with Willerslev about wondering if he would be told he himself was of Danish ancestry. Finally Doyle proclaimed: "This boy is my cousin. Doyle fetched a drum from his van, conducted a short ceremony and sang to his newfound relative. Afterward, Doyle agreed to introduce Willerslev to the other Montana tribes, with the group setting off that week for reservation visits.

As a result of these discussions, plans are underway to rebury the bones at their discovery site on the Anzick ranch. There also is to be a roadside monument for all Native Americans to visit -- just like the white man's cemetery across the highway in the tiny hamlet of Wilsall. Rex Dalton. Related internet links. Related Topics. Discuss this issue with other readers! Show all comments Page 1.

Native American ethnic and political diversity

In recent years, perfectly preserved bodies including brain matter of over individuals were found in a bog in Florida, USA. Genetic and age testing indicates the bodies are Europeans that predate the immigration of the [ Genetic and age testing indicates the bodies are Europeans that predate the immigration of the Clovis' peoples timelines by thousands of years.

The implications of this are quite interesting. Forensic archeologists are split on this. You might view the program on this link. It's speculative, but interesting.

We all have links to one another if one goes back far enough, as we are all human. Researchers have simply found more detailed evidence this. Likewise, Spanish conquistadors were engaged in a fundamentally different kind of colonial enterprise than were their counterparts from France or England. The sections below consider broad trends in Native American history from the late 15th century to the late 20th century. More-recent events are considered in the final part of this article, Developments in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Scholarly estimates of the pre-Columbian population of Northern America have differed by millions of individuals: the lowest credible approximations propose that some , people lived north of the Rio Grande in , and the highest posit some 18,, In anthropologist James Mooney undertook the first thorough investigation of the problem.

He estimated the precontact population density of each culture area based on historical accounts and carrying capacity , an estimate of the number of people who could be supported by a given form of subsistence. Mooney concluded that approximately 1,, individuals lived in Northern America at the time of Columbian landfall. In A.

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In ethnohistorian Henry Dobyns estimated that there were between 9,, and 12,, people north of the Rio Grande before contact; in he revised that number upward to 18,, people. Dobyns was among the first scholars to seriously consider the effects of epidemic diseases on indigenous demographic change. He noted that, during the reliably recorded epidemics of the 19th century, introduced diseases such as smallpox had combined with various secondary effects i.

He then used this and other information to calculate from early census data backward to probable founding populations. Some of his critics fault Dobyns for the disjunctions between physical evidence and his results, as when the number of houses archaeologists find at a site suggests a smaller population than do his models of demographic recovery. Others, including the historian David Henige, criticize some of the assumptions Dobyns made in his analyses.

For instance, many early fur traders noted the approximate number of warriors fielded by a tribe but neglected to mention the size of the general population. This group notes that severe epidemics of European diseases may have begun in North America in the late 10th or early 11th century, when the Norse briefly settled a region they called Vinland. Yet another group of demographers protest that an emphasis on population loss obscures the resilience shown by indigenous peoples in the face of conquest. Most common, however, is a middle position that acknowledges that demographic models of 15th-century Native America must be treated with caution, while also accepting that the direct and indirect effects of the European conquest included extraordinary levels of indigenous mortality not only from introduced diseases but also from battles, slave raids, and—for those displaced by these events—starvation and exposure.

This perspective acknowledges both the resiliency of Native American peoples and cultures and the suffering they bore. Determining the number of ethnic and political groups in pre-Columbian Northern America is also problematic, not least because definitions of what constitutes an ethnic group or a polity vary with the questions one seeks to answer. Ethnicity is most frequently equated with some aspect of language , while social or political organization can occur on a number of scales simultaneously.

Thus, a given set of people might be defined as an ethnic group through their use of a common dialect or language even as they are recognized as members of nested polities such as a clan , a village, and a confederation. Other factors, including geographic boundaries, a subsistence base that emphasized either foraging or farming, the presence or absence of a social or religious hierarchy , and the inclinations of colonial bureaucrats , among others, also affected ethnic and political classification; see Sidebar: The Difference Between a Tribe and a Band.

The cross-cutting relationships between ethnicity and political organization are complex today and were equally so in the past.

No 'lost tribes' or aliens: what ancient DNA reveals about American prehistory

And both the hypothetical Germanic speaker and the hypothetical Iroquoian speaker live or lived in nested polities or quasi-polities: families, neighbourhoods, towns, regions, and so forth, each of which has or had some level of autonomy in its dealings with the outside world. Recognizing that it is difficult to determine precisely how many ethnic or political groups or polities were present in 15th-century Northern America, most researchers favour relative rather than specific quantification of these entities.

Arkansas's First People

The outstanding characteristic of North American Indian languages is their diversity—at contact Northern America was home to more than 50 language families comprising between and languages. At the same moment in history, western Europe had only 2 language families Indo-European and Uralic and between 40 and 70 languages.

In other words, if one follows scholarly conventions and defines ethnicity through language, Native America was vastly more diverse than Europe.


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Politically , most indigenous American groups used consensus-based forms of organization. In such systems, leaders rose in response to a particular need rather than gaining some fixed degree of power. The Southeast Indians and the Northwest Coast Indians were exceptions to this general rule, as they most frequently lived in hierarchical societies with a clear chiefly class. Regardless of the form of organization, however, indigenous American polities were quite independent when compared with European communities of similar size.