Tag: Native Americans

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Scientists confirm world’s oldest natural mummy is Native American ancestor.

Scientists confirm world’s oldest natural mummy is Native American ancestor.

Researchers recently concluded that a 10,000-year-old skeleton in Nevada, believed to belong to the world’s oldest naturally preserved mummy, represents that of an ancestor of a modern-day Native American tribe.

According to SlashGear, the so-called “Spirit Cave mummy” was originally thought to be the skeleton of an individual that belonged to the “Paleoamerican” group that predated Native Americans in North America. However, that theory was disproven by the scientists behind the new research, who extracted DNA from the prehistoric skull and concluded, based on analysis of the DNA, that the mummy was actually an ancestor of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe in Nevada.

A report from the Guardian further noted that the Spirit Cave mummy, which was first discovered in 1940, was the skeleton of an adult male who died at around 40-years-old. The individual, who was wearing moccasins at the time he was buried, was wrapped in reed mats and a rabbit-skin blanket. The research on the mummy was conducted with the assistance and approval of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe, which reburied the skeleton this summer after a “decades-long legal dispute” with scientists over whether it should be kept in a museum or given a proper reburial.

“[It] confirms what we have always known from our oral tradition and other evidence – that the man taken from his final resting place in Spirit Cave is our Native American ancestor,” the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe said in a statement.

University of Cambridge evolutionary geneticist Eske Willerslev, who led the team that performed DNA sequencing on the Spirit Cave mummy, attended the reburial ceremony earlier this year and recalled to the Guardian that there was a lot of “crying, singing, and prayers” involved, as well as the placing of farewell gifts. He described the experience as being similarly emotional as burying a close relative, even if the mummy was originally buried about 10,000 years ago.

Willerslev also said that his team’s analysis proved that it’s too simplistic to base ancestry on the shape of one’s skull, given that the aforementioned theory that the Spirit Cave mummy was Paleoamerican was based on how its skull had a different shape than that of Native Americans.

“Looking at the bumps and shapes of a head does not help you understand the true genetic ancestry of a population – we have proved that you can have people who look very different but are closely related.”

The above research was part of a broader, multinational project on the ancestry of modern-day North and South Americans, which was documented in separate studies published in the journals Science, Science Advances, and Cell. Aside from determining that the world’s oldest natural mummy shares DNA with an existing Native American tribe, the project also revealed that there were two migrations into South America that were not documented in previous studies.

Likewise, the researchers discovered some proof of Australasian ancestry in native South Americans, but found no such traces in native North Americans. Both the Guardian and SlashGear pointed out that this could suggest modern humans arrived in the Americas about 30,000 years ago, far earlier than originally thought.

Read on . . .

Source: Scientists Confirm World’s Oldest Natural Mummy Is Native American Ancestor

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Study reveals common ancestry for all Native Americans.

Study reveals common ancestry for all Native Americans.

The indigenous people of North and South America are collectively known as Native Americans. Despite the European invasion occurring several centuries ago, Native Americans are still subjugated and are yet to find a voice of their own.

One of the reasons for that is a lack of scientific evidence that manages to bring forth their cultural heritage and upbringing in front of the world. While previous anthropologic studies have focused on the timing and number of initial migrations, the subsequent spread of people within the two continents have garnered lesser attention.

As scientists could only describe the peopling of the Americas in broad strokes, plenty of mysteries regarding when and how they spread across still remains a mystery – and is critical to understand their historical lineage.

Two independent studies, one being published in the journal Science and the other in Cell, have sequenced 15 and 49 ancient human genomes, dating back around 10,000 years. Prior to these studies, only six genomes older than 6000 years from the Americas had been sequenced, leading to oversimplification of genetic models that were used to explain the peopling of the Americas.

The genomes of the current study spanned from Alaska in North America to Patagonia in South America. The teams worked with government agencies and indigenous people to identify the samples, extract powder from skeletal material, and extract the DNA necessary to create double-stranded DNA libraries.

The results from the genome sequencing have spawned some very interesting results. The study published in Science, called “Early Humans dispersals within the Americas”, provides evidence of rapid dispersal and early diversification as people moved south, as early as 13,000 years ago. The study sequenced an “Ancient Beringian,” a 9000-year-old remains from Alaska’s Seward peninsula to come to the conclusion that first migrants that entered the Americas from the Bearing strait split into two groups – “Southern Native Americans” and “Northern Native Americans” (also sometimes called Ancestral A and B lineages), who went on to populate the continents . . .

Read on . . .

Source: Study Reveals Common Ancestry for all Native Americans

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Indian slavery once thrived in New Mexico. Latinos are finding family ties to it. | The New York Times

Indian slavery once thrived in New Mexico. Latinos are finding family ties to it. | The New York Times

 

Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.

 

“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker who lives in Los Angeles. “Then I discovered how slavery was a defining feature of my family’s history.”

 

Mr. Trujillo is one of many Latinos who are finding ancestral connections to a flourishing slave trade on the blood-soaked frontier now known as the American Southwest. Their captive forebears were Native Americans — slaves frequently known as Genízaros (pronounced heh-NEE-sah-ros) who were sold to Hispanic families when the region was under Spanish control from the 16th to 19th centuries. Many Indian slaves remained in bondage when Mexico and later the United States governed New Mexico.

The revelations have prompted some painful personal reckonings over identity and heritage. But they have also fueled a larger, politically charged debate on what it means to be Hispanic and Native American.

A growing number of Latinos who have made such discoveries are embracing their indigenous backgrounds, challenging a long tradition in New Mexico in which families prize Spanish ancestry. Some are starting to identify as Genízaros. Historians estimate that Genízaros accounted for as much as one-third of New Mexico’s population of 29,000 in the late 18th century.

Photo

Floyd E. Trujillo, 83, right, swabbed the inside of his mouth for a DNA sample as his son Virgil spoke with Miguel A. Tórrez, a genealogist. Credit Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

“We’re discovering things that complicate the hell out of our history, demanding that we reject the myths we’ve been taught,” said Gregorio Gonzáles, 29, an anthropologist and self-described Genízaro who writes about the legacies of Indian enslavement.

Those legacies were born of a tortuous story of colonial conquest and forced assimilation.

New Mexico, which had the largest number of sedentary Indians north of central Mexico, emerged as a coveted domain for slavers almost as soon as the Spanish began settling here in the 16th century, according to Andrés Reséndez, a historian who details the trade in his 2016 book, “The Other Slavery.” Colonists initially took local Pueblo Indians as slaves, leading to an uprising in 1680 that temporarily pushed the Spanish out of New Mexico.

The trade then evolved to include not just Hispanic traffickers but horse-mounted Comanche and Ute warriors, who raided the settlements of Apache, Kiowa, Jumano, Pawnee and other peoples. They took captives, many of them children plucked from their homes, and sold them at auctions in village plazas.

The Spanish crown tried to prohibit slavery in its colonies, but traffickers often circumvented the ban by labeling their captives in parish records as criados, or servants. The trade endured even decades after the Mexican-American War, when the United States took control of much of the Southwest in the 1840s.

Seeking to strengthen the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, Congress passed the Peonage Act of 1867 after learning of propertied New Mexicans owning hundreds and perhaps thousands of Indian slaves, mainly Navajo women and children. But scholars say the measure, which specifically targeted New Mexico, did little for many slaves in the territory.

Many Hispanic families in New Mexico have long known that they had indigenous ancestry, even though some here still call themselves “Spanish” to emphasize their Iberian ties and to differentiate themselves from the state’s 23 federally recognized tribes, as well as from Mexican and other Latin American immigrants.

Photo

Brienna Martinez performed the Matachines dance in Alcalde, N.M. Credit Adria Malcolm for The New York Times

But genetic testing is offering a glimpse into a more complex story. The DNA of Hispanic people from New Mexico is often in the range of 30 to 40 percent Native American, according to Miguel A. Tórrez, 42, a research technologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of New Mexico’s most prominent genealogists.

Read on . . .

Source: Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It. – The New York Times

 

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Genetics rewrites the history of early america – and, maybe, the field of archaeology | Smithsonian

Genetics rewrites the history of early america – and, maybe, the field of archaeology | Smithsonian

 

The story of how Homo sapiens spread from Africa to the rest of the world is a tangled epic, full of false starts and dead ends. Yet perhaps nowhere is the puzzle more difficult than in the Americas, two landmasses divided from the rest of the world by two huge oceans. Zoom out, though, and you’ll see that isolation has only been imposed for the last 11,000 years; before then, a narrow land bridge called Beringia stretched between Siberia and Alaska, providing an icy highway for travelers.

This week, scientists reported explosive new findings on the genetic story of one of those ancient travelers: an infant girl named Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay by the local indigenous people, who lived for a brief time 11,500 years ago in an Alaskan community now called Upward Sun River. The infant’s genome has the power to rewrite what we know about the human journey into North America—and in doing so, points to the larger genetic revolution that is reshaping the field of archaeology.

For decades, archaeologists have hypothesized that humans entered the Americas from Asia using Beringia (the first man to suggest the existence of a land bridge was actually a 16th-century Spanish missionary named Fray Jose de Acosta). But even as more sites of occupation were discovered in Siberia and Alaska, pointing to human occupation and the movement from west to east, questions remained. When exactly did the migration happen, and how did it happen? In one wave, or many?

In January 2017, researchers at the Canadian Museum of History concluded that a horse jawbone found in the Bluefish Caves of the Yukon bore human markings from 24,000 years ago, meaning that early Americans had settled here by 22,000 BC. That would push back the date of human occupation in North America by 10,000 years. But those findings—like so many in this field—proved controversial, and haven’t been universally accepted by the archaeology community.

The new report on Xach’itee’aanenh T’eede Gaay complicates this narrative further. While she may be “just” 11,500 years old, she provides incontrovertible evidence for the timing of human migration.

Read on . . .

 

Source: Genetics rewrites the history of early america – and, maybe, the field of archaeology | Smithsonian

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