by Dorthea Calverley
For many years, almost nobody except the Indians has questioned the theory that man entered the Americas by way of the Bering Strait during the existence of the land bridge [Beringia] between Asia and North America during the last glaciation.
Many India tribes maintain a strong belief that “We were always here! We didn’t ‘come from’ anyplace else.” They have recently found an outspoken champion for their conviction in archeologist Jefferey Goodman in his book, American Genesis (1981).
Goodman’s book supports two claims that natives have put forward — first, the claim that they were the first men on the western continents, and that the Amerinds took human culture to Asia. The book also argues that the Amerind culture is older than that of either Africa or Europe. It may be a revolutionary concept!
Almost simultaneously a book, The Making of Mankind, was written by Richard Leakey, the son of Louis Leakey who, in 1957, had done the spade work in the Olduvai Gorge which inspired the sensational book, African Genesis.
These volumes belong on the reference shelf for the [local] history project; History is Where You Stand. Alongside these books is the 1969 Pulitzer Prize-winning So Human an Animal by Rene Dubos, a renowned microbiologist of the Rockefeller University. He wrote, a couple of decades ago, “In any case one can surmise that man entered the North American continent form Northern Asia over the Bering Strait during the last glaciation.”
Now, in the early 1980s, comes the public announcement that “Canadian finds in the Old Crow Basin [of the] Yukon Territory force the history of Homo sapiens to be rewritten, and spark one of the hottest archeological debates in [recent] history.”
Barry Eastabrook, reporting in Equinox magazine (March 1982) on the work of paleobiologist Richard Harrington and his native field assistant Peter Lord, says that “work on the Old Crow [river] produced a flood of archeological evidence which has nearly inundated the so-called Clovis theory about how humans first migrated to the New World only 12,000 years ago.”
Among the finds were undisturbed man-worked bone tools which are 80,000 years old, and which have given the language of paleontology a new term, Bone Age Man.
Nothing in the foregoing changes the theory that the Athapaskan speakers entered America from Asia by the Bering Strait land-bridge and spread by way of the ice-free corridor [along the east flank of the Rockies] into the interior part of the continent from 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. This still allows the Navajo and Kiowa Apache to reach the southwestern United States.
Dr. Knute Fladmark (Simon Fraser University), who excavated old Fort St. John and Yale’s House near Fort St. John, has said that “Known distribution of early archeological sites in the New World does not match that expected from an initial population from the Bering route”, and “champions the idea of a coastal entry for man … and earlier dates.” (Goodman, 1981, p.45). However, Goodman says “his argument … is not scientifically satisfying.”
In the next decades, all of our present theories about the origins of our contemporary Indians may be again outdated.