Stop labelling theories and hypotheses as fact

The Bering Strait Theory and now the Solutrean Hypothesis are two speculations that need to be put to rest.

The first theory is the idea that the first Native American peoples traveled from Asia to North America across a strip of land connecting the two continents when it was ice-free. The second is the hypothesis that a group of Solutreans traveled across the sea in the same fashion as Christopher Columbus and landed in the American continents, to be later slaughtered by the following Native American ancestors.

The answer as to why modern scientists are putting so much effort forth to discern who the first North American was and not something more useful is beyond me. But the one thing I do know is that no scientist wants to have their life’s work seemingly wasted by being debunked by evidence and fact. That is why these two theories continue to circle about, even though they’ve been proven illegitimate.

Here’s how:

To feed the concept of the Bering Strait, supporters believe that a land bridge emerged and supported the crossing of North American ancestors to the Americas around 15,000 years ago from Asia. They believe that an ice-free corridor opened itself and allowed the groups to migrate over a former 6,000 square mile water body and thus arrive and begin to colonize the Americas.

However, the Americas were already well populated by this time and the concept crosses with the knowledge that it would take several hundred years for the strait to even be able to be used to cross the water body — scraps of ancient DNA extracted using lake sediment cores in British Columbia showed that bison, voles, and jackrabbits didn’t move through until around 12,500 years ago. Researchers also looked at the DNA of northern and southern bison populations and concluded that they did not intermingle until about 13,000 years ago, meaning that this ice-free corridor was blocked until then. There is also proof from the Monte Verde site in Southern Chile that is believed to be 18,500 and 14,500 years old and rich with the existence of early Native Americans. Meanwhile, evidence of early Native Americans hunting mammoth in Florida that reaches back as far as 14,500 years ago.

A critic of the Bering Strait Theory, Dr. Adovasio, noted: “Florida is about as far from the Bering Strait as you can get in North America. If you’ve got people in Florida 14,500 years ago, at the same time they are in so many parts of the Americas, the simplistic notion of a colonization by rapidly moving, late-arriving population is simply false.”

To fuel the Solutrean Hypothesis, supporters compared the spear-heads created by the Clovis, called Clovis points, and the Solutrean spear-heads. Although there has been data that proved human interaction with the Americas even earlier, the Clovis culture is considered to be the oldest identified American culture, thriving around 13,500 years ago. However, the supporters of this hypothesis prompted that the two styles of points were so distinctly similar, that the Clovis must have been Solutrean.

The problem with this “proof” is that Solutreans died out around 18,000 years ago and were succeeded by the Magdalenian in Europe at least 5,000 years before the Clovis culture. As well, the size of the points aren’t equal, the knapping technique is different, and the Solutrean material does not have a fluted base. In other words, the two pieces of tool are not similar in the ways that count. The Solutreans would have also had to cover 3,000 miles of ocean or Arctic pack ice to reach the Americas and nothing about their culture suggests that this was possible.

Before you go and try to poke holes in this, allow me to add that thanks to the work by Morten Rasmussen and the other co-authors published in Nature, the full genome of a 10,600-year-old Clovis person has been mapped and documented. The genetic make-up of this Clovis person proved that Clovis people are genetically very far from the genetics found in Europe and the Near East — this includes the Solutreans.

So, what do these two debunked speculations mean for indigenous people?

The Nature of Things — CBC’s science, wildlife and technology show — is currently under fire for being “incredibly irresponsible” for supporting the idea that Europeans were North America’s first inhabitants through the Solutrean Theory. The main argument for critics is that while the Bering Strait Theory is a favourite for geneticists, the Solutrean Theory has become a favourite of white supremacists — who use the theory to argue that Europeans first colonized North America and therefore have the original titleship to the land. If you’ve read thus far, you are also aware of how unsupported the Solutrean Theory is.

In fact, the Solutrean Hypothesis is considered so toxic and discredited among modern researchers that Director Robin Bicknell could hardly find anyone willing to go on camera, even to say that the theory was wrong. And although the hypothesis has been so heavily proven incredible, the documentary puts focus on mystery which clouds fact with fiction.

Deciding to entertain the ideas in falsehoods to the world about the ancestry of indigenous people just furthers ignorance, separation, and discrimination on both sides.

I mean this earth is not only in our Haudenosaunee languages, but it is considered to be what made our bodies. There are also old stories that tell us that we travelled from the South to the North, and that is one of the reasons why the South is symbolized by a Jaguar in our pictographs. And in our Creation Story we are told that we were molded from the earth of our nations, and shaped by the hands of the one that made our bodies. When we say our nation; “ni’wakohwentsio:ten,” we are saying that the land of that nation “is the earth I am made from.”

In other words, our connection to this earth is not only spiritual but also considered to be genetic. So, if we are made of this earth in our oldest story; there is an undeniable connection and reverence to this earth that is age-old. And in my opinion, whether or not our ancestors came here 10,000 or 15,000 years ago, we still have a deeper relationship to this earth than anyone that came here in the past 500 years.

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