Because of the mitochondrial DNA genetic inheritance of the female line (previous article – with caveats) it is possible for scientists/anthropologists/ geneticists to trace back thousands of years in their search for the origins of races of people.
Following this line it is believed that over 90% of the Native American peoples are descended from a tiny group which migrated across to Alaska from Siberia along an ice-free passage during the closing stages of the last Ice Age (c. 60,000-20,000 years ago).
Over the next few thousand years they migrated down the length of the three ‘Americas‘, the North continent, Mesoamerica and South America. Only by considerable use of water transport along the shores and down the great rivers would this have been possible. It is entirely possible, especially in relation to the Southern continent that others arrived by sea from other continents/islands.
The modern reality is that over recent decades traces have been found of advanced civilisations in many American locations that date back thirteen thousand years and more. This opens a whole new chapter on human civilisations and the ancient history of the world, the reason we are writing of it all here.
One of the most radical recent theories – one espoused by many eminent scientists and anthropologists – is that Native Americans not only colonised (for example) the great Amazonian rain forest, but that they largely created it by fashioning (and planning and planting) the trees and plants that grow there to their own needs. More, there is firm evidence to suggest that they created huge areas – some as large as France and averaging more than a metre in depth – of terra preta soil, a rich, fertile ‘Indian dark earth’ by methods (involving, for example, the slow burning of trees to create a charcoal base, and the mixing in of organic and inorganic matter) still unknown to modern man.
When white men arrived at the end of the fifteenth century there were many advanced civilisations not just in MesoAmerica (the Maya, for example) and the Amazon, but also in Peru and across North America. Amazingly these people had a superabundance of food, having created the maize crop, and feeding richly also on manioc, papaya, cassava, peach trees and roots, other berries and nuts and a host of other native crops (including potatoes, something unknown to Europeans!).
When the Europeans began to arrive in numbers, the Native Americans could simply not believe how dirty, undernourished and ignorant these people were. Eventually, courtesy largely of the destructive diseases such as cholera brought by the white men, the Native Americans were practically annihilated and the survivors cruelly subjugated by these newcomers.
But what I wish to write of mainly is the great cultures that were lost when literally tens of millions of Indians fell to the onslaught in the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
……… more to follow …………..