Bering Strait Theory, Pt. 4: The Indisputable Facts in the Artifacts

Alex Ewen
7/4/14

In Part 3 of our exclusive series we looked at how the new science of paleoanthropology was being used in Europe while infighting paralyzed it in America when Aleš Hrdlička, stepped forward to end the disputations and promote professionalism and respectability.

RELATED: Bering Strait Theory, Pt. 3: The Theory Becomes a Religious Crusade

By the 1920s, the Bering Strait Theory, and in particular the idea that American Indians had settled in the New World less than 5,000 years ago, had become a rigid dogma that no scientist who valued their career would dare to challenge.

In the end, it was a group of amateurs who exposed the charade. In 1908 George McJunkin, an African-American cowboy born the son of former slaves, was tending cattle at the Crowfoot Ranch near Folsom, New Mexico, when he discovered the remains of an animal that had been uncovered after a recent flood. He recognized the bones as a bison, and surmised that it was of some ancient type.

McJunkin informed a local blacksmith and amateur naturalist, Carl Schachheim, who then informed his friend and fossil hunting companion, Fred Howarth, a banker. After visiting the site, they tried repeatedly to interest paleontologists into excavating it without success. Finally, their persistence paid off in 1926, when Harold J. Cook and Jesse Dade Figgins of the Denver Museum of Natural History agreed to take a look. They quickly found, not only extinct bison, but spear points. This was a “kill site,” the results of a hunt. Since the established dogma insisted that kill sites of extinct animals did not exist, they worked very, very carefully, hoping to find something–anything–that might be conclusive.

On August 29, 1927, an ancient stone spear point was found embedded between the ribs of an extinct bison. This was clearly no accident. Recognizing the importance of the discovery, the find was left intact in the ground to be witnessed by as many eminent archaeologists as they could muster. Although he tried, Hrdlička could not reject this. The indisputable evidence had surfaced, and one glass floor had been shattered.

With the acceptance of the Folsom point, it became clear that humans were in the Americas more than 5,000 years ago. No longer hamstrung by the need to overturn dogma, a flurry of sites were discovered in the next few years which began to change the picture of ancient America. In 1932, near Clovis, New Mexico, a site was uncovered that featured the same type of spear point found at Folsom, and then digging deeper, a different and older set of spear points were found. Humans had been in America at least 10,000 years or more. It had been 68 years since the Europeans accepted the antiquity of humans, but finally, the American paleoanthropologists had joined the club.

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HontasF's picture
HontasF
Submitted by HontasF on
This is a fine article worthy of a full formal response which I have posted here. http://www.science20.com/quantum_gravity/blog/bering_strait_theory_and_the_out_of_africa_model_and_an_object_lesson_in_the_scientific_method-139957 In short the theory that humans evolved in Africa, that modern humans derive from a common recent African ancestor has factual scientific proof as hard as the bones in our bodies. This necessitates, at some point in time, a migration from EurAfrAsia to here. So long as that point of time is 15 20 30 or 40 thousand years ago that should not be a threat to any American Indians sense of nativeness. I respect all religious beliefs about this...but to present one perspective as "THE" Native perspective is at lest an over reach. Some of us are scientist too.

HontasF's picture
HontasF
Submitted by HontasF on
This article is well written and deserving of a serious formal response. To that end I have posted this article from the scientific perspective. http://www.science20.com/quantum_gravity/blog/bering_strait_theory_and_the_out_of_africa_model_scientific_method_not_dogma-139957 (This URL corrects that in an earlier comment I submitted. The title was edited so that it would fit on that particular sites front page). In short the out of Africa theory of which Bering strait migration is a component has too much rock solid factual evidence. Where hearths in the Americas controversially date to 50 or even 100 thousand years...uncontroversially dated bones of human ancestors are over 2 million years old in Africa and over 4 million fro proto-human Hominids. They would have to have gotten here somehow, walking is the simplest way. That land bridge is the simplest way. It also has to be said that there is no one singular native american perspective on any issue even this one. Some of us are scientist too. Not just white people.

Thomas Prentice
Thomas Prentice
Submitted by Thomas Prentice on
The comment by HontasF regarding this most excellent, thorough, complete and well-researched and well-sourced article is disappointing. The only "formal response" this article by Alex Ewan is entitled to is FULL, UNEXPURGATED AND NON-ANNOTATED REPUBLICATION in science20.com and all other similar journals or the academy because this piece is a much overdue COUNTER-NARRATIVE to what Noam Chomsky calls the "received standard version" of US history and, in this case, the dogma that has passed for science for far too long. I observe that those protesting their lack of racism, for instance, or their respect for the right of other voices, or respect for other religions are usually those who do NOT lack in racism and who DO lack in respect and are defensive -- like Sarah Palin. Or the current five-member white male corporate Right Sector majority of the US Supreme Court. This article does NOT "present one perspective as "THE" Native perspective" and is thus NOT "an overreach by any means at all. This article merely PRESENTS a COUNTER-NARRATIVE to the DOMINANT NARRATIVE and -- given the racism and religious dogma that has infected western white male science/eugenics sine forever -- it would only be FAIR and true to "Western Values" for ANOTHER SIDE -- namely this COUNTER-NARRATIVE -- to be widely disseminated in the scientific community NO MATTER the ancestry. In the Hegelian model, THESIS (racist scientific dogma about Indian origins) is met by ANTI-THESIS or counter-tithesesis (this superb article by Alex Ewen) and should therefore result it SYNTHESIS -- coming up with a better model by first throwing out the arbitrary, inaccurate, bigoted, just-plain-wrong assertions and then using what is left to construct a new model and ask brand new questions. Because, after all, science is ALWAYS tentative.

HontasF's picture
HontasF
Submitted by HontasF on
Thomas Prentice, to put it plainly you mention "received knowledge" and "white western racism". If you read my linked article you would see that racist white people do not like the Out of Africa theory, of which the Bering Strait migration is a part. When the first fossils of proto-human ancestors were found in southern Africa the western racist whites dismissed them, until the evidence was overwhelming. Those fossil bones from Australopithecus Afarensis (Lucy), to A. Africanus (Taung Child), to Homo Habilis (KNM-ER 1813) are literally rock solid facts. Humans originated in S.E. Africa. The DNA evidence shows that all modern humans are related with a common ancestor who lived about 160,000 years ago or so. Bones and DNA, not whatever the heck you think Sarah Palin has to do with any of this.

HontasF's picture
HontasF
Submitted by HontasF on
One more thing, Thomas prentice, I mentioned the fossil KNM-ER 1813 (Homo Habilis). The man who found it...Kamoya Kimeu. Please Google him. Does he look like he would have any idea of the socio-political implications of his work for American Indians? (Specifically that pinning down humanities old world origins, in Africa, means migrations by way of Beringia is required.)
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