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Obama's 'Native American' Reference During Immigration Speech Sparks Bering Strait Twitter Surge

Simon Moya-Smith
1/30/13

 

Yesterday, during a speech on immigration in Las Vegas, President Obama reacquainted the nation with the actuality that “unless you’re one of the first Americans, Native Americans, you came from somewhere else – somebody brought you,” he said.

Immediately, anti-amnesty apologists and Bering Strait Theory enthusiasts took to Twitter to argue against Mr. Obama and the position that Native Americans never migrated across the northern land bridge 15,000 years ago:

Conservative tweeter @MarkWonderful remarked: “Needless to say, those of us w/some education know that even ‘Native Americans’ are immigrants, having come over land bridge from Asia.”

@QuoteLawrence wrote: “This is the stupidest comment made by stupid criminal sympathizers. You’re a native once you’re born here.”

Although the Bering Strait Theory is frequently considered as an irrefutable fact (at least in the Twitter-sphere), Harvard Medical School Professor of Genetics David Reich declared in July that the Bering Strait remains a theory – and one he anticipates will be refuted with further research.

Still, that hasn’t staved the American populace from utilizing the Bering Strait argument whenever the issue of immigration is the topic of caustic debate.

The late Native American writer and scholar Vine Deloria Jr. openly rejected the Bering Strait Theory and, furthermore, encouraged archeologists to put more consideration into American Indian creation stories.

“What Vine was saying was that people need to think critically about what is being said to them,” said Professor Theodore Van Alst, Lakota, and the Director of Yale's Native American Cultural Center. “[Deloria] said that they need to listen to the nations and their traditions and their stories.”

Van Alst noted that it’s also convenient that the pro-Bering Strait Theory community’s evidence (if it exists) is “under water” and that the theory is invariably used “to [discredit] notions of indigenous rights to landholding.”

“[The Bering Strait Theory] is used to support the notion that we’re just an earlier set of people on a long continuum of immigrants,” he said. “… There needs be a real reassessment of this thing.”

Lauded Canadian journalist and musician Wab Kinew said that the president’s comments were “powerful” and that those who employ the Bering Strait Theory are “constantly trying to discredit us and undermine us.”

“They’re trying to legitimize colonialism,” he said.

Kinew added that it’s possible that Mr. Obama is finally on the brink of following through with his campaign promises, which date back to the 2008 presidential race.

“I think most Americans will see this as a sign that he could follow through with his initial campaign promise [to] recognize Indigenous Peoples as sovereign nations,” he said. “It’s a sign that the president gets it when it comes to indigenous history.”

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maxine 's picture
maxine
Submitted by maxine on
So why did your ancestors kill off over three quarters of our people if we weren't here greedy people you should have stayed where the creator put you instead of stealing from the natives we weren't bothering you.

Nathan's picture
Nathan
Submitted by Nathan on
There is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up the Bering Strait THEORY. In fact, the archaeological evidence even suggest otherwise. The oldest material is way down in South America. Linguistics is the only idea used for the THEORY, nothing more. If it was all in a court room in Native America, is would have never made it to a trail. Case closed.

Brad in Canada's picture
Brad in Canada
Submitted by Brad in Canada on
Even if the Bering Strait theory is true (which is open to debate as the story has indicated), a migration of people 15,000 years ago is far different than millions of Europeans immigration 100 years ago, or even a small number of Europeans coming 400 years ago. And arguing that migrations that may have resulted from the last ice age are equivalent to the much more recent European colonization of North America is to engage in reductio ad absurdum. Many of us with European ancestry (I have Swiss German, British, Irish and French ancestry, in addition to being Metis here in Canada) come from nations where the migration of peoples is part of their socio-cultural history too. The same is true of different first nations in North America, whose territories changed over time pre- and post-contact. Throughout human history the migrations of people inevitably result in the displacement of other people, or the displacement of other related species (homo sapiens displacing homo erectus if you go back far enough - though that would be admitting evolution exists which we all know is an ongoing debate in America, even though most of the rest of the world has moved on). So you could always default back to that forever, and conservatives who do (for example, in opposition to Obama's proposals) should take note, because then you should be able to follow that logic to say that we should be fine with all continued immigration into the future since "it has always been". It is much more appropriate to acknowledge the change in how colonization has impacted this trend in modern history, and how that colonization has resulted in the current national structures that exist around the world (and that continue to cause problems around the world), in order to come up with an appropriate and reasonable immigration solution that respects and honours the place and nationhood of Indigenous Peoples, but respects other immigrants (ie. read non-european immigrants) too.

Bruce Doxey's picture
Bruce Doxey
Submitted by Bruce Doxey on
My friends, it occurs to me that this question of Indians' origin is bein argued in the white American way, polarizing everything. Making a claim that it's "my way" and therefore every other way has to be wrong. And any way that does not suit my purposes I will attack and discredit. A very unhealthy approach to arriving at the truth. I believe that humans have been on this continent at least 40,000 years. Remember "Del Mar man?" The remains were dated as "at least forty thousand years." This conflicted with existing theory so they dated them again and came up with the same results. Time passed, they argued that it could not be true, so they changed the method of dating to come up with a more comfortable answer but it was a pretty soft and vague result. [not very scientific.] My belief, based on information that I have seen is that it is most likely that humans did come here via the frozen Bering Strait. But not exclusively. I see no reason that humans may have arrived by various means and at different times. I reccomend the book "Seven daughters of Eve." It is brilliant and seems to be unbiased. The author traces the mitocondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to daughter. Samples were taken all around the world and his conclusions seem very sound.

bwaikiki's picture
bwaikiki
Submitted by bwaikiki on
If a tribe is a federally recognized tribe, they are already a sovereign nation. That tribute belongs to someone else, maybe John Collier and his Reformation Act, but not Obama. According to noted authorities, everyone migrated from Africa. I think creation legends are just as credible as some "noted authorities".

Jay Red Agle's picture
Jay Red Agle
Submitted by Jay Red Agle on
He said "Native American" and that means the same as "Indigenous" not caucasion. New evidence found in the carolines prove man was in North American 50,000 years ago! Hello!

WCG's picture
WCG
Submitted by WCG on
People who currently inhabit the United Kingdom, and have lived there for thousands of years...also inhabitants of Germany, Turkey, and all of Europe and the Middle Eastern countries are not called "immigrants." They are called, English, Irish, Turks, Egyptians etc. Most migrated from other areas to form their current civilization. Logic dictates that since indigenous Americans inhabited and carved out their identities in their own civilizations on this continent--we should be afforded the same identity system. I'll let others manage the debate/ question of origination. I was born in Oklahoma but have lived and worked in the Chicago area most of my life. To those who believe Obama will keep promises, please keep in mind that he was a community organizer in Chicago before he moved up in Chicago politics. I say you would benefit from reading the book that is known as the handbook of community organizers, Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Chicago is known as the most corrupt city in the US. Pay for play is a standard game here. I thought we indigenous people were better than that. But then, I'm not a far left liberal or progressive. Trust big government if that is what you believe, but that seems absurd in the face of reality of our history. I don't trust big government or Chicago politicians. I find it stunning that any indigenous American would put their trust in either.

Keaha's picture
Keaha
Submitted by Keaha on
I feel that the Real Issue here is being Completely Ignored. In my opinion it’s about Morality, not about Immigration. God says ; Thou Shall Not Kill. So when did God say it was ok to kill another human being to steal their Land ??????? White Man Invaded the Native American’s Home & that’s the Bottom Line here. Yet White Man called them Savages for defending their Home. White Man trying to legitimize colonization is simply another way to Justify their Heinous Actions by invalidating a Culture they do not Understand and hence do not Respect ! What would White Man do to an invading entity trying to take over what we consider OUR Home ???? God created us All Equally, meaning we are All Brothers & Sisters - and it’s way past time we start acting like it ! For Heaven’s sake it’s 2013 how long is White Man going to continue with the Troglodyte mentality ? HUGE KUDOS to President Obama for his Awareness !!!!!!!!!! I TOTALLY Support his endeavor to liberate humanity from the pits of Degradation.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I think they have pretty much come to the conclusion that not all Indians came across the land bridge, some came via another means, and different times. I read a genetic study a few years back from U of CA where they saw some come from Mediterranean and Eastern European genetics, thousands of years back. If you remember Dr. Cyrus Gordon believed in ancient Hebrew traders who sailed to America. Interesting to study for everyone.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Also I suppose it is possible that some of the later Tribes killed off or conquered the small Clovis like Tribes of people that might have been here before them, since evidence indicates they were here long before the 12,000 year mark of the Bering land bridge theory. Interesting.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Also care must be taken when using the term "whites"...as it has a different meaning today than it did a hundred years ago or so. Black did not mean Black African, it meant dark complected, dark haired, dark eyed people, brown was dark complected light haired, light eyed peoples. Today people lump "whites" into a category of bias. I am very dark complected, when I was a young boy, my sister and I were really quite black, we were called the "n word", and people did not want us to swim in the pool. But since I had lighter hair and hazel eyes...I got it from both sides. We always thought we were white, but many of us have sort of lost family ancestory....perhaps it was from my mothers French side who came to Gaspe in early 1600's?

kate.vbg.ru's picture
kate.vbg.ru
Submitted by kate.vbg.ru on
Bering Strait Theory is absolutely proved. if proved theory is used by people with anti-native sentiments it is not the reason to fight with scientific facts, it's reason to fight with anti-native sentiments. Using this theory to state that Native Americans aren't Native is stupid. The same way as Americas, Eurasia also wasn't always inhabited by humans, but this is still not the reason to claim that Eurasians aren't Native to Eurasia. why, just why, many American Natives are fighting against science and scientific research of their pre-Columbian history, against scientific theories and facts? it's ridiculous!

jim mcguire's picture
jim mcguire
Submitted by jim mcguire on
Like the American Indian Elder comments. If a new branch of "Ancient History" can be taught in our schools, culture, etc., we might discover the real birth place of the human race and its interactions from other beings. Who has a right over the livings beings upon these continents. We should be striving for an acceptance of ALL things living on this world with respect and love to all things that are here. God watch over us and bless us in our ignorance at times.

dodger's picture
dodger
Submitted by dodger on
True. The Bering Strait is only a theory never proven, yet is treated as if it were. As most native people will tell you their tribes were created within the continent where they reside. Surely, we didn't come from any monkeys, maybe your people did.

op.?wolf's picture
op.?wolf
Submitted by op.?wolf on
millions of years ago when the earth was all one piece, three comets carrying human dna smashed into the earth...

terrylee's picture
terrylee
Submitted by terrylee on
billions of years ago the earth was all one piece. three comets carrying human DnA smashed into the planet. the comet carrying the first native americans landed first.

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
There is also a Migration Theory that Indigenous People migrated North from the South Americas. There is also Anthropology Evidence that there was a "Great Trading Area" in Tennessee that had Artifacts from the Far South American Nations; whose Political Borders have shifted through Time. Any "Nation" is a Political Entity, that through Organization and Membership - has an "Legal Identity" ergo "Sovereign Nation" is a "Legal Standing" among Existing Governments. You do not "Wave The Wand" and Create a Sovereignty, but you must show "The Sovereignty" has always existed; similar to a "Statehood". That is the only "Current" way of establishing a Recognizable Governing Body in a Geopolitical and Geographical area. - And Yes, US History clearly shows that "The US Constitution & Bill of Rights" were modeled after existing Indigenous "Native American Indian Confederacies" such as the Cherokee Confederation & The Six Nation Confederation of The North Eastern Tribes, Bands, & Nations. The Bering Straight Blood Group may be found in Wikipedia On-Line for the curious. - Happy Hunting-

indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
Oh, do not forget the "Medicine Wheel" example of The Four Directions, and The Four Colors of People on Earth. Anonymous, your entry reflects you were mistaken to come from "The Blue People", but you maintain that you are of "The Red People". Well, I suspect there was an "Indian In The Wood Pile" somewhere along the line, but what do you feel "Spiritually"? Then, that is what you are, as goes for us all by deductive thinking. (If you mix Blue and Red, you get Purple; a "Royal Color" in European Society - so you are a Royalty by Color I guess!) I'll stick to The Reincarnation Theory myself, where we all have been other then what we are on this Life's Walk.

E.A. Schwartz's picture
E.A. Schwartz
Submitted by E.A. Schwartz on
The Bering Strait hypothesis has been around since the 19th century and remains a hypothesis. An unproven speculation, even after all this time. Why not begin with the hypothesis that humans populated all the world during the same period, whatever the point of origin? Why not be willing to imagine that people in the Americas could have made cultural and genetic contributions to Eurasia in the distant past? Why assume that people and culture only went one way, from Asia to the Americas? Given that we know that horses and camels originated in North America and migrated westward to Eurasia, why are some "scholars" so dead certain people never did likewise? The Bering Strait hypothesis is poor science, without persuasive supporting evidence, reflecting a lack of imagination and critical analysis.

Harmony's picture
Harmony
Submitted by Harmony on
This is another topic that comes up in Canada a lot. I have a couple of points on this topic specifically. The first being that most religions have creation stories such as "Adam and Eve" and for a wide percentage of the population in North America they accept this creation story. Every indigenous tribe in North America has their own creation story but some how that seems lost on the right side thinkers. So if Native Americans (Indigenous peoples of North America) are "immigrants" in certain individuals thought process it still makes them the "First Nations" of North America.

JIM YOW's picture
JIM YOW
Submitted by JIM YOW on
As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation I think sovereignty would be incredible. But, unfortunately, I don't think it will ever happen. This country is full of racists.

Sam Parker's picture
Sam Parker
Submitted by Sam Parker on
I cant believe what I just read that we as Indigenous People are being played to the public as immigrants to the land we inherited from the Creator above, to have as our home land, to take care and live our lives as He intended for us to do. And we have been doing this for centurys on this land that is now called the United States of America, a land that has been taken away from us by the brutality towards the Indigenous Ones that were trying to live peacefully only to be pushed onto reserves, or corrals would be a better word. The only immigrants I see are those who crossed the oceans to our beautiful country and we saved those that didnt know how to survive, from starvation. The immigration Law that is now in place still isn`t working with all the illegals they let slip thru. I`m still in aw with what I read and it should be explained to the public what there intentions are and documented as such.

Sam Parker's picture
Sam Parker
Submitted by Sam Parker on
I cant believe what I just read that we as Indigenous People are being played to the public as immigrants to the land we inherited from the Creator above, to have as our home land, to take care and live our lives as He intended for us to do. And we have been doing this for centurys on this land that is now called the United States of America, a land that has been taken away from us by the brutality towards the Indigenous Ones that were trying to live peacefully only to be pushed onto reserves, or corrals would be a better word. The only immigrants I see are those who crossed the oceans to our beautiful country and we saved those that didnt know how to survive, from starvation. The immigration Law that is now in place still isn`t working with all the illegals they let slip thru. I`m still in aw with what I read and it should be explained to the public what there intentions are and documented as such.

Teresa cox's picture
Teresa cox
Submitted by Teresa cox on
I wasn't brought here, my mother wasn't brought here,or her parents,or thier parents or their parent from the Bering strait. Just accept it people,we were here when everyone showed up and our people will still be here when everyone goes back to where they once came from.........

Teresa cox's picture
Teresa cox
Submitted by Teresa cox on
I wasn't brought here, my mother wasn't brought here,or her parents,or thier parents or their parent from the Bering strait. Just accept it people,we were here when everyone showed up and our people will still be here when everyone goes back to where they once came from.........

Jean's picture
Jean
Submitted by Jean on
Look, I didn't want to comment on this page but I will. Bottom line is Obama is a DIVIDER NOT A " UNITER"! DNA PROVES where people are from initially and arguing with that is ridiculous! And yes, Native Americans ancestry began OVER 10,000 years ago from the Bering Strait/Asia area. SO WHAT? 10,000 years ago is a REALLY LONG TIME AGO! Native American culture(s) are unique, created from America (in it's natural state), not anywhere else. UNITE THE PEOPLE NOT DIVIDE, that's been Obama's problem ALL ALONG! After visiting the Heye Center on opening day in 1994, a cultural interpreter for the museum told me "WE ARE ALL INDIANS!" (those of us who were BORN HERE) God bless him, wish he gave me his name. and a chance to get to know him...:(

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Look, I didn't want to comment on this page but I will. Bottom line is Obama is a DIVIDER NOT A " UNITER"! DNA PROVES where people are from initially and arguing with that is ridiculous! And yes, Native Americans ancestry began OVER 10,000 years ago from the Bering Strait/Asia area. SO WHAT? 10,000 years ago is a REALLY LONG TIME AGO! Native American culture(s) are unique, created from America (in it's natural state), not anywhere else. UNITE THE PEOPLE NOT DIVIDE, that's been Obama's problem ALL ALONG! After visiting the Heye Center on opening day in 1994, a cultural interpreter for the museum told me "WE ARE ALL INDIANS!" (those of us who were BORN HERE) God bless him, wish he gave me his name. and a chance to get to know him...

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Native American is the title that white people gave us.We are in fact indigenous people.

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