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