It’s just a theory
IWAS reading about some archeologists in Alaska who recently dug up an amazing find: the remains of an ice-age child dating back more than 11,500 years. What makes this amazing is that they’re the oldest human remains ever found that far north.
But whether this ice-age baby was aboriginal is a bit of a mystery — at least for now.
What archeologists do know is the child was about three years old when he or she died. It isn’t clear how the child died, but the body was placed gently into a fire pit in the centre of a house and cremated. Then the pit was filled up and the home was abandoned. The site is believed to have been a seasonal summer home on the shores of the Tanana River in southern Alaska. Likely the attraction was salmon and wild game. Once the find is completely excavated, it will paint a vivid picture of the everyday lives of the people who lived on the land at the time.
Although archeologists don’t know the ethnicity of the child, the shape of one of the child’s teeth led them to believe it is an indigenous child.
But Alaska is home to more than 20 different tribes of indigenous people.
It is hoped DNA can be salvaged from the bones of the child and it can be compared to the DNA of the local aboriginal people.
A local indigenous group gave its blessing to do the digging, and it’s hoped local tribes will also provide DNA to see if there is a genetic connection to the ice-age baby.
This discovery — as cool as it is — also stirs up an old debate archeologists and most aboriginal people are familiar with: the Bering Strait theory.
Basically, it’s the scientific theory that North American Indians are really Siberians who walked over an ice bridge about 12,000 to 20,000 years ago.
Many an aboriginal person has gotten pretty angry about this theory. Author and PhD Vine Deloria attacked the Bering Strait theory in his book Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact. There are many others, too.
The theory is offensive for two reasons. The first is that many aboriginal people see it as an extension of the old reasoning that helped settle North America in the first place — it was Terra Nullius, manifest destiny, and all that other stuff.
The Bering Strait theory gave people a free pass, saying, “Don’t worry; the land was free for the taking. Nobody was here anyway.”
People could shrug off indigenous rights because we were then newcomers to North America too, just like everyone else.
But it is just a theory; a widely believed theory, but still a theory.
The Bering Strait theory is also offensive to many aboriginal people because it conflicts with our traditional beliefs. It’s like telling someone who’s Catholic that his beliefs aren’t true.
The consensus among most aboriginal tribes have is that we were always here.
I don’t take much offence to the Bering Strait theory. After all, it’s just a theory. And I’m not saying it’s completely wrong.
Sure, people could have travelled from Siberia and crossed an ice bridge to North America. It’s not the complete picture either. If it were, we wouldn’t have archeologists still digging for the truth.
It’s foolish to think a continent as big as North America was uninhabited until then, especially when several years ago, human artifacts were found in California that dated back some 50,000 years.
Perhaps a few Siberians did wander over here. And maybe they met up with the original inhabitants of the land.
With a little luck, they would have been accepted and joined tribes, had children, grandchildren and become absorbed into the genetic tide that continues to thrive today.
The idea that we were always here could be true. You just have to think outside the standard possibilities that haven’t changed much in decades.
Of course, this is just a theory — mine.