Scientists say they now have DNA evidence that the people known as Native Americans on this continent did descend from people who crossed the Bering land bridge that connected Asia and North America during the ice ages.
A study published online Oct. 26 by a journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was based on the DNA from remains of two babies found buried in central Alaska and analyzed at the University of Utah.
The babies’ remains are the earliest human samples discovered so far in northern North America. The DNA shows they are from lineages that are already identified among Native Americans in North and South America but not among Asians or Siberians, the scientists said.
Their findings support a theory that Native Americans are descendants of people who migrated from Asia to the land bridge and remained there for thousands of years before venturing down into the Americas 15,000 years ago.
“The antiquity and geographic location of these two burials, and the combined genomic and archaeological analyses, provide new perspectives on the link between Asia and the Americas, and the genetic makeup of the first Americans,” the report said.
The scientists looked at maternal genetic material from two infants buried together in Alaska 11,500 years ago. They also concluded that that the babies had different mothers.
While the discovery leaves some questions unanswered about the origins of these lineages, the news came just as the nation was preparing to observe Native American Heritage Month.
November was designated for this observance by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Festivals, exhibits and other cultural activities are held to celebrate. However, the observance also presents opportunities to explore books on topics often neglected in academics. To facilitate discussions about the history of Native Americans, Diversebooks.net offers a number of books that can serve as resources for discussions. Following are some selections from our publishers that were reviewed previously on Diversebooks.net. They are available at discount prices on our Website.
La Salle and His Legacy: Frenchmen and Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley, by Patricia K. Galloway, $22.50 (List price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, June 2006, ISBN: 9781578069330, pp. 144 pages.
Little attention has been paid to the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s 1682 expedition into the Lower Mississippi Valley and even less to the reception his party received from the land’s original inhabitants that contributed to the invaders’ survival. This collection of essays by 13 scholars attempts to put LaSalle’s forays into context, examines the impact of French colonialism in the Southeast and adds detail about the new arrivals’ interactions with native people. This is a limited, signed, hand-numbered edition in clamshell box with limited, signed, hand-numbered print. It includes 120 color photographs and a chronology.
The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735, by James F. Barnett Jr., $36 (List Price: $40) University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN 9781578069880, pp. 224.
This history of the Natchez Indians is taken from accounts of Spanish, English, and French explorers, missionaries, soldiers, and colonists, and from the archaeological record. With a strategic location on the Mississippi River, the Nat-chez Indians were central to the course of René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle’s expedition in the 17th century. He met the Natchez on his journey, and the encounter led to sickness among the Natchez and eventually their annihilation. This work is considered the most complete and detailed history to date of the Natchez.
Africans and Seminoles: From Removal to Emancipation, by Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. $18.70 (List price $22), ISBN 9781578063604, University of Mississippi Press, November 2001, ISBN 9781578063604, pp. 296.
This is a new edition documenting the interrelationship of two racial cultures in antebellum Florida and Oklahoma. Seminoles held slaves, but their system was unlike that of other slaveholders. The Seminoles often clashed with bounty hunters over ownership claims and even over who was free and who was not. Tensions mounted during the Second Seminole War, when many blacks united with Seminoles fighting against the United States. Blacks and Seminoles were later sent to Oklahoma together as part of the federal government’s “removal” project. The fortunes of the two groups remained intertwined, but their relationships were conflicted as others sought to re-enslave or control free blacks. After the Civil War, many blacks were adopted into the Seminole nation. In a preface to this edition, the author explains the controversy over their role.
After Removal: The Choctaw in Mississippi, by Samuel J. Wells, $22.50 (List Price: $25) University of Mississippi Press, February 2004, ISBN: 9781578066841, pp. 240.
After signing the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, most Choctaws, more than 20,000, left Mississippi for resettlement in the Oklahoma Territory. They surrendered their lands as part of the U.S. government’s plan to remove Native Americans from the southeast. The Indian Removal Act passed by Congress on May 28, 1830, authorized President Andrew Jackson to negotiate with Indian tribes in the southern United States for their removal from their homelands to federal territory west of the Mississippi River. Outsiders were eager to gain access to land occupied by the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee nations. In Mississippi, thousands of Choctaw remained and merged into the rest of the population or slipped into oblivion, and scholars paid little attention to their fate. This book is the first to document the lives of those who stayed behind and kept remnants of their culture alive, eventually gaining federal recognition as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Also available on Diversebooks.net is The Choctaw before Removal, edited by Carolyn Keller Reeves, $22.50, (List price: $25), University of Mississippi Press, February 2004, ISBN: 9781578066858, pp. 256. This is a collection of essays about the history, culture and experiences of the Choctaw people before 1830.
Presbyterian Missionary Attitudes Toward American Indians, 1837-1893, by Michael C. Coleman, $21.25 (list price $25), University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN: 978 1604730074, pp. 236.
When 19th century Presbyterian missionaries went out to Christianize and “civilize” American Indians, the teachers took with them their own attitudes, ideas and values. The Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., founded in 1837, dispatched more than 450 missionaries to at least 19 groups of Indians. This book uses letters the evangelizers sent home to examine their spiritual outlook and their thinking – and often prejudices — about the cultures and the people they encountered.
American Indian Children at School, 1850-1930, by Michael C. Coleman, $22.50 (List Price: $25), University of Mississippi Press, November 2007, ISBN 9781604730098, pp. 240.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Native American children and youths were separated from their families and sent to boarding schools run by religious missionaries and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They were stripped of their culture and forced to assimilate to European-American ways as part of their education. The children were forbidden to speak their native tongues and given Eurocentric names. The schools reached peak enrollment in 1973 with an estimated 60,000 students. In this book, more than 100 former students offer autobiographical accounts giving witness to their often-bewildering experiences in an alien environment, as well as their struggles to readapt when they returned to their own people.
Somebody Always Singing You, by Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, $25.50 (List price: $30), University of Mississippi Press, May 1997, ISBN 9780878059812, pp. 160.
The author is a Miami University scholar who has studied with the elders of indigenous cultures in North America, Africa and New Zealand. In this memoir, she tells of her own experience as the daughter of African-American and Native American parents and of how she came to understand her complex heritage. Her father was a Lakota from a South Dakota reservation and her mother was a black woman from Des Moines, Iowa. Because her mother was murdered when TwoTrees was very young, her black, middle-class grandparents raised her, but she visited her paternal grandmother on a reservation in the summers. (The title comes from one of the sayings of that grandmother.) TwoTree’s story reflects not only the pains of being called a “half breed” or “mixed blood” and of being the only person of color in a Catholic boarding school, but also the pleasures of learning to weave together the strands of her dual heritage.
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