FOLLOW JOHN HAWKS!
I follow John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist and geneticist who is almost overwhelming with his ideas, but enormously exciting as he breaks up old assumptions and discovers new ones.
For a while I’ve had the following quote firmly in mind as definite. I was a fool. Paleoanthopology is changing so quickly and is based so much on fragmentary evidence and pre-existing categories that it is unreliable, but it IS suggestive. I thought it meant that Asians were not descended from Neanderthals but from the Naledi or Denisovans. Certainly there are many Asian traits in indigenous Americas. DRK told me that when he was stationed in Korea, he was often mistaken for Koreans until he said something.
“About 400,000 years ago, some members of H. heidelbergensis left Africa and split into two branches: one ventured into the Middle East and Europe, where it evolved into Neanderthals; the other went east, where members became Denisovans — a group first discovered in Siberia in 2010. The remaining population of H. heidelbergensis in Africa eventually evolved into our own species, H. sapiens, about 200,000 years ago.”
I had developed the idea that the Americas were populated in three basic ways: 1) crossing in areas that were land when the ocean was much lower, which suggested that they came from around Lake Baikal, an idea I liked because of photos people there look like Blackfeet; 2) coming down from the far north which never completed the separations imposed by drifting fractals pulling the continent apart; and 3) crossing the Pacific from the boating people on the SE Asia islands to South America by riding the Japanese current that has been used in WWII to send fire bombs and so on. Sometimes the cargo of ships trying to get to Japan instead wash ashore in Oregon or California.
I find the idea of all the ancestors at some point trudging across the Bering Land Bridge single-file just a figment of someone’s imagination. That area was a marshy part of land between the continents. At some times one could walk across what became the English Channel. The population of England had already been replaced at least twice by people with slightly stronger life patterns, mostly related to the advent of agriculture and herding — so we are told from the evidence. Which no one had in the 19th century.
People who are thinking in Euro terms use land territory to describe nations with negotiated borders. This is a product of war and imposed by history over the top of natural borders like rivers or mountains. But to modern thinkers the real categories are thought clusters based on experienced knowledge of the ecology which control the economics of making a living from a place. This is the real nature of tribes and indigeneity.
This is intriguingly parallel to the new development away from the idea that the hominins became species (animals who can breed with each other successfully) because of the kind of differences we can see in fossils, bits of bone from long ago. But the new insight is that the new species may result from molecular changes in the operation of cells, which don’t show up in fossils at all. The Euro idea of “bigger is better” that influenced ideas about early species may be obsolete in the way that modern computer chips that are smaller enable a far more effective communication.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas I don’t know how up-to-date this Wikipedia entry is now. You can look at the tabs at the top of the entry to trace the changes over the years. Reading the entry successfully will mean looking up terms on Google and more reading about the enormous complexity of the human double genome.
Trying to figure out the history of demographics relies on information from the study of languages, artifacts, fossils, knowledge of the state of the geographical spot since it changes all the time according to the climate, successful retrieval of genes often partial.
It was a jolt to Europeans to discover that many still have genes that appeared in Neanderthals because they had mocked the earlier people. When I thought that Asians do not have traces of Neanderthal DNA, but rather Naledi or Denisovan, I reasoned that if a tribal person had Neanderthal genes, it would mean they had at least some Euro DNA. “Indians” were genetically at their fundamental base similar before contact. The first “half-breeds” were from the crew of Columbus.
The term “blood quantum” comes from 19th century thought but is basically meaningless because “quantum” just means “amount” and has nothing to do with blood. The metaphor of blood assumes that if the 2 sets of chromosomes create a new third version at conception, each helix will get half of the pre-existing sperm and ovum. This is not true. There is a wrestling match when the two helixes come back together in a conception and in all that complexity of tiny bits, when the two sides match up, one pair of genes may be 50/50 while another is 10/90. The genes on the losing side normally associated with the indigenous may be diminished or eliminated.
So thinking went to another idea: provenance is another Euro concept. It means known ownership over time and is a term often used for art or antiques. Some people can trace their Euro parents back through the generations to the first Europeans who brought with them the idea, because Euros were a writing culture, crucial in their world where inheritance of wealth and privilege were based on parents. Of course, much skullduggery revolved around conceptions. Royalty like Henry VIII changed the world with his inability to find a fertile wife.
Euro nations do not come from DNA types but from accidents of war and allegiance. Insistence on provenance in terms of conception has led to in-breeding and failing health from conditions like hemophilia. Queen Victoria’s descendants have not meant superiority which is why today’s royalty is willing to accept commoners with better genetic outcomes. Of course, it had not occurred to them that this would mean a prince with a wife who had the genes for dark skin, so they just declared him no longer a prince to maintain the impossibility.
Modern people with indigenous genes have problems with identity. Tribes are as much cultural as genetic, because unlike the royalty of England, they have always accepted “others” so long as they observed the tribal ways. This is complexified by adopting the children of enemy tribes in the past and by the Euro practice of stealing tribal children on one pretext or another. This can work when the child is young enough to be cute and non-threatening, but blows up when the onset of sexuality means that new traits are awakened, including many that were so deep that they were like a person who feels they are the wrong gender, mystifying and often terrifying.
More about this later as more comes to light and our understanding grows of the zillion tiny 4-element molecules and their ability to become the symphony of the individual.