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Where did America’s First People come from and When? 13,000 Years ago?

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Butch McIntosh wears traditional Native American regalia at the Pow Wow of Champions on the fairgrounds in Tulsa, Okla. Saturday Aug. 11, 2007. VOA
  • The first European explorers to reach the Americas looked to the Bible to explain the origins of the people they encountered and misnamed “Indians.”
  • Excavations in the 1970s pushed the date even further back, to as much as 16,000 years ago
  • Archaeologist James Adovasio dated artifacts found at Pennsylvania’s Meadowcroft Rockshelter to be up to 16,000 years old, to harsh criticism

US, June 20, 2017: It’s one of the most contentious debates in anthropology today: Where did America’s first people come from — and when? The general scientific consensus is that a single wave of people crossed a long-vanished land bridge from Siberia into Alaska around 13,000 years ago. But some Native Americans are irked by the theory, which they say is simplistic and culturally biased.

The first European explorers to reach the Americas looked to the Bible to explain the origins of the people they encountered and misnamed “Indians.” Biblical tradition holds that humans were created some 4,000 years ago and that all men descend from Adam — including indigenous people whom Europeans regarded as primitive.

Indians in Virginia. Engraving by Theodore de Bry, 1590, based on a watercolor by John White in 1585.
Indians in Virginia. Engraving by Theodore de Bry, 1590, based on a watercolor by John White in 1585. VOA

“Dominant science believed in a concept of superiority,” said Alexander Ewen, a member of the Purepecha Nation and author of the “Encyclopedia of the American Indian in the Twentieth Century.”

“And that created an idea that either people were genetically inferior or that there were stages of civilization, and Indians were at a lower stage,” he said.

The first European explorers to reach the Americas looked to the Bible to explain the origins of the people they encountered and misnamed “Indians.” Click To Tweet

Since “primitives” weren’t sophisticated enough to have sailed the oceans, early scientists concluded Indians had reached North America by some unknown land route. They found their answer in the Bering Strait.

Map of eastern Russian and Alaska with a light brown boarder depicting Beringia, where archaeolosits believe ancient Americans crossed from Siberia into Alaska around 13,000 years ago. Courtesy, U.S. National Park Service.
Map of eastern Russian and Alaska with a light brown boarder depicting Beringia, where archaeolosits believe ancient Americans crossed from Siberia into Alaska around 13,000 years ago. Courtesy, U.S. National Park Service. VOA

Ewen says that theory cemented into dogma and persists to this day, even in the face of new discoveries and technology that suggests Indians arrived much earlier and by different routes.

ALSO READ: American Indians tribes to Protest against Trump Administration 

“In the first place, it’s simplistic,” said Ewen. “The people in this hemisphere were — and are — extremely diverse, more than any other place in the world.”

Chipping away at a theory

In the 1930s, scientists examined a pile of mammoth bones in Clovis, N.M., where they found distinctive spear points. Since then, tens of thousands of “Clovis points” have been found across North America and as far south as Venezuela. Scientists decided the Clovis people must have been America’s first peoples, arriving 13,000 years ago.

Excavations in the 1970s pushed the date even further back, to as much as 16,000 years ago. Archaeologist James Adovasio dated artifacts found at Pennsylvania’s Meadowcroft Rockshelter to be up to 16,000 years old, to harsh criticism.

The Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, Pa., where archaeologists found artifacts dating back 16,000 years.
The Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Washington County, Pa., where archaeologists found artifacts dating back 16,000 years. VOA

Other branches of science have weighed in: In 1998, University of California-Berkeley linguist Johanna Nichols argued that it would have taken up to 50,000 years for a single language to diversify into the many languages spoken by modern Native American groups. That meant ancient Indians would have to have arrived 19,000 years ago.

Geologists have complicated matters by suggesting that the Bering Strait wasn’t passable until 10 or 12,000 years ago. This gave way to theories that early humans might have sailed down the Pacific coast into the New World.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Harvard University geneticist Pontus Skoglund discovered DNA links between Amazon Indians and the indigenous peoples in Australia and New Guinea.

An elderly member of Brazil's Surui Nation. Researchers found the Surui bear a genetic relationship to indigenous peoples of Australia and New Guinea.
An elderly member of Brazil’s Surui Nation. Researchers found the Surui bear a genetic relationship to indigenous peoples of Australia and New Guinea. VOA

In the past decade, Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Dennis Stanford met scathing criticism for suggesting Stone Age Europeans paddled across the Atlantic thousands of years before Columbus. In April of this year, researchers in California analyzed crushed mastodon bones they said were butchered by humans 130,000 years ago, a theory the bulk of scientists, including Adavasio, rejects – not because it’s not possible, he stipulates, but because the data isn’t conclusive.

Native American accounts

Should science consider the origin beliefs of tribes themselves?

Montana’s Blackfoot tradition holds that the first Indians lived on the other side of the ocean, but their creator decided to take them to a better place. “So he brought them over the ice to the far north,” the account reads.

The Hopi people of Arizona say their ancestors had to travel through three worlds, finally crossing the ocean eastward to a new and final new world. And Oklahoma’s Tuskagee people believe the “Great Spirit” chose them to be the first people to live on the earth.

File--This July 23, 2008, photo was taken from inside the Paisley Caves near Paisley, Ore., where archaeologists found stone tools and human DNA dating back more than 13,000 years, evidence humans settled North America earlier than previously thought.
File–This July 23, 2008, photo was taken from inside the Paisley Caves near Paisley, Ore., where archaeologists found stone tools and human DNA dating back more than 13,000 years, evidence humans settled North America earlier than previously thought. VOA

Stories like these aren’t given much weight by science, said Joe Watkins, supervisory anthropologist at the National Park Service and a member of the Choctaw Nation.

“They are generally believed to be anecdotal,” he said. “The deep time depth and the possibility of multiple interpretations seem to make scientists uncomfortable.”

That isn’t to say Watkins believes every tribal tradition is “true.”

“But I do believe most of them carry within them kernels of truth of use to researchers. It seems imprudent to dismiss any possible line of evidence,” he said. (VOA)

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Manoj Bajpayee is an amazing actor and a team player on set: Sidharth Malhotra

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

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Actor Sidharth Malhotra
Actor Sidharth Malhotra. Wikimedia Commons

November 7, 2017: Actor Sidharth Malhotra, who will be seen sharing screen space with Manoj Bajpayee in “Aiyaary”, says the National Award winning actor is amazing and a team player.

Sidharth Malhotra on Thursday treated his fans to a question and answer session over Twitter.

A user asked the “Student Of The Year” actor about his experience working with Manoj in “Aiyaary”.

Sidharth replied: “He’s an amazing actor and a team player on set.”

“Aiyaary”, set in Delhi, London and Kashmir, revolves around two strong-minded Army officers having completely different views, yet right in their own ways. It is a real-life story based on the relationship between a mentor and a protege.

Presented by Plan C and Jayantilal Gada (Pen), the project is produced by Shital Bhatia, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Motion Picture Capital.

When asked about the development of the film, Sidharth replied: “Awesome. Excited to show it in a few months.”

Sidharth, 32, also described his “Brothers” co-star Akshay Kumar as his “brother from another mother.”(IANS)

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JY Pillay: Indian Origin Civil Servant Appointed as the Acting President of Singapore

As CPA Chairman since 2005, Pillay has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip

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Acting President of Singapore
JY Pillay. Youtube
  • JY Pillay has been appointed as the acting President of Singapore
  • Pillay, also the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, is a veteran civil servant of Indian Origin
  • The Singapore polls take place on 23rd September

September 2, 2017: Indian-origin veteran civil servant JY Pillay on Friday took over as Singapore’s acting President until a new head of the state is elected later this month.

The temporary appointment of Pillay, Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), follows the completion of President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s six-year term on Thursday, the Strait Times reported.

The nomination day for the Presidential election is September 13, followed by polling day on September 23.

According to the report, when the office of President is vacant, the first in line to exercise its powers is the CPA Chairman, followed by the Speaker of Parliament. This is the first time the office has fallen vacant since the elected presidency was introduced in 1991.

Pillay is no stranger to exercising the powers of the President. As CPA Chairman since 2005, he has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip. He acted as President in May, when Tan made state visits to Europe.

He has served more than 60 such “stints”– the longest of which was 16 days in April and May of 2007 when then President SR Nathan visited Africa. (IANS)


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Indian-Origin CEO Ravin Gandhi Faces Racism in The US for Criticising Trump After Charlottesville racial violence

Ravin Gandhi posted a voicemail from an alleged Trump supporter on the social media along with the nastier emails he received

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Racism, Ravin Gandhi
Indian-Origin CEO Ravin Gandhi faces racism in the US. Pixabay
  • An Indian origin CEO says he was racially abused and was told to “go back” to India
  • He refused to defend US President Donald Trump’s economic agenda following the racial violence in Virginia
  • He said he will speak out against such abuse as long as he has a platform to do so

Washington, August 24, 2017: An Indian origin CEO says he was racially abused and was told to “go back” to India and also take along top Indian-American diplomat Nikki Haley after he refused to defend US President Donald Trump’s economic agenda following the racial violence in Virginia.

Ravin Gandhi, founder, and CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, a global supplier of coatings for cookware and bakeware, penned an op-ed for CNBC following the Charlottesville racial violence but in response was slammed and racially abused by readers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 At least one woman was killed and dozens were injured in Charlottesville last week during clashes between white supremacists and counter-protestors at a rally. Trump, instead of blaming white supremacists, held both sides responsible for the violence and was criticised by both Democrats and Republicans for the response.

“I recently told the New York Times I was ‘rooting’ for certain aspects of Trump’s economic agenda,” Gandhi, 44, wrote in the article.

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“After Charlottesville and its aftermath, I will not defend Trump even if the Dow hits 50,000, unemployment goes to 1 per cent, and GDP grows by 7 per cent… I will not in good conscience support a President who seems to hate Americans who don’t look like him.

“The fact that Trump equated hate groups with those protesting hate lit me up,” Gandhi said. “His moral leadership on this issue is reprehensible.”

US-born Gandhi, after his op-ed was published, received a voicemail from an alleged Trump supporter, who told him to “get your (expletive) garbage and go back to India”.

“You can take that other half-(expletive) Bangladesh creep with you, Nikki Haley,” the woman said in the message.

“She’s the one that started all this when she took down the Confederate flag. So don’t tell us that you gave him a chance. We don’t give an (expletive) who you gave a chance, OK? We’re going to start taking down Buddhist statues and see how you and Nikki Haley like that.”

The caller told Gandhi to “go clean up your own (expletive) country, it’s a filthy mess”.

He soon posted the voicemail on the social media and also shared the nastier emails he received, the report said.

“It was obvious that people thought my professional position somewhat protected me,” he said. “I wanted to show people that racism is blind to socioeconomics.

“Even though my race is a complete non-issue in my day-to-day life, the sad reality is there’s a group of racists in the USA that views me as a second-class citizen,” he said.

“I wanted my peers in the business community, the civic community, my friend community to see that this can happen to me. Because there’s this delusion that racism is dead because (Barack) Obama was elected (President),” Gandhi said.

He said while his sharing a “bigoted” voicemail may not make a big difference, he will speak out against such abuse as long as he has a platform to do so. (IANS)