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Beware of TV “science” documentaries about Native American DNA!

Beware of TV “science” documentaries about Native American DNA!


Whether intentionally or out of naivety,  contemporary journalists are manipulating the information that the public sees on supposedly scientific TV documentaries and reads in printed “science news” articles.  This is an increasing problem, when the subject of Native American origins is the focus of the program or article.  Anthropology in the United States has become politicized in same disgusting manner that our national decision-making process has devolved into competing football teams with news media being viewed as propaganda to support a particular team. Viewers have to be very observant to discern the propaganda from the facts.   The People of One Fire is going to provide you several of those facts . . . at least as they stand on this particular day.

Your friendly neighborhood Keeper of the Creek Wind Clan and Uchee Water Clan has a mandatory homework assignment for you.  It will be entertaining and won’t cost you a penny.   You can downstream it from the PBS-NOVA website: .  Ostensibly, the program is about the fascinating discovery of a 12,000 year-old skeleton at the bottom of a flooded cavern in Yucatan, Mexico.  That part of the program is apparently factual.  However, then the program jumped into the subject of “the origins of indigenous Americans” and presented to the public a re-painted version of the old Siberia-Alaska land bridge theory, but called it a fact.   As usual, this is a case of “our side’s got to win” approach to anthropology rather than following the evidence, wherever it takes you.

Generalizing from insufficient information

While in graduate school at Georgia State University, I took a very heavy course load in statistics and computer modeling. My thesis was a predictive model of Atlanta’s growth patterns, past and future.  My professors viewed it as a doctoral level product and so the document is still at the Georgia State library.  At the time, such an education was considered “Frontierland,” but in the 21st century, has turned out to be foundation of much of our technology – especially robotics, urban planning, etc. All those virtual reality images of Native American communities that I have churned out since 2003 are computer models.  What I didn’t anticipate was that after 2001 in Georgia, one would have to have 666 (extreme leftwing) or 999 (extreme rightwing) branded on one’s forehead and be a paid member of the winning football team in order to get any architecture or planning work, whatsoever.   So folks . . . you’re stuck with me charting a brave new world in Native American Studies.

The science of statistics enables one to see through the caca de toro, which is now endemic in American anthropology.   Between 2012 and 2017, I was paid to examine the archaeological work in EVERY county of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and Coastal South Carolina.  Folks, there are huge gaps in what we know about the Southeast’s past.  Archaeologists repeatedly take a statistically insignificant sample of what’s out there and project it into ironclad facts. They know virtually nothing about the Uchee’s, Chickasaw’s and Creek’s cultural heritage and so will often badly misinterpret the meaning of a few artifacts or a single archaeological dig.

Worst still, the contemporary class of archaeologists have almost completely forgotten much of the work done in the mid-and-late 20th century by world class archaeologists such as Robert Wauchope, Arthur Kelly, Antonio Waring and Joseph Caldwell.  Many of the sites that these men identified, but didn’t have time to study, have been destroyed since then because no one in a position to protect them, knew that they existed.

To be succinct . . . one cannot take one skeleton in one cave in Yucatan and then interpolate 100,000 years of human history with it.


Geologists are now suspicious that there was NEVER an ice free route between Siberia and the present day United States.

Basic DNA facts that you should know

  • Humans with Southeast Asian or proto-Polynesian skeletons, were living at the Monte Verde Site near the coast of Chile over 14,000 years ago.  In recent years, archaeologists have found extensive evidence that Mesoamerica and South America were populated by peoples in boats following the coast lines and living off of seafood . . . including a large intake of seaweed.
  • The oldest Clovis points and the oldest currently known pre-Clovis tools/points have been found on the Savannah River at the Topper Site. The greatest concentration of Clovis Points are found in the Cumberland and Duck River Valleys of central Tennessee.  The Clovis Points in South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee predate any known human camp sites in Alaska.
  • Dr. Ray Burden, a recently retired professor from the University of Tennessee, is heading up our Uchee DNA Study.  The POOF Uchees have their own Facebook site, too.   So far Uchee’s have been found to carry Panoan (Peru), Sami, Finnish, Scandinavian, Pre-Gaelic Irish/Scottish, Basque and Maori DNA.   I told him that I had a less precise genetics test about 13 years ago and was puzzled that I was shown to be part Polynesian.  Guess that is how the lab interpreted the Maori DNA, which is actually from the Togha-re, who also settled in the Southeast.  The Panoan DNA comes from the Apalache Creeks, who often intermarried with the Uchee.
  • There are no DNA test markers for the majority of Sami tribes.  Until recently,  all genetics labs in the world were using a Sami test marker obtained from a handful of blond-haired, blue-eyed Southern Sami in a urban center, whose ancestors have been mixing with Scandinavians for 2,500 years.  However, more precise DNA testing being carried out by the worlds top DNA lab at the University of Copenhagen have determined that most Scandinavian Swedes – north of the province of Skana – carry up to 38% Siberian DNA.
  • There are NO DNA test markers for any of the Southeastern indigenous tribes, present or past.  The current generation of geneticists are not even aware that the Muskogeans have the same blood type (virtually 100% O+ primitive) as Mesoamericans and peoples in Peru.  They certainly are not aware that the Uchee came from northwestern Europe and that many tribes in the Southeast represent a mixing of Uchee DNA with AmerIndian DNA.  Very few anthropologists are even aware that Arawaks occupied a significant area of the Lower Southeast at the time of the Spanish Conquest.
  • There are NO DNA test markers for any of the Midwestern or Northeastern tribes, present or past.  The DNA samples of anyone with Native American ancestry are compared to DNA test markers taken from Algonquian skeletons in northern Quebec to determine their Native American ancestry. 
  • There are only DNA test markers for a few major indigenous ethnic groups in Mexico.  INAH is now trying to develop DNA test markers for the smaller tribes, but are hampered because, just as in the case of the Southeast, about 98% of the Pre-Hispanic population of Mexico was killed off in a few decades by catastrophic plagues.  One plague alone in the mid-1500s killed 85% of the indigenous peoples of central Mexico.
  • Tamachichi – Yucatan lady

    As part of their comprehensive DNA study, Mexican scientists have determined that there were Australoids living in Oaxaca State and Polynesians living in the Valley of Mexico prior to the arrival of any American Indians.  Polynesians definitely occupied Baja California and the Los Angeles-San Diego region of Gringo California until made extinct in the mid-1800s by immigrant Gringos.  They have also found an ancient Southeast Asian skeleton in the Yucatan Peninsula.  This woman looked very much like the famous Georgia Creek mikko,  Tamachichi . . . who had a Maya name.  Semitic or Phoenician DNA is also showing up in the DNA of some branches of the Mayas in Campeche State.  So far, it has not been determined whether the mixing occurred before or after the Spanish Conquest.

  • The Choctaw, Chickasaw and several branches of the Creeks are descended from the very tall Toltec tribes of eastern Mexico.  The Aztecs and European diseases virtually exterminated these peoples.  Mexican anthropologists are just now trying to obtain DNA test markers for Toltec peoples.
  • Peruvian scientists have obtained DNA test markers for most existing indigenous ethnic groups, but several major ethnic groups were almost completely wiped out by smallpox and other European diseases.  Just recently, Peruvian geneticists have determined that the blue eyes, which appear in some indigenous Peruvian peoples ARE NOT from being raped by Spanish Conquistadors, but rather these people carry some the same genes carried by Scandinavians.
  • There are no DNA test markers for most of the tribes in South America.   DNA test markers for major groups of people, living east of the Andes, such as the Panoans, Arawaks, Tupi and Guarani are based on a few samples, which may not reflect the DNA of other branches of these large, dispersed ethnic groups.


The new version of the Alaska Land Bridge theory is that Native Americans waited in Alaska for awhile and then later moved south.

What this PBS documentary didn’t tell you

The skeleton of a teenage girl at the bottom of a water-filled cave was actually discovered in 2007, not recently, as the TV program makes you think.  The skeleton was tampered with by looters until being removed by underwater archaeologists several years later.

The program stated that the skeleton carried a genotype only found in the Americas, so her ancestors obviously evolved in Alaska.  That is not really the whole story.  First of all, there are no DNA test markers for most indigenous groups in the Americas.  Secondly, THE COMBINATION of genes that make up the known indigenous American DNA markers first appeared in northwestern Russia, not too far from Finland.  They are NOT found in Siberia, but all current maps show the ancestors of Native Americans traversing 7,000 miles across Russia and Siberia to reach Alaska, when the closest route by far would be across southern Scandinavia and the edge of the Arctic ice cap.  Anthropologists have no explanation why there are no peoples in eastern Siberia, closely related to indigenous Americans, other than the Inuit.

There are hundreds of under-water islands in the North Atlantic, which would have been exposed during the height of the Ice Age.

The westward route would have been much shorter,  rich with sea life for food and much warmer.  Remember, even today Siberia regularly drops down to -75 degrees F. in the winter, while the Gulf Stream keeps the Faeroe Islands at a temperature range about the same as typical of coastal Virginia in the winter. If the Australoids settled Australia by 55,000 BC,  the proto-Americans could easily have island hopped across the North Atlantic 25,000 years later.

If modern Native Americans arrived first on the Atlantic Coast, it would explain why the Clovis Culture first appeared on the Lower Savannah River then spread north and westward to the rest of North America.  It makes no sense for humans to have spread southward from Alaska, when the largest Ice Age populations were in Central Tennessee, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Savannah River Basin, eastern North Carolina and northern Florida!

This skeleton had many serious injuries, including seriously broken bones that had healed prior to her premature death.   She also carried a baby when she was too young for her pelvis to expand correctly at delivery.  There were periods in her short life, when she had inadequate nutrition.  The only interpretation stated by the archaeologists interviewed was that she had been repeatedly brutalized by a gang of males, wanting to have sex with her.  Oh really?  From the time of the Neanderthals onward, there are numerous examples of females of all ages being buried with great care and honor . . . and not having multiple injuries.   There are many other explanations.

What immediately came to my mind was that she was a member of a small band of humans, who were under attack from a larger group from another ethnic group.  Therefore, her skeleton was not typical of the inhabitants of Yucatan,  Perhaps she was a war captive and committed suicide.  She may have been tossed into the 100 feet deep pit by her captors.  Whatever the case, the archaeologists’ speculations should not have been presented by the program as facts.

The last part of the NOVA program focused on recent archaeological discoveries in southwestern Alaska.  For at least 20,000 years during the last Ice Age,  there was a vast region of grassland and tundra connection Siberia and Alaska.  Most of Alaska WAS NOT covered in an Ice Cap.

A few Ice Age skeletons and camp sites have been unearthed by Alaskan archaeologists.  NO Clovis points have been found in Alaska.  The stone tools and points, associated with these handful of camp sites are very crude compared to Clovis, Folsom and Dalton points found in the United States and Mexico, but identical to what was made in Siberia at the time.  One of the baby skeletons was analyzed to obtain a DNA profile.  The researchers discovered that she’d lived around 11,500 years ago, but that her genetic code matched neither of the two Native American populations known to exist during that time.  The TV program seems to tell you the opposite.   They gleefully announced that Ice Age peoples in Alaska carried all the DNA also found in Native Americans, but folks . . . than is not how DNA profiles work.  The girl’s DNA was typical of Siberia, not farther south in North America.

The program announcer then stated that no Native American DNA had been found outside the Americas.  He then told us as a fact that all the Native American DNA in the United States had been traced to the peoples, who camped out in southwestern Alaska.  One of the lines on the map went from Alaska to the heart of Creek Country.  Only trouble is that NO DNA markers exist for Southeastern tribes and the origins of the Muskogean tribes were in Mexico, Peru, the Caribbean Basin, South America and Northwestern Europe.

The program then focused on a 9,000 year-old camp site in Alaska and stated that these people later moved south and created the Clovis Culture.  Say what?   The Clovis Culture and come and gone in the Southeast before this camp site in Alaska was ever occupied.

The program closed with a mixed-blood Native American archaeologist announcing that we now know that all the peoples, whose DNA would create Native Americans, camped together and intermarried in Alaska then spread out to populate all the Americas.

Oh really?    There were Austialoids living in southwestern Mexico and the interior of Brazil, plus Polynesians living in the Valley of Mexico before this Alaska campsite was even occupied.

Making an ant hill out of a single ant

The entire body of speculative facts, presented by this program were based on three skeletons . . .  a teenage girl in Yucatan, a baby boy in Montana and a baby girl in Alaska.  With genetics in such a state of flux and so much of the world not thoroughly surveyed by archaeologists, it is completely unscientific and statistically unsound to make broad interpolations and rigid statements of facts as these superficially scientific TV programs are doing these days. 

The landscape of eastern North America is very different today than 12,000 years ago.  The edge of the ocean was 100 miles east of where it is today in South Carolina, Georgia and northern Florida.  Incalculable volumes of mud and organic debris washed into the Appalachian Valleys of the Southeast, when the permafrost caps of mountains thawed.  Throughout Eastern North America, major rivers have deposited deep covers of alluvial soil.  The surface of Etowah Mounds National Historic Landmark is at least 15 feet higher than it was in 1886.  Long ridges on the east side of the Mississippi were created by winds blowing off the Great Plains.  A debris ridge that is still as much as 85 feet tall, was left on the Georgia Coast by a tsunami around 539 AD.   That same asteroid or comet erased most of the barrier islands on the coast of Florida.

The impetus, however, seems to be coming from the archaeology profession itself.  There is a profound tendency among Gringo archaeologists, which I did not see in Mexico or Scandinavia, to think that the only way to get the adulation they desire is to present speculations as ironclad facts.  This automatically puts them into cliques that eternally battle each other to prove whose right.  When new information appears that discredits their speculations, they rise angrily to protect their obsolete perspective. And thus, the situation quickly degenerates into a confrontation of swollen egos rather than a thirst for new knowledge.


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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    How grateful I am to have found your website and blog!


    Hey Richard
    Im glad to be stuck with you charting a new course in native american history. Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you sir . . . actually, it is far less stressful. LOL


    Hi Richard
    Good job reviewing the NOVA program, I saw it a week or so ago & also saw a lot of red flags flying about, Indeed the female’s skeleton was found a while back & at once the word went out that she was the “oldest” found in Mesoamerica. All well and good but just because shes latest “oldest one” found doesn’t mean that someone older won’t be found tomorrow or onward down the road in some other excavation & not necessarily in another cenote. Now either she was very brave or very foolish to go wandering about that cave alone. As she was a mother of a possibly living child it doesn’t make sense she was off alone exploring. She would have found water before going so deep into the cave needing a torch for light. So the show’s interpretation of her life/death can not be taken as the last word on her.
    A lot was also made of the Montana baby’s age & DNA & he was reburied near where he was found by tribal representatives. I believe that many peoples followed the west coast down to Mexico & on down to end of South America by boat. Very old remains have been found in the Channel Islands off California. No Clovis points there either that I can remember. I thought the Topper site Soluterian points found there & elsewhere had settled who came first & from where they migrated.
    Our family YDNA tested through my brother’s DNA test which showed our Saami ancestry we knew about from our great grandfather who immigrated from Sweden in 1892 with his southern Swedish wife. Great grandpa liked to be photographed so we have pics of him as both young & old man. He was a short,slender man with dark skin, black hair & very blue eyes. His wife was a green eyed blond beauty who at over six foot towered over him. They were never photographed standing together she was always seated. Though he received a good education for a Saami at that time (he spoke the Saami language, Swedish, French & English), he had lived the old ways when young living in seasonal camps, following reindeer herds in northern Sweden where he was born.. He passed down many stories & folk remedies. The Saami were treated in Sweden almost as badly as our Creek ancestors. So the coming together of Creek & Saami families is like our coming full circle back to our roots, like calling to like.

    • Evidently, I am part Sami too. Well, all the Scandinavians thought I was a Sami when I worked there. LOL My obsolete DNA test mixed Scandianvian, Sami and Finnish together as a percentage, but close relatives are showing up with significant levels of Sami DNA markers, even though we thought the white side of my family came only from Scotland. They are also showing up with Panoan, Basque, Maori and Pre-Gaelic Irish DNA markers . . . the combination being a sure sign of Uchee ancestors. However, we know that we are mixed Apalache-Creek and Uchee so that was no big surprise.


    My wife’s people are from East TX and coastal MS. She is fair-skinned with almond brown eyes and was always told she was part Cherokee via a great-grandmother “Dove” who changed her name to “Peggy” when she married a white man. But her DNA showed up Yakut, a migratory tribe from southern Russia. Russians brought Yakuts to Alaska but I can find none in the central South—unless the Spanish brought them along wi Saphadic Jews to mine gold in N AL. Anybody got a clue?

    • Roger, as I said, there are no DNA test markers for the Southeastern tribes. There were hundreds of distinct tribes in the Southeast at the time of Columbus’s voyage. The region was almost as densely occupied as Mexico. It is quite possible that one of the Southeastern tribes were originally Yakut. It is very rare to find a Cherokee with more than 2% Asiatic (Native American) DNA. Many have none.


        Thanks, Richard.

        I am friends wi Al Goodyear who has been working the Topper Site. He says 40,000 years BCE, but won’t say what he really thinks as he would not get invited to any more cocktail parties.

        Do you have any theories about pre-Clovis bones being irradiated by a pre-historic comet strike? We found a stone point here lashed to a bone handle that defied attempts to radio-carbon. The lab attributed it to atmospheric nuclear testing during the 1950’s. W laughed.

        • Actually Roger, I don’t get into theories and really am not qualified to talk about the effects of radiation. I have always had great confidence in Dr. Goodyear’s research and was outraged when his peers tried to non-person him. I was particularly amused that one of his most bitter critics suddenly switched 180 degrees when he found pre-Clovis points in his home state of Texas.

          I just follow the evidence. If you watch my videos on Georgia’s petroglyphs, I merely prove that they are the same as those during the Bronze Age in Europe and state that the Uchees always said that they came across the Atlantic Ocean from the Home of the Sun.

          I was quite amused when the Georgia archaeologists jabbered on and on in 2012 about my “theory of the Mayas migrating to Georgia.” Like most Georgia Creeks I am part Maya, my ancestors spoke many Itza words and called themselves Itsate = Itza People in the Itza language. One archaeologist from another part of the country, who had spent his life working at Highland Maya sites, traveled here to set me straight. Instantly, when he met me in person, he exclaimed, “My God, you are a Kekchi Maya. The Mayas really did come here!.” LOL


            Email me at I got some photos for you.


    I am so happy I found your site and very much enjoy all your emails and videos. I too saw the Nova special on finding the girl in the cave. I was fascinated by it until they again referred they probably got there by the land mass migration coming down from Alaska.
    If Columbus could sail the Ocean Blue I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand that many other groups did also. I am very dismayed by the lack of open mindedness and lack of professionalism among the archaeologists of our day and the past. Many artifacts and mounds have been lost or destroyed all over the United States because the real value of them were not realized. I am grateful for the work and awareness you are bringing to Georgia.


    I was most pleased to find this article and plan to quote it in our newsletter this month. I have had many discussions with people here in West Virginia and in the surrounding states about the specific issues around DNA testing and the often misleading results for people from this area. I recently spent hours trying to counsel a family being torn apart by one of those DNA testing “mills” that said there was no “NA” DNA in their bloodline even though they have specific documentation from the Census saying that Granny was “Indian” and long-term relationships with cousins on the Eastern Band Cherokee Rolls. Can you point me to specific references about the Southeastern Tribes having no defined DNA markers?
    An absolutely brilliant article!


    If you have not already, I suggest that you who are researchers visit the Indian Steps Museum, just south of Columbia, PA along the Susquehanna River.

    I’m no researcher, and have no archaeology credentials, but the photos of some of the Indian peoples in the museum suggested European contact, although no intermarriage was also claimed. Having read some of the writings of professionals in this field, to me it suggests that there is an effort to dismiss any and all contact of pre-Columbus eastern US American Indians with Europe. There’s not even a study made that suggests this. That was a red flag to me so I looked further and came across your website.

    My lineage goes back to the original German settler, Conrad Weiser, who came here in 1693 with his father. He lived for a time with the Mohawks’ as a guest of the tribal chief, gaining extensive knowledge of their language, and was responsible for many of the treaties and legal challenges that protected the Indians in parts of eastern Pennsylvania. Note that Pennsylvania is one of the states that has no Indian Reservations.


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We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

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