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Clovis DNA Study

Scientists have isolated the DNA genome from a male child’s skeleton. His burial contained numerous Clovis Culture artifacts. The genome sequence is similar to indigenous peoples from Central and South America.


POOF members challenge interpretation of Clovis DNA study

Over two dozen POOF members have sent us emails this morning concerning the article about DNA being extracted from a Clovis Culture burial in Montana. Those expressing challenges to the study’s conclusions included an anthropologist, a paleontologist and a geneticist . . . all three being highly respected in their profession. With such strong convictions being expressed, we thought it would be appropriate to distribute them to the community. Since we have not asked permission to reprint the emails, the comments will be listed anonymously.

What immediately caught my eye when reading the versions of the article sent out by various news organizations was that several journalists inserted additional comments that could not be justified by the scientific report. In fact, what is now replicating itself on the web is a headline that states “DNA study proves Alaska land bridge theory.” Nothing could be further from the truth. A degree in journalism (or some other liberal arts degree) does not qualify a writer to speculate on the implications of a genetics study.

  1. “There are no accepted DNA test markers for most of the Native American tribes in the United States and Canada. A relatively small percentage of indigenous ethnic groups in Latin America have accurate DNA test markers.” How could these people make such a statement about Clovis People being only related to Central and South American indigenous peoples?”
  2. “The biggest concentration of Clovis artifacts is in the Cumberland River Valley of Tennessee. I can’t see how they linked the DNA of a single Clovis Culture skeleton in Montana to a land bridge between Alaska and Siberia. If anything, the evidence now has shifted to the Atlantic Coast!”
  3. “Here in South Carolina and also in North Carolina, we have highly respected anthropologists, who have produced strong evidence that the Clovis Culture originated in the Southeastern Piedmont or perhaps near the Fall Line. This article is way out of line in suggesting that one skeleton in Montana proves that all Native Americans reached the Western Hemisphere via the Beringia Land Bridge.”
  4. “Clovis First” is dead! Get over it folks. There is nothing about this DNA study that proves the Beringia Land Bridge theory!”
  5. Some really outstanding information from your neck of the woods, Mountain Lion. It is refreshing to read your material and put together the period with the people we have come from or with to this point in history.
  6. “I feel the genetic results are corrupted by ideology. Beware of geneticists generalizing about Native Americans from ONE example.”
  7. “I hope some day that we can get a DNA genome from the east coast. One data point from Montana is a start, but not enough.”
  8. “I always knew I was a closet mexican, lol.”
  9. “Whoever wrote this article has a short term memory. Just a few months ago you distributed two articles in which paleontologists in Oregon, Washington and Alaska had found proof that the Clovis Culture originated somewhere in eastern North America then spread northwestward. Looks like someone is trying to refute those scientific studies.”
  10. “Here in Mexico our archaeologists have found much older human skeletons and examined their DNA. They were Polynesians. We have also found Polynesian DNA in some of our modern indigenous peoples. I do not think that the scientists who did the study of the skeleton in your state of Montana really studied the DNA of indigenous peoples in Latin American before making their claims to the North American media. I would like to see the actual DNA test results and compare them to the DNA tests of Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Just because someone makes such statements does not mean that they are true.”
  11. “Personally from my perspective as mestizo Creek and some anthro/arch background, I am not surprised about the DNA. Excellent BUT what does bother me is:
    1. no native Canadian DNA for comparison.
    2. No Crow DNA yet there is the knee jerk PCness that they are entitled to remains. Why has their DNA not been even checked? Evidently none has been done on them.
    3. Montana is not an area I know a lot of history on, but I do doubt that the current natives (Crow) were there 13,000 years back. Their migration origins place them at Great Lakes in historical times, & further N&E before that. & even in Texas/Okla along rivers there. So they have low likeness of connection to the boy. They seem to have been pushed west in 1700s or so.
    4. so again we have the wasichu establishment, handing over artifacts to whoever is living there at the moment. Wasichu PC nonsense . Sound familiar?
    5. what the DNA tells us is that this band of Clovis people of were same gene poll as current SA &CA natives that is a start,. but tells us naught about migration which way.”
  12. “I am delighted that we finally have DNA information about one human buried with Clovis artifacts. However, it is ludicrous to extrapolate so many speculations from one skeleton. Whose to say that the Clovis People didn’t go across an ice bridge from northwestern Europe. I have read recently that people in Scotland and Scandinavia can have a very high level of the same DNA markers found in Native Americans. The ancestors of the Australian Aborigines crossed wide expanses of water by boats 55,000 years ago. Couldn’t the ancestors of the Clovis Culture come by water also? There have been many shifts of the North Pole. Perhaps a polar shift temporarily made crossing of the North Atlantic quite feasible.”

All members are welcome to submit commentaries on Native American related issues. The People of One Fire encourages free expression of thought. However, will will not publish statements related to partisan national politics.


Could the Yuchi’s originally been Polynesians from Mexico? They claim to be the first humans in the Southeast. Read what the Mexican archaeologist sent us.

We have received several more emails from readers, including another one from a Mexican archeologist in the INAH. She stated emphatically that the oldest known Clovis points were found in northern Mexico, not anywhere near Alaska or Montana. Here is the INAH article on that discovery. (INAH = Institutio Nacional de Antropologia e Historia)

She also stated that there is evidence of mankind’s presence in the Valley of Mexico (near Mexico City) that goes back much further than Clovis. Human footprints have been dated at 20,000 – 30,000 BC. Most recently, her agency dated three skeletons found in a cave in the Yucatan Peninsula to be over 13,600 years old. These skeletons were not from Siberia, but did share some genetic traits with certain Mexican ethnic groups. Their DNA most closely resembles modern day Polynesians, Indonesians and Filipinos.

This is an interesting website in English that she sent. Notice how much this Mexican Polynesian woman resembles some Southeastern indigenous peoples such as the Yuchi. Read more…

Here is another article in English.

This Clovis DNA article has received the most reader commentaries of any in our organization’s history. View it for yourself!

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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.

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