Re: Early Amerind assimilation (Was: Re: Romans in the New World?)

Anthony West (aawest@CritPath.Org)
Mon, 5 Aug 1996 01:57:43 GMT

In article <4tt3g4$> (Eric Brunner) writes:
>Anthony West (aawest@CritPath.Org) wrote:
>: In article <4tr1hh$> Beth Williams) writes:
>: >In <DvG3oo.3I3@CritPath.Org> aawest@CritPath.Org (Anthony West) writes:
>: >
>Well, now that you've demolished the only known forensic anthropologist
>who is a regular subscriber to sci.anth/sci.arch, what ever can we look
>forward to next? You will let us know when you take on the luminaries of
>sci.stat.math, won't you?
Demolished? Good heavens, I don't think Mary Beth
demolishes that easily.

She has made a claim that there is a virtual
absence of meaningfully studied human remains
within the Afro/Euro communities of the colonial
period. I find her professional notes most
interesting but would suggest a second opinion,
as in my casual and unprofessional experience
I have seen reports of professionally handled
digs from that period which appeared to include
human remains.

You would suggest no second opinion, I gather.

>What dishonesty. A foreign adult population is first a candidate for
>forensic racing to determin if racing indicators support a hypothesis
>of measureable interbreeding with the indigenous population, then it
>suddenly entirely composed of (abuse of a well-known anthropological
>and archaeological term) purpose-built "outlivers", then this same
>sample group is not a candidate for testing the measurability or the
>validity of the racing indicator hypothesis. I wouldn't be surprised
>if all nine of these circa 1640 persons started posting next, from a
>"CritPath.Org" address.
You work hard to miss the point, Eric.

>: >3) The institution (St. Mary's?) may have *touted the find* but are the
>: >bones still on their shelves, waiting for further research, or were
>: >they summarily reinterred, as most white remains are?
>: >
>: Beats me. Please explain to me why we should care.
>Why we (and jrandom journalists with attitudinal complexes are not part
>of the "we") do care in real life is due to our awareness of repatriation
By all means, deal with these issues, which have
great moral importance. But this is a sidetrack
to the question of how to reexamine data from
previously examined specimens of this period.

>This absence of dominant group remains for scientific study
If true...

>does rather
>preclude scientific study of any forensic issues, including the one which
>is the focus of this thread, even if one overlooks the pseudo-scientific
>nature of the metric possed, or the evidence standards (sampling size and
>provenence) suggested, or the racial rather than material cultural focus
>of the thesis at test.
I am as interested in cultural as in biological aspects
of this subject - more so, probably.

>: Interesting. I don't think this is well-known in Phila.
>: Get your facts in order and I'll write you up.
>Umm, I suspect that this is less of an honor than a burden, being the
>subject of some even competent journalist's "write up",
You may be right there, Eric! It may not do a skeleton
much good to get dug up, either. That's why I only
work with volunteers.

>: >2) There was no *social frontier* between these urban blacks and local
>: >American Indians (who, by this point, had been removed to *Indian
>: >Territory*.)
>: >
>: An analysis of this population with
>: respect to Indian features would address (positively
>: or negatively) the degree of penetrance of Indian
>: genes into this important early Afro-Am community at
>: this time.
>Again, conclusion of utility is offered prior to a defense of the utility
>of the metric. What is to be measured, and how is it to be measured, and
>if the data is statistical (and it is), what are the statistical rules of
>evidence to be followed (the "freshman bedazzlement insight" issue). These
>are methodological questions which must be resolved before being applied
>to data,

>let alone before reaching conclusions as to their utility, let
>alone before reaching conclusions based upon their presumed utilty.
Most researchers do not develop metrics in the
absence of any theoretical interest in the
phenomenon they would measure, and then go
groping around for things to measure with their
nice new metrics.

>: >>Indians have, by now, genetically affected white and
>: >>black American societies.
>: >
>: >Do you have some evidence to back up this hypothesis? As Jeff Baker
>: >stated, many Euro-Americans argue that they have *Indian blood* in
>: >them, usually a Cherokee princess or two, and for many reasons, such
>: >claims, without proof, should be taken with a grain of salt.
>: >
>: Get out of Amherst, MB, and come to Philadelphia. Not
>: typically thought of as an Indian center. My best friend
>: is part-Maumee, my plumber is part-Cherokee, an artist
>: at my paper is part-Lenape. Interestingly, the last
>: fellow (along with his dad) is living in the original
>: Lenape village area of Shackamaxon (now known as Fishtown),
>: which is a part of old Philadelphia. YOU tell THEM who
>: they're not; I won't.
>: This point is not debatable, unless you are arguing that
>: NO Euro/Afro-Americans carry Indian blood today. May I
>: quote you?
>It would be an improvement over the re-write that appears here. Ms. Williams
>referred to Jeff Baker's observation on the suspect character of many of
>the claims made without supporting records by contemporary moderns. This is
>not an unknown phenomena and several years ago the FAQ for soc.culture.native
>had the following contribution added to address just this issue. I quote it
>for its modern sociological relevance. The author is Vine Deloria.
[True, but irrelevant, "Indian Princess" rant deleted.]

>The issue of this thread however is not racing moderns, it is the forensic
>racing of human remains, presumably from the Contact Period
Wrong. It asks questions as to the flow of information
- both cultural and genetic - from Native groups to
Euro/Afro groups in America, starting either in early
Post-Contact times or at a later date. We know there
was an information flow in the opposite direction and
that scientists as well as non-scientists can discuss
it. You seem desperately anxious to prove that the
contrary information flow should be kept off limits.
But I don't think that will work.

>: I'm not about "proving," MB. I'm about asking.
>Sigh. Questions which have no means of answering, or for which the "answer"
>is the "question" are not what we do.
You mean questions *you* have no means of
answering at this time, and probably do not
wish to answer. I understand that I have
reached the limit of what you have to contribute
to this inquiry. Thank you and I appreciate
your posts.

In my entirely anecdotal and random experience,
most white and black Americans who claim Indian
ancestry are not college boys with headbands
and peacepipes. They are not fatcats sitting on
real estate parcels that Indians are suing to

They are unpretentious working-class people who
have no interest at all in issues of racial
guilt. But they have family histories that they
remember. They might be sketchy on details but
they are not inclined to make up useless fairy
tales about "Indian princesses." Any one of them
might be wrong about her Indian ancestry.

Collectively, however, they exist, as surely as
the Maliseet and Micmac exist. The burden of
proof is not on me, or them, to prove their
existence. That would rest on someone who
attempted to argue that they are all - every
last mother's son of them - confabulators.
Which I take to be your position.

>Eric Brunner
Tony West