2 Dec 1996 02:25:41 GMT

Ed Conrad ( wrote:

: Let's be realistic and use a little common sense!

: What tribal leaders, in their right mind -- from wherever they were --
: would search for ``greener pastures" by heading so far north?

Actually, the wouldn't be heading north nor would they be seeking
greener pastures. All it takes is a culture dependent on migratory
animals such as caribou.
Here in Alaska we often see smaller herds split from the parent herd,
the most recent event being a splinter herd of some 80,000 animals
breaking off from the Western Arctic Herd (around 450,000 caribou) and
heading southwest. They eventually rejoined the main herd after a month
but it is by no means the first such splintering.
Too, they can and do change their migration routes radically. In 1992
we had a very early snow here in the Interior. As a result, the herd
which normally ranges the Alaskan Range foothils about 60 miles south of
Fairbanks actually came through Fairbanks (even through town itself) and
stayed in this area most of the winter.
Caribou are unpredictable in what routes they will take sometimes and
the thought of a herd in the Russian Far East giving rise to a splinter
herd moving across the land bridge is very plausible. Equally, the
thought of a group of people following that herd is just as plausible.
Nomadic hunters go where the food is and the competition for that food is
the least.

: True, they may not have realized they were heading north (assuming
: there were no maps or compasses), but they'd soon realize it was
: getting colder and more hostile the further they traveled.

: Why would they continue? Why would they start off in the first place?
: How would they know that -- if they ever completed their trip --
: they'd be much better off than they were before?

They wouldn't necessarily be heading north. Given the size and
placement of the land bridge, more likely they would be heading east,
towards the sun, towards the source of heat, possibly following the
caribou, mammoth, bison, horse, saiga and the multitudes of other
huntable species which made up their diet.
Nor would it necessarily be colder. Very likely the climate they would
be accustomed to in the Russian Far East would prevail across the land
bridge, given its breadth. In that case they would notice very little
difference in the climate.
As to why they would make such a trip, how would they know they would
be better off? If they were following the caribou herds those would be
moot points. They'd make the trip because the herd was making the trip.
And as along as they are near the herd, they are well-off. A caribou
herd supplied a pre-contact Alaskan with just about everything they
needed. Sinew for cord, bowstrings, fishing line, etc. Fur for
incredibly warm parkas, pants, boots, mittens. Meat and vegies (stomach
contents). The bones could be formed into ladles, projectile points,
tools, even flutes and needles.
In short, with caribou around there's very little they would need for.

: What would they have done for food? Once their supply of food was
: exhausted, what did they eat? Where did they find the additional food
: they most certainly would have had to have?

See the above. Any group wandering across the land bridge was most
certainly not alone when it comes to prey species. Too, there would be
berries along the way and other edible vegetation in the summer.
A reasonable model for life on the land bridge might be the North
Slope, where you have a treeless expanse populated by musk ox, caribou,
bears (polar and grizzly), wolves. That's about it for the large
animals. But don't discount the arctic hare which can, at times, explode
in population over a couple years. Along the edges of the land bridge
whaling and seal-hunting could take place, adding to this larder. Indeed,
winter is prime seal-hunting season and icefishing can provide quite a
bit of protein for little effort.

: How about the trip itself? If it happened (which it obviously didn't),
: how did they protect themselves from the elements? After all, even if
: they made the trip in record time, they'd have spent many, many
: nine-to-10-month ``winters" in a most hostile environment.

They'd have no more trouble than did the pre-contact cultures on the
North Slope of Alaska. Indeed, given the likely range of climatic bands,
a model also exists for the interior of the land bridge: the Interior of
Alaska. Cultures have adapted to its -65 temperatures quite well, the
few hours of daylight in the depths of winter, traveling over deep snow.

: This litany of absurdities could go on and on.

: The plain and simple fact is that it never happened.

: Let the scientists who cling to this ridiculous idea give it a try to
: prove their point that it IS possible. But let them make the trip
: without themal clothing, battery-powered heaters, a stockpile of food,
: directional finders, etc., etc., etc.

: May then -- ONLY then -- they would realize how prepostrous
: the theory is.

: As I've said, all it takes is a bit of common sense to realize that
: the earliest man to inhabit of North America certainly didn't make
: the trip by cossing the Bering Strait.

: Naturally, such a ridiculous theory was originally presented because
: of an inability by the scientific community to explain man's presence
: on the North American continent.

: It was just one of many flights of fantasy by dreams and hallucinators
: who think, while you can fool some of the people all of the time and
: all of the people some of the time, you can't fool all of the people
: all of the time.

All you have to do to see how very feasible and plausible the concept is
is to look at the boundaries of the land bridge. It was wider than most
of Alaska's mainland. Given that, I would turn the question back and ask
why, if ancient cultures were able to survive the range of climate and
terrain Alaska represents why would they not be able to survive a very
similar range on the land bridge? The easiest way to look at the whole
concept is not Russian Far East here, Alaska there and this hunk of land
connecting them but one massive piece of land,
Other animals species moved back and forth along this immense area; why
not humans? The technology was already in place, the ability was already
in place. Probably to the first Americans it was not really different
from life in the Russian Far East.

And once the land bridge sank, crossing the straits is still no
problem. Until the Soviets halted all visitation, Alaskan natives would
frequently visit villages in the Russian Far East. Indeed, the boundary
between the former USSR and Alaska divided familes, families able to keep
in touch with relative ease.
So land bridge or watery straits...that area has never posed much of a
problem to human movement. History and prehistory indicates it was
common and with the technologies adapted to those areas, rather easy.

....Art, in Alaska