Re: DNA and Native Americans

karl h schwerin (schwerin@UNM.EDU)
Mon, 5 Feb 1996 15:14:13 -0700

On Wed, 31 Jan 1996, ray scupin wrote:

> Colleagues:
> Back in 1993 Douglas Wallace at Emory did some mtDNA research on
> various populations around the world and concluded that Native Americans
> are closely related to Southeast Asians, Melanesians and Polynesians. He
> claimed that ancient mariners must have come across the Pacific to the
> Americas. I thought that this Thor Heyerdahl-like thesis had been
> definitely debunked through other genetic studies that supported linguist=
ic and
> archaeological research. (Wallace's research was also publicized in a
> front page Wall St. Journal article, Nov. 10, 1993).
> Can anyone refer me to any work that would clarify, support, or
> refute Wallace's hypothesis?
> Thanks in advance,
> Ray Scupin
> *************************************************************************=
> Raymond Scupin
> Sociology/Anthropology Dept.
> Lindenwood College
> 209 S. Kingshighway
> St. Charles, MO 63301
> 314-949-4730 (Office)
> 314-949-9244 (Home)
> 314-949-4730 (Fax)
> Not chaos-like, together crushed and bruised,
> But, as the world harmoniously confused:
> Where order in variety we see,
> And where, though all things differ, all agree
> Alexander Pope
> "Windsor-Forest."
> *************************************************************************=
Ray -=20
Both Southeast Asians and American Indians seem to be descended from a=20
generalized "Mongoloid" population that originated somewhere in northern=20
Asia during the Pleistocene, thus they would share a good deal of genetic=
similarity. The general view is that Polynesians and Melanesians=20
developed out of Asian populations that moved into the Pacific and mixed=20
with other populations of disparate genetic origins as they did so=20
(perhaps with additional evolutionary adaptations as well). Thus they=20
should all share some basic genetic characteristics.

As to the second part of your query - I've always found it amazing that=20
we readily accept the Polynesian expansion throughout the whole of the=20
Pacific from New Zealand to Hawaii to Easter Island (geographic range,=20
not temporal sequence), yet pull up short at any suggestion of contact=20
with the Americas. Doesn't it seem likely that voyagers who could travel=
that widely would have come upon the American shore once or several=20
times? What is important in that argument, however, is that if the=20
dating for the Polynesian expansion is correct (sometime between 1000=20
B.C. and 1 A.D.), their arrival in the Americas would have been too late=20
to have had much cultural impact in terms of stimulating cultural=20
development. The Americas were already developed - Maya and Teotihuacan=20
in Mesoamerica, Chavin followed by numerous cities in the Intermediate=20
Period on the Peruvian coast. =20

In fact, it is generally accepted that the Polynesians had sweet=20
potatoes prior to European contact. Since these originated in South=20
America, how did they get them except by contact with some part of the=20
American m
So the critical question is not whether or not there was contact, but=20

Karl Schwerin=09=09=09SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico=09=09=09 Albuquerque, NM 87131

=09There are people who will help you get your basket
=09on your head because they want to see what is in it.
=09=09=09=09 -- African proverb