American Indian

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American Indians are the descendants of the inhabitants of North and South America before the coming of Europeans in 1492. Another term, "Native American", is sometimes also used to refer to American Indians in order to distinguish them from the people of India, and to emphasize their American ancestry.


In the United States there are 562 Native American tribes that retain their independent sovereignty.


Haplogroup Q-M242 is the predominant Y-DNA haplogroup among Native Americans and several peoples of Central Asia and Northern Siberia. These populations are the descendants of the major founding groups who are generally believed to have migrated from Asia into the Americas by crossing the Bering Strait.[1]

Thus, the Native-Americans are closely related to the Ket and Selkup, the highest frequencies of Q-M242 in Eurasia being witnessed in Kets (central Siberia) at 93.8% (45/48) and in Selkups (north Siberia) at 66.4% (87/131).[2]

Russian ethnographers believe that their ancient places were farther south, in the area of the Altai and Sayan mountains (Altai-Sayan region). [3] Their populations are at present small in number, being just under 1,500 and 5,000 respectively. In linguistic anthropology, the Ket language is significant as it is currently the only surviving one in the Yeniseian language family which has been linked by some scholars to the Native American Na-Dené languages[4] and, more controversially, the language of the Huns. (See: L. Lieti, E. Pulleybank,[5] E. Vajda,[6] A. Vovin,[7] etc.)

The Dene-Yeniseian is supported not only by shared grammatical features (both families are exclusively prefixing, head marking, possess shape prefixes and classifiers, and verb heavy), but dozens of regular correspondences between conlangs as well, for example-[8][9][10]

  1. to run, Tlingit joox (čʷVx), Proto-Yeniseian čɔq
  2. before, Tlingit shukát, Navajo tsi (Proto-Dene tsʷikat, see Towards the Reconstruction of Proto-Na-Dene, by Sergei Nikolaev, [11]), Proto-Yeniseian qot- (~χ-), Proto-Dene-Yeniseian tsʷVKot
  3. to see, t=uŋ, t=oŋ, Tlingit ya-teen ( < tyyn), Navajo -ʼĮ́Į́ʼ, “to look”
  4. once, (semelfactive) Tlingit tleitaheen, Navajo łah
  5. BENEFACTIVE Ket qariɣa, Navajo -ká, -á, for, for the benefit of benefactive
  6. with/by means of, Ket as/an (with vs without, Pre-Proto-Yeneseian nas/nan), Tlingit -n- (Note that initial nasals *m and *n are lost in Yeniseian, explaining the constraint against their occurrence)
  7. little, Proto-Yeniseian xim, or PY ʒVl and Proto-Athabaskan *-yažʷə (“woman's child”)
  8. to laugh, PY ǯāq- PA *də-ləqʼʷ > *dlʊ̓q’, or Tlingit √goo, happy and PY ǯāq (< dzʷVq)
  9. soft, PY p[u/o]GVm, Navajo -KǪʼ ( < PA -kʊʼN)
  10. dark, PY χoʔn, Navajo hayííłką́ (ha-yíí-ł-ką́?, < kan), morning twilight period
  11. to know, PY ʔit-, Navajo NIIʼ
  12. morning, PY pVk-, Navajo abíní
  13. water, PY to, Navajo dah-too' (dew drop),
  14. to live, PY ʔēte, Tlingit tee
  15. to use hands, PA *niʼg, Ket utoq?
  16. to sleep, PY tVn, Tlingit taa
  17. to jump, PY dōq, Navajo dah
  18. negative particle, Navajo ndagaʼ, PY ʔat
  19. to turn, PA *wątsʼ(“roll”), Tlingit haa < PND hʷentsʼ, PY pa

More evidence of the Dene-Yeniseian connection can be found in the pronouns.[12] There is also the strong correspondence between the Na-Dene palatalized velars/affricates and Yeniseian palatals- [13]

Na-Dene Proto-Yeniseian
*gʲ (or *dzʲ)
*kʲ, *kʲʼ (or *tsʲ, *tsʲʼ) *č (before original front vowels), *q (before original back vowels)
*xʲ (or sʲ) *s

However, American Indians have very different characteristics from Asians, ranging from blood types to DNA, most likely due to thousands of years of reproductive isolation as well as adaptations forced by separate climates, nutritional availability, and survival tactics.[14] Recent linguistic study shows no connection between American Indian and East Asian language, and archaeological evidence shows that each population used fundamentally different tools, suggesting no technology transfer via migration.[15]

People today who are only partly descended from those early American Indians are still considered to be American Indians if they maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. However, each Indian tribe or band has its own definitions regarding membership, some based on historical tradition, others based on rules (like blood quanta) imposed by the US Government.

In 1996 there was a discovery of fragments of a skeleton called the Kennewick Man. But serious doubts about the authenticity of these remains have resulted in litigation and criticism. Some claimed that radiocarbon dating supported an age of more than 9000 years.[16] The morphology of the Kennewick Man remains is said to differ from that of present-day Native Americans, suggesting a different ancestry[17] but there remains significant controversy about that.[18]

Despite this controversy, there has been significant evidence that certain Indian tribes do have ties to Asian peoples. For instance, numerous American Indians and Mongolians share a physical trait, known as "shovel tooth" in which the incisor has a distinctive shovel-like shape. According to geneticists, this cannot be a coincidence.[19] Another interesting piece of evidence has to do with skull measurements. According to skull measurements done in 2001 at the University of Michigan, scientists have suggested that Blackfoot, Sioux, and Cherokee Indians may have descended from the ancient, indigenous Jomon people of Japan, and related to the Ainu ethnic minority on the island of Hokkaido.[20]

Creationist explanations

Some creation scientists have pointed to the American Indian population's supposed lack of any ties to other populations as evidence of biblical veracity, though others disagree. However, it is also true that American Indian creation myths are remarkably similar to the biblical Genesis account.[21] The population was established after the destruction of the Tower of Babel, as God dispersed the nations, their languages, and skills.[22] Creation scientists are open to different migration routes.</ref>


The Book of Mormon teaches that the Native Americans are descended from Israelites who traveled to Central America by divine command. DNA and archeology strongly refute this claim.[23]

See also


  2. T. M. Karafet, 'High Levels of Y-Chromosome Differentiation among Native Siberian Populations and the Genetic Signature of a Boreal Hunter-Gatherer Way of Life', Human Biology, December 2002, v. 74, no. 6, pp. 761–789
  4. E. J. VAJDA, "Siberian Link with Na-Dene Languages." The Dene–Yeniseian Connection, ed. by J. Kari and B. Potter(2010), pp.33–99, Anthropological Papers of the University of Alaska, new series, vol. 5(2010), Fairbanks: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Anthropology
  5. E. J. Vajda, Yeniseian Peoples and Languages: A History of Yeniseian Studies with an Annotated Bibliography and a Source Guide (2013, Oxford/New York, Routledge) pp.103-106, etc.
  6. "Did the Xiong-nu speak a Yeniseian language?". Central Asiatic Journal 44 (1): 87–104. 2000. 
  7. "Did the Xiong-nu speak a Yeniseian language?". Central Asiatic Journal 44 (1): 87–104. 2000. 
  14. For example, American Indians have among the highest percentage for any ethnicity of blood type "O", while Asians have the lowest percentage. As another example, American Indian fingerprint patterns are strikingly different from Asians'.
  15. Fortescue, Michael D., Language Relations Across Bering Strait: Reappraising the Archaeological and Linguistic Evidence, 87-108.
  18. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named who
  21. American Indian Creation Myths
  22. Ronald L. Numbers, The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, 467.
  23. Documentary: DNA vs. The Book of Mormon

See also