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Coastal Migration To Te Americas Essay

1485 words - 6 pages

According to the standard accepted theory, the Clovis people were the first inhabitants of the Americas. The Clovis people crossed the Beringia land bridge during the period of the last ice age, from there they spread across the Americas through an ice free-corridor. However, recent finding have suggested that the first people did not walk to America but came by boat. This paper will examine evidence found in Haida Gwaii and other sites along North and South America that supports a different view of human migration to the Americas, the coastal migration theory.

The peopling of the Americas “was the last great human migration, the final leg of our journey out of Africa” (Bawaya, M. How ...view middle of the document...

..). Secondly, futher evidence comes from the numerous artifacts that pre-date the Clovis, “including an astonishingly well-preserved site in South America predating the supposed migration by at least 1,000 years” (Hadingham, E. America's First Immigrants).

These new discoveries have forced scholars to reexamine and come up with other ideas about when and how people enetered the Americas. Hadingham asks, “If the first Americans did arrive well before the oldest known Clovis settlements, how did they get here?” (Hadingham, E. America's First Immigrants). Gugliotta proposes that “maybe the first Americans didn’t walk here but came in small boats and followed the coastline”(Gugliotta, The first Americans). This paper will examine the archeological evidence found along North and South America that supports this view of coastal human migration to the Americas.

Haida Gwaii

As Hetherington points out, Haida Gwaii would have needed a suitable habitat to support a human population for a coastal migration; Hetherington states that, “The hypothesis that the first peoples of North and South America migrated via a coastal route carries with it the presumption that the Queen Charlotte Island region had a suitable climate and sufficient natural resources to make habitation possible” (Hetherington et al. Late Pleistocene). In Fedje's book, Human History & Environment from the Time of the Loon to the Time of the Iron People, Fredje shows that Haida Gwaii may have been habitable at this time, saying that “the Northwest Coast was deglaciated and available for human migration and habitation by at least 13,500 BP, while the hypothesized ice-free corridor would not have been passable until after 11,000 BP” (Fedje, time of the loon 53). Fedje also says that, “The dramatic sea level changes at the end of the last glaciation, which resulted in the exposure of large banks in Hecate Strait, caused a near twofold increase in land area for Haida Gwaii compared with today.” (Fedje, time of the loon 52). Erlandson says that these low-relief areas “may have offered broad expanses of productive intertidal and near shore habitats for early maritime peoples to hunt, forage, and gather in” (Erlanson, life of the edge). Unfortunately, much of the early history of Haida Gwaii lies deep below the waters of Hecate Strait as a result of rapid rising “of postglacial sea levels” (Fedje, time of the loon 3); “and although these would make excellent potential early habitable landscapes, they are now drowned and difficult to access” (Hetherington Later Pleistocene). Erlandson says that, “Given the difficulties posed by the Pacific Coast's history of glaciation, sea level rise, marine erosion, and landscape change, recent research has focused on finding early archaeological sites in settings where evidence of coastal or maritime occupations might be expected” (Erlandson, life on the edge). This effort has produced numerous intertidal sites which are revealing new insights regarding...

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