DNA Shows Earliest Americans Arrived in Three Waves

Nicholas Wade, MSNBC, July 11, 2012

North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia rather than just a single migration, say researchers who have studied the whole genomes of Native Americans in South America and Canada.

Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today’s Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America. The research was published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The finding vindicates a proposal first made on linguistic grounds by Joseph Greenberg, the great classifier of the world’s languages. He asserted in 1987 that most languages spoken in North and South America were derived from the single mother tongue of the first settlers from Siberia, which he called Amerind. Two later waves, he surmised, brought speakers of Eskimo-Aleut and of Na-Dene, the language family spoken by the Apache and Navajo.

But many linguists who specialize in American languages derided Dr. Greenberg’s proposal, saying they saw no evidence for any single ancestral language like Amerind. “American linguists made up their minds 25 years ago that they wouldn’t support Greenberg, and they haven’t changed their mind one whit,” said Merritt Ruhlen, a colleague of Dr. Greenberg, who died in 2001.


A team led by David Reich of Harvard Medical School and Dr. Andres Ruiz-Linares of University College London reported that there was a main migration that populated the entire Americas. They cannot date the migration from their genomic data but accept the estimate by others that the migration occurred around 15,000 years ago. {snip}

They also find evidence for two further waves of migration, one among Na-Dene speakers and the other among Eskimo-Aleut, again as Dr. Greenberg predicted. But whereas Dr. Greenberg’s proposal suggested that three discrete groups of people were packed into the Americas, the new genome study finds that the second and third waves mixed in with the first. {snip}


If the genetics of the early migrations to the Americas can be defined well enough, it should in principle be possible to match them with their source populations in Asia. Dr. Greenberg had argued on linguistic grounds that the Na-Dene language family was derived from Ket, spoken by the Ket people in the Yenisei valley of Siberia. But Dr. Reich said there was not yet enough genomic data from Asia or the Americas to make these links. His samples of Na-Dene and Ket DNA did not match, but the few Ket samples he had may have become mixed with DNA from people of other ethnicities, so the test, in his view, was inconclusive.

{snip} Native Americans in the United States have been reluctant to participate in inquiries into their origins. The Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society wrote recently to all federally recognized tribes in the United States asking for samples, but only two agreed to give them, said Spencer Wells, the project director.

Interracial marriage—or admixture, as geneticists call it—may have distorted earlier efforts to trace ancestry because subjects assumed to be American may have had European or other DNA admixed in their genomes. Dr. Reich and his colleagues have developed a method to define the racial origin of each segment of DNA and have found that on average 8.5 percent of Native American DNA belongs to other races. They then screened these admixed sections out of their analysis.


The geneticists’ finding of a single main migration of people who presumably spoke a single language at the time confirms Dr. Greenberg’s central idea that most American languages are descended from a single root, even though the genetic data cannot confirm the specific language relationships he described.

“Many linguists put down Greenberg as rubbish and don’t believe his publications,” Dr. Ruiz-Linares said. But he considers his study a substantial vindication of Dr. Greenberg. “It’s striking that we have this correspondence between the genetics and the linguistics,” he said.

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  • JohnEngelman

    There is no mention of anyone from Europe before the Vikings. 

    • The__Bobster

      Worse yet, there is no mention of anyone from Europe before the Indians. 

      • JohnEngelman

        That is because there is no credible evidence of anyone from Europe before the Indians. 

  • The finding vindicates a proposal first made on linguistic grounds by Joseph Greenberg, the great classifier of the world’s languages.

    The answer was before us all along but few linguists wanted to believe it.

    Native Americans are not known for their scientific achievements or their quest for scientific truths. They  don’t seem interested in learning about their history in a scientific and methodical manner.  

    I doubt this second piece of evidence will be of any interest to Native Americans. They cling to their creation mythology which seems to make them happy. Of course, Christians have their creation mythology but they also have science. One population advances while the other remains in the Stone Age.

  •  Yeah check out the “cloud people” of Peru.  They were white men and women with blonde hair and blue eyes and were well known to the brown Peruvians living there at the time.

    • JohnEngelman

      Cieza de León remarked that, among the indigenous Peruvians, the Chachapoyas [Cloud People] were unusually fair-skinned and famously beautiful:

      “They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas’ wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple (…) The women and their husbands always dressed in woolen clothes and in their heads they wear theirllautos, which are a sign they wear to be known everywhere.”

      These comments have led to claims, not supported Cieza de León’s chronicle, that the Chachapoyas were blond-haired and European in appearance. The chronicle’s use of the term “white” here pre-dates its emergence as a racial classification. Another Spanish author,Pedro Pizarro, described all indigenous Peruvians as “white.” Although some authors have quoted Pizarro saying that Chachapoyas were blond, these authors do not quote him directly; instead they quote remarks attributed to him and others by Nazi race scientistJacques de Mahieu in support of his thesis that Vikings had brought civilization to the Americas.[1][2] Following up on these claims, anthropologist Inge Schjellerup examined the remains of Chachapoyans and found them consistent with other ancient Peruvians. She found, for example, a universal occurrence of shovel-shaped upper incisors and a near-complete absence of Carabelli’s cusp on upper molars — characteristics consistent with other Amerindians and inconsistent with Europeans.[3]

  • The TRUE HISTORY of the White Race and the Americas – You Will Be BLOWN AWAY!


    • Excellent link!   Thank you, I am going to pass that one along to my email list.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    ” Native Americans in the United States have been reluctant to participate in inquiries into their origins”

    Of course they have, they are afraid to find that a lot of the Eastern American Indians have  European ancestors, and not recent ones either.

    “Interracial marriage—or admixture, as geneticists call it—may
    have distorted earlier efforts to trace ancestry because subjects
    assumed to be American may have had European or other DNA admixed in
    their genomes.”

    DUH! That is what a lot of us have been saying. They need to test some pre Colombian Indian skeletons.  Probably wouldn’t like what they would find. 

  • This is all pretty deep stuff, if you’re not a geneticist. But in a way the reaction of many scientists to Greenberg’s findings reminds me of the absurd insistence of so many “experts” on the DNA background of the people of India, that there was “no such thing as an Aryan Invasion,” that it is simply “a myth concocted in the 19th Century by British colonialists to justify their imperialism.” Of course there was an Aryan Invasion; it’s traceable in the DNA of modern Indians. And I suspect Greenberg is right about the three waves of non-Whites who originally populated America.

    • Ryan

       I was at an East Indian restaurant when I told a friend of my wife that she was in fact half white. She was a light skinned East Indian. Thinking back on it now, I can’t for the life of me understand how she couldn’t see it herself. The waiter was East Indian too and was almost as dark as some really dark Blacks. The contrast between her and the waiter was pretty severe.

      She seemed to accept it as truth, though it almost seemed to come as a surprise for her.

      It boggles the mind when some people think that race goes by nationality and not a central source that spread and mixed with others.

      I found March of the Titans an interesting read; at least when it came to the spreading of White people throughout Africa and Asia.

  • What about the people in South America.  They are more advanced than other North American people and even Siberian people.  Where did they come from?  South American people had an advanced civilization but did not have the wheel or iron.

    • The__Bobster

      Actually, their toys had wheels, but somehow they never thought about any practical applications of the wheel.

  • Maybe the Book of Mormon is right? No, I’m not a Mormon; I’m just sayin’.

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

       One co-incidence doesn’t render an obvious fraud to be fact.  Remember, those “golden tablets” were never produced by Joseph Smith.

    • JohnEngelman


       1.  The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book. 

      2.  The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World–probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age–in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.               

      3.  Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.             

      4.  One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time when the early big game hunters spread across the Americas.)
       5.  Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was worked in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.           

      6.  There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by no means certain that even such contacts occurred; certainly there were no contacts with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asian and the Near East.            

      7.  No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt.              

      8.  Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to hare occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.http://www.godandscience.org/cults/smithsonian.html

  • American Indians don’t like this kind of stuff because they want the world to believe they just popped up here one day independent of any human migration, because that would mean they are “immigrants” to this land too.

  • Global Minority

    American Indains of course don’t like this becasue they would have to give up their false claims and entitlement that this was their land to start. It’s bolony.

    • I agree; we do not owe anything to those genocidal creatures.

      PS: I wonder what the “edit” was?

  • So, they’re like Indo-Europeans ? Not a big surprise …

  • zimriel

     The Incas were brilliant engineers and had, I think, entered the Bronze Age on their own; but they didn’t have much in the way of writing. The Caribs and Polynesians were gifted sailors but were in the Stone Age. The Maya had astronomy, writing, and mathematics but were stuck in the jungle (and, Stone Age, again).

    The Americas were cursed by not having a continent aligned for cross-civilisational trade, as was Eurasia / North Africa.

    (Since… I’m at AmRen… I do have to account for the lower Mesoamerican IQ of today. I’m not going to deny it. I think it is the result of dysgenics post-Columbus. We’re getting the descendents of centuries of Hacienda serfs. The Aztecs themselves were the intellectual peers of the Spaniards and swiftly intermarried with them. Their Totonac and Mixtec peasants, er, maybe not so much.)

  • zimriel

    The only finding that should offend Amerinds would be a finding that some of them came in from Europe. The only hypothesis that even attempts showing how that is possible is the Solutrean Hypothesis, that the Solutrean Culture in the Old World gave rise to the Clovis Culture in the New.

    The latest on the SH is out in the book “Across Atlantic Ice”. Unfortunately… it’s not a good book. And studies like this one in Nature are further emphasising the Siberian / Beringian origins and making it harder to show any alternative.

    Now, that some Amerinds (not the Cloud People) do have some central Eurasian DNA, from the Urals through the X2 matrilineal line – that is undeniable. But it seems they’d tagged along with the Asians through Beringia.

  • zimriel

    You mean the Solutrean Hypothesis. I didn’t catch your post (I was searching on “Solutrean”), otherwise I’d have responded to this instead of making an original post. Sorry. Anyway the SH is being taken seriously, now… but it’s getting a beating in the peer-reviewed press.

  • Concensus is that Greenberg’s Amerind is invalid, and linguistic theories can’t be proven or disproven by genetics…

    But craniometry already confirmed the Mongoloid element is strongest among the Eskimo-Aleuts and in the Pacific Northwest, that they’re a late arrival and that the Indians of the eastern USA like the Iroquois are the least Mongoloid North Americans according to their skull shape.

  • The earliest Americans were those who founded Jamestown, and those who came on the Mayflower. Calling earlier inhabitants “American” is to peddle in falsehood.