Cast Of Each Comic

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chapter 2 The Earliest Americans: Origins of the Native Americans

I know that with Sleepy Hollow on an early hiatus and with DA having issues since last night.  I will share Part One of Chapter 2 this week.
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A Flight Toward the Rising Sun
Fear of enemies behind them drove Omuk the Leader and his small band along.  Out of the fog these enemies had come 2 days earlier.  They were men and women dressed in furs,  looking much like the people Omuk led.  There were at least 100 of these enemies.  But Omuk's band had no more than 20 fit fighters.

Omuk and his people had fled.  The enemies had not followed for long.  But they had taken over the good hunting grounds that Omuk and his followers had enjoyed.  Now Omuk must find food for his people, or else they all would die.

The flight had led the band away from familiar landmarks.  Now Omuk the Leader was lost.  He kept the open water to the side of him as he moved on.  Always he moved in the direction of the rising sun.  Omuk and his band may have been the first people to enter America.

We do not know that there was really a man named Omuk.  But we do know there were people like Omuk in prehistoric times--that is, in those early years before there were written records.  Archaeologists say that the flight of this prehistoric band of people might well have taken place.  Archaeologists study objects, ruins, and other evidence of human life in the past.

A Land Bridge from Asia
Omuk the Leader and others like him lived at a time known as the Ice Age.  Huge sheets of ice called glaciers had pushed down from the north to cover much of North America.  Beneath the ice a narrow strip of land connected Siberia, in Asia, and Alaska, in North America.

As the Ice Age ended, the glaciers melted.  In time, the water from the melting ice covered the land bridge.  Today the land that Omuk and his band walked on is covered by the waters of the Bering Strait, which separates Siberia and Alaska.


Most scholars today accept the idea that the first people in America came across the land bridge from Asia.  But there are other ideas advanced by some.

Some Other Explanations
Some people believe that these first people in America were descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel.  Others believe that America's earliest inhabitants were related to ancient Egyptians or Greeks or perhaps to the Phoenicians or Romans.  Some think that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by way of a lost continent called Atlantis.  It may be, some have said, that the ancestors of the American Indians were from Wales or Ireland and were blown in their boats to North American by an Atlantic storm.


Still others think that the first Americans crossed the Pacific Ocean by boat or raft from China, Japan, or the islands of Polynesia.  There is indeed some physical evidence that they did come from an Asian land, whether by boat, by raft, or by the land bridge.

Physical Evidence
The American Indians are of the Mongoloid race.  so are the people of China.  The American Indians and the people of China.  The American Indians and the people of China differ in many ways.  Yet in some ways they are much alike.

Most Indians have a fold of skin along the inner edge of their eyes.  So do Asiatic people of the Mongoloid race.  This fold probably developed over thousands of years, passed along from generation to generation.  Such a physical characteristic would help the people having it to survive the harsh climate.  Certainly it would have helped Omuk as he narrowed his eyes to peer into the fog and snow along the Ice Age bridge.

Babies of the first Americans probably had a bluish-black spot on the lower back.  Many American Indian babies are born with this spot.  The spot tends to disappear when they grow older.  The same thing happens to the spot that marks most of the children of eastern Asia.  The mark is called the Mongoloid spot.

American Indians vary in appearance.  However, many have straight black hair on their heads but little hair on the rest of their bodies.  Many have dark brown eyes and reddish or brownish-red skin.  These are physical characteristics of the Mongoloid race.  Indian and Chinese babies often resemble each other.  This may be one more indication that the ancestors of the American Indians came from Asia.

Life in the Ice Age
Omuk and his Ice Age descendants lived by hunting.  They hunted animals that are now extinct--that is, they hunted kinds of animals that have died out.  Among them were ancient bison and huge elephant like animals called mammoths.  No doubt the live of these first Americans were harsh and short.

Still the number of people increased.  The first group to come across the land bridge was followed by others.  However, the main increase in population came from the children born in the new land.  Though many died young, enough lived to populate hundreds of places.

Moving Southward
Omuk's people and their descendants roamed from place to place, depending on the climate and food supply.  Slowly they spread eastward and southward into the Yukon River valley, away from the coast.  They moved southward from Alaska into western Canada.  Finally they reached lands that glaciers had left uncovered.  As time passed, some small bands joined together and formed larger groups called tribes.

By the time the Ice Age ended, these early Americans had reached at least as far as present-day New Mexico.  How do we know this?  We know it partly through a find made by a black cowhand on a ranch in northeastern New Mexico.  His name was George McJunkin.

The Mysterious Buried Bones
One day in the spring of 1926, George McJunkin was following the trail of some missing cows.  The trail led him along the edge of Dead Horse Gulch.  McJunkin saw some bones sticking out of the mud on the side of the gulch.  Being a curious person, he got off his horse to take a closer look at the bones.

The bones were about the size of cow bones and buried 20 feet below the surface.  This seemed strange to McJunkin.  Even stranger was the flint spearhead he pried from a bone with his cattle knife.  It had a groove, or channel, or each side and was different from any other spearhead that George McJunkin had ever seen.  Why, he asked himself, were the animal bones and the flint spearhead buried so deep?

This also seemed strange to the people whom McJunkin told of his discovery.  As the news spread, and expert on animal bones came to have a look.  He found that the bones belonged to a kind of bison that had lived in North America during the last years of the Ice Age.  The spearhead proved that human beings were living in New Mexico thousands of years ago.

Bones of other ancient bison were dug up at the site of McJunkin's discovery.  Several more flint spearheads were found.  These discoveries were all made near the town of Folsom, so whoever made the spearhead and killed the bison came to be known as the Folsom man.

No human bones were found at the site of McJunkin's discovery.  Scholars guessed that the bison bones might have come from a single hunt.  Perhaps a herd of the ancient bison drank from a pool or lake that no longer exists.  The Folsom people might have surprised the bison, killing them on the spot.  They might then have cut up the dead animals and carried the meat back to their campsite.  This would explain the absence of human bones near the bison bones.

How Long in America?
How long have people been in America?  Geologists are scientists who learn about the earth and its history mostly through the study of rocks.  They are able to tell much about the Ice Age but nothing that helps a great deal in dating the time that Omuk and his people crossed the land bridge from Asia.  Nor are they able to give more than a very rough estimate of the time when the Folsom people lived.

Counting tree rings on the ends of logs or the stumps of trees is one way of time dating.  Each tree ring shows a year's growth.  Another method is counting the layers of soil or gravel laid down at the bottom of what was once a glacial lake.  The most accurate method of time dating, however, makes use of what scientists have discovered about living matter and radioactivity.  Radioactivity is caused when atoms change and give off energy.

Carbon Dating
Scientists have discovered that all living things things have a radioactive substance called carbon 14.  In living matter the amount of carbon 14 is always the same.  But when a living thing dies, the carbon 14 in it decreases at a fixed rate.  Think of a kettle of water boiling dry as the water evaporates (I have done it before).  This is much like the way once-living matter gives off radiation.

It is known that a pound of carbon 14 will be reduced by radioactivity to half a pound in 5,568 years.  In another 5,568 years it will weight only a quarter of a pound.  Even then it will continue to throw off radiation.  Delicate instruments can measure the amount of carbon 14 in anything that has been alive.  By carbon dating we know that the bison at Dead Horse Gulch died about 10,000 years ago.

In Sandia Cave, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, hunters left the bones of ancient camels, mastodons, and small horses.  All these animals have long been extinct.  But by using carbon 14 dating, we find that hunters killed the camels, mastodons, and small horses about 25,000 years ago.

No one has ever found conclusive evidence of the date when the first people crossed the Ice Age land bridge from Asia.  Probably no one ever will.  Nevertheless, that crossing must have been made more than 25,000 years ago according to the evidence found in Sandia Cave.  Other finds have pushed the date back even further.  For example, mammoth bones found on Santa Rosa Island, off the coast of California, date back about 30,000 years.

The southward journey of the Ice Age people did not stop in New mexico or California.  They pushed on into Mexico and South America.  In fact, there is proof that humans lived in Fell's Cave, near the southern tip of South America, from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.  If prehistoric people had spread so far across the American continents by that time, their date of entry must have been very early indeed.
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Thank you all for reading Part One of Chapter 2 and hopefully the hiatus won't last for two weeks and I will have to cut the hiatus short now and the page update will resume on Friday of this week no page update on Monday because of Memorial Day and the update will resume next Wednesday.

2 comments:

  1. I still can't believe that we are only getting one page this week but I'm glad that everything is okay on DA.

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    Replies
    1. I choose to cut the hiatus short and I have upload page 11 not too long ago but I choose Friday to play it safe instead of Wednesday and I was hoping to take next week off but instead I will update next week.

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