Prehistoric Diasporas: Colonial Theories of the Origins of Native American Peoples

  • Gordon M. Sayre
Part of the Signs of Race book series (SOR)


The cultural and political importance of the issue of Native American origins has been emphasized by the recent controversy over Kennewick Man. Kennewick Man is a skeleton that was first found by spectators at a powerboat race along the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Washington in July 1996. Radiocarbon dating established that the bones are roughly 9,000 years old, making it a major archaeological discovery, since only thirty-two human remains that old have been found in North America, and this skeleton is among the most complete. A local anthropologist named James Chatters collected the bones and touched off a media sensation when he was quoted saying that features of the skull resembled “caucasoid” peoples more than modern Native Americans. Chatters later asked an artist friend to make a reconstruction of the flesh on Kennewick Man’s head. When photos of the bald clay model appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country, many news stories repeated Chatters’s suggestion, that Kennewick Man resembled the actor Patrick Stewart.


Racial Identity Land Bridge American Antiquity Projectile Point Ethnic Label 
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    The Ainu have been discriminated against by ethnic Japanese, who nurture a myth of their own primal sovereignty over the islands in defiance of evidence of their ancient migration from mainland Asia. But my point here is that the changed residence of Native Americans should not alter how we trace their ancestry to Northeast Asia, if this is the conclusion supported by genetic and archeological evidence.Google Scholar
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© Philip D. Beidler and Gary Taylor 2005

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  • Gordon M. Sayre

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