Genetic science may have solved one of the most complicated questions surrounding the origins of Native American peoples in terms of groups that live in northern regions, such as Canada, as opposed to those populating the far southern regions of the South American continent.
For years, scientists have generally agreed that all Native people in North and South America are descended from the same group who migrated from Siberia into the Americas over the so-called “land bridge.” The land bridge was engulfed by the ocean at the end of the Ice Age some 10,000 years ago.
But there seemed to be troubling differences, archaeologically and culturally speaking, between Indians of the northern plains and those who went south to become the Inca, the Maya and other well-established southern groups.
Researchers recently completed a 91% genome study based on DNA recovered from the remains of people who lived some 4,800 years ago. What the data shows is that all indigenous people in North and South America were originally one group — but that a split occurred more than 13,000 years ago.
One group spread out through the northern regions and another populated southern regions, but then centuries later, a certain amount of re-intermingling between the two populations occurred
The importance of these findings is that they show a much more complex dynamic for how Native American populations established themselves in the New World. It provides a much clearer picture of how and why today’s Northern Native American tribes are related to — but different — from those cultures established in South and Central America.