No, it's not all about being African American. These days you can become African with spray-on tan and a Sideshow Bob hairdo and the progressive left embraces it as being "diversity". (check the link for more on that) and it's NAACP certified. That's not what I want to discuss with you all today.
The issues of race run a lot deeper than that, though, because in some cases, it bears on your right to own a casino on "homeland" soil. The Umatilla tribe of American Indians are still angry about the discovery of Kennewick Man on their land (under the suzerainty of the Army Corps of Engineers) and the disclosure that he was not of their race. Yes it's true that after several DNA tests, researchers have found common links with Indians (Kennewick man had five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot - and the Native Americans tend to have the same number).
The Umatilla argue that their oral history goes back 10,000 years and say that their people have been present on their historical territory since the dawn of time. Kennewick Man was found to have lived at their dawn of time and, inconveniently, he's not from their band of Indians.
|Clay bust of Kennewick Man - yes, he looks|
disturbingly like the actor Patrick Stewart
The political battles over Kennewick Man were/are framed in a large part by people who want to know to what "race" he belongs. Yet, the evidence reflected in the Kennewick materials is further proof that race is not what we think it is. The Kennewick man, and most of the Paleo-Indian and archaic human skeletal materials that researchers found to date are not "Indian," nor are they "European." They don't fit into ANY category that we currently define as a "race." Those terms are meaningless in prehistory as long ago as 9,000 years--and in fact, if you want to know the truth, there are NO clearcut scientific definitions of "race."
But the Kennewick man problem isn't that simple; he represents a part of a problem which archaeologists have yet to solve. For the past thirty years or so, we've believed that the peopling of the American continent took place around 12,000 years ago, in three separate waves, from three separate parts of the world. But recent evidence has begun to indicate a vastly more complicated settlement pattern, a steady influx of small groups from different parts of the world, and probably somewhat earlier than we had assumed. Some of these groups lived, some may have died out. We just don't know.
Apart from the Kennewick Man debate is archeological evidence of temples and grave mounds in South America that date back to over 20,000 BC. Archeologists are forced back to the drawing table, trying to decide when people first came to South America and where they came from, because you create theories to explain facts and not the other way around.
Even the Africans are Upset
There is an interesting series on PBS about early man that is now airing. I don't think that it's the end of the discussion about early man because as was discussed on this blog last week (OUT OF ISRAEL?) Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Homo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago. According to researchers, the discoveries made in the Qesem Cave may overturn the theory that modern humans originated on the continent of Africa. In recent years, archaeological evidence and human skeletons found in Spain and China also undermined this proposition, but the Qesem Cave findings because of their early age is an unprecedented discovery.
Add to that the genetic fact that is your ancestors come from Europe or Asia, between 1% and 3% of your DNA comes from Neanderthals. Human and Neanderthal were sexually compatible and they made the most of that arrangement. It falls to us do decide what all of that means, if it means anything. The only people without Neanderthal DNA come from Africa.