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The Native American’s Prehistoric Human Ancestors

Although scientists are still unsure exactly when and where humans first came into existence, the earliest human ancestor remains were discovered in the country now known as Kenya and are dated to be nearly 3 million years old. Every time another ancient prehistoric artifact is uncovered, it brings new information and insight. Because of this, we will likely never know for sure the precise origins of the human race.

For some of us, the idea of our own species’ origin remaining a mystery is frustrating or confusing; for many scientists, this is what makes anthropology and paleontology so interesting. Scientists and anthropologists who work on these types of excavations are constantly motivated by the quest to solve the mystery and uncover the next fossil that will unlock another aspect of ancient humanity and fill in some gaps of our origin story. 

Because it wasn’t until about 5,000 years ago that humans began to maintain records, other than verbally communicated memories and information, we rely heavily on the information discovered from fossils and ancient relics. Anthropologists use that information to continuously piece together an idea of how and where ancient humans lived, what they ate, and where they traveled.

Modern-day humans are a part of the Hominini family of primates, which the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as: “any of a taxonomic tribe (Hominini) of hominids that includes recent humans together with extinct ancestral related forms.” Due to the availability of genetic testing from ancient samples, we know there were several species of archaic humans, such as Neanderthals and different types of hominids. It is also now known that many of these species were close enough to mate and produce offspring and continue human evolution in that way. Our species, the Homo sapiens, directly evolved from the Homo erectus, which coupled with other species such as Neanderthals. The outcome of all this means that we modern-day humans have genes from many now-extinct human species. 

Each of these human ancestors had distinct features, abilities, and lifestyles; they each played a part in forming our modern species of humans, the Homo sapiens. The earliest remains and evidence of the existence of Homo sapiens specifically, were also found in the eastern region of Africa near Kenya and Ethiopia and dated from around 315,000 years ago. Of all the types of hominids that existed over millions of years, modern humans or Homo sapiens are the only ones that remain. Our closest living relatives who still exist are primates such as gorillas and orangutans. 

You can read more about the Nordic People in our book: https://www.amazon.com/Native-American-History-Comprehensive-Indigenous/dp/B09TMT49YH 

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Native American’s Indigenous Ways of Knowing

Before moving into the various origin stories of the Indigenous Peoples of North America, it is essential to understand that Indigenous ways of knowing are distinct from the concepts of Western knowledge. Unlike the Western view that knowledge must be tested and ‘proven’ to be validated, Indigenous ways of knowing to encompass a broader affirmation and validity of knowledge from many sources. For this reason, many Indigenous people don’t believe in or support the need for scientific evidence to show how the People came to live in North America. It may be hurtful and controversial for many Indigenous People and communities to have Western scientists excavating the land and removing ancestral remains. 

So far, the information in this book has been exclusively rooted in Western views of knowledge, including the Western need to ‘discover’ and ‘prove’ how the Indigenous Peoples arrived in North America. A perspective more grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing would recognize that each nation has an origin story passed down since the Indigenous People arrived in North America. 

In some Indigenous cultures, North America is called Turtle Island. These origin stories, recorded and transmitted orally, are the true and valid history of how each nation came to live on Turtle Island. It must also be noted that there are many Indigenous Nations on Turtle Island with many distinct histories and unique cultural characteristics. There does not exist one Indigenous history or one specific Indigenous way of knowing; each Indigenous nation is different from another to varying degrees. Some Indigenous Nations may appear to have overlapping values and cultures, others may not. 

Characteristics of Indigenous ways of knowing that are central to many Indigenous Nation cultures include holistic views of the world in which we live. A holistic view considers the many relationships that exist between an individual and their family, their community, their environment, the food they eat, the places they go, and how they might interact with those places. Many Indigenous cultures emphasize a natural awareness and consider not just an individual but the individual in relation to others and the land. Generally, the effects of one’s actions upon others and the land are more recognized and valued in Indigenous cultures than Western cultures. We can also describe that worldview as relational.

In Western cultures, values and actions often revolve around the idea of capitalism so that each person should try to get as much as possible for themselves, regardless of the outcome it might have on other people or the land and environment. It is generally considered valid, understandable, and even admirable for an individual in Western culture to hoard wealth and resources away from others. 

The radically opposing fundamental worldviews, values, and ways of knowing between Indigenous Peoples and the Western European colonizers led to catastrophic outcomes for Indigenous People on Turtle Island. Indigenous Peoples had not encountered the capitalist mindset before colonialism. Having no understanding that such ways of being were even possible, they were taken advantage of in that regard.

You can read more about the Nordic People in our book: https://www.amazon.com/Native-American-History-Comprehensive-Indigenous/dp/B09TMT49YH

Subscribe to our youtube channel to learn more about History:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvAFyXBCAj5zb4tU76Q22xw