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The Bering Strait and Pieces of a Puzzle of Migration: The Door to North America

There are several theories of the first to settle North America

Bering Strait

Bering Strait

First Migration

First Migration


The Bering Strait

Who were these people who ventured into the unknown, not knowing where it would lead? Thousands of years ago, a suspected migration of people from we Alaska. 14000 years ago, a group or possibly several groups began their search for another land. In the eighteenth century, Peter the Great chartered an explorer, Danish Vitas Bering, to find a route heading east to other lands. Bering had an expedition first in 1724, but on his second expedition in 1741 that he confirmed that land connected Siberia and North America. Captain James Cook provided detailed maps of the Alaskan coast, and Russia, Europe, and the world took notice of scientists and naturalists investigating the Bering Strait.

There are some theories that suggest people populated the Bering Strait for hundreds of years before crossing the strait. This period is called the Bering Standstill.

For decades the accepted theory of who was the first to cross and settle America were the CLOVIS people when archaeologists radiocarbon-dated Clovis points.

Another theory of migration is the COASTAL THEORY suggested by Roy L. Carlson, Dept of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. Scientists believed the coastal theory used the kelp highway all along the coast of the Bering Strait down the Pacific Coast to South America by boats, not by walking.

The problem proving this theory is the lack of evidence along the coast and the never-ending changes of the coastline. It is looking promising that the COASTAL THEORY is plausible. A new book, Atlas of the Lost World by Craig Childs, follows the Coastal Theory.

Constant archaeological finds are ongoing and changing dates of the earliest people to settle America. Advances in carbon dating and DNA are using new and precise tools piecing together these theories. It is certainly challenging for archaeologists.

Two Routes of Migration

Two Routes of Migration

Before the Clovis People

Several archaeological sites have been radiocarbon dated, eluding to the human settlement before the Clovis people. One such site is the Paisley Caves in Oregon. Archaeological evidence shows settlement 1000 years before Clovis. Another impressive site is the Monte Verde site in Chile.

In 1976, Tom Dillehay, Professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University, painstakingly documented the excavation and radiocarbon dated everything. When he announced his findings with the results indicating 15000 years ago, it sent shockwaves through the archaeology sciences. However, some were still skeptical, and it took another ten years before he was believed.

It does seem to suggest the first came by boat centuries before Clovis people.

It does make sense that there wasn't just one particular migration but several and at different times. The mystery may never be fully understood about who were the first people to settle America. After all, the Native American Indians believe they were always her and came from nature.

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Other Sites Predating Clovis

Predating Clovis

  • Paisley Caves, Oregon, 1000 years before Clovis
  • Monte Verde, Chile, 15,000 years ago
  • Topper Site, North Carolina, 15000 years ago
  • Meadowcroft, Pennsylvania, 14,300 years ago
  • Saltville, Pennsylvania, 14,500 years ago
  • Buttermilk Creek, 15,000 years ago
Paisley Caves, Oregon

Paisley Caves, Oregon

Monte Verde, Chile

Monte Verde, Chile

Sources Used


MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 26, 2021:

Nice bit of information. Thanks for sharing.

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on July 26, 2021:

Joanne, thank you! And, I appreciate your visit.

Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on July 26, 2021:

Another excellent informative write. Thanks!

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