Some of the first settlers of the Bering Strait were the Yupik people. This culture remains in the region and lived there before European colonization. A small population of a few thousand people came to Bering from eastern Siberia during the Last Glacial Maximum.
It is believed that they later expanded to the rest of America, about 16.5 billion years ago. This happened before the canal was covered with water approximately 11,000 years ago.
The Bering Strait is located between Russia and the United States, and borders the Arctic to the north. This strait is of great scientific importance as humans are believed to have migrated from Asia to North America via a land bridge. This region is also known as Beringia.
This hypothesis that humans came to America through the piece of land known as the Bering Strait is probably one of the most accepted theories by the scientific community. This is what is known as Asian theory.
During the ice ages, this area, including Siberia, was not glacial; the snowfall was very light. Because of this, there was a land bridge that stretched for hundreds of kilometers on both sides between the continents.
Who were the first inhabitants of the Bering Strait?
The Bering Strait and theories about its population
Between 28,000 and 18,000 years ago, glaciers covered most of the Americas and northern Asia, blocking human migration to North America.
The Beringia region, including the land bridge that is now submerged under the Bering Strait, was an area where there were tundra shrubs, trees, and plants. Pollen, insect and other plant sediments have been found under the Bering Sea.
In the areas near Beringia, which are now Alaska and Russia, mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and other large animals roamed freely thousands of years ago.
This region had something that the other arctic regions did not possess: wooded plants to make fires and animals to hunt. Once the glaciers melted, the inhabitants of that place had no choice but to move along the coastline towards the interior of the continent to ice-free landscapes.
However, some scientists point out that this theory is uncertain as there is a lack of archaeological evidence at the site before 15,000 years. Although most of the evidence was erased when the Bering Canal was flooded, experts point out that if this region had had inhabitants, remains of settlements would have been found.
The Yupik people are the largest group of Alaska Natives. Currently most of the Yupik, United States. Some are located in Alaska, while a small group lives in Russia. Formerly they lived in the Beringia region. The Yupik speak a Yup’ik language from central Alaska, a variant of the Eskimo-Aleute languages.
The common ancestors of the Eskimos and Aleutes have their origin in eastern Siberia. Archaeologists believe they came to Bering thousands of years ago. They have recently conducted research on the blood type of Yupik people which has been confirmed by linguistic and DNA findings.
These discoveries suggest that the ancestors of the Native Americans came to North America before the ancestors of the Eskimos and Aleutes.
It appears that there were several waves of migration from Siberia to America via the Bering Bridge when it was exposed during glacial periods between 20,000 and 8,000 years ago. The ancestors of the Yupik had settled along the coastal areas that would later become Alaska.
There were also migrations along coastal rivers along several nearby regions. The Yupik of Siberia could represent a migration of the Eskimo people to Siberia from Alaska.
The Yupik include aborigines from groups in Alaska and Russia. Many Eskimos and Inuit include the Alutiq, the Yup’ik of central Alaska, and the Yupik of Siberia.
Ancestors of Native Americans
The ancestors of Native Americans could have lived in Bering for about 10,000 thousand years before expanding to the American continent. New scientific studies on genetic data have shown that Native Americans diverged from their Asian ancestors a few thousand years ago.
Evidence also suggests that the land in the Bering Strait had grass for cattle to eat. During the years when there was no ice, this strait was dry land.
There is also evidence that branches and wood were burned for warmth. This means that humans had enough food and a decent environment to survive.
Ancient theories suggest that the Asian ancestors of the natives of North and South America crossed the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago and later colonized the continent.
However, recent findings have shown that almost none of the Native American tribes have genetic mutations in common with Asians. This indicates that a population remained isolated from its Asian ancestors for thousands of years before spreading to the American continent.
Genetic evidence points to this theory. Scientists recovered the remains of a human skeleton near Lake Baikal in southern Siberia. These remains are estimated to be from the end of the stone age.
The genetic comparison of this skeleton with the natives of America showed that there is no direct link between the Asians and them. So it is presumed that there was a period where they diverged.
These people are called Paleo Indians and they are the direct ancestors of almost all Native Americans and South Americans.
This would be a valid explanation for why Native Americans are so different from people in Northeast Asia. If this theory is true, they are different because the first inhabitants to cross the Bering Strait stayed there for about 15,000 thousand years. This is enough time for them to mutate and create a genealogy different from their ancestors.
- Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Native Americans (2017). Plos Genetic. Recovered from ncbi.com.
- Humans May Have Been Stuck on Bering Strait for 10,000 Years (2014) History. Recovered from livescience.com.
- First Americans Lived on Bering Land Bridge for Thousands of Years (2014) Archeology & Paleontology. Recovered from theconversation.com.
- What is Beringia? National Park Service. United States Department of Interiors. Recovered from nps.gov.
- Human Ecology of Beringia. (2007) Columbia University Press. Recovered from columbia.edu.
- The Late Pleistocene Dispersal of Modern Humans in the Americas. (2008) Science Magazine. Recovered from sciencemag.com.
- Mitochondrial Population Genomics Supports a Single Pre-Clovis Origin with a Coastal Route for the Peopling of the Americas (2008) Retrieved from ncbi.nlh.gov.