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Native American Origins Topic of Frison Institute Lecture at UW

September 12, 2018
head portrait of a man
Stuart Fiedel

“Native American Origins: Reconciling the Evidence of Ancient Genomes and Archaeology” is the topic of the 20th annual George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology Lecture Thursday, Sept. 20, at the University of Wyoming.

Stuart Fiedel, senior archaeologist for the Louis Berger Group, will give the Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month-sponsored lecture at 4 p.m. in the UW College of Education auditorium. A reception will follow in the Anthropology Building foyer. Both the lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

The Louis Berger Group is a full-service engineering, architecture, planning, environmental, construction management and economic development firm based in Morristown, N.J.

Fiedel says recent analyses of ancient human DNA have transformed the understanding of Native Americans’ origins. About one-third of the DNA of Ancestral Paleoindians reflects the admixture of East Asians with a now-vanished Siberian population, known as Ancient North Eurasians.

Based on this evidence, all living Native Americans are direct descendants of the Paleoindians who made Clovis tools extending from Montana, where the Anzick infant was buried about 12,800 years ago, to Tierra del Fuego, Fiedel says.

“Any earlier peoples, such as the hypothesized ‘seaweed eaters’ of Monte Verde, the ‘rock-bashers’ of Pedra Furada or the Cerutti ‘mastodon bone-smashers,’ must have been replaced or genetically swamped by Clovis descendants, if they ever existed at all,” he adds.

This genomic evidence still draws questions today, Fiedel says.

“Did these ancestral populations move south via the Pacific coast or along the interior ice-free corridor?” he adds. Fiedel will explain his research during the lecture.

The Frison Institute and the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office sponsor the lecture.

For more information, call the UW Department of Anthropology at (307) 766-5136.

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