Herodotus Returns

More on Bering Language Bridge
July 15, 2010, 8:55 am
Filed under: Native Americans, Siberia

Here’s another good article on the research which ties Siberians to Native Americans linguistically, which I posted on recently. It cites how words associated with the canoe led to the breakthroughs. The charming part of the story is the Yukon-based natives ‘forging cultural and political’ ties with the few hundred Siberians who speak Ket. In April, apparently, they sent ambassadors to Moscow to meet with their long-lost linguistic brothers. What I wouldn’t have given to see that meeting.

The collection of articles by Vajda and other experts details a multitude of clear connections — nouns, verbs and key grammatical structures — between the language spoken by the Ket people of Russia’s Yenisei River region and dozens of languages used by North American aboriginal groups.

The newly recognized link has prompted the Yukon-based Arctic Athabaskan Council to begin forging cultural and political ties with Russia’s tiny population of Ket speakers. They live 8,000 kilometres west of Whitehorse and are separated from their linguistic cousins in North America by some 10,000 years of history.

University of Alberta linguist Jack Ives writes in the essay collection that “the question of just how such a distribution arose — with a separation between Siberia and northwestern North America involving thousands of kilometres — is simply fascinating.”

Full article here.


Link between ancient asian and north american languages

Genetic evidence supports the fact that people – at least during one migration – arrived in the Americas via the Bering land bridge between Siberia and and modern-day Alaska. Now, one researcher is teasing out linguistic evidence. Edward Vajda, of the University of Washington, is revealing connections between the language of the isolated Ket people of central Siberia and about 45 different Native American languages. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found, but I recommend you read the whole article – pretty fascinating stuff.

The importance of studying a disappearing language goes far beyond a personal linguistic interest, Vajda explained.

“It’s a new way to understand human prehistory before there were historians to write it down. Isolated languages like Ket have developed features that are very unusual and interesting, and they help us to understand the human mind and human language ability.”

“We linguists should not be the focus of attention here,” Vajda added. “What is important are the languages and especially the Native communities themselves.”

The rest of the article, here.

Ancient Native American ‘salt factory’ discovered in Sierra Nevada
January 2, 2010, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Native Americans | Tags: , ,

Geologists in the Sierra Nevada have discovered hundreds of hand-hewn pits believed to be salt-basins, instrumental in the trade economy of hunter-gatherer Miwok Native Americans

Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, a granite terrace the size of a football field holds hundreds of mysterious stone basins representing what geologists believe is one of the earliest known “factories” created and used by ancient Miwok Indians to make tons of salt to trade with tribes up and down California.

James G. Moore, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, learned of the strangely pitted terrace from detailed maps made more than a century ago and hiked the region in May to study what he determined were clearly hand-hewn objects.

He examined 369 of the circular artifacts only a few yards from two streams of saltwater fed by a nearby spring and a lake that was equally salty

“Salt was an important commodity for Native Americans,” UC Berkeley’s Lightfoot said. “It is certainly possible that salt harvested from these basins could have been traded to other native groups in California and the Great Basin (east of the Sierra).

More on these ancient salt basins.