People sometimes say that history never changes. The past does not change, but our understanding of it does. Our knowledge of Pre-Columbian America is one area that is currently changing.
The oldest human remains found in North America are over 10,000 years old, which is in line with the Bering Strait Theory. These are not the remains of the first American, just the oldest unearthed. The oldest human remains in South America are also over 10,000 years old, which is not in line with the Bering Strait Theory.
Scholars would expect that ancient Mongolian nomads would have gradually over many millennia made their way down North America into Central and South America. How then can there already be people in South America over 10,000 years ago? Perhaps there was an ancient Forrest Gump who ran to South America because it seemed like something to do and then dropped dead in Chile, years before anyone else permanently settled the continent.
That seems unlikely therefore Bering Strait Theory needs some revising. During the last ice age, ice covered the northern Pacific Ocean. Mongols in canoes could have traveled due east along the ice and reached North America much faster than by walking. They could have hunted for food and water on the ice, and returned to their boats for the voyage east.
Boat travel is more exploratory than traveling over land. Once the boats reached the West Coast they would have headed south. The farther they traveled the warmer the climate became, until reaching the equator they found a tropical paradise with abundant animals and vegetation. Those explorers chose to settle there, other Mongols migrated into North America along the traditional theoretic route. One people in two separate groups, in two different ways, settled two continents, becoming the dominant Pre-Columbian peoples. But were they alone?
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.