America Unearthed: Aztec’s in Wisconsin?

Aztec National Monument in late light.

Aztec National Monument in late light.

On a recent show, Scott said something like, “Aztecs in Wisconsin, I thought they started in the south and moved north.” He’s not alone in that: Some of the older texts state that the Mississippians were descendents of the Central American Indians. The similarity of Mississippian mounds to the Central American pyramids was one reason why some people believed this. Scott pointed out other similarities then suggested that the Mississippians were forefathers of the Central American Indians. Modern research has shown that the Mississippian culture was the predecessor to modern Native American cultures of the Mississippi River watershed, not the Aztecs.
In any case, Scott should not be surprised that the Aztecs claim to come from the north. It’s pretty much accepted that the ancestors of ALL Native Americans, including the Incas and other South American tribes, came from North American, i.e. the ancestors of all Native Americans crossed the Bering Straits. To rephrase that, most authorities believe that no ancestors of the Native Americans came from Europe in hide-covered boats, nor were any brought from other continents by ancient aliens.
But there’s more: Recent genetic work shows that most Native American groups have western Eurasian, i.e. European ancestry. Scott wins; the Europeans came here in the form of the first Native Americans, the offspring of European and East Asians groups.
This article in Discover joked, “Genetic evidence of west Eurasian ancestry in modern Native Americans was previously assumed to be the result of European colonization of the Americas from the 15th century on. It now appears, however, that neither Columbus nor 10th century Viking explorer Leif Erikson — not even traveling Irish monks back in the fifth and sixth centuries — can claim to be the first Eurasian to set foot on the New World.”
The European gene is widespread across the Native American population in North and South America. This means that the European ancestry is at the root of the Native American tree along with the eastern Asian root. Up to 1/3 of the Native American genetic heritage comes from this European source.
Scientific American quotes Jennifer Raff, “This new origin story helps to resolve several peculiarities in New World archeology. For example, ancient skulls found in both North and South America have features that do not resemble those of East Asians. They also carry the mitochondrial haplogroup X, which is related to western Eurasian lineages but not to east Asian ones.”
This is mind boggling. Peculiarities? What? Did they think that “haplogroup X” occurred two independent times? That probability is infinitesimal. What happened to the favored principle of Occam’s razor? Clearly the simplest, and only mathematically rational answer, is the genes came from the same source. The only question should have been: How did it happen? Now we have an answer to that question.
In any case, there is much more to be learned about the migration into the Western Hemisphere. For instance, could the Athabaskans be a separate group that arrived later? The Athabaskans are concentrated in Alaska and Western Canada, but a branch came into Arizona and New Mexico about 1400 AD. We call them the Apaches and Navajos.
Lastly Scott showed maps that marked the Four Corners Area as the origin of the Aztec people. This misconception comes from a mid-1800’s idea that a ruin (now Aztec National Monument) outside of Farmington looked like Aztec ruins, therefore they thought it must be an Aztec ruin. Modern archeologists have proven it to be a large Anasazi pueblo. And why not, it is smack dab in the middle of Anasazi country.
Detail of the Anasazi ruins at Aztec National Monument.

Detail of the Anasazi ruins at Aztec National Monument.

Archeology has improved since the days when Anasazi ruins were taken to be Aztec. Expect the genome to help unwind the mysteries of mankind’s past even further.

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