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A Workshop to Explore the Genetics, Paleoecology, Archaeology and Anthropology of Human Migrations across the Arctic, Fall 2015; Boulder, CO


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Education & Outreach
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Education & Outreach

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As recently as Spring 2015 the topic of the origins of the indigenous peoples of North America has been broadly discussed in the popular press as a result of the recent findings of an ASSP supported project on Inuit genetics, PI Geoff Hayes, Northwestern University (see Forbes article, "How Alaska Natives Spurred Archaeologists To Research Their Origins." May 13, 2015). This led to numerous additional articles in Tech Times, SitNews, Biology News Net etc. The topic of the origins of Native Americans continues to be one of great public interest. However, the academic community spurred by new information coming out of recent DNA research has yet to fully consider how this new research, that supports a Beringian origin of early North Americans, fits within the known anthropological, archaeological, linguistic, and environmental record. This award will support a workshop planned for approximately 30 participants, chosen on the basis of their active research on the Beringian model and the late Pleistocene environment and archaeology of Beringia. It also would include participation by graduate students from several universities, who are working on related thesis projects. The workshop would bring together for the first time researchers from multiple disciplines, researchers who have insight into various aspects of the Beringia issue but have not yet synthesized their knowledge. The workshop would be held at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado in Boulder, which has a long history of research in the region. The workshop is organized and chaired by the PI John F. Hoffecker (INSTAAR), and CoPI Scott A. Elias (Royal Holloway, University of London), and Dennis H. O'Rourke (University of Utah). It is proposed that the workshop take place in the Fall, most likely October of 2015. An interdisciplinary workshop on the Out of Beringia thesis offers the most effective means of initiating progress among geneticists, ecologists, and anthropologists on the most important idea to emerge from the study of Native American origins in the past fifty years. The workshop is intended to have a significant impact on the direction of research on the peopling of the Western Hemisphere. This workshop would bring together the world's foremost scholars and students to present the state of the art science on this topic and, more importantly, by synthesizing this information, discuss the trajectories that new research on this topic should take.