Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Spring 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Since the presentation of the tripartite model of Native American languages, genes, and cultures by Joseph H. Greenberg and others (1986), there have been few attempts to synthesize anthropological genetic data from New World populations to evaluate various models of the peopling of the Americas. Although offering no new theoretical paradigm to explain the observed patterns of biological diversity in the New World, The Origins of Native Americans presents a thorough review of the current genetic data from Siberian and Native American populations. Rather than taking an explicitly historical view of these anthropological genetic studies, the book instead examines the peopling of the New World through five main analytical perspectives, including the genetic variation, demography, population structure, morphological variation, and health and disease of populations past and present, and explores their relevance for understanding Native American origins. The post-contact hybridization of Native American groups with people of European and African descent and the implications of this historical trend for attempts to reconstruct population histories are also reviewed in considerable detail. In addition, author Michael Crawford raises important concerns about the biocultural factors that have shaped the biological variation among Native Americans, issues sometimes overlooked in discussions of the "waves" of migration into the Americas that occurred some 15,00030,000 years ago.