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The peopling of the Americas and the origin of the Beringian occupation model.

ABSTRACT

The current model for peopling of the Americas involves divergence from an ancestral Asian population followed by a period of population isolation and genetic diversification in Beringia, and finally, a rapid expansion into and throughout the Americas. Studies in the 1970s sought to characterize the biological relationships between different indigenous populations and first proposed an occupation of Beringia. More recent studies using molecular genetic markers often neglect to reference early works that laid the groundwork for current colonization models. We address this matter, and briefly summarize the literature and technological advances that contributed to our current understanding of the peopling of the Americas. Furthermore, we argue that describing the process of peopling of the Americas as "migrations from Asia" minimizes the significant genetic diversification that occurred outside of Asia, and offends indigenous Americans by discounting their origin narratives and land rights. Rather than referring to the indigenous peoples of the Americas as "migrants" or "immigrants," we recommend consistency in the language used to describe all post-glacial expansions of people into Asia, Europe and the Americas.