Thursday May 6th 2021
starting at 6:30 with program at 7:00 PM
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By Dr. E. James Dixon,
University of New Mexico
Archeological and genetic evidence indicates that people first entered North America from northeast Asia sometime during the last ice age, or late Pleistocene, at least 16,000 years ago, or possibly earlier. During the last glacial maximum (LGM) circa 18,000 years ago, sea level was approximately 120 m (about 390 ft) lower than it is today. As a result, the Bering Land Bridge and continental shelf of the Northwest Coast of North America created a continuous shoreline stretching from Northeast Asia to Southeast Alaska. Geological and archeological evidence suggests that this coastal corridor was ecologically viable and capable of supporting human groups and was the earliest ice-free pathway available for people to colonize the southern regions of the Americas.
Following the LGM the climate changed rapidly resulting in: 1) sea level rise that flooded the Bering Land Bridge and severed the land connection between Asia and North America, 2) sea level rise along Alaska’s Northwest Coast forced a landward retreat of people living along the coast in response to rising sea level, and 3) the newly deglaciated land provided new opportunities for people to move landward and colonize terrain recently exposed by melting glaciers.