If you have been paying attention, you are probably aware that there has been some question for the last two decades whether the Indians were the first inhabitants of North America--with increasing evidence from skeletons that the first inhabitants in North America were likely Caucasians, and evidence of Australian aboriginal-like peoples in South America. The February 29, 2012 Washington Post has an article about the increasing evidence for this:
When the crew of the Virginia scallop trawler Cinmar hauled a mastodon tusk onto the deck in 1970, another oddity dropped out of the net: a dark, tapered stone blade, nearly eight inches long and still sharp.
Archaeologists have long held that North America remained unpopulated until about 15,000 years ago, when Siberian people walked or boated into Alaska and then moved down the West Coast.But the mastodon relic found near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay turned out to be 22,000 years old, suggesting that the blade was just as ancient.
Whoever fashioned that blade was not supposed to be here.
Its makers probably paddled from Europe and arrived in America thousands of years ahead of the western migration, making them the first Americans, argues Smithsonian Institution anthropologistDennis Stanford.When I teach U.S. History, I show part of the PBS documentary Mystery of the First Americans to inform students that archaeology is finding new evidence, and that we need to be open to new discoveries. There is a strong tendency for the lower grades to turn the European discovery and conquest of America into a morality tale (bad whites, innocent Indians), when the reality is perhaps a bit more complicated than that.
UPDATE: Interesting Cheyenne myth of the origins of the Indians refers to "the hairy ones" with stone tools who live in caves (Sasquatch?), whose numbers eventually decline until they disappear and white men, who also disappear. It also seems to refer to the Ice Age. Here's a shorter version recorded in the 1930s.