Untangling the Threads of Human Ancestry

In its present state of deep amnesia, the human race must struggle to answer such basic questions as: Who are we? The answers though, we are told, are in our DNA. Identity, supposedly, is all about our group—race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. And if DNA is not good enough, then it is all just a matter of personal choice. One can identify with whatever group one prefers. Those who have spent a lifetime in that group, and whose dues are paid up, can’t be blamed, of course, for questioning the credentials of ‘johnny-come-latelies’ who ignore DNA and decide, for political, or other, reasons, to claim membership in another tribe. Not even DNA, though, is good enough for admission to some clubs.

In AR #126 we reported on controversy over the belief of many Americans that they have Cherokee Indian DNA. Several DNA firms currently market tests to determine whether or not there is indeed Cherokee in the family tree. Strangely, some of the data suggests that Cherokees originated in the Middle East or North Africa. Among the cited findings are strong genetic markers indicating Cherokee connections with Berbers, native Egyptians, Turks, Lebanese, Hebrews, and Mesopotamians. Today many, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, believe there are Cherokees among their ancestors. The question is, does DNA alone make you an indigenous American? Not according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio report.

Kim TallBear, Ph.D., an indigenous scholar based at the University of Alberta, told CBC radio in 2016, “We [Native Americans] construct belonging and citizenship in ways that do not consider these genetic ancestry tests. So it’s not just a matter of what you claim, but it’s a matter of who claims you.” Sounds like you need someone with real indigenous street cred to vouch for you.

From another perspective, the issue of identity goes far deeper than DNA. Some scientists, such as Rupert Shelldrake, say that more important than DNA in shaping human identity are “morphic fields.” Many researchers agree, arguing that, beyond the physical body, ‘biofields’ of some kind go further than DNA in accounting for human complexities.

To explain such mysteries, these days, a much more ancient, widespread, albeit related, notion, ‘reincarnation’ is regaining lost standing. Strong evidence for the existence of the phenomena is accumulating rapidly, especially in past-life studies of children, as chronicled in Return to Life the recent New York Times best-selling book by Dr. Jim B. Tucker.

The book expands on work begun by Tucker’s University of Virginia colleague, the late Dr. Ian Stevenson. Focusing mostly on American cases, Tucker presents family stories and describes his scientific investigation. The goal was to determine what happened—what the child said, how the parents reacted, whether the child’s statements match the life of a particular deceased person, and whether the child could have learned such information through normal means. Many case studies are presented, providing persuasive evidence that some children do, in fact, possess memories of previous lives. The phenomenon, claims Tucker, is consistent with quantum physics.

The reincarnation hypothesis, moreover, goes far beyond the explaining of extraordinary coincidences. Viewed though the lens of reincarnation and karma (cause and effect; i.e., ‘you reap what you sow’), human injustice becomes easier to understand, if not to forgive. Even racial hatred takes on a different meaning when one realizes that individuals in one particular life may be part of one race but, in a subsequent embodiment, belong to another—perhaps on the other side of some ancient conflict rerun?

The American Civil War, Edgar Cayce said, was a reenactment, with reincarnated characters, from the ancient conflict that destroyed Atlantis. Is it implausible, we wonder, to believe that today’s great turmoil is but the latest replay of some very ancient, yet unresolved, drama, in which the same actors are once again upon the stage?


CAPTION: Three Cherokees visit London in 1762.

By J. Douglas Kenyon