Genetic analysis is still under way in Denmark, but documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act say preliminary results point to a Native-American heritage.The recent publication of the Kostenki-14 genome, which has been described as morphologically Australoid, but appears to be genetically European should make us wary of interpreting phenotypes of early specimens in terms of the much later human populations. In the case of Europeans, it seems that the Caucasoid genetic lineage existed even before full Caucasoid morphology had evolved (at least in some specimens of Upper Paleolithic Europeans, as others had clear Caucasoid morphology).
The researchers performing the DNA analysis “feel that Kennewick has normal, standard Native-American genetics,” according to a 2013 email to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the care and management of the bones. “At present there is no indication he has a different origin than North American Native American.”
Willerslev’s Danish lab is a world leader in ancient DNA analysis. Last year, he and his colleagues reported the genome of the so-called Anzick boy, an infant buried 12,600 years ago in Montana. He, too, was a direct ancestor of modern Native Americans and a descendant of people from Beringia.
Until details of the Kennewick analysis are published, there’s no way to know what other relationships his genes will reveal, Kemp said. It may never be possible to link him to specific tribes, partly because so few Native Americans in the United States have had their genomes sequenced for comparison.
I would not be surprised if the same was true for Native Americans, that is, the typical morphology of recent Native Americans was not present in their earliest predecessors, who, nonetheless, were part of the same evolving lineage of humans in the Americas. The Anzick-1 genome from the Clovis culture and several mtDNA results have not really turned up anything "exotic" in ancient inhabitants of the Americas, so it seems that the hypothesis of recent Native Americans being descended from a wave of people that replaced earlier inhabitants is losing ground with each new discovery.