A recent Smithsonian magazine article discusses research on modern language spoken by native peoples in Alaska, Canada, and parts of the continental U.S. which shows that they are linguistically related to the Yeneseian language spoken in Siberia. Both languages appear to be descended from a common ancestral language which can be traced to Beringia – the land bridge that once connected Asia with present-day Alaska.
Data on 2 Yeneseian languages and 37 Na-Dene languages traditionally spoken by people from Alaska, Canada, and parts of the continental U.S. was collected from the Alaska Native Language Archive and then analyzed using algorithims to construct a linguistic family tree. Previous theories for the observed similarities between the languages suggested that they all originated in Asia and then spread to North America as people migrated across Beringia. The results of the new research show that the languages actually originated in Beringia, then was spread through migration in both directions to Siberia and North America.
The newly constructed picture supports previous research which indicates Beringia was actually home to people for thousands of years before it was utilized as a bridge between the two continents.