Friday, February 3, 2023

A Preview of "Stars on Earth: Transpacific Navigation and Settlement of the Americas"

UPDATE March 13, 2024: The Berkeley City Council approved the purchase of the West Berkeley Shellmound from developers, with title transferred to the Ohlone land trust. It is now preserved for future generations. The two other sites remain threatened.

With Stephen D. Janes, PhD

Tomales Point/Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands, all on the coast of California, are presently threatened with substantial damage and destruction.

South Farallon Islands
Source: Common Murre Restoration Project, USFWS, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Farallon Islands, above, an immense nature sanctuary for huge numbers of birds and mammals, face a 1.5 T rodenticide drop this year, sponsored by Point Blue and authorized by the California Coastal Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A substantial bykill can not be effectively stopped, controlled, or mitigated. The toxins will spread through the area, into one of the richest fisheries off the San Francisco coast.


On the central coast of California, a megalithic archaeological site has been discovered. Structures composed of massive rocks weighing several tons occur as an unique assemblage on the Point Reyes Peninsula. 

Its features include a 258-meter stone line, standing stones, raised earthen platforms, a spring, and a roundhouse foundation. Rounded boulders perched on stone piles are arranged to map the stars of the constellation Cassiopeia in the night sky. Confirmation that the builders of these structures regularly visited and used the site came with the discovery of the roundhouse and platforms.

Cassiopeia, Tomales Point

 Source: Stephen D. Janes, Google Earth Pro

The presence of this star map and many other cosmological connections between the structures suggest that the site apparently was built for regular astronomical observation. The oral traditions of the contemporary Coast Miwok, Indigenous people there, confirm the area of the stone line was used as a path for the spirits of the dead. The roundhouse and platform mounds were used in ceremonies.

Based on these and other extensive observations and research, it was also discovered that this site is connected to other sites, that their entirety is an immense ceremonial complex, and that this area represents an early Polynesian settlement in the Americas.

Coast Miwok are related to their neighbors, the Ohlone, by language, culture, and DNA. The Ohlone have a related mortuary complex in San Francisco Bay. Their West Berkeley Shellmound has functioned for thousands of years as a funerary site and portal for the dead.

San Francisco Bay Area Geomorphic Theophanies 

Source: Lou-Anne Fauteck Makes-Marks, Google Earth Pro

These tribes also share geomorphic theophanies. Mythic characters from Coast Miwok and Ohlone traditional stories are mapped as and alive in the landscapes of the San Francisco Bay Area, including Coyote, his Flea/Shrimp wife, Hummingbird, Eagle/Condor, and Pelican. These theophanies are common in the Americas as well as other places in the world. (See related posts on this blogsite.)

Rock Line, Tomales Point

Source: Stephen D. Janes

The mortuary complexes include jumping-off places at Mt. St. Helena, Alcatraz Island, and Tomales Point for spirit travel over the ocean to the Farallon Islands, their Islands of the Dead.

Jumping-off places like these have only been located in Polynesia, where they were common, and along the coast of the Americas, including Southern California.

The Farallon Islands were respected as shelter for the spirits of the dead, a place where some spirits reincarnated as birds, a home for Coyote, and a stopping point on the spirits’ journey to join the ancients. Ancient remains may have been preserved there in its network of caves.

Community roundhouses were in use historically around the world and are still in use in Central California and South America. Megaliths were known globally, including elsewhere in California, Pacific Island cultures, and India. Features of Tomales Point and a Chumash site at Point Conception are comparable to early Polynesian ceremonial spaces.

Previous linguistic research with related Penutian languages indicates that initial coastal settlement in this area was early in time, with later population movement fanning out from the coast. In genetics, the same area is a proposed location for the founding mtDNA haplogroup B2 (B4b2), exclusively found in Indigenous American populations, but rarely in the Arctic. Haplogroup B4 is found across the Pacific and in Asia. This also supports early Pacific-route settlement along the coast fanning out into the Americas.

Previously unknown Australasian DNA traces have been found in multiple tests of Indigenous populations on the South American Pacific coast and Amazonian regions. Cranial morphological testing indicated comparable results.

Contemporary Coast Miwok lineal descendants show DNA traces of South Indian/Australasian/Polynesian DNA in preliminary testing. Cultural traits of Coast Miwok and Ohlone are similar to those of South India, Australasia, and Polynesia. 

The Tamil of South India are identified as being a related culture for Coast Miwok and Ohlone. Their mutual languages can be related to Dravidian and other agglutinative languages, likely derived from the Indus Valley. Cultural similarities are exhibited across a broad spectrum of related peoples in the Americas, Polynesia, Australasia, India, and Siberia.

Early navigation and trade by boat in the Indian and Pacific oceans were common, especially among South Indians, Australasians, and Polynesians. In the open ocean, navigation was by observation and by the stars.

There is a known star map for the Polynesian Triangle, together with a reverse star map of Cassiopeia, found in western Polynesia. Star maps are known elsewhere in the Americas as well. There is evidence that Polynesians also mapped the Pacific Coast of the Americas by the stars and intentionally settled mapped areas, as well as oral traditions in California that they visited. Early coastal settlements can be found at the locations of the stars on their star maps.

Polynesian Islands Cassiopeia

Source: Lou-Anne Fauteck Makes-Marks, Google Earth Pro

The Farallon Islands correspond to the location of the North Star on Polynesian star maps. These islands were once the only mountain peaks along this edge of the continent. As such, they are the most likely first landfall for early South Indian/Australasian/Polynesian settlers on the Central California Coast.

This evidenced South Indian/Australasian/Polynesian settlement was earlier than current archaeological dating allows. Contemporary research now confirms more generous dating of other early archaeological sites in the Americas than in the past. 

Multiple other researchers have presented research to support these conclusions.

These are sacred places, and they should be protected and preserved.

A book is now available online, Stars on Earth: Transpacific Navigation and Settlement of the Americas, by Lou-Anne Fauteck Makes-Marks, PhD, and Stephen D. Janes, PhD.

Learn What You Can Do

Point Reyes:

Farallon Islands:

West Berkeley Shellmound: