“How long has North America been populated by humans?” is a deeply controversial question that’s answer has always been bound with American politics. Advances in ethical archaeology do little to accelerate the real answer to this question because of politics within the field of archaeology itself. Here we visit one of the most controversial archaeological sites in American history.

Like the first European settlers on the East Coast of the United States, the immigrants pushing west during the 1800s continued to experience a continent already densely populated with North American natives. It could not have been possible for people of good conscience to take ancestral land from “real people” so natives were labeled “non-Christian savages” who had no claim to the land or, indeed, to life. When platform mound pyramids started being discovered in Louisiana, Ohio, Mississippi, and the remains of great civilizations such as Chaco Canyon were discovered by Anglo-Americans, it was declared that the humble Native Americans they were displacing could not have been the sophisticated creatures who built such places. Other, European, explorers must have come to help them build or, in the case of the mound pyramids, must simply be natural earthworks. The voices of those who spoke otherwise were suppressed, westward expansion continued, the myth was accepted, and, to this day, we aren’t even taught about American pyramids in school. The truth about American history still cannot be officially accepted and celebrated by the Federal Government because Native tribes have reestablished a great deal of political clout and could be in a position to make challenges and demand reparations.

In the early 1900’s archaeologists believed that humans had only occupied North America for 3000 years, then Folsom points were found dating to around 10,000 years old. Brains exploded. In 1932 Clovis points were found with mammoth bones, dating them to around 14,000 years old. Careers were devastated. When, in the 1934’s, a young anthropology student named Frank Hibbin discovered a new kind of spear point in the Sandia Cave of New Mexico that he claimed was 10,000 years older than Folsom points found in the same cave, it absolutely took the world by storm. Much controversy continues to bubble around the Sandia Cave and its artifacts. That is the topic of the VIDEO BELOW.

The oldest skeleton that has ever been found in North American is a Clovis era baby who dates to almost 13,000 years old, but a mastodon kill site has been found on the California coast that some scientists believe proves human occupation at least 130,000 years ago. Scientists have fervent points of view on controversial new dates and almost unilaterally dismiss them at first. It is fun to watch from afar, but I’ve learned to tread lightly when asking archaeologists opinions about unusual new claims. That is a recipe to quickly get a loud lecture that basically has a subtext reading, “Shut up dummy!” haha I know what’s good for me. I ask quiet questions and do a lot of nodding.

 

2 thoughts

  1. Hey there it’s Sandra again- so appreciate you writing about the petroglyphs and pictographs- your writing is beautiful, thank you so much🌵🌵

  2. In fairness, scientists should be skeptical about any claims- it forces scientists to build even stronger cases.
    Love this post, I didn’t know about the mound pyramids. Very interesting.

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