Native Village Youth and Education News
September 2009


Some scientists affirm early Native presence
By Carol Berry

Condensed by Native Village

Colorado: Many, if not most, Native people insist that their ancestors have lived on this continent since time immemorial. Now some mainstream scientists agree, changing their timeline from 13,000-14,000 years ago to much earlier --  33,000 years ago, “and probably long before that,” according to Steven R. Holen from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

“Several scientists, me included, are producing evidence of a much older Native American occupation of the continent,” he said, adding that, as has happened in the past, “the scientific establishment has underestimated the time depth of the Native American occupation of the Americas.”

Holen studies the patterns of breakage in mammoth bones and recreates the instrument and force required to create such fractures.  In many cases, break patterns rule out factors such as damage from natural disturbance, gnawing by carnivores, or trampling by other large animals.

“The only way these could be broken in the past as we see it is by humans using hammerstones. one has demonstrated there is a natural way the bones could be broken in these patterns. No one has yet disproved my findings.”

Although stone tools have not yet been found with the bones, “You don’t have to have stone tools – you have to have evidence of human technology.

Pushing the clock back further still, Holen said he is now working at an archaeological site with “probably much older” evidence than the 33,000-year-old evidence he now has.  Holen is not disclosing the site's age and location.

“When I am asked the question, ‘When did people first arrive in the Americas?’ my answer now is that we do not know. I think that the term ‘from time immemorial’ may be the most accurate statement for Native American time depth in the Americas, just as many traditional Native people say."

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