CAN ANYONE JUST TELL THE TRUTH

With a little more effort, we can destroy all American pre-history in our lifetime. It will take

the effort of all of the groups involved, but with the current state of cooperation, I believe we

can do it. How can we save history if everyone involved, lies to justify their own bias and needs

for control and power? Less than 1% of the population cares about American history at any

level. Those involved with pre-history is far less than 1%. Museums, archaeologist, government

bureaucrats, collectors and Native Americans are all working together to destroy our past.

The museums are more interested in being politically correct and not offending anyone that

might withdraw contributions than keeping their mandate to preserve the past, all the past, for

future generations. Many are willing to give up Native American collections to keep the money

flowing. So any Indian claim for any artifact is honored. Some museums have now established

a policy to remove their Amerid collections from public view. Some are trading or selling

collections away to retain value for their institution; rather than have the government

bureaucracy mandate surrender without compensation under the Native American Graves

Protection and Repatriation Act. The problem with this attitude is that if they are willing to

give up one collection, then they are also willing to give up all the other collections as well. The

museum is satisfied, just as long as there is no controversy and the donations keep flowing.

Many of these surrendered artifacts were originally donated by individuals to the museum.

These artifacts were acquired legally, donated and then maintained for future generations

through public donations. Giving them away breaks the public trust. Most historic medicine

bundles were acquired through gift, trade or purchase as Native Americans became Christians

and sold off their traditional icons. Native beliefs and religion did not cease over the past two

to four hundred years by the absence of these items. Therefore, it is hard to believe that these

items are essential for the practice of such religions. Public confidence is not enhanced when

we find repatriated items in the market for sale through Native Americans with the original

museum numbers still intact. Even stranger is the fact that modern mask carvings and other

arts are now being declared as sacred under the act, even though they were never used in

any ceremony and were fabricated by Native Americans for the art market.

 

Archaeologist have been too silent. They too are so interested in being Politically correct that

they refuse to write the entire book. In the beginning they may have spent too much attention

on burials and burial goods, now they spend too little. The shift to climate and pollen is good

to a point. However, when you spend years looking at a site and then refuse to look at the

people who built it, something is wrong. The archaeological community has been too silent

on Kenniwick Man, and other research issues. They condemn collectors for picking up

arrowheads in a plowed field. They liken it to tearing a page out of the history book. They

ignore the fact that the artifact once broken is like forever burning the page. At least the

page still exist if it is picked up. It should be their job to build a system that allows that page

to be reported and the information indexed to culture, site, region and finder. I have heard

some archaeologist claim that Amateur journals are just publishing items that are for sale.

In my 35 years of observation, very few items published are ever sold. More likely, they are

not for sale and never will be unless the owner dies. There used to be a common ground

between the collectors and the professionals. They cooperated and shared information.

Then the professionals began schools which graduated far more students than there were jobs.

Soon you could not make a comfortable living even with a Masters degree. Collectors were

blamed. They should not do research for free until every professional had a job for pay.

Wadlow, Titterington, Vietzen and hundreds of other collectors were shunned. Their research

was minimized. Collectors were often vilified. Young archaeologist refused to contact local

collectors or view their collections. Some even went so far as to tell farmers not to let

collectors on sites, some of these sites had even been reported to state archaeologist collectors

by collectors. From their glass temples, professional archaeologist viewed collectors with

contempt and suspicion. Vanishing sites were blamed on pot hunters, rather than on urban

expansion, farming and mining practices, the lack of funding and manpower. Meanwhile,

professional newsletters condemn fellow professionals who’s carriers focus on excavation and

writing books and reports. They suggest that professionals should be hired to protect sites, to

give tours, write legislation, interpret legislation, teach, and other activities not directly

associated with archaeology. A prescription for maintaining and expanding bureaucracies,

but not for expanding knowledge or answering questions on our pre-history. If the

professional archaeologist chooses to preserve all sites and not excavate, to allow Native

Americans to choose which sites can be dug and edit all reports to comply with their oral

history or myths, then the science of archaeology is dead and we do not need archaeologist.

We can adopt oral traditions as truth, hire high school students to give tours, and save all

sites by allowing them to be developed without study. Meanwhile as the archaeological

community remains silent, the museums are looted through NAGPRA and all investigation

is slowly strangled by political correctness, layered bureaucracies, dwindling funding and

militant opinions.

 

Government is a major problem. They know nothing about archaeology, and count votes

as being more important than the common good. The politics of perceptions has nothing to

do with truth. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American

Graves Protection and Repatriation Act are both open ended and undefined. The liberals

through the courts are actively attempting to have ARPA apply to private land. NAGPRA

was to address problems of historic remains and artifacts taken during the Indian wars

and archived in Washington’s Surgeon Generals Museum, the Smithsonian and other

institutions. Direct blood tie was the beginning requirement. Another requirement was to

be that religious items or cultural patrimony were supposed to be taken illegally without

permission of the tribe or clan or family of ownership. Then they left the door open by

allowing claims to be made on stories, myths, beliefs, oral traditions, subsequent living

patterns, and anything else someone might want to use. When belief is fact, you

immediately have a logical problem. There are thousands of contrary beliefs. To allow

one belief to be set as law and dominant over all other beliefs is the establishment of a

National religion. This is unconstitutional under the Constitution and the separation of

church and state. Government then leaves religious, related etc. undefined. With the

appointment of a liberal militant committee to oversee NAGPRA we soon have a ruling

that there are no unrelated remains or burial objects and everything is sacred. Every

arrowhead, pot shard, ax, celt or other artifact is sacred to some militant. Government

sets up such open ended laws and then waits for the courts to define the meanings.

Meanwhile, our public institutions bend rather than go through the expense of being

the grand test case. As our public institutions are stripped of the American heritage,

militants on the reservations plan to decide which tribe might have the best chance of

seizing the artifacts from the next earlier period in age. With Kenniwick Man they are

attempting to seize 9300 year old remains. If they win, how much earlier, Adam and Eve?

Collectors are also at fault. Most collectors are honest and will share information with

the professional community. Far less than 1% of the collectors ever dig. Let’s face it,

walking fields and creeks is more profitable than digging. Digging usually yields a sore

back and nothing more. For the time and effort, it is far better just to walk sites. Of those

who do dig, most are excavating in open farm fields where the plow draws their attention to

storage pits, house floors and other features that are being exposed. If trained, and if they

keep good records, take photographs and then report the information to the state; they can

be an invaluable resource. The Pot Hunters are another matter. Those who dig sites that

are not in danger and dig solely for profit. These individuals are very few in number in

the Midwest and south, but every state has a few. They keep no records and most just dig

out of greed or curiosity. As a whole they make less than minimum wage after expenses

and they do give collectors a black eye. Archaeologist blame these individuals for the loss

of history. Makes good rhetoric, but the truth is that the pot hunters do not even register

as a measurable statistic on the loss of site registry. Development, farming, mining, erosion,

road construction, deforestation, dams, and other planned activities destroy virtually 100%

of lost sites, not pot hunters. Another problem with collectors is that a few lie. They change

the origin of artifacts to increase their value on the market, or lie about finding an artifact to

get a ribbon at a show, or lie to get a piece published to increase it’s value or maybe just to

get their name published. For whatever reasons, some collectors lie and this reduces our

contribution to archaeology. If an archaeologist is doing a study on an exotic material’s

distribution, many will refuse to use collector submitted information. They will not rely

on collectors due to the possibility of being lied to and thus changing the outcome of their

research. Other archaeologist, have decided to work with the collectors and many have

received invaluable information to assist them in their research. However, they too must be

on the alert of dishonest collectors. As a whole, most of us are very willing to be honest and

share our information. The few, make us look bad and debase our knowledge and value to

archaeology. Then there are the fakers who fabricate artifacts and histories for profit.

I don't believe I even have to get into the problems these individuals bring to our hobby.

Finally the Native American. The big lie is that there was an intentional plot to destroy

them. Nothing could be further from the truth. I can not deny that hundreds of thousands

died, but not from war or intent, but from disease and ignorance. When the first explorers

came to this country, they were looking for gold and silver. As a result, the Spanish invaded

South America, Mexico and stopped in the southern United States. There was no gold in the

North or Eastern United States and so the Spanish did not care to invest their energies there.

The first European settlers in the Eastern United States were a different breed and were

looking for farm land to settle. As the first settlements were established, the sea captains,

after unloading passengers and goods, would sail down the coast looking for a chance to

map the coast and trade with the natives. Often they found large villages at the confluence

of rivers and the ocean. These areas were important for they allowed the foraging of fresh

and salt water environments, good hunting and fertile soils for farming. Once provisioned,

the ships sailed on leaving behind diseases unknown to the natives. A week or two later, the

village would become ill and begin to die off. Afraid of this unseen death, evil spirits were

blamed and the villages abandoned. The natives fled to nearby villages for refuse, bringing

the plagues with them. The death villages became taboo and as the natives ran from the

silent death. Everywhere they went, they infected every village that took them in. Eventually,

huge areas were abandoned. Settlers soon occupied the abandoned areas. They settled there

for the same reasons the original inhabitants had settled there. Also, since the areas were

either uninhabited or sparsely inhabited, there was no conflict to this occupation.

In time, the English and French were at odds over the new lands. Each made trading

partners with the strongest tribes. For centuries these tribes had been mortal enemies. By

arming one side, they forced the other side to also form an European alliance with the

opposite nation. In time, trading goods replaced traditional tribal utensils and dress and

custom became Tribal and European hybrids. A hundred years of disease and warfare

destroyed many tribes and survivors were assimilated within tribes of similar language and

traditions, sometimes some distance away. New weapons that killed rather than maimed or

counted coup replaced less effective weapons. Brass and copper replaced pottery, silver

and glass beads replaced painting and porcupine work. Everything was in change. Trade

dependent, the tribes gave up their unique identities. Disease continued to claim thousands.

The tribes became weaker and weaker. As the Europeans expanded, they kept their Indian

allies on the fringe of their settlements. These natives served as a buffer against hostile tribes.

As settlements increased in size, they no longer had a need for their once allies. The tribes

were so weakened and dependent that they were easily bought out and moved further west,

thus allowing further European expansion.

 

Many tribes allied themselves with the British during the Revolutionary War. After the war,

the vanquished and their Indian allies were forced out of vast territories. The Americans did

not want their former enemies amongst them. This process of trade dependence, disease,

white expansion, small wars and assimilation of the vanquished continued time after time. In

time, nearly all the tribes had been conquered and forced on to reservations. Oklahoma finally

saw the remaining Eastern tribes, so weakened and hybridized that they had lost most of their

original identities and were settled together. Friends and enemies alike, living together in the

Indian Territory.

 

After the Western Indian Wars, America was finally a united Nation. Tribes beaten and

subjugated were forced onto reservations. Each church denomination was given a reservation

and the responsibility of educating and saving the souls therein. It was decided that to save

the Indian, they had to adjust and accept American customs, dress, religion and economics.

To this end, Indian military schools were set up to educate and train Indian children. They

would spend half the day in school and half the day working a trade. They were forced to wear

white clothes, cut their hair and only speak English. It was thought that American assimilation

could be accomplished within a generation or two. Tribal identity was also tested with the Daws

act, that gave each adult Indian 160 acres to own privately. This created competition and

attempted to stop the traditional communal sharing practices within most tribes. Cohabitation

led to a blending of cultures. Dress, traditions, stories, even language changed. After World

War I, the returning veterans decided to spice up the costumes with more color and the fancy

dance bustle was born. The dance tempo was picked up and new steps introduced. Intertribal

Pow Wows were held, where concepts were borrowed from other tribes. The result was the

end of individual tribal identities. Generations of welfare led to alcoholism and drugs, broken

families and a lack of positive identity. Tribal identity was replaced with a new idea, Pan

Americanism) which proposes that all tribes are the same. This Pow Wow generation believe

that all tribes are the same, have the same beliefs, religion and culture. They also believe that

they have no history, that their culture is the same today as yesterday and tomorrow.

The only problem is that there are no pure blooded tribal members of any tribe East of the

Missouri river. English, French, Spanish, American, Black and other tribes have intermixed

all the bloodlines. Everyone is part of something else. In the West, this is also true of the

majority of Native Americans. So being a Native American is more a spiritual feeling or

belief, rather than a reality in fact. In time, a 256th Native American lineage may get you on

the tribal rolls. Only time will tell. In the East, some tribes look blond, black and anything

but Native American. There are some tribes that are already accepting membership if you

are 1/128th in an effort to build up tribal rolls and be recognized by government to allow

gambling casinos.

 

Many Native American groups are making genuine efforts to bring back their culture.

Efforts are being made to renew their language and bring back customs and crafts. Tribal

projects; like reintroducing the Buffalo to reservations is being done in intertribal

cooperation. The Buffalo will serve as a spiritual remembrance and a cash crop. The meat

is also good for the people, as many are victims of diabetes from our white man diet. However,

Indian culture is so destroyed that many of the Winnebago were against this project until

they were reminded that they had a Buffalo Clan. Native Americans have an identity, but

that is not the identity of pre-contact.

 

The destruction of Indian culture was a series of accidents, bad ideas with good intentions

and even some culpability on the leaders and members of the tribes. However, NAGPRA

may result in finally killing off tribal identities. This terminal destruction will be done with

an overt act of kindness that allows the Indians themselves to go into our nations public

institutions and museums and seize and destroy the only remaining evidence of their pre

and early contact artifacts. These items point to and reflect tribal cultures in their original

colors, designs, materials and forms before they were hybridized and merged. Before they

became so dependent on the white man, that their culture was lost. In time, only the

Pow Wow costumes will remain. Lost will be the people. Grass dancers in sun glasses

dancing to recent innovations in Native American song, with no concept of their roots

before the reservation, the white man’s education, religion and societal trappings. Today

their grandfathers are vetern’s of Korea and Viet Nam. There is no memory of the changes

in costume and dance created by those vetrens from World War I or the changes in costume

and adaptations made after World War II. Mistakenly, they imagine that is was always the

same, and this is the real shame.

 

How can a culture reinvent itself in language, religion, custom and costume if we help them

destroy the only evidence of their pre-white existence? Yes, we can all destroy. Not only

destroy our Nation’s Prehistory, but we can also help the Native Americans destroy their

history as well. It can all be done if we just all work hard at doing what we are doing now.

In a pure world, where idealism was seated in logic, reality and the common good; this would

all be different. Museums would have their collections on display and always available to the

serious student, white and Indian alike. Archaeologist would have open computer systems

where honest collectors could internet information on a regular basis. Record sites, describe

finds, add to the site inventory list at any time. Models could be made and information would

be open to anyone contributing to the system. Collectors would be the eyes, ears, finance and

back of the professional agenda. Professionals would seek out amateur collectors and view

their collections, marking site maps and taking notes. Only trained archaeologist or

avocational archaeologist would dig. Avocational archaeologist would only explore exposed

features in immediate danger of destruction. Professional assistance would be sought and

provided; reports, photographs and sketches made and submitted to the State Archaeologist.

Government would not protect artifacts on public lands by demanding that they be stepped

on by cattle, run over by vehicles, or erode into reservoirs and rivers to be lost forever without

being picked up or recorded. Laws would be written to protect our National treasures not

give them away. Laws would also have concrete intentions and definite dates to restrict claims

going back to the origins of the world. Native Americans would be allowed to protect their

historic cemeteries, but by identifying them and marking them so they can be protected by

everyone. Remains previously seized or dug and identifiable to a family, clan or tribe should

be returned upon request from the institution housing them. Any artifacts that belonged to

those remains should also be returned, unless the family, clan or tribe wishes them to be

preserved for future generations. This does not mean remains and artifacts to which there

is no logical blood tie; or remains and artifacts of antiquity. Such are the property of the

institution and the American people. Anything more would be to deny science, create a

National religion based upon the beliefs of a few, and favor mandated ignorance. No matter

how fervently some beliefs may be held, the archaeological facts do not support the concept

that prehistoric Native Americans had taboos on disturbing bone, the dead, or ancient

sites. Countless Mississippian cemeteries show regular disturbance of previous graves,

bundle burials, cremations and human bone ornaments and tools show that bone was not

sacred either. Native Americans deserve respect and assistance in preserving their cultural

identities, or what is left of them. However, creating a National Native religion, stripping

our museums of historic artifacts and prehistoric remains and artifacts will not accomplish

the restoration of Native culture. To the contrary, it may destroy it. We can either work

together for the common good and future generations or bicker like little children and watch

the all the history books past and future burn. We either work together or destroy together,

there can be no middle ground.

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