We are used to the idea that scientists are constantly making new discoveries that lead to new and better understandings of our world. Why is it so hard to wrap our heads around the idea that the same is true for history? There are few topics better for undoing the notion that historical knowledge is static than the study of prehistoric Americans, where evidence is both difficult to come by and difficult to interpret.
Archaeologist Todd Braje says that “We know less … about the peopling of the New World now than we did 20 years ago.” How is that possible? How have our understandings about the peopling of the Americas changed from the 1930s to the present?
How did the discovery of human remains on the Channel Islands challenge archaeologists' theories about migration to the Americas?
In what ways have these theories clashed or jibed with Chumash oral history?
What do different types of evidence and academic disciplines contribute to ongoing research on the peopling of the Americas? How can expanding the scope of analysis beyond today's national borders, offer context for artifacts and remains within the present-day U.S.?
What are the similarities and differences between the study of the earliest migrations in the Americas and the study of the earliest structures? What questions does evidence from this site raise or leave unanswered?
How do the ways we learn and share information in the digital age affect popular understanding of the early history of North America? How might you evaluate what you read about these sites or about new studies?