Paleoindians and the Peopling of North America

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.
Vintage photograph of black cowboy George McJunkin on a horse in New Mexico.

A Hidden Figure in North American Archaeology

A Black cowboy named George McJunkin found a site that would transform views about the history of Native Americans in North America.
How did discoveries a century ago at the Folsom site change our understanding of the earliest inhabitants of North America? How has our historical memory of those very discoveries changed since?

The Knotty Question of When Humans Made the Americas Home

A deluge of new findings are challenging long-held scientific narratives of how humans came to North and South America.
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?
Armand Minthorn

Bones of Dispute

Who owns the past? That is the subject of debate after the discovery of a human skeleton on the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington.
How do the Umatillas' understandings of their history differ from those of archaeologists and anthropologists? How does more recent history of American Indians shape our study of the ancient past?
Ancient coastal explorers might have made an early home in California’s Channel Islands.

The Search for America’s Atlantis

Did people first come to this continent by land or by sea?
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?
Image of a human skull

A Whole New World

Archaeology and genetics keep rewriting the ancient peopling of the Americas.
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.?
Earthen mounds at Louisiana State University.

Oldest Human-made Structure in the Americas Is Older Than the Egyptian Pyramids

The grass-covered mounds represent 11,000 years of human history.
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?
Prehistoric mounds on the campus of Louisiana State University.

Googling for Oldest Structure in the Americas Leads to Heaps of Debate

The straightforward way in which Google answers this query is a case study in how new science becomes accepted as fact in the modern era of rapid communication.
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?