Why do southwestern archaeologists preserve indigenous stone architecture, while those in the east deny it exists?
T’is strange times that we live in. Academicians seem to have no problem getting grants to study “the cultural connections between the Southwestern United States and Mesoamerica. Archaeological sites in and near Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois are also the the locale of many, well-funded academic studies. For decades, archaeologists in the Southwest have been seeking out stone ruins, preserving them and gaining government protection for them. For the past two decades, Canada has liberally funded research projects seeking evidence of Pre-Columbian contacts between Canada and Europe. In contrast, the peers in eastern North America pretend that indigenous stone architecture does not exist and refuse to discuss the evidence that people visited and migrated to what is now the United States, prior to the early 16th century European voyages.
We hear the same type complaints from historic preservationists and architects in New England and the Midwest. The archaeologists in their region refuse to discuss an explanations of stone structures, other than the vague statement that they were made by American Indians . . . but which American Indians? Almost all New England anthropologists seem to be unaware that there are shared words between Irish/Scottish Gaelic and Algonquian, Shawnee, Cherokee & Muskogee-Creek.
Unless a Native American site produces significant regional income from tourism, there is minimal government support for continued investigation. University anthropology programs tend to focus on sites in other parts of the world in order to attract students, whose prime interest in archaeology is the opportunity to visit exotic places.
- There is relatively little research going on in Native American anthropology within the United States, outside the Southwest and the Cahokia, Illinois.
- Archaeologists will not admit that indigenous people living in the eastern United States knew how to stack stones.
- Archaeologists in the United States refuse to consider the evidence that peoples on both sides of the Atlantic during the Bronze Age to have close encounters of a third kind.
- Archaeologists seem to be less and less inclined question the anthropological “facts” that they were taught by rote memory in college.
- Since there is virtually no “market” for Native American linguistics professors, the token linguistics professor in a university anthropology department typically got their PhD is some exotic foreign indigenous language. As a result, Gringo archaeologists have any clue what the Native American words mean. For example, when Georgia archaeologists pumped their ludicrous belief that the long terrace walls at Track Rock Gap in the Chattahoochee National Forest were built by Cherokees as dancing platforms and burial markers for great chiefs, they had no clue that Chattahoochee is the Anglicization of the Itza Maya words Chata Hawche, which mean “Stone Stela” or “Ancient Ruins” (depending on the accent) – “Shallow River.” Haw is the Itza Maya and Georgia Creek word for a river. Hawche is the Itza Maya and Georgia Creek word for a shallow river or creek.
- The attitude of Southeastern academicians in anthropology seems to be that they are guarding hidden knowledge, which cannot be changed . . . and finally,
- In the Southeast, very few archaeology professors are interested in either stone structures or petroglyphs.
The truth is that the archaeology profession is dying on the vine in most areas of the United States. It would not exist at all, if the Section 106 program was cancelled by Congress. Section 106 requires that all major construction projects, involving federal money, first be surveyed by cultural resource professionals, which include archaeologists. If the archaeology firms expect to be hired again, they complete their survey as quickly as possible and find nothing, which would slow down construction.
The only exceptions to the general decline of the profession within the United States are locales, where archaeological sites create major sources of regional income from tourism. Many second and third tier universities only teach anthropology because they have to in order to maintain accreditation. There is very little demand for anthropology graduates outside of the schools, which teach anthropology, and they usually require PhD’s. According to the US Department of Commerce, in 2010, during the Great Recession, over 85% of the anthropology graduates with post-graduate degrees were unemployed. That rate may have been much higher, since it is based on the number self-labeled anthropology graduates, who sought unemployment payments or welfare assistance.
The reality of a career in archaeology
A friend of many years in Mississippi explained it this way. He devoted six years of his life to earn a Master of Science degree in Anthropology from the University of Alabama. He had also taken several courses, required for a PhD. He was planning to go after a doctorate, but initially didn’t have the money. He and his girlfriend married after she graduated, since a PhD was some time in the future. The only work, he could get was as a temporary contract laborer on archaeological sites. He said that basically he had the lifestyle and income of a migratory farm worker. They were dependent on his wife’s steady income from teaching in a public school. When he was working, she would come and live with him on weekends and in the summer. He thought if he worked hard enough, one of the consulting firms, who contracted with him, would offer a permanent position. Then, his wife somehow became pregnant. That changed the ball game.
Bill initially began going after archaeological work anywhere he could get it, leaving Joyce pregnant and alone for many weeks at time. He is part Choctaw. He realized that he had started “praying” that proposed highway projects would destroy Choctaw mounds so he would have the money to pay their rent. He told me on the phone the other night, “Richard, the truth is that archaeology in much of the United States today is all about being paid to destroy our Sacred Heritage Sites . . . not particularly to learn more about our ancestors. My bosses did not want me to find very much, because handling artifacts reduced their profits.”
Bill had the option of either changing his career or losing his marriage. He went to work on a construction site, initially as a laborer, but making much more money than as an archaeological laborer. Because of his “book learning” rose rapidly up the ranks of a major construction contractor. He is now a senior executive with that same contractor and (I think) makes over $200,000 a year. His involvement with archaeology is limited to being a subscriber to POOF, © The Americas Revealed and the POOF Youtube Channel.
In helping with the article in © The Americas Revealed Bill brought up another factor, which has been detrimental to archaeology in the United States. He told me that it costs an out of state student a total of about $340,000 today for the eight years of college necessary for a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Alabama. The graduates, unless they come from a very wealthy family, start out life owing about $250,000 to 300,000! No middle class kid in their right mind would go into a profession, with such limited employment opportunities. If the young man or woman have any sense at all, they will go into engineering or computer science, where they will have income to pay off their college loan.
How times have changed. With the help of a monthly allowance from the US Navy, I paid about half of my total college costs at Georgia Tech architecture school by working in the summer and holidays. My parents paid the other half, without dipping into savings . . . plus were paying for my sister to go to Woodward Academy, a prestigious private school, at the same time. I paid every penny of the cost of my post-graduate education at Georgia State and Georgia Tech without borrowing or charging a penny. That would be absolutely impossible today.
Even all these socioeconomic factors, when added up, do not fully explain the bizarre attitude that Dixie archaeologists have toward ancient stone structures, plus contacts with Mesoamerica and South America. We will discuss this situation more comprehensively in:
(Double-Click this link.)
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