Posted December 16, 2010
STATEMENT ABOUT “THE LOST CIVILIZATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA” DVD
The following is a statement jointly authored by myself and the several other scholars indicated regarding our participation in the recent video production, “The Lost Civilizations of North America.” Given the notoriety this video has received (it was discussed by Glenn Beck on his television program), we felt it necessary to make the following statement a matter of record. I urge anyone who has any questions not answered by the statement to contact me – Brad
As scholars committed to increasing public understanding of Native American history and archaeology, we want to make it clear that we do not support the theories presented in The Lost Civilizations of North America DVD. In our opinion, there is no compelling archaeological or genetic evidence for a migration from the Middle East to North America a few thousand years ago, nor is there any credible scientific evidence that Old World civilizations were involved in developing Native American cultures in pre-Columbian times. Many of the artifacts used to support the films claims, such as the Newark “Holy Stones,” have been proven fraudulent based on convincing scientific evidence and historical documentation. Like the great majority of professional archaeologists and anthropologists, we have seen overwhelming evidence that Native Americans were independently responsible for designing and creating the Newark Earthworks, Cahokia Mounds, and the myriad other pre-Columbian sites across the United States. Each of us was interviewed for this film. None of us was asked directly for our opinion on what turned out to be its underlying claim; that Old World civilizations played an active role in the development of Native American cultures, especially the mound builders. Instead, we were asked general questions about Native American societies, their remarkable technological achievements, genetic histories, and we were also asked to comment on the biases of many nineteenth-century historians and archaeologists concerning the abilities of the native people of North America. We fear that the context of our general remarks as they currently appear in the film might lead viewers to conclude that our words on these subjects provide support for the films claims. That would be a mistake. In fact, our remarks, if presented in an unedited form, show clearly that we reject the assertions made in the finished documentary concerning a non-native source for the complex cultures of Native America. We informed the filmmakers of our objections in February 2010, five months before the DVDs release. The producers did make some changes in response to our objections, including deleting Ken Feder’s interview entirely. As a group, we believe that the final product remains misleading and presents claims that neither we nor our data support. In our opinion, there is no compelling evidence for the presence of Old World cultures in North America prior to the incursions of the Norse in the early 11th century.
Sonya Atalay Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University*
Terry Barnhart Professor of History, Eastern Illinois University*
Deborah Bolnick Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin*
Ken Feder Professor of Anthropology, Central Connecticut State University*
Alice Kehoe Professor of Anthropology, emeritus, Marquette University*
Brad Lepper Curator of Archaeology, Ohio Historical Society*
*We provide the names of our respective institutions here for identification purposes only. This is not meant to indicate that these institutions endorse our views.