Native Americans of the Great Plains of North America owned horses much earlier than previously thought. The horse was already “deeply integrated” into their way of life in the first half of the 17th century, before they came into contact with European settlers in their area.
that Writes a large group of American researchers in the journal Sciences. The researchers, who include anthropologists, geneticists, zoologists, and representatives of the indigenous Lakota, Comanche, and Pawnees populations, draw on archaeological and genetic research and indigenous oral traditions.
Historians often assume that Spanish horses spread across the American Southwest in the century after the conquest of Mexico (1521)—smuggled, traded, or plundered. The indigenous people of the northern plains did not have horses until the late seventeenth century. Nomadic groups such as the Comanches would have been lured south by the presence of horses there.
The horses available to the Native Americans were Hispanic
in Sciences The researchers, led by an anthropologist from the University of Colorado at Boulder, are now pushing those dates back more than half a century. According to archaeological and genetic data, horses were also kept and used on the northern plains at the latest in the first half of the seventeenth century. According to researchers, the Comanches also had horses before they migrated to what is now Texas.
The introduction of the horse sparked an economic and cultural revolution among the indigenous peoples of the plains between Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. The mobility of equestrian peoples such as the Comanche and Lakota not only increased their hunting revenues, but also increased their military and political power.
However, the basis for the researchers’ conclusion that the horse assimilated early into Northern Plains Aboriginal societies still seems very narrow. This mainly consists of examining the remains of three or four horses that can be dated between 1597 and 1657: a pony buried in Wyoming, a skull from Kansas, and skeletons in New Mexico and Idaho.
Read also: The “Equestrian Syndrome” betrays the oldest horse riders 5,000 years ago
However, together with archaeological knowledge and other oral traditions, researchers see ample reason to believe that the indigenous peoples of those regions tamed and used horses long before they came into contact with Europeans. This is consistent with the desire to “decolonize” Native American history and the desire to emphasize the strength of Native American cultures. Colonial sources about the horse are often “full of inaccurate information” and “anti-Native prejudice,” according to the researchers.
Paleontologists hypothesize that horses existed in North America in the Pleistocene, but became extinct due to natural causes and possibly from human poaching. The fact that the late indigenous horses were of Spanish (rather than Northern European) ancestry is indisputable in this study: DNA research confirms this.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper on March 31, 2023
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