Myth of the Vanished Race

In the realm of in class lectures and my own online research, I’ve noticed a trend surrounding the Moundbuilders; myths. The Moundbuilders, although unknown “creatures,” are known for their work in North America, specifically the upper and lower Midwest, of creating small, flat top mounds. These mounds are most often found in groupings, can be multilevel, and are hallowed out. Within the hallowed out mounds, archaeologists have found that they feature complex architecture with artifacts ranging from stone and bone to copper and mice. Amongst these artifacts they have also found mythical animal-like shapes.

In a study aid presentation, written byThomas S. Garlinghouse, a professor at University of California who has a doctorate in archaeology, addresses the confusing “disappearance” of the Moundbuilderes. He states, “Europeans first came into contact with the mounds as they pushed farther westward across the North American continent, moving beyond the Allegheny Mountains, settling lands that had formerly belonged to native peoples. As Europeans cleared the ground for farming and grazing, they were astonished to uncover a whole host of mounds and geometric earthworks that mystified the settlers. Who had built them? Were they the work of long-vanished civilisations, such as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel? Or had the ancestors of the Native Americans built them?” Like many others before and after him, Garlinghouse tried to hypothesize who the built the mysterious mounds.

The Moundbuilders interested those, such as Benjamin Franklin, lexicographer Noah Webster, Reverend James Madison (the first Episcopal bishop of Virginia) and Governor Dewitt Clinton of New York. Each had their own hypothesis, but most implied that the work was done by civilized people. Therefore, an earlier consensus that Native Americans were the ones who made the mounds was dismissed. Native Americans are often viewed as “savages,” implying that they could not have made the mounds. Egyptians. Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews, Toltecs, Hindus. Vikings, Celts, and Romans were some of the most common guesses of who these people were.

Instead thinking that a vanished race is behind the building of the mounds, I believe the Native Americans were the Moundbuilders. Although the Europeans described no proof of the Native Americans building the mounds, inhabiting them, or admitting to them, they were the first known people on the land. Since no one else was known to be there between the time the Native Americans established themselves and when the Europeans first arrived, they are the only logical people to be held responsible for the mythical mounds.

One thought on “Myth of the Vanished Race

  1. I find it quite interesting that there is a trend in history with people thinking advanced civilizations built amazing structures instead of the indigenous people of the area. The Moundbuilder mystery is another great example of that. The mounds are truly an ingenious creation, especially the multi-level ones. I find it sad that the population would think the Native American’s were too “dumb” to have made them. I also think that the idea of lost civilizations intrigues people. The thought of such a mystery is interesting and that is probably one of the reasons people clung to it. In the past old civilizations were not given enough credit for the way they lived. They were just dismissed as being primitive because they were not the biggest and the best.
    I also find it interesting that famous people such as Benjamin Franklin were interested in the mounds. I did not know anything about them until this class so I think this fact is really cool. I agree with you that the Native Americans built the mounds. It’s silly to think that a lost civilization built them. We would then have to think about how all the people went extinct or if they moved somewhere else and why. It is really just over complicating things instead of looking at the obvious. Just because the Europeans in the past did not discover any proof of the Native American’s building them does not mean they were right! It is so strange that it took so long for what seems like the simplest conclusion to be realized.

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