The Original Engineers of North America #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth #NAHM #AmericanIndianandAlaskaNativeHeritageMonth

The images of Native Americans popularized in movies like Dances with Wolves, early Hollywood westerns, and the paintings of artists like George Catlin have a hold on our imaginations. Often we think of Native Americans as nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in a perfect balance with nature. The truth is, for long periods of time, the pre-colonial inhabitants of North America had trade centers, towns, and large-scale engineering works that required extraordinary organization and social complexity. Here’s more from Phys.org:

Far from the simplicity of life sometimes portrayed in anthropology books, these early Indigenous people were highly skilled engineers capable of building massive earthen structures in a matter of months—possibly even weeks—that withstood the test of times, the findings show.

“We as a research community—and population as a whole—have undervalued native people and their ability to do this work and to do it quickly in the ways they did,” said Tristram R. “T.R.” Kidder, lead author and the Edward S. and Tedi Macias Professor of Anthropology in Arts & Sciences.

“One of the most remarkable things is that these earthworks have held together for more than 3,000 years with no failure or major erosion. By comparison, modern bridges, highways and dams fail with amazing regularity because building things out of dirt is more complicated than you would think. They really were incredible engineers with very sophisticated technical knowledge.”

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