Horses were in North America before Europeans. Don’t tell Tucker Carlson

I think this cautious optimism that it’s a more interesting and longer story is quite sensible. The rise of humanity from the great rift region of africa seems pretty clear cut - hominids were making tools there 2 1/2 million years ago. Humans most likely got here only 20,000 years ago or so - but who knows? There is a huge difference between firepits, shell middens and flaked tools and crude hammers and smashed bones.

Horses surviving the americans seems more possible than a really early entrance of humans, as they could have been wild and not domesticated. Or not domesticated in the way we think of today.

The Choctaw at one time kept 2 different types of domesticated dogs, smaller yellow/brown dogs that were penned and raised for food and larger more wolf/coyote-like free-range dogs that were hunting companions and watch dogs. Steppe ponies and other “primitive” horse relatives can be quite small - they may have been as pets/beasts of burden with a travois to haul loads like dogs were, but not ridden.


I tried to test that, but everything went black then I woke up in the hospital with a concussion.

Maybe Tucker Carlson would have better results if he did it? He should try it repeatedly, for science.

Seriously though, never stand behind a horse!


I’m just miffed there’s no pictures of the funky horse with the floor-length mane and zebra legs.


Also, I want to remind people that successfully defending your dissertation, especially something like this that upends commonly accepted views, is not something you just half-ass. If she successfully defended it, then that means that people who have expertise agreed that she did the work and made her argument work.


It’s good to note that no one here has denied the possibility of this being correct.


Although I have some doubts that that peruvian petroglyph doesn’t represent a llama rather than a horse

Yeah, they were so incredibly useful that, once introduced, the indigenous populations all over the Americas took very little time to become expert riders and made great use of them, which itself is a testament to their skill and ingenuity. It’s very difficult to imagine what scenario would either

  1. Prevent their widespread use around both continents once they were domesticated and used at any given location


  1. Wipe out (nearly all?) native domesticated horses from both continents after they had been established.

But a little humility on what we don’t know is always wise, so it will be interesting to follow the results of this research, especially the genetic stuff if she’s claiming that horse populations were maintained here uninterrupted.


This is an exciting and potentially major development. I had grown up with the understanding that Europeans brought the horses without as mu ch as a second thought.

I hope we continue to move our minds away from the colonial mindset. The hegemony is real.



All of this, exactly. If it turns out that a population of North American indigenous equines still exists, that’s really amazing. There should be some well-preserved ancient horse DNA in both North America and Europe.

Right, this is the widely held view. If there’s evidence that this view is wrong, that is really amazing.

My thought was always that there were megafauna like horses here but the Native Americans were hungry and skilled at hunting and the horses didn’t survive that. Or it could have been the ice age that did them in. Or both together.


This part was an interesting point, so I looked at the dissertation.

[…] there is written Spanish record of the Southeastern Indians having been seen with horses as early as 1521 in what is now Georgia and the Carolinas. This is particularly interesting as it would have been impossible for the first horses that the Spanish brought to the mainland (what is now Mexico) in 1519 to have escaped unnoticed, “make it” to the Georgia and Carolinas area, and have multiplied in two years’ time. […] 83

83 Richard Thornton, “490-year-old Spanish Documents Describe an Irish Province in South Carolina,” Frontiers ofAnthropology (blog), May 25, 2011, http://frontiers-of

That really doesn’t look like a usuable reference. If there was good material beyond that that the blog => Examiner was quoting, it should have cited that instead.

eta: Okay, bad reference, but finding and checking out the Spanish document would be the next step.


A secret stash of survivor horses would be cool!


That’s interesting, but it doesn’t gibe with stories told by native Americans in the 19th century. For example, there is a memoir of a Blackfoot who remembered the first time he had seen a horse. His tribe was raided by horsemen, and none in his tribe even understood what they were seeing. He claimed that none of the Blackfoot had ever seen horses. He lived into his 90s, so his life spanned a fair bit of history.

There are a lot of other accounts like this. Horses were novel in the Americas, and native Americans quickly adopted them and used them for travel, cargo and warfare. If there had been pre-Columbian horses, it seems odd that they were not in common use or at least familiar. Horses weren’t even familiar as game animals.

This sure sounds like a retcon. Has anyone done the genetic sequencing? Has anyone found any fossils? It would be fascinating if true, but it seems racist to assume that native Americans didn’t start using horses until Europeans showed up and let them learn by their good example.


I mean - I don’t think it is racist to say they didn’t start using them until Europeans re-introduced them. Again, I get the push back against the narrative that Indigenous Americans were just primitives scratching out a meager living before the white man came and “saved” them. It is a bullshit narrative.

However, I would say it isn’t correct that they learned by their “good example” per se. Even if they saw them being ridden, horses were acquired by a mix of trade and finding and capturing escaped horses or decedents of escaped horses that were now wild. And how they learned to ride and work with them is notably differently. While some did ride bareback at least some of the times, they did develop their own saddles with leather, wood, rope and horn (later incorporating iron as it was available). So like a lot of cultural exchange, they were able to take something and make it part of their own culture.


It’s covered in the 246 page dissertation. Plenty of time to read before commenting.

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It’s a dissertation by an Indigenous researcher, at an establishment in Alaska. I don’t know much about the education system in North America, in particular establishments that do advanced research, but I’m sure there are more set up by the White education system than have been set up by Indigenous education systems and individuals, for what should be fairly obvious reasons, even for the really hard of thinking, trying to score points.

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No, that indigenous peoples in America originated somewhere other than Siberia.


It’s really amazing how quickly that all happened too. For one example, I was recently listening to the Fall of Civilizations podcast episode about the Inca Empire and their attempts to defend themselves against the Spanish conquistadors. The Spanish showed up as Cusco in 1533 (although smallpox had gotten there earlier and already done a lot of damage) but by 1538 the remaining Inca forces were already proficient riders doing successful Calvary charges in battle.


It may be that “native” horses survive the same way descendants of Neanderthals survive today, as a cluster of genes within some populations of horses.


Having only read the article that the quote came from, I wasn’t quite clear on the difference it was intended to make. Does she explain elsewhere what difference it makes whether people came across a Bering land bridge, from Pacific islands, or some combination?

I’m not advocating any specific theory because I don’t know more than the surface level, but it seems that all humans are from “somewhere else” (other than one specific valley in Africa, I suppose) so I’m not sure what problem was being illustrated.