In order to fully comprehend the role of the Smithsonian and the facts we have uncovered thus far involving what some suspect is the cover up of the ages, one has to understand the groundwork upon which the institution was built.
James Smithson gave all he had to establish an educational organization on American soil, and his reasoning for this has always largely remained a mystery (despite many theories), as he had never actually been to America. His will was, at the very least, ambiguous; he did not specify what the organization would or should be; he merely wrote that it would be for the increase of knowledge and that it must be named “Smithsonian Institution.” It appears by the verbiage used in Smithson’s will that he felt very alone in the world, with very few ties to fellow man or family (excepting one nephew, to whom he left all of his land), and as a result, the Smithsonian was left without a successor or supervising entity of any kind, though it came about through the fame of one man completely without ties to the American government. He had not even a correspondent within the United States to oversee the transfer of money after death, nor any distinguished U.S. colleagues, nor a mere friend. His funds, then, were left simply to the nation of the U.S., itself, and to his legal team to sort out how to get it there and what to say after it arrived (although eventually the money was retrieved through former U.S. Attorney General Robert Rush as traveling messenger). This was, assuredly, quite the pickle for bureaucratic organizers upon whose shoulders it rested to establish said institution, attempt to keep with its donor’s indefinite but documented wishes, and maintain the ideals of a man whose personal values were anyone’s best guess. Because of Smithson’s vague instructions, legal issues arising from the donation of a foreigner to another nation’s government generically, and due in part by some unique handling of the funds by the U.S. Congress during President Andrew Jackson’s administration, the approval of the Smithsonian seal did not occur until February of 1847 (nearly twenty years after Smithson’s death).
So, in the very beginning, the Smithsonian and its mission had been under the supervision of many contributing voices from a land/government foreign to its donor, and never once left to a single entity—whether individual or group entity—to construct and maintain an aim that was hazy in origin. According to Smithsonian historical literature,[i] eight years passed as members of Congress argued over different ideas for how the money should be invested, most of which suggested the raising of new school grounds, libraries, observatories, gardens, zoologist research centers, agricultural hubs, art galleries, and science discovery centers.
Gradually, the idea that morphed from so many conflicting angles birthed a one-of-a-kind establishment in that it eventually encompassed all of the ideas with one central focus: the assembling of a collection of artifacts, specimens, artwork, and educational materials and aims of every kind into newly raised buildings where they would be preserved and arranged for the purpose of public education. These buildings would also house many educational conferences, lectures, and seminars given by celebrated professors in fields relative to astronomy, geography, geology, minerology, philosophy, science and chemistry, agriculture, natural history, American history, fine arts, antiquities, and the study of cultures around the globe. So much more than a simple “museum” was the Smithsonian’s roots.
(Note that the story is by far more complicated than this, and it involves the five-year-long formation of the “National Institute”—which was more or less an elite society of opinionated, but critically helpful, wealthy contributors before a solid vision was set. Yet the simple explanation above can be viewed as a sharply truncated representation of how the Smithsonian eventually grew legs and expanded into the beginnings of what it eventually became, despite that I have left out many pieces of the puzzle for the sake of space. The mission of the Smithsonian from day one ping-ponged relentlessly until it was finally settled on the surface to simply be what Smithson wished: a place where knowledge for man was respected, perpetuated, and upheld.)
After its establishment in 1847, the Smithsonian was a bee’s nest of buzzing interest and continual growth, ever committed to increasing “the wisdom, education, and intelligence of mankind with evident unbiased and truthful transparency.” Elections for leadership were conducted that resulted in the final Board of Regents and head secretaries. Benefactors came from everywhere to pool their resources for the cause, and some followed in Smithson’s footsteps, entrusting their valuable estates to the directors of the institution, who pooled it into additional property and buildings, one of which was the eminent Smithsonian Library.
Then came the giants mounds…
The Doctrine of John Wesley Powell
As early as 1867, exploration teams commissioned by the Smithsonian had taken to the canyons of Colorado, led by one Major John Wesley Powell. Their research gradually adapted into geographical, geological, and anthropological surveys, and when the funding drew short in 1871, the U.S. government stepped in with provisions to continue. For several years, the teams continued their research, placing the majority of their time and efforts into the studies of “aboriginal inhabitants, and [the gathering of] extensive collections representing their arts, languages, institutions, and beliefs.”[ii] These collections were then taken to the Smithsonian, where they were further studied and preserved. In the summer of 1874, the survey was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Being now a federal endeavor, key leaders at the Smithsonian withdrew much interest in the project and relinquished research materials to the survey in accordance to custom. In order to transfer the materials under the supervision of the Smithsonian and keep official tabs on all archives and records regarding the North American Native Indians, a supervisory bureau would be necessary, and thus was the birth of the Bureau of Ethnology.
After the BAE was established, however, it appears some biased (translation: “dubious”) policies of artifact exclusion were enacted under the leadership of its founder, Major Powell, who had been the director of the exploration and survey up to this point.
Powell’s reputation had exceeded him by the time the BAE was founded, as he had reached fame through his exploration of the Grand Canyon, so his judgments on the archaeological surveys became the chief authority for everyone at the Smithsonian, as well as the listening world. It is not at all a secret that Powell was exceptionally bent toward rationalizing away any concepts that challenged our known evolutionary science, and although this would be the expected approach for many in his position, it is surprising to learn that his reaction to the large grant given by U.S. Congress to the Division of Mound Exploration was not positive.
The Indian burial mounds. Who built them? Why were they there? And why had there recently been news that bones were found buried in them, the size of which could not be explained?
One might take from reading Powell’s writings that he wished to study only the ethnicity of aboriginal tribes and remain nonintrusive, which might explain why the grant did not result in his celebratory reaction. Others throughout the years, however, have read his statements and understandably have concluded that Powell believed there were things buried in those strange mounds that he did not want the world to know about, lest everything we think we know about humanity’s history be confronted. Why else would additional government funding be bad news? Any true investigator would tackle the mounds enthusiastically in pursuit of authentic science when backed by support of the government, not with hesitance or fear that the science would be defied.
Nevertheless, Powell cooperated with the intentions of the funding, though not without a grand voicing of concern over how the resources would be employed. In 1882, the first BAE report from Powell was penned: On Limitations to the Use of Some Anthropologic Data. The title itself is revealing of his agenda. It does not require analysis by an achieved academic to see that before the report’s first sentence graced the eyes of its readers, Powell was already placing limitations on how the data accumulated at the exploration sites were to be used. For the next few pages, we will look at his words and reflect upon his intellectually shepherding undertones, and how he uses grand speech to completely and craftily avoid the issue of giant bones, which led to 150 years (and counting) of the public’s acceptance that “giants upon the earth” is a puerile, juvenile, and ridiculous concept. (Keep in mind that his report was written even while he openly acknowledged evidence of giant bones, as we will address in the next section.) His report begins:
Investigations in this department are of great interest, and have attracted to the field a host of workers [note this line referencing all the additional help, and remember all the funding he is receiving, as later on his complaints of resources are prominent]; but a general review of the mass of published matter exhibits the fact that the uses to which the material has been put have not always been wise.
In the monuments of antiquity found throughout North America, in camp and village sites, graves, mounds, ruins, and scattered works of art, the origin and development of art in savage and barbaric life may be satisfactorily studied. Incidentally, too, hints of customs may be discovered, but outside of this, the discoveries made have often been illegitimately used, especially for the purpose of connecting the tribes of North America with peoples or so-called races of antiquity in other portions of the world [referring to those who have seen large bones in the area and have theorized about a lost race of giants]. A brief review of some conclusions that must be accepted in the present status of the science will exhibit the futility of these attempts. [Note specifically his choice of words here. He does not shy away from using terms that suggest irrefutability, such as “conclusions that must be accepted.” His position as the renowned Grand Canyon explorer has gained the reverential attention of the country by this time, so if he says something is, then it is—regardless of logic. More on his logic shortly.]
It is now an established fact that man was widely scattered over the earth at least as early as the beginning of the quaternary period, and, perhaps, in pliocene time.
If we accept the conclusion that there is but one species of man, as species are now defined by biologists, we may reasonably conclude that the species has been dispersed from some common center, as the ability to successfully carry on the battle of life in all climes belongs only to a highly developed being; but this original home has not yet been ascertained with certainty, and when discovered, lines of migration therefrom cannot be mapped until the changes in the physical geography of the earth from that early time to the present have been discovered, and these must be settled upon purely geologic and paleontologic evidence. The migrations of mankind from that original home cannot be intelligently discussed until that home has been discovered, and, further, until the geology of the globe is so thoroughly known that the different phases of its geography can be presented.
The dispersion of man must have been anterior to the development of any but the rudest arts. Since that time the surface of the earth has undergone many and important changes. All known camp and village sites, graves, mounds, and ruins belong to that portion of geologic time known as the present epoch, and are entirely subsequent to the period of the original dispersion as shown by geologic evidence.
In the study of these antiquities, there has been much unnecessary speculation in respect to the relation existing between the people to whose existence they attest, and the tribes of Indians inhabiting the country during the historic period.
It may be said that in the Pueblos discovered in the southwestern portion of the United States and farther south through Mexico and perhaps into Central America tribes are known having a culture quite as far advanced as any exhibited in the discovered ruins. In this respect, then, there is no need to search for an extra-limital origin through lost tribes for any art there exhibited.
With regard to the mounds so widely scattered between the two oceans, it may also be said that mound-building tribes were known in the early history of discovery of this continent, and that the vestiges of art discovered do not excel in any respect the arts of the Indian tribes known to history. There is, therefore, no reason for us to search for an extra-limital origin through lost tribes for the arts discovered in the mounds of North America.[iii]
At this point, we are only a page into Powell’s report, and we have read some startling conclusions. One reading carefully into what Powell has just said can see wave after wave of the immediate and faulty circular logic in his argument. Powell is suggesting that:
We should not be spending our time focusing on theories of ancient giants when there is real work to be done, which is the study of the Indians. Anything else is a waste of resources.
But one might argue: How is the study of ancient giants not the absolute highest priority of all in the field and their given resources if these discoveries shake the foundations of our known human origin and heritage, including the Indians? The tax-paying civilians of the United States whose hard-earned dollars are being forwarded to the research would not agree that evidence of this nature is a small thing. This would be the opposite of a waste of resources.
The science of biology has proven thus far that there is only one species of man, so anything found to the contrary is by default proven to have originated from that biological thread.
But one might argue: Yes, the science of biology has proven this based on the human body or bodies we have available to study now, but if there were another species of man or man-like entities, which the mounds have already shown to exist (and Powell knows it), then our current biological knowledge would be trumped by such a discovery, and proof would be given that there is not merely one species. Or, at the very least, it would be proven that there was a race of this same species that defies all we know about their evolutionary development or inter-breeding practices that created another larger breed of man. Either way, this science and discovery should be top priority to any serious individual of the archaeological field.
For example: The Saluki is one of fourteen of the oldest known canine breeds, referred to as “the royal dog of Egypt” because of its association as the loyal, right-hand best friend to Egyptian pharaohs. (Their remains have been found mummified as well, suggesting that they were esteemed in high honor.) The Ibizan hound (as seen on the tomb of Tutankhamun) has a similar story, and both breeds were fit, trim, long-legged hunters. If an archaeological team discovered a Saluki/Ibizan hound crossbreed buried near an ancient pyramid today, such a find would not shake the foundations of all we know about canine biology. Why? Because we know there were at least fourteen breeds of canine around the world at that time that could have procreated and produced another breed, and our modern biological science now recognizes 339 official dog breeds, according to the World Canine Organization.[iv] We are already well aware that one dog can breed with another dog and create something entirely new, but the offspring is still a dog. Much funding has already backed such science, and the world is not turned on its head every time a breeder announces a new and great kind of hound for dog lovers everywhere. Humans, also, can breed after their own kind, producing interracial offspring, and this is common knowledge. So, yes, biology has proven that when something produces after its own kind, then the offspring of that union is of that kind. Powell is correct thus far.
But if the remains of a gigantically proportioned, fifteen-cubit-tall, Saluki-looking dog were found near a pyramid, the measurements of which disregarded all we know of canine evolutionary development, it would shake the foundations of all we know about canine biology. Any serious biologist would consider this a possible link to a completely new biological thread—or at the very least, an extreme interbreeding tactic practiced by the ancients but unknown to our current world—until proven otherwise…and it should be taken very seriously. Simply saying the huge dog bones represented just another canine because biology has proven that all dogs come from dogs in the past would be the epitome of deliberate, intentional, and negligent ignorance. Circular logic. If a discovery proves that something looks like a dog but can’t be, based on known biology, then let’s face it: Our biology would be determined subject to limitation, and the “dog” might not actually be a dog! Or it could be a dog that has crossbred with some other ancient animal, testifying to a DNA-manipulation procedure carried out by an ancient unknown science. Either way, it would not be ignored by the scientific community. It might be hidden away if the discovery points to something scientists don’t want the rest of the world to know about, but it would not be ignored.
Why, then, when a discovery is found that testifies to this same concept regarding humans, would Powell write it off with a statement suggesting that past science proves anything about anything? By default of a new discovery, our primitive science is replaced by new science, and all the facts of yesteryear are updated. Yet Powell is using old science to prevent us from updating our knowledge base? That goes against common sense and everything the Smithsonian stands for. By referring to biological data that pertains only to regular-sized humans and applying it to giant bones, Powell is insinuating that the bones are largely irrelevant, we already know all there is to know about them, and any time or resources spent on the study of them is inefficient.
For a man who prided himself on exploration and breakthrough, Powell’s concepts were either painfully primitive, or there was something he didn’t want the world to know about in those mounds.
Evidence of these so-called ancient giants’ migration from one territory to another cannot be mapped until we can study how the plains of the earth have shifted since the migration, and these studies should only be carried out through “purely geologic and paleontologic evidence.” We cannot “intelligently” discuss potential giants “until [their] home has been discovered, and, further, until the geology of the globe is so thoroughly known that the different phases of its geography can be presented.”
But one might argue: Is it not left specifically to people in Powell’s very position to explore the geology of the globe and present his findings toward the express purpose of deliberation within the “intelligent,” scientific community? Yes, we agree that we cannot “intelligently” talk about these things until exploration has unearthed enough to discuss. But in case Powell hadn’t noticed, exploration is his exact job description, and he is considered the expert of his field whose duty it is to provide research to both the public through the Smithsonian and to the scientific community who is hungry for any findings he unearths. Perhaps mapping is not his department, but again, in case he hadn’t noticed, he is chief over a plethora of departments in related fields backed by the almighty Smithsonian (which plays an active role in the accumulation of “geologic and paleontologic evidence”) and funded by the almighty U.S. government. We can’t become intelligent because the mapping has not been done. If Powell had influence in the field, then it was his responsibility to support—not discourage— mapping, but here he is clearly steering focus away from mapping. His reason? Because it hasn’t been done yet by the very individuals he has influence to propel toward accomplishing that goal in the first place? Circular logic.
If Powell hadn’t the intention to carry out related research of his field, then why did he go into the field of exploration and discovery?
If “geological and paleontologic evidence” is the only means through which we will find real answers, then that is not a valid argument for why we shouldn’t try to map it out lest we waste resources that could have been used to document Native Indians. In fact, if the evidence leads to a revolutionary leap in science for all mankind with the Native Indians at the geographical center of it all, then it’s an argument for precisely why we should be placing our resources into mapping the footprints of a potential ancient race of beings who lived amidst the Indians.
Tribes are “known” for being as far advanced as any others in discovered ancient ruins. Therefore, “there is no need to search for an extra-limital origin through lost tribes for any art there exhibited.” And since we know that these tribes built mounds, there is no reason to attribute the mounds to another race.
But one might argue: This is perhaps the worst of Powell’s illogical statements. And yes, you read that correctly. He is essentially saying that because the tribes are “known” for being advanced, there is no need to search for an explanation as to why or how they were so advanced or whether that involved an ancient lost race of giants, because we don’t have any evidence to support those ramblings. If it looks like a dog, it must be a dog, because old biological science goes without updating. If it looks like the otherwise primitive and nomadic Native Americans were far more intelligent than all our other archaeological findings can prove, then they were advanced, because old anthropological science goes without updating.
Wow…if the buck stops there on exploration and discovery, then we’re all in trouble.
And where one might agree with Powell that the mounds may have been of human Indian origin because they, again, were “known” to build them, that theory falls short of any true intelligent conversation the first time enormous bones are found within the mounds. The central issue does not have to be who built the mounds, because if it suits Powell to say the Indians built them, then fine. I concede. Let’s say the Indians built the mounds. That is honestly beside the point. Now we arrive at the natural next inquiry: Why were ancient Indian tribes burying giant human bones, and who were these giants to the Indians? If the great and influential Powell discouraged the research teams from ever digging and studying the mounds, then we will always be in the dark with these questions.
Perhaps, then, all these “Smithsonian cover-up conspiracy theorists” are onto something when they suggest that Powell was using his “we already know who built them” angle to keep the world from ever knowing the truth about the giants he wanted kept hidden. That Powell would steer his teams away from these burial sites on a claim that he wants to be respectful and nonintrusive to an ancient Indian culture appears to be a noble cause—and it is a cause that many revered him for from that day forward. But he was skirting the real issue, and he knew it. Obviously, the public is less concerned with who flung the dirt than whose massive bodies were buried underneath. But, through Powell’s endearing stance that any tampering with this soil would be a great injustice to the Indians, he has effectively locked away the secrets in the soil, shrouded in what can only be a counterfeit concern over cultural respect considering the enthusiasm one in his field of research would normally feel when given the opportunity to dig and study actual, archaeological evidence of the “giant”—one of the world’s most fearsome creatures of myth!
We do not have space herein to continue a word-for-word analysis of Powell’s biased report, as it is a lengthy one. However, his arguments continue to show either ignorance or, more likely, a clandestine agenda. We will break open these seals starting in the next entry.