The best books about archaeology and rethinking the peopling of the Americas

Paulette F.C. Steeves Author Of The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere
By Paulette F.C. Steeves

Who am I?

As an Indigenous person, I have a lived experience of the negative impacts of an erased history on all people. Students I teach are shocked to hear that Indigenous people have been in the Americas for over 60,000 years. The violence against archaeologists publishing on older than Clovis sites in the Americas is intense; that got me asking why? I sought the truth about the evidence for Pleistocene age archaeology sites in the Americas. Global human migrations attest to the fact that humans have been migrating great distances for over 2 million years. Reclaiming and rewriting Indigenous history is one path of many, leading to healing and reconciliation. 


I wrote...

The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere

By Paulette F.C. Steeves,

Book cover of The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere

What is my book about?

In this first book on Paleolithic archaeology of the Americas written from an Indigenous perspective, Steeves, a (Cree-Metis) archaeologist, mines evidence from archaeology sites and Paleolithic environments, landscapes, and mammalian and human migrations to make the case that people have been in the Western Hemisphere not only just prior to Clovis sites (10,200 years ago) but for more than 60,000 years, and likely more than 100,000 years.

Steeves discusses the political history of American anthropology to focus on why pre-Clovis sites have been dismissed by the field for nearly a century. She explores supporting evidence from genetics and linguistic anthropology regarding First Peoples and time frames of early migrations. Additionally, she highlights the work and struggles faced by a small yet vibrant group of American and European archaeologists.

The books I picked & why

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Bones, Boats, & Bison: Archeology and the First Colonization of Western North America

By E. James Dixon,

Book cover of Bones, Boats, & Bison: Archeology and the First Colonization of Western North America

Why this book?

Though only discussing the “day before Clovis” a few thousand years prior to Clovis archaeological sites Dixon and Dixon provide a synthesis of over 40 archaeological sites that predate Clovis. Dixon and Dixon dispel archaeological stereotypes that depict early Indigenous people as simply big-game hunters and provide evidence for a diverse cultural landscape of marine mammal hunters, fishers, and general foragers across the Americas.


Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture

By Dennis J. Stanford, Bruce A. Bradley,

Book cover of Across Atlantic Ice: The Origin of America's Clovis Culture

Why this book?

Dennis Stanford one of the Clovis first police, changed his mind about the Clovis first hypothesis after carrying out excavations along the mid-Atlantic coast of North America. This book provides an informed view of pre-Clovis sites, paleo climates, and the possibilities for human migrations between the eastern and western hemispheres via the Atlantic. Evidence for human migrations between the eastern hemisphere known today as Southern France and the Western Hemisphere known today as the Americas during the Pleistocene are supported through rigorous research and possible linkages between stone tools known as Solutrean technologies found in both areas.


Where the South Winds Blow: Ancient Evidence for Paleo South Americans

By Laura Miotti (editor), Monica Salemme (editor), Nora Flegenheimer (editor)

Book cover of Where the South Winds Blow: Ancient Evidence for Paleo South Americans

Why this book?

Many archaeological site reports from South America are published in non -English languages and are often hard to locate. Where the South Wind Blows is an English language collected edition with chapters authored by South American archaeologists. Chapters included numerous discussions of archaeological sites throughout South America that pre-date Clovis sites.


Strangers in a New Land: What Archaeology Reveals about the First Americans

By J. M. Adovasio, David Pedler,

Book cover of Strangers in a New Land: What Archaeology Reveals about the First Americans

Why this book?

Adovasio & Pedler present evidence on pre-Clovis sites in both North and South America in a beautifully illustrated book. Presenting credible evidence for archaeological sites in the Americas dating to 19,00 years ago and possibly as early as 38,000 years ago. The discussion of each site is accompanied by photographs, maps, and diagrams. The authors discuss what they consider legitimate and illegitimate pre-Clovis archaeological sites in a book that is accessible to non-archaeologists.


Red Earth, White Lies

By Vine Deloria, Jr.,

Book cover of Red Earth, White Lies

Why this book?

To grasp an understanding of the history of archaeological erasure of Pleistocene archaeological sites, Indigenous history, and the colonial history of American archaeology, Red Earth, White Lies is a must-read. Deloria has a delightful sense of humour and does not mince words regarding the absurdity of the Clovis First hypotheses. Written from an informed Indigenous perspective, this book will provide an understanding of the one question I always hear, “Why would archaeologists deny earlier than Clovis sites?"


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