Arrival: Vermillion, SD

When were the Americas first settled? Some archeologists claim to have discovered tools and other evidence of human activity at a site in South Carolina which radiocarbon date to 50,000 years ago. Many scientists dispute this date as far too early, among them anthropological geneticist Spencer Wells. Analyses of genetic markers not only indicate a date closer to 20,000 years ago, but preclude the possibility of a date as early as 50,000 years ago. The genetic evidence is so convincing Wells believes that "It is likely...the 50,000 year old "tools" found there were produced by natural flaking, not human manufacture, and that the charred plant remains resulted from a natural fire" (letters, Discover magazine, Feb. 2005). But what if the authenticity of the tools withstands scrutiny, how could they be reconciled with the genetic evidence? According to Wells "...there is an intriguing, although unlikely, possibility. Given the recent discovery in Flores of a dwarf hominid species related to Homo erectus, it is possible that H. erectus made it to more places than we have evidence for."

As many mentioned at the time of the finding of Flores Man, native tribes in the region have legends of small man-like creatures of various types (ebu gogos, orang pendaks, batutut, etc). Some speculate that such legends are a vestigial memory of past contact between the tribesman and H. erectus dwarf hominids, or possibly even that somewhere in the remote jungle some Flores Men are still alive.

Which brings me to South Dakota. I am in the town of Vermillion, at the delightful Super 8 Motel on East Cherry street, aproximately eight miles south of the Paha Wakan hill, or spirit mound. There are many Indian legends about Paha Wakan. From the journals of Lewis and Clark:
it was late and I Crossed a Point Struck the river above and halted the boat and 12 men went out brought in the meat all the after part of the day it rained we are all wet. Capt Lewis and my Self Concluded to visit a High Hill Situated in an emence Plain three Leagues N. 20° W. from the mouth of White Stone river, this hill apear to be of a Conic form and by all the different Nations in this quater is Supposed to be a place of Deavels or [5] that they are in human form with remarkable large heads and about 18 inches high; that they are very watchfull and ar armed with Sharp arrows with which they can kill at a great distance; they are said to kill all persons who are so hardy as to attemp to approach the hill; they state that tradition informs them that ma[n]y indians have suffered by these little people and among others that three Maha men fell a sacrefice to their murceyless fury not meany years since— so much do the Mahas Souix Ottoes and other neibhbouring nations believe this fable that no consideration is sufficient to induce them to approach this hill.
Assuming the stature of the beings in question was exaggerated down, the Indians’ stories sound an awful lot like a description of an encounter with a tribe of pygmies. The notably “Sharp”arrows referred to suggests poison arrows, which pygmies in other places have been known to use. Lewis and Clark did not heed the warnings and visited the mound the next day. They found nothing. But the Indians themselves had not claimed to have seen any of the “Deavels” for years, as they were so afraid of the small inhabitants of the area around Paha Wakan that they refused to venture near the place. Sioux, Maha, and Otoe warriors (who were not known to scare easily) would have found the pain and confusion from an attack by poison arrows terrifying, and the memory of such a frightening attack would undoubtedly persist. Not fables, the Indians’ accounts are a description of North America’s first settlers, who arrived 50,000 years ago. The evidence to prove this may be inside Paha Wakan hill.


  1. The Quiletute Indians of the Olympic Peninsula speak about 'Stick Indians' small yellow skinned people that hide from normal people but will claim any food on the shore if you whistle while you are gathering it. They also say that stick indians would try to lure children into the forest never to return kind of sounds like the Flores pygmies who supposedly ate kids. The stick indians were known for throwing stones from cover or small arrows but would only attack from behind.

  2. I've heard of the 'stick people before'. Some Indians still believe in them:


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