Historical Reference

James N. Spuhler

James Norman Spuhler (1971-1992) was a physical anthropologist who studied physical anthropology at Harvard before the beginning of World War II. After Spuhler finished his master’s degree, he served with the U.S. Army during the war as a Japanese document translator. Upon returning to the U.S., Spuhler began studying human genetics and is one of the first physical anthropologists to publish a dissertation on the topic. After teaching at several universities he became a professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM, studying human genetics. He taught from 1967-1984.

Ice Age

"Ice Age" refers to the Pleistocene epoch, which ended between 13,000 - 9,000 years ago. He Pleisticene epoch was the most recent period during which the Northern Hemisphere was covered in advancing and then retreating sheets of ice, otherwise known as glaciers. During the late Pleistocene epoch, Paleoindians moved through areas of what is now known as New Mexico, although evidence of their hunting camps grows scarce the futher one travels west beyond the Rio Grande Basin.

hide scraper

A hand tool with a sharpened and usually angled edge used to scrape flesh and fat from animal hides. It can also be used to scrape the cleaned and untreated hide until it has a uniform surface. Once the hide has been scraped, it can be cured or tanned, which are methods that preserve the hide so that it can be used for clothing, bedding, and other items that need to be made from durable, flexible, water resistant material.

Gulf Station

Gulf Oil was a U.S. oil company founded in 1907 and based in Port Arthur, Texas. The company was owned by the Mellon family until 1985, when it was subsumed under aegis of Standard Oil of California and re-branded to Chevron. The company had gas stations throughout the U.S. through 1985.

General Sheridan

Philip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888) was a cavalry general whose leadership was instrumental in defeating the Confederate army in the last phase of the American Civil War. After the war, he served as military commander of Louisiana and Texas and then was transferred to Missouri, where he employed his learned war tactics to crush Indian resistance in the Southern Plains. Using massive attacks on Indian encampments, Sheridan's campaigns were responsible for killing many native men, women, and children, forcing the remainders of the Plain Indian peoples into reservations. Sheridan's legacy was enhanced by his supposed declaration that "the only good Indians I ever saw were dead," and, although he denied this attribution, he is known to this day as the one responsible for coining the phrase "a good Indian is a dead Indian."

Frank Hibben

Frank Hibben is a well-known archaeologist who studied Paleoindian cultures and had a very long and very controversial career. He received his master’s degree in zoology from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1936 and his PhD in anthropology from Harvard in 1940. He then taught at UNM as a professor and also worked as the director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology on the UNM campus until he retired in 1975. Hibben's career accomplishments were considered controversial because he was accused of falsifying archaeological finds, although this was never proven as fact.

Hibben donated money to UNM for the construction of the Hibben building, and, at his death, gave money for the endowment scholarships in anthropology at UNM. Additionally, he was a well-known big game hunter and is responsible for the importing the population of non-native oryx that live in the White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico.

Early Man

A general, if antiquated, reference to the early progenitors of bipedal evolution.

Folsom point

Distinguished from a Clovis point in that Clovis points come from a slightly older culture and are slightly less sophisticated points in terms of stone working techniques. Folsom points, on the other hand, are produced by a slightly later culture and are slightly more sophisticated. This attribution derives from a Folsom point's fluted edge, which is an example of the pressure flaking technique, one of the most sophisticated techniques associated with handmade stone artifacts. Artifacts from both the older Clovis and later Folsom cultures have been found in what is now New Mexico.

Chief Narbona

Narbona Primero was a greatly respected and wealthy Navajo man born in 1766 and killed in 1849 in a confrontation with the US Army. He was not technically a chief since the Navajo did not have a central authority or structure of that sort, but he is often mistakenly referred to as a chief by outsiders to the culture.

He gained prominence in the tribe by leading men in several battles against the colonizers and attempts to broker peace. The site of an 1829 battle is named Narbona Pass after this leader, changed from its former name, Washington Pass. He was on his way to sign a peace treaty when he was killed.

Stone Age

A long period during which stones were utilized as the primary tool, making stone the definitive maker and marker of the era. Although humans were not the only beings to use stones during this period, the archaeological record documents the evolution both of human beings as well as the sophistication of the stone tools and technologies they were developing. The Stone Age is also often associated with the mythicized cavemen, beings who are imagined as hypersexualized, overtly violent, or incredibly stupid.

The Stone Age was followed by the Bronze Age, which was subsequently followed by the Iron Age. Currently, we are in the Information Age.


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