Discover the “secret” of the predecessor of Yellowstone Park

The rock walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone show colorful colors. Thomas Moran was the first American painter to capture the magnificent scenery of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. His paintings were used by Hayden and others to persuade Congress to designate Yellowstone Park as a national park in 1872.

Yellowstone National Park is the first national park in the United States and the world. It is regarded as a unique “wilderness myth” with pristine natural landscape. Many visitors to the park do not know that hunter-gatherers have been an indispensable part of this land for thousands of years. Native Americans have gathered and lived here for at least 11,000 years.

A large spear tip made of obsidian from Yellowstone Park found near the mound of the Hopewell people in Ohio.

In the past 30 years, the history of Native Americans and the “prehistoric era” of Yellowstone Park have received attention and a lot of research from park managers, but the brochure that each visitor at the entrance of the park still hints at. The myth of the “virgin land” of mankind-“When you watch animals here, you will see a world before humans.” But in fact, there are mammoths (extincted about 10,000 years ago) and mastodons (extinct About 8000 years ago), humans already existed in Yellowstone Park.

Maybe obsidian is the reason they stayed
On the road between Norris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs, there is a huge black volcanic rock protruding from the ground, called Obsidian Cliff, which is not open to the public to prevent theft. This is the most important source of high-quality obsidian in North America. Obsidian is a kind of volcanic glass. It is formed by the rapid cooling of lava ejected by a volcano. It is the most “sharp” natural substance on the earth and can form a sharp edge 10 times sharper than a razor blade. Native Americans attach great importance to it, using it to make knives, tools for scraping animal skins, and spear tips. After bows and arrows were invented 1500 years ago, they also used them to make arrows.

For the first group of people who set foot on the high-temperature Yellowstone Plateau to see Old Faithful Geyser and other scenic wonders, the Obsidian Cliff is an important discovery and may be the best reason to keep them coming back. At that time, the 800-meter-thick glacier covering this land quickly melted, and Yellowstone Park should be a prohibitive place. Winters are longer and harsher than they are now, summers are wet and stuffy, valleys are flooded, rivers are rushing fast and mosquitoes are flooding.

Since the flow structure of each kind of obsidian has its own unique chemical characteristics, which can be identified by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, this technique developed in the 1960s allowed archaeologists to trace the flow of Yellowstone obsidian. Relics made of obsidian from Yellowstone Park are scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains of Alberta, even as far east as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. Obviously, this is a valuable commodity with a wide range of trade.

On the Saito River south of Columbus, Ohio, archaeologists found 136 kilograms of yellowstone obsidian in a mound built by the Hopewell people 2000 years ago. Obsidian may be traded there through an “intermediary”, but some archaeologists believe that the Hopewell people brought these precious stones back and forth by hiking and canoeing for more than 6,400 kilometers. Another imaginative relic found in the Hopwell mound in Ohio is a bronze sculpture of the horn of a bighorn sheep. Back then, as now, there were no bighorn sheep in the Midwest and the Great Plains. But if the Hopewell people took an epic trek west to obtain obsidian, they would see bighorn sheep in the North Rocky Mountains on the way, and this animal is especially abundant in the Yellowstone Park area.

Doug MacDonald is a professor of anthropology at the University of Montana. Based on his extensive discoveries, previous studies by archaeologists, historical records, and the oral traditions of aboriginal people, he made an important elaboration on the human history of Yellowstone Park. , And published related works. Macdonald found more than 50 quarries on the obsidian cliffs, some of which were chest-deep pits. “The Native Americans were the first miners to mine this hard rock in Wyoming. This is a difficult job… We found millions of obsidian flakes on the cliffs, and they can be seen everywhere in the park.”

The aborigines once lived and reproduced here
Over the next thousands of years, with the warming of the climate, modern American bison evolved, and the number of humans in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains also increased greatly. Yellowstone National Park has become a popular place in summer, attracting people from hundreds of kilometers away. The lakeshore is an ideal place for camping. The current Yellowstone Lake is about 32 kilometers long and 22.5 kilometers wide. It is the largest high-altitude natural lake in North America. Native American activity in Yellowstone Park reached its peak between 3000 and 1500 years ago, but even in the 19th century, there were still as many as 10 tribes living by the lake in the park, including Crow, Blackfoot, Flathead, and Shoshone , Nez Perce and Bannock. There is no evidence to find any conflicts between different tribes. Archaeologists believe that they may have trade and visit each other.

Today, we have long been accustomed to the “settled” lifestyle, living in one place for a long time or permanently, but for hunter-gatherers who follow the migration of animals, avoid extreme weather, and harvest mature crops in different regions, “living” is different. meaning. A group of Shoshone known as “Sheep Eaters” rarely leaves the borders of the current Yellowstone Park because they can hunt bighorn sheep all year round. But most of the Native Americans here moved to lower and warmer places in the winter, and then returned to the plateau in the spring. There will also be a few brave souls returning at the end of winter, walking on the frozen lake, hunting hibernating bears.

The trails in Yellowstone Park today are based on the trails of Native Americans thousands of years ago.

MacDonald believes that for archaeologists, the steep mountains on the plateau are truly unknown. Yellowstone Park has 40 peaks above 3000 meters above sea level, and it is known from the aboriginal people that they are important religious sites. People go there to pray and pray for vision through fasting. In order to avoid the wind, they built small buildings called fasting beds from piled rocks, some of which were found on the more obvious peaks.

The Bannock people in Yellowstone Park.

After the park was built, the aborigines were driven out by the government. The army moved in and declared to the public that Native Americans had never lived here because they were afraid of geysers. But this is obviously untrue. Archaeologists have unearthed hundreds of camp sites near the geyser. The Shoshone would soak the horns of bighorn sheep in bubbling hot springs to reshape them into beautiful and deadly bows. The geysers, mud hot springs, hot springs and fumaroles of Yellowstone Park are regarded by them as places with great spiritual power. The famous wizards of the Crow tribe will come to the Great Geyser of Yellowstone Park to heal the injured and pray. They believe that the soul in the geyser is afraid of people, not the other way around. But if you approach the gushing spring in a pure and humble way, the soul will “show up” and you can use their power.

The end of the stubborn but hopeless confrontation
The sun shines through the clouds, as if magical on the rock walls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, yellow, red, dark brown, orange, pink, white… as if it is coming out from the inside, shining bright and saturated colors. Thomas Moran was the first American painter to capture the magnificent scenery of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. In the summer of 1871, Thomas Moran went to Yellowstone National Park for the first time, which was known as the “Bubbling Place from Hell”. Asked to provide illustrations for a magazine article about Yellowstone Park, Moran joined the expedition of geologist Ferdinand Hayden, who was the leader of the first government-funded project to investigate the area. During the two-month trip, Moran created many watercolor sketches, which not only made many people see the image of Yellowstone Park for the first time, but also was used by Hayden and others to persuade Congress to designate Yellowstone Park in 1872. For the national park.

The territory of the Crow nationality exceeded 120,000 square kilometers in 1851, encompassing the entire eastern half of Yellowstone Park. In 1868, driven by the gold rush, the territory was reduced to 30,000 square kilometers, and all land in Wyoming was lost. A Crow scholar in Montana said: “We have no conflict with the white settlers. We conducted reconnaissance for the U.S. military and tried to become white allies, but received the same treatment as all other tribes. Our current reservations The land is about 8,000 square kilometers.”

In 1872, when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the 8,900 square kilometers of land in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho as Yellowstone National Park, several different tribes were around Yellowstone Lake and Madison Camp along the river and the Yellowstone River. The Crow still legally owns a long, narrow piece of land along the Yellowstone River in Montana; the “goat eater” hunted and gathered in more remote areas and stayed in the park for another 7 years.

When the national park proposal was debated in Washington, they believed that the indigenous people should be placed on reservations, where they would learn English, Christianity, settled agriculture, individualism, capitalism, and other European and American values. The park was established to protect the scenic wonders and wildlife from white hunters, prospectors, loggers and settlers.

At that time, the confrontation between Westerners and Native Americans continued. On August 24, 1877, nine tourists from Redsburg, Montana camped near the geyser, completing an unparalleled journey. At 5 o’clock in the morning, when they were preparing breakfast, a group of Nez Perce people came to their camp and asked if they had seen soldiers and asked for food, and then more indigenous people gathered. The Rydersburg group packed up their carriage nervously and went straight down the Huodong River, where they encountered about 800 Nez Perce and 2,000 horses. The nine tourists originally came to Yellowstone Park for sightseeing, and at this moment found themselves caught in a fierce armed conflict between the aborigines and the US military.

Facing the future of becoming a reserve farmer, these Nez Perceans chose to flee their home in Oregon. They were pursued by the army and fought along the way. Angry young “warriors” killed many whites. They hoped to take refuge in Canada with the Crow or a chief in the Buffalo Zone of Wyoming and Montana, where they would continue their traditional hunter-gathering life.

It was reported in the newspaper and later taught to American school children that the leader of the Nez Perce’s escape was Chief Joseph. But on the contrary, Joseph was just a simple camp leader and did not make any military decisions, only having an impact when the Nez Perce finally surrendered. When a large queue of soldiers, elders, women, children, dogs, and horses passed through Yellowstone Park, they were led by a half-white buffalo hunter named Poker Joe. Under his instructions, a group of young soldiers Eventually, they robbed the carriage of a group of people from Redsburg and killed two of the tourists.

The road signs in the park today show where the Nez Perce people will go next—cross the Yellowstone River in the Haiden Valley to reach the Yellowstone Lake, and then cross the now-called “Indians’ Death Pass” at the northeast corner of the park The place. Their old friends, the Crowe, turned them away, so the Nez Perceans headed north toward Canada, but they were surrounded by American troops in the Bear Paw Mountains in northern Montana. According to legend, the last leader Joseph gave a famous surrender speech: “From the current sun rise, I will never fight.”

But this is not the end of the armed conflict in the new park. The following year, in 1878, after a violent uprising in Idaho, a group of Bannock and Shoshone fighters fled into Yellowstone Park. The American cavalry general Nelson Myers, who had forced the Nez Perce to surrender, defeated them within 30 kilometers of the “Indians”. In order to eliminate the adverse effects caused by the two “Indian Wars”, park officials initiated activities to dilute the existence of the Central American natives in the park. Starting in 1886, the U.S. cavalry has patrolled the park for 32 years.

MacDonald believes that Yellowstone National Park has cost Native Americans a huge price, and what we can do today is at least admit the facts, “When people look at Yellowstone Park, they should see that there is a Native American history. Landscapes, not pristine wilderness. They drive on Native American trails, camp where humans have camped for thousands of years… We are all descendants of hunter-gatherers who live similarly to them. If they weren’t So witty and successful, none of us will be here today.” This is a story that is deliberately covered up and needs to be told.