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Those individuals who call for a more balanced account of this history only wish to deny or cover up the ugly truth. Thomas is if anything too kind to many of the key figures of early archaeology and in the recent Kennewick controversy. As Thomas argues archaeologists need to learn from this history and not simply hide behind naive good intentions. Thomas demonstrates how informed archaeologists can work with Native American people to build common ground and interests. He shows us how we can go beyond the controversy to link good intentions with good actions.
I cannot verify or deny Thomas' comments on the Asatru religion but the reviews that react so negatively to them are focusing in on only a couple of paragraphs in the book. These comments have little to do with the overall point of the book or its content. Virtually no professional archaeologists accept the idea that there is evidence for Norse or other European settlement or exploration in North American much before AD 900 or that these explorations extended beyond the east coast of Canada. Even the theory advanced by a few archaeologists that paleolithic Solutrian peoples from the Iberian Peninsula may have crossed the arctic ice to become the North American Clovis culture has been recently dismissed in American Antiquity.
As a professional archaeologist and a scholar who has written extensively on relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans I welcome this readable account. It is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North American archaeology and I hope that it will become required reading of all archaeology students.
The issues confronted in Skull Wars are particularly germane for those Native American groups that have retained some semblance of generational continuity. Thomas accurately touches on the "top down" weaknesses of the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Thomas clearly articulates that there is not a one-size fits all approach to accommodating and reconciling the concerns of legitimately affected Native Americans and the archaeological community. The positive examples at the end of the book serve as models for much of the country.
I hope Skull Wars reaches the wide audience it deserves. I enthusiastically recommend it.
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