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American Indians adopted Spanish horses before being colonized


New archaeological evidence suggests that the American Indians already owned these animals in 1600, before the European colonization of America

The first time the Mesoamerican Indians saw a Spanish soldier riding his horse, they did not know how to process it, understand what they were seeing.

Despite being few mounts, the historical chronicles speak of a first mission with a couple of dozen horses and some mares, and the comments of the primitive peoples mention how the horse troops of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1519 looked like centaurs, like if man and horse had merged.

Thus it was registered that they understood that the horse and its rider were a single entity.

A unit.

More information

Can the rest of the animals be moral?

Now, a multidisciplinary investigation, involving almost a hundred scientists from around the world and 66 centers and institutions, details how the human-horse symbiosis relationship was a constant among the Indo-American tribes on the plains of the United States during the first half of the year. of the 17th century, before the rest of the European colonizers arrived.

At least since the Spanish conquest of the Americas to the south during the viceroyalty of New Spain, horses had already spread north from frontier settlements in New Mexico.

This new dating of the fossil record advances the domesticated equine presence recorded so far by 200 years, finding a "strong genetic affinity" between contemporary horse herds and the Spanish equestrian population of centuries ago.

Horse and rider petroglyph at Tolar, Sweetwater County, Wyoming.

Representation carved by Comanche or Shoshone.PAT OAK

The modern


horse had roamed the American continent thousands of years earlier during the Pleistocene, so it is undeniable for the authors of the work, which is published today in the scientific journal Science,


there was constant contact between the two animals.

One of the unknowns that the new evidence resolves is that, after the disappearance of the horse record 13,000 years ago during the ice age, the equids found in the American West are undoubtedly Iberians, coming from Eurasia across the Atlantic and disembarking in the Caribbean with the troops of the Spanish Empire towards the beginning of the 17th century.

This research stems from a pioneering and seemingly


collaboration between institutionalized science and the tribes of the Great Plains of the United States, with scientists of Comanche, Pawnee, and Lakota origin, among other indigenous peoples.

Researcher Yvette Collins, from the Toulouse Center for Anthropobiology and Genomics (CAGT) in France, is also known as the “running horse” (

tašunke iyanke wiŋ

) of the Lakota tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (USA).

The scientist explains that it was "the time to join other indigenous communities and welcome scientific research."

A novel survey, details Collins, to analyze the past of horses, a species that plays a key role in the cosmogony and culture of Native Americans.

The Lakota group itself calls itself


, from the Sioux: horse nation.

It was time to join other indigenous communities and welcome scientific research to analyze the origin of horses, a key species in our culture.

Yvette Collins, Toulouse Center for Anthropobiology and Genomics

Researcher Yvette Collins, from the Center for Anthropobiology and Genomics in Toulouse, France.CANCELED

“From the Lakota point of view, horses are in the same category as a person, even more so;

our experience with them is different”, narrates Collins.

For this reason, as a member of the tribe and from her experience as a researcher in Paris, she develops: "We do not use fences or corrals with the horses, we present the animals as part of the clan and they are sacred."

Her interest in scientific knowledge and the history of mammals of the


family is what has motivated this interdisciplinary study, as well as the fact that her society has been one of the first indigenous reserves that has opened the door to researchers external.

"This is something historic," exulted the French geneticist Ludovic Orlando, also from the CAGT and co-author of the work.

This professional has been studying the evolution of horses for more than 15 years: "Of course, what we have discovered about the reappearance of these animals in the US is important, but that indigenous people work with geneticists is unique."

The director of the molecular archeology laboratory considers that, regardless of the ideas that the publication exposes, what is vital is that "it is the first time that the Amerindian societies themselves have carried out the analyses."

This is something historical, that indigenous people work with geneticists is unique: it is the first time that the Amerindians themselves are the ones who carry out the analyzes

Ludovic Orlando, geneticist and CAGT director

Among the results of the study, the analysis takes advantage of the archaeological remains of the first historical specimens of horses, instead of being based on the "records with omissions, inaccuracies and a strong anti-indigenous bias" of the European conquerors, the authors detail "as they had made many previous studies” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The horse is essential for many indigenous cultures of the American Southwest to be able to move through the Great Plains, an area of ​​2.8 million km² that crosses the entire Midwest of the continent, from north to south and connects Mexico and Canada.

Having located an equestrian fossil with torsion marks on its muzzle, explains archaeologist William Taylor, from the University of Colorado in Montana and co-author of this study, points to the fact that the mount was ridden by Amerindians and, furthermore, that it was cured, since the relic presents healed wounds in its bone record.

Taylor is a researcher specializing in Mongolia: "The Asian record of the relationship with horses is completely different from what we find in the indigenous West."

Among the details, by analyzing the 30 bone remains with osteological, genomic, isotopic, radiocarbon and paleopathological tests, the scientist describes that the signs found in the skull indicate that there was expert coordination between the rider and the horse.

One of the specimens analyzed in the scientific work on the relationship between Amerindians and their horses.William Taylor (University of Colorado, Montana, USA)

The specialist in Mesoamerican studies Federico Navarrete, from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and not related to this work, describes how the horse formed a greater relationship with the tribes north of the Mississippi River due to the "hunter-gatherer character and nomadism of Native Americans” across the American prairies.

Meanwhile, in central Mexico, the historian points out: "For the Mesoamerican indigenous peoples they were not so useful or an element of significant exchange."

Another animal domesticated in the Middle East and transported transatlantically by Columbus in 1492 played a more important role for the Mexica: the sheep.

"In our America they liked sheep better, they gave wool quickly, they could be eaten and they grew anywhere, and they became very important," lists Navarrete.

From being a key player in the world of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Orlando laments the disappearance of horses: "A loss in animal lives, but also in culture."

And he comments ironically how “at this moment there are more Frenchmen, around 70 million, than horses in the western world;

100 years ago this would be unthinkable, when in Paris or New York there were even problems with dung, the possibility of a great crisis with horse dung”.

For the scientist, a success of his research is how they approached the study subject: "The worst thing we could have done is helicopter science: go to these communities, do our studies and leave without relating to them."

For this reason, Collins, who emphasizes how the science of the Lakota emphasizes the preservation and equal treatment of the horse, is optimistic about more work with indigenous communities: "It is the first of many investigations."

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-30

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