Five Great Places to See Evidence of First Americans
Encounter the fossils and other remnants of the lives left behind by the continent’s original settlers
- By Guy Gugliotta
- Smithsonian magazine, February 2013
In 1929, in a dry lake bed near Clovis, New Mexico, a young outdoorsman named Ridgely Whiteman came across unusual, fluted projectile points—the first evidence of a 13,000-year-old Paleo-Indian culture. Archaeologists soon followed, piecing together an account of the Clovis people, long believed to be the first to settle in the Americas.
Today Eastern New Mexico University in Portales maintains the iconic Clovis complex at Blackwater Draw. A one-mile walking trail explores the lake bed and an old excavation. The university also has a small museum on its campus 12 miles away, with artifacts and bones of the giant mammal “megafauna”—bison, mammoth, ground sloths and camels—hunted by the Clovis settlers. The museum is open year-round. The field site is open April through October.