Scientific Innovation? Who Says?

Clovis points

Clovis points

While flipping though the latest Smithsonian magazine I paused at the following statement:

“It is no exaggeration to say that America was founded on innovation.”

Having spent November steeped in American Indian ways-of-knowing (I pledged to write each day about Native American Heritage Month) made me acutely aware of our perceptual lenses.

Today I see the Smithsonian magazine statement with new eyes.

America was not founded. It was already here.

The point of the magazine is to herald innovations: I get that.

What I object to is the assumption that innovations commenced at the occupation of North America by settlers.

Innovations have long been forged by indigenous people. In fact, the same magazine issue that celebrates North America’s “founding” describes the “deadly but beautiful Clovis point,” a sharpened stone that made hunting more efficient 12,000 years ago.

And its creation occurred long before Columbus arrived.

Photo from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, framing, human origin, native american, Native Science, science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Scientific Innovation? Who Says?

  1. Nice little adjustment there. : )


  2. We have become so used to hearing those semantic hiccups, I think most people don’t even blink at them any more. It’s time to change the paradigm!


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