There is a lot we can learn from the people who first lived here. A profound story. A story of family.

Archaeological discoveries  have a way of igniting our curiosity and connecting us to our own humanity. The discovery of an 18 – 24 month old boy buried by his family thousands of years ago provides a connection, a human connection to the past. For contemporary Native American peoples this boy is a direct ancestor, as evidenced by recent scientific research. He and his family’s complete expression of love and grief, burying him with 125 stone tools and objects including an heirloom elk antler, have given us insight into this ancient family. We learned one tangible way they expressed their love and grief when they poured their possessions into his grave: a testament, a memorial, to their way of life.

Anzick Artifacts, Montana Historical Society

Anzick Site Clovis Artifacts, Montana Historical Society

Who is this boy? He has been called the Anzick boy or  Clovis child. His is the only known Clovis (paleo-indian culture characterized by a signature, fluted projectile point) age burial and the stone tools and bones found with him are the largest and most complete assemblage of Clovis artifacts ever found. Recently, new information has emerged about this boy as a result of extracting his DNA and producing a genome of the ancient child which provides a more in depth understanding of,  “Who were the first people?”. This child’s genome revealed that he is a direct ancestor to 80% of all living Native Americans. To find out more about this amazing discovery, that is appearing in news media around the world, click the links to news articles below.

How to educate students on recent Archaeology Discoveries:

One way to help students understand this discovery and the importance of archaeology is to have students read news articles on archaeology finds and reflect on the implications for their family and community as well as the significance of the scientific, cultural discovery for the future. Project Archaeology wants to take this opportunity to provide teachers and students with a twist on the standard Current Event Report, by issuing an Archaeology Discovery Report worksheet students can use in conjunction with a news story. It will enable students to discover the significance of artifacts, sites and remains as they summarize the key points of the story, cite their source, and reflect on how discoveries of the past shape the future. Check out the links below for  several school grade-level appropriate news articles and download our Archaeology Discovery Report.

Project Archaeology’s personal connection to this discovery

Doyle Family

Dr. Shane Doyle and his family

Project Archaeology is immensely proud of our friend, tribal consultant, and fellow curriculum writer and teacher, Dr. Shane Doyle who has been asked to serve as the tribal liaison for the repatriation (reburial) of the Anzick boy.  Shane has been a long time colleague of Crystal Alegria (Montana Coordinator) and Jeanne Moe (Project Archaeology Director). Most of our Leadership Academy graduates have met Shane as we gazed across the incredible landscape of the Madison Buffalo Jump while he described Plains Indian life.  He is an inspiring educator who started his career teaching 4th and 5th grade in Lodge Grass, Montana and now holds a Masters in Native American Studies and a Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction. He co-authored one of Project Archaeology’s newest curriculum guides, Changing Land, Changing Life: Archaeology in the Apsalooke Homeland, which will be available soon!

Throughout his many news appearances and a lecture for The Extreme History Project he provides an indigenous perspective on the Anzick discovery and emphasizes that this is just the beginning of a long learning process. He believes that there is educational value to the scientific and cultural research of the Anzick burial. He states at the Anzick Site Burial Press Conference 2/12/2014:

One of the most important things is how we treated our children. The kind of care that we always have had for our children…We don’t skimp on our kids and that’s the reason we have survived all these years. People will look into that Anzick burial and they will see that this was a 2-year old boy. He wasn’t a chief. He wasn’t a great hunter. He wasn’t a great warrior. He had never really contributed to any economic benefits to his tribe, but the respect and love that was shown for him was really beyond measure…The grief that those people expressed with that burial  is timeless in my mind and I think it is a story people everywhere around the world should know. How Again, those values have survived for 12,500 years into today.”

News articles for students to choose from:

audioListen to 2 short newscasts by National Public Radio and read the article:

New on  2/26/14 NPR Prehistoric Remains Reveal Roots of American Indians

NPR Ancient DNA ties Native Americans from two continents to Clovis

Huffington Post: Rest for the King, No Rest for Native Americans

Indian Country Today: DNA Politics: Anzick Child Casts Doubt on Bering Strait Theory

Montana State University News: Shane Doyle links Montana tribes, international researchers over prehistoric boy.

  • On a beautiful fall day, Shane Doyle sang a somber song for a young boy who was buried some 12,600 years ago south of present day Wilsall…
  • The short video from the top of this post is from MSU News.

LA Times: Ancient Toddler whose DNA who helped science will now be reburied

  • The skeletal remains of an infant who lived in what is now Montana about 12,600 years ago will be reburied in a formal ceremony now that scientists have sequenced its genome, researchers say…

Livingston Enterprise: Research Team says most Native Americans are related to the Anzick boy

  • Some have dubbed him Montana’s King Tut…

Nature Magazine: Ancient Genome Stirs Ethics Debate

  • The remains of a young boy, ceremonially buried some 12,600 years ago in Montana, have revealed the ancestry of one of the earliest populations in the Americas, known as the Clovis culture…

Montana Public Radio: Ancient human remains from Montana ancestor of most Native Americans

  • DNA evidence recovered from ancient human remains found in Montana is providing definitive answers to the origin of Native Americans…

by Courtney Agenten, Project Archaeology Special Projects Coordinator