James Smithson, an ENGLISH scientist bequeathed today's equivalent of half a million dollars in 1829 to the U.S. "for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge." Congress, as is their custom, promptly invested in some bad financial deals in Arkansas (of all places) and lost the whole wad. John Quincy Adams insisted that the money be paid back so the American people bailed out the Congress who pissed away a fortune and has been paying for the "gift of the Smithsonian" ever since-usually to the tune of about 947 million dollars a year! I have to question why an English scientist would leave his fortune to Americans rather than to England but I also wonder if it similar to that India prince who gave white elephants to people he didn't like. You couldn't very well get rid of such a gift but the cost of upkeep would drive you to bankruptcy.
The Smithsonian in its current iteration includes 19 museums, a castle, a zoo, 9 research centers, laboratories, book stores, gift stores, libraries, a television channel, their own magazine, an observatory, an herbarium housing more than 4.5 million plant species. They are on you tube, flicker, facebook and are funded by the government (you and me). They also have an air and space museum (containing the Columbia module from the Apollo 11 mission). They even have their own record label (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings).
The Smithsonian is governed by a board of regents consisting of the U.S. vice president, the chief justice of the United States, three senators appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, three representatives appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, and nine U.S. citizens chosen by the board and approved by joint resolution of Congress. The board administers the Smithsonian’s budget. Trust funds account for approximately a third of the institution’s operating costs; the remainder comes largely from annual congressional appropriations.
- By law, the Chief Justice is also a member of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and, by custom, is elected chancellor of the board.
So now that we've established that the Smithsonian Institute is just a fun place to spend a Saturday afternoon and couldn't possibly have any political agenda despite a massive annual budget approved by Congress and consisting of a board of regents comprised of high ranking government officials, let's take a look at their history.
The cover-up and alleged suppression of archaeological evidence began in late 1881 when John Wesley Powell, the geologist famous for exploring the Grand Canyon, appointed Cyrus Thomas as the director of the Eastern Mound Division of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology. Thomas was an Isolationist and a bit of a racist who thought it impossible for "savages" from one side of the Mississippi to visit the "savages" on the other side of the Mississippi much less for primitive people to sail all the way over an ocean and bring their cultural artifacts with them and they certainly couldn't have been the mound builders. Powell, however, had lived for years with the Winnebago Indians and thought it unfair to consider Indians as "savages". - Source
The Smithsonian, under the direction of Powell, began to promote the idea that Native Americans, at that time being exterminated in the Indian Wars, were descended from advanced civilizations and were worthy of respect and protection. Cyrus Thomas won the battle of Isolationism vs Diffusionism, though, and the S.I. took an official stance denying and declaring as fraudulent any archaeological evidence supporting Diffusionism. There's evidence of suppression and rumors of actual destruction of artifacts as well. Poor James Smithson is probably twirling dervishly in his mausoleum.
Isolationism proposes that civilizations developed independently from one another and had very little contact, if any, with other civilizations, especially if oceans or lakes divided them. It was held that even contact between the civilizations of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys were rare, and certainly these civilizations did not have any contact with such advanced cultures as the Mayas, Toltecs, or Aztecs in Mexico and Central America. By Old World standards this is an extreme, and even ridiculous idea, considering that the river system reached to the Gulf of Mexico and these civilizations were as close as the opposite shore of the gulf. It was like saying that cultures in the Black Sea area could not have had contact with the Mediterranean.
When the contents of many ancient mounds and pyramids of the Midwest were examined, it was shown that the history of the Mississippi River Valleys was that of an ancient and sophisticated culture that had been in contact with Europe and other areas. Not only that, the contents of many mounds revealed burials of huge men, sometimes seven or eight feet tall, in full armor with swords and sometimes huge treasures. But that doesn't fit the narrative either and besides, the textbooks have already been written and academicians careers could be jeopardized if some of these archaeological finds were to be made public.
One example is when Spiro Mound in Oklahoma was excavated in the 1930's, a tall man (7 ft.) in full armor was discovered along with a pot of thousands of pearls and other artifacts, the largest such treasure so far documented. The whereabouts of the man in armor is now unknown and it is quite likely that it eventually was taken to the Smithsonian Institution. Who else would you think to contact about a find like that? And how does one lose a 7 ft. skeleton and his horde of valuable pearls?
THE most important archaeological institute in the United States, the Smithsonian Institute, an independent federal agency, has been actively suppressing some of the most interesting and important archaeological discoveries made in the Americas. The Vatican, too, has been long accused of keeping artifacts and ancient books in their vast cellars, without allowing the outside world access to them. These secret treasures, often of a controversial, historical, or religious nature, are allegedly suppressed by the Catholic Church because they might damage the church's credibility, or perhaps cast their official texts in doubt. Sadly, there is overwhelming evidence that something very similar is happening with the Smithsonian Institution.
Another highly publicized and still controversial find are the Acambaro, Mexico artifacts. In 1994 a German immigrant merchant, Jalsrud, stumbled across some unusual artifacts of ceramic, stone, jade, obsidian knives and strange figurines that are being argued over to this day. He took a few home but decided to hire some locals to keep digging to see if there were any more. Over 33,500 objects were unearthed.
The Mexican government got involved, several authentic archaeologists, and paleontologists also investigated the find. Lab testing (radio carbon and thermoluminescent dating) was done by reputable labs AND universities. The objects were dated from 6,500 years ago, around 4,500 BC. The controversy started when it was discovered that several of the statues were of what could only be described as dinosaurs, some in association with humans. When this tidbit became common knowledge the labs and universities changed their minds and said the artifacts were only 30 years old. Then the archaeologists and paleontologists who had been AT the dig, witnessing the unearthing of the statues also changed their minds and said it was all a hoax and that the locals were making them to sell to the German merchant.
In addition to the politically incorrect depiction of dinosaurs and humans interacting, there were representations of various ethnic groups not expected to be found in Mexico: Negroes, Orientals, bearded Caucasians, Egyptians, Sumerians, and even Bigfoot! There were aquatic monster like creatures, weird human-animal mixtures, and a host of other inexplicable creations. Teeth from an extinct Ice Age horse, the skeleton of a mammoth, and a number of human skulls were found at the same site as the ceramic artifacts. Jalsrud crammed this collection into twelve rooms of his expanded house.
In 1952, American archaeologist Charles C. DiPeso claimed to have minutely examined the then 32,000 pieces within not more than four hours spent at the home of Julsrud. Archaeological investigator John H. Tierney, who has lectured on the case for decades, points out that to have done that DiPeso would have had to have inspected 133 pieces per minute steadily for four hours, whereas in actuality, it would have required weeks merely to have separated the massive jumble of exhibits and arranged them properly for a valid evaluation. Carlos Perea, the Director of Archaeology for the Acambaro zone, for the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City was present when official excavations were conducted by the National Museum and the American Museum of Natural History and declared them authentic. Remember that the Museum of Natural History (where most of these kinds of finds would go) is a division of the Smithsonian Institute.
Tierney, who collaborated later with Professor Hapgood, the late William N. Russell, and others in the investigation, charges that the Smithsonian Institution and other archaeological authorities conducted a campaign of disinformation against the discoveries. The Smithsonian had, early in the controversy, dismissed the entire Acambaro collection as an elaborate hoax. Also, utilizing the FOIA, Tierney discovered that practically the entirety of the Smithsonian's Julsrud case files are missing.
Adding to this controversy is the fact that the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, through the late Director of PreHispanic Monuments, Dr. Eduardo Noguera, head of an official investigating team at the site, issued a report admitting "the apparent scientific legality with which these objects were found." Despite evidence of their own eyes, however, officials declared that because of the objects 'fantastic' nature, they had to have been a hoax played on Julsrud! A disappointed but ever-hopeful Julsrud died. His house was sold and the collection put in storage. The collection is not currently open to the public.
As a side note to this story: 2 local thieves were caught at the Texas border attempting to sell these artifacts on the black market. They were arrested AND CONVICTED of stealing national treasures and sent to prison. The courts were presented with the evidence, declared the artifacts genuine enough to imprison the 2 guys trying to sell them. If the artifacts had been deemed fakes/hoax items then they would have been guilty of nothing more than trying to peddle novelties.
- Wiki tows the party line
- Some pics of the artifacts
- More info on this story
- Cover-ups And Suppression Of Archaeological Evidence
In 1892 in Alabama wooden coffins were discovered and sent to the S.I and promptly "lost". The Gungywamp Society in Connecticut (researches New England megalithic sites) put out an article in their 1992 STONEWATCH NEWSLETTER regarding the find. In the article, researcher Frederick J. Pohl in 1950 had written to the late Dr. T.C. Lethbridge, a British archaeologist.
The letter from Pohl stated, "A professor of geology sent me a reprint (of the) Smithsonian Institution, THE CRUMF BURIAL CAVE by Frank Burns, US Geological Survey, from the report of the US National Museum for 1892, pp 451-454, 1984. In the Crumf Cave, southern branch of the Warrior River, in Murphy's Valley, Blount County, Alabama, accessible from Mobile Bay by river, were coffins of walnut wood hollowed out by fire, aided by stone or copper chisels.
David Barron, President of the Gungywamp Society was eventually told by the Smithsonian in 1992 that the coffins were actually wooden troughs and that they could not be viewed anyway because they were housed in an asbestos-contaminated warehouse. This warehouse was to be closed for the next ten years and no one was allowed in except the Smithsonian personnel! How very ingenious of the Native Americans to put lids on the animal feed troughs. I'm sure the cows had no trouble lifting the lids when they got hungry. And why are we just now finding out that the Indians were also cattlemen and ranchers in need of feed troughs for their cattle. I don't know why they bothered to hunt at all. I also was not aware that Indians used coffins to bury their dead. source
In a 1994 article in the Wall Street Journal titled Snoopy at the Smithsonian, the author bemoaned what he called the "political makeover of the Smithsonian." The piece was prompted by Secretary I. Michael Heyman's recent approval of the National Air and Space Museum's proposed Enola Gay exhibit, which the author viewed as the latest example of how the Smithsonian seemed to be transforming its museums over recent years into "vehicles for political re-education." He wrote that this trend began during the tenure of Secretary Robert McCormick Adams, who started in 1984 and hired individuals from the "Academic Left." According to the author, the Board of Regents and the U.S. Congress had not been paying attention to what he saw as the intentional creation of exhibits that presented ideological views, rather than facts, to the general public. Under pressure, the Smithsonian made some revisions to the exhibit to moderate criticism of the effects of science on society. None of the parties, however, were ultimately happy with the outcome.
In summary, The American taxpayer is forking over nearly 100 million dollars a year to be lied to and deceived. They have some wonderfully artistic exhibits but pretty lies are still lies. I reluctantly share a bit of gossip from a former employee of the S.I. who tried to champion the idea of Diffusionism based on all the evidence that flowed to the Institute and was fired for his troubles. His claim is that the S.I. has loaded up a barge full of troublesome artifacts and dropped them in the Atlantic Ocean. This alarming tidbit may be sour grapes from a disgruntled and dismissed employee but, considering the documented evidence of artifacts they've lost (some to which they'll even admit losing), one has to consider the possibility that his accusation has merit.
What evidence have they received from their many donations that would warrant a cover-up of such history-altering proportions? I deliberately left out all the overwhelming evidence of the giant skeletons sent to the S.I. that no longer exist or are no longer available for viewing (unless you own a submarine) as it would require its own article.
National Institute of Science as well as the National Academy of Science were 1863 extensions by Congress of the Smithsonian Institution for the stated purpose to "investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art" when called upon by the government." Interesting choice of words for their charter: when called upon by the government. Is that to imply that we don't want you poking around just anywhere? The first Secretary of the NIS, Joseph Henry, soon became its 2nd President but was dismayed by and opposed to such an organization and disavowed the secretive negotiations that characterized its founding. Why would secret negotiations be needed to start a science museum? In 1863 there were nearly daily findings being reported in newspapers of giant skeletons and technological artifacts.
He spent 8 months in Europe touring their Science academies and museums only to return disgusted by what he saw, stating, "the charlatanism of our country struck me " more than ever before, and [that] he often thought of [his predecessor Alexander]Bache's remark "that we must put down quackery or quackery will put down science."
Henry was supposed to model our proposed National Institute of Science on the existing European ones which he thoroughly balked against stating, "I have never thought that the Conception of an Academy, borrowed from the Academies of Europe, namely, an institution supported by Government from the public Treasury, could be successful. It has always appeared to me to be incompatible with the spirit of our institutions."
Henry, being an honorable man, was opposed to relying on the government, ie-the public largesse, for funding postulating, that the academy could not rely on federal appropriations and that accepting government money to support its work might compromise its scientific objectivity. "Its existence," Henry wrote, "should in no-wise depend on the fitful appropriations of Congress, which would not fail to be defeated by the adverse report to some favored project of an influential member."
He championed for board elections based on a candidates scientific merit and not their social standing. And although he was opposed to the Institute in general, he was called upon to serve and taking his selection seriously, faithfully executed his duties for 10 years assisting the U.S. by providing science when needed such as offering suggestions on how to prevent counterfeiting of monies and improving fog and lighthouses.
Meeting of the National Institute of Science
As the government's first science adviser, he chastised Congress "meddling in scientific matters they didn't understand well before he came to Washington, DC to lead the Smithsonian. Henry remained skeptical of Washington insiders' ability to address scientific questions. In reference to an 1844 meeting to be held by the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, based in DC, Henry remarked that he did "not like the plan of uniting science and party politics," and called the organization a "host of Pseudo-Savants."
For a man of such integrity as Henry, it must have been disheartening in the extreme to see his final years trying to build something of credit to the U.S. and its scientific community be undermined by partisan politics. He expressed concern that the Smithsonian, once he was no longer in charge, "may fall, as the agricultural department and the Patent office have done under political sway and the director be changed with every change of administration." He also complained that "the discovery of new scientific principles . . . has been almost entirely neglected" in the US and in England. " Kind of makes you wonder where all those inventions of the industrial revolution came from.
Would that such men as Joseph Henry were still around to advance scientific discovery and keep special interest groups from clouding all issues. For having such noble beginnings as those envisioned by the benefactor James Smithson and the visionary President of the Institute, Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian has fallen very far from its charter: to advance and diffuse knowledge.