Many who claim to be studying the idea of giants will often suggest there is some great conspiracy to cover up the existence of said giants by the Smithsonian Institution.
As with every other conspiracy that surrounds pseudoarchaeology and pseudoscience, I always have to ask why? What purpose does covering up the existence of giants achieve? No one can ever give me an answer for this, beyond “oh scientists, are protecting their jobs,” or what have you. “Something, something, scientific dogma.”
The reality of it is that if there was a race of giants out there, and archaeologists or paleoanthropologists found them it be all over the place as soon as everything was verified. Possibly even before that.
It has been suggested by some that the reason giant theorists believe there is a conspiracy to hide the existence of giants, is linked directly to the Bible, and the belief that Nephilim in the Bible are giants. Thereby the conspiracy really is science is trying to cover up evidence for support of the biblical religions.
Again why? What possible purpose could there be in doing this?
In this vein, however, two organizations have been routinely blamed for the cover-up of giants in North America. The first is the Smithsonian Institution, which is often accused of either hiding or destroying evidence of giants.
The second, is a law known as NAGPRA, which is the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
I have some opinions here if you can’t tell.
First, let’s examine this idea that the Smithsonian is covering up the existence of giants. The Smithsonian gets blamed for a lot of things, and it’s treated as if it is some great secretive cabal, branch of the Illuminati, that is the keeper and disseminator of all approved knowledge to the people. I don’t know where this comes from, other than the whole idea of the Smithsonian and similar museums, being repositories for haunted or unusual, or cursed objects. This leads to a crossover with the Paranormal Archaeology blog, and Jeb Card’s work into the concept of haunted museums.
I’m not saying that giants are ghosts, but I suppose you could have a giant ghost, that thereby lives inside the Smithsonian, because apparently, they have giant skeletons that they’re hiding there… don’t try to think too hard on that one.
The accusations against the Smithsonian that they hide and, more recently, admitted to destroying giant remains, is one with a modern origin, so it appears.
Jim Vieira brings up this accusation in the short-lived The Search for Lost Giants television show we’ve addressed heavily on this blog. Vieira makes the accusation that the Smithsonian is suppressing evidence of a lost race. He is not the first to do so, it is just with the platform of a television show on a major network it gave him more exposure than others and possibly brought the accusation to a broader audience for the first time.
In The Search for Lost Giants, Vieira spends a lot of time trying to build his argument for the Smithsonian cover-up. He quotes several old articles from the 1920s through the 1930s, suggesting the recovery of skeletons of large-size. He uses these articles as evidence in his show and also uses other articles that claimed the remains are shipped back to the Smithsonian. Assuming both sets of articles are true, it would lead one to believe that giant skeletons were indeed found, and the Smithsonian should be in possession of them.
He even has a scapegoat for his theory. Dr. Aleš Hrdlička who was the director of anthropology for the U.S. National Museum during the time in question, and Vieira likes to blame him for suppressing the truth about Giants. Again there is no actual evidence of any of this other than Dr. Hrdlička was working there at the time. What becomes even more damning of this accusation is that Vieira never bothers to even verify any part of it. He’s never confirmed the validity of the articles he uses as evidence, and to my knowledge, he’s never called the Smithsonian to ask about the supposed shipments of giant bones. I’m sure if he had, he would be disappointed, or maybe not, but without him attempting to do so, we will never know.
But where does Vieira even get this idea from in the first place? As I said, it seems to be a very modern accusation popularized by Ross Hamilton, a well-known ‘gigantologist,’ and David Childress, who appears to have originated the idea back in 2001. Childress likes to position himself as a “rogue archaeologist,” though he is not qualified in any way to call himself an archaeologist. To my knowledge, he hasn’t even had cursory introductory courses in archaeology, and I believe it shows in the writings and ideas that he chooses to support. Not a Childress fan if you can’t tell.
One of the motivations behind Childress’ beliefs about giants is that he’s bought into the Victorian idea that there was a race of giants that built the earth mounds in North America. This is merely a repeat of the mound builder myth that was long ago disproved by both the Smithsonian and Cyrus Thomas, who was working for the Smithsonian. Other individuals who dismiss the mound builder myth as fantasy include several archaeologists of the 19th century, archaeological efforts by researchers like Alice Fletcher, Zela Nuttal, and Frederick Ward Putnam, the Peabody Museum, and Thomas Jefferson who excavated a mound on his property, and determined that it was indeed Native American in origin.
Needless to say, the mound builder myth has been dead a very long time, at least as far as the archaeology world is concerned. Clearly, it still has legs in pseudoarchaeology and pseudoscience. Hamilton has often detailed his beliefs that there was a great nation of giants that occupied the continent before Native Americans arrived. And has the idea that ancient peoples in America would have worshiped these giants and made them the royal ruling class. I have no idea where he’s getting this, or why he would think this. Other than this is Hamilton’s particular flavor of the lost race theory, which usually has dubious origins, to begin with.
All of that said, this leads us to the second part of the cover-up, which is the NAGPRA law. Among the many things that NAGPRA tries to regulate, one is the repatriation of sacred objects, and human remains to the tribes to which they belong. When NAGPRA went into action, it cleared out or significantly reduced several collections around the country, including the Smithsonian.
My personal opinion on the NAGPRA Law is that it was a good first step, it was made with the best intentions, it is not perfect, and it needs to be updated and enforced with more vigor. Repatriation is the least that can be done for Native American groups around the country, and interestingly it is this repatriation that bothers Vieira, Childress, and Hamilton the most.
Vieira even laments in his show several times about the lost information about giants because of this repatriation law. He believes that giant remains have been given back to native tribes for reburial, and thus has removed their ability to be studied by the public. He does try to do a little song and dance about how he respects Native American rights, and I don’t doubt that he thinks that he does, but I also don’t think he understands NAGPRA and what the law is meant to do.
NAGPRA is a law meant to give rights and power back to the Native American tribes that have been marginalized throughout America’s history. As I said earlier, it’s a good start, it’s not perfect, but repatriation is one of the cornerstones of the law. It’s not a way to cover up the existence of giants, it’s the least we can do as a country. The fact that Vieira chooses to use repatriation as an excuse for why he can’t find evidence of giants I feel is very self-serving, and also a clear indicator that he is unaware of why NAGPRA exists in the first place.
I’ll leave links in the resources section below for people to further explore NAGPRA on their own. We’ve covered it on the podcast and in the blog.
Vieira further got himself in trouble when he took these claims of the Smithsonian cover-up and the use of the NAGPRA law to facilitate this cover-up to the TEDx stage. He gave a talk about his work trying to prove Giants and brought up his thoughts on this conspiracy to hide them. It was not received well. His talk was removed from the TEDx website for “failure to meet minimal standards for scientific proof.” Sadly this rejection by the ‘establishment’ only made Vieira more popular among the pseudoscientific community. Honestly, should we have expected anything less?
So again, looking over what evidence there is for a Smithsonian cover-up of the existence of giants.
Well, there is none.
The Smithsonian themselves have, of course, come out and stated that they did not destroy giant skeletons or human remains. But those who are determined to believe that there is a conspiracy chose not to believe the Smithsonian’s word. They’ve also explained one of the reasons that it may appear that giant skeletons vanish in their possession is that once remains are sent to them and examined, it is found that they are not human but are indeed mammoth and other large mammals bones. Again this mundane explanation falls on deaf ears when it comes to those determined to believe in the conspiracy.
So what can we say here? I can repeat myself that there is no conspiracy, with the full knowledge that those who are determined to believe will continue to do so. What I will say, however, is those who choose to use the NAGPRA law as evidence of a cover-up do so out of ignorance and show a very problematic side to their beliefs.
It’s bad enough that ‘giantology’ relies on dehumanizing Native Americans, the appropriation of their ancestors’ achievements, and the denial of Native American’s rightful place as the first peoples of the Americas. It’s made worse by the use of one of the few laws specifically designed to protect Native American burial grounds and history as evidence of this supposed cover-up. Some might want to re-examine the core of their beliefs in this area.
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
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