Secrets of Vanished Indian Nation Finally Revealed Farmer Kept Ancient Indian Site Secret for 50 Years Ancient Indian Settlements Discovered in Utah
Cornwell, Rupert, The Independent (London, England)
WALDO WILCOX, a rancher in the remote high country of Utah, has revealed a secret that he and his family have kept for 50 years - the undisturbed, astonishingly preserved ruins of settlements of people who inhabited the American south-west centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World.
This week, after a state newspaper finally broke the story, Mr Wilcox, 74, invited journalists to see the ruins, clinging to the steep slopes and mountain ledges of a part of the canyon called Range Creek.
They provide a remarkable and unmatched window into the life of the Fremont Indians who lived there between 750 and 1,000 years ago - ancient grain containers with their covers fixed tight, the corn and rye still inside; stone arrow heads and entire arrows lying on the ground and many other primitive artefacts.
There are rock faces decorated with pictographs of animals and other intricate patterns; pit houses; and graves with mummified human remains preserved in strips of beaver skin.
These archaeological vestiges were discovered by Mr Wilcox soon after he bought the 4,200-acre ranch in 1951. He kept the knowledge to himself for as long as he could, but the advancing years eventually made it impossible for him to maintain the secret.
In 2001 he sold the ranch to the US Trust for Public Land, which in turn passed it on to another federal agency before the state of Utah acquired the land earlier this year. The existence of the settlements was kept quiet to allow a proper management plan to be put in place - until last week when the secret of Range Creek went public.
Like their cousins, the Anasazi Indians, who lived to the south and west, mystery shrouds the Fremont Indians: above all, the question of why their civilisation, like that of the Anasazi, suddenly vanished about 700 years ago is yet to be answered.
Scientists, historians and archaeologists have advanced various theories, ranging from a drought that forced once-settled people to become nomads, to conquest or assimilation by other Indian tribes. …