Before we begin today, I thought I’d share this depressing fact: Last night I downloaded the new Pluto TV app, which promises to offer 100 channels of live streaming television. Among those channels is an entire (nonfiction) channel devoted to “Conspiracies and Myths.” At least they had the good sense to put it in the entertainment tier rather than the education tier, but it’s still disturbing that the newest competitor to traditional television is running The Moon Landing Was a Hoax and other paranoid programming on an entire channel devoted to conspiracy theories.
Anyway, there isn’t much news in a recent story in the Amador Ledger-Dispatch of Amador County, California about the America Unearthed episode chronicling the discovery of a Mexican spear head in Hawaii and the seizure of said artifact by the National Park Service. However, the article shows that the discoverer of the artifact, Trevor Carter, is still interested in publicizing the show and the surrounding events months after the show aired, and the media seem uninterested in critically evaluating claims for the allegedly “historic” nature of the discovery.
The tone was set right from the headline, which describes the obsidian spear point as a “possible historic link between Mayans and Polynesians.” The article goes on to liken Carter to Indiana Jones: “Only a man like Indiana Jones would hike up the side of a volcano, then hike miles deep into its belly, stumble upon precious, ancient treasure and, while trying to return it to its rightful owner, be relentlessly pursued by factions wanting the treasure for their own glory.” Presumably the “factions” are meant to be the National Park Service, but they might better refer to America Unearthed.
Carter is living in California now, so the Ledger-Dispatch found it newsworthy to discuss Carter’s discovery of the spear point with his friend Brian Axtell, his contact with Dr. Janet Six, and the bizarre events surrounding the National Park Service’s seizure of the artifact after Carter contacted America Unearthed and the production company began asking questions. At that point the Park Service realized that a national TV show was going to expose the fact that two men had illegally removed a possible archaeological artifact from a national park.
While Axtel (sic) met with officials from the Parks Service, a plain-clothes U. S. Forest Service agent flashed an official badge, confiscated the spearhead she had asked to examine, and threatened legal action against Axtel and Carter. The agent also banned the men from Haleakala National Park. Park access and permits were denied to the film crew, causing the program to be filmed on Haleakala Ranch, which is private property.
The article uses the passive voice to avoid stating whether the paper tried to contact the Park Service for comment, saying only that “Calls to the National Forest Service and the National Park Service have been non-comital (sic) and dismissive.” What does that mean? And what did the Forest Service have to do with what all involved had previously called a Park Service issue?
The article makes one brief mention of the fact that a modern origin for the spear point cannot be ruled out.
I take it that the author of the article, Carolyn Schmitz, is making an oblique reference to my critical comments about the spear point when discussing reasons why it may not be evidence of contact between the Mayans and the pre-Contact Hawaiians:
…online blogs have speculated about the mystery, suggesting that the item could have been brought to the island by Mayans crossing the sea; or it could be a trinket brought to the island by a harmonic convergence held at the park. There are those who blog about what they know about, using the greenish-gold obsidian spearhead as their springboard. Their topics include Polynesians, volcanos (sic), hippies, Mayans, rocks and minerals, hiking trails and young outdoor enthusiasts.
So far as I know, I was the first to research the Harmonic Convergence connection (based on a brief notice in the Maui Times from Dr. Janet Six) and publish discussions of the events and the New Age believers’ use of Mexican obsidian while in Hawaii as a “sacred” substance in connection with Mayan calendar beliefs.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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