Sh!! Talking about Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts with the Americas is Taboo!

February 3, 2022

Alice B. Kehoe

The imperialist domination of the Americas after Columbus, legitimated by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, created a Manifest Destiny ideology with the social-charter myth that Columbus was the first outsider to see America.  Upholding the ideology meant forbidding research into possible earlier transoceanic voyages, and this remains foundational.  In her early career, Dr. Kehoe was considered a maverick because she persisted as a professional archaeologist though being a married woman. Alice has collaborated with geographers in building a compelling case for at the least, Norse beginning 1000 CE, Polynesians, and medieval Asian merchants in the spice trade c. 1200. In this talk, she elaborates on the motivations behind this taboo, while simultaneously debunking it.


Alice Beck Kehoe is a professor of anthropology emeritus at Marquette University. She is the author or editor of twenty books, including North American Indians: A Comprehensive AccountThe Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of American Archaeology, and North America Before the European Invasions. Since her retirement, she has continued to be active in research and writing. Her memoir, entitled Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession, was published in February 2022. It is a story not only of a woman’s persistence in a scientific field but of speaking truth to power.