Work by Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin challenges centuries of natural history, the historiography of the continent, and origin stories of the United States.
Collin's dissertation, toward her doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, is titled "The Relationship Between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Horse: Deconstructing a Eurocentric Myth."
"This research project seeks to deconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas and its relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of these same lands. Although Western academia admits that the horse originated in the Americas, it claims that the horse became extinct in these continents during the Last Glacial Maximum (between roughly 13,000 and 11,000 years ago). This version of "history" credits Spanish conquistadors and other early European explorers with reintroducing the horse to the Americas and to her Indigenous Peoples. However, many Native Nations state that "they always had the horse" and that they had well established horse cultures long before the arrival of the Spanish. To date, "history" has been written by Western academia to reflect a Eurocentric and colonial paradigm. The traditional knowledge (TK) of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and any information that is contrary to the accepted Western academic view, has been generally disregarded, purposefully excluded, or reconfigured to fit the accepted academic paradigm."
This is not to say that Europeans, and Spanish settler colonists, in particular, did not bring over horses. What is very distinct is to what ends these animals were used. For the Spanish, they were tools of warfare and social control, and later in the 19th and 20th centuries, in the global cattle industry. The question of horses on the continent is about recognition and survival, presence and contribution, and historical accuracy resisting oblivion.
As Dr. Running Horse Collin explains in an Indian Country Today article,
"What they are trying to do is shorten the length of time that we were here to make us not as critical to this place. They say, 'Native people came over the land bridge.' Why? Why are they making us as having been from somewhere else? Why couldn't we have been here? That's number one. Number two is that Europeans are still credited for bringing the horses and introducing them to Native people. What does that mean? They are telling us over and over again that anything that they consider to be of value in our cultures is still 'derivative' of theirs."
Click here for Collin's publications, Equine Science, The Medicine Way, and Return of the Southern Horse. Collin's newest project:
"MethylRIDE: Charting DNA Methylation Reprogramming of Ice Age Horses in the Face of Global Climate Change and Extinction. She is interested in the fields of equine genomics, archelogy, paleontology, metagenomics, indigenous studies, sustainability and climate change."
Research identifying the historical Equine presence relates to her preservation work with Sacred Way Sanctuary. "Collin currently takes care of over 100 horses she claims to be descendants of the ancient horse of the Americas. Some have manes that grow down to the ground. Some have stripes on their legs. Some have spots all over. Some are much smaller than most horses. Some have curly hair."
From the Sacred Way Sanctuary webpage:
"We are a research, education, and preservation facility that is home to a foundation herd of between 80 and 90 Indigenous Native American horses. The origin of these horses can be traced to Native Peoples across North America.Our Mission is to educate the world regarding the true history of the horse in the Americas and its relationship with the Indigenous Peoples. This historical reconstruction has been compiled by combining Traditional Knowledge from a number of Native Nations with cutting edge academic research. We advocate for the preservation of the very rare Indigenous horse of the Americas, and facilitate its return to our Native communities."