Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Analysis Finally Clears Donner Party of Rumored Cannibalism


Mon Apr 19, 11:49 pm ET
MONDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- There's no evidence of cannibalism at the Donner Party campsite, say researchers who analyzed remains from the site at Alder Creek in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.

The 84 members of the Donner Party were trapped there by a snowstorm in the winter of 1846-1847, and it has long been alleged that the 47 survivors resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.

However, this latest examination of bones excavated from a hearth at the campsite found no human remains. The bones in the hearth came from cattle, deer, horses and dogs.

The study findings, presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Albuquerque, N.M., will be published in the July issue of the journal American Antiquity.

Newspapers were primarily responsible for promoting the allegations of cannibalism, which were fiercely denied by the Donner Party survivors.


Some years ago, a group of people were trapped by some catastrophe, heavy snow or avalanche maybe. They ran out of food and were starving. There were allegations that they had resorted to eating flesh from members of the group who died in the accident. The newspapers played it up, but nobody I new thought it was a big deal. They weren't hurting anybody. There was no allegation that anybody deliberately killed anybody else.


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