Red-haired Giant Cannibals at Lovelock Cave? Really?

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By Brendan Riley

Colorful tales of the American West don’t fade away easily, even when they seem to have been discounted. Take, for example, the story of legendary red-haired cannibal giants whose alleged existence in the Lovelock area centuries ago has been debated for more than 100 years.

lovelock_cave463x275Scientists have said there’s no proof the “giants,” first described in old Indian tales, were cannibals. Chemical staining by earth after burial was advanced as a likely reason why mummified remains have red hair instead of black like most Indians in the area.

A University of Nevada study in the mid-1970s indicated the “giants” were about six feet tall, and not up to 10 feet tall as had been claimed. What was left after that was evidence of a tribe separate from principal tribes whose Paiute descendants live here — perhaps a wandering, more aggressive but outnumbered band finally hunted down and killed or chased off.

Anthropologists say the story, while somewhat tamer, is still fascinating. But they concede the old myth has more appeal and, no matter what they say, will probably persist.

The mid-1970s study was conducted after a bundle of bones, marked “giant bones,” were found in a long-overlooked cabinet at the Nevada Historical Society building in Reno.

The late Sheilagh Brooks, who chaired the anthropology department at UN-Las Vegas, analyzed the bones which apparently came from the Lovelock Cave, a treasure trove for scientists trying to reconstruct Nevada’s early history.

Dr. Brooks said her investigation showed that some of the bones were from cows, not giants. The human bones appeared to be remains of Indians “maybe six feet tall — big, but not that big,” she said.

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, ca 1885
Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, ca 1885

The myth was written down in 1883 by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of a Paiute Indian chief. She told of a strange, red-haired tribe of cannibals her ancestors drove into a cave and suffocated by lighting a fire at its entrance.

She said the “people eaters” were so fierce they would leap into the air, snatch arrows whizzing over their heads, and shoot them back at their enemies. The Paiutes named the giants Si-Te-Cah, which translates to tule-eaters. The giants wove tules, a fibrous water plant, into rafts to navigate across what remained of Lake Lahontan, so the story goes.

The Paiutes, a Native-American tribe indigenous to parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona, described the Si-Te-Cah as a vicious, unapproachable people that killed and ate their captives, and told early settlers that after years of warfare all the tribes in the area joined together to rid themselves of the giants.

The fleeing giants took refuge in Lovelock Cave and refused to leave despite demands that they come out and fight. So their pursuers filled the entrance to the cave with brush that was set on fire in a bid to force the giants to come out. The few that did emerge were promptly killed. The giants that remained inside the cavern were asphyxiated.

John T. Reid, a Lovelock mining engineer, said Indians took him to the cave in 1886 and told him the tale of the red-haired cannibal giants. But when he entered the cave he found nothing but tons of bat guano.

Entrance to Lovelock Cave, Pershing County Nevada
At the entrance to Lovelock Cave, Pershing County

Reid was unsuccessful in getting an archaeological dig started immediately. But miners, realizing the value of guano as fertilizer, started hauling it out in 1911. They promptly turned up bones, baskets, weapons, tools, duck decoys, various other artifacts and what they described as a 6-foot-6 mummy. James H. Hart, one of the miners, wrote that the mummy, found in the north-central part of the cave about four feet down, had hair that was “distinctly red.”

The discovery spurred an archaeological dig in 1912, followed by a second dig in 1924. Thousands of artifacts and about 60 average-height mummies were recovered. Not all the mummies were preserved. One of the best specimens reportedly was boiled and destroyed by a local fraternal lodge that wanted a skeleton for initiation purposes. More studies followed, including radio-carbon dating that showed the cave was occupied from about 2,000 BC to about 900 AD.

The view of Humboldt Lake from Lovelock Cave
The view of Humboldt Lake from Lovelock Cave

Adrienne Mayor wrote about the Si-Te-Cah in her book, “Legends of the First Americans.” She suggested that the ‘giant’ interpretation of the skeletons from Lovelock Cave and other caves in Nevada was started by entrepreneurs setting up tourist displays. She also noted that hair pigment is not stable after death and that various factors such as temperature and soil conditions can turn very dark hair rusty red or orange.

All that may be so. But try convincing readers who love a good tall tale.

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59 COMMENTS

  1. But why are we trying to write off the red hair to postmortem soil conditions when the Paiute themselves describe their adversary as red-haired in life?

    • Because it doesn’t fit in with their version of History.There are too many tales of red haired giants all around the world not to have some truth to it.

        • Yes! Very true! Do you know why Native Americans would greet unexpected visitors who were walking towards them in the distance by raising one of their hands? It was to check and see of the newcomers had the appropriate number of digits on their hand ~5 not 6. I thought that was interesting.

    • Sorry to tell you this little Eurocentrist honey, but it isn’t even about soil conditions, pigment in hair decays over time and very ancient hairs appear reddish as a result. Go research some basic archaeology before trying to convince yourself that red haired people lived all over the world, just because you don’t understand archaeology.

      As far as the claim that native Americans themselves said there were red headed giants, there is no actual proof to this claim. Do you know what a myth is? Early Europeans in the area were known to have tourist displays and to create a lot of these myths. It’s very likely that native Americans themselves never even claimed there were giants with red hair, but the Europeans who created these scam tourist displays made that up to make it sound more interesting to people. This is how myths starts, sorry. Someone says someone else said something etc.

      You are probably one of these idiots that tells himself that the ancient Jomon of Japan were Europeans also, people like you just “WANT TO BELIEVE” so hard, you act as insane as those Afrocentrist idiots, who also deny science and take part in conspiracy theories and claim that the ancient native Americans and Japanese etc were secretly black people and that the governments are covering it up…………sigh.

      • So apparently, people who witnessed these things or had the stories passed down were just too stupid to realize they were talking about? And you believe your some kind of genius I suppose? There are too man of these types of giant beings that have been witnessed throughout history to be dismissed just because it doesn’t fit your world view. I can tell you don’t actually read the accounts that have been written down. As far as red hair is concerned, the desert dirt, as seen in the mummies in South America, could not do that to hair, that is, cause a red head most people are familiar with even today that cannot be mistaken for “appearing reddish”. There are also the European desert mummies found in Mongolia where archeologists actually have stated they were redheads. Red hair peoples have existed in the past as your post seems to imply its impossible to deduce that all buried bodies have hair turning red, like a real redhead, over time. Baloney.

      • Nobi, You obviously have ancestors who were red headed giants, Northern Eurasian hunters who were aggressive, destructive, irrationally people who practiced cannibalism after the extinction of the Eurasian mammoth. It’s your ancestors that created the Y-chromosome bottle neck, the male genocide, that began 10,000 years ago. Don’t try to hide your ancestry, embrace your inner red headed cannibal, the Canaanite Indo-Europeans from Central Asia, for which cannibalism and cannabis are named.

        • YES John Dague… Thank you for this comment. I couldn’t of said it better myself. I’ve been researching for years and have found that REAL HISTORY is NOT in our history books. I’ve found that those who cannot see what is real is due to not wanting to believe they’ve been lied to. People get defensive and even hostile towards those who choose to think for themselves. Instead of following the organizations & institutions we’ve been tricked into trusting ppl should really learn for themselves and take time to search for the truth. Stay knowledgeable and strong in the TRUTH! Nobi … Chill buddy… Put your energy into learning REAL HISTORY instead of talking down on others who are don’t think LIKE YOU. Smh

      • Recent DNA testing of the remains of an individual from Lovelock Cave, given the name Lovelock4, found that the haplotype of the individual is L53(x54) Q-YP4004. This is a Eurasian haplotype originating in Bronze Age Central Asians, which has also been found in ancient fossils in Southeastern Europe, not a Native American. Lovelock4 was carbon dated to 200 AD. This individual, or his recent ancestors, likely travelled by boat from the Mediterranean to the Great Lakes, leaving a trail of ancient artifacts with the swastika (an ancient Eurasian symbol) between Michigan to Nevada. Also, in one of the very early archaeological investigations of Lovelock Cave, coprolites (fossilized feces) were gathered and inspected to determine what the inhabitants of the cave were eating. Hair from various animals was found in the coprolites. Some of the coprolites contained human hair, suggesting that the ancient Eurasians that lived in the cave were practicing cannibalism. All scientific evidence indicates that the oral history that the Native American people have about the inhabitants of Lovelock Cave are true.

      • Ancient Japanese were black people, so were Chinese. I live in the Philippines and this is a well known fact.

      • Yes, but you also likely believe the bible is myth. Even though the stories in it our proven daily. What about the king of Ogg? They had his massive bed on display for centuries. In court eye witness accounts are admissible, but some how in archeology they are not.

      • Nobi , A2 Haplogroup shows your theory to be just that a theory. A2 Haplogroup found in Eastern Europe in the ancient frozen body found disproves the idea that European did not come to the New World multiple times across the land bridge they found the A2 Haplogroup went back and forth from Eastern Europe down through Alaska California Nevada, Pretty much throughout the western states and all the way down to Central America. Various haircolors and eye colors were in fact found including red hair in these populations that came across the land bridge. Furthermore they also found some lines came from as far West in Europe as Scandinavia through Siberia then migrated to the New World.

      • Except Americans have always done this to Indians treated them like stupid children that couldn’t possibly know what they are talking about when talking about their own ancient history and almost every time they have been proven wrong. Guess what they found? The bones were inside the cave just like the Indians said AND cave is in fact burned. So called native DNA has now been found in Europe in a frozen Siberian boy from thousands of years ago buried with a Venus statue. He has the same haplogroup found in almost all Native Americans throughout the Americas. They are now admitting that Native Americans are also West European ancestry meaning Greece, Turkey and areas around the Caucuses as well. In “the scientific journal Nature, is analysis of a 24,000 year old arm bone of a young Siberian boy which shows that the distant ancestors of native Americans looked more European than East Asian, a story revealed in The Siberian Times in October.” “‘The genome of a young boy buried at Malta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.” Inuits have always known this, most native tribes have ALWAYS known this and were dismissed by Americans too stuck on either Race Eugenic theory of a hierarchy or their own personal history to listen to the people of the Americas. Frankly I think they were too arrogant. We also know now the people of the Arctic Circle from Alaska to Scandinanvia all share a common culture and ancestry even the legends of the legend of Kiviuk (Kiviok, Kiviuq) ! The stoneman. They are all the same people and the same people who populated the Western half of the United States now we have the DNA proof via the Siberian boy which was covered in every major news org..

        ‘The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survive, his genes suggest he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin. From this bone, scientists have sequenced the oldest-ever genome of a ‘modern’ human.”

    • The arrogance of our modernity Is SO Obnoxious it’s disgusting. We can’t remake the pyramids, Petra or The Taj Mahal. We can’t understand how much of what came before us was even done. So to make ourselves feel important, we let our science high priests try and explain scientifically why what was said isn’t so.

      Now they weren’t there, have NO First hand knowledge of anything, no real clear understanding, but they have their own Theories and Ideas about what was told…. and it never happened.

      Much the way these arrogant “scientists” tried saying the massive barrier block wall under Wall TX was a natural geological structure.

      https://youtu.be/I0W2Z-oKlnQ

    • Unfortunately that’s the way of “his-story”

      This is similar to the ancient people of Egypt being white and the pyramid being built by aliens.

      Historians are notoriously famous for not reporting what is factual but what already fits into their world view narrative.

      My simple lay-person interpretation is that these were peoples from north east Europe as it has already being proven that all red-haired people belong to the same tribe. Additionally the largest concentration of Neanderthal DNA is in Asia followed by Europe.

      Additionally we already know that Vikings had travel to the Americas and to this day they are still some of the tallest, stoutest people on the planet.

  2. although i dont want to agree you have a point, but the could have used EDNA to investigate the aera. Think for a sec… canibalistic red haired giant pypeadal animals surviving in who knows how many caves, how many are left in them one word, Gigantopythycs.

  3. I am no scientist but I have artifacts that clearly show they were cannibals if infact they are completely human themselves. They also traveled by sea I have proof of that as well. Also they were very large. To compare I’m 6 ft tall and one’s head is bigger than my torso. I see were people ask all the questions I consider common knowledge because I picked up a lot of rocks and was able to find a cave and figure out who and why. I don’t know who to tell or show my findings but if you know please do tell.

  4. Our government hides all evidence of giant humans rooming the American continent, I was told those remains were on display at one time at the winnemucca museum. The smallest was 6 1/2 feet. But our government
    would never lie or hide anything from the people would they. Even president Lincoln talked about the giants in this country

    • Yes that is true Kristian! The giants from their MOUNDS,!! 😉 There is a lot of history on them out there, we just have to search.

    • Look up Ken Ham of the biblical museum. They would not only be interested, but they have funding to help, and a museum to showcase. Your claims are confirmed in the Bible.

  5. Right, the government hides evidence… or the evil Smithsonian does… Zzzz. Of course they do. Why? Because they’d have to re-write history? I think you’ll find history is re-written fairly regularly anyway. Because it would disprove evolution? Um, how? Ridiculous reasoning to back up ridiculous theories. But hey, why believe science when you can believe crack-pot, made up conspiracy nonsense. There were no giants.

    • Because all species of animals started big, then became small. Humans supposedly started small and became big. It would shatter Darwin’s theory we came from chimpanzees if we have ancestors that were huge.

    • “We rewrite history all the time” ? Have you ever met a scholar that was willing to admit they were wrong all along? Academia is very reluctant to except anything that challenges the orthodoxy of their chosen field.

  6. wow,some people are real good at insults,they probably never do real research or read .they just blindly trust everything the news and the indoctrination of the school system says.if you want to find real lies,look no further than the school system.FYI the bible talks about Giants !

  7. I watched a documentary where they compared a giant skull next to a “regular” skull and let me tell you, they are significantly bigger. Myths are not myths- they are history. Why do you think That myths from ancient civilizations share so many commonalities- a giant flood, numerous ancient civilizations have a “divine nine” a group of nine gods: the Chinese, Greek mythology has 9 muses, the romans, Egyptians, Celtics, Buddhism, stories of giants…. the government has lied to us about a lot of things- why I do not know.

  8. Nobody Nobi- Smart people, especially red-haired giants like myself, know that the existence of a potential science-based answer doesn’t preclude others from the same. Said in simpler terms for you, there are multiple ways to skin a cat.

  9. Surely, some will never believe the truth of this race of giants. If the mind is already closed, nothing has to change. But facts are facts!
    The oldest petroglyphs ever found in North America, over 10,000 years old, were made by those true indigenous indians. They were invaded by the Piautes from the north. As there were many bones found, they were recorded and witnessed to finding them 8.5 feet and taller. Actual evidence points to them living as ancient fisherman, with vegetation consumed grown in the alkaline soil, made the hair covering them red. They lived on the water to avoid the invading indians, as they attempted to co-exsist.
    But eventually, some were cornered and almost made extinct by that fire. The fact that drives this is the ritualistic burial, after the fire, that tells us that not all of them were killed. None the less, the attempt to wipe them from existence forced the survivors to flee the area, for their very lives. Keep your eyes open, and your mind sharp. They have been running for their lives before the white man ever stepped on the continent. Vegetarians, that leave no trail, and lives in fear of being discovered, covered with hair, tho no longer red. Who is this creature? I know, do you? Thanks for reading. I DONT WANT YOU TO JUST BELIEVE IT, LOOK IT UP! RESEARCH IT FOR YOURSELF!
    THEN YOU WILLBELIEVE IN THE TRUTH!

    • They’re Indo-Europeans, Eurasians, you probably know some of them and didn’t even realize that their ancestors were cannibals.

  10. There was evidence of cannibalism found by archeologists in some of the ancient Anasazi ruins. It seemed to be the reason for the move from the canyon bottoms to the overhangs. And possibly for the more protective nature of the buildings. Also the towers that could be seen from a distance if smokey signal fire was lit during the day or just fire at night.
    The original inhabitants needed to protect themselves from the attacking cannibal invaders.
    From what I understand a 6’6″ person would seem gigantic to those people. However I don’t know what color their hair was.

  11. Lovelock4, an ancient individual found in Lovelock Cave, was recently DNA tested. The remains dated to 200 AD. The DNA haplotype of Lovelock4, L53 (x L54) Q-YP4004, clearly proves that this individual was Eurasian, not Native American. A trail of ancient artifacts bearing the swastika symbol (an ancient Eurasian symbol) found between Nevada and Michigan indicates the point of entry of the ancient Eurasian genetics in North America was likely the Great Lakes by way of the Mediterranean. The date of the remains of Lovelock4, 200 AD, may suggest that these Eurasian genetics could have arrived after the time that Romans invaded Jerusalem and evicted Christians and Jews from the city. If ancient Eurasian individuals arrived in Michigan, it would be evidence that ancient people had a knowledge of the route between the place where copper was being mined during antiquity (at Isle Royale in North America) and the place where copper was being used during antiquity (Anatolia, Egypt, and the Middle East). This would suggest that the ancient people known as Hebrews are the same people who are also known as Native American Ancestral B, or the Old Copper Complex, people who were carpenters, boat builders, fishers, ancient traders, and ancient oceanic navigators. Cultural evidence shows that these people were egalitarian, their clothing was utilitarian, they did not make or wear ornamentation to represent social status, they did not participate in conflict, they were technically advanced, and they used copper tools to build boats that were able to fish in deep seas. These people embodied the culture and beliefs of ancient Hebrews. The word Hebrew is derived from the word Eber, Iber, Aber, meaning “over”. These people may have been named for their place of origin, “over” the Atlantic Ocean.

    If you read the early archaeological evidence from Lovelock Cave, you can find that coprolites, fossilized human feces, contained the hair of animals that were being consumed. Some coprolites contained human hair, perhaps evidence that the ancient Eurasians living in Lovelock Cave were in fact practicing cannibalism.

    All evidence suggests that the ancient Native American oral history is based on truth.

  12. Cannibalistic giants are found in fairy-tales all over the world and that’s were they belong, in fairy-tales. That doesn’t exclude the existence of trolls, who still live under bridges here and there, but even those nasty and ill-informed critters have shrunk with age.

  13. As science advances we are discovering the ancient world was much older than we thought as well as much more traveled. the copper you are discussing from Michigan has already been linked to copper items in Europe, there was American tobacco in 2000 year old Egyptian tombs, ancient skeletons in Brazil have been found with Kawasaki‘s disease, which is only native to Japanese people etc, we have discovered a sub species of tiny humans that existed aka hobbits off New Zealand, 10-12,000 year old advance temple building civilization in Turkey, and thermal river in South America etc etc. The more we “discover” the less we “discover” we actually know. BTW all these discoveries had “myths” associated with them as well.

    The biggest “myth” is that we actually have a clue.

  14. Funny evidently I genetically match the bodies found in LOVELOCK4 etc. evidently my DNA matches 96% closer than other people that have tested. I doubt it means anything however my Native American ancestor my great grandfather was red-headed green eyed and over six feet tall. BIZZARE I never heard of Lovelock before. He said his people been from the area for over 1000 years. I am guessing he was descended from the same people who moved further South in the Western States. This is all very Bizzare.

  15. Natives have been telling tales for years. How they were great warriors who went on great bison hunts…even though bisons were never far from the next grazing pasture. That they were peaceful and whites came in and just tried to eradicating them.

    Even though the natives had slaves of their own. Even though they were great thieves who raided other tribes. Even though this tale goes to show…they themselves believed in eradicating any “tribe” that was different than them. All they have is great tales of being peaceful warriors who never meant any harm and were nothing but kind people that never tried to scam, con, or steal and we just decided to destroy them for the land.

  16. David and Goliath. Philistines. Annunaki. So many people disappear and bodies found off of 1-80, burned in various ways, or simply disappeared from a car traveling there, that people theorize there is a or a group of serial killers.

  17. Adrienne mayor is not accurate about the hair samples. Hair can remain in stasis condition forever, and continues ‘some growth’ for lack of a better word after death. Yes, in some conditions hair may decay or be corrupted but not all. Just not credible to make a statement out of context.

  18. They had slightly hooked teeth and ate human flesh. I am Cherokee and this fact has been passed down. Giants are in the bible and the reason they were giants. Read the book.

  19. I think it is possible that they were THE original native Americans. But very few, sparsely populated. Exterminated. Some bands were taller than others. Why do they have to come from somewhere else? I am open to all, I don’t know, nore does anybody else. It is what we think. The Watusies I heard average 6ft 6, while on the other side of lake Victoria are the Pygmies average 4’10. And that’s now. Correct me if I’m wrong cuz I am not sure. I think it is interesting.

  20. Another thought; Maybe Bigfoot is the Americas version of an Ape, and they may be extinct . We may have seen them at the end of their extinction. And this Giant race is the human evolution of them. But VERY sparsely populated. I am a fourth Cherokee, Latino, Hebrew, and Irish. So I am not racist. And think racism is silly and immature. Divides us. I think the source comes from insecurity.

  21. smithsonian in their 1872 annual report found some large skulls one of which was 36 inches in circumference, which is near twice as much as a normal human skull at 22 inches circumference, does anyone know the circumference of that large reddish skull and if it has been dna tested

  22. I don’t understand, was it common for native Americans mummify their dead and bury them underneath where they sleep? Why would they keep 60 dead members in the same cave that they sleep?????? If they were cannibals one day of just eating their dead?

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