Pilgrimage to the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota
North America Sacred Site of the Epic of Evolution
report by Connie Barlow of the "Mammoth Memorial Service" conducted at the site, 26 June 1999
On 26 June 1999, Connie Barlow joined Pleistocene ecologist Paul S. Martin and mammoth paleontologist Larry Agenbroad, and others, at the Mammoth Site near Hot Springs, South Dakota, to conduct possibly the world's very first memorial service for an extinct beast of the Pleistocene.
Connie Barlow served as emcee, and also appeared as "Honey Locust" (see below). The press secretary of President Thomas Jefferson also spoke at the gathering, as did the scientist who first discovered that mammoths and mastodons had gone extinct, Georges Cuvier (1769-1832).
Above is the memorial brochure for the service. The concluding hymn was titled "Bring Back the Elephants"; the lyrics of this sing-along hymn are printed on the left of the brochure. The tune was adapted from The Beatles, "Let It Be," and you can listen to Connie singing it.
The idea to "bring back" the elephants (to North America) was first proposed by Paul S. Martin in an article published in Wild Earth magazine in the 1990s: "Bring Back the Elephants!". Connie wrote a companion article supporting the "bring back" idea in the same issue of Wild Earth and titled it "Rewilding for Evolution".
In 2005 and 2006 a dozen scientists joined Paul S. Martin to formally propose the idea of "Pleistocene Rewilding." The 2005 commentary in Nature is titled "Re-Wilding North America". The 2006 longer paper was published in American Naturalist and is titled, "Pleistocene Rewilding: An Optimistic Agenda for 21st Century Conservation".
CONNIE BARLOW (left) served as emcee of the memorial service. She also dressed in the guise of Honey Locust (left), who delivered a eulogy to the mammoth as Honey Locust was mourning the loss of her seed dispersal partner.
Note: Connie's 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution, below, tells the story of the coevolution of mammoths and honey locust trees in North America.
Pictured below is an artist's rendition of an American Mastodon harvesting the sugary seedpods of Honey Locust, Gleditsia triacanthos. The drawing appears in Connie's essay published in a 2001 issue of Natural History Magazine. You can access in PDF "Ghost Stories of the Ice Age".
See also Connie's 2000 essay in Wild Earth Magazine, "Haunting the Wild Avocado".
LISTEN to a portion of the historic MAMMOTH MEMORIAL SERVICE (AUDIO).
WATCH a 5-minute video of Connie reading a segment of Aldo Leopold's "On a Monument to a Pigeon", which Connie also recited four years earlier at the Mammoth Memorial Service. This video takes place at the actual monument in Wisconsin where Aldo Leopold spoke the tribute address in 1947.
VISIT the homepage of the Mammoth Site:
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