Think “cowboy,” and you might picture John Wayne riding herd across the U.S. West. But the first cowboys lived in Mexico and the Caribbean, and most of them were Black.
That’s the conclusion of a recent analysis of DNA from 400-year-old cow bones excavated on the island of Hispaniola and at sites in Mexico. The work, published in Scientific Reports, also provides evidence that African cattle made it to the Americas at least a century earlier than historians realized.
The timing of these African imports—to the early 1600s—suggests the growth of cattle herds may have been connected to the slave trade, says study author Nicolas Delsol, an archaeozoologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History. “It changes the whole perspective on the mythical figure of the cowboy, which has been whitewashed over the 20th century.” [Continue reading…]