Who were the first Americans?


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Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark

Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me as always is Charles W. Chuck Bryant, which means that you're listening to stuff you should know. Right?

Chuck Bryant

That's as straight ahead as you've been in a long time, my friend.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Very nice.

Josh Clark

Thanks. You think?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I try to mix it up every once in a while.

Chuck Bryant

Well, consider it mixed.

Josh Clark

Thanks, I will, as a matter of fact, from this point forward. Chuck, quick, who discovered America?

Chuck Bryant

Christopher Columbus.

Josh Clark

That's wrong, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

Is it?

Josh Clark

Yeah, even if you qualify it by saying, "What European discovered American," Columbus was beaten by a good 500 year by the Norse who found - who were in Newfoundland.

Chuck Bryant

That's not what we were taught in history in elementary school.

Josh Clark

Definitely not. There's no Norse day.

Chuck Bryant

No, that'd be awesome, actually.

Josh Clark

No Leif Erickson day.

Chuck Bryant

I don't think there is.

Josh Clark

Not in the US.

Chuck Bryant

Not here.

Josh Clark

And there's also evidence that the Norse were beaten by a good 500 years by an Irish monk who used a rowboat to make it from Ireland over to North America, and he wrote about it.

Chuck Bryant

The Tenacious Monk. Was that his name?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

That's what I would have called him.

Josh Clark

Well, yeah, at the very least. Or if not, the completely insane monk!

Chuck Bryant

Right, the soggy monk.

Josh Clark

He came back and wrote about it and draw - or drew some maps, I believe.

Chuck Bryant

He drawed some maps?

Josh Clark

He drawed some maps. So there is some sort of evidence that he made contact with these people. Apparently, the Norse describe meeting people who were dressed like monks that they had met. So this guy might have come over and been like, "You guys are dressed all wrong. Here, we need to church you up."

Chuck Bryant

Right, they didn't pillage as well as the Europeans did, though, when Columbus in -

Josh Clark

The single Irish monk?

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

I'm pretty sure he felt outnumbered.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

Yeah. So if you qualify what European discovered America, there's debate right there! There's evidence that the Chinese beat Columbus by 70 years. I should say there's some evidence that's highly questionable. And also, by the way, you can read an article I wrote on the Irish monk and an article I wrote on the Chinese beating Columbus.

Chuck Bryant

No wonder you know all this stuff.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Did you ever hear the Louis CK bit on Indian giving?

Josh Clark

No.

Chuck Bryant

Do you want to hear it?

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

It's awesome. He's talking about basically that Indian giving is probably the most offensive thing you can say on earth because it implies that they gave us the land, and that - or we wanted it back, and they wouldn't give it back. And he's talking about the settlers coming over and saying, "Can we have everything?" And the Indian said, "Oh, we don't really have. We just use it and enjoy it and share it." And then we started killing everybody. You know, it's like a knife thing. And the Indian says, "Dude, if this is what have is, can we not do that?" It's really good.

Josh Clark

I love that guy.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, he's great.

Josh Clark

And because Chuck just paraphrased everything, that's not copyright infringement.

Chuck Bryant

No, I don't think so.

Josh Clark

Okay, so Chuck, we clearly ruled out Christopher Columbus as the discoverer of North America. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes.

Josh Clark

Who did discover North America, though? You have to ask this question. Let's say Columbus comes over. He thinks he's in India. And he shows up, and he's like, "Hey, you guys are Indians, but you look a little crazy." And he finally comes to realize that he's not in India. That he's just discovered this new place. But that immediately begs another question that I'm sure it took a little while for people to come up with because they were so excited that they just discovered this whole new land mass.

Chuck Bryant

And awesome land mass.

Josh Clark

Yeah, the best land mass.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah.

Josh Clark

But the question had to eventually come up, "Wait a minute, where do these people come from?"

Chuck Bryant

How did they get there?

Josh Clark

How did they get there? For millennia, there was a theory, a widely accepted theory in both public and scientific lives of spontaneous generation.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

Like if you put left meat out too long and it started to rot, flies showed up. So rotting meat gave rise to flies. Same with moldy grain giving life to mice! Generally, people thought that there was a life force that could spontaneously produce life and that some inanimate objects were associated with giving rise to certain animate objects. Right?

Chuck Bryant

And that was the case in North America. They -

Josh Clark

I don't know that. Right. But in 1864, Louis Pasteur definitively proved that there was no life force that gave rise to life, that if you put a - if you sterilized a broth and put in a flask and kept it sterile, life didn't spontaneously originate there. So he definitively disproved it. So if people did think that the Native Americans in North and South America and Central America did spontaneously generate, Pasteur proved that wouldn't have happened. So -

Chuck Bryant

So there's one theory gone.

Josh Clark

We're left with the question where in the name of God did these people come from. How long had they been there?

Chuck Bryant

That's an awesome question. I love this article. I thought it was really, really interesting.

Josh Clark

Thanks.

Chuck Bryant

The Clovis.

Josh Clark

Well, yes.

Chuck Bryant

That was the first theory that - well, not the first, but it was widely held for quite a while.

Josh Clark

Yeah, actually, in the first couple decades - actually, in 1906, I believe, 1908, there's a terrible flood in southern New Mexico, and it killed a lot of people, a lot of cattle, which in 1908 in southern New Mexico, cattle and people were on par. And it also washed up a bunch of weird artifacts, a lot of weird, clearly Indian spearheads, arrowheads, that kind of thing.

Chuck Bryant

And was this in Clovis?

Josh Clark

It was near Clovis. Folsom, I believe, was the first site that they found. So people started collecting these things, and word got out that you could find inexplicable or uncommon spearheads in southern New Mexico.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, very distinct spearheads, as it turns out.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

The Clovis point.

Josh Clark

That's not what it was called yet. People were just like, "Look at this crazy thing." That's what I think they called it. And then over the course of the next couple decades, more and more archeological research was done. A guy named Ridge Whitman.

Chuck Bryant

Ridge Whitman, archeologist.

Josh Clark

Yeah, isn't that a cool 1920s name, though? He was just a dude in New Mexico. He found one of these very characteristic spearheads in the bones of a bison. So things are starting to come together. So finally, the tipping point is reached, as Malcolm Gladwell would put it, in 1932 when the state of New Mexico is digging a highway, and they start excavating near Clovis, and just found a whole trove of stuff. Bones, spearheads, the whole shebang.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, it really gave us a lot of info.

Josh Clark

And the guy who was excavating nearby, Dr. Edgar B. Howard. He was excavating for mammoth bones in a cave nearby.

Chuck Bryant

Was he the guy that was all mad because they moved the spear points?

Josh Clark

That was a different guy. That had happened about ten years earlier. Tell them about that because it's significant. It demonstrates the mentality that's going on at the time.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, they found some spear points, and I guess they picked it up or something, which is like a crime scene. You're not supposed to touch anything, evidently. And he came up on the scene, and he started - you know, he pitched a little hissy fit because it's out of context now. It doesn't really tell us that much.

Josh Clark

It was, and pretty much, the guy who ruled on whether or not archeological evidence was archeological evidence, I can't remember his name, but he worked for the Smithsonian as a physical anthropologist, he said, "Sorry, they touched it. I didn't see it. It could have been placed there. I'm not accepting it."

Chuck Bryant

Right, but they found something later and left it intact, right, about ten years later or something.

Josh Clark

Yeah. And this is when all of it starts to take off in 1932. Right? So all of a sudden, they figure out that this - these spear points had never been seen before anywhere else. They have no idea where these things came from. They just knew they were very, very old because like the bison bones that they were found within, it was an extinct bison, and it had been extinct for about 10,000 years. All the sudden, it's becoming clear that these people predate any settlement that we've been aware of.

Chuck Bryant

Right, or known as Native American.

Josh Clark

Or Paleo-Indians.

Chuck Bryant

Wow, look at you.

Josh Clark

I have a minor in anthropology.

Chuck Bryant

Sure, of course.

Josh Clark

So all of a sudden, people are saying, "Well, these Clovis were the first Americans," and in the '50s when radio carbon dating came about, that proved definitively that these people were old, as old as you would think.

Chuck Bryant

Eleven thousand, 200 years ago is what they dated at.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and how do you do that, Chuck, with radio carbon dating?

Chuck Bryant

I have no idea.

Josh Clark

All right, well, what they do is they take soil samples.

Chuck Bryant

Something to do with the isotopes. Right?

Josh Clark

And the soil strata - right. They measure the age of the carbon isotopes, the C14 carbon isotopes present in the soil.

Chuck Bryant

Right, around the artifact.

Josh Clark

Right and the artifacts have to be laid out in a certain way. There can't be evidence that it was buried - humans, when we make a camp or when we did 12,000 or 10,000 years ago, when we made a camp and just left it, there were very tell tale signs. So things weren't buried. They're just kind of laid about.

Chuck Bryant

Right, as what was going on there when they were extinct or whatever happened to it.

Josh Clark

So if that's how this site is presented, then you can measure the soil and say, "Okay, well, the carbon isotopes in the soil are 11,000 years old. That means that this site was above ground and just left 11,000 year ago. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

So that proved that the Clovis were around 11,200 years ago. Right?

Chuck Bryant

Yes, which is old and definitely pre-Native American?

Josh Clark

So how did they get here?

Chuck Bryant

Well, the Clovis first camp, which sounds to me like they're a very angry bunch of people, or are very protective, at least.

Josh Clark

They came to be called the Clovis police.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I like that name. Or what was the -

Josh Clark

I wonder if the Clovis, New Mexico police like it. If they're like, "That's us, dude."

Chuck Bryant

Or the Clovis barrier.

Josh Clark

They created this Clovis barrier. Basically, anybody who had any other competing theory or idea was an idiot, and they had lockdown on the academic view of the origin of life in North America.

Chuck Bryant

So getting back to your question. Where did they come from and how did they get there? The general theory was that they basically walked during the middle of the ice age, which I can't imagine living during an ice age. Can you imagine like crossing the bearing - what is it called, the Bearing Straight Bridge?

Josh Clark

The Bearing Land Bridge.

Chuck Bryant

The Bearing Land Bridge is how they got here, supposedly, which is only about a mile wide, and is now beneath the ocean of the Bearing Straight. And that that's how they migrated from Siberia to I guess what would be like Canada.

Josh Clark

And Alaska.

Chuck Bryant

And Alaska, and then found their way down to, eventually, the southeastern United States.

Josh Clark

And because of that -

Chuck Bryant

So they walked here.

Josh Clark

There was actually a very brief as far as the timeline of history goes, there's a very brief moment in history where the bearing land bridge was exposed. And where the laurentide ice sheet that covers like northern Canada and Alaska, or did at the time, was receded enough to allow passage between it and a nearby glacier.

Chuck Bryant

Can you imagine how scary that was, though?

Josh Clark

I imagine it was kind of scary, but -

Chuck Bryant

It was only a mile wide, though. It's not like - it wasn't a pleasure walk. It wasn't a stroll.

Josh Clark

No. And you raise a good question. Like why would you do that? Why?

Chuck Bryant

Food.

Josh Clark

Food, exactly.

Chuck Bryant

Mastodon, baby. Your favorite band!

Josh Clark

The Clov - Mastodon metal.

Chuck Bryant

And the wooly mammoth that was the theory is they were dependent on these animals as one of their sole sources of meat, I guess.

Josh Clark

Right, it was very clear based just on their spear points and their arrowheads. The Clovis were extremely advanced big game hunters.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, they were halfted, which I had to look that up. It's actually when they attach something to a handle. So it's either attached to a bow or a spear shaft or an axe handle. And that means you can throw it.

Josh Clark

Yes, or shoot it.

Chuck Bryant

Which is how you need to kill a mammoth? You can't just walk up to it and stab it.

Josh Clark

You also need a lot of coordination, planning, cooperation to take down a mammoth, a mastodon, or one of these extinct bison. And also, I read the point was made they were definitely like big game hunters. But they would take small game, too, or medium sized game like deer or antelope or whatever.

Chuck Bryant

That's what I wondered because they made a big point about the fact that one of the reasons they may have become extinct was that the mammoth and mastodon were over hunted.

Josh Clark

Chuck, you have just brought everything to the fore.

Chuck Bryant

The Pleistocene overkill hypothesis.

Josh Clark

Yes, Chuck. What this is - and this is one of the reasons why the Clovis barrier was so supported and so able to just lock down academic was because it was a cautionary tale about ecological collapse.

Chuck Bryant

Right, but I don't get that - not every animal - they couldn't have overhunted every animal. Just because they overhunted the mastodon and the mammoth but why not skip down to the lower, smaller animals?

Josh Clark

That's an excellent point. That's a question that hasn't been satisfied by - or wasn't satisfied by the Clovis police. They were basically saying the Clovis came down from - they came across the land bridge from Siberia, down through North America, got to the great planes, overhunted the mastodon and the bison.

Chuck Bryant

And followed them around wherever they -

Josh Clark

Right, sure. And killed them off, and eventually, that led to the extinction of their own kind because what's really interesting and curious about the Clovis is that they appear out of nowhere in North America. And actually, like south and eastern North America, and clearly New Mexico, and over the period of 500 years, they pop up out of nowhere, and they disappear into the ether. They just show up, and they're gone. There's no evidence of any technology leading up to them. Like you can't see a progression of fluted spearheads that show like these people are figuring out how to make the Clovis point.And then, you don't see any refining of it or continuation of it after this 500-year period. So these people - like if you're looking at it just on the timeline of history and archaeologically, they pop up in the middle of North America out of nowhere, and then just disappear.

Chuck Bryant

Pretty cool.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

Maybe they were aliens.

Josh Clark

It's entirely possible, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant

There was another theory, though, about why they may have vanished. The Clovis comet theory!

Josh Clark

Let's hear it.

Chuck Bryant

It's also called the Younger Dryas Impact Event. And this is just a few years old. Some people theorize that a comet exploded above the earth's atmosphere around the Great Lakes and basically caught most of North America on fire.

Josh Clark

Sweet.

Chuck Bryant

And not only killed the mastodon and the mammoth, but the Clovis, and there's a little bit of evidence of this. They found a charred carbon rich layer of soil at 50 different Clovis age sites, and it contained a bunch of unusual stuff in it that they interpreted as like an impact event.

Josh Clark

Is that the scientific term for that stuff? Unusual stuff!

Chuck Bryant

Unusual material. Yeah.

Josh Clark

Like what? Like what unusual materials?

Chuck Bryant

Don't ask me that.

Josh Clark

Like stuff that you would find in a comet?

Chuck Bryant

Stuff that would indicate it was an impact event. I guess like a meteor impact landing, stuff like that.

Josh Clark

That's awesome.

Chuck Bryant

But that's been refuted, too. Like you know, that's why I love all this stuff. There's all these theories that make sense, and then some other person comes along and pokes holes in it, and then you're back at square one.

Josh Clark

All right, so - but that's not how it went with the Clovis barrier. Like it was fact as far as anybody was concerned. You had radio carbon dating. You had no other evidence of any earlier settlement in North - or in the Americas at all, and anybody who put forth a hypothesis other than that was poo pood, and they were very successful at controlling the origin of life in North America, or in the Americas for several decades.

Chuck Bryant

And then they gave it up and became scientologists.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Until 1975 - that was the beginning of the end of the Clovis first theory.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, sadly.

Josh Clark

Maybe, maybe not because really, the whole reason that you're looking, the whole reason you're spending decades excavating a single site is to find out the truth. Like we have to know who was first. We have to know.

Chuck Bryant

See, I'm not in that camp. I know you made a point in your article that it's not really that important who was first. It's that -

Josh Clark

Wasn't that just like such a hippie ending that I tossed on there?

Chuck Bryant

I kind of liked it, though.

Josh Clark

Like I got up and like twirled afterward.

Chuck Bryant

Everyone made a contribution. We should respect the Clovis, man. Just because they weren't first, they gave us the halfted, fluted spear.

Josh Clark

Yeah, I was listening to Hands Across America the whole time I was writing this.

Chuck Bryant

So are we going to do down south?

Josh Clark

Let's go down south, Chuck, to -

Chuck Bryant

Monte Verde.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Chile.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, that was the - well, one of the early theories of the Clovis is that they migrated from south to north.

Josh Clark

No, north to south.

Chuck Bryant

No, originally, but didn't they later go on to say, "But wait, it looks like they went from south to north."

Josh Clark

That's what Monte Verde did.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, okay.

Josh Clark

There was a University of Kentucky archaeologist named Tom Dillehay who dedicated 25 years of his life to a single settlement in Chile outside of Monte Verde, Chile.

Chuck Bryant

What a loser.

Josh Clark

But this guy managed to quietly and methodically destroy the Clovis first theory. And even better, he brought the Clovis police down to Chile after he presented his final findings and said [beep].

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I bet they were - that was a sad day for the Clovis police.

Josh Clark

I think it was.

Chuck Bryant

They had to turn in their badges and their uniforms and their little billy clubs.

Josh Clark

Yeah, and they all retired and went fishing in Florida. So what happened, Chuck? What did Dillehay find in Monte Verde?

Chuck Bryant

Well, he found [beep] that predated him.

Josh Clark

Irrefutable evidence is another way to put it.

Chuck Bryant

Well, that's the non-cursing way to put it. Sure. So you want to know what they found.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

They found hearths of wood with knotted strings attached, which was no accident. It meant that a human being tied some string around it.

Josh Clark

Well, not only that. They also found leftover mastodon flesh preserved.

Chuck Bryant

Oh, really?

Josh Clark

This is what Monte Verde is just so - this is how archaeology advances by leaps and bounds. By accident! Monte Verde, the site, is a bog. And it actually preserved this wood, string, mastodon flesh. Preserved it beautifully because it's an oxygen-depleted environment!

Chuck Bryant

Right and it was 12,500 years old.

Josh Clark

That's what radio carbon dating showed. So first of all, you have the fact that it's clearly these hearths, these - the knotted string, all the stuff, it was clearly presented in a way that this was a settlement. It was a camp. They estimated it housed like 20 to 30 people. Even like the tent pegs are left in the ground.

Chuck Bryant

That's pretty cool.

Josh Clark

So it wasn't buried. Right? It was just left. And the radio carbon dating proved that, yeah, it was 12,500 years old. So they had a good millennium on the Clovis.

Chuck Bryant

But it still doesn't answer how they got there.

Josh Clark

No, it doesn't. As a matter of fact, it raises even more questions because what the Clovis police said was, "Well, okay, that's fine. That's fine. We'll give you Monte Verde, jerks."

Chuck Bryant

But how'd they get here?

Josh Clark

This was one thing that was never addressed with the Clovis by the Clovis police was why weren't there any evidence of Clovis settlements along the way from Siberia to Canada, Alaska.

Chuck Bryant

To the southeast.

Josh Clark

The Great Plains, there aren't any. Because if you come across, if you come down Alaska and Canada into North America, you hit the Great Plains, and brother, there was really good hunting around there 10,000 years ago. You're gonna have campsites. You're going to have some evidence. There was nothing.

Chuck Bryant

Maybe they haven't found it, though.

Josh Clark

Like we said, it popped up -

Chuck Bryant

Is that plausible?

Josh Clark

It is totally plausible, and I think that's how the Clovis first theory was able to stand for so long is because maybe we just haven't found it yet, but whatever. But this Monte Verde theory turns it on its ear because instead of from north to south, it suggests they went from south to north.

Chuck Bryant

And it was 1,300 years older.

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

But I like your theory of how they got here.

Josh Clark

It's not a theory. It's not my theory. It's a hypothesis that other people have suggested as well.

Chuck Bryant

Sure. Because the same thing happened in Australia! Right?

Josh Clark

Well, possibly. Think about it. Australia has been a continent - an unattached continent for 50 million years. They believe - archaeologists, anthropologists believe that the Aborigines in Australia got there about 60,000 years ago, which means they would have had to have parachuted in or come by boat or swam.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, I think boat is the most plausible. And you have little islands along the way that you could stage.

Josh Clark

Yeah, you can island hop over there. I mean there are some pretty horrible journeys along the way, but it's entirely possible.

Chuck Bryant

Right and the theory is that the same thing could have happened to the - the folks in Monte Verde.

Josh Clark

It's true. Or the other way to look at it is there's a lot of people who still believe that they came from a north to south migration pattern, but that they just came a lot earlier. So they went north to south and then back up.

Chuck Bryant

Okay. That makes sense.

Josh Clark

It does. The fly in that ointment is this. There's another site found at Monte Verde that is being excavated now. I'm pretty sure Dillehay was like, "I'm out. I'm out. I did my thing. You guys take this over."

Chuck Bryant

Right, I've spend 25 years.

Josh Clark

Yeah, but they found another camp nearby or evidence of more human activity nearby that's dated to about 33,000 years ago.

Chuck Bryant

Which turns this on its ear?

Josh Clark

Yes.

Chuck Bryant

So does that hold to the theory of the waves of migration that you were talking about in the article?

Josh Clark

I don't know. I don't know. I've also heard there's a lot of archaeological sites that are underwater right now, they're sure. Because once the ice age has ended, the water levels rose, and who knows what's underwater along our coast?

Chuck Bryant

Right, and -

Josh Clark

There could be definitive evidence that they came by boat. We have no idea, ultimately. We just know that the Clovis weren't the first people here. Although they - and how they left, why they vanished, still don't know. It's very interesting, but there was, it looks like, people in Chile 33,000 years ago.

Chuck Bryant

Wow.

Josh Clark

Which goes to prove Columbus did not discover America.

Chuck Bryant

Right, full circle. But what does this all have to do with me and you living here in Atlanta today?

Josh Clark

Nothing.

Chuck Bryant

On Clovis ground, potentially.

Josh Clark

Yeah. It has nothing to do with it.

Chuck Bryant

Were they in Georgia? They said southeast.

Josh Clark

Uh huh, and Carolina.

Chuck Bryant

So we're just a couple of schlubs here in 2009. Eh?

Josh Clark

Yeah, and you ask really - other than the pursuit of knowledge, other than the pursuit of definitive truth, it really doesn't apply to us. But it is fascinating. And I defy you to say that it's not.

Chuck Bryant

I think you could argue that all of archaeology is - I'm not saying pointless because I think it's fascinating, but what are you doing besides trying to find the truth? And there's value in that.

Josh Clark

Sure. There's definite value in it.

Chuck Bryant

But it's not like they're gonna find some ancient cure for cancer. Or will they?

Josh Clark

I don't know. We'll find out. They'll keep digging in the meantime because I've got to tell you, Chuck, most archaeologists could care less what you and I think about their field of knowledge.

Chuck Bryant

I'm sure we'll get some e-mails about this.

Josh Clark

Well, since I just said most archaeologists could care less, that means it's time, Chuck, for - oh, yeah. If you want to read this article, you can type Clovis into the handy search bar, HowStuffWorks.com, which now means it's time for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant

So Josh, before we have listener mail, we want to talk about something we're excited about.

Josh Clark

I'm excited about a lot of stuff. You're gonna have to specify.

Chuck Bryant

Don't switch off your podcasts here people. This is really good. You'll recall during the micro lending episode, we talked about an awesome website. Kiva.org, and that is where you can donate money, $25.00 minimum, to satisfy these micro loans for needy people all over the world.

Josh Clark

Needy entrepreneurs.

Chuck Bryant

Needy entrepreneurs. Right, it's not - yeah.

Josh Clark

It's not a charity, like you're going to fund their enterprises.

Chuck Bryant

Right, so if you haven't listened to that episode, give it a listen. And we found out through Kiva you can start a team, and then we started searching around and found out that -

Josh Clark

Denmark has a team.

Chuck Bryant

Denmark has a team. A lot of corporations have teams.

Josh Clark

Gay and Lesbian and bisexuals have a team.

Chuck Bryant

Sure.

Josh Clark

Who else?

Chuck Bryant

Well, the Colbert Nation, Steven Colbert has a team.

Josh Clark

That's right.

Chuck Bryant

And we saw that, and we thought, "Hey, they're lame. They're not raising much money."

Josh Clark

No, there's like 100 members last time I checked, and they raised like six grand, which I guess is pretty good for like 100 members. But I think we can top that.

Chuck Bryant

We can definitely top that, and we have people that write in and talk about the fact that this is a free podcast, and they wish there was something they could do. Well, now you can go to Kiva.org, joint the Stuff You Should Know team under community, sign up, and join the team, and start donating. And we can start satisfying some of these loans.

Josh Clark

I love satisfying things.

Chuck Bryant

And we'll keep up with this through the blog and kind of let people know how many loans we've satisfied and we're gonna keep our eye out for Colbert.

Josh Clark

Yeah, this is not gonna be some throwaway poo poo idea that we came up with and forgot about like Colbert.

Chuck Bryant

No, we're in this for the long run.

Josh Clark

Boom.

Chuck Bryant

We're gonna put it on the blog, and we want the Stuff You Should Know team to satisfy these loans, and you can get paid back. That's the cool thing. You can give $50.00, and if you want, you can - once the loan is repaid, you can get that money back.

Josh Clark

Yeah, you can take it and run, go buy some donuts with it.

Chuck Bryant

Or you can reinvest it, or you can just donate it to the Kiva Foundation as a whole.

Josh Clark

Either way, you're helping people in the developing world; again, fund their own enterprises in an effort to become self-sufficient.

Chuck Bryant

For a lousy $25.00.

Josh Clark

Plus, you're like a hair's breath away from Mohammed Unis.

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark

I mean he's right there next to you.

Chuck Bryant

So go to Kiva.org, check out the Stuff You Should Know team, and join up, and we're going to keep up with it on the blog and through the podcast, and we will shame you if you haven't joined.

Josh Clark

Chuck, this is a great idea.

Chuck Bryant

Thank you, Josh.

Josh Clark

It was a really good idea, man.

Chuck Bryant

All right, so now, listener mail. I'm gonna just do this one since we're short on time. This - you asked people to write in after the Bhutan Gross National Happiness.

Josh Clark

Yeah, we've gotten a lot of good responses from that. Everybody, everyone who has written in has this nice, mellow, even keel to them.

Chuck Bryant

Yeah, especially this guy.

Josh Clark

Nobody has been like, "Help me."

Chuck Bryant

Right, especially this guy. I like Chris. Chris says in answer to your request or someone who has left the rate race of the American money chase, I think I qualify. I live on a commune - he says in a commune. I always thought it was on. He lives in a commune and files taxes under the IRS Code 501D, which I don't even know what that is.

Josh Clark

I've only heard of 501C3.

Chuck Bryant

It sounds like some sort of a hippy thing.

Josh Clark

Yeah.

Chuck Bryant

I've lived in this commune with my wife for close to 15 years. Before moving in, I grew up in another commune whose income was solely based on donations. So all in all, you could say I've always lived with a yearly salary under $10,000.00. Am I happy? I'd say yes. I find lots of ways to have fun and live hand to mouth. You never really know what you can live without until you rid your life of stuff. When I host visitors at our place, it pretty much blows peoples' minds, and my wife and I take up three rooms in our building, and we try to make the most of our space and not hang onto extra books, clothes, etc., for too long.Your show and happiness and money - your show on happiness and money asked some good questions. I'm a regular listener, and then he signed off, "Peace, Chris."

Josh Clark

Peace, Chris. You left out his Michelle Shocked quote.

Chuck Bryant

He has a quote from singer songwriter Michelle Shocked, who apparently once said, "If you ever want an adventure, live without cash." That is an adventure.

Josh Clark

Yeah. Well, thanks for writing in Chris.

Chuck Bryant

You dirty hippy.

Josh Clark

Thank you to everybody who took time to write in about dropping out of the rat race or just never joining in some cases. And let's see, Chuck, do you want to hear about anything specific from people?

Chuck Bryant

For this week? No, I want people to go to Kiva.org and join our team.

Josh Clark

Yeah, how about that? Why don't you write in and let us know if you've joined, if you see anybody that you think we should focus our attention on. Let's do all things Kiva this week. Send it in an e-mail to me and Chuck and Jerry at StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.

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