Humboldt Museum: Native American Tale of “Red-Haired Giants” Slain by Tribe

Picture: Timothy O'Sullivan (PD)

Atlas Obscura travels to Nevada’s Humboldt Museum and hears what is purported to be a legend of the Paiute tribe concerning a race of warlike, cave-dwelling, red-haired giants who were slain by fire and arrow.

Local legends passed down by the Paiute Indians tell of a race of giants who were exterminated by the tribe. It is said this was done by trapping the giants in a cave, shooting arrows at them, and then starting a large fire at the mouth of the cave. When the Lovelock Cave was later mined, many giant skeletons and artifacts were found in the area; there was also a large quantity of arrowheads found in the cave. Many of the artifacts were lost in a fire, but some of the skulls and artifacts are located at this museum.

See some of the skulls here.

Want to hear more about the legend of the red-haired giants? Click here.

Skull comparison picture here.

Wikipedia entry here. Click the “talk” page for some interesting discussion concerning the legend.

Do you have any links to reputable scientific examinations of the “giant skull”? Let me know in the comments!

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  • alizardx

    I’d like to see isotope dating and DNA analysis on those human remains myself.

    • Matt Staggs

      Me too, or at least a cursory anthropological examination to determine that it is in fact a real skull.

  • Apathesis

    Why are there not more details? Giants with red hair killed by American Indians is a pretty interesting story.

    • Matt Staggs

      I looked for about an hour and couldn’t find anything. I’d love to know more.

      • Apathesis

        Schucks. I would to.

  • geminihigh

    stories of red haired giants pop up all over the world, but its always a whisper here and there, then there is never a follow up. even on the island of maui there was allegedly a burial cave of red haired people that was later sealed because the remains would “upset the natives.” it seems like the late 1800s and early 1900s was a period in which many of these corpses were discovered all over the world, but the hard evidence always disappears before it makes it back to a university or lab for analysis.

    • Matt Staggs

      Oh, I know. Crazy stuff. I wish someone reputable could examine this supposed skull up close. Is it even a real skull? I want to know.

  • Powell

    I love stuff like this, thanks for the heads up!

  • Matt Staggs

    Hey readers, I’m going to try to call some scientists and historians in the area, if I can find some. It’ll have to wait until after the holiday, though. We need someone to look at this stuff.

  • waterbourne

    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/december202010/history-giants-ta.php This was the first story that grabbed my attention… same problem as usual though with a lack of documentation or anything that can be verified.