The latest issue of the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach features an interview with Ken Feder, a professor of archaeology at Central Connecticut State University and author of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology as well as several other books and articles.
In an excerpt from the interview published by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), Feder discusses the importance of ancient American archaeology:
"How could it not be important to truly understand a crucial part of the human past: the discovery and populating of two continents? In essence, the exploration of, migration to, settlement of, and adaptation to the many and diverse environments of the New World provides anthropologists, historians, cultural geographers, human ecologists, demographers, etc., with what amounts to a laboratory in which they can study the myriad ways in which people create ways to live.
Understanding the timetable for these adaptations, the source populations, and the environmental changes these people faced can help to illuminate the human condition and, if we're lucky, remind us in the present about ancient responses to the sometimes remarkably similar challenges we face today."
Here's a link to the NCSE interview with Feder (a subscription is required):
As an alternative, you can read a longer interview with Feder for free on the "Damned Connecticut" website:
In this interview Feder discusses why he thinks it's important to devote time in his college classes to debunking misconceptions about the past:
"I'm interested in sort of debunking stuff, but that’s not the point. The point is that if belief in extraterrestrials built the pyramids or in psychic archaeology or whatever, if that’s what gets people interested, I hook them into my classes and then I reel them in, and show them what the real deal is, and how archaeology actually works, and what we really know about the past. And it works pretty well."