The Beothuck Key: Finding a Lost Chinese-Norse Civilization in Canada

Two mysteries - one Oriental, one Western - have attracted considerable attention recently both in academic and popular spheres: the disappearance of the Seventh Chinese Treasure Fleet and the disappearance of the people of Greenland. Until now, people have not considered that the two stories might be somehow connected.

Indeed, although very much in retrospect, there were numerous pieces of evidence readily available that pointed to the two narratives possibly being associated, even if the key element were missing. However unlikely and counter-intuitive, it appears that key is in the much-disputed continuing existence of the Beothuck People of Newfoundland Island - without them neither of the mysteries would have been resolved.

Origins of the Beothuck People

The journey of discovery began quite by accident, when a Beothuck person observed some unusual artifacts at museums in China that seemed to be the analogues of artifacts of the Beothuck People. The resulting investigation led to all known information about the Beothuck people being sifted and evaluated, with the conclusion being that the Beothuck People had Chinese origin.

Right: Beothuck symbols on poles, Newfoundland Island. Left: Symbols on poles. Confucian museum. Beijing. (Author provided)

The considerable skepticism about the Chinese voyages seemed to be primarily because the idea of massive Chinese ships, as suggested by Menzies and Hudson was thoroughly doubted. Unfortunately, one could not appeal to China because that country has retained no information as to the design of such massive ships - no models, no sketches, no descriptions.

Curious genetic and ancestral stories of the Beothuck People led to an informal survey that revealed mtDNA of Celtic, Norse, and other Scandinavian/Baltic origin, leading to speculation that all of the people were descendants of the Norse from the time of the Viking Sagas. However, that speculation was disabused by research reports to the effect that (a) Newfoundland Island had had several waves of occupation, and (b) there is a genetic discontinuity between the maternal lineages of the various occupation groups. Moreover, historical reports indicate that whoever was on the island were substantially, or completely, killed off by some blight or combination thereof (plague, typhus, smallpox) between 1402 and 1404, which meant that as of that later date the island was effectively empty. If that were true, then it meant that the Norse ancestors of the contemporary Beothuck must have colonized at least part of the island sometime after 1404 AD.

Beothuck drawings by Shanawdithit (the last known member of the Beothuck people) representing a variety of subjects. ( Library and Archives Canada )

Ties to the People of Greenland

That led to a consideration of the story of the disappearance of the people of Greenland in the early 15th Century. There is no record of the people of Greenland going east, as some experts have speculated. According to Catholic Church records, there had been as many as 5000 people in Greenland circa 1409. That's a lot of people to account for.

In a pastoral letter from the Holy See addressed to the Bishops of Skalholt and Holar in Iceland, dated September 20, 1448, concern was expressed that Greenland had been raided by a “Fleet of heathens” some 30 years previously, and that all of the people had been taken. It is not immediately clear how the Pope acquired that information. Related to that was another piece of information: tributes began to arrive at Rome sometime in the early-1400s, from “ Vinland.” Clearly, a vector of communication existed from the “far western lands' to Rome.

Recent research suggests that there was no violent confrontation in Greenland. Indeed, everything points to a peaceful, organized departure of the people. The conclusion was that the people of Greenland, all 5000 of them, along with their priests and other religious people (monks and nuns), peacefully departed their homes sometime after 1409 and before about 1420.

The Mystery of the Beothuck Language

The language of the Beothuck has been something of an enduring mystery. William Cormack is the only person whose report we have who actually spoke with the Beothuck. Cormack said that the Beothuck language had all of the sounds of Scandinavian languages, maybe Swedish. Additionally, J. T. Mullock , Roman Catholic Bishop of St. John's, Newfoundland, said that many people thought that the Beothuck had “Northmen” ancestry.

Top: Beothuck carved bone artifacts. Bottom: Beothuck iron projectile point (probably an arrow point), bone harpoon, and bone harpoon with iron blade. (Dr. Ralph Pastore/ Memorial University of Newfoundland )

Moreover, Dr. John Cooper of Dalhousie University concluded that the language was at least 25% Gaelic and Norse. There was not, necessarily, much difference between Norse and Gaelic because, as Wallace says, “... the Norse were mixed with Celts and Picts through intermarriage and slavery.”

Because Newfoundland Island was empty of people, say from around 1404, and because the people of Greenland departed their homes around 1418, and because a large number of people from Newfoundland Island has Norse ancestry from the forests of the island, it seemed reasonable to conclude that the Beothuck people were the descendants of the “missing” Norse of Greenland. The notion of a fleet of ships, as per the Pope's letter, was, to say the least, intriguing.

More on Beothuck Ancestry

The investigation has now arrived at the point where two phenomena seem to be supported: The Beothuck people had Chinese ancestry and the Beothuck people had Norse ancestry.

The local people in that remote and isolated geography, although having a high degree of illiteracy, had a rich oral tradition. For many generations these people, the European ancestors of whom came to the area around the mid-1700s or earlier, told stories of enormous ships that had been on the nearby ocean bottom since before their arrival. As late as 1890, people could easily see one massive ship in a sheltered harbor of relatively shallow water, and the mast of that ship - enormous, much larger than anything that they had ever seen or could imagine - protruded from the ocean surface. Moreover, at that time, they could see “dishes” and “jugs” on the ocean bottom near the ship.

Zheng He's Treasure Ship. Model at Hong Kong Science Museum. ( Mike Peel / CC BY SA 4.0 )

The subsequent generation (circa 1930) contained a story that two teen boys had attempted to measure the ship and, being creative with fishing cords, estimated that one ship was about 400 ft. (130 meters) long.

After several months of searching with Google Earth, during 2017, two almost identical ships were located, each being about 450 ft. (150 meters) in length. Since then, several other equally large ships, seemingly intact, have been found resting on the ocean bottom. The only ships that fit the circumstances are those of the Chinese of the early 1400s. No European or American ship of the dimensions of the ships that were found would be constructed until after the mid-1800s.

At that point it is possible to suggest, at least, that the enormous fleet that had taken the people from Greenland had been a Chinese fleet. If that fleet brought the people of Greenland to Newfoundland Island sometime around 1418, that would explain the Norse and Chinese ancestry of the Beothuck People.

Demasduit (Mary March), a Beothuck woman. ( Library and Archives Canada )

The Voyage from China and Links to Zheng He

The available information supports the following scenario: after leaving port in southern China the fleet would split into several flotillas, each expediting their individual appointed tasks, more or less, and reassembling later. One voyage took place during 1417 – 1419. The flotilla that had been assigned the task of mapping the western North Atlantic area – whatever the Chinese called it - was under the command of Admiral Zheng He .

It crossed the North Atlantic, discovered Newfoundland Island (1417), and, maybe the next year (1418), returning from mapping Hudson's Bay, chanced upon the Norse of Greenland, in a state of destitution and at the cusp of starvation. The Chinese “rescued” these desperate people and transported them to Newfoundland island, the mythical Vinland of the Norse people. Zheng He returned to China, but came back to Newfoundland in 1435.

The Matteo Ricci (1552 – 1610) map of 1605 has the lands of the north west Atlantic identifiably drawn. Someone spent time charting the north west Atlantic area, did the cartography, and returned to China, writing four Chinese characters on the land that would be identified as Newfoundland Island: “Island like a Chinese garden.” According to Lee, the Ricci map is a copy of a Chinese map and that the Chinese had a complete map of the world by 1430, a map that included the northwest Atlantic area.

Kunyu Wanguo Quantu. Chinese world map, circa 1430.

Did Zheng He know where he was going? Was the initial map-making done by a previous Chinese fleet and before 1418? Did Zheng He's admirals do the charting of the northern lands? Who would have named Newfoundland Island so glowingly?

Wherever he was, the Great Admiral seems to have boasted:

We have traversed more than 100,000 li of immense water spaces and have beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising in the sky, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds day and night, continued their course. ..

That would have gotten him to Greenland and back in the 1417-1419 time frame of that voyage.

Signs of a Lost Settlement

As a confirmation exercise, Google earth was utilized to seek indicators of Norse and Chinese occupancy of Newfoundland Island. That investigation resulted in the identification of a ubiquitous pattern. It was determined that the pattern was communal housing - much as had been described by John Cabot in 1497 and Jacques Cartier in 1534.

These dwellings were as much as 164 ft. (50 meters) in diameter and contained 10 - 12 family cells around a central common area. These dwellings appeared to be one-story adaption of Hakka-Han TuLu in south east China of the time (which continues today), the area that was the origin of the Treasure Fleets. The basic Hakka housing pattern incorporated Norse features to accommodate winter conditions, those features that the Beothuck descendants had incorporated into their root-cellars, many of which still exist. (Incidentally, the Hakka Tulu figures in the recent movie, “Mulan.”)

Treks into the forest confirmed the speculations: patterns on the forest floor, now covered with trees, certainly still retained the discernible and recognizable communal Tulu pattern. A survey of the island with Google Earth Pro revealed literally thousands of these structures. An estimate related to the number of structures detected suggested dwellings of maybe as many as 300,000 people, an enormous number in comparison to the paltry several thousand that experts have been suggesting up to now.

Satellite imagery revealed structures that seemed to be defensive walls, and treks into the forest confirmed the existence of the artifacts, some of which were not completely occluded by vegetation overburden. One trek also resulted in the discovery of a carving of a three meter long hand, chiseled into a rock-face, with the letter “J” carved just above it, and a scepter carved along the wrist.

The carved hand measures three meters long. (Author provided)

The next discoveries were towers and a wall, and, then, astonishingly, several Buddhist-type pyramids. About 12 miles (20 km) away, a set of buildings was discovered, including a three-tiered pagoda and an intact stone church, a basilica - a structure that is not in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, and not in the history of the local Roman Catholic archdiocese.

The next astounding discovery was a set of massive bluff-carvings, the first found being a Chinese mythical dog, about 161 sq. ft. (15 sq. m.). The image is almost identical to that of a Chinese postage stamp for 2008 “The Year of the Dog.”

Above the dog carving, and about the same size, was the Monkey King, again from Chinese mythology. About a hundred carvings were found in all, ranging in size from 32 – 1640 ft. (10 - 500 meters) in length, the latter being a bird, 500 meters from beak to tail feathers, and about 656 ft. (200 meters) wingtip to wingtip.

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The next mysterious phenomenon discovered was a boat, about 114 ft. (35 meters) long, that seems to have been under construction. Then, ten or so similar boats were discovered, all under construction, all in the forest well away from the coast.

A number of what were determined to be row boats, maybe water taxis, were located, still intact, preserved by the chemicals in the peat ponds where they have now lain for maybe as much as 400 years. Thus, it is possible to determine the design of these boats of so long ago. Why the boats were built in the location described is a mystery unto itself and has resulted in speculation that is tangential to this narrative.

Although some experts have written about the massive Chinese ships the fact is that the only existing more-or-less intact Chinese ships from the medieval Chinese period – and, indeed, any medieval period - and, thus, the only accurate information about these ships, there being next to nothing in China, are being preserved by the frigid ocean waters of north east Newfoundland Island. The next oldest existing ship from that period, worldwide, is the British warship, Mary Rose (Circa 1540), about 50% of which was recovered from her watery grave.

Compiling the Evidence in Newfoundland

Although Zheng He was erased from Chinese history shortly after 1433, he has been recently resurrected by China for, as some see it, a contemporary form of Chinese hegemony.

The accepted narrative, in China and south east Asia, of the demise of Zheng He and his enormous seventh fleet is that all succumbed to a typhoon somewhere near Sri Lanka or Malaysia. Virtually every country in south east Asia is seeking evidence that Zheng He and the remains of his seventh fleet is somewhere in their backyard. The Chinese government, believing their own myth, has recently spent hundreds of millions of dollars, with the help of the latest Chinese military technology, in the belief that they were destined to find the remains of their fleet. They have found nothing.

The research group on Newfoundland Island continues to make discovery after discovery that they associate with the Chinese-Norse civilization that began around 1420: fish weirs, harbor complexes, fish processing facilities, buildings (one with a discernible chimney), industrial structures (e.g., huge furnaces).

Moreover, now that considerable evidence and information has been compiled, it is possible to state that, on the balance of probabilities, the only people on the island as of 1450 were the Norse, the Chinese, and their progeny, who called themselves “BeiHanKe” but which was misunderstood as “Beothuck.”

A fanciful depiction of John Guy's 1612 encounter with the Beothuck in Trinity Bay. From Theodor de Bry, America (Historia Americæ sive Novi Orbis) ,’ pt. XIII, German, edited by Matthaeus Merian. (Frankfurt: Caspar Rðtel, 1628, 1634) ( Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions )

The final conclusion is that the research group in that remote area has found the remains of a collapsed Chinese-Norse civilization of which the contemporary Beothuck are the remnants. Otherwise, they have stumbled on the remains of a collapsed civilization about which nothing else is known.

A Vampire in New Orleans? The Mysterious Case of Jacque and the Comte de St. Germain

If vampires existed in our modern age, it would be easy to imagine them in New Orleans, creeping from the shadows of the crypts in the St. Louis Cemetery or prowling for victims in the unlit alleys of the French Quarter. In the Crescent City, beauty and darkness go hand in hand and history steps forward to make itself known in the present day. Ancient legends of these immortal creatures made their way to America along with immigrants and adapted to their new land. One of New Orleans’s most enduring vampiric legends has its roots in old European folklore.

According to the stories, sometime in the early 1900s a mysterious man arrived in New Orleans under the name Jacque St. Germain. Handsome, elegant, wealthy, entertaining, extravagant, mysterious, and a bit curious, his reputation preceded him, and he was soon a hit in New Orleans society.


According to the Sagas of Icelanders, Norsemen from Iceland first settled Greenland in the 980s. There is no special reason to doubt the authority of the information that the sagas supply regarding the very beginning of the settlement, but they cannot be treated as primary evidence for the history of Norse Greenland because they embody the literary preoccupations of writers and audiences in medieval Iceland that are not always reliable. [5]

Erik the Red (Old Norse: Eiríkr rauði), having been banished from Iceland for manslaughter, explored the uninhabited southwestern coast of Greenland during the three years of his banishment. [6] [7] He made plans to entice settlers to the area, naming it Greenland on the assumption that "people would be more eager to go there because the land had a good name". [8] The inner reaches of one long fjord, named Eiriksfjord after him, was where he eventually established his estate Brattahlid. He issued tracts of land to his followers. [9]

Norse Greenland consisted of two settlements. The Eastern was at the southwestern tip of Greenland, while the Western Settlement was about 500 km up the west coast, inland from present-day Nuuk. A smaller settlement near the Eastern Settlement is sometimes considered the Middle Settlement. The combined population was around 2,000–3,000. [10] At least 400 farms have been identified by archaeologists. [9] Norse Greenland had a bishopric (at Garðar) and exported walrus ivory, furs, rope, sheep, whale and seal blubber, live animals such as polar bears, supposed "unicorn horns" (in reality narwhal tusks), and cattle hides. In 1126, the population requested a bishop (headquartered at Garðar), and in 1261, they accepted the overlordship of the Norwegian king. They continued to have their own law and became almost completely politically independent after 1349, the time of the Black Death. In 1380, the Kingdom of Norway entered into a personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark. [11]

Western trade and decline Edit

There is evidence of Norse trade with the natives (called the Skræling by the Norse). The Norse would have encountered both Native Americans (the Beothuk, related to the Algonquin) and the Thule, the ancestors of the Inuit. The Dorset had withdrawn from Greenland before the Norse settlement of the island. Items such as comb fragments, pieces of iron cooking utensils and chisels, chess pieces, ship rivets, carpenter's planes, and oaken ship fragments used in Inuit boats have been found far beyond the traditional range of Norse colonization. A small ivory statue that appears to represent a European has also been found among the ruins of an Inuit community house. [11]

The settlements began to decline in the 14th century. The Western Settlement was abandoned around 1350, and the last bishop at Garðar died in 1377. [11] After a marriage was recorded in 1408, no written records mention the settlers. It is probable that the Eastern Settlement was defunct by the late 15th century. The most recent radiocarbon date found in Norse settlements as of 2002 was 1430 (±15 years). [ citation needed ] Several theories have been advanced to explain the decline.

The Little Ice Age of this period would have made travel between Greenland and Europe, as well as farming, more difficult although seal and other hunting provided a healthy diet, there was more prestige in cattle farming, and there was increased availability of farms in Scandinavian countries depopulated by famine and plague epidemics. In addition, Greenlandic ivory may have been supplanted in European markets by cheaper ivory from Africa. [12] Despite the loss of contact with the Greenlanders, the Norwegian-Danish crown continued to consider Greenland a possession.

Not knowing whether the old Norse civilization remained in Greenland or not—and worried that if it did, it would still be Orthodox [13] [14] [15] [16] or Catholic 200 years after the Scandinavian homelands had experienced the Reformation—a joint merchant-clerical expedition led by the Dano-Norwegian missionary Hans Egede was sent to Greenland in 1721. Though this expedition found no surviving Europeans, it marked the beginning of Denmark's re-assertion of sovereignty over the island.

Climate and Norse Greenland Edit

Norse Greenlanders were limited to scattered fjords on the island that provided a spot for their animals (such as cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and cats) to be kept and farms to be established. [17] [18] In these fjords, the farms depended upon byres to host their livestock in the winter, and routinely culled their herds in order to survive the season. [17] [18] [19] The coming warmer seasons meant that livestocks were taken from their byres to pasture, the most fertile being controlled by the most powerful farms and the church. [18] [19] [20] What was produced by livestock and farming was supplemented with subsistence hunting of mainly seal and caribou as well as walrus for trade. [17] [18] [19] The Norse mainly relied on the Nordrsetur hunt, a communal hunt of migratory harp seals that would take place during spring. [17] [20] Trade was highly important to the Greenland Norse and they relied on imports of lumber due to the barrenness of Greenland. In turn they exported goods such as walrus ivory and hide, live polar bears, and narwhal tusks. [19] [20] Ultimately these setups were vulnerable as they relied on migratory patterns created by climate as well as the well-being of the few fjords on the island. [18] [20] A portion of the time the Greenland settlements existed was during the Little Ice Age and the climate was, overall, becoming cooler and more humid. [17] [18] [19] As climate began to cool and humidity began to increase, this brought longer winters and shorter springs, more storms and affected the migratory patterns of the harp seal. [17] [18] [19] [20] Pasture space began to dwindle and fodder yields for the winter became much smaller. This combined with regular herd culling made it hard to maintain livestock, especially for the poorest of the Greenland Norse. [17] In spring, the voyages to where migratory harp seals could be found became more dangerous due to more frequent storms, and the lower population of harp seals meant that Nordrsetur hunts became less successful, making subsistence hunting extremely difficult. [17] [18] The strain on resources made trade difficult, and as time went on, Greenland exports lost value in the European market due to competing countries and the lack of interest in what was being traded. [20] Trade in elephant ivory began competing with the trade in walrus tusks that provided income to Greenland, and there is evidence that walrus over-hunting, particularly of the males with larger tusks, led to walrus population declines. [21]

In addition, it seemed that the Norse were unwilling to integrate with the Thule people of Greenland, either through marriage or culture. There is evidence of contact as seen through the Thule archaeological record including ivory depictions of the Norse as well as bronze and steel artifacts. However, there is essentially no material evidence of the Thule among Norse artifacts. [17] [18] In older research it was posited that it was not climate change alone that led to Norse decline, but also their unwillingness to adapt. [17] For example, if the Norse had decided to focus their subsistence hunting on the ringed seal (which could be hunted year round, though individually), and decided to reduce or do away with their communal hunts, food would have been much less scarce during the winter season. [18] [19] [20] [22] Also, had Norse individuals used skin instead of wool to produce their clothing, they would have been able to fare better nearer to the coast, and wouldn't have been as confined to the fjords. [18] [19] [20] However, more recent research has shown that the Norse did try to adapt in their own ways. [23] Some of these attempts included increased subsistence hunting. A significant number of bones of marine animals can be found at the settlements, suggesting increased hunting with the absence of farmed food. [23] In addition, pollen records show that the Norse didn't always devastate the small forests and foliage as previously thought. Instead the Norse ensured that overgrazed or overused sections were given time to regrow and moved to other areas. [23] Norse farmers also attempted to adapt. With the increased need for winter fodder and smaller pastures, they would self-fertilize their lands in an attempt to keep up with the new demands caused by the changing climate. [23] However, even with these attempts, climate change was not the only thing putting pressure on the Greenland Norse. The economy was changing, and the exports they relied on were losing value. [20] Current research suggests that the Norse were unable to maintain their settlements because of economic and climatic change happening at the same time. [23] [24]

According to the Icelandic sagas—Eirik the Red's Saga, [25] Saga of the Greenlanders, plus chapters of the Hauksbók and the Flatey Book—the Norse started to explore lands to the west of Greenland only a few years after the Greenland settlements were established. In 985, while sailing from Iceland to Greenland with a migration fleet consisting of 400–700 settlers [9] [26] and 25 other ships (14 of which completed the journey), a merchant named Bjarni Herjólfsson was blown off course, and after three days' sailing he sighted land west of the fleet. Bjarni was only interested in finding his father's farm, but he described his findings to Leif Erikson who explored the area in more detail and planted a small settlement fifteen years later. [9]

The sagas describe three separate areas that were explored: Helluland, which means "land of the flat stones" Markland, "the land of forests", definitely of interest to settlers in Greenland where there were few trees and Vinland, "the land of wine", found somewhere south of Markland. It was in Vinland that the settlement described in the sagas was founded.

Leif's winter camp Edit

Using the routes, landmarks, currents, rocks, and winds that Bjarni had described to him, Leif sailed from Greenland westward across the Labrador Sea, with a crew of 35—sailing the same knarr Bjarni had used to make the voyage. He described Helluland as "level and wooded, with broad white beaches wherever they went and a gently sloping shoreline." [9] Leif and others had wanted his father, Erik the Red, to lead this expedition and talked him into it. However, as Erik attempted to join his son Leif on the voyage towards these new lands, he fell off his horse as it slipped on the wet rocks near the shore thus he was injured and stayed behind. [9]

Leif wintered in 1001, probably near Cape Bauld on the northern tip of Newfoundland, where one day his foster father Tyrker was found drunk, on what the saga describes as "wine-berries." Squashberries, gooseberries, and cranberries all grew wild in the area. There are varying explanations for Leif apparently describing fermented berries as "wine."

Leif spent another winter at "Leifsbúðir" without conflict, and sailed back to Brattahlíð in Greenland to assume filial duties to his father.

Thorvald's voyage (1004 AD) Edit

In 1004, Leif's brother Thorvald Eiriksson sailed with a crew of 30 men to Vinland and spent the following winter at Leif's camp. In the spring, Thorvald attacked nine of the local people who were sleeping under three skin-covered canoes. The ninth victim escaped and soon came back to the Norse camp with a force. Thorvald was killed by an arrow that succeeded in passing through the barricade. Although brief hostilities ensued, the Norse explorers stayed another winter and left the following spring. Subsequently, another of Leif's brothers, Thorstein, sailed to the New World to retrieve his dead brother's body, but he died before leaving Greenland. [9]

Karlsefni's expedition (1009 AD) Edit

In 1009, Thorfinn Karlsefni, also known as "Thorfinn the Valiant", supplied three ships with livestock and 160 men and women [26] (although another source sets the number of settlers at 250). After a cruel winter, he headed south and landed at Straumfjord. He later moved to Straumsöy, possibly because the current was stronger there. A sign of peaceful relations between the indigenous peoples and the Norsemen is noted here. The two sides bartered with furs and gray squirrel skins for milk and red cloth, which the natives tied around their heads as a sort of headdress.

There are conflicting stories but one account states that a bull belonging to Karlsefni came storming out of the wood, so frightening the natives that they ran to their skin-boats and rowed away. They returned three days later, in force. The natives used catapults, hoisting "a large sphere on a pole it was dark blue in color" and about the size of a sheep's belly, [28] which flew over the heads of the men and made an ugly din. [28]

The Norsemen retreated. Leif Erikson's half-sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir was pregnant and unable to keep up with the retreating Norsemen. She called out to them to stop fleeing from "such pitiful wretches", adding that if she had weapons, she could do better than that. Freydís seized the sword belonging to a man who had been killed by the natives. She pulled one of her breasts out of her bodice and struck it with the sword, frightening the natives, who fled. [28]

Purported runestones have been found in North America, most famously the Kensington Runestone. These are generally considered to be hoaxes or misinterpretations of Native American petroglyphs. [29]

There are many claims of Norse colonization in New England, none well founded.

Monuments claimed to be Norse include: [30]

Horsford's Norumbega Edit

The nineteenth-century Harvard chemist Eben Norton Horsford connected the Charles River Basin to places described in the Norse sagas and elsewhere, notably Norumbega. [31] He published several books on the topic and had plaques, monuments, and statues erected in honor of the Norse. [32] His work received little support from mainstream historians and archeologists at the time, and even less today. [33] [34] [35]

Other nineteenth-century writers, such as Horsford's friend Thomas Gold Appleton, in his A Sheaf of Papers (1875), and George Perkins Marsh, in his The Goths in New England, seized upon such false notions of Viking history also to promote the superiority of white people (as well as to oppose the Catholic Church). Such misuse of Viking history and imagery reemerged in the twentieth century among some groups promoting white supremacy. [36]

Settlements in continental North America aimed to exploit natural resources such as furs and in particular lumber, which was in short supply in Greenland. [37] It is unclear why the short-term settlements did not become permanent, though it was likely in part because of hostile relations with the indigenous peoples, referred to as the Skræling by the Norse. [38] Nevertheless, it appears that sporadic voyages to Markland for forages, timber, and trade with the locals could have lasted as long as 400 years. [39] [40]

From 985 to 1410, Greenland was in touch with the world. Then silence. In 1492 the Vatican noted that no news of that country "at the end of the world" had been received for 80 years, and the bishopric of the colony was offered to a certain ecclesiastic if he would go and "restore Christianity" there. He didn't go. [41]

For centuries it remained unclear whether the Icelandic stories represented real voyages by the Norse to North America. The sagas first gained serious historic respectability in 1837 when the Danish antiquarian Carl Christian Rafn pointed out the possibility for a Norse settlement in, or voyages to, North America. North America, by the name Winland, first appeared in written sources in a work by Adam of Bremen from approximately 1075. The most important works about North America and the early Norse activities there, namely the Sagas of Icelanders, were recorded in the 13th and 14th centuries. In 1420, some Inuit captives and their kayaks were taken to Scandinavia. [43] The Norse sites were depicted in the Skálholt Map, made by an Icelandic teacher in 1570 and depicting part of northeastern North America and mentioning Helluland, Markland and Vinland. [44]

Evidence of the Norse west of Greenland came in the 1960s when archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad and her husband, outdoorsman and author Helge Ingstad, excavated a Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. The location of the various lands described in the sagas remains unclear, however. Many historians identify Helluland with Baffin Island and Markland with Labrador. The location of Vinland poses a thornier question.

In 2012 Canadian researchers identified possible signs of Norse outposts in Nanook at Tanfield Valley on Baffin Island, as well as on Nunguvik, Willows Island, and Avayalik. [45] [46] [47] Unusual fabric cordage found on Baffin Island in the 1980s and stored at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was identified in 1999 as possibly of Norse manufacture that discovery led to more in-depth exploration of the Tanfield Valley archaeological site for points of contact between Norse Greenlanders and the indigenous Dorset people. [48] [49]

Archeological findings in 2015 at Point Rosee, [50] [51] on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, were originally thought to reveal evidence of a turf wall and the roasting of bog iron ore, and therefore a possible 10th century Norse settlement in Canada. [52] Findings from the 2016 excavation suggest the turf wall and the roasted bog iron ore discovered in 2015 were the result of natural processes. [53] The possible settlement was initially discovered through satellite imagery in 2014, [54] and archaeologists excavated the area in 2015 and 2016. [54] [52] Birgitta Linderoth Wallace, one of the leading experts of Norse archaeology in North America and an expert on the Norse site at L'Anse aux Meadows, is unsure of the identification of Point Rosee as a Norse site. [55] Archaeologist Karen Milek was a member of the 2016 Point Rosee excavation and is a Norse expert. She also expressed doubt that Point Rosee was a Norse site as there are no good landing sites for their boats and there are steep cliffs between the shoreline and the excavation site. [56] In their November 8, 2017, report [57] Sarah Parcak and Gregory Mumford, co-directors of the excavation, wrote that they "found no evidence whatsoever for either a Norse presence or human activity at Point Rosee prior to the historic period" [51] and that "none of the team members, including the Norse specialists, deemed this area as having any traces of human activity." [50]


Norse colonization of the Americas Edit

Norse journeys to Greenland and Canada prior to Columbus' voyages are supported by historical and archaeological evidence. A Norse colony was established in Greenland in the late 10th century and lasted until the mid-15th century, with court and parliament assemblies (þing) taking place at Brattahlíð and a bishop being posted at Garðar. [7] The remains of a Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in what is now Newfoundland, a large island on the Atlantic coast of Canada, were discovered in 1960 and have been radiocarbon-dated to between 990 and 1050 CE. [3] This remains the only site widely accepted as evidence of post-prehistory, pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact with the Americas. L'Anse aux Meadows was named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1978. [8] It is also possibly connected with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas. [9]

Though L'Anse aux Meadows establishes that Norse colonists traveled to and built permanent structures in North America, few sources describing contact between indigenous peoples and Norse people exist. Contact between the Thule people (ancestors of the modern Inuit) and Norse in the 12th or 13th centuries is known. The Norse Greenlanders called these incoming settlers "skrælingar". Conflict between the Greenlanders and the "skrælings" is recorded in the Icelandic Annals. The term skrælings is also used in the Vínland sagas, which relate to events during the 10th century, when describing trade and conflict with native peoples. [10]

Polynesian, Melanesian, and Austronesian contact Edit

Genetic studies Edit

Between 2007 and 2009, geneticist Erik Thorsby and colleagues published two studies in Tissue Antigens that evidence an Amerindian genetic contribution to human populations on Easter Island, determining that it was probably introduced before European discovery of the island. [11] [12] In 2014, geneticist Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas of The Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen published a study in Current Biology that found human genetic evidence of contact between the populations of Easter Island and South America, dating to approximately 600 years ago (i.e. 1400 CE ± 100 years). [13]

Some members of the now-extinct Botocudo people, who lived in the interior of Brazil, were found in research published in 2013 to have been members of mtDNA haplogroup B4a1a1, which is normally found only among Polynesians and other subgroups of Austronesians. This was based on an analysis of fourteen skulls. Two belonged to B4a1a1 (while twelve belonged to subclades of mtDNA haplogroup C1, common among Native Americans). The research team examined various scenarios, none of which they could say for certain were correct. They dismissed a scenario of direct contact in prehistory between Polynesia and Brazil as "too unlikely to be seriously entertained." While B4a1a1 is also found among the Malagasy people of Madagascar (which experienced significant Austronesian settlement in prehistory), the authors described as "fanciful" suggestions that B4a1a1 among the Botocudo resulted from the African slave trade (which included Madagascar). [14]

A genetic study published in Nature in July 2015 stated that "some Amazonian Native Americans descend partly from a . founding population that carried ancestry more closely related to indigenous Australians, New Guineans and Andaman Islanders than to any present-day Eurasians or Native Americans." [15] [16] The authors, who included David Reich, added: "This signature is not present to the same extent, or at all, in present-day Northern and Central Americans or in a

12,600-year-old Clovis-associated genome, suggesting a more diverse set of founding populations of the Americas than previously accepted." This appears to conflict with an article published roughly simultaneously in Science which adopts the previous consensus perspective, i.e. that the ancestors of all Native Americans entered the Americas in a single wave of migration from Siberia no earlier than

23 ka, separated from the Inuit, and diversified into "northern" and "southern" Native American branches

13 ka. There is evidence of post-divergence gene flow between some Native Americans and groups related to East Asians/Inuit and Australo-Melanesians. [17] This is evidence of contact by pre-Polynesian groups of Oceania, e.g. Melanesians or other Austronesians.

In 2020 another study in Nature found that populations in the Mangareva, Marquesas, and Palliser islands and Easter Island had genetic admixture from indigenous populations of South America, with the DNA of contemporary populations of Zenú people from the Pacific coast of Colombia being the closest match. The authors suggest that the genetic signatures were probably the result of a single ancient contact. They proposed that an initial admixture event between indigenous South Americans and Polynesians occurred in eastern Polynesia between 1150 and 1230 CE, with later admixture in Easter Island around 1380 CE, [4] but suggested other possible contact scenarios—for example, Polynesian voyages to South America followed by Polynesian people's returning to Polynesia with South American people, or carrying South American genetic heritage. [18] Several scholars uninvolved in the study suggested that a contact event in South America was more likely. [19] [20] [21]

Other claims of Polynesian and/or Melanesian contact Edit

Sweet potato Edit

The sweet potato, a food crop native to the Americas, was widespread in Polynesia by the time European explorers first reached the Pacific. Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 CE, [ contradictory ] and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia c. 700 CE and spread across Polynesia from there. [22] It has been suggested that it was brought by Polynesians who had traveled across the Pacific to South America and back, or that South Americans brought it to Polynesia. [23] It is also possible that the plant floated across the ocean after being discarded from the cargo of a boat. [24] Phylogenetic analysis supports the hypothesis of at least two separate introductions of sweet potatoes from South America into Polynesia, including one before and one after European contact. [25]

Dutch linguists and specialists in Amerindian languages Willem Adelaar and Pieter Muysken have suggested that the word for sweet potato is shared by Polynesian languages and languages of South America. Proto-Polynesian *kumala [26] (compare Easter Island kumara, Hawaiian ʻuala, Māori kūmara apparent cognates outside Eastern Polynesian may be borrowed from Eastern Polynesian languages, calling Proto-Polynesian status and age into question) may be connected with Quechua and Aymara k'umar

Adelaar and Muysken assert that the similarity in the word for sweet potato "constitutes near proof of incidental contact between inhabitants of the Andean region and the South Pacific." The authors argue that the presence of the word for sweet potato suggests sporadic contact between Polynesia and South America, but not necessarily migrations. [27]

California canoes Edit

Researchers including Kathryn Klar and Terry Jones have proposed a theory of contact between Hawaiians and the Chumash people of Southern California between 400 and 800 CE. The sewn-plank canoes crafted by the Chumash and neighboring Tongva are unique among the indigenous peoples of North America, but similar in design to larger canoes used by Polynesians and Melanesians for deep-sea voyages. Tomolo'o, the Chumash word for such a craft, may derive from tumula'au/kumula'au, the Hawaiian term for the logs from which shipwrights carve planks to be sewn into canoes. [28] [29] The analogous Tongva term, tii'at, is unrelated. If it occurred, this contact left no genetic legacy in California or Hawaii. This theory has attracted limited media attention within California, but most archaeologists of the Tongva and Chumash cultures reject it on the grounds that the independent development of the sewn-plank canoe over several centuries is well-represented in the material record. [30] [31] [32]

Chickens Edit

In 2007, evidence emerged which suggested the possibility of pre-Columbian contact between the Mapuche people (Araucanians) of south-central Chile and Polynesians. Bones of Araucana chickens found at El Arenal site in the Arauco Peninsula, an area inhabited by Mapuche, support a pre-Columbian introduction of landraces from the South Pacific islands to South America. [33] The bones found in Chile were radiocarbon-dated to between 1304 and 1424, before the arrival of the Spanish. Chicken DNA sequences were matched to those of chickens in American Samoa and Tonga, and found to be dissimilar to those of European chickens. [34] [35]

However, this finding was challenged by a 2008 study which questioned its methodology and concluded that its conclusion is flawed, although the theory it posits may still be possible. [36] Another study in 2014 reinforced that dismissal, and posited the crucial flaw in the initial research: "The analysis of ancient and modern specimens reveals a unique Polynesian genetic signature" and that "a previously reported connection between pre-European South America and Polynesian chickens most likely resulted from contamination with modern DNA, and that this issue is likely to confound ancient DNA studies involving haplogroup E chicken sequences." [37]

Ageratum conyzoides Edit

Ageratum conyzoides, also known as billygoat-weed, chick weed, goatweed, or whiteweed, is native to the tropical Americas, and was found in Hawaii by William Hillebrand in 1888 who considered it to have grown there before Captain Cook's arrival in 1778. A legitimate native name (meie parari or mei rore) and established native medicinal usage and use as a scent and in leis have been offered as support for the pre-Cookian age. [38] [39]

Turmeric Edit

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) originated in Asia, and there is linguistic and circumstantial evidence of the spread and use of turmeric by the Austronesian peoples into Oceania and Madagascar. Günter Tessmann in 1930 (300 years after European contact) reported that a species of Curcuma was grown by the Amahuaca tribe to the east of the Upper Ucayali River in Peru and was a dye-plant used for the painting of the body, with the nearby Witoto people using it as face paint in their ceremonial dances. [40] [41] David Sopher noted in 1950 that "the evidence for a pre-European, transpacific introduction of the plant by man seems very strong indeed". [42]

Linguistics of Stone Axe Edit

The word for "stone axe" on Easter Island is toki, among the New Zealand Maori toki ("adze"), Mapuche toki in Chile and Argentina, and further afield, Yurumanguí totoki ("axe") from Colombia. [27] The Mapuche word toqui may also mean "chief" and thus be linked to the Quechua word toqe ("militia chief") and the Aymara toqueni ("person of great judgement"). [43] In the view of Moulian et al. (2015) the possible South American links complicates the matters regarding the view of the word toki as suggestive of Polynesian contact. [43]

Similarity of features Edit

In December 2007, several human skulls were found in a museum in Concepción, Chile. These skulls originated from Mocha Island, an island just off the coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean, formerly inhabited by the Mapuche. Craniometric analysis of the skulls, according to Lisa Matisoo-Smith of the University of Otago and José Miguel Ramírez Aliaga of the Universidad de Valparaíso, suggests that the skulls have "Polynesian features" – such as a pentagonal shape when viewed from behind, and rocker jaws. [44]

Claims of contact with Ecuador Edit

A 2013 genetic study suggests the possibility of contact between Ecuador and East Asia. The study suggests that the contact could have been trans-oceanic or a late-stage coastal migration that did not leave genetic imprints in North America. [45]

Claims of Chinese contact Edit

Other researchers have argued that the Olmec civilization came into existence with the help of Chinese refugees, particularly at the end of the Shang dynasty. [47] In 1975, Betty Meggers of the Smithsonian Institution argued that the Olmec civilization originated around 1200 BCE due to Shang Chinese influences. [48] In a 1996 book, Mike Xu, with the aid of Chen Hanping, claimed that celts from La Venta bear Chinese characters. [49] [50] These claims are unsupported by mainstream Mesoamerican researchers. [51]

Other claims have been made for early Chinese contact with North America. In 1882 approximately 30 brass coins, perhaps strung together, were reportedly found in the area of the Cassiar Gold Rush, apparently near Dease Creek, an area which was dominated by Chinese gold miners. A contemporary account states: [52]

In the summer of 1882 a miner found on De Foe (Deorse?) creek, Cassiar district, Br. Columbia, thirty Chinese coins in the auriferous sand, twenty-five feet below the surface. They appeared to have been strung, but on taking them up the miner let them drop apart. The earth above and around them was as compact as any in the neighborhood. One of these coins I examined at the store of Chu Chong in Victoria. Neither in metal nor markings did it resemble the modern coins, but in its figures looked more like an Aztec calendar. So far as I can make out the markings, this is a Chinese chronological cycle of sixty years, invented by Emperor Huungti, 2637 BCE, and circulated in this form to make his people remember it.

Grant Keddie, Curator of Archeology at the Royal B.C. Museum identified these as good luck temple tokens minted in the 19th century. He believed that claims that these were very old made them notorious and that "The temple coins were shown to many people and different versions of stories pertaining to their discovery and age spread around the province to be put into print and changed frequently by many authors in the last 100 years." [53]

A group of Chinese Buddhist missionaries led by Hui Shen before 500 CE claimed to have visited a location called Fusang. Although Chinese mapmakers placed this territory on the Asian coast, others have suggested as early as the 1800s [54] that Fusang might have been in North America, due to perceived similarities between portions of the California coast and Fusang as depicted by Asian sources. [55]

In his book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, British author Gavin Menzies made the groundless claim that the treasure fleets of Ming admiral Zheng He arrived in America in 1421. [56] Professional historians contend that Zheng He reached the eastern coast of Africa, and dismiss Menzies' hypothesis as entirely without proof. [57] [58] [59] [60]

In 1973 and 1975, doughnut-shaped stones which resembled stone anchors which were used by Chinese fishermen were discovered off the coast of California. These stones (sometimes called the Palos Verdes stones) were initially thought to be up to 1,500 years old and therefore proof of pre-Columbian contact by Chinese sailors. Later geological investigations showed them to be made of a local rock which is known as Monterey shale, and they are thought to have been used by Chinese settlers who fished off the coast during the 19th century. [61]

Claims of Japanese contact Edit

Archaeologist Emilio Estrada and co-workers wrote that pottery which was associated with the Valdivia culture of coastal Ecuador and dated to 3000–1500 BCE exhibited similarities to pottery which was produced during the Jōmon period in Japan, arguing that contact between the two cultures might explain the similarities. [62] [63] Chronological and other problems have led most archaeologists to dismiss this idea as implausible. [64] [65] The suggestion has been made that the resemblances (which are not complete) are simply due to the limited number of designs possible when incising clay.

Alaskan anthropologist Nancy Yaw Davis claims that the Zuni people of New Mexico exhibit linguistic and cultural similarities to the Japanese. [66] The Zuni language is a linguistic isolate, and Davis contends that the culture appears to differ from that of the surrounding natives in terms of blood type, endemic disease, and religion. Davis speculates that Buddhist priests or restless peasants from Japan may have crossed the Pacific in the 13th century, traveled to the American Southwest, and influenced Zuni society. [66]

In the 1890s, lawyer and politician James Wickersham [67] argued that pre-Columbian contact between Japanese sailors and Native Americans was highly probable, given that from the early 17th century to the mid-19th century several dozen Japanese ships are known to have been carried from Asia to North America along the powerful Kuroshio Currents. Japanese ships landed at places between the Aleutian Islands in the north and Mexico in the south, carrying a total of 293 people in the 23 cases where head-counts were given in historical records. In most cases, the Japanese sailors gradually made their way home on merchant vessels. In 1834, a dismasted, rudderless Japanese ship was wrecked near Cape Flattery in the Pacific Northwest. Three survivors of the ship were enslaved by Makahs for a period before being rescued by members of the Hudson's Bay Company. They were never able to return to their homeland due to Japan's isolationist policy at the time. [68] [69] Another Japanese ship went ashore in about 1850 near the mouth of the Columbia River, Wickersham writes, and the sailors were assimilated into the local Native American population. While admitting there is no definitive proof of pre-Columbian contact between Japanese and North Americans, Wickersham thought it implausible that such contacts as outlined above would have started only after Europeans arrived in North America and began documenting them.

In 1879, Alexander Cunningham wrote a description of the carvings on the Stupa of Bharhut in central India, dating from c. 200 BCE, among which he noted what appeared to be a depiction of a custard-apple (Annona squamosa). [70] Cunningham was not initially aware that this plant, indigenous to the New World tropics, was introduced to India after Vasco da Gama's discovery of the sea route in 1498, and the problem was pointed out to him. A 2009 study claimed to have found carbonized remains that date to 2000 BCE and appear to be those of custard-apple seeds. [71]

Grafton Elliot Smith claimed that certain motifs present in the carvings on the Mayan stelae at Copán represented the Asian elephant, and wrote a book on the topic entitled Elephants and Ethnologists in 1924. Contemporary archaeologists suggested that the depictions were almost certainly based on the (indigenous) tapir, with the result that Smith's suggestions have generally been dismissed by subsequent research. [72]

Some objects depicted in carvings from Karnataka, dating from the 12th century, that resemble ears of maize (Zea mays—a crop native to the New World), were interpreted by Carl Johannessen in 1989 as evidence of pre-Columbian contact. [73] These suggestions were dismissed by multiple Indian researchers based on several lines of evidence. The object has been claimed by some to instead represent a "Muktaphala", an imaginary fruit bedecked with pearls. [74] [75]

There are a few linguistic anomalies that occur in the Central America region, specifically in the region of Chiapas, Mexico and the Caribbean islands that might suggest Indian/South-East Asian sailors had made their way to the Americas prior to Columbus. To start with, the Arawakan-Taino word (once spoken in the Caribbean) "kanawa" from which the word "canoe" derives, is both semantically and morphologically similar to the Sanskrit word for boat "nawka". There are also two Tzotzil words (spoken in the Chiapas region) that have such similar qualities. The first is the Tzotzil word "achon" which means "enter", which may derive from the Sanskrit/Bengali word "ashon/ashen" which means "come". The Sanskrit root "ash" generally means "come" or "enter". The second is the Tzotzil word "sjol", which means "hair" and it is interestingly similar to the Bengali word for hair, "chul". It is worth nothing that the equatorial counter provides a direct wind route from South East Asia to the region where these anomalies occur. [ citation needed ]

Claims involving African contact Edit

Proposed claims for an African presence in Mesoamerica stem from attributes of the Olmec culture, the claimed transfer of African plants to the Americas, [76] and interpretations of European and Arabic historical accounts.

The Olmec culture existed from roughly 1200 BCE to 400 BCE. The idea that the Olmecs are related to Africans was suggested by José Melgar, who discovered the first colossal head at Hueyapan (now Tres Zapotes) in 1862. [77] More recently, Ivan Van Sertima speculated an African influence on Mesoamerican culture in his book They Came Before Columbus (1976). His claims included the attribution of Mesoamerican pyramids, calendar technology, mummification, and mythology to the arrival of Africans by boat on currents running from Western Africa to the Americas. Heavily inspired by Leo Wiener (below), Van Sertima suggests that the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl represented an African visitor. His conclusions have been severely criticized by mainstream academics and considered pseudoarchaeology. [78]

Leo Wiener's Africa and the Discovery of America suggests similarities between Mandinka and native Mesoamerican religious symbols such as the winged serpent and the sun disk, or Quetzalcoatl, and words that have Mande roots and share similar meanings across both cultures, such as "kore", "gadwal", and "qubila" (in Arabic) or "kofila" (in Mandinka). [79] [80]

North African sources describe what some consider to be visits to the New World by a fleet from the Mali Empire in 1311, led by Abu Bakr II. [81] According to the abstract of Columbus' log made by Bartolomé de las Casas, the purpose of Columbus' third voyage was to test both the claims of King John II of Portugal that "canoes had been found which set out from the coast of Guinea [West Africa] and sailed to the west with merchandise" as well as the claims of the native inhabitants of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola that "from the south and the southeast had come black people whose spears were made of a metal called guanín. from which it was found that of 32 parts: 18 were gold, 6 were silver, and 8 copper." [82] [83] [84]

Brazilian researcher Niede Guidon, who led the Pedra Furada sites excavations ". said she believed that humans . might have come not overland from Asia but by boat from Africa", with the journey taking place 100,000 years ago, well before the accepted dates for the earliest human migrations that led to the prehistoric settlement of the Americas. Michael R. Waters, a geoarchaeologist at Texas A&M University, noted the absence of genetic evidence in modern populations to support Guidon's claim. [85]

Claims involving Arab contact Edit

Early Chinese accounts of Muslim expeditions state that Muslim sailors reached a region called Mulan Pi ("magnolia skin") (Chinese: 木蘭皮 pinyin: Mùlán Pí Wade–Giles: Mu-lan-p'i ). Mulan Pi is mentioned in Lingwai Daida (1178) by Zhou Qufei and Zhufan Zhi (1225) by Chao Jukua, together referred to as the "Sung Document". Mulan Pi is normally identified as Spain and Morocco of the Almoravid dynasty (Al-Murabitun), [86] though some fringe theories hold that it is instead some part of the Americas. [87] [88]

One supporter of the interpretation of Mulan Pi as part of the Americas was historian Hui-lin Li in 1961, [87] [88] and while Joseph Needham was also open to the possibility, he doubted that Arab ships at the time would have been able to withstand a return journey over such a long distance across the Atlantic Ocean, pointing out that a return journey would have been impossible without knowledge of prevailing winds and currents. [89]

According to Muslim historian Abu al-Hasan Ali al-Mas'udi (871–957), Khashkhash Ibn Saeed Ibn Aswad sailed over the Atlantic Ocean and discovered a previously unknown land (Arḍ Majhūlah, Arabic: أرض مجهولة ‎) in 889 and returned with a shipload of valuable treasures. [90] [91] The passage has been alternatively interpreted to imply that Ali al-Masudi regarded the story of Khashkhash to be a fanciful tale. [92]

Claims involving ancient Phoenician contact Edit

In 1996, Mark McMenamin proposed that Phoenician sailors discovered the New World c. 350 BC. [93] The Phoenician state of Carthage minted gold staters in 350 BC bearing a pattern in the reverse exergue of the coins, which McMenamin interpreted as a map of the Mediterranean with the Americas shown to the west across the Atlantic. [93] [94] McMenamin later demonstrated that these coins found in America were modern forgeries. [95]

Claims involving ancient Judaic contact Edit

The Bat Creek inscription and Los Lunas Decalogue Stone have led some to suggest the possibility that Jewish seafarers may have traveled to America after fleeing the Roman Empire at the time of the Jewish–Roman Wars in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. [96]

However, American archaeologists Robert C. Mainfort Jr. and Mary L. Kwas argued in American Antiquity (2004) that the Bat Creek inscription was copied from an illustration in an 1870 Masonic reference book and introduced by the Smithsonian field assistant who found it during excavation activities. [97] [98]

As for the Decalogue Stone, there are mistakes that suggest it was carved by one or more novices who overlooked or misunderstood some details on a source Decalogue from which they copied it. Since there is no other evidence or archeological context in the vicinity, it is most likely that the legend at the nearby university is true—that the stone was carved by two anthropology students whose signatures can be seen inscribed in the rock below the Decalogue, "Eva and Hobe 3-13-30." [99]

Scholar Cyrus H. Gordon believed that Phoenicians and other Semitic groups had crossed the Atlantic in antiquity, ultimately arriving in both North and South America. [100] This opinion was based on his own work on the Bat Creek inscription. [101] Similar ideas were also held by John Philip Cohane Cohane even claimed that many geographical placenames in the United States have a Semitic origin. [102] [103]

Solutrean hypothesis Edit

The Solutrean hypothesis argues that Europeans migrated to the New World during the Paleolithic era, circa 16,000 to 13,000 BCE. This hypothesis proposes contact partly on the basis of perceived similarities between the flint tools of the Solutrean culture in modern-day France, Spain and Portugal (which thrived circa 20,000 to 15,000 BCE), and the Clovis culture of North America, which developed circa 9000 BCE. [104] [105] The Solutrean hypothesis was proposed in the mid-1990s. [106] It has little support amongst the scientific community, and genetic markers are inconsistent with the idea. [107] [108]

Claims involving ancient Roman contact Edit

Evidence of contacts with the civilizations of Classical Antiquity—primarily with the Roman Empire, but sometimes also with other cultures of the age—have been based on isolated archaeological finds in American sites that originated in the Old World. The Bay of Jars in Brazil has been yielding ancient clay storage jars that resemble Roman amphorae [109] for over 150 years. It has been proposed that the origin of these jars is a Roman wreck, although it has been suggested that they could be 15th or 16th century Spanish olive oil jars.

Archaeologist Romeo Hristov argues that a Roman ship, or the drifting of such a shipwreck to the American shores, is a possible explanation of archaeological finds (like the Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca bearded head) from ancient Rome in America. Hristov claims that the possibility of such an event has been made more likely by the discovery of evidence of travels by Romans to Tenerife and Lanzarote in the Canaries, and of a Roman settlement (from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE) on Lanzarote. [110]

In 1950, an Italian botanist, Domenico Casella, suggested that a depiction of a pineapple was represented among wall paintings of Mediterranean fruits at Pompeii. According to Wilhelmina Feemster Jashemski, this interpretation has been challenged by other botanists, who identify it as a pine cone from the umbrella pine tree, which is native to the Mediterranean area. [111]

Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head Edit

A small terracotta head sculpture, with a beard and European-like features, was found in 1933 (in the Toluca Valley, 72 kilometres southwest of Mexico City) in a burial offering under three intact floors of a pre-colonial building dated to between 1476 and 1510. The artifact has been studied by Roman art authority Bernard Andreae, director emeritus of the German Institute of Archaeology in Rome, Italy, and Austrian anthropologist Robert von Heine-Geldern, both of whom stated that the style of the artifact was compatible with small Roman sculptures of the 2nd century. If genuine and if not placed there after 1492 (the pottery found with it dates to between 1476 and 1510) [112] the find provides evidence for at least a one-time contact between the Old and New Worlds. [113]

According to ASU's Michael E. Smith, John Paddock, a leading Mesoamerican scholar, used to tell his classes in the years before he died that the artifact was planted as a joke by Hugo Moedano, a student who originally worked on the site. Despite speaking with individuals who knew the original discoverer (García Payón), and Moedano, Smith says he has been unable to confirm or reject this claim. Though he remains skeptical, Smith concedes he cannot rule out the possibility that the head was a genuinely buried post-Classic offering at Calixtlahuaca. [114]

14th- and 15th-century European contact Edit

Henry I Sinclair, Earl of Orkney and feudal baron of Roslin (c. 1345 – c. 1400), was a Scottish nobleman. He is best known today from a modern legend that claims he took part in explorations of Greenland and North America almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus. [115] In 1784, he was identified by Johann Reinhold Forster [116] as possibly being the Prince Zichmni described in letters allegedly written around 1400 by the Zeno brothers of Venice, in which they describe a voyage throughout the North Atlantic under the command of Zichmni. [117]

Henry was the grandfather of William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness, the builder of Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, Scotland. The authors Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight believe some carvings in the chapel to be ears of New World corn or maize. [118] This crop was unknown in Europe at the time of the chapel's construction, and was not cultivated there until several hundred years later. Knight and Lomas view these carvings as evidence supporting the idea that Henry Sinclair traveled to the Americas well before Columbus. In their book they discuss meeting with the wife of the botanist Adrian Dyer and explain that Dyer's wife told them that Dyer agreed that the image thought to be maize was accurate. [118] In fact Dyer found only one identifiable plant among the botanical carvings and instead suggested that the "maize" and "aloe" were stylized wooden patterns, only coincidentally looking like real plants. [119] Specialists in medieval architecture interpret the carvings as stylised depictions of wheat, strawberries, or lilies. [120] [121]

Some have conjectured that Columbus was able to persuade the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon to support his planned voyage only because they were aware of some recent earlier voyage across the Atlantic. Some suggest that Columbus himself visited Canada or Greenland before 1492, because according to Bartolomé de las Casas he wrote he had sailed 100 leagues past an island he called Thule in 1477. Whether Columbus actually did this and what island he visited, if any, is uncertain. Columbus is thought to have visited Bristol in 1476. [122] Bristol was also the port from which John Cabot sailed in 1497, crewed mostly by Bristol sailors. In a letter of late 1497 or early 1498, the English merchant John Day wrote to Columbus about Cabot's discoveries, saying that land found by Cabot was "discovered in the past by the men from Bristol who found 'Brasil' as your lordship knows". [123] There may be records of expeditions from Bristol to find the "isle of Brazil" in 1480 and 1481. [124] Trade between Bristol and Iceland is well documented from the mid-15th century.

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés records several such legends in his Historia general de las Indias of 1526, which includes biographical information on Columbus. He discusses the then-current story of a Spanish caravel that was swept off its course while on its way to England, and wound up in a foreign land populated by naked tribesmen. The crew gathered supplies and made its way back to Europe, but the trip took several months and the captain and most of the men died before reaching land. The caravel's ship pilot, a man called Alonso Sánchez, and a few others made it to Portugal, but all were very ill. Columbus was a good friend of the pilot, and took him to be treated in his own house, and the pilot described the land they had seen and marked it on a map before dying. People in Oviedo's time knew this story in several versions, though Oviedo himself regarded it as a myth. [125]

In 1925, Soren Larsen wrote a book claiming that a joint Danish-Portuguese expedition landed in Newfoundland or Labrador in 1473 and again in 1476. Larsen claimed that Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst served as captains, while João Vaz Corte-Real and the possibly mythical John Scolvus served as navigators, accompanied by Álvaro Martins. [126] Nothing beyond circumstantial evidence has been found to support Larsen's claims. [127]

The historical record shows that Basque fishermen were present in Newfoundland and Labrador from at least 1517 onward (therefore predating all recorded European settlements in the region except those of the Norse). The Basques' fishing expeditions led to significant trade and cultural exchanges with Native Americans. A fringe theory suggests that Basque sailors first arrived in North America prior to Columbus' voyages to the New World (some sources suggest the late 14th century as a tentative date) but kept the destination a secret in order to avoid competition over the fishing resources of the North American coasts. There is no historical or archaeological evidence to support this claim. [128]

Irish and Welsh legends Edit

The legend of Saint Brendan, an Irish monk from what is now County Kerry, involves a fantastical journey into the Atlantic Ocean in search of Paradise in the 6th century. Since the discovery of the New World, various authors have tried to link the Brendan legend with an early discovery of America. In 1977, the voyage was successfully recreated by Tim Severin using a replica of an ancient Irish currach. [129]

According to a British myth, Madoc was a prince from Wales who explored the Americas as early as 1170. While most scholars consider this legend to be untrue, it was used to bolster British claims in the Americas vis-à-vis those of Spain. [130] [131]

Biologist and controversial amateur epigrapher Barry Fell claims that Irish Ogham writing has been found carved into stones in the Virginias. [132] Linguist David H. Kelley has criticized some of Fell's work but nonetheless argued that genuine Celtic Ogham inscriptions have in fact been discovered in America. [133] However, others have raised serious doubts about these claims. [134]

Claims of Egyptian coca and tobacco Edit

Traces of coca and nicotine which are found in some Egyptian mummies have led to speculation that Ancient Egyptians may have had contact with the New World. The initial discovery was made by a German toxicologist, Svetlana Balabanova, after examining the mummy of a priestess who was named Henut Taui. Follow-up tests on the hair shaft, which were performed in order to rule out the possibility of contamination, revealed the same results. [135]

A television show reported that examinations of numerous Sudanese mummies which were also undertaken by Balabanova mirrored what was found in the mummy of Henut Taui. [136] Balabanova suggested that the tobacco may be accounted for since it may have also been known in China and Europe, as indicated by analysis run on human remains from those respective regions. Balabanova proposed that such plants native to the general area may have developed independently, but have since gone extinct. [136] Other explanations include fraud, though curator Alfred Grimm of the Egyptian Museum in Munich disputes this. [136] Skeptical of Balabanova's findings, Rosalie David, Keeper of Egyptology at the Manchester Museum, had similar tests performed on samples which were taken from the Manchester mummy collection and she reported that two of the tissue samples and one hair sample tested positive for the presence of nicotine. [136] Sources of nicotine other than tobacco and sources of cocaine in the Old World are discussed by the British biologist Duncan Edlin. [137]

Mainstream scholars remain skeptical, and they do not see the results of these tests as proof of ancient contact between Africa and the Americas, especially because there may be possible Old World sources of cocaine and nicotine. [138] [139] Two attempts to replicate Balabanova's findings of cocaine failed, suggesting "that either Balabanova and her associates are misinterpreting their results or that the samples of mummies tested by them have been mysteriously exposed to cocaine." [140]

A re-examination of the mummy of Ramesses II in the 1970s revealed the presence of fragments of tobacco leaves in its abdomen. This finding became a popular topic in fringe literature and the media and it was seen as proof of contact between Ancient Egypt and the New World. The investigator, Maurice Bucaille, noted that when the mummy was unwrapped in 1886 the abdomen was left open and "it was no longer possible to attach any importance to the presence inside the abdominal cavity of whatever material was found there, since the material could have come from the surrounding environment." [141] Following the renewed discussion of tobacco sparked by Balabanova's research and its mention in a 2000 publication by Rosalie David, a study in the journal Antiquity suggested that reports of both tobacco and cocaine in mummies "ignored their post-excavation histories" and pointed out that the mummy of Ramesses II had been moved five times between 1883 and 1975. [139]

Icelander DNA finding Edit

In 2010 Sigríður Sunna Ebenesersdóttir published a genetic study showing that over 350 living Icelanders carried mitochondrial DNA of a new type, C1e, belonging to the C1 clade which was until then known only from Native American and East Asian populations. Using the deCODE genetics database, Sigríður Sunna determined that the DNA entered the Icelandic population not later than 1700, and likely several centuries earlier. However Sigríður Sunna also states that "while a Native American origin seems most likely for [this new haplogroup], an Asian or European origin cannot be ruled out". [142]

In 2014, a study discovered a new mtDNA subclade C1f from the remains of three people found in north-western Russia and dated to 7,500 years ago. It has not been detected in modern populations. The study proposed the hypothesis that the sister C1e and C1f subclades had split early from the most recent common ancestor of the C1 clade and had evolved independently, and that subclade C1e had a northern European origin. Iceland was settled by the Vikings 1,130 years ago and they had raided heavily into western Russia, where the sister subclade C1f is now known to have resided. They proposed that both subclades were brought to Iceland through the Vikings, and that C1e went extinct on mainland northern Europe due to population turnover and its small representation, and subclade C1f went extinct completely. [143]

Norse legends and sagas Edit

In 1009, legends report that Norse explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni abducted two children from Markland, an area on the North American mainland where Norse explorers visited but did not settle. The two children were then taken to Greenland, where they were baptized and taught to speak Norse. [144]

In 1420, Danish geographer Claudius Clavus Swart wrote that he personally had seen "pygmies" from Greenland who were caught by Norsemen in a small skin boat. Their boat was hung in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim along with another, longer boat also taken from "pygmies". Clavus Swart's description fits the Inuit and two of their types of boats, the kayak and the umiak. [145] [146] Similarly, the Swedish clergyman Olaus Magnus wrote in 1505 that he saw in Oslo Cathedral two leather boats taken decades earlier. According to Olaus, the boats were captured from Greenland pirates by one of the Haakons, which would place the event in the 14th century. [145]

In Ferdinand Columbus's biography of his father Christopher, he says that in 1477 his father saw in Galway, Ireland, two dead bodies which had washed ashore in their boat. The bodies and boat were of exotic appearance, and have been suggested to have been Inuit who had drifted off course. [147]

Inuit Edit

It has been suggested that the Norse took other indigenous peoples to Europe as slaves over the following centuries, because they are known to have taken Scottish and Irish slaves. [145] [146]

There is also evidence of Inuit coming to Europe under their own power or as captives after 1492. A substantial body of Greenland Inuit folklore first collected in the 19th century told of journeys by boat to Akilineq, here depicted as a rich country across the ocean. [148]

Pre-Columbian contact between Alaska and Kamchatka via the subarctic Aleutian Islands would have been conceivable, but the two settlement waves on this archipelago started on the American side and its western continuation, the Commander Islands, remained uninhabited until after Russian explorers encountered the Aleut people in 1741. There is no genetic or linguistic evidence for earlier contact along this route. [149]

Claims of pre-Columbian contact with Christian missionaries Edit

During the period of Spanish colonization of the Americas, several indigenous myths and works of art led a number of Spanish chroniclers and authors to suggest that Christian preachers may have visited Mesoamerica well before the Age of Discovery. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, for example, was intrigued by the presence of cross symbols in Mayan hieroglyphs, which according to him suggested that other Christians may have arrived in ancient Mexico before the Spanish conquistadors. Fray Diego Durán, for his part, linked the legend of the Pre-Columbian god Quetzalcoatl (whom he describes as being chaste, penitent, and a miracle-worker) to the Biblical accounts of Christian apostles. Bartolomé de las Casas describes Quetzalcoatl as being fair-skinned, tall, and bearded (therefore suggesting an Old World origin), while Fray Juan de Torquemada credits him with bringing agriculture to the Americas. Modern scholarship has cast serious doubts on several of these claims, since agriculture was practiced in the Americas well before the emergence of Christianity in the Old World, and Mayan crosses have been found to have a very different symbolism from that present in Christian religious traditions. [150]

According to Pre-Columbian myth, Quetzalcoatl departed Mexico in ancient times by travelling east across the ocean, promising he would return. Some scholars have argued that Aztec emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin believed Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés (who arrived in what today is Mexico from the east) to be Quetzalcoatl, and his arrival to be a fulfilling of the myth's prophecy, though others have disputed this claim. [151] Fringe theories suggest that Quetzalcoatl may have been a Christian preacher from the Old World who lived among indigenous peoples of ancient Mexico, and eventually attempted to return home by sailing eastwards. Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora, for example, speculated that the Quetzalcoatl myth might have originated from a visit to the Americas by Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century CE. Later on, Fray Servando Teresa de Mier argued that the cloak with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which the Catholic Church claims was worn by Juan Diego, was instead brought to the Americas much earlier by Thomas, who used it as an instrument for evangelization. [150]

Mexican historian Manuel Orozco y Berra conjectured that both the cross hieroglyphs and the Quetzalcoatl myth might have originated on a visit to Mesoamerica by a Catholic Norse missionary in medieval times. However, there is no archaeological or historical evidence to suggest that the Norse explorations ever made it as far as ancient Mexico or Central America. [150] Other proposed identities for Quetzalcoatl – which have been attributed to their proponents pursuing religious agendas – include St. Brendan or even Jesus Christ. [152]

According to at least one historian, a fleet of Knights Templar departed from La Rochelle in 1307, fleeing persecution from king Philip IV of France. [153] What destination, if any, was reached by this fleet is uncertain. A fringe theory suggests the fleet may have made its way to the Americas, where the Knights Templar interacted with the aboriginal population. It is speculated this hypothetical visit may have influenced the cross symbols made by Mesoamerican peoples, as well as their legends about a fair-skinned deity. [153] Helen Nicholson of Cardiff University has cast doubt on the existence of this voyage, arguing that the Knights Templar did not have ships capable of navigating the Atlantic Ocean. [154]

Claims of ancient Jewish migration to the Americas Edit

Since the first centuries of European colonization of the Americas and up until the 19th century, several European intellectuals and theologians tried to account for the presence of the Amerindian aboriginal peoples by connecting them to the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who according to Biblical tradition, were deported following the conquest of the Israeli kingdom by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In the past as well as in the present, these efforts were and still are being used to further the interests of religious groups, both Jewish and Christian, and they have also been used to justify European settlement of the Americas. [155]

One of the first people to claim that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were descendants of the Lost Tribes was the Portuguese rabbi and writer Menasseh Ben Israel, who in his book The Hope of Israel argued that the discovery of the alleged long-lost Jews heralded the imminent coming of the Biblical Messiah. [155] In 1650, a Norfolk preacher, Thomas Thorowgood, published Jewes in America or Probabilities that the Americans are of that Race, [156] for the New England missionary society. Tudor Parfitt writes:

The society was active in trying to convert the Indians but suspected that they might be Jews and realized they better be prepared for an arduous task. Thorowgood's tract argued that the native population of North America were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. [157]

In 1652 Sir Hamon L'Estrange, an English author writing on history and theology, published Americans no Jews, or improbabilities that the Americans are of that Race in response to the tract by Thorowgood. In response to L'Estrange, Thorowgood published a second edition of his book in 1660 with a revised title and included a foreword written by John Eliot, a Puritan missionary who had translated the Bible into an Indian language. [158]

Latter Day Saints teachings Edit

The Book of Mormon, a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which its founder and leader, Joseph Smith Jr, published in 1830 when he was 24 years old, states that some ancient inhabitants of the New World are descendants of Semitic peoples who sailed from the Old World. Mormon groups such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies attempt to study and expand on these ideas.

The National Geographic Society, in a 1998 letter to the Institute for Religious Research, stated "Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere's past and the society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon." [159]

Some LDS scholars hold the view that archaeological study of Book of Mormon claims are not meant to vindicate the literary narrative. For example, Terryl Givens, professor of English at the University of Richmond, points out that there is a lack of historical accuracy in the Book of Mormon in relation to modern archaeological knowledge. [160]

In the 1950s, Professor M. Wells Jakeman popularized a belief that the Izapa Stela 5 represents the Book of Mormon prophets Lehi and Nephi's tree of life vision, and was a validation of the historicity of the claims of pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas. [161] His interpretations of the carving and its connection to pre-Columbian contact have been disputed. [162] Since that time, scholarship on the Book of Mormon has concentrated on cultural parallels rather than "smoking gun" sources. [163] [164] [165]

No 'lost tribes' or aliens: what ancient DNA reveals about American prehistory

G enetics research has transformed our understanding of human history, particularly in the Americas. The focus of the majority of high profile ancient DNA papers in recent years has been on addressing early events in the initial peopling of the Americas. This research has provided details of this early history that we couldn’t access though the archeological record.

Collectively, genetics studies have shown us that the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas are descended from a group that diverged from its Siberian ancestors beginning sometime around 23,000 years before present and remained isolated in Beringia (the region of land that once connected Siberia and North America) for an extended period of time. When the glaciers covering North America melted enough to make the Pacific coast navigable, southward travel became possible, and patterned genetic diversity across North and South America reflects these early movements.

Recent ancient DNA studies indicate that approximately 13,000 years ago, two clades (genetic groups) of peoples emerged one exclusively consisting of northern Native Americans, and one consisting of peoples from North, Central, and South America, including the 12,800 year old Anzick child from a Clovis burial site in Montana. All genetics research to date has affirmed the shared ancestry of all ancient and contemporary indigenous peoples of the Americas, and refuted stories about the presence of “lost tribes”, ancient Europeans, and (I can’t believe that I actually have to say this) ancient aliens.

Events that occurred after people first entered the Americas – how they settled in different parts of the continents, adapted to local environments, interacted with each other, and were affected by European colonialism – have received somewhat less attention in the press, but as can be seen in the links above, there have been some very significant research papers published on these topics. One such paper that I’ve recently found very interesting (in fact, I wrote up a short article for Current Biology that discusses its significance), Genetic Discontinuity between the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk Populations in Newfoundland, Canada by Duggen et al. (2017), explores the genetic diversity within three different ancient groups who lived in Newfoundland and Labrador.

One reason this region is of particular interest is that it’s on the furthest northeastern margin of North America and so was one of the last areas in the Americas to be peopled. It appears to have been occupied successively by three culturally distinct groups beginning about 10,000 years before present (YBP) in Labrador and 6,000 YBP in Newfoundland: the Maritime Archaic, the Paleo-Inuit (also referred to as the Paleo-Eskimo), and the indigenous peoples that Europeans called the Beothuk. Today the region is home to several indigenous groups, including the Inuit, the Innu, the Mi’kmaq and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut.

Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland, Canada Photograph: Grant Faint/Getty Images

The members of the Maritime Archaic tradition created the oldest known burial mounds in North America (dating to 7,714 YBP) and subsisted upon coastal marine resources. Approximately 3,400 YBP they seem to have abandoned Newfoundland, either in response to the appearance of Paleo-Inuit in the region or because of climate changes. The Paleo-Inuit’s presence on the island overlapped with the peoples referred to as the Beothuk beginning around 2000 YBP. The Beothuk encountered European settlers in 1500 AD, and in response to their presence gradually moved to the interior of the island, where their populations declined.

According to Duggen et al:

The last known Beothuk, Shanawdithit, died of tuberculosis in captivity in 1829. Although it remains possible that Beothuk traces of ancestry persist in contemporary residents of NL, including members of the Innu, Mi’kmaq, and European communities, it is generally accepted that the Beothuk became culturally extinct with the death of Shanawdithit.

Portrait of Demasduit, the aunt of Shanawdithit, by Lady Henrietta Hamilton, 1819 Illustration: Hamilton , Lady Henrietta Martha (ca. 1780 -1857 ) (Artist)/Library and Archives Canada

By analyzing mitochondrial haplogroups (groups of closely related maternal lineages) present within individuals from all three populations, Dugan et al. addressed the question of whether they were genetically similar or whether all three groups were biologically as well as culturally distinct from each other. This happens to be one of the most fundamental questions that arises when studying the past: do cultural changes in the archaeological record of a region represent the arrival of new groups, or did one group of people living in the same region over time adopt new cultural practices and technologies from others?

In the case of Newfoundland, the three groups were genetically distinct they do not share any maternal haplogroups except for haplogroup X2a, lineages of which were found in both the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk. (The presence of haplogroup X2a in North American populations has sometimes been cited as evidence for European ancestry in ancient Americans. If you’re interested in why I and most other geneticists specializing in Native American populations disagree with that, you can read about it here).

Apart from that single exception, the Maritime Archaic, Paleo-Inuit, and Beothuk are clearly genetically distinctive from one another. However, it’s important to note that this study was done on mitochondrial DNA, which is exclusively matrilineally inherited, and so we can only say that the three groups were not maternally related. While they indicate that the groups are genetically different from each other, does that mean that there was no shared ancestry between them at all? It’s unclear without looking at the rest of the genome whether, for example, there might have been any paternal lineages shared between the populations. I hope that the authors of this study will follow up with analyses of complete genomes from these ancient individuals, as there is a great deal more to be learned by looking more deeply at their ancestry.

Did the Chinese beat Columbus to America?

In his bestselling book, "1421: The Year China Discovered America," British amateur historian Gavin Menzies turns the story of the Europeans' discovery of America on its ear with a startling idea: Chinese sailors beat Christopher Columbus to the Americas by more than 70 years. The book has generated controversy within the halls of scholarship. Anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and linguists alike have debunked much of the evidence that Menzies used to support his notion, which has come to be called the 1421 theory.

But where did Menzies come up with the idea that it was Asians, not Europeans, who first arrived in America from other countries? It's been long held by scholars that it was people from Asia who first set foot in North America, but not in the way that Menzies describes. Sometime 10,000 years ago or more, people of Asian origination are believed to have crossed over the Bering land bridge from Siberia to what is now Alaska. From there, they are believed to have spread out over the course of millennia, diverging genetically and populating North and South America.

But Menzies' 1421 theory supposes much more direct influence from China. Rather than civilization evolving separately in the Americas and Asia, under the 1421 theory, China was directly involved in governance and trade with the peoples of the Americas with whom they shared their ancestry.

So what evidence does he have to support this notion? It's Menzie's belief that one merely has to refer to certain maps to see the light.

A full 30 years before Gavin Menzies published his book, Baptist missionary Dr. Hendon M. Harris perused the curiosities in a shop in Taiwan. It was there he made an amazing discovery: a map that looked to be ancient, written in classical Chinese and depicting what to Harris was clearly North America. It was a map of Fu Sang, the legendary land of Chinese fable.

Fu Sang is to the Chinese what Atlantis is to the West -- a mythical land that most don't believe existed, but for which enough tantalizing (yet vague) evidence exists to maintain popularity for the idea. The map the missionary discovered -- which has come to be known as the Harris map -- showed that Fu Sang was located exactly where North America is. Even more amazingly, some of the features shown on the map of Fu Sang look a lot like geographical anomalies unique to North America, such as the Grand Canyon.

As if the Harris map weren't suggestive enough, other maps have also surfaced. It's a specific map that Menzies points to as definitive proof that the Chinese had already explored the world long before the Europeans ever set sail in the age of exploration. This map, known as the 1418 map -- so called for the date it was supposedly published -- clearly shows all of the world's oceans, as well as all seven continents, correct in shape and situation. Even more startling is the map's accurate depiction of features of North America, including the Potomac River in the Northeast of the present-day United States.

Menzies believes that not only had the Chinese already explored the world before Columbus and other European explorers, but that it was with Chinese maps that the Europeans were able to circumnavigate the globe. Armed with the map as his flagship evidence, Menzies points out plenty of other artifacts that point to Chinese pre-Columbian occupation in the Americas. Read the next page to find out what supports his theory.­

Legends of America

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde, Colorado

Ancient civilizations and small colonies once existed across the American continent from the rocky coast of Maine to the desert of Death Valley, California. The evidence has been discovered in artifacts, large mounds built by ancient peoples, pictographs, and petroglyphs, and the oral traditions of Native Americans. More information is found in the early writings of explorers. Some stories are fantastical, such as stories of giants a great flying birds, others tell of places that can’t be refuted such as the Great Mound of Cahokia in Illinois and the abandoned ruins at Mesa Verde, Colorado.

Over the years, some information was lost or ignored, places were destroyed by weather, totally eroded or were plowed or built over by people pushing westward. But, still there are known lost cities and civilizations, and probably others yet to be found.

Cahokia – Monks Mound by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Cahokia Mounds People – Cahokia was the most sophisticated prehistoric Native civilization north of Mexico. Best known for their large, man-made earthen structures, the city of Cahokia, Illinois was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400.

Greenland’s Vikings – Erik the Red led a fleet of 25 boats to colonize Greenland in about 985 A.D. 985. Two colonies were established by these Vikings which grew in population over the next several hundred years to about 5,000 people. However, when an expedition arrived in 1721, there was nothing left but ruins.

Hidden City of Death Valley – For centuries, legends of an underground city and an ancient race in Death Valley have been told in the Paiute Legend of the Kingdom of Shin-au-av. This place, meaning “God’s Land” or “Ghost Land” is a sacred place to the Paiute.

Lost City of Etzanoa – When Spanish explorers came through the area of southcentral Kansas in 1601 the encountered a city of 2,000 houses that could hold 10 people each. For hundreds of years, archaeologists couldn’t find and scholars doubted existed. That changed in 2017 when the city was found about 50 miles southeast of Wichita.

The Lost Clovis Culture – The Clovis were a prehistoric Paleo-Indian people that were thought to have been the first human inhabitants of North America, dating back some 13,500 years.

Mound Builders of Mississippi – Although the first people entered what is now the Mississippi about 12,000 years ago, the earliest major phase of earthen mound construction in this area did not begin until some 2,100 years ago.

Popham Colony of Maine – This was a short-lived English colonial settlement that was founded in 1607 just a few months after its more successful rival, Jamestown, Virginia. Its location was lost for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1994. It is now part of the Popham Beach State Park.

Roanoke Island Colony – Roanoke Island, North Carolina was the site of the 16th-century Roanoke Colony. Three years later, every man, woman, and child was gone.

Recreated Norse longhouse, L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, Canada courtesy Wikipedia

The Vanished Anasazi – In about 700 BC the Anasazi Indians (Ancient Puebloans) established numerous large settlements in the Southwest. However, by the time European explorers arrived, the people were gone.

How America and Russia lost China, a country neither ever had

Stalin “lost” China three times—first in 1927, again in the mid‐1930's and finally on Oct. 1, 1949, the day Mao Tse‐tung proclaimed his new regime in Peking. That was the same day we “lost” China. Nikita Khrushchev lost it again for Russia between 1958 and 1960—and this loss seems final, at least for the foreseeable future.

There are two kinds of time, as Graham Peck once observed, one for ourselves, one for China. Our clocks run by minutes and seconds, China's by decades and centuries. By that token we should be much swifter on the uptake than the Chinese. Yet, it is only now in the 22nd year of Mao's regime, in the afterglow of Ping‐Pong diplomacy and the dawn of President Nixon's New China policy that we are beginning to understand the price we paid for “losing” something we never had.

In Russia, as well, an agonizing appraisal has been going forward. This Soviet reassessment, I fear, casts a more macabre light on our experience than some will find comfortable. Where we add up the cost of China's “loss” to us in wrecked careers, witchhunts, the poisoning of the national atmosphere, the crippling of scholarship and diplomacy, and, finally, in the political trauma which for so long paralyzed our actions in Asia, Russia counts this and more—a toll in human lives, whole generation of China hands physically wiped out. Murdered. All for “loss” of a country that neither Russia had.

Let me make clear what I mean by Russia's losses of China. I mean the defeat and rout of Stalin's effort to control the Chinese Revolution when Chiang Kai‐shek turned on the Communists in 1927, slaughtering them, breaking the back of the movement and sending the Russian “advisers” under Mikhail Borodin, fleeing for their lives back to Moscow. I mean the quiet and private defeat by Mao Tse‐tung in 1935 of the “Russian faction” of the Chinese Communist party and their Soviet associates whom Stalin had carefully trained in Moscow and sent back into China to take over the weak, gradually recovering Chinese Communist party.

I mean the accession to power of Mao Tse‐tung, Oct. 1, 1949, as independent head of the Chinese Communist party and sovereign leader of his country despite Stalin's consistent (if covert) opposition. I mean, finally, the savage and bitter split between Moscow and Peking which probably began between Khrushchev and Mao at the great 1957 assembly of Communist parties in Moscow and finally became irrevocable at the time of the Quemoy‐Matsu crisis in summer, 1958, when Khrushchev flatly refused to back Mao's offensive plans against Taiwan.

Perhaps it was losing three times over that caused Stalin to strike with such savagery. Perhaps it was his own secret guilt and anger at the bankruptcy of a policy he personally elaborated and carried out in an attempt to prove himself a better Comintern revolutionary than Trotsky. Perhaps it was the total vulnerability of Moscow's China hands. After all, in a time when others were paying with their lives for crimes that existed only in the paranoid mind of the dictator and his police, Russia's China specialists —party, military, diplomatic, academic—had actually failed in the task which had been set them—that of making China an appendage to the Soviet Revolution. All that was required was to name the guilty, choosing them, of course, in the classic manner, from the list of those who had done their faithful best to carry out the orders Stalin issued.

Not many have compared the United States and Russian experience in China or noticed how each illuminates the other. No one up to now, I believe, has noticed that each great power sought to guide and control the course of events in China and that each power failed in the end and, in failing, turned inward for scapegoats. The lesson is eloquent. Neither could impose its will. Neither affected materially the evolution of China. Failure produced fateful consequences—not so much for China or even for the real authors of Soviet or United States policy, but for the men in the field who were charged with its execution and, above all, to the national psyche of both countries. In Russia it has left a residue of morbid fear and hatred of China in the United States of America it established a persisting paralysis of policy and will which is only now in the of dissolution.

I have known for many years that Stalin did not limit his China purge simply to the famous Far Eastern military commanders like Marshal Blyukher, Gen. V. M. Shtern, Marshal A. I. Yegorov and the many remarkable Soviet officers who fought first in Siberia and Mongolia and later side‐by‐side with Chiang Kaishek's new Nationalist armies and against the Japanese in the undeclared wars of the 1930's.

One day in the summer of 1953 I encountered an old friend in Moscow who whispered to me: “Don't you think Borodin should have an obituary in The Times?” Mikhail Borodin was the famous Russian revolutionary agent sent out in 1923 to Dr. Sun Yat‐sen's Kuomintang, who worked with Chiang Kai‐shek and barely escaped with his life when Chiang turned on the Communists in 1927. I promptly filed the news of Borodin's death (my friend told me it had already appeared in the Chinese press) and after 48 hours delay it was cleared by the Soviet censorship and was published in The Times.

Borodin was something of a hero to me. I had read Vincent Sheean's “Personal History” and knew of Borodin and Rayna Prohme and Bill Prohme, and I had actually met Borodin in Moscow during World War II, a gaunt and gloomy figure. He had died, I was told, during that last terrible winter of 1953 net long before Stalin himself died, in a concentration camp near Yakutsk. (It is now said that Borodin died in 1951, not 1952 or 1953.) He was arrested early in 1949 when he and the few China hands who had survived the 1930's were caught up in one grand finale of imprisonment and execution.

The Soviet China experience is made unique by this sweep of terror, commencing in the late 1920's, reaching a crescendo in the 1930's, breaking out once again in the 1940's and even finding a muted revival in the late 1960's. That was when, after the Great Break between Russia and China became public and border clashes were erupting along the Sino‐Soviet frontiers, Soviet security police temporarily shut down the new Institute of China Studies of the Academy of Sciences. They forbade China scholars to handle contemporary, i.e., Maoist materials to correspond with foreign colleagues or even visit China study centers in eastern Europe.

And it is the persistence and recurrence of terror, decade after decade, which finally turns Vera Vishnyakova‐Akimova's remarkable memoir into a kind of necrology.

“The pages on which she reminisces about advisors and China specialists read like a rollcall of the dead,” observes her editor‐translator Steven I. Levine, adding, “Only through an act of imagination can we who know the numbing effect of McCarthyism on China studies even begin to grasp the consequences of Stalinism for Soviet China studies.”

Mme. Vishnyakova‐Akimova is a survivor, once a lively young Russian girl, a language student from Moscow who went down from Vladivostok to China in 1925 to join Borodin and the other Russians working for the Chinese Revolution. She set herself the task of writing not only of her life as a young woman in an exotic country which she came deeply to love, engaged as she was in a mission of élan and peril, but also of paying her debt to her lost generation—those who became victims in one decade or another that followed.

“It is with sadness that I write most of these names,” she notes, “remembering the terrible years of the Stalinist repression (the end of the ‘30's). How many young and talented Chinese specialists perished, men who were loyal to the Party and their work and who laid the foundation of Soviet sinology.”

She and her husband, an officer with whom she fell in love in China, survived—certainly not without difficulties and dangers. But for the rest? There is name after name—Konstantin Andreevich Kharnsky, a professor at the Eastern Institute at Vladivostok (“towards the end of the 1930's died tragically”) the Manchurian, Le Hsing‐ko, instructor at the Moscow Institute of Sinology (“at the end of the 1930's was arrested and perished”) Lyov Mik hailovich Karakhan, one ‐time Soviet Foreign Minister, purged in the 1930's Sergey Mikhailovich Tretyakov, author of “Roar China,” purged in the 1930's the military adviser Georgy Borisovich Skalov (Sinani), (“He fell victim to the Stalinist repressions earlier than the others. 1935 was his fatal year”).

And Anatoly Yakovlevich Klimov, an Old Bolshevik and Civil War participant (“In 1942 he was unjustly arrested and spent six years in camp”) Albert Ivanovich Lapin, deputy to Blyuker (shot in 1937, full year before his chief) Vitovi Kazimirovich Putna, military adviser in China, later military attaché in London, shot June 11, 1937) Lazar Isaakovich Penn, Soviet consul at Kalgan and Changsha (“In 1937 he was arrested and died in exile”) N. V. Kuybyshev, brother of the first Soviet President and head of the Soviet South China mission (shot in 1937).

And Mira Sakhnovskaya, Civil war heroine who dressed as a man, teacher at the Whampoa Military Academy, only woman graduate of the Frunze Military Academy, mother of a child born in China (arrested with another Civil War heroine who also served in China, both died in the 1937 purge) Yevgeny Andreevich Yakovlev, former colonel in the Czarist Army, lecturer on fortifications at Whampoa Academy (arrested in 1931 and held in stockades for three years without trial) and even simple technicians—the pilots, Talberg and Remizyuk, the aviation mechanic Bazenau (“1937‐38 were their fatal years”).

Of L. M. Karakhan and Borodin, Mme. Vishnyakova ‐Akimova writes: “Who could have known what cruel unjust fate awaited them, that they would both become victims of the Stalinist repressions?’

The index of Mme. VishnyakovaAkimova's memoir lists 148 names which can with confidence be identified with Russia‐in‐China. At least 43 of these lost their lives or served long terms in prison or exile. In the cases of another 30, prison or execution is probable but cannot be entirely confirmed. This indicates that in a random run of Soviet China hands—military men, party workers, diplomats, scholars and even simple workmen and chauffeurs—about one in three lost his life or went to concentration camp. Of the military personnel Mme. Vishnyakova‐Akimova comments tersely: “Few of them survived the repressions of 1937‐38. The finished off the others.”

All this, of course, takes no account of non‐lethal loss—loss of expertise, atrophy of China studies, the fear, distortion, paranoia which almost caused the very word “China” to disappear from the Soviet printed page. Borodin was not arrested until 1949. But from his return from China in 1927 he “was suspended from work having to do with China.” He slogged along for two decades as the editor of Moscow News, a tedious English‐langunge propaganda sheet, and finally was arrested with all of his staff as well as his old friend, Anna Louise Strong, who had made the exodus with him from China in 1927. She was luckier than he. Imprisoned in the Lubyanka as a C.I.A. agent she was expelled from Russia and finally died last year in Peking. Borodin, I have heard, was sentenced to death, but Stalin commuted it to life imprisonment after the intervention of Peking.

But Borodin was only a particularly striking example of what happened to anyone who had the misfortune to be connected with China. As the Soviet Sinologist, G. V. Efimov, notes in a 1967 article on Soviet historiography in the Vestnik (Herald) of Leningrad University, political conditions in the early 1930's became so “unfavorable” that serious scholarly studies “were adjourned for 30 years.”

N. V. Nikiferov bears this out in his “Soviet Historians on Problems of China” published in Moscow in 1970. Not a single doctor's dissertation in Chinese historical studies was defended until 1953, Nikiferov reports. Not a single essay on Chinese history was published in the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1948. A number of works completed in the late 1930's and early 1940's appeared only in the late 1950's or early 1960's, long after their authors had died in concentration camps.

Nikiferov compiled a bibliography of Soviet scholarly works on China, listing 982 books, articles and monographs published on “China problems” in the Soviet era. Breaking down the dates of publication (and eliminating works by Lenin, Marx, etc., and others appearing before 1920) we get the following totals: 1920‐29, 303 works 1930‐39, 177 works 1940‐49, 73 works 195059, 92 works 1960‐69, 183 works.

The drying up is even more striking when the figure for the 1930's is analyzed. Only 19 articles appeared in the years 1937, 1938 and 1939. Most of the decade's total appeared in the first four pre‐purge years. After 1936 material touching on contemporary Chinese affairs simply vanished. Articles about the Chinese Communist party and the Chinese Red Army no longer were published. Nothing whatever on the subject was published between 1944 and 1949.

Even 20 years after the death of Stalin, Soviet China studies had not yet recovered to where they stood before the Great Purges. In the relatively liberal 1960's less than twothirds as many works appeared as in the 1920's, and that total is heavily padded with belated necrologies of purged China specialists, reissues of early works and publications long suppressed. In fact, Mme. Vishnyakova‐Akimova's volume, published in Moscow in 1965, is a product of a massive effort by surviving Sinologists to fill in the great blank spots. It is not an easy task. There are not many survivors. The evidence has been badly eroded by the surging controversy over Stalin's policies and many archives are still carefully locked. And, of course, the great conflict between China and Russia does not help matters.

Why has this effort been undertaken in the Soviet Union? In almost every field of specialization — literature, military affairs, botanical science, industrial technology—there was an attempt to set the record straight, following Khrushchev's famous 1956 “deStalinization” speech. In part, it stemmed from humanitarian considerations. In part, it represented an attempt to restore continuity in a given field or even to lay the foundation of new policy (as in biology where Lysenko's opponents utilized the occasion to lay the foundation for Soviet entry into the area of modern genetics, molecular biology, etc.). The effort has not been without peril for, especially since Khrushchev's fall in 1964, the hands of the clock have been turning backward. Fewer and fewer “rehabilitatory” works now appear and, when they do, key facts about repressions vanish.

But at this point we must turn to the United States. I have gone into such detail to make perfectly clear what happened in China, to make it plain that Russia by her own reckoning “lost” China nearly 50 years ago in 1927, and punished those Stalin held responsible, lost China again when Mao won the Chinese party in 1935 and punished a new round of victims, lost again in 1949 and again punished those few China specialists still alive.

If hundreds, thousands, of Russians paid for this “loss” with their lives, if Russia's policy has been battered for years by successive catastrophes in China—what then was the nature of our own great China disaster? Wasn't our purge launched because of the loss of China to Russia? Didn't Russia “win China” in 1949? Wasn't that what it was all about? Didn't Dean Acheson in his famous White Paper of July 30, 1949, proclaim:

“The heart of China is in Communist hands. The Communist leaders have foresworn their Chinese heritage and have publicly announced their subservience to a foreign power, Russia [my italics], which during the last 50 years, under czars and Communists alike, has been most assiduous in its efforts to extend its control in the Far East. The Communist regime serves not their [Chinese] interests but those of Soviet Russia. We continue to believe that however tragic may be the immediate future of China and however ruthlessly a major portion of this great people may be exploited by a party in the interest of foreign imperialism [my italics] ultimately the profound civilization and the democratic individualism of China will reassert themselves and she will throw off the foreign yoke.”

Or, as Senator Joseph Mc,. Carthy was saying on March 30, 1950: “It was not Chinese democracy under Mao that conquered China as Acheson, Lattimore and Jessup contended. Soviet Russia conquered China [my italics], and an important ally of this conqueror was the small left‐wing element in our Department of State.”

Or, put it in the words of Dean Rusk, spoken a year later, May 18, 1951: “We do not recognize the authorities in Peiping for what they pretend to be. The Peiping regime may be a colonial Russian government — a siavic Manchukuo [my italics] on a larger scale. It is not the Government of China. It does not pass the first test. It is not Chinese.”

Or, as Capt. Joseph Alsop, aide to General Chennault, put it simply and plainly even earlier (in February, 1945) “We are childish to assume that the Chinese Communists are anything but an appendage of the Soviet Union [my italics].”

One reads these statements: one studies the records of the 1945 Amerasia case (in which John S. Service and others were charged with passing classified documents to the left‐wing New York magazine, Amerasia) one ponders the endless records of courts of inquiry, of prosecutions, of charge and countercharge, of Senate inquiries, of House inquiries, of State Department proceedings with bewilderment that feeds on bewilderment. The nexus of all these cases—and the long‐forgotten Amerasia case will serve as well as any other as typical example—lies in the assumption that American officials and American policy, wittingly (by conspiracy) or un wittingly (by stupidity or “softness”) delivered China into Russia's waiting arms.

Yet, go back to the Soviet side. Read the record of the incredible disaster of 1927, the utter bankruptcy of Stalin's policy thrice‐tested, thricefailed, and then the purge, repurge and re‐repurge by Stalin of almost any man connected with China.

Would not this record convince any faintly cognitive observer that whatever was happening in China it was not being “lost” to Moscow?

When one matches this reality against the American myth of what happened in China one turns away with a sense of sheer horror. There lies true madness clinical paranoia “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” acted out on a global scale. This is no mirror‐image effect, that concept beloved of modern political scientists, in which two superpowers perceive each other as acting in its own image.

It is, rather, a colossal example of what is better called the Rashomon effect—in which each great power perceives the same events in a context so distorted and different that we can hardly believe they are dealing with one common phenomenon.

Today we are likely to blame American paranoia over China on the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy. But this is just another myth. It is made eloquently clear, first by Anthony Kubek, a long‐time protegé of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and then by John S. Service, one of the principal victims of that Subcommittee and of many other professional exorcists, that McCarthy was, in fact, a parvenu, a Johnnycome‐lately to the China witchhunt. This began long, long before long before there was any real sign of “China's loss" indeed, in an era when World War II was still in progress. before the death of F.D.R.

The roots lie in what originally was a simple and understandable debate between those who felt the United States should use every possible means to support the regime of Chiang Kai‐shek, and thus preserve in Asia what was seen as a friendly and loyal allied power, and those who believed (correctly) that in the inevitable struggle between Chiang and Mao the odds favored Mao by a margin that could not be reversed short of American intervention on a scale matching (if not exceeding) that of our total intervention in World War II. Not, you might say, a controversy likely to lead to national paranoia. A row in the early stages that was very much of an “in” argument, largely between an older genera ation of China hands, supporting Chiang, and a “new” generation which, on the basis of on‐the‐spot observation, felt a growing skepticism of Chiang's staying power.

So the lines took shape in the months before Roosevelt's death, the quarrel escalating in the famous “revolt” of the State Department's China specialists in Chungking—a revolt not against Washington or the State Department but against the handsome, vain, capricious, ignorant, egotistical Gen. Pat Hurley, who saw himself (as Service makes clear) as the savior of China, the anointed vessel who could, with the support of both Stalin and Roosevelt, cause Chiang and Mao to sup at the same table, emitting Oklahoma warhoops in the process. It was nonsense then and madness now.

But that histrionic row, which led Hurley to clean out of the Chungking Embassy every last professional diplomat and China specialist unlucky enough to be in the vicinity, set the guidelines. All the rest followed. It was Hurley who first leveled the charges of disloyalty, of Communist sympathy (or worse). The Amerasia case (with which Hurley had no connection) broke on the heels of the Hurley row. The red herring of espionage and treason was swished across the China path. No matter that a grand jury voted against indicting Service, 20‐0 no matter that the Government won only one guilty plea in the case (and that by trickery). The ball was rolling. Over the years it would be picked up by an unbroken line of Senate investigators, State Department loyalty and demagogues.

It was years before Joe McCarthy hove on to the scene — not until February and March, 1950. Now, he is remembered and all the rest have sunk back into the shadows. He died but the “loss” of China continued to sputter and crackle like a string of firecrackers.

McCarthy did not cost Service his job — nor that of John Paton Davies, John Carter Vincent, 0. Edmund Clubb or any of the others. In most cases it was the State Department itself or other agencies of the Government which did the dirty job. (There were witch hunters far more ferocious in the ranks of the Civil Service than in the Senate.) Even today with McCarthy long in his grave the Senate Internal Affairs Subcommittee rolls on, and it was only last year that the massive two‐volume tome, “The Amerasia Papers: A Clue to the Catastrophe of China,” compiled by Anthony Kubek appeared in a belated effort to breathe new life into the heresy hunts of two decades earlier. It was fancifully advertised by the Government Printing Office in these words: “These documents read like a spy thriller, but is [sic!] all the more interesting because it is true.” As to the “truth” content of the Kubek concoction, Mr. Service's painstaking, factual exposé serves as an excellent thermometer.

But, as Mr. Service concedes, Kubek unwittingly has rendered a major contribution to the cause of China knowledge. He has reconstituted from the seized documents in the Justice Department files an unequalled collection of the brilliant reports that Service and the others filed from China—particularly their remarkable dispatches from Yenan, their interviews with Mao and Chou En‐lai, their assessments of the Chinese Red Army and its leaders like Chu Teh.

Without the Kubek collection, we would still be floundering for much of this material. It was seized from Service, then returned, then “lost” by the State Department. Some of it is still carefully classified and Service himself had no copies of many of the papers. That, however, is in a sense a minor point (although not, of course, to men like Service, whose lives were twisted and marred by the exercise in national hysteria).

I do not mean to underestimate the importance of the observations of men like Service, Davies, Vincent and all the others. Today in the wake of the spectacular new Nixon China policy we turn to the reports of conversations 25 years ago in Yenan between Mao, Chou En‐tai, Lin Pao, Chu Teh and the small American group attached to Communist headquarters as though we had stumbled upon a treasure‐trove of dispatches from Mars.

Here we find all of these distant and mysterious figures, suddenly brought down to lifesize, human, lively, discussing their hopes, their aspirations, their likes and dislikes, ruminating about the future and the possibility of long‐term intimate relations with the United States, what they hope for China, assessments of Chiang Kai‐shek and sometimes of the Russians — a gold mine of practical, intelligent, revealing information, exactly what policy‐maker in Washington in 1944 or 1945 (or 1971) must have in order to make intelligent decisions. It is all there and is as fresh and interesting today as it must have been 25 years ago.

So what happened? Why did the White House and the State Department and, indeed, all of us as a nation, turn so violently against the reality of China and even more violently against the writers of the memoranda, our own chosen agents on the scene who did their utmost to tell us what was happening? Why did we scourge our China hands, ruining the careers of some, driving perhaps two dozen out of the Foreign Service, some openly, some obliquely, and twist the careers of another three or four score out of context?

Why did we ravage our academic departments and permit China studies to wither away for nearly 10 years until a remarkable Ford Foundation program began slowly to bring them back to life? Why did we “waste” our reserves of Government expertise to the point at which a decade ago we had only three State Department men with both Soviet and China background (and one of these still a student, taking graduate work, and another a very, very junior officer)?

You will seek in vain for an intelligible answer in any of these volumes. Kubek, consistent to the limit in his support of the devil‐theory which was an article of faith in the unbroken line of Hurley‐McCarthy‐Sourwine, believes our trauma was all the fault of Communists and pro‐Communists in the State Department.

He concludes: “When the United States unwittingly assisted the wrong side in gaining control of China proper, Korea and Vietnam became inevitable involvements for the nation that has had to assume the mantle of leadership in the free world. History will set it down as simply as that.

“The United States Government shifted its policy in China in 1945, making its tragic blunder at the very moment that the Amerasia affair was making headlines. Just as these documents of World War II provide a clue to the catastrophe that befell China a few short years later, so will the Amerasia papers be seen to pertain irresistibly to the present perplexities of American policy in the Far East.”

Not much elucidation in Kubek. Just confirmation of 25‐year‐old prejudices.

Service comes a bit closer, but his emphasis is still on what‐might‐have‐been. An independent United States policy in China at the end of World War II, he believes, might have prevented the civil war or reduced its length and destructiveness and we would not have been tied to the losing side. We could, he feels, have “found co‐existence with a stoutly independent nationalistic Mao Tse‐tung not wholly impossible.”

“Toward the close of his brief excursion into the history of U.S.‐China relations, Dr. Kubek makes the statement: When the United States unwittingly assisted the wrong side in gaining control of China proper, Korea and Vietnam became inevitable.. I would suggest a revision: ‘If the United States had been able in 1945 to shed some of its illusions about China, to understand what was happening in that country, and to adopt a realistic policy in America's own interests, Korea and Vietnam would probably never have happened.’ I would even add few dividends. We would not still be confronted with an unsolvable Taiwan problem. Indeed, there would never have been a Taiwan problem, because we would not have ‘lost’ China.’

One can agree with Service yet still find oneself at a loss to explain the hysteria which overcame us in the years after 1944‐45. One explanation has been attempted by Dean Acheson which may come as close as we will ever get. Acheson said in the White Paper that “the ominous result of the civil war in China was beyond the control of the government of the United States. Nothing that this country did or could have done within the reasonable limits of its capabilities could have changed that result nothing that was left undone by this country has contributed to it. It was the product of inChinese forces.”

Few (except possibly Kubek) would, from the perspective of 25 years, take issue with this Achesonian wisdom. But, as Mr. Acheson noted last year in the second volume of his memoirs, “Present at the Creation,” this conclusion “was unpalatable to believers in American omnipotence, to whom every goal unattained is explicable only by incompetence or treason.”

As Joseph McCarthy put it Feb. 9, 1950 at Wheeling, W.Va.: “How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man.”

Events of enormous magni tude generate emotions on a grandiose scale. At such times our minds tend to reject simple, pragmatic answers. These seem banal in comparison with the scale of events. Thus can be explained the almost instant popular enthusiasm for massive conspiracy as the answer to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. (There was a similar popular response in the case of Lincoln.) Whatever factual explanation is offered it seems too simple, too mean beside the majesty of the happening. China was the oldest, the biggest of nations, one always regarded with mystery and mystique. It was easy for us to believe that treason on a grand scale must be involved. (Just as it was easy for Stalin to believe the thing.)

Out of such national psychology, manipulated by the haggle of petty exorcists which arose in the pattern of Hurley and McCarthy, the China tragedy was constructed. And out of this trauma came the tragic political effects — the “lesson of China” as Daniel Ellsberg calls it — the game of passing on from each Administration to the next the problem of dealing with Asia because “this is not a good year to lose Asia to the Communists” — a maxim, as Ellsberg puts it “tattooed on the skins of politicans and bureaucrats alike.”

It was a lesson applied by Truman and Acheson to Southeast Asia. It was applied by Eisenhower and Dulles. By Kennedy and Rusk. By Johnson and Rusk. It was as if China with its immensity, its strange and fateful history, had become a dark and poisonous world, fatal alike to individual and to government. Whoever touched China suffered tragic consequences, whether it was Borodin and Bluykher, acting for Russia, or Stillwell and Service, acting for America. And no matter what Stalin did he could not turn China to his advantage. Nor could Dulles or Rusk. So that in the end, as Barbara Tuchman, puts it “China went her own way as if the Americans had never come.” Or the Russians.

The truth is that China was no one's to “lose” except China's. And China — as at long, long last we are beginning to perceive — had found herself, just as over the ages she had found herself after each of the 100 national crises, the endless succession of disaster and achievement which make up the fabric of her thousands of years of national existence.

Today, more than 20 years after we decided to “let the dust settle” before embarking on a new China policy, our eyes may have cleared sufficiently to perceive the grandeur of the new China's architecture. As for Russia, beset with illusions, psychic disorders and perceptual distortions much greater than ours, the day of reality may still be distant.

Our Proud History

Algonquian is the name of the cultural linguistic group that includes many “tribes”, of which the Algonquins are one. In fact, the Algonquian linguistic group is spread over an extensive territory beyond the Ottawa River, perhaps stretching across a significant part of North America and comprising scores of Nations related by language and customs. Other members of the Algonquian cultural/linguistic group are Mississauga, Ojibwe, Cree, Abenaki, Micmac, Malecite, Montagnais, and the Blackfoot, among others.


The source of the word Algonquin is unclear. Some say it came from the Malecite word meaning “they are our relatives,” which would suggest Algonquins were part of a broad group of native peoples. Others say Algonquin means “at the place of spearing fishes and eels from the bow of a canoe”. Another interpretation is “those that are dancing.”

The website of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, states:
“The arrival of Europeans severely disrupted the life of the Algonquins, the Native people who lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time. By the mid-seventeenth century, several deadly diseases had been introduced, and great numbers of Algonquins perished. Struggles with the neighbouring Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy for control of water routes to the rich fur resources of the hinterland resulted in political intrigue and armed conflict. Together, these factors changed the way of life of the Ottawa Valley Algonquins forever.”


The Algonquins were on the Ottawa River and its tributary valleys when the French moved into the area. Samuel de Champlain made contact with the Algonquins in 1603 shortly after he established the first permanent French settlement on the St. Lawrence at Tadoussac. In 1610, Algonquin guides accompanied Étienne Brûlé on his voyages to the interior of Canada.

It was the start of deep involvement by the Algonquins with the French in the fur trade. Every fur trader, who hoped to be successful in exploring the interior of Canada, prepared for the journey by familiarizing himself with the Algonquin language, since it was recognized as the root language for many other Aboriginal languages.

Today, the political boundary between Quebec and Ontario exists, but in those days, as today, Algonquins lived on both sides of the Ottawa River. In these early days, they were semi-nomadic, moving from one place to the next in search of food from hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering.

Travel was by foot and by birch bark canoe in the summer months and toboggans and snowshoes in the winter. Clothing and tents were made from animal skins, though tents, also known as wigwams, were sometimes made of birch bark. During the summer months, groups gathered along the river to fish, hunt and socialize. When winter arrived, groups spread out into smaller hunting camps made up of large families. The climate was harsh and starvation was not uncommon.


When he first met the Algonquins at Quebec, Samuel de Champlain was so impressed with the Algonquins’ furs that he explored the St. Lawrence as far west as the Lachine Rapids. Champlain left for France shortly afterwards, but upon his return in 1608, he immediately moved his fur trade upstream to a new post to shorten the distance that the Algonquins were required to travel for trade.

Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in 1613 and 1615 when he travelled up the Ottawa River. Champlain again encountered Algonquins in the land claim area in 1613 and 1615 when he traveled up the Ottawa River. They were living in regional groups around the Madawaska, Muskrat Lake, Morrison Island, along the Ottawa River above and below Morrison Island, and also along the Mattawa to Lake Nipissing. The National Atlas of Canada’s map “Canada Native People 1630” published in 1988 shows Algonquin regional groups in the land claim area, including the Matouweskarini, Keinouche (Quenongein), Ottagoutouemin, Onontcharonon, and Nipissings at Lake Nipissing.

Champlain was anxious to conclude treaties with both the Algonquins and their Montagnais allies, both of whom were allied against the feared Iroquois Confederacy. The Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy included Mohawks, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca they were later joined by the Tuscarora to become the Six Nations.

Champlain felt a treaty with the Algonquins would preclude competition from his European rivals, who were mainly the Dutch but also the English. The Algonquins, Montagnais, and their Huron allies, were reluctant to commit themselves to the long, dangerous journey to trading posts north of the Ottawa River unless the French were willing to help them in their war against other members of the Iroquois Confederacy. In this, the French provided support and gained great commercial opportunities.

Fur from the Great Lakes flowed down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers to the French during the years that followed, and the Algonquins and their allies dominated the Ottawa and St. Lawrence valleys. However, the Iroquois remained a constant threat, and in winning the trade and friendship of the Algonquins, the French had made a dangerous enemy for themselves.

It did not take long for the focus of the fur trade to move farther west, because the French had already learned about the trapping areas to the west controlled by the Hurons, who were Algonquin allies against the Iroquois. The quantity and quality of the fur available from the Hurons could not be ignored, and in 1614 the French and Hurons signed a formal treaty of trade and alliance at Quebec.


The following year, Champlain made his second journey up the Ottawa River to the Huron villages south of Georgian Bay. While there, he participated in a Huron-Algonquin attack on the Oneida and Onondaga villages (these tribes were part of the Iroquois Nation Confederacy), confirming in the minds of the Iroquois (in case they still had doubts) that the French were their enemies.

The Iroquois, who had been displaced from the St. Lawrence Valley by the Algonquins, Montagnais and Hurons before the French had come to North America, had never accepted their loss of this territory as permanent. The Iroquois by this time had exhausted the beaver in their traditional homeland and needed additional hunting territory to maintain their position with the Dutch, who at that time were transporting their purchases through modern day New York. Their inability to satisfy the demand for beaver was the very reason the Dutch had tried in 1624 to open trade with the Algonquins and Montagnais.

For the Iroquois, the obvious direction for expansion was north, but the alliance of the Hurons and Algonquins with the French made this impossible. The Iroquois at first attempted diplomacy to gain permission, but the Hurons and Algonquins refused, and with no other solution available, the Iroquois resorted to force.

By 1630 both the Algonquins and Montagnais needed French help to fight the invader, but this was not available. Taking advantage of a European war between Britain and France, Sir David Kirke captured Quebec in 1629, and the British held Canada until 1632 when it was returned to France by the Treaty of St. Germaine en Laye.

These three years were a disaster for the French allies. Since their own trade with the Dutch was not affected, the Iroquois were able to reverse their losses of territory in the St. Lawrence Valley. They drove the Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence.


When they returned to Quebec in 1632, the French attempted to restore the previous balance of power along the St. Lawrence by providing firearms to their Algonquin and Montagnais allies. However, the initial sales were restricted to Christian converts which did not confer any real advantage to the Algonquin. The roving Algonquin bands had proven resistant to the initial missionary efforts of the “Black Robes” and the Jesuits had concentrated instead on the Montagnais and Hurons.

But trouble continued as the Algonquins developed divisions among themselves over religion. The Jesuits were not above using the lure of firearms to help with conversions. Many Algonquin converts to the new religion left the Ottawa Valley and settled first at Trois Rivieres and then Sillery. This weakened the main body of traditional Algonquins defending the trade route through the Ottawa Valley. The consequences quickly became apparent.

The Dutch had reacted to the French arming their native allies with large
sales of firearms to the Mohawks, who passed these weapons along to the
other Iroquois, and the fur trade degenerated into an arms race. After seven years of increasing violence, a peace was arranged in 1634. The Algonquins used this period to start trading with the Dutch in New York, a definite “no-no” so far as the Iroquois were concerned, and the war resumed.


Weakened by the departure of Christian converts to Trois Rivieres and Sillery, the Algonquins could not stop the onslaught that followed. Iroquois offensives, during 1636 and 1637, drove the Algonquins farther north into the upper Ottawa Valley and forced the Montagnais east towards Quebec. Only a smallpox epidemic, which began in New England during 1634 and then spread to New York and the St. Lawrence Valley, slowed the fighting.

A real escalation in hostilities occurred in 1640 when British traders on the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts attempted to lure the Mohawks from the Dutch with offers of guns. The Dutch responded to this by providing the Mohawks (and thus the Iroquois) with as many of the latest, high-quality firearms as they wanted.

Some Algonquin tribesmen such as the Weskarini along the lower Ottawa River were forced to abandon their villages and move north and east. By the spring of 1642, the Mohawks and their allies had succeeded in completely driving many groups of Algonquins and Montagnais from the upper St. Lawrence and lower Ottawa Rivers, while in the west, other allies (Seneca, Oneida and Onondaga) fought the Hurons.

To shorten the travel distance for Huron and Algonquin traders, the French in 1642 established a new post at Montreal (Ville Marie). However, this only seemed to make matters worse. The Iroquois soon sent war parties north into the Ottawa Valley to attack the Huron and Algonquin canoe fleets transporting fur to Montreal and Quebec. Other setbacks to the Algonquins and Hurons brought the French fur trade to a complete standstill, and Champlain’s successor Charles Huault de Montmagmy had little choice but to seek peace.


Montmagmy eventually agreed to a treaty permitting the French to resume their fur trade but it contained a secret agreement requiring French neutrality in future wars between their Algonquin and Huron allies and the Iroquois. This agreement was in exchange for a Mohawk promise to refrain from attacks on the Algonquin and Montagnais villages where the Jesuits had missions.

There was a pause in the fighting during which Huron and Algonquin furs flowed east to Quebec in unprecedented amounts, while the Iroquois renewed efforts to gain the permission of the Hurons to hunt north of the St. Lawrence. Refused after two years of failed diplomacy, the Iroquois resorted to total war, but this time with the assurance that the French would remain neutral. The Mohawks chose to ignore the distinction between Christian and non-Christian Algonquins and almost exterminated a group near Trois Rivieres in 1647.

The Iroquois overran and completely destroyed the Hurons. During 1650, the remaining Algonquins in the upper Ottawa Valley were attacked and overrun. There is evidence that some Algonquins remained in the headwaters of the tributary rivers. During the following years, the French tried to continue their fur trade by asking native traders to bring their furs to Montreal. Iroquois war parties roamed the length of the Ottawa River during the 1650s and 60s, making travel extremely dangerous for anyone not part of large, heavily-armed convoys.


By 1664, the French had decided they had endured enough of living in constant fear of the Iroquois. The arrival of regular French troops in Quebec that year and their subsequent attacks on villages in the Iroquois homeland brought a lasting peace in 1667.

This not only allowed French traders and missionaries to travel to the western Great Lakes, but permitted many of the other Algonquins to begin a gradual return to the Ottawa Valley. During the next fifty years the French established trading posts for the Algonquins at Abitibi and Temiscamingue at the north end of the Ottawa Valley. Missions were also built at Ile aux Tourtes and St. Anne de Boit de Ille, and in 1721 French missionaries convinced approximately 250 Nipissings and 100 Algonquins to join the 300 Christian Mohawks at the Sulpician mission village of Lake of Two Mountains (Lac des Deux Montagnes) just west of Montreal.

For the most part, the Algonquin converts remained at Oka only during the summer and spent their winters at their traditional hunting territories in the upper Ottawa Valley. This arrangement served the French well, since the Algonquin converts at Oka maintained close ties with the northern bands and could call upon the inland warriors to join them in case of war with the British and Iroquois League.

All of the Algonquin converts were committed to the French cause through a formal alliance known as the Seven Nations of Canada, or the Seven Fires of Caughnawaga. Members included: Caughnawaga (Mohawk), Lake of the Two Mountains (Mohawk, Algonquin, and Nipissing), St. Francois (Sokoki, Pennacook, and New England Algonquian), Becancour (Eastern Abenaki), Oswegatchie (Onondaga and Oneida), Lorette (Huron), and St. Regis (Mohawk).


The Algonquins remained important French allies until the French and Indian War as the Seven Years’ War was known in North America (1755-63). By the summer of 1760, the British had captured Quebec and were close to taking the last French stronghold at Montreal. The war was over in North America, and the British had won the race for control of North America. In mid-August, the Algonquins and eight other former French allies met with the British representative, Sir William Johnson, and signed a treaty in which they agreed to remain neutral in futures wars between the British and French.

This sealed the fate of the French at Montreal and North America. After the war, Johnson used his influence with the Iroquois to merge the Iroquois League and the Seven Nations of Canada into a single alliance in the British interest. The sheer size of this group was an important reason the British were able to crush the Pontiac Rebellion around the Upper Great Lakes in 1763 and quell the unrest created by the encroachment of white settlers in the Ohio Country during the years which followed. This sheer size was also a factor in King George’s decision to proclaim that Indian territory should be reserved for their use in perpetuity.

Johnson died suddenly in 1774, but his legacy lived on, and the Algonquins fought alongside the British during the American Revolution (1775-83) participating in St. Leger’s campaign in the Mohawk Valley in 1778. The Algonquin homeland was supposed to be protected from settlement by the Proclamation of 1763, but after the revolution ended in a rebel victory, thousands of British Loyalists (Tories) left the new United States and settled in Upper Canada.


To provide land for these newcomers, the British government in 1783 chose to ignore the Algonquins in the lower Ottawa Valley and purchased parts of eastern Ontario from Mynass, a Mississauga (Ojibwe) chief. Despite this, Algonquin warriors fought beside the British during the War of 1812 (1812-14) and helped defeat the Americans at the Battle of Chateauguay. Their reward for this service was the continued loss of their land to individual land sales and encroachment by British immigrants moving into the valley.

The worse blow occurred when the British in 1822 were able to induce the Mississauga near Kingston on Lake Ontario to sell most of what remained of the traditional Algonquin land in the Ottawa Valley. And for a second time, no one bothered to consult the Algonquin who had never surrendered their claim to the area but still received nothing from its sale.

Further losses occurred during the 1840s as lumber interests moved into the Upper Ottawa Valley. Legislation in 1850 and purchases by the Canadian government eventually established nine reserves in Quebec. A tenth in Ontario was established in 1873 at Golden Lake (now known as Pikwàkanagàn ) for Algonquin use and occupation. These reserves only secured a tiny portion of what once had been the original homeland of the Algonquins.


Algonquins continue to live on the Ottawa River and its tributaries. These include the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and the Algonquin communities of Antoine, Bonnechere, Greater Golden Lake, Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini, Mattawa/North Bay, Ottawa, Shabot Obaadjiwan, Snimikobi and Whitney and Area. Learn more about the Algonquins in present day Ontario here.

The following historical documents are available for you to view and download:

Watch the video: Beothuk Remains Returned to Canada (January 2022).