America: Prehistory to the Present--A New Interpretation by Allen A. Huemer, Ph.D.
This manuscript originally appeared as a series of five articles in the Wotanin Wowapi, newspaper of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Poplar, MT, in 1981; August 18, September 4 and 25, October 9, and November 19. Typography was simplified for the web.
All U.S.--"Indian" Relations Based on a Lie
The foundation of all legal relations between the United States of America and the first nations of North America is a falsehood. The falsely-based legal relations between the United States and the original nations of North America have set the style for all subsequent relations between these nations. The false idea upon which the United States bases all of its relations with the original political states of North America is this: that all of the citizens of the original nations of the Western Hemisphere have but one single identity, and that that identity is the "racial" identity, "Indian." The backbone of this idea of an "Indian" "race" is the concept of "racial purity," and the sinew of the idea is the concept of "racially-determined" behavior.
In this and the four articles which follow, evidence which points away from the United States' official "pure-race" "Indian" concept will be discussed. Although some of the information to be presented has been around for a while, it has not been discussed too widely, for in some circles it is a very unpopular subject. The purpose of the articles which follow is to suggest a more realistic and a much more powerful context for talk about the political sovereignty of the original nations of this earth's Western Hemisphere.
There are many stories about the origins of the first American nations. Most of them, coming as they do from those first nations themselves, are true. Only the stories which try to prove that all of the peoples of the Western Hemisphere originated in only one place at a single time are patently false. The story of origin which is officially attributed to "Indians" in the United States is that the first humans to reach the Western Hemisphere migrated across the Bering "land bridge" from Asia some 16,000 to 18,500 years ago.
As wrong as this "land bridge" idea is, it is essentially the only support for the "pure-race" "Indian" concept. It provides: 1.) one single source for all of the peoples of the Americas--northeast Asia, 2.) a limited number of opportunities for people to get to the Americas--only during the brief periods when conditions of Ice Age glacial melt would permit a "walk-in," and 3.) the fiction of Atlantic and Pacific oceans mostly unknown to all of mankind, and furthermore, unnavigable by any until the advent of superior maritime skills such as those which Columbus allegedly possessed.
At this point two questions are likely to arise: Of what use is a "racial" concept of "Indians?" (Who benefits from it?) and, What is the evidence against the "land-bridge migration?
The remark of a notorious early twentieth century politician sheds ample light on what a "race" concept is always and only used for:
"I know perfectly well," observed Adolph Hitler, "just as well as all those tremendously clever intellectuals, that in the scientific sense there is no such thing as race. But...I as a politician need a conception which enables the order which has hitherto existed on historic bases to be abolished and an entirely new and anti-historic order enforced and given an intellectual basis..."
Although he wrote over four hundred years earlier, in 1492, the Spanish grammarian Nebrijas expressed the same idea when he said, "Language has always been an instrument of empire." Both men were pointing at the same goal--conquest. Both were intending to use the same instrument to attain that end. The instrument is called ideology, and it consists of using language to distort and alter reality rather than to express it. Ideology as a worldwide phenomenon is probably dateable to Nebrijas' time and to the world-spanning empire his ideas justified--the Empire of Spain.
As an explanation for the peopling of such vast land masses as North and South America, the Bering "land bridge" story is much too simple, and fails to take into account most of the relevant information which is available. As an ideology, however, the simplicity of the "land-bridge" story is perfection itself, comparable to the fifteenth-century Spanish ideology, "discovery."
There are hundreds of origin myths among the hundreds of original nations of the Western Hemisphere. Some of these are very Ancient stories, some are more recent. These origin myths speak of mankind's creation by the gods, or by demigods; they tell of people's migration overland, up and down rivers, and the migration of peoples over the oceans, both the Atlantic and Pacific. These stories are the most likely foundation for a realistic view of how the original political states of the Americas came to be, and of who their citizens are. That it is a very complex story, extending over a great deal of time should not be surprising, for in the rest of the world, for the rest of humankind, that is how it is known to have been.
The "land-bridge" ideology suggests a particular "type" of "racial" identity for America's "Indians:" they are supposed to be an "Asian" "sub-type." The first error in the "land-bridge" ideology lies here. Man-made tools have been found in Mexico which have been dated by several techniques at 250,000 years old, a skeleton found in Alberta has been determined to be 60,000 years old, and stone tools conservatively estimated to be 70,000 years old have been found in New York. A few "radicals" in American archaeology have now gone so far as to suggest that the first humans to come to the Americas may possibly even have done so a million years ago.
This new information, all surfacing during the past decade, is enough to destroy the "racial" theme of the "land-bridge" ideology. "Races" (which are not actually real anyway) are, according to racist theory, supposed to be the aspects of modern man (called Homo sapiens sapiens by scientists). Modern man came into being about 60,000 years ago, or in other words, about 190,000 years after the oldest-known American tool was being used. The new evidence also changes the 2,500 year period which the "land-bridge" ideology had allowed for migration. It allows a one million to one quarter million year period during which people might have migrated to the Western Hemisphere. Not one, but now several migrations become possible, indeed they become likely.
Furthermore, there never was a "land bridge" (the words conjure up an image of a narrow funnel). The land area exposed by the Ice Age lowering of the sea level between northeast Asia and northwest North America was continental in size. Coastal routes as well as interior routes of migration were possible. Modern man came by them (modern man may have left by them also--one investigator has argued that Homo sapiens sapiens evolved in the Western Hemisphere), modern man's predecessor or cousin' (Homo sapiens neanderthanensis--"Neanderthal man") doubtless came by them, as may his predecessor. The final component of the "land-bridge" ideology, the concept of the world's oceans as a barrier to human movement, the idea of mankind's general ignorance of seafaring until the time and deeds of Christopher Columbus, is the most absurd of all. The seafaring history of all mankind shall be taken up next.
Brisk Overseas Trade Once Connected Ancient America With the World
The Ancient past was not exactly the way that you've heard it was from Modern historians. Things were not all so bad back then. The Sumerians (until circa 5,000 years ago), for example, had freshwater delivery and plumbing systems in their cities which were unequaled by anything which Modern societies could produce until the end of the nineteenth century of the current era. So did the people of Ancient Peru.
They also had seaworthy ships capable of delivering up to 100 tons of cargo--far larger than Columbus' tiny vessels. (These nearly unsinkable reed vessels were often sailed in fleets numbering up to 50 ships, and when they were in uncharted waters, the boats would fan out so as to cover as wide an area as possible--sometimes hundreds of miles--sky mapping as they went. Sailing vessels of this kind gained global popularity, and were in use from the age of Sumeria right on up to and into the Modern age. They were quite notably used in South America, Africa, and Polynesia.)
The measurement of the round earth's circumference made in these days was within inches of the current figure.
In those days there was no "over-population problem"--and it was not for humankind's lack of knowledge either. People were well-fed then: maize and other grains had long been cultivated, the granary and cache had been invented, the human-scale petri dish--the city--was still a rare and small occurrence. The famines and disease as humanity's lot which you've heard a lot about--at least for the Ancient past, for Antiquity--is far from the reality of those days. A life-span in those days was about seventy years, "three score and ten"
The world then was run by trade, rather than by money.
There were six main forms of government possible then. (They were: kingly, aristocatic, constitutional, oligarchic, democratic, and tyrannical.) Now, there is, provisionally, but one form--tyranny.
Oh, sure, there was warfare. There was homicide too. Occasionally, but not usually--and not on a worldwide scale. There was no ethnocide.
Yes, some "Modern conveniences" were definitely lacking. There was no refined plutonium, no Baby Louise, no television, no laser bolt.
In about the thirty four hundredth century B.P. (Before the Present time-keeping epoch) a global-scale series of earthquakes and episodes of volcanic activity set back some societies very severely, wrecking buildings and cities, destroying or burying many records (especially those written on clay tablets). In the geologic history of the earth, of course, such events are not at all rare (in the Mediterranean portion of the world, for example, a second such catastrophe was experienced circa 1,250 B.P. upon the event of the explosion of the volcano at Santorini), but they nevertheless seem to take human societies quite by surprise.
But humankind "bounced" right back. By the second millennium B.P., a global network of trade had been reestablished. As in the previous age, the Western Hemisphere played a preeminent role.
Trade between the Eastern Hemisphere nations took place there, as did trade between Eastern and Western Hemisphere nations.
The Western Hemisphere was a primary source for varied commodities in the world markets: jade was obtained from California, gold and silver from Central and South America, and furs, copper and timber from North America. In some parts of the Western Hemisphere and in some parts of the Eastern, this condition of interdependence, connection and trade persisted until the arrival of the Spanish imperialists in the fifteenth century of the current epoch.
Besides the many North, Central and South American, and Pacific Island nations which put their shipping into the export-import trade during Ancient times, there were Eastern Hemisphere nations involved as well. There were the Empire of Cathay, Japan, the nations of India, the Islamic nations, Phoenicia, Carthage, Judea, Egypt, the Empire of the Minos, Alexandria, the Iberian nations, Lixus, the West African nations, the nations of Gaul, the Irish, the Welsh, the Norse, and even on some occasions, Romans.
During such a time of interconnected global trade it was, as one might imagine, neither practical," nor even at all possible to maintain a "racial" concept. In fact, the word "race" in its supposed biological' sense was not put into widespread common speech until 1513, only 21 years after Columbus' allegedly first voyage of "discovery." As worldwide experiences, racism and ethnocide--like human overpopulation and great plagues--appear to commence generally only after the age of Spanish imperialism.
Some portions of the earth, such as most of the Western Hemisphere, were traditionally places of refuge for beleaguered communities forced to flee from their homelands elsewhere.
During this pre-Columbian epoch, science once again soared. Steam power became widely-known. The "walking tripods" of the oracle at Delphi were mechanical devices powered by steam, for instance. In the Middle East, around the sixth century B.P., electric batteries were used to electroplate metals. The round earth was once again measured to within inches of the present figure. In fact, the name of the mathematician-geographer who computed the figure is still known today. He was Eratosthenes, a fourth-century B.P. royally-commissioned Librarian from Alexandria. Eratosthenes' earth-size calculation is known of now because it was never lost to history. It survived the Spanish Inquisition, it even survived Columbus.
But wait! What's all this talk about international, intercontinental, inter-oceanic trade connections existing everywhere on earth for thousands of years? What possible evidence could there be of this?
There is currently very good evidence that humankind's maritime knowledge has a history going back far beyond the time of Sumeria. The same can now also be said for mining and trade (presently thought to be over 40,000 years-old as widespread human activities); two of the greatest, most classic stimuli for maritime activity.
The settlement of Australia--the one truly isolated continent--provides a crucial clue about seafaring. That land was first peopled, scientists now contend, over 30,000 years ago. (Some experts argue that it was 60,000 years ago!) It is also known that those people did not walk there--there's no way they could have, as the continent-island is totally isolated from all other parts of the earth by the sea--the first Australians had to have sailed some kind of water-craft over open stretches of ocean, out of sight of land, to reach their new home in the South Pacific Continent.
Humankind may never know where fire, or stone tools, or even writing came from, but its likely we can give the credit for our seafaring ways to the people who settled Australia. Given what anthropologists (to cite establishment' authority) have to say about the pace of the global diffusion (spread) of folk tales and material culture objects such as tools, it is absurd, in is impossible to argue that the global spread of the seafaring art took every bit of 28,500 years, until Columbus dabbled in it, to become achieved. The idea of seafaring contained its own built-in means of worldwide dispersal. The idea literally sailed around the world with the first seafarers.
The scientific, fully-documented sailing experiments conducted by Thor Heyerdahl (in the Kon Tiki and the Ra) have conclusively demonstrated the ruggedness, simplicity of design, safety and maritime sophistication of the Ancient world's two major water-craft, the log boat and the reed bundle boat. Since his voyages, his accomplishments have been duplicated by others on dozens of occasions. The oceans, it seems, are no barrier to human movement, and have never been. Rather, ocean currents have long been used as "conveyor belts," to reliably pull merchant shipping across the seas, from one continent to another.
Evidence for the trade connection of the world's nations in Ancient times is abundant, and it is especially so in the Western Hemisphere. Phoenician, Egyptian, Celtiberian, Chinese, and Roman trade objects have been found buried in North and South American soil. Messages chiseled into stone surfaces, written on American rock in languages used during Ancient times in other parts of the world, are plentiful. These are known languages, and they are quite precisely datable to specific pre-Columbian ages. There are Greek and Phoenician inscriptions form Ancient iron mines in Brazil (quite interestingly, the Ancient Semitic-Phoenician word for iron--one of Brazil's most abundant natural resources--is BR-Z-L). Punic, Celtic, Greek, Basque, Egyptian, Latin, and Norse inscriptions are found at many locations in North America. There is a Mithraic text from Texas, Hebrew texts from Tennessee and Kentucky, and both pre- and post-Islamic Arabic inscriptions in Nevada and California.
A map carved into a Nevada rock circa 300 B.P. shows the Hawaiian Islands and North America, and the international dateline where it then lay, just east of the Islands.
Carthaginian, Celtic, Iberian, Arabian, and Roman coins have been dug out of American soil and have washed up on American beaches. Clay face portraits (which were very popular in Ancient America) show human appearances as varied as anything on earth.
One group of human portraits from a forty square mile area--and from the same time period--of Ancient Mexico shows people who would be very likely to be classified in today's "racial" world as "yellow," "black," and "white." Yet all of these were, quite naturally, citizens of the Mexican nation to which they belonged--six hundred years before Columbus' time.
The history of the global spread of "culture plants" (plants known to have been domesticated in particular areas) shows the worldwide contact of nations in Ancient times. The sword bean and common garden bean of Europe reached America long before Columbus did. So too did the plantain and bottle-gourd of Africa. Domestic cotton in the Ancient Americas was a cross of wild American and one of the Eastern Hemisphere plants. American maize reached West Africa, East Africa, the Middle East, India, and Portugal before Columbus reached America. The American coconut reached as far as the Pacific Islands and India.
Languages in America are sometimes very similar to Eastern Hemisphere languages. Written Micmac and hieratic Egyptian are often exactly alike in form and meaning. Plains winter counts and Minoan writing discs are very alike in form. Ancient Pima chants and Ancient Arabic are of striking similarity. There are strong parallels between Libyan and the Polynesian languages.
Many nations of the Western Hemisphere also recorded the Ancient movement and inter-penetration of peoples in their folklore. The time when the Inca Tupac sent a huge fleet carrying 20,000 persons from Peru to Polynesia and back again, is recorded both on the Pacific island of Mangareva, and in Inca legend. The deeds of the Libyan navigator Mawi (who lived during the time of Eratosthenes), are more celebrated in Polynesia where he is known as Maui, the navigator, than they are in Libya or Egypt. The Mandan nation traces its origin to a transoceanic migration crossing the Atlantic from east to west. An Iroquoian origin tale describes a movement from South to North America, and up the Mississippi River.
Records of the Western Hemisphere's nations existence which come from nations in the Eastern Hemisphere during Ancient times are also in existence: there are Egyptian accounts of Kenti Amenti across the western ocean, a land which was also attainable by a much longer and more difficult eastward ocean route. There are Phoenician and Carthaginian rumors about their "trade secret," there is the tale of the Argonautica, the Odyssey of Homer, the Greek Plutarch's account of America, Chang Tzu's voyage to Fu Sang, the voyage of St. Brendan, The Vinland Sagas, Christian inscriptions from North Africa recounting their flight from there to North America when the Vandals took control of Roman Carthage, there is the German Adam of Bremen's Geography of the Northen Lands, published in 1071, and there are some Roman records.
On his supposedly first "discovery" voyage, Columbus himself reported that he obtained metal spearheads made out of an African alloy from the Antilles Islanders. King Ferdinand's own royal mineralogist confirmed Columbus' observation when, on Columbus' return, he assayed the spearheads. The Caribbean Islanders themselves had told Columbus that they obtained the spearheads in trade with people from Africa.
Even the early Modern philosopher, Francis Bacon, was perfectly aware of all of Ancient humanity's global connection. In his New Atlantis (first published posthumously, in 1627) he wrote:
"You shall understand (that which perhaps you will scarce think credible) that about three thousand years ago, or somewhat more, the navigation of the world (especially for remote voyages) was greater than at this day--the Phoenicians, and specially the Tyrians, had great fleets; so had the Carthaginians their colony, which is yet further west. Toward the east the shipping of Egypt, and of Palestine, was likewise great. China also, and the great Atlantis (that you call America), which have now but junks and canoes, abounded then in tall ships."
So what happened to all of this commerce? To put it bluntly, someone decided to monopolize the trade. This shall constitute the focus of the next section of this essay: Modern society and the rise of Spanish imperialism.
The Greatest Ethnocidal Act is Still Unrecorded
On the eve of Columbus' allegedly first voyage of "discovery," most human communities were to a greater or lesser degree of mixed origin. This was especially true of the Western Hemisphere, where many major world trade centers lay, but it was also true in Spain--the first nation to activiely use the ideology of "race." The population of Spain at the end of the 1400s was composed of Moorish people ("Black" and "White" persons following the Islamic faith), Jews, and Christians. For the most part they mingled and mixed quite freely.
That there was no such thing as a concept of "racial purity" then should be no surprise. On all continents, peoples had been migrating and intermingling for hundreds of thousands of years. Migration by sea and overseas travel for trade had been known and used by humankind for over 30,000 years. At the time there was still no "population explosion" problem (the world had about 300,000,000 people on it then), and so territorial jealousies were not nearly as severe as they are today, or as they were even in the recent past. Migrant groups often mingled into older populations living in the places they moved to. Traders, as they always have, often married into the people they traded with.
The events which changed all of this began--on a worldwide scale, at least--in 1492. What happened is so terrible, so massive, so traumatic, that humankind the world over has still not come to be appropriately conscious of it (although all societies have been affected by it). There is now, however, a word for the thing. (Continued on next page...)
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