Bashing Columbus – by Mark D. Tooley

christopher_columbus8

Celebrating Columbus Day has become naughty.  Political correctness insists Columbus’ arrival in America ushered in a genocidal calamity.  Such p.c. celebrants of “diversity” should consider that the Columbus voyage actually generated some of the most multicultural societies in history.

But any honor for Columbus’s epic trek across the Atlantic entails some appreciation for Western Civilization, which is taboo for the Left.  The Religious Left is no exception. Jim Wallis’ Sojourners office evidently diligently worked on Columbus Day, unlike most of the nation’s capital, lest anyone think they were honoring the Columbus calamity.

Sojourners published several articles explaining the evils of Columbus Day.  The most polemical was by self-professed Cherokee Randy Woodley, author of Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity.  Contrary to his book’s seeming theme, Woodley’s diatribe against Columbus’ discovery implies that he prefers a Western Hemisphere populated exclusively by the original tribal peoples.

“When Americans continue to celebrate Columbus Day we do damage — not just to Native America but to all Americans,” Woodley angrily insisted. “Jews will never celebrate the rise of the Third Reich. Ugandans will not likely hail the legacy of Idi Amin, Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Regime, et. al.”

So America’s primary European discoverer was no better than Hitler, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin.  Happy Columbus Day indeed.  At least a Sojourners article actually referenced a communist genocide.  But was the ethnic Italian dispatched by the Spanish monarchy to find a path to the Orient that would evade Islamic navies really the moral equivalent of Holocaust plotters?

“As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives,” Woodley sarcastically penned.  “Assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.”

Unlike the Third Reich, or other genocidalists like the Khmer Rouge and the Stalinists of the 1930′s, neither the Spanish monarchy nor its fleet every plotted the murder of millions.  Woodley quotes Columbus’s journal, in which he rhapsodized about the native Caribbean peoples he first encountered:  “In all the world, there is no better people nor better country. They love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and are always laughing.”

Enlightenment Europeans often idealized relatively unknown indigenous peoples for supposedly being uncorrupted by civilization.   The idealization persists today, when the Left portrays non-Western peoples as only innocent victims, and the West as uniquely sinister.  Columbus and most of his Spanish contemporary adventurers idealistically saw their discovery as the opportunity to spread Christian civilization and, more materialistically, to construct trade empires.

The vast majority of native peoples who died after encountering Europeans did so because they lacked immunity to European diseases.  The conquests of the Spanish conquestidors throughout what became Latin America were often brutal, but no more so than the routine practices of the empires they conquered, which often resorted to human sacrifice.

Woodley’s article for Sojourners boasted that pre-European “great civilizations thrived in America with unparalleled techniques in urban planning, micro-agriculture, macro-environmental management (including ecology, xeriscape, agronomy, botany, forestry, and raised bed, naturally fertilized gardening), sustainable architecture (including passive solar heating), psychology, philosophy, religion, ethics, science, math, medicine (including brain surgery and dentistry), government, language, education, rhetoric, intercontinental economic trade, successful peacemaking, etc.”

This is all somewhat true.  But the native “religion” that Woodley cites often involved cutting open the hearts of virgins, among others, upon temple altars devoted to bloodthirsty pagan deities.  And while Woodley laments the supposed lack of modern interest in native cultures, is the lack of information also partly due to the absence a written language by American natives? In fact, Woodley’s penchant for diversity celebration is a product of Western Culture, and would have been largely unrecognizable to the homogenous native cultures he venerates.

“The point is not whose “stuff” is the best but rather why can’t we celebrate it all without pulling from despicable despots of the past like Columbus?” Woodley implored for Sojourners.  “Euro-Americans landed in America. The accomplishments of the people who were here prior to their arrival should be celebrated and memorialized along with those who came here later.”

But the Religious Left, including Woodley, do not seem very interested in celebrating Western Culture, only its alternatives, and even its enemies, ancient and modern.   The European colonizers of the Americas were simultaneously brave, cruel, creative, condescending, noble, and base.  They never convened a council to plot, Eichman-style, a holocaust of native peoples.

The civilizations the Europeans conquered were themselves conquerors, wiping out rival tribes, and brutally massacring rival claimants to power.  When the English first settled North America, they encountered the Powhatan Confederacy in what became Virginia.  Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, had assembled his empire by annihilating or subjugating the rival tribes between the Potomac and what became North Carolina.  Was Powhatan not a successful imperialist?

Two attempted genocides were orchestrated in colonial Virginia.  In 1622, Powhatan’s younger brother Opechancanough, after a nearly decade of peace, horrifically and nearly successfully attempted to murder every male, female and child Virginia colonist on a Friday morning.  The genocide failed, thanks to the warning of a young Christian Indian boy named Chanco, but one quarter of the English were killed.  Opechancanough attempted the same genocide in 1644, killing over 400, but still failing to wipe out the English.

History is full of savagery by all cultures.  Christianity and Judaism understood all humanity to be fallen but endeavor to uplift and redeem through their teachings.  Modern America endeavors to ascribe dignity and legal equality to a diverse population, largely thanks to its Western origins, and in ways that would have mystified pre-European tribalists.  But Religious Left groups like Sojourners, preoccupied more by revolutionary and statist goals than by traditional religious doctrine, oddly and unhistorically prefer to stigmatize the West, and especially America, along with its discovers/founders.

The Sojourners staff may continue to work on Columbus Day.  But diatribes like Woodley’s against Columbus are not serious.

  • valhalla

    Other American Indians that organized and carried out Genocide against neignboring tribes were the Iroquois Confederation of New York that destroyed the Huron tribe, and nearly decimated the Neutral Nation and Tobacco Nation in 1648-1650. This is in the history books.

    Generally I don't even bother to enter discussions with leftists because they are not interested in facts, just their own twisted ideologies. If they hate America and Western Civilization so much why don't they just move to non-Western countries?
    Most of them are Cowards.

    • Non-white

      I thought the biggest genocide against own race is conducted by Europe in WWII.
      When you talk "Western countries", you are talking of "middle countries", sandwiched by God between Asians and Native Americans, don't you?

  • PAthena

    Christopher Columbus did indeed discover America. The Norsemen who briefly lived in New Foundland (the Vinland Sagas), the Basque, and the Indians did not know what continents were, they did not know that the earth was round, they did not not discover Asia or Africa or Europe. Columbus did in a remarkable feat of sailing. He sailed on the open seas, able to navigate North and South by the sun and the stars, but he had no means of navigating East and West (Longitude). (Navigating by Longitude was only made possible by Harrison, with his clocks, in the 18th century.)As for Woodley's claim Woodley’s article for Sojourners boasted that pre-European “great civilizations thrived in America with unparalleled techniques in urban planning, micro-agriculture, macro-environmental management (including ecology, xeriscape, agronomy, botany, forestry, and raised bed, naturally fertilized gardening), sustainable architecture (including passive solar heating), psychology, philosophy, religion, ethics, science, math, medicine (including brain surgery and dentistry), government, language, education, rhetoric, intercontinental economic trade, successful peacemaking, etc.” Baloney! The Central American Indians – the Maya – who built pyramids and cities, did not have universities. There was no Indian Socrates or Plato or Aristotle; no Thomas Aquinas nor other learned men.

    • Reading Ash

      Remember libraries were burnt? Who knows there were not a copy of native American "Dialogues" by a native American Plato?

  • gatekeeper96740

    They also overlook evidence caucasions were already in the Americas before the Indians.Kenniwick man at 5'9 was not Ainu.I have talked to the scientists and they know he and others were white But it is politically incorrect to say such things.

  • Mach1Duck

    I am not a historian, nor a paleontologist, I am an engineer; but it would seem to me that some educational institutions and instructors have misunderstood history and presented these distortions as fact. Happens all the time as the winners history prevails.
    Let’s take Columbus and Columbus Day. Some schools are teaching children that when Columbus discovered America in 1492, all he brought was death and destruction. Particularly in the form of diseases unknown in the new world, let’s not forget greed.
    Columbus was not the first European to the New World. The Basque sailors were whaling off the coast of Nova Scotia before Columbus ever set to sea, speculation is that he got his idea from the Basque. Even then if we look at time lines, the Basque were several hundred years behind the Norsemen. The Norsemen supposedly arrived in the new world around 900 AD. There is even speculation that the Phoenicians made the trip. If it were that Columbus brought devastating diseases, did not these processors of Columbus bring diseases also. Where is the results of their folly.
    Interesting point when Cortez reached Mexico, the Indians were expecting their god to return, the one that had come previously and departed across the sea. Did not this early visitor bring with him diseases? Where is the record.
    What we also know is that there is physical evidence among the native Indian cultures to suggest that there was a vast trade network. Corn, a South American crop, was everywhere…had to get here somehow. Sea shells from Washington and stones from Wisconsin are found in New Mexico as was a scarlet macaw from Central America. That is not to say there was a merchant class as we visualize it among the native Indians, but items were traded. Which means there was contact outside of the tribal areas. It is believed that among the pueblo Indians of the southwest, some pottery was manufactured as a trade items.
    So now we get back to the devastation of the native Indians by Columbus, before Columbus ever arrived in the new world, between 1100 and 1250 the pueblo Indians went through a dramatic reduction in their civilization. What happened to the mound builders along the Mississippi River? Some of their organized centers supposedly numbered in the tens of thousands of people. Were they not gone before Columbus got here?
    Studies are underway at this time to pin the decimation of the natives of Mexico down. One of interesting is the Junta Virus not the Spanish introduced smallpox.
    And if I read my history correctly, Columbus was not seeking gold and riches, although I am not to say this was not on his mind, he was seeking a route to the spice markets of India and Asia. This was because the Silk Route had been closed by Muslim conquest.
    Of course just being an engineer, I can make of Columbus what I want.

  • Crispus Attucks

    Columbus did not “discover” America, there were people (human beings) living on the continent for thousands of years before Columbus arrived. When white europeans claim to “discover” a piece of land, it usually means invading a piece of land already inhabited by non-white people.

    As others have pointed out, it is also a well known fact that norsemen (vikings) made trips to the Americas before Columbus did. Therefore making Columbus not the first “white man” to set foot on the american continent.

  • USMCSniper

    Speaking Bashing, Columbus can sue no matter what the lies. But Rush Limbaugh will definitely sue several people and organizations for Libel and Defamation. He has an excellent case against every reporter who made false statements and attributed the false statements to him. Media Matters, CNN, MSNBC, the NFL Commissioner will be sued and others, including the race-baiting hustlers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Several of the top law firms in the United States will represent Rush Limbaugh free of charge and say he has almost an open and shut case. This is because the lies that have caused him to be dropped by the consortium bidding on the St Louis Rams have caused him extreme economic damage in the ten of millions of dollars by this Libel and Defamation. These defendants better bring their money in wheel barrows to settle this out of court and in several semi-trailers if they decide to fight it!

    No one has been able to prove or will they indentify any of their sources that Rush ever said the things that they are saying he said. If these so called news organizations have proof of the statements why are they not presenting it? Where is the audio of Rush saying it? Where is the transcripts of Rush saying it? .
    .

    Rush will win millions of new listeners for his show and he will win tens of millions of dollars in the law suit. Rush being the Great Guy Millionaire that he is will donate the money from the law suit to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

    Go for it Rush! Make sure your lawyers break their financial backs, run up their legal fees into astronomical amounts, and destroy their credibility, ruin their journalism careers so they can join Dan Rather on the journalists dung heap as the jokes they all are. Ahhhhh……. It will be true! Revenge is a dish that is best served cold and as ruthlessly as is possible. heh heh heh heh heh….

  • trickyblain

    “The Norsemen who briefly lived in New Foundland (the Vinland Sagas), the Basque, and the Indians did not know what continents were, they did not know that the earth was round, they did not not discover Asia or Africa or Europe.”

    Columbus was lost. He thought he was in Asia and no clue that he had “discovered” a new continent. The only thing he used the stars for was to determine that he was still heading east. If one sets sail and heads east from Spain, barring catastrophe, he is going to run into something. That's not a navigational feat (navigation, by definition, implies that you know the destination to which you are headed).

    I don't know about all that other stuff (brain surgery, dentistry), but it would be very foolish to dismiss Native American contributions to agriculture. Corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, blueberries and raspberries never existed in Europe. Sixty percent of the today's world crops did not exist outside of fifteenth-century North America. Their methods of agriculture were light-years ahead of Europe. Of course, without the Native Americans and their agricultural abilities, the early European colonists would not have survived.

    This is not to over-romanticize Native American culture. They had their faults as all civilizations do. At the same time, let's not over-romanticize a lost sailor with a penchant for self-aggrandizement and brutality.

  • trickyblain

    Correction on my previous post! That's “west” not “east”

  • trickyblain

    There is one quote in question — the “slavery” quote. All others are fully attributable to him. If his lawyers were to win, they would have to establish 1) that the “slavery” quote attributed to him was false and 2) that the decision to kick him out of the consortium was made solely as a result of the false “slavery” quote (not because of player discontent, negative fan reaction, the “firestorm” Rush himself admitted it would cause, or any of the countless other disparaging remarks he has attacked others with over the years.

    Also, if his lawyers proved all that, which they will not, the only party that would be responsible is that which made up the quote. If CNN etc says “according to reports, Limbaugh said…” they are merely reporting what they heard. That's not libel.

    In other words, he has no chance and you shouldn't believe what Fox News tells you without some considerable research.

  • tiredofignorance_frombothsides

    Several groups of European settlers did plot the elimination of the native populace though. Because European ideas of land ownership were so different from the more Native concept of an “access grant” system Europeans would move on to land Native tribes would “lease” to them, and then never move out. The natives would then throw a fuss, wars would break out, and Europeans would plan to simply eliminate the Native threat. That part is simple enough.
    Elimination of Native culture and the Natives themselves was a common thread throughout early American history and was continued to happen even into the early 20th century, for example, with the pueblo-type culture group – where a planned and institutionalized elimination of Native culture was executed. All and all, though there wasn't a broad and federal movement to eliminate America of its native population (though, if you look at some of the legislation they were passing back then, you would certainly think so), the combined effect as a whole of displacement, discrimination, and death is similar to one of a genocide.
    Bashing Columbus though is kinda overkill. People were consciously trying to kill all the Indians, but not everyone at once and not because they were necessarily inferior. It was for land and wealth.
    Also, people need to learn more about Native history. Remember that the 'winners' write the books. I took and American Indian Studies class a little while ago, and though I was tired of hearing all the “you took my peoples' land” crap (I personally haven't done anything to them), reading first hand accounts from the Natives, and learning more about specific events that took place, can really make you cringe. Be open to the fact that the Natives got the REALLY short end of the stick…
    Think about it this way, Native Americans make up less than 3% of the American population today, and that's including those who are 1/16th Native. I can understand how they would be a little upset about Columbus.
    We came, we outnumbered, we conquered, then we bragged about it.

  • trickyblain

    That sounds fascinating! Were they Mormons? Do you have a link to a credible source on this?

  • coyote3

    Actually, what is funny is when people of Mexican descent (and I resember that ethnicity), begin complaining. My Spanish ancestors, and later the Mexicans committed atrocities that would make what the Anglos did, look like social work. For a time, and in certain areas, extermination = genocide of the Indians “was” Mexican government policy. Even recently there have been problems.

    You brought up a very good point though. The Europeans applied their concept of exclusive land ownership and division to the new world. Prior to the arrival of Caucasians, the Indians didn't look at land ownership in the same way Europeans did. That was probably the cause of more friction, in the U.S. and what is now Mexico, than all the other stuff combined.

  • USMCSniper

    You know nothing of the law. You said: ” If his lawyers were to win, they would have to establish 1) that the “slavery” quote attributed to him was false”

    Once the Plaintiff has met it’s burden – which in this case is simply denial by claiming he never said what they said he said, then the burden can shift to the other party (the defendants to show evidence that contradicts the claim of the plaintiff that it is false.

  • trickyblain

    Um, that would be establishing that the quote attributed to him was false.
    Never said anything about the burden being on the plaintiff to disprove a
    negative.

  • http://freedomactionnow.wordpress.com/ ZZMike

    Columbus landed in a country still in the Stone Age. If he hadn't landed, someone else would (like the Vikings many years before), and if nobody had landed, they'd still be in the Stone Age.

    Whether this would be a good thing or not is another matter, but that is what gets him the label “discoverer”. Those Vikings turned back, never to return.

    “Sixty percent of the today's world crops did not exist outside of fifteenth-century North America.”

    That's true – they gave us tobacco and coffee.

    But they also gave us the Buffalo Jump and slash-and-burn agriculture (use up a piece of land till it's worn out, then move on. In those days, there was no penalty for that – the land was essentially endless. But still, it makes you wonder about the “respect for nature” thing they're suposed to have had.

  • aspacia

    NO SHIT!

  • gatekeeper96740

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews
    Shows a news story.
    Google james chatters kennewick man
    No, they were not Mormon.9,000+ years ago means mammoth hunters.
    the discovery channel did a so so dvd on it but it isn't politically correct to go further than they did.I talked to the scientists.They were not happy with the politics that happened but thats liberals for you.
    http://store.discovery.com/detail.php?p=84844

  • gatekeeper96740

    Who Really discovered America

    On July 28, 1996 two young men encountered a human skull in the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington. That evening I was contacted by Coroner Floyd Johnson, for whom I conduct skeletal forensics. I joined him at the site and helped police recover much of the skeleton. During the next month, under an ARPA permit issued by the Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers, I recovered more wave-scattered bones from the reservoir mud. Throughout the process, I maintained contact with the Corps, which interacted with two local Indian Tribes.

    The completeness and unusually good condition of the skeleton, presence of caucasoid traits, lack of definitive Native-American characteristics, and the association with an early homestead led me to suspect that the bones represented a European settler. I first began to question this when I detected a gray object partially healed within the right ilium. CT scans revealed the 20 by 54 mm base of a leaf-shaped, serrated Cascade projectile point typical of Southern Plateau assemblages from 8500 B.P. to 4500 B.P. However, similar styles were in use elsewhere in western North America and Australia into the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the point raised the possibility of great antiquity, while the skeleton's traits argued for the early nineteenth century. We either had an ancient individual with physical characteristics unlike later native peoples' or a trapper/explorer who'd had difficulties with “stone-age” peoples during his travels. To resolve this issue, the Coroner ordered radiocarbon and DNA analyses.

    Forensic Observations

    I conducted a standard forensic examination and measurements with assistance from Central Washington University student Scott Turner, and photographed the skull, teeth, and pathologies. Physical anthropologists Catherine J. MacMillan of Central Washington University and Grover S. Krantz of Washington State University examined the skeleton briefly. Kenneth Reid, Rainshadow Research, helped identify the projectile point. Kenneth Lagergren, DDS interpreted dental X-rays, and Kennewick General Hospital CT scanned the right innominate and cross-sections of longbones. AMS dating was conducted by Donna Kirner of the University of California at Riverside, who also measured amino acid composition and stable C and N ratios. Frederika Kaestle of the University of California, Davis attempted DNA extraction.

  • gatekeeper96740

    http://www.mnh.si.edu/arctic/html/kennewick_man

    The Kennewick discovery, along with other recent finds in Nevada, may significantly alter conventional views of how, when, and by whom the Americas were peopled. If the Corps persists in its refusal to allow additional studies and decides on immediate repatriation, experts will lose the chance to directly examine this rare phenomenon. Although I have studied him extensively and learned much about his life, our descendants–of whatever ethnicity– will lose the broader view that only multiple perspectives can provide. Data that might be used for such studies in lieu of actual bones remain incomplete as of this writing. When the remains were seized, I had yet to take measured photographs of the postcranial skeleton, and I was still waiting for specialized equipment for state-of-the-art skull measurement. Furthermore, DNA was well preserved and, if restrictive enzyme analysis and detailed sequencing were completed, we might ultimately learn this man's relationship to other peoples of his time and ours. In broader view, reburial without study may set a precedent that forecloses the opportunity for study of most future paleoAmerican finds.

    Much, however, is beyond our reach regardless of political outcomes. No matter how long we might study the Kennewick man we would never know the form or color of his eyes, skin and hair, whether his hair was curly or straight, his lips thin or full — in short many of the characteristics by which we judge living peoples' racial affiliation. We will never be certain if his wound was by accident or intent, what language he spoke, or his religious beliefs. We cannot know if he is truly anyone's ancestor. Given the millennia since he lived, he may be sire to none or all of us.

    Reference
    Turner, Cristy G. II (1987) Late Pleistocene and Holocene population history of east Asia based on dental variation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 73: 305-321.

    Bio
    James C. Chatters (Phd University of Washington (1982) is currently the owner of Applied Paleoscience, which emphasizes developing applications of archaeological and paleoecological data to modern resource management. Recent archaeological publications include “Population growth, climatic cooling, and the development of collector strategies on the Southern Plateau, Western North America (Journal of World Prehistory 9:341-399, 1995) and “A paleoscience approach to estimating effects of climatic warming on salmonid fisheries of the Columbia River basin (Canadian Special Publication in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences No. 121:468-473). Current writing projects address millennium-scale fire histories in Northwest forests, dynamics of salmon productivity during the Holocene, resource intensification among hunter-gatherers, growth increment analysis in freshwater mussels, and interpersonal violence in Plateau Prehistory.

    This article originally appeared in the “Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association.”

  • gatekeeper96740

    And then there is spirit cave man
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xppOQnAAIZA

    There are 39 such cases.

  • PAthena

    Dear TrickyBlaine,

    It is impossible to steer East or West with exact location
    (longitude) by the sun and stars – the Sun can give the directions of
    East and West, but not the longitude. The problem of finding
    longitude was not solved until the eighteenth century when Harrison
    invented a clock to keep accurate time at sea, with Greenwich Mean
    Latitude of 0'00''000'''.

    Columbus was not lost but thought he had found India, hence the
    name of the islands “the West Indies” and of the inhabitants as
    Indians or American Indians. It was after he had discovered these
    lands that the Americas were surveyed and the map by Amerigo Vespucci
    was drawn.

    The name “Indian” for the inhabitants of pre-Columbian America
    and some of their descendants is the standard one. Names are
    frequently given by convention, like that of Greenland, which is not
    green. I am a Native American, having been born in Brooklyn New York,
    and thus being a native-born American.

    The American Indians did indeed contribute much to the world –
    foods, like corn, potatoes, lima beans, chocolate, and tobacco. The
    Central American Indians – the Maya, in particular – did do astronomy,
    founded cities, built pyramids, but they did not have universities or
    do research in the sciences, literature, history, do philosophy. Why
    are you so intent on proving that the Central American Indians were as
    advanced as those in Western Europe (or China) in 1492?

    Judy Wubnig

    Quoting Disqus <>:

  • gatekeeper96740

    This is Archeology's dirty little secret.

    Lovelock and Spirit cave mummies. Over 9,000 years old, and Caucasoid. Located in same area where ancient Paiute Indian legends say the Paiutes exterminated a light skinned, red haired tribe who spoke a different language in ancient times. A complete news interview with a California News station (KCRA-3) from the mid-90s is included. This interview mentions the fact that these people were here thousands and thousands of years before the Indians and the archaeologist interviewed says these are Caucasoid traits. 9. Nevada – Spirit Cave and Lovelock Mummies from Trevor T. on Vimeo.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVTeSigya1s&feat

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__PrkNlCrMU

  • gatekeeper96740
  • gatekeeper96740

    to comments.

    Kenosha Dig Points to Europe as Origin of First Americans
    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ | 3-4-02 | John Fauber

    Posted on Monday, March 04, 2002 10:05:29 AM by afraidfortherepublic

    A contentious theory that the first Americans came here from Europe – not Asia – is challenging a century-old consensus among archaeologists, and a dig in Kenosha County is part of the evidence.
    The two leading proponents of the Europe theory admit that many scientists reject their contention, instead holding fast to the long-established belief that the first Americans arrived from Siberia via a now-submerged land bridge across the Bering Sea to Alaska.

    The first of the Europe-to-North America treks probably took place at the height of the last Ice Age more than 18,000 years ago, said Dennis Stanford, curator of archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, and Milwaukee native Bruce Bradley, an independent archaeological consultant and research associate of the Carnegie Museum.

    Stanford and Bradley contend that if the original migration came from Europe, it would be logical to find more older sites in the eastern United States, as has been the case in recent years.

    The Kenosha County digs show that woolly mammoths were butchered by humans here more than 13,000 years ago – at least 2,000 years older than what was once thought to be the oldest site in the U.S.

    Stanford and Bradley also point to recent DNA analysis involving a particular genetic marker known as haplogroup X. The marker is found in a minority of American Indians, including some in the Great Lakes region, and Europeans, but is not found in Asians, suggesting an ancestral link between Europe and North America.

    The two plan to publish a book laying out their findings in about a year, they said. They believe evidence in the book will win converts to their theory.

    “There are several competing theories,” said Milwaukee archaeologist David Overstreet. “All I know is people were here (in southeastern Wisconsin) several thousands of years earlier than previously thought.”

    Overstreet, director of the Marquette University-affiliated Center for Archaeological Research, has analyzed several southeastern Wisconsin sites where piles of bones of mammoths that had been butchered by people date back as far as 13,500 years ago.

    The Kenosha County sites are among several eastern U.S. Ice Age sites that have fueled the growing controversy over whether North America's first people came from the Iberian Peninsula of Europe or from Asia.

    “Whatever their source, Paleoindians appear to have reached the mid-continent by 13,500 (years ago) and successfully exploited the Pleistocene biomass (animals and plants) there for at least a millennium,” Overstreet writes in a paper soon to be published in the international journal Geoarchaeology.

    It was a time when the inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere lived in an icy environment of vast glaciers, boreal forests, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers and 1,000-pound cave bears.

    In the more-accepted Asia theory, people migrated across a land bridge over the Bering Sea and down an ice-free corridor to the American Southwest, where they established a culture known as Clovis.

    However, while artifacts unearthed near Clovis, N.M., date to more than 11,000 years ago, several sites in the eastern U.S., including the Kenosha County sites, date to between 13,000 and 19,000 years, long before Clovis.

    “In the last half-dozen years, all this stuff is popping up in the eastern U.S.,” Overstreet said. “There is no question that somebody was in this area (southeastern Wisconsin) mucking around with mammoths 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. The question is, where did they come from?”

    Prehistoric travelers

    In separate interviews, Stanford and Bradley offered some of the strongest arguments:

    With much of the world's water having been evaporated and converted to ice, sea levels during the last Ice Age were as much as 400 feet below today's levels.

    An expanded coastal region probably extended from the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern France and northern Spain to the southern tip of Ireland. In addition, the Grand Banks, a series of submerged plateaus extending several hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland, probably were above water.

    The geological conditions meant the prehistoric travelers would have needed to pull off only a 1,500-mile Atlantic Ocean crossing along sheltered ice sheets teeming with easily hunted marine mammals and fish, Bradley and Stanford said.

    Stanford noted that 50,000 years ago or more, humans had become skilled enough at open sea travel that they were able to arrive on the continent of Australia. They most likely used small, animal-skin boats, taking advantage of favorable sea currents.

    “There would have been huge reserves of food,” Bradley said.

    The food, which probably included fish, seals, walruses and the now-extinct great auk, actually may have been the motivation for their wanderlust.

    Overstreet added that the European glacier may have been cutting off hunting areas, forcing those inhabitants to find new food sources.

    “They certainly were on the move,” he said. “These people were capable of making that trip if they needed to.”

    'Completely crazy'

    While Overstreet said he still has not completely accepted the new theory, others flatly reject it.

    “It is a highly improbable theory,” said James Stoltman, a professor emeritus of North American archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Stoltman said he did not think Stanford and Bradley presented credible evidence to support their hypothesis.

    Stanford and Bradley also point to the similarity between the bifaced stone spear points found in the U.S. and the Solutrean area off the north coast of Spain and dating to between 16,500 and 22,000 years ago.

    However, while Solutrean and Clovis points are both bifaced, there are major differences, said Thomas Pleger, who teaches Great Lakes archaeology at UW-Fox Valley.

    Pleger said there just is no credible evidence to support a theory of an Ice Age migration from Europe.

    “It is a completely crazy and unsupported hypothesis,” said Lawrence Guy Straus, a professor in the anthropology department at the University of New Mexico and an expert on the Upper Paleolithic period in Western Europe. He also serves as editor of the Journal of Anthropological Research.

    Straus said there are major differences between bone and stone technology used by Solutrean people and the Clovis culture of North America.

    In addition, he said most of the British Isles, the supposed jumping-off point for the migration, was covered with ice between 13,000 and 27,000 years ago.

    There also is no evidence that the Solutrean people had acquired skills, such as navigation, deep-sea fishing and marine mammal hunting, that would have been needed to pull off such a migration, he said.

    Ancestry in question

    Straus also said the Stanford/Bradley theory has angered some American Indian groups whose ancestry has been tied to Asia, not Europe.

    “It is basically saying they weren't here first,” Straus said.

    However, at the same time traditional religious beliefs of many American Indians fail to acknowledge any migration from another part of the world, said John Norder, an assistant professor of anthropology who specializes in American Indian matters.

    Norder, who also is a member of the Dakota Sioux, said a common religious belief among many American Indians is that their ancestors' land was either created for them or that they came to it from an underworld.

    Recently, some American Indians have incorporated the idea of their ancestors crossing a Bering Sea land bridge, he said.

    In the meantime, the theory of Stone Age Europeans discovering America dominates the debate.

    “People discuss it as being crazy and wish it would go away,” said Straus. “I'm amazed at the amount of attention.”

  • Anonymous

    Here's another response to those who believe it is so important to condemn Columbus: Let's assume for the moment that you are correct. We all need to condemn Columbus for committing a genocide. Now, what about Mohammed? Shouldn't he also be condemned for committing a genocide (google “banu qurayza”)? Since he is believed to be a prophet of God, and described in a holy book as a model for moral conduct, doesn't that make it even more important for him to be condemned? After all, most people do not give Columbus any thought except for one day a year, at most, so he has extremely limited influence on our behavior. It's a whole different story with Mohammed.

  • trickyblain

    Gatekeeper: I haven't checked out your links (fairly busy tonight),
    but I did reasearch this afternon a bit. I was hasty in dissmissing
    your post; please accept my apologies. He was, scientists say,
    caucasioud (probably of northeastern Asian origin). Enjoy your
    weekend….

  • gatekeeper96740

    http://first-americans.blogspot.com/
    no problem.We have been trained to dismiss this type of info.
    Cognitive Dissonance

    check this out

  • sflbib

    I fly Columbus' flags at my house every Oct. 12.

  • joelmontes

    Sir, not sure if you know about the Papal Bulls issued by Pope Alexander (Davenport, European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies to 1648) which only recognized territory claimed by Christian Nations. They are clear about the “subjugation” of “discovered” people. Indigenous Americans had no property or individual rights. They were considered subhuman too. The only way this issue could be resolved is to apply Christian moral principles to the actions of the “conquerors” and “natives”. Both would be indicted as less than Christian. As a matter of ethical culpability, wouldn't Christian nations bare more moral wrong because they had the “truth”. Your logic would also implicate America. Would the brutality of a conquering nation over America be “justified” because we too murder the innocent by the millions? If pagan America deserved the millions of death by war, starvation, and famine, I pray for God's mercy on modern America.

  • Aishah Bowron

    why celebrate a genocidal mass murderer ?. Christopher Columbus is a genocidal mass murderer. He exploited, enslaved, killed and butchered millions of innocent Indians. He called the people Indians because he thought he was in the East Indies ( modern day Indonesia). The uneducated Italian couldn't tell The Americas from Asia ?. What an idiot !. The damn bastard also stole lands and gold from the Indians !. I want an abolition of Columbus Day for my next birthday (April 11th) present please !.

  • Aishah Bowron

    Christopher Columbus is a thief and an evil genocidal murderer

  • Aishah Bowron

    I don't celebrate evil genocidal murderers and slave traffickers and Christopher Columbus is bothn!. I don't like him at all. So please abolish Columbus Day abolish it now !