Thread: Native Americans and their Norse roots?

  1. #1
    Guest Sebastiani's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Waterloo, Texas

    Native Americans and their Norse roots?

    OK, so we all know about Leif Ericson, and the subsequent attempts to settle the North American continent. What isn't clear is just how many settlers were involved and what happened to them. The prevailing belief is that they simply perished, due to disease, famine, weather, conflicts with the natives, or what have you. Yet another possibility, which I think equally plausible, is that they actually integrated with natives!

    This isn't a new theory, apparently, but I was completely unaware of that before I started wondering it myself. A few years back, I was thumbing through an anthology of sorts of Native American culture when I came across some very early sketches (circa 16th century) of one particular tribe of Abenaki (the Pigwacket) of northern New England. The first thing that struck me was the style of clothing that they wore. For loss of better words, they looked more like Robin Hood and Friar Tuck to me than a tribe of Native Americans! The next thing of interest was their housing, which were long wooden structures, enclosed in a circular fence. Unfortunately, there wasn't much more to it than that in this book, and even though it explicitly claimed that the drawings were of traditional Abenaki, I just assumed that in actuality they had probably been influenced by European customs of the times, and thought no more of it.

    Then, recently, I started looking into some of the earliest accounts of European contacts with natives (such as Giovanni da Verrazano, in 1524), and learned that some tribes of New England actually had very light complexions, sharp features, and customs unlike most of the surrounding tribes. I remembered the story of the Viking exploration of Greenland, and wondered if there was a possible connection. As it turns out, the Scandinavians had actually reached at least as far as Canada (the remains a settlement were found at L'Anse aux Meadows). I immediately thought about the Abenaki, and started searching for descriptions of ancient Nordic culture to see if there was any common features between them. Remarkably, there were many similarities. Making a side by side comparison of the drawings of the Abenaki with traditional Norse customs I could see that they shared many commonalities, such as the unique "pointy" bonnets (hats), embroidery motifs, capes, clothing style, the use of long-houses and fences, to name a few. The women of both cultures even sport identical hair-styles (two braids where the lower half is enclosed in fabric, with a tassle at the end)!

    OK, so maybe it's just a coincidence. But then what are the chances that two cultures, completely isolated and separated by thousands of miles of ocean would have so much in common, by pure chance? What do you think?
    #include <cmath>
    #include <complex>
    bool euler_flip(bool value)
        return std::pow
            std::complex<float>(0, 1) 
            * std::complex<float>(std::atan(1.0)
            *(1 << (value + 2)))
        ).real() < 0;

  2. #2
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    segmentation fault
    I have absolutely no doubt that there was tons of traffic between the old and new world for centuries before Columbus's "discovery". The whole idea that everybody actually believed the Earth was flat is also a little bit specious, especially people who sail. Anyone who has lived near a tall object like a mountain and wandered more than 20 miles in daylight has the obvious thrown in their face. Certainly, by the time history gets to the point where geometry is a formal art, the "Earth is flat" concept must have been a tongue in cheek joke believed by some and seen clear thru by others.

    Columbus and the Spanish Court would probably fall into the later group. His "Official" voyage of discovery was nothing but that: a making official of something that had been a popular "secret" in much of the world probably for many many generations. There are all kinds of pre-medieval myths about a magical land across the sea; this is what they refer to.

    Why go official in 1492? It could have much to do with politics and technology, as history often does. In any case, it was then that the dream ended: all the pirates, anarchists, free-thinkers and rebels who were living in peace with the natives were supplanted by government drudges...
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

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