Happy Columbus Day

Again the clarioning call, abandon the myth that Columbus discovered America, the Indian were already here (forgive me, Indigenous Peoples), the Viking set up housekeeping long before Columbus, the Chinese discovered America in 1418, and A nautical chart, lost for five centuries, gives evidence that Portuguese captains had found the New World by 1424, it is also claimed that of the various people who reached America before Columbus, Black Africans appear to have made the most contacts and to have had the greatest impact.  There is also a claim the American Indigenous Peoples discover Europe before Columbus made his trip.

My response is, so what!  None of these explores changed how America relation with the rest of the world like Columbus’ did, it was Columbus’ visits that changed the world.  For better or worse is an opinion, that his trips changed the world is a fact.

Now let us turn to the people who were already here when Columbus made his voyage of discovery, the so called Indigenous Peoples.  Indigenous means, “produced, growing, living, or occurring naturally in a particular region or environment ‘indigenous plants’, ‘the indigenous culture’. ‘Indigenous people’ means the first people who lived in any region, and not later immigrants.  Well lo  and be hold this knocks out the people who lived in North America when Columbus made his visits.   If we are to believe the Scientists the inhabitants of America came in waves.

While there is general agreement that the Americas was first settled from Asia by people who migrated across Beringia, the pattern of migration, its timing, and the place of origin in Asia of the peoples who migrated to the Americas remains unclear.  Wikipedia

But even this has came into question:

About 12,500 years ago, they left what is now Siberia and walked over the Bering Land Bridge, now covered by water and called the Bering Strait, to Alaska. The descendants of these first people may have eventually spread out into all parts of North and Central America, possibly reaching South America.But some scientists are beginning to think that the Bering Land Bridge was not the only route to the Americas. Remarkably, some people may have arrived by boat thousands of years before others walked across to Alaska.They probably came at different times and from across both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to both North and South America.

Consider that stone tools have been found in sediments 15,500 years old, before the Clovis people are thought to have arrived in America.

Humans first arrived in North America more than 2,500 years earlier than previously thought, according to an analysis of ancient stone tools found in Texas. And the people who left them appear to have developed a portable toolkit used for killing and preparing meat.

Researchers found a haul of thousands of artefacts near the state capital, Austin, some of which were identified as blades and other tools. The material was buried in sediments that are between 13,200 and 15,500 years old.

Until now, the oldest evidence for human occupation in North America has come from the Clovis site in New Mexico. Scientists think that these people came to North America around 13,000 years ago by crossing the Bering Land Bridge from northeastern Asia. From there, they are thought to have spread across the northern and southern American continents.

There are problems with this story, however. Clovis-like tools, known for their distinctive fluted points, have never been found in northeastern Asia. And stone tools found in Alaska are too young (and too different) to be associated with Clovis.

Michael Waters from Texas A&M University led a team of researchers to study the Debra L. Friedkin site in Texas, about 40 miles northwest of Austin. Buried underneath the layer of rock that has been associated with the time period for the Clovis humans, his team found more than 15,000 objects that indicated the presence of an older civilization.

“This discovery challenges us to rethink the early colonisation of the Americas,” said Waters. “There’s no doubt these tools and weapons are human-made and they date to about 15,500 years ago, making them the oldest artefacts found both in Texas and North America.”

This suggest (to put it the way scientists like to put it) that now only were there successive waves of immigration before Columbia made his discovery, but successive campaigns of conquest.  The tribes that lived in the Americas were not living in a utopia all at peace with one another,  They were at war with one another all over the Americas.  It was this enmity between the tribes that led to the Indigenous people’s down fall.  In his conquest of the Aztecs Cortés made alliance with a tribe called the Tlaxcalans, who were enemies of the Aztecs. They became an important ally for Cortés during his siege of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city.

The same was true in North America where in the Fur Trade Wars the Tribes aligned themselves with the French, English, or Dutch according to who was on the other’s side.  These furs were mainly supplied by Indian traders, especially the Huron and Ottawa tribes. In Wisconsin the Winnebago tribes blocked the fur trade routes. They were attacked and defeated by the Ottawa and Huron. New tribes such as the Sauk, Fox, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe began moving into the area that is now Wisconsin.

Competition between tribes over hunting grounds became more pronounced after the Europeans’ arrival. Tensions also caused conflict among the English, the French, and the Dutch. The competition between the English and the French culminated in the French and Indian War. The Native American chiefs saw that each side was using them, but because of the Indians’ dependence on white goods, they had to become involved in these conflicts. While there were many honest traders who dealt fairly with the Indians, others were greedy and unscrupulous men who cheated and exploited the natives. Alcohol was an important and permanent part of the trade. It had devastating effects on many Indian tribes. Numerous witnesses have written of the violence that the liquor trade brought to Indian villages.

From The Impact of the Fur Trade on Native Americans

A tribe that traded directly with the whites had the most favorable situation, fully supplied and better armed than its customers and possessing the power of any monopoly. Consequently there were trade rivalries, trade diplomacy, and trade wars. For most Indian tribes war had always been a sport, a cult, and a vocation. But the trade with industrial Europe made it for three centuries a fundamental condition of Indian society. Trade wars produced tribal displacements and migrations. The attacked fled before the attackers; those who had firearms or iron for points pushed back those armed with bone- or stone-tipped weapons. New frictions, tensions, and population pressures followed.

Like I said above, so what if any or many had found America before Columbus, they left the world unchanged while Columbus’ discovery changed the world, and there is no going back.

Happy Columbus Day!

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