Subject: precolumbian Amerindian horse? From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky 17784) Date: 1997/09/10 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Newsgroups: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology,rec.equestrian FRANK GILBERT ROE ON VERY EARLY INDIAN HORSES. By Yuri Kuchinsky. THE INDIAN AND THE HORSE, 1955, by Frank Gilbert Roe, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. Greetings, Prompted by the recent interest in these ngs, and by the questions asked about the early American horses, I have been reading the above very interesting volume. It is a very detailed and determined effort by Roe to document from historical sources the history of Indian horse in America, and of the Native traditions associated with it. What are my conclusions so far? Well, it almost seems at this point that the more I try to research this question, the more questions are emerging... The whole thing is a veritable puzzle, and anyone who would wish to claim that we know all we need to know about this, and the thing is settled, really doesn't know what s/he is talking about. Some things seem pretty obvious, though. One is that the Indian horses were very different from the horses both the Spanish and the English usually introduced. The difference is in the colour and the size. Of this, more later. Another thing that is very clear is that, as many early European eyewitnesses reported repeatedly, many Native tribes had the horse, and were expert horsemen extremely early in the game, in fact suspiciously early to square with the mainstream view that their horse came from the Spanish sources. This holds true for the Indian tribes both in the South and in the North. The earliest explorers in the North-West reported consistently that, by the time they made it to their areas, the Indians were already expert horsemen and women, and must have had the horse for some time. Roe is persuaded that these Indians had the horse very early indeed. Who may have brought the horse to America before the Spanish? One feature of his book is that Roe has not asked this question even once in it. This question never seems to have occurred to him! All in all, my general impression of him is that he is honestly trying to answer the difficult questions about the likely chronology of the Indian horse without actually considering one rather obvious solution -- the horse was there before the Spanish. So he is confused most of the time as a result. His confusion may have been diminished considerably if he looked at some alternatives to Spanish introduction. Myself, I certainly believe it is possible that the horse could have been brought before Columbus both by the Scandinavians (and/or Celts), and by the Asians. The book provides much support for this, without Roe being aware of this! As I say, Roe, himself, seems to be rather confused most of the time. It is mortifying to have to acknowledge how little our researches really add to our definite knowledge as to when and how any one tribe actually acquired the horse. ... When periods of thirty or fifty years intervene, we can but conjecture and balance probabilities. And frequently our conclusions cannot be made to agree. (p. 134) Here's an honest man. I wish more scholars could be so forthright about their findings... So, first, let us look at the early European accounts, and at Roe's attempts to establish some kind of a reasonable chronology for horse among the Natives. Roe disposes quite early of the idea that horses were first acquired by the Natives as strays from ill-fated Spanish expeditions (Ch. 2). He believes this was unlikely for a number of reasons. One of the big questions that Roe tries to answer next is when the wild horses, or mustangs, were first reported in America. Of these wild horses, huge herds were reported by various observers at various times. some very early. I find the following witness quite amazing, Be this as it may, in Virginia, about 1669, wild horses ... [originally imported from England?] ... were a pest. (p. 67, quoting Wissler, INFLUENCE OF THE HORSE) Strange, but this is what our sources say... I really cannot believe these would have been English horses originally... And here's a report from an early observer, Le Page du Pratz (1719) and others speak of horses being "numerous" in the South, and seemingly "different from the European horse". (p. 69) The interesting thing here is that while the Southern horses' derivation from the Spanish stock would have been quite likely, apparently this wasn't the case... And here are the opinions of some reputable scholars about the very early Indian horses, The earliest hypothetical date in Wissler's paper is where he considers that many tribes should have had horses before 1600. This opinion is endorsed by Walter Prescott Webb, a high authority on Plains history. (p. 72) And here is another amazingly early date, in reference to the testimony coming from Francisco de Ibarra who was in the Sonora Valley in 1567, In that account we find the tribes -- or some of them -- in that territory not merely acquainted with the horse, but practiced horsemen at that date. (p. 73, quoting Denhardt, HORSE OF THE AMERICAS) So this was the situation in the South. How was it possible that the Natives close to Spanish areas could have horses so early, and a _different kind of a horse_, the one that the Spanish were strongly prejudiced against, and probably did not introduce? These are very difficult questions... [second part coming up] Best regards, Yuri. Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- http://www.io.org/~yuku It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought -=O=- John K. Galbraith _________________________________________________________________Click here to go one level up in the directory.