Subject:      Indian horses
From: (Yuri Kuchinsky)
Date:         1997/09/17
Message-ID:   <5vpipi$6rj$>
Newsgroups:   sci.archaeology,rec.equestrian,soc.history,alt.native


I have a few more comments to make about these interesting horse
theories, and also can offer some more items of useful bibliography.

First of all, it really seems like our evidence indicates that, with
few exceptions, at this time we don't have any sort of a trustworthy
likely chronology for when which tribe of Indians got the horse, what
kind of horse, and from where. So, it seems, there are many problems
in this area of historical research, any way you look at it.

The assumption among historians is nearly universal that there were
no horses in America before Columbus (except, of course, for those
that became extinct very early on). I certainly cannot claim at this
point that this assumption is incorrect. I can only say that there
seem to be some assorted problems with this view, as well as a few
troubling items (such as the horse skull) found in good precolumbian

There are of course a number of Native tribal historians who claim
that they had the horse since before Columbus. But such assertions
are not usually given much, if any, weight by our scholars. There are
also indications that the horse was possessed suspiciously early by
many rather remote tribes.

But I think the really big puzzle at this time is about _the kind of
horse_ the Indians had, and still have in some cases -- the Indian
pony. These questions about how and when this pony came to America
seem to be very obscure, and indeed surprisingly so. I have been
unable to find much literature about this at all. We know that this
pony was very widespread among various tribes, and yet we have no
idea about how it derived. The irregular colour of this pony, pinto,
was seemingly quite prized by the Indians, and despised by the
Spanish, and also I think by the British.

Also there are some question about the Native breed known as the
"Chickasaw horse". This horse was apparently very famous in the Old
West, and these horses were highly prized. The Chickasaw Indians
apparently had the horse from very early time. I have looked up the
annotated edition of James Adair, THE HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN
INDIANS, originally published in 1775. (There are also many facsimile
editions out there that don't have any sort of annotation.)

       AUTHOR: Adair, James, ca. 1709-1783.

UNIFORM TITLE: History of the American Indians

        TITLE: Adair's History of the American Indians / edited under
                   the auspices of the National Society of the
                   Colonial Dames of America, in Tennessee by Samuel
                   Cole Williams.
    PUBLISHED: New York : Promontory Press, [1974?]
       PAGING: xxxviii, 508 p. : maps (on lining paper) ; 24 cm.

        NOTES: Reprint of the 1930 ed. published by Watauga Press,
                   Johnson City, Tenn. Originally published in 1775.
               Includes bibliographical references and index.

Adair was an independent trader very close to the Chickasaws, and even
apparently adopted some of their ways. In this edition there's an
interesting longish note about the Chickasaw horses (p. 340). According to
the editor of this edition (Williams?), the Chickasaws seemed to have the
horse surprising early.

     The horse, it seems, was not introduced among the Cherokees
     until the beginning of the seventeenth century, and then
     probably from the Chickasaws.

Also it says the following,

     Barton in his "New View" says: "It is a well established fact
     that the Chickasaws brought with them from the West those
     beautiful horses called Chickasaw breed".

>From the West? Where would that be? I suppose "the West" can have
various interpretations here?

The exact description of this breed was something that I was quite
interested in investigating, since I came across the following in
Thompson. I mentioned before the book by Robert W. Howard, THE HORSE
IN AMERICA, Chicago, Follett Publishing Co., 1965. I don't have
access to it, and yet I have a quote from it (coming from Gunnar
Thompson, AMERICAN DISCOVERY, 1994).

     The Chickasaw horse emerges as the first domestic breed evolved
     in America; its origins may never be determined. (p. 28)

This is what Howard thinks.

This seemed quite promising to investigate this Chickasaw horse. Was
it really such a unique and special breed? I tried to look it up, and
this is what I found in the above mentioned note in Adair.

     Smyth (1774) in North Carolina "purchased a beautiful Chickasaw
     horse, named so from a nation of Indians who are very careful
     of preserving a fine breed of Spanish horses they have long
     preserved, unmixed with any other." A TOUR, I, 139.

So, there we go. So now it seemed like this Chickasaw horse was not
so unusual, according to Smyth -- it was very close to the Spanish
horse! So who is right here, Smyth or Howard? I dare not to guess as
this point... A fine puzzle, this...

And yet we know that the Indian pony was definitely unlike the
Spanish horse, and probably was not introduced by the Spanish. This
seems reasonably clear.

In any case, here's another bibliographic item that may be useful.
Thompson includes in his book a couple of illustrations from the book
by Gloria Farley, IN PLAIN SIGHT, Columbus, GA, ISAC Press, 1994.
These illustrations show some portrayals of horses that she says are
precolumbian. One item is what looks like a fine horse statuette. It
is now housed in the Columbus Museum of Arts and Science, Columbus,
Georgia. In Thompson it says that it is "ancient". More about this I
don't know. Farley probably discusses this matter further in her
book, which I don't have access to.

I would like to add this also. As many people in these ngs know, for
some time now I have been researching many various items indicating
transoceanic contact with America in ancient times. There's a large
number of such items, and many of them seem to provide solid
indications that such contacts were real. And in all such cases so
far I mostly relied on the work of reputable scholars who
investigated these items previously. As most of us know, there's a
significant "academic counterculture" consisting of scholars who do
this sort of very challenging but difficult research. But one thing
that really surprises me at this time is that not only is this area
of research about the early horse almost completely neglected by the
mainstream scholars, but it ALSO seems to be rather neglected even by
these scholars who usually would do this sort of research... We are
talking about _really obscure_ now.

Here's an example. In the book MAN ACROSS THE SEA, Carroll L. Riley,
et al. eds, U. of Texas P., 1971, which is sort of a Bible of this
"countercultural research", the book filled with all kinds of
valuable info, the precolumbian horse is not even mentioned! Not only
that, one noted "diffusionist", D. Frazer (1965: 460-1) doesn't even
seem to be aware that horses were in Norse Greenland way before
Columbus, a well established fact! Here's Frazer,

     The absence of horses and other beasts of burden in the New
     World may be attributed to the same difficulties of transport
     across open sea that prevented Norsemen who colonized
     Newfoundland from successfully introducing such animals in this
     hemisphere...(p. 49)

How's this again, Mr. D. Frazer? No animals in this hemisphere?

So I really don't know what to make of this... Obviously the amount
of misinformation and a lack of information about this seem to plague
even "the usual suspects" who should have known better...

So are these theories so completely wacky that even the scholars who
are known as "(semi-)respectable diffusionists" wouldn't come close
to them? Who knows? Who can tell?

Best regards,


Yuri Kuchinsky in Toronto -=O=- [22]

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

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