Subject: Amerindian navigators and Eurocentrism in scholarship From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Yuri Kuchinsky 17784) Date: 1997/09/07 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Newsgroups: sci.archaeology.mesoamerican,sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology,alt.folklore.science Greetings, all, I just wonder. Why is it so difficult for a number of scholars in these newsgroups to accept that the Native South Americans were skilful navigators in precolumbian times? Why so much evidence presented to this effect so far has fallen on such deaf ears? I accept that this important chapter of Amerindian history has remained until today almost completely unknown in our mainstream historical scholarship. This is sad but true. Even somebody as presumably so knowledgeable as Prof. Stephen Williams of Harvard, the author of the bestselling book FANTASTIC ARCHAEOLOGY, has demonstrated his complete lack of familiarity with these matters, while condemning vitriolically some scholars who helped to investigate this in detail. Recently Bernard Ortiz, one of our contributors, has also shown his lack of familiarity with these matters. And he has been extremely critical and totally dismissive of Thor Heyerdahl who was the great pioneer in helping to discover this nearly lost chapter in Native history. (Heyerdahl built and sailed Kon Tiki, a ship modelled after S. American traditional craft, _way back in 1947_. Our respected mainstream scholars are still unable to factor in this information, it seems...) These scholars may have fallen victim to the general near total academic ignorance in this area. Somehow, and Eurocentrism has certainly played a role in this area, the academic consensus was formed that the South American Natives were "land-locked" (imagine this!) and ignorant of the arts of shipbuilding and navigation. Oh, well, never too late to learn new things... But the "professional critics" in these ngs? They have been literally bombarded with solid research and information posted by a number of contributors, yours truly included. And after all this they still refuse to accept the obvious? Why? What prevents them from accepting what was posted, or, if they are still sceptical, from actually lifting a couple of volumes referenced from the library shelf and reading all this for themselves? I just wonder about this... Could it be that old academic Eurocentrism making its appearance here once again? Could it be that they simply cannot accept that the Natives could be so advanced and sophisticated in this area? Also, just think of all the abundant possibilities here for making a few juvenile jokes... Playing up to the gallery of ignorant fellow Eurocentrists, as it were... A noted humourist, Prof. Paul Gans, a fairly respected contributor here, from what I can understand, was known to regale us not so long ago with the cute stories of how he will make a "Budweiser raft", a boat made of empty beer cans, and how he will bravely sail the oceans on it... You get the picture... Anyway, let's come back to the native S. Americans and the Pacific islands. Inca Tupac Yapanqui, the all-powerful ruler of the Incas, went on a prolonged expedition across the sea. (Of course he almost certainly must have known exactly where he was going, since other good evidence indicates that contacts between S. America and the Pacific islands were not uncommon long before him.) He brought some Polynesians with him on his return. He told his peoples about the two Pacific islands he visited, _Ava Chumbi_, and _Nina Chumbi_. All this happened only three generations before the Spanish arrived to Peru, so it's not like it was some sort of ancient history at that point, or anything... The Spanish certainly believed this story enough to actually send an expedition to try to reach these islands in 1567. It was led by Alvaro de Mendana, with the historian Sarmiento de Gamboa aboard. They had almost exact sailing directions to the Easter Island, received from the Amerindians. It later turned out that they did not find Easter Island because Mendana, in spite of Sarmiento's insistence, did not follow the directions given by the Amerindians, and changed course after 25 days. They found some other islands, and returned. The brutal and arrogant Spanish colonialists believed what the Natives told them, and acted on this, as it turned out, solid information. Well, it looks like our today's enlightened sholars of American prehistory are still to progress to such a level... How sad... 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.