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Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Who Discovered America First? It Wasn't Columbus

Turkish President Erdogan recently declared that Muslims discovered America on the basis of a single comment by Columbus which most people assume to have been metaphorical - a reference to a mosque on top of a hill in Cuba.

That there was never any remnant of such a mosque found, nor was there any indication of Muslim influence anywhere in the Caribbean, means little to Erdogan.

Now there is a new contender for the discovery of America - Wales. Madog ab Owain Gwynedd, son of the king of Wales, may have sailed across the Atlantic and landed on the US mainland long before Columbus.

Prince Madog purportedly set out from Rhos-on-Sea in 1170 and discovered America some 300 years before Columbus.

The 'Welsh Indians' - Mandan Archery Contest by George Catlin.
Early European and American explorers told stories of encountering a pale-skinned, Welsh-speaking Native American tribe, called the Mandans.

Although the linguistic connection between the Welsh and the Mandans has subsequently been discounted, the similarities with the Welsh language are quite remarkable.

In the 18th century a man called James Girty drew up a list of comparisons between Mandan and Welsh, which amounted to approximately 350 words and phrases. He noted that the word for an estuary was 'aber' in both Mandan and Welsh. Likewise, 'bara' in both languages meant bread, 'hen' meant old and 'nant' meant stream.

The Welsh explorer, John Evans (1770– 1799), was inspired by tales of Girty’s so-called ‘Welsh Indians’, but found no evidence of Welsh speakers amongst the Mandans.

Evans played his own part in American history by mapping the course of the Missouri river, which served the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson - allegedly of Welsh descent himself - it was the first American venture to traverse and chart the western half of the country and enabled America to lay claim to the area.

Some years later, an American painter, George Catlin (1796-1872), also lived among Native American tribes observing their customs.

Unlike Evans, he noted similar findings to Girty. He concluded that the Mandan tribe were descendants of Madog’s pioneering expedition who had intermarried with the Mandan people, passing on their language and culture in doing so.

The Mandans themselves readily claimed Welsh ancestry, alleging they hailed from a distant land across great waters.

They looked for spiritual guidance from the Great Spirit of the Race - ‘Madoc Maha Paneta am byd’. The similarity to the Welsh ‘Madog Mawr Penarthur am byth’ - Madog the Great Spirit forever - convinced Catlin and other supporters that his theory was correct.

Catlin noted that different words were used for different situations and wrote, “Quite often I found that where there were two or more words with one meaning, one of those words would be the equivalent of Welsh.”

Reconstructed sod house at L'anse aux Meadows
Pretty convincing stuff. I'm amazed that I have never heard it before. But, of course, it is now known that a Viking, Leif Erikson, was the first European to set foot in the New World after landing on the eastern shores of Canada in the 11th century.

The evidence for that began to be uncovered in 1960 when a couple of archaeologists happened upon some mounds of grass of specific size and shape on the very northern tip of the island of Newfoundland at a place called L'anse aux Meadows. They excavated the site over the next several years and found 9 sod houses similar to those the Vikings left in Iceland and Greenland. They also found other artifacts which were obviously Norse and dated back to about 1000 AD. 

Artist's conception of what the site may have looked like 1000 years ago
Viking legends as far back as 1300 AD told of Leif Erikson building a settlement in a land he called Vinland. Recent archaeology suggests that L'anse aux Meadows may have been a gateway to further explorations south along the eastern seaboard, or perhaps up the St Lawrence River.

Evidence of other settlements have also been found in the Canadian arctic.