History

Deadly Colonialist Fables

What dueling origin myths from the 19th century tell us about ourselves

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In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery, by Annette Kolodny, Duke University Press, 448 pages, $27.95

In the earliest years of the second millennium, Norsemen sailed from Greenland to North America in several waves. They explored the fertile coastline and some of its inland rivers, harvested lumber and grapes, and built camps. They also met, traded with, killed, were killed by, and on the whole failed spectacularly to communicate with Native Americans. We don't know the specific identity of the native population(s) with whom the explorers made contact or the exact location of the Norse landings and settlement—including the place they named Vinland, which likely was somewhere in present-day Canada and not the United States. But one thing is certain: Christopher Columbus "discovered" nothing when he came ashore in the so-called New World, except that he was lost. 

In her thought-provoking new study, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery, literary critic Annette Kolodny looks beyond Christopher Columbus and 1492 to wrestle with the question of the earliest immigrants to North America and what they found. Her search leads her to "contact texts"—including medieval Iceland's The Greenlanders' Saga and Eirik the Red's Saga as well as folklore and related evidence from members of the Wabanaki Confederacy (Eastern Algonquian-speaking Native Americans located in Canada and northern New England)—for what they tell us about Norse contact with Native America half a millennium prior to the Columbian encounter. 

If Kolodny's work did nothing but set the Norse and native texts into conversation with each other, summarize the previous scholarship on them, and confirm what now is accepted and what remains in question, it would be an achievement for which historians, archeologists, anthropologists, and ethnologists, as well as her fellow literary critics, should thank her. But that is barely the tip of the book's all-too-chilling iceberg.

Kolodny's primary undertaking is tracing the way in which the idea of a "Viking past" in the United States has informed U.S. politics and policies. The result is a nuanced, compelling, and frankly disturbing case study of how the national origin stories we tell ourselves can inspire and then justify the worst impulses of human nature, often assisted by the coercive arm of the state. 

Consider the ideological cage match between the isolation and contact stories for Native America. On one side, politicians, public intellectuals, and even educators argued that the impressive artifacts of native history, from copper work to pictographs to large-scale earthen mounds, could not have been the product of American Indian ingenuity. Proponents of this idea asserted that non-native peoples (take your choice, from the ancient Phoenicians to the early Irish) had settled in North America in the long-forgotten past, produced all relics that spoke of any sophistication or culture, and then were overrun by the "barbarian" American Indians. Those who used such rhetoric argued that the removal (and sometimes even extermination) of native peoples represented a just comeuppance, the righting of a historical injustice. 

William Gilmore Simms summed this view up well in his 1845 textbook The History of South Carolina From its First European Discovery to its Erection Into a Republic, which baldly asserted that "according to tradition and old chronicles of the Northmen, the region [of the Carolinas] was occupied by a race, or races, of white men, to whom…we are to ascribe the tumuli, earthworks, and numerous remains of fortified places in which the whole country abounds, rather than to the nomadic red men." The same author in an earlier essay ("The Discoveries of the Northmen," 1841) called upon his literary brethren to write "a most romantic tale" about how the red men invaded the land of the whites "in howling thousands" until those early Anglo heroes "fought to the last, and perished to a man!" in what later would become the American South.

President Andrew Jackson, the chief architect of Indian Removal, justified what would become state-sponsored ethnic cleansing with an appeal to just such an origin myth, telling Congress in 1830 that in "the monuments and fortresses of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the west, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated or has disappeared, to make room for the existing savage tribes." It was time, he urged, to "make room" for civilization once again. 

On the other side, another national origin story prevailed in the 19th century, a myth based on the assumption that Native Americans had been isolated for thousands of years on the continent, wholly without the benefit of interaction with "civilized" humanity until the commencement of Anglo-European colonization. To use the phrasing of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in the first of his five-volume Historical and Statistical Information, Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851), American Indians represented "a branch of the human race whose history is lost in the early and wild mutations of men." 

The contemporary product of such "early and wild mutations" was an inferior and backward race, so these thinkers claimed, a race which certainly faced extinction, as it couldn't be expected to compete or cope with its betters. This narrative therefore became a weapon in the arsenal of those who proposed the military subjugation of native populations, the forced removal of native nations, and the establishment of paternalistic control over native peoples on "humanitarian grounds"—that is, for the American Indians' own good. Hence the Indian Wars of the Great Plains and the Reservation Period.

Rigorous scholars in the 19th century recognized both stories as fictions. Already careful research linked current native populations to earlier artifacts and achievements, and already perceptive readers knew the Norse were in North America hundreds of years before Columbus. But the truth, Kolodny reveals, was no match for political expediency. She documents the repetition of this pattern time and again, noting dryly  that in this typically ugly 19th-century brawl, no matter which national origin myth was winning at any given time, "the Indians lost out."

Kolodny also considers the not-so-friendly competition at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which celebrated the quadricentenary of Christopher Columbus' voyage of exploration. Reproductions of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria vied for attention with a reproduction of a Norse ship, the Viking, which sailed from Norway to Chicago as a hulking, three-dimensional reminder that Leif Eiriksson had beaten Columbus to American shores. This rivalry was far less about the facts of history than about contemporary clashes regarding immigration policy and the politically charged question of which population (Italian Americans? Norwegian Americans? Catholics? Protestants?) had claim to being the "natural" sons and daughters of the United States. 

Kolodny ultimately gleans four key lessons from her research. First, she notes that certain "invincible beliefs" manage to survive, even thrive, despite definitive scientific evidence to the contrary. Even though the engraved "Kensington Stone," which was supposedly "discovered" by a Swedish immigrant on his farm in Minnesota in 1898 has been proven to be a 19th-century creation and not an artifact from a medieval Norse expedition, adherents continue to this day to use it as proof that the Vinland described in Nordic sagas was located in what became the United States, not Canada. Nationalism, not rationalism, is the motivation for such assertions.

For her second lesson, Kolodny notes—rather naively, and without her otherwise characteristic attention to evidence—that while U.S. immigration policy continues to be fraught with racial and ethnic tensions, the "multiethnic, multicultural, and interracial" makeup of the nation today means that the national debate "can no longer insist upon any single defining origin story that begins in Europe." At the popular level, at least, the success of various politicos, radio pundits, and televised talking heads suggests there are many who still clamor for and utilize just such a story to defend excluding others from this land of immigrants. 

Kolodny's third lesson is that the Vinland sagas are "prophecy texts" whose stories do not "shade over into narratives of conquest and colonialism," but whose depictions of trade turning to treachery set the stage for what would follow. For her fourth and final lesson, she underscores how the fascination with a literal or metaphorical Viking heritage remains firmly seated within American culture, even to the point of being exported to space through the Viking mission to Mars.

The great achievement of In Search of First Contact is not the unveiling of new and surprising revelations about what exactly happened 2,000 years ago but rather the insightful tracing of how stories about that encounter have flourished in the American imagination for 200 years. They have inspired great art and lamentable rhetoric, painstaking research and unquestioning faith. 

"In ways we in the United States do not always recognize," Kolodny writes, "how we shape and reshape our stories about discovery and first contact reveal[s] how we are simultaneously shaping and unshaping our understanding of who we are as Americans." This evolving understanding continues to have lasting, even life-and-death consequences. 

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  1. I keep telling you people =

    History = Viking Rape

    1. They still suck this season!

  2. WAY OT:

    Has anyone seen Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale for sale anywhere in PA yet?

  3. “the fascination with a literal or metaphorical Viking heritage remains firmly seated within American culture, even to the point of being exported to space through the Viking mission to Mars.”

    I’m calling BS; were the Gemini missions an exportation of astrological bleefs?

    1. Yeah, that’s definitely a stretch.

      In present-day America, speculation about what nations and ethnicities discovered America is at best a subject for the academically inclined, not a part of the political zeitgeist or anti-immigrant agitprop.

      The only politically-charged aspect of that branch of history that I have seen recently has been from Chinese claims of having discovered the America some 70 years before Columbus.

      1. Gavin Menzies is a Chinese collaborator?

      2. The only politically-charged aspect of that branch of history that I have seen recently has been from Chinese claims of having discovered the America some 70 years before Columbus.

        One flawed idea no one seems to get: Discovery is not simply finding something. Information has to be transmitted back to others. In both the Viking and Chinese instances, who published?

        1. “Chinese claims of having discovered the America some 70 years before Columbus.”

          Is this from that suit-happy English dingbat?
          His stuff has been debunked as often as Uri Geller.

    2. In a way, yes, in that they chose to name the program for a two-seater spacecraft, Gemini, i.e. “the twins,” because it was significant enough concept in the culture to be recognized.

      1. Don’t forget they also did the first, uh, space docking in the Gemini program. So there was that, too.

            1. I should think so.

    3. What about Apollo and Mercury? Were we exporting classical Greek theology?

      Really, people, academics are stereotyped for good reason. This, for example, is classic wooly-headed blinkered academia talking:

      the national debate “can no longer insist upon any single defining origin story that begins in Europe.”

      No matter how many non-Europeans immigrate to this country, the origin of the United States was, and always will be, European (well, English, really, but I don’t expect an academic to be drawing these fine distinctions amongst the various sub-categories of dead white males; they all look, and think, alike, after all).

      1. What about Apollo and Mercury? Were we exporting classical Greek theology?

        It’s telling that 99.99999% of planetary bodies in our culture are named after figures in Classical Greco-Roman mythology. We could have chosen to name those missions “Washington”, “Jefferson”, “Lewis and Clark” or something else clearly American, but we didn’t. This is evidence to me that these Greek and Roman beliefs still have a power in our culture.

        1. “Researchers have discovered new planets in the John Wayne system, as well as in the Wyatt Earp system.”

          1. +Doc Holliday

            1. “It appeared the strain was too much for him to bear….”

              /Val Kilmer

              1. “Poor Johnny [planet with] Ringo” … ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, ba-da rimshot !!!

        2. This is evidence to me that these Greek and Roman beliefs still have a power in our culture.

          The beliefs were lost then rediscovered only in part then edited to fit the beliefs of those discoverers.

          Also after reading Herotitus, and more recently the Gallic Wars, and Anabasis by Xenophon there really is not much we share with them in terms of culture.

          Then again maybe you kill a goat and search its its guts for signs every time you have to make a decision.

          One thing that is apparent though is how very different we are morally from them and how influential Christian morality has been in forming our society.

          1. Then again maybe you kill a goat and search its its guts for signs every time you have to make a decision.

            And this is different from public policy on climate change how?

            1. No, no, no. Public policy on climate change (or anything else for that matter) is determined by cutting off a chicken’s head and letting if flop around on a large board with the various policy options written on it. Whichever square the chicken stops flopping in is the chosen policy. Sheesh.

              1. You forgot the kazoo. It’s an important part of the process.

            2. no no no …it’s entrails of a chicken. Goats are for sex, not divination.

              damn it man – get it right!

      2. Really, people, academics are stereotyped for good reason. This, for example, is classic wooly-headed blinkered academia …

        No shit. I didn’t even read the article initially… then I did, and was immediately driven to near-fury by a phrase like, “…Her search leads her to “contact texts”…”

        Fucking “texts”. Goddamn, I hate ‘literary critics’. Queens of the land of idiotic bullshit. There *has* to be a connection between Vikings and the Indian Removal…

        Like the indian in Dead Man, I can only say: “Stupid fucking White Man”

      3. R C Dean| 11.21.12 @ 2:02PM |#
        “What about Apollo and Mercury? Were we exporting classical Greek theology?”

        In “The History of Money”, Weatherford mentions that academics resisted the Arabic notation. It was easy to learn and undermined their position as ‘seers’.
        Hence, banks get Roman numerals on the corner-stone, and the NFL chooses the same for the superbowl.
        Just plain PR.

  4. Is this really all that controversial? I always thought the Official Story was that Vikings came here, they got chased off; Italians arrived afterward, learned how to barbeque; Indians built all kinds of cool shit all over the Americas; and at some point were heavily de-peopled in North America due to war, disease, or something prior to sweaty Englishmen crashing into Plymouth Rock.

    The only “rah-rah Vikings rule Indians drool” I hear come from fat Midwesterners.

    1. Denialist! The missing tribes were abducted by aliens!

      1. This is why Adams was so committed to the Alien Act.

        True story.

      2. The missing tribes were abducted by aliens!

        At the first Thanksgiving!

    2. This.

      I never heard any of the alleged “idea of a Viking past” until the last couple years. Certainly not in the formative elementary thru HS years of “Social Studies” in which we were drowned in mythology of Honest Abe and Washington and the cherry tree.

      Methinks she doth protest TOO much…

      1. Methinks she doth protest TOO much…

        No @#*()$& shit.

        (*note: the above makes no sense. What am I eliding with the symbols??! It is a mystery wrapped in a conundrum in an egg roll)

        I seem to recall that actual physical evidence of Viking presence in North America (as opposed to written / sagas) only appeared in the 1980s. And it was considered an extremely oddball detail which had no precedent in American origin-stories.

        Now, post cultural-studies PhD, this sort of shit is somehow part of our National Identity. Fuck = it killed the indians! I wouldnt be surprised if the boob connected Vikings to the War in Iraq.

      2. Al and Gil: The first physical evidence of Viking presence in North America was discovered in 1960. This knowledge took a while to make its way into textbooks. Viking discovery is more emphasized in areas with lots of (ethnic) Scandinavians just as Columbus is emphasized in areas with lots of Italians.

        1. Some people (me included) use the Viking account to demonstrate (a) the importance of environmental factors in settlement and (b) that nothing in history is preordained i.e. it wasn’t automatic that the Spanish, French, Dutch, English would succeed in establishing permanent settlements.

  5. the earliest immigrants to North America

    Weren’t the earliest immigrants the Indians?

    1. Oh, snap!

      No! They were ALWAYS here! Gamboling across field and plain until….Officer Whitey chased them off and instituted the [AGRI]cult{URAL} city [STATE] against their collective will.

      Officer – am I not free to gambol acr….BANG!

      No. No you’re not.

      1. Yeesh! I’d forgotten Wide Indention, AKA Butt Supported By Cableguy.

    2. Settlers ^= “immigrants”

    3. Different waves came through Alaska and from the Polynesian islands at different times.

      The Cherokee have long believed that their ancestors came from the Europe. There is a working hypothesis now that seal hunters followed their prey from northern Europe to North America during the last Ice Age. Anthropologists are trying to test it right now DNA analysis.

      1. The Cherokee have long believed that their ancestors came from the Europe.

        No they don’t

    4. No, they were ALWAYS here. After all that’s what their oral histories tell us. We would be imperialists if we tried to question their wisdom using white-man things like science.

  6. Obama gives Gobbler the turkey a “dispensation

    1. …complete with sign of the cross:

      http://washingtonexaminer.com/…..K0rXGfNkYJ

      Good thing it wasn’t GW Bush doing that!

      1. In how many ways is that blasphemous?

        How freaking bizarre. With his left hand! It’s almost like he’s secretly…not Christian!

        1. He does wear that Muslim ring on his left hand, doesn’t he?

          /tinfoil hat off

        2. Was he facing Mecca?

        3. In how many ways is that blasphemous?

          I don’t know, Nikki. Why don’t you catalogue them for us?

          Others can chime in too since there are many varieties of Christianity with varying degrees of sensitivity about stuff. Please specify exactly which branch of Christianity you’re representing. Bonus points if anyone calls someone else a heretic!

          [goes off to pop corn]

          1. That’s kind of my point. That and that a lot of Christians know so little about their own religion (or even their own denomination) that they think there’s something theologically sound about making the sign of the cross over a turkey…

            I.e., this is what happens when people don’t really think about their beliefs very much…

            1. It’s largely meaningless, but imagine George W. Savonarola Bush doing this – and the ensuing media firestorm.

  7. I’m impressed that the Vikings sacked Europe but the Abenaki’s drove them back into the sea.

    1. Of course the Italians came better prepared, with small pox, plague and a wide variety of STDs.

      1. Fucking dagos – you forgot “greasy hair”.

        1. And switchblades.

        2. Dude, we’re greasy all over.

          1. Do go on…

            1. Oh please. You have plenty of experience with Epi.

              1. Yes, but his lady parts are somewhat…haphazard, shall we say? I’m sure your greasiness is much more interesting.

                1. Haphazard? Oh, I think you just won the interesting-ness contest.

                  1. What Italians? As far as I can tell, Columbus/Colombo/Colon was the only Italian on those Spanish ships in 1492. And Italy wasn’t yet a country, so he probably would consider himse.

                    Also, he never came within 500 miles of what is now the United States. That was Ponce de Leon, another Spaniard, who went to what is now Florida, looking for the Fountainbleu.

    2. Tim| 11.21.12 @ 2:31PM |#
      “I’m impressed that the Vikings sacked Europe”

      Which team has a QB with that name?

      1. Johnny Europe, of the London Silly Nannies.

      2. James Reese Europe, legendary WWI military bandleader, early civil liberties advocate. Killed with pen-knife in freak accident. Once played pickup game in Minnesota and got his ass handed to him in the 4th quarter by Vikings linebackers just outside field goal range.

        1. “James Reese Europe, legendary WWI military bandleader, early civil liberties advocate. Killed with pen-knife in freak accident…”

          Shhhhh! He was secretly ‘removed’ by the OSS since he was diddling some collaborator gal in Paris…

    3. Vikings were outnumbered and didn’t have guns.

      The other thing is that Vikings were relatively honest about what they were – they didn’t pretend to come in peace, then swindle you out of your land. They came as conquerers.

      1. JeremyR| 11.21.12 @ 7:13PM |#

        … Vikings were relatively honest about what they were – they didn’t pretend to come in peace, then swindle you out of your land. They came as conquerers

        erm. Danegeld?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danegeld

        I mean, in Orkney, they didn’t come as “conquerors” at all… they just raped, slaughtered, burned, and left! All well and good. I wouldn’t want to live there either.

        But other places they were pretty slimy, as anyone generally is when they can kick your ass at will. Think of them as the Middle-Age Mafia.

        1. They were cornered into it, because the Christian church got all the local rulers to forbid their people to trade with pagans. So the only way they could get some stuff was to steal it.

          1. This kind of extorted tribute was not unique to England: according to Snorri Sturluson and Rimbert, Finland and the Baltic states (see also Grobin) paid the same kind of tribute to the Swedes. In fact, the Primary Chronicle relates that the regions paying protection money extended east towards Moscow, until the Finnish and Slavic tribes rebelled and drove the Varangians overseas. Similarly, the Sami peoples were frequently forced to pay tribute in the form of pelts.

            Cornered?

            They also eventually settled en masse in York/Nottingham and in Ireland…and did trade extensively with locals. When they weren’t on the seasonal rape-fest. Its not exactly a story of religious marginalization. I mean, they *whacked* the Archbishop of Cantubury… and were then paid-off… *again*.

            I still say Nordic Mafia.

        2. Hmm, well if they raped so much, there should be a few blond Algonquins and Mohawks.

          1. i have a red beard.

            nuff said

  8. Lost in all this is the apparent fact that both northern Canada and Greenland were both a lot warmer and more hospitable 1,000 years ago than they are today.

    1. They’ll warm back up again.

      1. I do look forward to surfing in Lake Superior in December.

  9. I used to teach at a Native American college, SIPI. One day a student told me, “Tomorrow is a holiday, Columbus Day, it’s when you discovered us.” Said in a vato accent. Pretty funny.

  10. Now that looks like it might just work!

    http://www.Anon-Max.tk

  11. A Native American student of mine once told me, “Tomorrow is Columbus Day, it’s when you discovered us.” Which I thought pretty funny.

  12. What, nothing about the lost tribes of Israel who settled the americas over a thousand years prior?

    1. Did Moroni tell you that?

    2. mr simple| 11.21.12 @ 3:08PM |#

      What, nothing about the lost tribes of Israel who settled the americas over a thousand years prior?

      What about them?

      They’re still keeping it real in Times Sq.

      http://www.thenarrative.net/ar…..elites.jpg

    3. And what about the other lost tribes of man “who even now fight to survive–somewhere beyond the heavens!”

      1. They’re doing important work , Loki.

  13. Columbus “discovered” nothing when he came ashore in the so-called New World, except that he was lost.

    What a profound misunderstanding of history. I blame card-carrying communist multiculturalists.

    1. They really do teach some crazy shit in schools these days. Did Columbus find British tourists vacationing in the Caribbean?

    2. Columbus “discovered” nothing

      The ‘Takedown of Columbus’ has been going on ever since Howard Zinn’s ‘Peoples History of the United States’. I’m not sure why but its a central piece of the whole progressive meta-narrative about Why America is So Evil and White People are to Blame For Everything ™* The fact is Columbus *was* a douche and incompetent and cruel and generally confused about where the hell he was. BFD I say. That’s not really the point. He helped start a process of European exploration/expansion (exploitation! oppression!) that lasted half a millenium (still going on! economic imperialism! world bank!)

      I think part of the meta theme in this new read is sorta like, “You thought Columbus was the latent origin of our incomprehensible earth-detroying, indian slaughtering, nasty capitalist culture?? Fuck no! It was LEIF ERIKSON and his raping band of rape-a-lots!”

      Which honestly I find a lot more heartwarming and inspiring.

      (*not that I disagree particularly… just that I think they’re morons and have no idea what they’re talking about. Sort of like the Iraq War – which I opposed … just not for the stupid #($@!@ reasons the hippies did. They wanted to moan about Greed and Oil. They didn’t really care that the War was a stupid idea even on its own terms)

      1. It is also based on the myth of the “noble savage” Columbus, Cortez and others found “living in harmony with nature”.

        The truth of it is hilariously far from that lovely lie.

        1. Well, actually Cortez was pretty impressed with Montezuma initially. I mean, dude. Their city *floats*. credit where credit is due.

          Arawaks? meh. Not so much. Columbus cut their hands off until they brought gold. Not much of a linguist, that Christo.

          1. If I remember correctly, the aztec capital stunk of rotten human flesh so strongly that cortez and his men could hardly tolerate it.

            Impressive.

            I have visited many south, central, and mexican ruins. they all seem to feature human butcher shops. Machu picchu is complete with cages, autopsy-like tables with blood grooves and stone meat hooks along the walls.

            When I was a kid visiting Bolivia my brother and I were wandering around out on the altiplano and stumbled across the site of a fairly new human sacrifice. Good times.

            I dont get too broken up when I think about what happened to them. As bad as the europeans were, what they brought was better than what they found.

            1. I think “American” should have included your anecdotes in his (mostly hysterical) case for restricting hispanic immigration:

              – refuse to assimilate to our culture
              – demand handouts
              – vote democrat
              ….
              ….
              ….

              – engage in human sacrifice…

              …and not to question the veracity of your recollection of conquistador’s memoirs… (*I’ve only read “Broken Spears” and some other non-fiction)…

              …but the thing about the ‘smell of blood’ was a quote from poetry about Malinche, the native woman who was their guide/interpreter person (considered the ‘Lady Judas’ of Mexico).

              i.e. *she* was supposedly grossed out by the smell of death. But that’s from poetry probably written 100s of yrs after she was dead

              The spaniards by contrast specifically noted the place smelled “like flowers” (it being covered in them)…as most spanish cities of the day smelled like the open sewers they were. So = I’m not exactly swallowing the “they were animals!” conquistador-apologia.

              I also think Viking-rape is a lot cooler than a bunch of dirty Spics fighting proto-Mexicans.

              1. It’s a hysterical notion to think a nation of Mexicans will look like Mexico.

                1. Well considering that there are a ton of examples of places being colonized and looking very different from the ancestral country, I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion. Is America exactly like Europe? Are even the worst black ghettos anything like Africa? Are places that are predominately Asian American exactly like China, Japan, the Philippines, or India?

                  1. “Is America exactly like Europe? ”
                    Not exactly, but compare amount of wealth, governmental structure, culture, ect, ect, and compare them with those of Mexico, Nigeria, India, ect, ect. Are the worst black ghettos anything like Africa? Well the African Americans did have their original culture more or less destroyed, and they do benefit from living in a mostly white country. You get the point. America has, after all, evolved over the course of 300 years. There was societal pressure among immigrants to become Americans. With hispanics, we are seeing the colonization of our country happining faster, assimilation is racist, and multicultralism tells them eating dog is nothing to be ashamed of.

                    1. America has, after all, evolved over the course of 300 years

                      You mean since we kept people as slaves? how generous

                      if you think hispanics are bad, wait until you meet the kids of irishmen. they’re nuts. they think NYC is *nice*

            2. http://chnm.gmu.edu/worldhisto…..lysis.html

              The following selections come from the True History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal D?az del Castillo (1492-1580), who was a foot soldier in the army of Hern?n Cort?s that conquered the Aztec empire in the period 1519 to 1522….

              “”And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico [i.e. Tenochtitl?n], we were astounded. These great towns and cues [i.e., temples] and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. …the sight of the palaces in which they lodged us! They were very spacious and well built, of magnificent stone, cedar wood, and the wood of other sweet-smelling trees, with great rooms and courts… I was never tired of noticing the diversity of trees and the various scents given off by each, and the paths choked with roses and other flowers, and the many local fruit-trees and rose-bushes, and the pond of fresh water …I stood looking at it, and thought that no land like it would ever be discovered in the whole world…. But today all that I then saw is overthrown and destroyed; nothing is left standing

              1. FWIW Bernal also has a section there later where he *does* talk about the Death Stink of their shrines. Which may have been your point of reference. But I think the idea that the city was ‘unimpressive’ or that their impression writ-large of the aztecs was of nothing but human sacrifce etc was mostly from Cortez own writings, which were generated to justify/explain his independent decision to waste the lot of them and then tell the king afterward that it was done out of Christian revulsion at the pagan horror of the natives. If you’re gonna waste a whole city full of people, it helps to have a good excuse prepared.

            3. When I was a kid visiting Bolivia my brother and I were wandering around out on the altiplano and stumbled across the site of a fairly new human sacrifice. Good times

              I actually think that’s technically the “Escobar Family Exit Interview”

              aka ‘Snitches are bitches who end up in ditches’

          2. How the fuck did he do that? How many men do you think fit on a couple 1ate 15th Century boats? Did they just line up and let the Spanish cut their hands off?

      2. Although, the general trend in teaching this now is to acknowledge that Columbus made a discovery from the perspective of Europeans. So, you get titles such as “The European Discovery of the Americas.”
        Academic interpretations tend to go in cycles.

        There is a pretty good book by Colin Calloway called “New Worlds for All,” which points out that the European arrival created new cultural environments for everyone. So, retains the New World theme without dissing Native Americans.

  14. Kolodny considers what the sagas reveal about the Native peoples encountered by the Norse in Vinland around the year A.D. 1000, and she recovers Native American stories of first contacts with Europeans, including one that has never before been shared outside of Native communities. (From the book’s blurb on Amazon, emphasis added.)

    Hmmm….

    1. 1. Various blogs, message board postings and old geocities stuff I found on the Wayback Machine.

      2.Native American stories that have never been shared outside Native communities.

    2. I smell Tatanka-caca

    3. I bet it will turn out to be something Elizabeth Warren told her @ Starbucks.

  15. “the national debate “can no longer insist upon any single defining origin story that begins in Europe.””
    Actually, it can. No matter how hard diversity advocates try, the origin of our country will always be one that began in europe. Europeans founded our country, they created the constitution, they built the science and industry that made our country great, and they are still most of the leaders of our nation. This is why the lef is so keen on destroying the concept of America. This is why they want Mexican students tudying mexican history, in our schools payed for by us, of course. This reminds me of the description explaining the purpose of VDARE.com:

    Thus Long Island’sSouthampton Press (Donna Giacontieri, Is Town Seal Offensive? September 24, 1999) has carried a story about a local version of the Virginia Dare phenomenon: the local “Anti-Bias Task Force” called on the town to abolish its seal, which depicts a Pilgrim and the words”First English settlement in the State of New York.”

    The grounds: it “features an offensive representation of one gender, one race and one historical period . . .”

    “One historical period . . .”?

    Yeah. It’s called America.

    1. Needs moar rape

  16. “Columbus “discovered” nothing when he came ashore in the so-called New World, except that he was lost.”
    Suppose you are an archeologist and you dig up an ancient ruin. You will be said to have “discovered” it. Even though ancient people’s built that ruin.

    You didn’t build that…

    1. Maybe not, but you’re still criminally liable for it in an Italian court.

  17. “the fascination with a literal or metaphorical Viking heritage remains firmly seated within American culture, even to the point of being exported to space through the Viking mission to Mars.”

    The implication being that it’s thanks to our racist past that we named our spacecraft in the way we did. And this is a libertarian website? Maybe the reason is because the vikings actually DID explore in ships while the Cherokee nation did not. Maybe NASA wanted to name their ship to honor the human desire to explore.

    1. And what is wrong with honoring our culture anyway? It’s mostly European descended people who reside in the central part of the north American continent, otherwise known as “Americans” who built NASA. I would never object to the Chinese space program naming their ship after Zeng He or the Nigerian space program naming theirs after Ngo Njolat. Why are we the only ones who have to give up our culture and history?

      1. I missed the part where the last space shuttle was named, “Chupacabra 5”

        Although jesus, the marketing dept @ NASA obviously aren’t the Big Brains of the organization… they called one “Atlantis”. I mean, come the fuck on. A myth? Of a place that supposedly *sunk* and vanished?

        “Commander Gilmore, you’ve been given the green light on the Atlantis flight…”

        “Yeah… you know, I think I’m going to wait until they’re finished building the Space Shuttle “Wilt Chamberlin”…”

    2. Why they gotta be black holes? Why not white holes?

      Of course they’re going to send the Viking probe into the black hole. That’s what racists do.

      1. I thought that was more sexist.

  18. So, a book nobody wants to read, deconstructing an origin myth nobody born in the last century ever actually believed, written by an author nobody cares about? If they condense it for Reader’s Digest it might make some great conducive reading material for my next shit.

  19. The result is a nuanced, compelling, and frankly disturbing case study of how the national origin stories

    1. …”just sort of end at random?”

  20. Kolodny’s primary undertaking is tracing the way in which the idea of a “Viking past” http://www.jordanskickssale.com in the United States has informed U.S. politics and policies. The result is a nuanced, compelling, and frankly disturbing case study of how the national origin stories

  21. Yeah, that’s definitely a stretch.

  22. In present-day America, speculation about what nations and ethnicities discovered America is at best a subject for the academically inclined, not a part of the political zeitgeist or anti-immigrant agitprop.
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    The only politically-charged aspect of that branch of history that I have seen recently has been from Chinese claims of having discovered the America some 70 years before Columbus.

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