On Tue, 10 Jun 1997 05:14:56 -0400 Susan Harris <[log in to unmask]>
>There exists a fairly exhaustive little study of Prince Madoc and his
>legendary travel to America and subsequent depositing of the group on
>the--Mississippi?--coast, and the possibility of the group merging
>Mandan, title and author I cannot remember, which, if you haven't read
>might provide you some insight. I had difficulty locating it the
>'round in Durham, NC, but perhaps could find it again here in Georgia
If you can find the title and author, I'll see if I can get the book
through inter-library loan. I do have to say, though, that the fact that
someone wrote a book doesn't necessarily make it so.
As I said in my previous post, most of the argument, as I have heard it,
rests on some perceived language similarities, the fact that the Mandan
were fairer...or appeared fairer than their neighbors, and some perceived
similarities in artifacts.
In the couple days since, some other language problems have come to mind.
Chief among these is the fact that an unwritten language is being written
by a non-speaker of that language...which means they are writing what
In this very manner, the French and the English both wrote down the name
of the Anishinawbe people...one wrote Chippewa...the other wrote Ojibwa.
The Odawa people have been known to history as the Ottawa. Many
languages have sounds that others don't. My Irish [language] teacher
said that one of his teachers said that one of the hardest words to say
in Irish...is the name of the country E/ire.
The standard English pronunciation is "Air -uh". The Irish
pronunciation, as close as I can write it is "Ayerz-uh". In fact, one of
the better books on the language, Myles Dillon's book, says that while
the slender R is actually a RZ sound, the safest way for a non-speaker is
to trill a Z and forget trying to get the R sound in.
It's like the double L in Spanish. The proper Castillian pronunciation
is a LY sound. But in Mexico they forget the L and just sound Y.
I live in a city named Xenia. That's a Greek word...means Hospitality.
The correct pronunciation is a XZ. The safe pronunciation is a Z. The
same for Xavier. You hear X-Zavier or X-Zenia, with both sounded; but
that isn't correct.
Irish, like Hebrew, has a sound that is softly guttural, like gently
clearing your throat...which is impossible to render on paper. Whether
you are saying [In Hebrew] L'chaim - To life...or Chanuakah - the Jewish
festival that falls near Christmas...or [In Irish] Cu/chulain - the hero
of the Ta/in Bo Cuilgne or buachaill - boy...the CH sound is the same.
If your language doesn't have that sound, how do you write it
down...especially if the language you're writing down is strictly a
spoken language? Even more to the point, how do you really HEAR the sound
to try to write it down?
Of all the American Indian languages...not counting the hieroglyphics of
the Maya and Aztec...only Cherokee was written, by the Cherokees...and
only after Sequoyah developed his syllabary. If I'm telling you something
you know, excuse me, but a syllabary has some advantages over an
alphabet. It sets up a symbol for a sound and that symbol will always
have the same sound. I can't write the Cherokee here, my e-mail doesn't
have the font...but consider the Cherokee word for "bear"...spelled Yona
in English...actually spelled Yonv and pronounced Yona. It is comprised
of two symbols...two sounds...Yo [Which is not the same as Rocky Balboa
calling for "Adriannnnnnn".] and nv. The V sound is a deep chest "unh"
sound, the sound a rock makes when it hits the water in a deep well. We
don't have it in English...we make it a soft A. And then there are
glottal stops...and the Hokan-Siouan group has glottal stops. And sounds
that not only go into the nose like French...they go into the sinus
Mandan, as all scholars of American Indian languages agree, belong to the
Hokan-Siouan Family of languages. Now, language scholars can show you
how, in the Indo-European Family, languages as dissimilar as, say, Irish
and Hindi trace back to a common source. [The raj, ri/, rix, rex, rey,
roi = king is the most obvious.] They can show you how a language like
Basque doesn't fit. I don't believe that any serious linguistic scholar
has ever suggested that the Mandan language shows any sign of being
anything but Siouan.
Long and involved way of saying that what they heard wasn't what was
said...so that the supposed linguistic similarities...aren't.
As to the people being fairer skinned than their neighbors...well there
are any number of explanations for that, without outside influence. I
have met Lakotas, Hunkpapas, who are...brown...and who get even browner
in the sun. I have met Lakotas, Hunkpapas, who are ivory, like some
Chinese. And I have met Chinese from near Mongolia who are...brown...and
who get browner in the sun. Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader, was recorded
as having olive skin, like southern Europeans. Crazy Horse [Tashunka
Witco] was called Curly as a boy and was suspected, even by his fellow
Lakotas [He was Oglalla] of being part white because his skin was light
and his hair was sandy colored and curly [Probably had a wave in it.]
Too, most of the full-bloods I know...Lakotas [Hunkpapas, Miniconjous,
Sichangus or Brule/s], Arapaho, Anishinawbe...do not have black
hair...they have very dark brunette hair that looks black. Every group
As to this group making its way up into what is now North Dakota... You
said you believe the story has them coming in along the Mississippi
coast...that means they would have had to have sailed around Florida into
the Gulf of Mexico and all the way up the Gulf. Right there is a big
WHY?...on several counts. There especially they would have run into
well-organized tribes who wouldn't have been particularly friendly to a
group that looked like they came to stay. Then to, like Xenophon, "march
upcountry" some 1,500 miles or so... Look at what happened to DeSoto when
he tried marching north from Florida...he ended up in a bodybag in the
Mississippi River...and he was second in command to Pizzaro when they
defeated and captured Atahualpa of the Inca and, ultimately, his empire.
DeSoto had an army, professional soldiers, not families. And even had
they come in on the East Coast...why go to North Dakota? It sure doesn't
resemble Wales...somewhere in the Appalachians or the Smokies I could
see...but North Dakota. Then there is the success of the Viking
settlements in Newfoundland...the Indians chased them out.
The point is that this author would have to make the point much better
than any I've read before. I'll admit that I'll read it with a sceptical
eye...but if you can remember it and I can find it, I will read it. But,
personally I see it as being like books about Atlantis. There are folks
who swear by the legend of Atlantis even though all the mapping of the
ocean floor shows no sign whatsoever of such a place...and they've mapped
the ocean floor several times both from the surface with, I believe,
sonar, and from space with radar...just as we mapped Venus. I'm
convinced that the explanation I've heard about Atlantis: that when Plato
heard the story, the source he had put one too many zeroes on the square
mileage of the place and Plato, realizing that such a place couldn't fit
in the Mediterranean, shifted it west of the Pillars of Hercules, when in
actuality the island was the island of Thera [modern Santorin - part of
the Greek chain], which is volcanic and which blew with an explosion that
outdid Krakatoa which outdid Mount Saint Helens [and having been there
later to see the damage...awesome!!!!!]...possibly was Exodus' "pillar of
smoke by day and fire by night" and may have caused a tidal wave which
"parted" the Reed Sea, an area along the Mediterranean and not the
Red...and definitely contributed to the decline of the Minoans. I
mean...going back to the one zero too many...there's a big difference
between 10 and 100, between 100 and 1,000 and it just keeps getting
wider...1,000 and 10,000...10,000 and 100,000. But...folks will ignore
all the evidence and cling to something for which there is no proof, in
which the evidence all points the other way.
Ray asked why...and I include myself in this group because I'm inclined
to believe in St. Brendan's supposed voyage...we believe some of these
"legends" are fact and we don't believe other similar stories from Celtic
mythology are fact...like...is Avalon really America? Is that where
Arthur ventured at the end. [That would work concerning WW II - the
legend that when Arthur was needed he would return. Hmmmm, was
Eisenhower a reincarnation of Arthur?] Is Tir-na-n'Og really America...or
simply a mythic [and I don't consider the word myth as a pejorative] land
beyond the unknown horizon...a conscious or unconscious tie to the
"dwelling place of the sun"?
I think folks find some of this easier to believe because it is close
to...or even in the historical period. Myself, I suppose I believe
Brendan made the voyage to America partly because I choose to believe it.
But...I choose to believe it because there is no smoking gun to disprove
it. And I choose to believe it because such a voyage has been proven
feasible. The caveats...feasible doesn't mean necessarily probable...and
the tale of the voyage [Navigatio de Sancti Brendan Abbotis - I think I
spelled that correctly] is not written like a National Geographic
special, to record the voyage as voyage, but as a "Life of the Saint" for
the edification of the faithful, told in mythic terms, with Celtic mythic
symbols and themes. It may be true, it may be partly true, it may be a
total fabrication. But, and for me this is key, within the facts as we
can ascertain them, an actual voyage IS a possibility...how high a
probability factor to give it is another question entirely.
I would feel the same way about Madoc and his followers if the
possibility factors were higher. So far, though, everything argues
So...if you can find that book, give me the title. Okay? And, if you
really believe this, hey, fire back. But also be prepared to consider
other possibilities. An example...a while back herein we did a long
series on some supposed ogham inscriptions in a canyon in
Colorado...where they/weren't they...authentic, etc. The person who began
that dialogue mentioned that there was a boat also featured in these
inscriptions and that folks had interpreted it as Viking. My thought at
the time was, this being a rather crude "drawing" as I understood it, why
does it have to be Viking? Because it appears to have a high bow and
stern perhaps? Could it not, assuming these aren't fake, as easily be a
representation of a Northwest Coast sea-going vessel...say...one of the
Nootka whaling boats? They had high bows and sterns too.
And, with that, I'll shut up.
Le meas agus beannachta