Indians descended from Hebrews and Scandanavians? from Custer’s autobiography
by Jim Morgan
When civilization made its first inroads within the borders of this continent, numerous tribes, each powerful in numbers, were found inhabiting it. Each tribe had its peculiar customs, whether of war, the chase, or religion. They exhibited some close resemblances as well as widely differerent traits of character. That they sprang from different nations rather than from a single source seems highly probable. It is said that when the Spaniards conquered Yucatan a number of intelligent Indians declared that by traditions from their ancestors
they had learned that their country had been peopled by nations coming from the east, whom God had delivered from their enemies by opening a road for them across the sea.
Few persons will deny that the existence of America was believed in if not positively known centuries before its discovery by Columbus. Even so far back as the time of Alexander the Great, a historian named Theopompus, in giving a dialogue that took place between Midas and Silenus, credits the latter with saying that Europe, Asia, and Africa were only islands, but that a vast fertile continent existed beyond the sea. Tliis continent was peopled by a race of powerful men, and gold and silver were abundant on its surface. Hanno, eight hundred years before Christ, made a voyage along the coast of Africa, and sailed due west for thirty days. From the account which he afterward wrote of his voyage, it is probable that he saw portions of America or some of the
West India islands. Reference is also made by Homer and Horace to the existence of islands at a long distance west of Europe and Africa. Diodorus speaks of an immense island many days’ sail to the west of Africa; immense rivers flowed from its shores; its inhabitants resided in beautiful mansions ; its soil was fruitful and highly cultivated. The description corresponds with that given of Mexico by the Spaniards who first discovered it. Aristotle makes mention of it in the following terms : ” It is said that the Carthaginians
have discovered beyond the Pillars of Hercules a very fertile island, but which is without inhabitants, yet full of forests, of navigable rivers, and abounding in fruit. It is situated many days’ journey from the mainland.” After the discovery of America Europeans were surprised to find in villages in Guatemala inhabitants wearing the Arabian masculine costume and tlie Jewish feminine costume. Travellers in South America have discovered Israelites among the Indians. This discovery strengthens the theory given by Garcia, a Spanish writer, that the Indians are the descendants of the tribes of Israel that were led captive into Assyria. Many of the Indian customs and religious rites closely resemble those of the Israelites. In many tribes the Indians offer the first
fruits of the earth and of the chase to the Great Spirit. They have also certain ceremonies at stated periods. Their division of the year corresponds with those Jewish festivals. In some tribes the brother of a deceased husband receives the widow into his lodge as his legitimate wife. Some travellers claim to have seen circumcision practised among certain tribes. Another analogy between the Jews and the Indians is seen in their purifications, baths, anointings, fasts, manner of praying, and abstaining from certain quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles considered impure. In general Indians are only permitted to marry in their own tribe. Some tribes are said to carry with them an ark similar to the one mentioned in Holy Writ. I know that all tribes with which I have been brought in contact carry with them a mysterious something which is regarded with the utmost sacredness and veneration, and upon which the eye of no white man at least is ever permitted to rest. Then again the “medicine man ” of the tribe, who is not, as his name implies, the physician, but stands in the character of high
priest, assumes a dress and manner corresponding to those of the Jewish high priest. Mr. Adair, who spent forty years among the various northern tribes, and who holds to the idea that the Indian is descended from the Hebrew, asserts that he discovered an unmistakable resemblance between various Indian words and the Hebrew intended to express the same idea. He furtlier asserts that he once heard an Indian apply the following expression to a culprit: Tschi kaksit canaha ” — Thou art like unto a Canaanite sinner.
Numerous evidences and various authorities go to prove that prior to the discovery of America by Columbus a series of voyages had been made from the old to the new continent. The historical records of the Scandinavians, describing their migratory expeditions, fix not only the dates of such excursions, but also the exact points on the American coast at which landings were made and colonies established. In 1002, Thorwald Ericsson, following the example of his countrymen, began a voyage, during which he landed near Cape Cod. He was afterward slain in an encounter with the natives. Other expeditions were undertaken by the Scandinavians at subsequent periods down to the early part of the fifteenth century, when, owing to various causes of decline, including savage wars and disease, these early explorers lost their foothold on the American continent and disappeared from its limits. But from the ninth to the fifteenth century it is easily proved by their historical records and traditions that the American continent had been visited and occupied by pioneers
from the Scandinavians. From the great number of inscriptions, antique utensils, arms, bones, and monuments discovered in the New England States, it is fair to presume that these adventurers had occupied a larger portion of the new continent than their manuscripts would lead us to suppose. At the same time the discoveries in the Western States and territories of mounds containing human bones, earthen vessels, and weapons whose form and structure prove that their original owners belonged to a different people from any with which
we are acquainted at the present day, should be received as evidence strongly confirmatory of the early migrations claimed to have been made by the Scandinavians and other nations.