5. WESTWARD TO NORTH AMERICA
THE SEAGOING EXPANSION WESTWARD TO NORTH AMERICA
The expansions to the sea of chapter 3, were still tied in some
way to their arctic Norway origins. But when the expansions went far
enough, such as into the Canadian arctic, or in some way as far as the
Pacific, we are speaking of migrations great distances. As remarkable
as it may seem to us, it was not really that remarkable. Whales migrate
up and down the North Amercan coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific
for many thousands
of kilometers. Peoples who have become dedicated to whale hunting will
rise to the challenge of traveling as far. They will settle
approximately at the half-way point of the whale migrations, so that
they will encounter them twice a year going south and then coming back
addition to following the voyages of whale hunters, I will also look at
the Alqonquian languages, that I believe were offshoots of it, since
arctic whaling and generally arctic sea peoples would have included
groups who were attracted towards the south, and found the flooded
postglacial landscape also yet uninhabited. These people would be the
Algonquian peoples, who developed an interesting skin boat that used
birch bark as the skin. There may be other examples of seagoing
bat peoples impacting North America, but I will present the
ones I discovered around the 1980's when I did research. Someone
interested in the subject is welcome to continue the investigations of
the expansions of boat peoples, including later expansions via
seatrade. Traditionally, the academic world has taken the evolution of
boats and seatrade for granted, and failed to recognize its
revolutionary impact on transportation including furthering the
evolution of long-distance-trade-based civilizations..
OCEAN CURRENTS LEAD TO NORTH AMERICA
The most obvious expansion of boat peoples would be
the continuation of the internal expansion within Asia. Once reaching
the Ob River basin, boat-oriented peoples could move to other rivers,
and end up travelliing the Lena, as proven by the image of a large
dugout found on a rock wall beside the Lena River. But the most
interesting and dramatic expansions occurred through the arctic seas
and some distance down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. But,
arriving on the shores of North America, could then launch the boat
peoples into water-filled environments towards the interior, such as
the expansion of boat peoples into the east half of Canada into the
post-glacial environment that arose there.
Once there were boat capable of ocean waves - and the
arctic skin boats fit that requirement - migrations throughout arctic
waters was easy as land was close together. The notion that there were
contacts by boat, between Europe and North America via the North
Atlantic, or between east Asia and North America via the North Pacific,
at the earliest times, is so obvious that one wonders why it has to be
debated. If we show that there are certain words in common between
Finnic languages and Inuit language, should we be surprised? And yet,
scholars feel it is controversial and not obvious and needs to be
debated. In my view, this theory, as presented
here, should not even need to be a large issue. It is so obvious.
All we need to do is to establish that there were seaworthy skin boats
in arctic Norway some 6000 years ago - and this is clearly evidenced in
rock carvings; that there were people who harvested the sea; and that
there were sea currents that would have helped men in such boats to
venture towards North America into the North American arctic and down
the Labrador coast. Every requirement is present.
It is true there may be a need to
debate crossings through the centers of the oceans. Even oceanic boat
peoples tried to remain on courses that brought them to the shore where
they could find fresh water and food..
Crossing the centers of oceans and not seeing land
would required plenty of fresh water on board, as well as food.
Did Polynesians cross the middle of the Pacific? Did sea peoples from
the Iberian coast cross the middle of the Atlantic to visit the
Bahamas? Were the latter "Atlantians"?.
There is plenty to debate
when we consider crossings through large spans of open water. But there
is no reason to debate the prospect of seaworthy skin boats following
the edge of sea ice, the coast of Greenland, and allowing ocean
currents to carry them. It is obvious even without plenty of additional
Following the northern coasrts, there was plenty
of places to land, to fetch fresh water (or freshwater snow), and to
procure food along the way. There was nothing to hinder circumpolar
adventures if there were men with an adventurous spirit (or indeed, men
who got lost, but were still able to survive off the land and
sea.) The idea that ALL original arctic peoples were basically
the same people, from the same origin, should be an established obvious
fact in our body of knowledge. There is plenty of additional
evidence in folklore and technology - where we see parallels for
example between the Inuit and arctic Asians.
THE WORLD'S OCEAN CURRENT HIGHWAYS
This map of the world ocean currents suggests the paths of oceanic
migrations. The most applicable currents are those that follow coasts
as then the seafarers can land to replenish supplies. Note that when
the world is shown in a rectangular fashion the top and bottom of the
map stretches the continents. In reality distances in the arctic are
much smaller than they appear here.
The above map shows in pink the POSSIBLE migrations of the arctic
sea-going peoples. Note that the distances were much less than the map
suggests since the map stretches the polar regions.
The map shows migration west to east over top of Siberia. We do not
know if that occurred. It is possible to explain the arctic entirely
with n east-to-west migration. See our discussion of "Thule" culture
We have already discussed in Chapter 3, the north Atlantic ocean
currents and how the circuits of currents could have developed three
divisions of seagoing cultures, all of which were oriented to the
warmed waters of the Gulf Stream.
More can be read from Figure 1. Looking now at the Pacific, we sea
currents crossing the Pacific from south of Japan across to
approximately the middle of the North America coast. around Vancouver
This is supported from the fact that trash from the Japanese tsunami
some years ago were beginning to wash ashore around Vancouver, starting
only some months later.
Note how the current, reaching the Pacific coast near Vancouver
turns in two directions, one branch going north and then circling back
to Asia in a counter-clockwise direction, and the other turning south,
and turning west near the equator.
Early seagoing people travelled with the currents, and did not want
to be out of contact with land for long. The prevailing winds were not
so important unless they raised sails. Even without sails there would
be waves, and preferred routes would be ones where the currents and
prevailing winds were in the same direction.
Analysis of possible routes taken by the prehistoric seagoing boat
peoples can lead to many useful conclusions. Considerations of the
timing and routes of whale migrations, and where archeology has
actually found evidence of human presence, can make the prehistory of
the seagoing boat peoples vivid. This article does not proceed into
detail. Our purpose is simply open the subject by
looking for evidence of boat peoples far from their origins. Part of
the evidence would be to find coincidences in languages between such
peoples, and the Finnic languages at the "Kunda" culture origins
location - so this investigation continues in the separate article
investigating the linguistic dimensions.
Devoted to Animals Hunted
'OWNERSHIP' OF WILD ANIMAL HERDS
Over the centuries a patronising mythlogy has
developed in civiizations that peoples living in harmony with nature
were like wild animals, mindlessly searching for food. But this has
never been true. Human survival in environments outside the natural
'Garden of Eden' environment in which humans evolved, required maximum
organizing and planning in their way of life. It is assumed that
intelligence and organizating was manifested as material culture. If
archeologists find remains of impressive palaces, or technological
works, they assume the people were 'advanced', but people who left
behind only campsites were verging on animal-like primitiveness.
The reality is that in general people in civilizations were more
intelligent and healthy because of the greater challenges of living
outside the artificial environments, than inside. Partly it is the
increased demands on the mind and body to live in harmony with nature
than in harmony with the posh artificial environments created in
civilizations. More humans can survive in the short term, but in the
long run the health of human populations declines. The eventual
collapse of civilizations in history, may be caused by civilization
creating a disconnect between its populations and nature, and
eventually there has to be a return to nature. It could be compared to
how farmers have to leave farm fields 'fallow', to reture their natural
fertility. Civilizations may have to collapse.
Therefore, we must look on peoples who lived
in harmony with nature possibly being true humans, while humans living
in civilizations being the weak and unhealthy. We are therefore dazzled
by material culture because we are indoctrinated by civilization to
feel that way.
The closer one studies the prehistoric, ancient, and
historic 'hunter-gatherer' peoples, the more amazed we can be about how
complex their society was. They did not develop buildings and monuments
for one simple reason - they were mobile. When farming was adopted in
humankind, the people could no longer be nomadic. Because people stayed
in one place, the infrastructure, the material culture, kept developing
generation after generations. An emperor could have a monument to be
developed by an army of slaved over several generations. Civilization
builds material culture on the last. The original nomadic humankind
could only develop small or non-material culture. For example, the most
developed cultures of poetry and song was in the northern material
cultures. Had there been writing, we would be celebrating northern
authors, rather than those of ancient Greece. We can only celebrate
that with which we can be aware.
Being in harmony with nature meant to have a place
within the plants and animals in the environment, similar to how, for
example, have a place in the lives of deer. But humans too organized
themselves into bands, packs, like for example, wolves, and claimed and
defended territories. Humans, competed not just with other
humans, but animals too. They
did not think so much about owning the animals as in terms of owning
the rights to hunt at particular sites as defined by their annual
Hunters of large herding animals might become
dependent on them, especially if it was necessary to develop a
sophisticated way of life designed for that specific animal. For
example, living off reindeer herds required sophisticated practices for
hunting, and then exploiting all the products provided by the animal
that was available. (Every part of the animal was used in one way or
another) Hunters specialized on a particular herd animal defined
their territory in terms of a particular herd. Long before
domestication, the hunters of the herds thought of
themselves as 'owners' of those herds, and they both endeavoured to
foster the herd's health as well as defend them against foreign
In the late Ice Age, the reindeer hunter tribes of
the North European
Plain would have stayed with the same herd generation after
generation. Their sense of territory was that herd, not the
Each tribe respected the herd of the other tribe. There is no question
that something similar occurred with tribes that hunted horse and bison
Archeology says that the "Kunda Culture" from which
the expansion into the oceans came, originated around 12,000 years ago
from the "Swiderian" reindeer culture located in a wide area comprising
what is now Poland and surrounding region. These reindeer hunters would
have had contact with the expanding "Maglemose" boat peoples, and when
reindeer hunting or even pedestrian hunting in general became
difficult, they borrowed from the "Maglemose" culture, and the "Kunda
Culture" arose. The "Kunda" material culture inherited technology and
pracrices from their former reindeer hunting culture. I think they
inherited the highly nomadic nature of reindeer hunters, who, even on
foot covered a wide region in their wanderings to keep in harmony with
the great migrations of thousands of reindeer. The Baltic Sea was a new
liquid form of tundra, and they were not afraid of treating the sea as
a vast plain over which to move in accord with the behaviour of
animals. The reindeer of the sea were probably seals, since seals
congregated in herds. They found they could use technology inherited
from former reindeer hunting.
Thus, when the "Swiderian" culture moved into the
flooded lands south of the melting glaciers they did not become
pedestrian hunters pursuing individual animals,. but continued to seek
out the large herds, but now the herds found in the new liquid tundra.
When we get into the mind of men of the "Kunda"
culture we can understand their mentality - large scale seasonally
nomadic behaviour over the liquid tundra, and the pursuit of the sea
mammal herds. Besides seals, there were the walrus herds, dolphins, and
But it was the whales that travelled especially long
distances and those descendants of the "Kunda" culture that became
hooked on whales, would have made especially long voyages. We do not
know, but it is possible whale hunters could have travelled as far
south as whales migrate. Archeologists and geneticists who find
evidence suggesting northern sea peoples somehow reached southern
regions along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, should consider whale
In about the 1980's I pursued this question of
whether whale hunters travelled very far down the coasts. In terms of
migrating south along the European Atlantic coasts, such an
investigation is thwarted by the amount of development. Aside from the
Basques, there are no coastal peoples who have any connection to
aboriginal origins. But the Basques are interesting because when Europe
developed a great demand for whale products, Basques were quick to
respond. Originally whale products were obtained from Greenland Inuit
who hunted whales in a traditional way, but Basques quickly dominated
the whaling industry. Was there something in their culture that had
preserved an association with whaling? We will look at the evidence in
the Basque language.
It is of course possible that whalers also travelled
south on the North American coast of the Atlantic. Later in this
article, I will look at evidence of an origin in arctic skin boat
peoples, in the Alqonquian peoples. I do not know if evidence of
whaling peoples can be found further south.
Investigations of the Pacific coasts are more
fruitful. On the Asian side, it is possible the Ainu peoples of
Japan, originated from the same peoples who became the "Inuit".
On the North American side, my investigation of indigenous languages
down the coast lead me to discover the "Wakashan" cultures of the
Vancouver area had deep whaling roots. Furthermore archeology confirms
that originally the coast was unihabited and became inhabited from
about 5,000 years ago, which is consistent with the development and
expansion of seagoing skin boats from arctic Scandinavia. Other peoples
with whaling traditions on the coast apparently came to the coast from
the interior at a later time and adopted the whaling practices.
The Pacific coast of North America, particularly the
British Columbia coast, also demonstrates how material culture develops
when people stop being nomadic. Because of the wealth provided by
the rain forests and salmon, the British Columbia coastal peoples did
not have to remain nomadic. As a result they were able to develop their
material culture, which included totem poles and cedar lodges.
The salmon runs up the rivers provided plenty of food, so that whale
hunting became more of a cultural tradition than a necessity,
Situated approximately half way in the coastal migrations of the
whales, they could access the whales coming or going. Culture can be
defined as an originally necessary activity, now not necessary, but
preserved in rituals and ceremonies.
Whaling was of
course difficult, so more realistically, most of the year was probably
spent harvesting the smaller creatures, whether it was plentiful fish or the smaller aquatic animals such as seals and walrus..
The Arctic Sea-People of North
America and Greenland - the "Thule" and "Dorset" Archeological Cultures
CULTURES OF THE ARCTIC
Archeologists say that the Inuit of northern North
America and Greenland, originated from the archeological "Thule"
culture, which expanded rapidly west-to-east (in 500 years!) from
northern Alaska. The name "Thule" has no relationship to the historic
Thule of Pytheas which is
believed to refer to Iceland, and which coincidentally matched the
Finnic word for 'of fire' ("tule" (DUH-LEH) in Estonian). The new
culture, the new
technology, seemed to displace a former "Dorset" culture in the north.
The "Dorset" culture had arrived much earlier from the Greenland side,
beginning as early as 3000BC (5000 BP) about the time of the making of
carvings of seagoing skin boats.
Note that archeology
defines culture by artifacts. The replacement of "Dorest" with "Thule",
only means that a new set of tools and practices travelled east from
Alaska. It does not necessarily mean a massive migration of "Thule"
people. The new ways could have spread through contact, intermarriage
with minimal genetic replacement. Realistically it was both.
Archeologists tend to want to invent drama - wars and conquests. But it
is now accepted that MOST spread of material culture innovations rise
from simpy copying of the more attractive culture. This is clear today
from the speed at which the whole world has adopted the internet and
cellphone. If a people with new superior hunting tools came on the
scene, it would be adopted and spread much more quickly than the very
laborious process of immigrants actually conquering and killing off the
natives. Only genetics can determine if there was genetic replacement -
but even that is not easy to determine because of intermarriage.
I have, thoughout my investigations of the
prehistory of the Canadian arctic, not found any reason to believe that
a "Thule" people actually conquered a "Dorset" peoples, as opposed to
being the source of new cultural innovations that came to be widely
adopted. Humans fight over territory, and there may have been battles
at walrus congregating sites, but those battles could have been between
people with the same culture. The myth of "Thule" culture peoples
exterminating "Dorset" culture peoples is simply naive and absurd, even
if claimed by highly respected scholars. One culture simply changed
another, in much the same way that in modern history, an internet based
culture has replaced the print and letter based culture of a century
ago. Today we do not see any army spreading all over the world from
Google and Apple corporations, and killing off all people who do not
have Google or Apple products. Even in ancient times, nobody
exterminated existing peoples - only opposition. Conflicts are always
territorial - one group of men trying to 'win' in a competition
with another group of men. If other people than the warriors are
affected it is only collateral damage. But history has always
celebrated wars and victories, just as today men celebrate the victory
of their favourite football team over the 'enemy' team. History is not
about real events, but about wars - who won over who in the course of
time. Winning a war did not mean the entire population of the
defeated was destroyed - only the actual participants in the war or
If the "Thule" culture was merely the movement of an
innovative culture from the west to the east, then how did the "Thule"
culture originally arrive at the Alaska region?
If we assume the skin boat was developed in arctic
Russia and Scandinavia, then it could have travelled not just west
across the North Atlantic, but also east along the arctic coast of
Siberia. While it is generally accepted that the "Dorset"
material culture arrived in northeast North America from the east over
the North Atlantic, how did the "Thule" skin boat peoples arrive in the
northwest North America, at Alaska.
There are two possibilities: 1. that some of the
peoples who reached the Russian arctic migrated east along the coast of
Siberia and reached the Bering Strait and Alaska that way. 2. That it
originated across the north Atlantic like the Dorset at a time when it
was possible to travel by boat to the northwest.
The latter needs explaining: We know that about the
time of the Norse landings on North Americam shores there was a
warming that led to Norse establishing farms on the Greenland coast.
Within a few centuries the climate cooled again and those farming
settlements were abandoned. During this warming spell, passages between
the arctic islands, normally blocked by ice could have been free of
ice, offering easy passage to seagoing tribes (ie carrying the "Thule"
culture) on the west side. To be specific, McClure Strait-Viscount
Melville Sound, Barrow Strait, could have had ice-free passages
easy to follow in skin boats. It is believed there was a similar
climatic warming at the start of the modern era ( ie after 0 AD). The
"Thule" culture could have originated from the earlier "Dorset" culture
at an earlier time moving in the other direction (east to west) when
water passage was easy. and then movement across the arctic was blocked
off so that cultures on either side would have developed independently.
Therefore it is not necessary to find the "Thule"
culture emerging from a different ultimate source than the
"Dorset". They could both have come across the North Atlantic,
and then the originally single people become separated by a climate
cooling - until the next warming opened the passage again.
Which explanation works best? The problem with the
migration along the Siberian coast as a few shortcomings. First of all,
the Gulf Stream wamed waters was in the Norwegian arctic, and the
northeast Atlantic, and it would have drawn more seagoing hunters
there, thus increasing the probability of some groups continuing
west. Secondly the Tamir Peninsula extends so far north, that the
sea would have been frozen and blocked continuation eastward along the
coast. Thirdly, I have not learned of any seagoing skin boat
traditions along the Siberian arctic coast. All things
considered, it seems to have come from the east over top of North
America. The theory that passage was blocked and the east and west
populations developed independently for a time, makes much sense,
especially since Greenland Inuit speak of origins towards the east, and
yet their language is a dialect of Inuit. This also supports the idea
that the "Thule" and "Dorset" cultures were basically the same people,
and that all that migrated was material culture
OF ARCHEOLOGISTS' MATERIAL CULTURES
Archeology only studies the hard material
remains left by people. Their definition of "cultures" according to
artifacts can be highly misleading. For example we mentioned above the
"Kunda" culture; but were the "Kunda" culture really very different in
linguistic and cultural terms than the "Maglemose" culture? Similarly
were other "cultures" to the north and east really very different from
the "Kunda"? We have to recognize that people of the very same
ethnicity and language -- with only dialectic variation -- can follow
different ways of life! The differences are determined by the
forces in the environment in which they lived, and not by internal
changes. Indeed internally they could all remain the same, changing
only the technology and behaviour that they needed to deal with each
their own environment. Seagoing people developed material culture
suited to seahunting, river people developed material culture suited to
river life, marsh and bog people had yet other technologies and
behaviour. Humans can change their material culture very very
quickly and still remain the same, ethnically. For example, Chinese can
adopt American business-suits and cars and electronics, and still speak
Chinese, still eat their own traditional food, and still carry on their
own folk traditions. Another good example are Estonians and Finns. They
borrowed farming practices and from an archeological perspective they
ought to be Germanic speaking, but they are not.
Thus we have to be careful about assuming that the
"Thule" and "Dorset" archeological cultures were different ethnically.
While scholars have painted pictures of "Thule" people travelling east
from the Alaska region, and killing off all "Dorset" culture they met,
to be realistic, people living in the arctic would not have waged any
war except if either the invaders were often seen 'stealing' their
resources, or the invaders were stealing "Dorset" culture sites (sites
where arctic animals congregated in quantities, for example) and needed
to displace the indigenous rivals to survive. Otherwise the changes
occurred through positive influences. It is clear from archeology that
the "Thule" material culture was superior, and so the most logical
explanation, as already described above, is that the original
"Dorset" culture people became aware of the "Thule" innovations and
adopted them - a very common process. It is not necessary for the
originators of a new advantageous cultural development to be physically
carried by migration, for the innovation to spread.
A single "Inuit" language is found across the entire
North American arctic from the Bering Strait to Greenland. There is no
evidence of another language. The explanation that the "Thule" culture
killed off every "Dorset" culture follower does not make sense. If my
interpretation above is correct, then the "Thule" and "Dorset" culture
practitioners spoke the same language, with only dialectic variation,
and all that happened was that through contact and intermarriage the
strong aspects of the both cultures survived. For example, the skin
boat of the Greenland Inuit, based on wrapping a large skin with poles
on either end, around a frame, was not like the skin boat in Alaska
where the skin was not easily removed. Here is a case where the
"Dorset" version of the large umiak was superior to the "Thule" version
near Alaska - resulting in the Greenland Inuit continuing to use it
until the 18th century, as revealed in an illustration printed in a
book at that time.
Material culture, and soft culture like language and
genetics are independent of one another. While they can move in
parallel, often they evolve independently. Unfortunately archeologists
do not recognize enough that a material culture can spread without any
respect for language or genetics. Similarly language too can spread
independent of genetics - although in this case I think there was a
single language across the North American arctic and other than
dialectic peculiarities, this aspect does not apply. The only true
insight into whether there was actual migration and warring, lies in
genetic research. Was there any clear indication of genetic replacement
in the northeast arctic by genes from the northwest arctic.
AN EARLY CIRCUMPOLAR LANGUAGE
It is well known in linguistics that languages
change according to useage. Words that have to be used daily will
continue to be used generation after generation. Language changes when
words are used infrequently so that now and then a speaker does not
remember the word, and selects another word. We do it all the time if
we cannot recall the name of something. In a society with writing, the
various words can be remembered, and so there are many synonyms, but
without writing, words develop and endure according to how used they
Therefore we would expect that if there
was a common arctic circumpolar boat people language many thousands of
years ago, that to the degree the seagoing tribes became established in
various regions and reduced contact with more distant neighbours,
dialects would have developed. But throughout the region words used all
the time throughout all these peoples would endure for a hundred
Historical linguistics compares similar words in different languages
to observe the ways in which the words have changed phonetically in
different directions. They then try to reconstruct how the parental
language sounded originally, before the descendant languages shifted it
in one direction to another. However historical linguistics is
dependent on finding the similar words to analysis. The further back we
go, the fewer words we can find; but even finding a small number of
similar common words is enough to determine distant origins. We need
only become suspicious with uncommon meanings. They are likely to be
The words most resistant fo change would be words
used daily in the household - words for family relationships, for
example. If the distance between the Inuit language and the
Finnic language is some six thousand years or so, we certainly cannot
expect there to be very many examples of similarities.
The source of the Inuit words and
expressions tested in my brief study included only a few 1000
Inuit Language of Igloolik, Northwest Territories,
Louis-J Dorais, University of Laval, Laval, Quebec, 1978). My source of
Finnic words is my own upbringing. I know all the most common Estonian
words from learning it in childhood. It is those most common words
imparted to children that are the ones that are probably the oldest.
So was it true? Do the words I saw in Inuit that had
strong resemblances to Estonian, both in sound and meaning, belong to
common ideas that would be used every day?
As expected there weren't many words, but even so,
the rate at which I sensed similarities between Inuit words and
Estonian words was significant: about one
word in 55.
The following area few of the best examples,
because the words relate to the most common concepts and indeed they
have changes so little that the connection to Finnic is
believable. (For more detail, see the Supplementary Article - see
the links at the bottom of this page)
THE RESULTS OF ANALYSIS OF INUIT WITH FINNIC
First it should be noted that Inuit grammar is
as expected from the passing of some six millenia. The Finnic
"agglutinative" structure (endings can be added to endings to form a
complex thought) can be viewed as a degeneration from a "polysynthetic"
form (small prefixes and suffixes added to stems to form complex ideas
in single words) There are also similarities between Finnic and
Inuit grammar. The
most noticable is the use
of -T as a plural marker, or -K- to
mark the dual. (Although neither Finnish nor Estonian retains
declension of a dual person, it is easily achieved by adding -ga
'with' into the declension, which is the Estonian commitative case
among Inuit suffixes, the one that
leaps out first is the suffix -ji as
in igaji 'one who cooks'. This
compares with the Est/Finn ending -ja
used in the same way, to indicate
agency, as in õppetaja 'teacher, one who
teaches'. Indeed Livonian
(related to Estonian) uses exactly -ji This ending would have been in common use, so there would have been an ancestral version that has survived millenia.
In Inuit there is -ajuk as in tussajuq
' he sees for a long time' or the similar -gajuk which makes the
meaning 'often'. This compares with Estonian/Finnish aeg/aika meaning
'time'. This pattern has parallels in Algonquian Ojibwa language
(people of the birchbark skin boat)
Inuit kina? 'who?' versus Est./Finn. kelle?/kene?stem
for 'who?' This can be debated on the exact forms, but in general
what we see is the use of the K for interrogative pronouns. . Note the
use of K for interrogative pronouns, signifying the K sound marks a
question. Such parallels in grammatical elements, is evidence that the
similar words are a result of descent from the same language and not
Continuing to words, we should look first to family relations and then to daily activities.
Words for family relations are words not
easily removed, and Inuit produces more remarkable coincidences: Inuit
ani 'brother of woman',
compares with onu 'uncle' in
Estonian, but in
means almost exactly as
in Inuit, 'mother's brother'. When we consider that over
millenia, these slight shifts in meaning can be expected, these parings
with Finnic words do not need to be debated.
refers to the 'paternal uncle'. In
this case Estonian uses onu
again, but Finnish says sekä
uncle' which is closer.
Then there is the Inuit saki meaning
'father, mother, uncle or aunt-in-law'. In Estonian and Finnish sugu/suku
means 'kin'. The Inuit word meaning suggests an institutional
social unit consisting of the head of a family being one's father and
his brother, plus both their wives (our mother and aunt-in-law) As I
wrote above, Inuit culture was based in hunting, and the male who
hunted ruled the society. The brother was both the assistance to
hunting, and the substitute if the other became incapacitated. This is culturally known, The loss
of the hunter, cold spell the end of the whole family dependent on
them. This may have been the original meaning of the Finnic sugu/suku,
but that when the Finnic people left the hunting way of life millenia
ago, the meaning became blurred and generalized, in much the same way
we see above the Finnish eno means 'mother's brother' while Estonian has narrowed it in onu to just 'uncle'
Inuit has amauraq for 'great grandmother' a
word that might reate to Inuit maniraq
'flat land' . These two words
relate to Estonian/Finnish ema /
emän- 'mother/lady-' on the one hand,
and maa/maa 'land, earth,
country' on the other. As I discuss
elsewhere, early peoples saw the world as a great sea with lands in it
like islands, thus the original concept of a World Mother was that she
was primarily a sea. Thus the original word among the boat peoples
for both World Plane and World Mother was AMA. The meaning of AMA did
not specify land or sea. The proof of this concept seems to be found in
Inuit maniraq since it
contains the concept of 'flat', as well as in
Inuit imaq 'expanse of sea'
which expresses the concept of 'expanse'.
Estonian too provides evidence that the original meaning of AMA was
that of an 'expanse', the World Plane. For example there is in Estonian
the simple word lame
("lah-meh") means 'wide, spread out'. There are other uses of AMA which refer to a wide expanse of sea. One
manifestation of the word is HAMA, as in Hama/burg the original form of
Hamburg . Also there is Häme, coastal province of Finland, etc. which
appears to have had the meaning of 'sea region'. Historically,
according to Pliny, the Gulf of Finland was once AMALA, since he wrote
that Amalachian meant 'frozen
sea' (AMALA-JÄÄN). The words for 'sea' in
a number of modern languages, of the form mare, mor, mer, meri can be
seen to originate from AMA-RA 'travel-way of the world-plane'. The
equating of sea with 'mother' interestingly survives also in French in
the closeness of mère
'mother' to mer
intention of this
discussion is to show that the worldview appears to be a deep one,
possibly being born when boat peoples expanded into the open sea some
10,000 years ago,
However, we must also note that while
'great grandmother' is amauraq,
the actual Inuit word for 'mother' is
anaana Is it possible Inuit
used N to distinguish between the sea-plane
and land-plane. Indeed their word for 'land, earth, country' too
introduces the N -- nuna. Or
perhaps the N is borrowed from the concept
of femininity because we also find Inuit ningiuq 'old woman' and
najjijuq 'she is pregnant'
which relate to Estonian/Finnish stem
nais-/nais meaning 'pertaining
to woman'. It is worth noting that we find a similar word in Algonquian
Ojibwa, notably I bring the passage from later into this
paragraph "Another Ojibwa word element with coincidences in both Inuit
and Estonian/Finnish is -nozhae- 'female'. The Ojibwa nozhae is very close to Estonian/Finnish nais-/nais-, and with exactly the same meaning. Estonian says naine for 'woman', genitive form being naise
'of the woman'" Such connections with Inuit help support my
theory that the Algonquian languages descended from earlier skin boat
peoples established in the northeast arctic of North America, perhaps
the "Dorset" culture ot their ancestral culture.
Inuit also says amaamak for 'breast'
which compares to Estonian/ Finnish amm/imettäja
for '(wet) nurse'.
There is aso Est./Finn. imema/imeä
'to suck'. These coincidences are strong indications of prehistoric
connections, and I don't think a debate about this pairing can be
'lung' connects well with Estonian
puhu 'blow'. Finnish has
developed the word to mean 'speak'.
In Inuit there is -pallia as in piruqpalliajuq
meaning 'it grows more and more. This compares with Estonian/Finnish
palju/paljon 'much, many'.
Inuit also has the expression pulliqtuq
swells' which compares with Finnish pullistua
'to expand, swell'. The P+vowel form is commonly found in language in
association to expansion, to blowing something up, as in English "ball".
Of common daily activities we have the following:
Inuit nirijuq 'he eats' versus Estonian närib 'he chews' This one can be debated, because ninjuq omits the R sound. Why not compare it to Estonian nina 'nose'
('nose in food'?) This one needs more information, from within the
language, derivative words, associated concepts. We need not leave any
hypothesis because the connection is not obvious.
But, the words which are of greatest
interest are words for 'water'. If there is anything that all the boat
people have in common is the act of gliding, floating, on water.
It appears that in Inuit the applicable
pattern is UI- or UJ- same as in Estonian/Finnish. uj-, ui-, Inuit
uijjaqtuq means 'water spins'
whose stem compares with Estonian/Finnish
ujuda/uida 'to swim, float'.
Interestingly Inuit uimajuq
'dissipated', but Estonian too has something similar in uimane 'dazed'
, demonstrating that both use the concept of 'swimming' in an abstract
way as well. (Indeed the concept at least survives in English in the
phrase "his head swims" to mean being 'dazed'.) Considering the Inuit
infix -ma- meaning 'in a
situation, state', it seems that the stem in
both Inuit and Estonian cases is UI, and that -MA- adds the concept of
being in a state, situation.
Then there is in Inuit
kaivuut 'borer' which
compares with Est./Finn. kaev/kaivo
dug out' today commony applied to a hole dug out of ground. This
is very close, especially between Inuit and FInnic
'community house' versus Estonian/Finnish kogu/koko
'the whole, the gathering'. This pair too, matches in form. The
concept of 'community house' and 'gathering' are identical, other than
an indication of a building. The shift that added the concept of a
building could have arisen from the fact that in the arctic, community
gatherings tended to be in the interior of buildings, and not in some
open air location.
compares with Est./Finn. alus/alus
'foundation, base, mattress, etc' This pairing too makes sense.
All that differs is the reference to the matress being made of
branches. How far in the past has it been since Finnic peoples slept on
Inuit katak 'entrance' versus Est./Finn. katte/katte
'covering'. This too is very believable. The Inuit building had
entrances covered with a skin, thus if it began in the meaning
'covering', it acquired the meaning of 'entrance'. This was especially
true of winter during which people lived in large snow houses, where
the only covering was at the entrance.
Inuit kanaaq ' lower part of leg' versus
'heel'. This is a good example of the word form and meaning being very
close. The lower part of a leg is in deed the heel. The
Estonian/Finnish version is a little more focussed towards the heel. I
would not debate this one more. But see next.
Inuit kingmik 'heel' versus Est./Finn king/kenkä 'shoe'
Here the word for 'heel' resonates with the Est/Finn word for 'shoe'. A
shoe is a covering for the heel. Difficult to debate this one.
Inuit tuqujuq 'he dies' versus Est. tukkub
'he dozes'. The Estonian word is a colloquial word, that may have
survived because it come into such common use. Since a person dozes
daily, the chances are that the word survived in Inuit in the meaning
of 'sleep' and only became transferred to the idea of 'death'
'he hunts' or anguvaa 'he
catches it' compares with Est./Finn öngitseb/onkia
'he fishes, angles'
procures, provides'. The liking of hunting to fishing is not a problem
because seagoing people hunting was identical to fishing. I find this
paring is easy to argue and that more supportive evidence is available.
'he harpoons' versus
'he nails'. But closer to the
concept of harpoon is nool/nuoli meaning
'arrow'. (Some words
here have echoes with English words - like to nail - because English
contains a portion of words inherited from native British language
which was part of the sea-going people identifiable with the original
Picts. Some also have echoes with Basque which also has connections
with ancient Atlantic sea-peoples) We will refer to harpooning further later, as we find the same word in the Kwakiutl language!
Inuit iqaluk 'fish' versus
'fish'. This pairing can provoke major disageement among linguist. However, all we need
for a closer parallel in form is to have the intial "I" in iqaluk to be
dropped, because then we have QALU- It is because of this, that I
accepted this paring. It is easy to drop an initial "I" in Finnic from pure laziness.
Inuit unnuaq 'night' compares with
Est./Finn. uni/uni 'sleep'.
Here there is lack of parallelism between 'night' and 'sleep', however
it is possible that the parallelism would be valid if originally the
night was seen as the day being asleep. For an animistic worldview, the
day can be viewed as a living entity that goes to sleep. While we
cannot know for sure, the probability if high that this pairing of
words is valid.
The Inuit aqqunaq 'storm' is reminiscent of
the earlier word akka for
paternal uncle. It may imply that the storm
was considered a brother of the Creator. The word compares to the
Finnic storm god Ukko. In
Finnish ukko also means 'old
man'. Inuit also
has aggu 'wind side', which
implies the side facing the storm. In
means 'south-east'. Prevailing winds
travelled from the north-west to the south-east; thus the word may
originate in a relationship to wind. Looking at all the evidence as a whole, the probability is very high, that Inuit aqqunaq is indeed mirrored in the Finnic words. I believe that if this is investigated further, the evidence will get better not worse.
The Inuit kangia
'butt-end' compares with
Est./Finn. kang/kanki 'lever,
bar' or kange/kankea
intense' Here is another example of the Est./Finn. words having
more than one modern meaning. The 'butt-end' is the 'tail end',
the non-business end. The business end of a lever, bar, is the end that
is put under the object being leveraged. In a lever, the tail end is
easy to move. The business end is magnified and strong. It makes sense
would mean 'strong,
intense'. I think it is not difficult to connect the concept
of the 'butt-end' as the 'strong end'. I do not think there is a
debate possible that can defeat this pairing.
In Inuit traditions and indeed throughout the
northern hunter peoples, the man was always the hunter. This is
reflected in Inuit ANG- words. We have already noted anguvaa 'he catches it'. There is also angunasuktuk 'he hunts', which is obviously related to anguti 'man, male', and angakkuq 'shaman'. Estonian kangelane,
'hero', but literally 'person of the land-of-strong' may have a
relationship to the concept of 'shaman', and also to the earlier Inuit
concept within kangia
mentioned above. In general we see here another example of an
intense focus on hunting in both sea and land, and how hunting skills
were greatly valued. Much could be written on this subject when we
consider the way of life of the prehistoric boat peoples.
Inuit also has several KALI words that have Estonian/Finnish correspondences. Inuit qulliq 'the highest' corresponds with Est/Finn. küll/kyllä 'enough, plenty'; Inuit kallu 'thunder' corresponds with Est/Finn kalla/--- 'pour;; Inuit qalirusiq 'hill' resembles Est./Finn. kalju/kallio 'cliff'. In general it looks like there are many dimensions to the KALI words, and it occurs both in Inuit and Finnic.
The most interesting Inuit words to me, are tuurnaq 'a spirit' and tarniq
'the soul', because they compare with the name of the Creator across
the Finno-Ugric world. It appears in Finnish and Estonian mythology as Tuuri, Taara,
etc. And the Khanti still concieve of "Toorum". The presence of the
pattern in Inuit is proof that it has nothing to do with the Norse
"Thor", but that "Thor" is obviously borrowed from the indigenous
Scandinavian Finnic peoples.
'burning' relates to Est/Finn.
kuum/kuuma 'hot' but most
strongly to Finnish uuni
'oven'. This Inuit word obviously matches the Finnic uuni, very
closely. Even though the Finnish word means 'oven', in a world that did
not have ovens, it would have meant 'heating' which is caused by
'burning'. The conceptual connections are very close. In early
languages there were fewer words, and the precise meaning was inferred
from the context in which it was used. Over the last ,millenia the
number of words multiplied mainly because language was increasingly
used in situations where it was not being spoken directly in context,
and therefore words had to present more precise meanings. Thus it is
valid to imagine an original UUN+vowel word that had many
meanings, but all related to the production of heat, warmth.
means 'edge of knife'. This compares with Est./Finn küün/kynsi 'fingernail'
Both the Inuit and Finnic words describe the same type of object - a
thin blade with a narrow edge, It is possible in prehistoric
times the creation of a blade from flint, was seen as the creation of a
tool that was like a large fingernail. And then with the development of
metallurgy and metal knives the word was carried over into knives. I
have not problem with making this pairing.
Inuit aklunaaq 'thong, rope' compares
with Est./Finn. lõng/lanka
'thread'. While the Inuit word has the AK at front, everything else
with the pairing works. Note that in primitive times there probably did
not exist a word for 'thread' because a 'thread' would have been seen
as a very thin thong. When skin clothing or boat coverings were sewn
together, the thickness of the 'thread' used would vary greatly. There
was no basis for making a distinction between a 'thread' and a 'thong,
thin rope'. I am happy with this paring, although there is room
still for wondering about the AK- in front. Is it a prefix giving an
additional description to the thin rope? Was the original Est/Finn word
AKLANKA? But I don't think answering this question will
significantly alter this result.
Inuit words sivuniq
'the fore-part' compares
exactly with Finnish sivu
'side, page'. But also Inuit sivulliq
compares with the alternative Finnish use of sivu
in the meaning 'by,
past'. This kind of parallelism in two meanings, is powerful in
arguing a connection since it is not likely to occur by random chance.
In my opinion there is no debate about this pairing. It is interesting
to note that in these parallels, the Finnish word is closer to the
Inuit. This is to be expected since Finnish was located closer to the
northern regions around the White Sea, where our boat-people theory
suggests, the expansion of skin boat peoples began.
The following are a few remarkable parallels.
. In Inuit there is suluk 'feather' which
compares with Est./Finn sulg/sulka
'feather'. This is one of the
clearest parallels. This is also an amazing parallel. It suggests that
birds and feathers were very important. Perhaps feathers were a sign of
land nearby. We note that aboriginal peoples liked to wear feathers.
There must have been a major significant to prevent the word being
changed in form or meaning. Furthermore, we will see later that this
word also exists in the Wakashan Kakiutl language. See later.
The word may be related to the Inuit saluktuq 'thin' versus Est./Finn. sale/solakka
'thin' The Inuit stem is SALU which certainly resonates with the
Est./Finn. This is a good one, as it is a concept used every day. There
is always something that is thin. We may wonder if there is a
connection to 'feather'. I would not be inclined to debate this one.
In Finnic traditions there is a very strong
celebrating of water birds. They were a major source of food, and when
feathers were plucked off, there was a constant supply of feathers in
the household, and probably used for bedding and insulation. From that
perspective - if the the boat peoples carried these traditions to
arctic North America - it would not be surprising that the Inuit and
Finnic word for 'feather' would have survived.
This is just a sampling of Inuit words that resonate
with Finnic words. I use Estonian mainly, based on the fact that
Estonia originally had the "Kunda" boat people culture that - judging
from large harpoon heads - was the first to enter the sea, and which
then expanded north to the arctic sea, beginning at the White Sea.
While there is still an archaic theory created by linguists over a
century ago, that the Finnic languages began in the east and migrated
west, the truth from accumulated archeological information is that in
actuality it began in the Baltic area and expanded east. (As we see in
another article, it was the Asian reindeer people who migrated east,
and there was some mixing with the Finnic boat peoples.)
According to the new theory (not really new, as
archeologist Richard Indreko proposed it already in the 1960's)
the Estonian language is descended from the "Kunda" culture
peoples, in situ, (without coming from elsewhere), and that would
explain why Estonian resonates so well in the "Uirala" studies.
with the examples of indigenous peoples that can be linked to the
expansion of seagoing boat peoples.
The purpose of the above discussion of language is
not to come to any major linguistic conclusions but to show, based on
the scientific laws of probability, that what we found above is NOT
possible by random change. There is enough in my findings to confirm
the hypothesis that the Inuit culture ultimately arose from the same
parental circumpolar language of arctic seagoing peoples.
North American Algonquians - the Birch Bark Skin Boat and Rock Art
THE ARGUMENT OF ALGONQUIAN ORIGINS IN ARCTIC SKIN BOAT PEOPLES
The seagoing peoples of
arctic Canada would have been aware of a large land towards the south.
Since a warmer climate would have been attractive, the only thing
keeping any in the arctic would have been their being locked into a way
of life dependent on hunting animals of the arctic coasts and waters.
Immediately towards their south, moreover, there
were vast tundra deserts - land barren of life other than a short
period in summer. These barren lands would have been barriers to moving
inland in the southerly direction. However towards the northeast of
North America, there were ways in which arctic coastal boat peoples
could venture south and become aware of warmer, inhabitable lands with
enough animals to hunt.
In what is now eastern Canada, there were two coasts
by which seagoing arctic peoples could venture south while continuing
their seagoing way of life - south along the coasts of Hudson Bay and
south along the Labrador coast. But common sense suggests the
most inviting direction was the latter, down the Labrador coast, for
two major reasons - seagoing people in the vicinity of Greenland
would discover the north end of whale migration routes that went north
and south along the North American coast, The first peoples to
venture south would have been whale hunters. However whale hunters too
would have been trapped in a way of life that kept them out at sea and
only camping along coasts.
However when these whale huinters reached the waters
off the southeast coast of Newfoundland, they met up with the Gulf St
ream sweeping north and turning northeast alongside an shelf known
today as "The Grand Banks" that was rich with sea-life. It is here that
whale-hunters who also pursued fish, woutld find reason to linger and
inhabit the coasts nearby.
Of paticular interest to those who settled along the
coasts were salmon runs up and down rivers that drained to that
coast. Boat people could have followed the salmon inland into
yet-uninhabited post-glacial flooded lands.
Having originated from seagoing peoples with skin
boats, they would have discovered they were able to substitute birch
bark for animal skins, as a covering for their boats, and expanded
quickly through northern lands that were rich with paper birch..
The story of the inland expansion of boat peoples is
obvious from the fact that these boat peoples defined as the
"Algonquian" cultures, were found by Euiopean colonists to be located
in all river systems that drained generally to the northeast Atlantic
coast of North America. The longest penetration towards the interior
occurred through migrating up the Saint Lawrence River into the Great
Lakes. Towards the south of the Great Lakes there were land-based
peoples. Possibly the "Iroquoian" peoples were descended from such
peoples, since the Iroquoian cultures were completely different from
that of the Algonquian. The Iroquoians were not nomadic, but created
settlements and farmed the surrounding lands.
The Algonquians, therefore are very interesting
peoples to study from the point of view of the expansion of boat
Over the ages, there would have been intermarriage
between the original Algonquians and whatever land-based peoples they
encountered in their expansion. Such intermarriage and general contact
would have brought indigenous genes and language into the Algonquian
Bur we cannot ignore the possible migration of
arctic boat peoples south along the coasts of Hudson Bay as well. There
were three major rivers draining into Hudson Bay, so it would have been
easy for boat peoples to travel up those rivers and find an
increasingly forested and inhabitable land, if they adapted to hunting
land-animals. There were annual migrations of carbou, and the
sparse forests and boggy lands contained the animal known in North
America as "moose" (In European English they are called "elk". North
American elk are called "red deer" in European English).
We cannot say how many arctic people inhabited the
post-glacial lands of the Hudson Bay basin from travelling south from
Hudson Bay, versus north from Lake Superior, but I tend to believe more
expanded north from Lake Superior than expanded south from Hudson Bay.
The reason is a simple one - boat people are more likely to
explore down-river from an inhabited area as they would expect more
inhabitable lands ahead, whereas if you explore from barren lands there
will be an expectation of more of the same barren lands. Furthermore
they would have to paddle against the current. It would only be when
the upriver southward direction was known, that paddling upriver
through barrent lands would be tolerated, in order to reach more
inhabited lands at the southern reaches of the river systems.(Boat
peoples on rivers travelled seasonally up and down rivers. The Cree
would have wintered as far south as the rivers would carry them.)
Returning to the Altantic origins, the northeast
Atlantic offered other large rivers than the Saint Lawrence by which
the ancestors of Algonquians went into the interior. One nortable river
is the Churchill River that drained from the interior of Quebec into
the Atlantic. The people of that river were/are the "Labrador Innu" of
today. The Algonquians in Newfoundland or Nova Scotia were harvesters
of the sea and did not travel inland. The "Micmaq" are obviously
descended from peoples who remained there. But in New Brunswich the
"Maliseet" peoples inhabited the Saint John River. Other small
tribes were located in the water systems of smaller rivers drainging
into the Atlantic between the Appalachians and the Altantic coast,
south to around New York. The zied of a tribe was determined by the
productivity of the land, which allowed a tribe to occupy a smaller
geographical area than tribes (like the Cree) occupying barren lands
that required much greater nomadism to find food.
Focussing on the larger tribes that occupied the
east half of what is now "Canada", Europeans arriving a few centuries
ago found the "Cree" in the water basin of southern Hudson Bay,
the "Ojibwa" in the water basin of the Great Lakes north of lakes
Ontario and Erie, the "Algonquin: in the water basin of the
Ottawa River, the "Montagnais Innu" in the warer basin of the Saguenay
River, and the:Labrador Innu" in the water basin of the Churchill
River. All these peoples were located in regions without very
large trees - hence dugouts were not an option - but filled with birch
trees. All their boats were made by covering a
frame with birch bark. The birch bark canoe can be viewed as a form of
Algonquians further south, in what is now the
States, made dugouts, since birch trees were less available. The fact
that Alqonquian cultures knew both the skin boat concept and the dugout
concept, reminds us of the rock carving in arctic Norway that showed
both the skin boat and the dugout. This suggests the Algonquian
cultures most probably developed in the arctic, such as the "Dorset"
culture, or their predecessor culture, and migrated south.
If the Algonquian peoples descended from the north,
then the evolution of a skin boat from a dugout did not happen. The
Algonquians arrived with the skin boat concept already established.
Descending south of Hudson Bay or Labrador, they no longer had access
to the arctic animals they used for their skin boats. There may have
been memories of dugouts, but if they descended from the arctic, they
would not find the large enough trees initially. When their
original skin boats wore out, they had a problem of what to use for the
skin. Someone thinks "Why do we not stitch the bark of the birch
together to obtain the skin".
Continuing to spread southward into lands not yet
inhabited eventually came to an end as they encountered native peoples
in less flooded lands. They would have been pedestrian
hunter-gatherers, a woodland culture. Some cultural mixing may have
occurred. Once again, we should not think of one people dominating
another, but rather of new ideas being easily copied. The original
pedestrian hunter-gatherers would quickly copy the making and using
birch-bark canoes, and to some extent the way of life could spread,
even if the originators of the culture became a minority. (To
illustrate the idea of cultural change not needing ethhic change: In
recent history the Plains Natives of North America, copied Spanish
horseback riding, found some Spanish horses gone wild, and within a few
generations had completely changed their culture, but we would not
claim they were conquered by the Spanish! )
When we consider that humans are land-people,
and strong continuous pressures were needed to force a change that made
humans assume a new way of life dependent on boats, we cannot assume
that the development of the boat using way of life developed
independently from northing in North America. The evidence is not found
in North America. While northern Europe has rock carvings
dated to as much as 8000 years ago, showing both dugouts and skin
boats, all images in North America that show boats are relatively
recent. In addition, the ocean currents favoured voyages from northern
Scandinavia since there were locations where they could land to obtain
fresh water. For a journey in the opposite direction, the voyagers
would have to be prepared for a long journey with no place to land and
carry plenty of fresh water and food. It is not impossible, but
the expansion of seagoing peoples from east to west, first requires an
established seagoing culture with a reason to journey eastward (ie to
find new sites for hunting sea animals) which happened. Once it
happened, the expansion to North America was inevitable, and was
probably repeated often.
(This is not to say there were no other ways to
cross the Atlantic. Just as we can claim that the Norse crossing to the
northeast coast of North America was not the first, so too we can calim
that the crossing by Christopher Columbus near the equator was not the
first either. The real issue is not crossings, but whether those
crossings had any significant impact at the destination. A handfull of
men arriving on the North American coast would barely have had any
impact at all. Archeologists may uncover material evidence of
early crossings of the Atlantic, but unless the evidence is sustantial,
the group who left the evidence there might have had zero impact, and
the culture may not have lasted more than the lifetime of these
arrivals. But in the case of the Algonquians, we see a substantial
impact that seems to have come from seagoing North Atlantic peoples,
and lasted for many millenia up to recent history. With recent contact
with Europeans, the Europeans had already developed major ship
technology and were able to impact North America in a major way with
thousands of immigrants. Yhe native peoples of North America have been
impacted like never before to the extent of having the impact
map shows both the expansion of the Algonquian tribes in blue, and the
seagoing the archeological "Dorset" culture.
EVIDENCE OF ALGONQUIAN PEOPLES ORIGINS
Other than the obvious connection between the
birch-bark skin boat and the animal skin boats of the arctic, the
Algonquian boat peoples origins is difficult to
fathom. To what degree did they develop their own way of life
independently, and to what degree did they borrow from skin boat
peoples in the North Atlantic and the North American northeast arctic
seas? There certainly must have been influences from the arctic, since
the Algonquian boat peoples had contact with the Inuit and previous
peoples in the north - such as around Hudson Bay and northern Quebec -
who did use the animal skin boat,usually walrus skin.
The arctic, according to our theory expressed
inhabited first by
the arctic skin boat peoples of the White Sea spreading around the
arctic coasts (which is not such an enormous distance - maps tend to
stretch the arctic.) And then the skin boat peoples were drawn
by the warmth and many liked the warmth and adapted their arctic
culture to suit. I is certainly a good argument, that arctic skin boat
people groups who ventured south, would have remained in southern
locations that were not already inhabited. (When a location is
inhabited, newcomers are not free to do as they please, and are chased
away - except if the newcomers are considerably stronger and able to
displace the inhabitants.) Logically, if the lands flooded with
glacial water, were vacant since no boat peoples yet existed there,
then any people with skin boats from the north would have easily
inhabited those vacant flooded lands. .
Archeology describes two North American arctic
cultures - the "Thule" culture identifiable with the modern "Inuit"
culture, and the "Dorset" culture that preceeded it. Apparently the
"Thule" culture was originally in the northwest, around Alaska, and the
"Dorset" culture was originally in the northeast. The former apparently
expanded east, and overpowered the "Dorset". We are reminded of
an earlier discussion of how peoples pursuing the same resources are in
fierce competition and ultimately there would be one winner; and the
loser was driven away. However, the loser is not dead, but has to
The one side killing off the other is never wise, so what would have
happened would be that the defeated people of the "Dorset" culture
simply joined the people of the "Thule" culture. Archeologically
speaking, it could simply be a matter of the spread of the superior
"Thule" material culture. It reminds us that archeologically determined
material culture is not genetic. The genetics of the original users of
the "Dorset" culture and the original users of the "Thule" culture
could have been genetically the same, and even spoken nearly the same
language. History offers many examples of how a new material culture
spreads without spreading the genetics of the originators of the new
material culture. There are examples all around us today, as all
peoples of the world are adopting the mass media material culture, and
everything carried in it. From this argument, it follows that the
Algonquian birch-bark boat peoples could in fact be descended
from the same genetic stock, at least in part, as the arctic skin
boat peoples, and becoming established much earlier than the period of
the "Thule" or even "Dorset"culture. There is considerable evidence in
the northeast quadrant of North America of elements coming from the
east across the North Atlantic. Besides the obvious spread of the skin
boat concept, there are some genetic markers, for example, which is a
subject of current debate regarding early crossings of the Atlantic
(and that the North American Native peoples did not entirely come
across at the Bering Strait land bridge, but also by boat at both the
Atlantic and Pacific sides.)
The above map shows the way the North
American glaciers retreated. Note that the regions that became flooded
with glacial meltwater was basically what is today the Hudson Bay
basin. Some groups of an arctic skin boat people, who had arrived
from the east, would have been able to descend either along the
Labrador coast, or the swollen Hudson Bay, and maybe both. It could be
that ultimately the Algonquian birch-bark canoes people may have been
the ancestors of Cree and that it expanded south, into the Great Lakes,
and then eastward, On the other hand, Atlantic skin boat peoples could
have easily descended the Labrador coast Do the Algonquians have
two origins paths?
Furthermore, Greenland Inuit insist they originated
east, while the Thule culture is supposed to have come from the west. I
think this is most easily explained by the theory that the "Thule"
material cutlure expanded, and not genetics. That way, people can think
of their ancestors (genetic origins) in northern Europe, while
technically their material was most recently the "Thule" culture that
originated in the west,
But that is not all. The interior Algonquian peoples
around the Great Lakes themselves carry beliefs of origins in the east
- which is at least consistent with a boat people expanding east along
the major waterway: the Saint Lawrence River that carries people to the
The fact that around 1000AD, the Norse were carried
by currents and winds to the shores of Labrador and Newfoundland,
suggest that such an event could have occurred from time to time every
since there were large seagoing boats in the North Atlantic. If as rock
carvings at the White Sea show, there were large seagoing skin boats on
the north European side as early as 6,000 years ago, then even if we
compute one accidental crossing every 500 years, that means in 5,000
years before the Norse there could have been unintented crossings
similar to the Norse crossings. Even earlier crossings, like some
archeologists claim, could have occurred if there was an independent
development of seagoing boats somewhere along the Atlantic coast during
the Ice Age. For example, if somewhere on the Atlantic coast, people
got into the habit of hunting animals on sea ice, they may have
developed ways of more easily reaching those animals. For example boats
based on the principle of the raft, such as reed boats, could have
developed independently of the development described here under
"uirala".(A raft-based boat would simply use the buoyancy of materials,
and not water displacement of the northern thin-skinned boats that when
swamped would lose their ability to float on top of the water.)
Besides the Norse crossing of 1000 years ago, there
must have been other earlier crossings. Newfoundland had up to historic
times a Native group called the Beothuks, whose culture first
manifested there in the early centuries AD. They could have come
south,or even originated from the northern British Isles.where one of
the names of the seagoing boat peoples there were called peohtas.
It is logical that during the period of the push of Celts into the
north, and then the Roman invaders circumnavigating the British Isles
and establishing control over all the isles, that many of the seagoing
"Picts" would have abandoned the area, and perhaps found a vacant
Newfoundland that was as good. The Beothuks was masters of skin boats
But such ideas are speculations arising from logical considerations.
Returning to hard data, what more is there that
suggests at least some cultural, genetic, and linguistic origins came
across the North Atlantic as that an early time (as early as 6,000
years ago)? :Less studied - or perhaps not studied at all before,
except here - is linguistic evidence of contact between the Algonquian
languages and Finnic languages of the original northern European boat
In the course of investigating the traces of
expansion of boat peoples, I had a look at Algonquian languages, taking
the Great Lakes "Ojibwa" (or "Anishnabe") dialect for study.
The full study can be seen in a Supplementary
Article whose link is given at the bottom, but we can make some general
Unlike our observation of the Inuit language across
the arctic that showed evidence of a language with the same genetic
origins as Finnic languages, our observation of the Algonquian
languages showed a different foundation language,but with Finnic-like
elements on top. My impression is that there was a mixing of an
original culture and newer ones which perhaps came with the skin boat
peoples across the North Atlantic.
The Finnic languages - looking notably at Finnish
and Estonian - look like a degeneration of the highly "polysynthetic"
language of the Inuit. Finnic languages have words that seem to contain
a large number of prefixes, affixes, and suffixes .Degeneration takes
the form of these elements being frozen into words, while in Inuit, the
prefixes, affixes, and suffixes are largely still free to use to invent
word-phrases as needed.
At the roots of the Algonquian languages is the
grammatical distinction between animated and inanimated things - things
containing spirit and therefore alive, verse things without spirits and
therefore dead. While it is possible to see connections with Finnic
based on the use of the K,G it is clear that if there was a common
original language, it existed a very long time ago.
In short, it is easier to see similarities at the
foundations of Finnic and Inuit, than at the foundations of FInnic and
Algonquian. A good scenario would be that originally there were
pedestrian woodland hunter-gatherers on northeast North America, but
who, lacking boats did not inhabit the flooded lands under the melting
glacier. Then northern skin boat peoples spread south and the
inhabiting of the flooded lands became possible. There was then a
cultural mixing between the arctic peoples who came from the
circumpolar seas, and the indigenous pedestrian woodland peoples
further south in drier lands.
Still, there are a few remarkable coincidences that
suggest a distant genetic origin. Here are some remarkable coincidences
'seagull' corresponds to
'seagull'. This is an almost exact parallel. Is it possible that in
their seagoing days, seeing seagulls was important - a sign they were
close to land, and the importance of the bird ensured the word would
pagid 'release, let go, free
liberate, set free' can be compared to Estonian põgenik/pakolainen
meaning 'refugee, escaper'.
Another very close parallel is between Ojibwa
naub or naup meaning 'lace, string
together, connect, join, unite', and
assin shin is a verbalizer
meaning to be in a place. This compares with Estonian/Finnish cases and
words that use -S- and denote a relationship to the 'inside' of
something. For example Estonian says tule
sisse to mean 'come inside.'
Note that we found that Inuit too employed "S" to convey the idea
In Inuit (see PART TWO) we found the word for
'father' to be
ataata. However the common
Estonian word for 'father' is isa.
reflected in Ojibwa -osse- 'father'.
Another Ojibwa word element with coincidences in both
Inuit and Estonian/Finnish is -nozhae-
'female'. We recall Inuit
ningiuq 'old woman' and najjijuq 'she is pregnant'. These
Estonian/Finnish stem nais-/nais-
meaning 'pertaining to woman,
female-'. The Ojibwa nozhae
is very close to Estonian/Finnish
nais-/nais-, and with exactly
the same meaning. Estonian says
'woman', genitive form being naise
'of the woman'
An interesting Ojibwa word that used the word
for 'water, surf' is kukaubeekayh
meaning '(river) falls'. This word
compares with Estonian/Finnish kukuda/kukua
'to fall'. Plus add vee 'water' . So in Estonian one can say kukuv vee-. 'falliing water'. Also kukozhae
'ashes, cinders' may reflect the same meaning of falling. An Ojibwa
speaker can tell us if the implication in the kuko- element is 'fall'.
The Ojibwa word for 'earth'
is aki, but this word is
similar to Ojibwa words related to time! For
example ajina 'a while, a
short time'. And once again we see a
parallel to FInnic since it compares with Estonian aja- stem meaning
'related to time'. In the Inuit examples we saw Inuit akuni 'for a long
time', which we compared to Est./Finn. aeg/aika 'time', kuna/kun
'while', and kuni/---
'until'. Estonian also has the interesting
imperative akka! meaning
'begin!'. Ojibwa has akawe!
with the reverse
meaning 'wait!' These examples of words pertaining to time suggests
that the Ojibwa word for 'land, earth' presents the concept of 'the
means 'village', 'temporary
encampment'. As we saw above there was Inuit qaqqiq
'community house' versus Estonian/Finnish kogu/koko 'the whole, the
gathering'. Indeed in the Estonian landscape a common name for a
village was Kogela 'place of
See the supplementary article "INTERESTING
COINCIDENCES BETWEEN ALGONQUIAN AND FINNIC LANGUAGES" for a
more detailed discussion and more examples.
In general, the presence of some words also found in
the Inuit language directly above the Algonquian cultural range,
suggests there has been significant contact with the Inuit if not
distant roots. The Finnic parallels could have travelled to the
Algonquians at an early time by the early expansion of seagoing skin
boats. Similarities between Inuit and Finnic are found elsewhere too.
(Once we accept that humans were able to
deliberately cross large expanses of ocean at least as early as 6,000
years ago, we can accept crossings from east to west many times. But
then some crossings from west to east is also possible. A North
American seagoing people with plenty of fresh water aboard their ship
could have travelled the Gulf Stream to the north European coast. But
it is more likely there was circumpolar movement of culture, as there
is plenty of evidence of an arctic circumpolar culture, such as for
example the drum created by stretching skin on a hoop fpund in all
circumpolar boat peoples.)
BOAT PEOPLES LIKED PUTTING CARVINGS OR PAINTINGS ON CLIFFS BESIDE WATERWAYS
Finland has red ochre images on rock walls that
originally beside water, and made from boats, but all the images are so
degenerated it is difficult to make them out. On the other hand similar
red ochre paintings on cliffs beside water in the Great Lakes of Canada
are fresh enough that you can tell what the images represent. They
suggest visits from the arctic coast of Norway by aboriginal people of
Finnic origins (since they carried out exactly the same practice as
found in Finland)
relatively recently. The North American rock paintings are dated to
only about a millenium old. But that is not certain. Minerals covering
the red paint can preserve the paintings for quite a while.
On the other hand rock carvings last longer,
depending on the durability of the rock. The Alta, Norway rock carvings
are made into granite. Granite is very hard, and some of those carvings
can be believably dated to be 6,000 years old.
Anyone who is aware of the rock paintings on the
walls of cliffs in Finland, which were painted from boats, and also
those in North America around the Great Lakes, cannot help but notice
their similarlities. In both regions, separated by the Atlantic, people
in canoes found it necessary to stop beside sheer walls descending to
the water, and make paintings using red ochre. Did these people first
come from Finnic sources in northern Scandinavia, via the Alta
gateway, first crossing the North Atlantic in skin boats, and then
travelling inland in shallower vessels?
image, by Dewdney reproduced from Indian Rock Paintings of the Great
Lakes (S. Dewdney & K.E. Kidd) represents a section of the
rock paintings found on the rock face beside the water at Bon Echo
Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. In the center we see a boat with a
prow with an animal head. Does this depict a skin boat of Scandinavian
LATER ARRIVALS TO
NORTH AMERICA HAVE TO 'MOVE ON'
A very important concept regarding aboriginal
peoples, was that, like all humans, they were very territorial.
Supposing the arctic waters west of Greenland were already inhabited by
seagoing peoples, an early "Dorset" culture, already established early.
Then later, when
the Alta area became a new staging location for boats heading west into
the ocean, new migrations would have run into the "Dorset", and been
forced southward along the Labrador coast. The Algonquians need not be
seen as a single early arrival, but as several arrivals at different
The Algonquians could have also included a second wave of migrations, from the second staging
area, Alta. We have nothing to prove it, other than the concidences of
making rock paintings on How similar are the
rock paintings to those in Finland, when
comparing the two locations?
The rock paintings at Lake
Mackinaw, Ontario, are interesting because they are towards the east,
hence closer to the direction from which visitors would have come.
The image above shows an impressive location that
canoes would have
passed on a route northward from eastern Lake Ontario. One should not
imagine that men made intentional journeys to such cliffs, but rather
that it was on their normal long-distance canoe routes, and that the
voyagers were impressed by the vertical rock walls and were moved to
make drawings. (Possibly feeling
the same way as a tourist with a camera). Obviously where there were no
cliffs descending to the water, there were no drawings. We should not
assume that because a region has no drawings the people did not pass
through there. There simply
were no places to put drawings. Southern
Ontario does not have very many locations suitable for rock art, such as the one at Lake
Mackinaw in southeast Ontario. The greatest concentration of rock
paintings done on cliffs beside the water are found alongside Lake
Superior and lakes towards its northwest. A detailed study of the Great
Lakes rock paintings is found in Indian Rock Paintings of the Great
Lakes (S. Dewdney & K.E. Kidd)
Most of the Canadian rock art consists of rock
paintings made onto rock walls northwest of Lake Superior. But they are
not very old. But they certainly preceded by many centuries, the
arrival of Europeans, including the Norse. Their presence, at least
demonstrates that such an immigration was possible.
Further investigations would reveal rock art that
can be dated to considerably earlier such as 6,000 years ago. Such rock
art, which can be attributed to boat peoples (such as if it is found
alongside prehistoric waterways) may already have been found. It is not
my purpose to do an exhaustive search into what archeology has found.
My purpose is to open the discussion.
In the separate article on language, we will also
open the discussion about language, since there are some remarkable
coincidences between the Finnic languages of today (Estonian and
FInnish) and Algonquian languages. In general, the Algonquian
are less similar to Finnic than Inuit, but there are significant
parallels not just with Finnic but also Inuit. If I were to try
to explain the language, I would be inclined to suggest that there re
two layers of immigration from over the north Atlantic,one occurring
very early, and one perhaps only a couple millenia ago, with added
interractions with indigenous woodland peoples. You can be the judge
when we study the Algonquian languages in the separate discussions of
The Pacific Coast of North America In the above section we looked at how arctic
boat peoples descended south along the Atlantic coast and Hudson Bay to
probably give rise to the Algonquian birch-bark canoe peoples. We noted
above how their language showed resonances with both Inuit and Finnic.
But it was unclear what the founding language was, because we do not
see as many grammatical similarities with Finnic as we found in Inuit
language. It suggests that the arctic boat peoples descending south,
initially blended a little with indigenous natives before the expansion
into the interior.
My investigation of the Algonquians lead me to
wonder if I might find similar resonances with Finnic down the Pacific
coast among seagoing aboriginal peoples.
In the late 1970's I first had the idea that
seagoing boat peoples had nothing to prevent them from travelling long
distances if they had a mind for it. It is human nature to explore especially with population
growth exerting pressures to find new hunting territories. Success
Having found that the Inuit of arctic Canada has
some words that resonated with Estonian Finnic words, it occurred to me
that seagoing peoples with traditions in whaling would have taken
cues to their voyages from their observing the long distance migrations
of whale up and down North American coasts. We know that the eastern
coast of North America had whaling migrations and it is probable that
those whales were hunted, since whaling traditions were well developed
in the "Greenland Inuit". See my supplementary article EXPLAINING "LONGHOUSE FOUNDATIONS" ON THE LABRADOR COAST for
the evidence of seagoing skin boat peoples with a culture
archeologically thought to be "Dorset" along the Labrador coast. These
people were probably long distance nomads with families gathering off
the south Greenland coast every year to collectively hunt whales.
Normally tribes would be broken up into extended families, but hunting
whales needed all the families or clans working together.
The Inuit were whalers across the North American
arctic, but not as dependent on whales since they were able to access
sea animals like seals, walrus and fish as well.
But now, considering there were and are whale
migrations up and down the Pacific coast of North America as well, is
it possible the Inuit whaliing culture also expanded south along the
Pacific coast. Whaling people along a north+south migrating route would
locate their home base half way along the route, because then they
would see the whales twice a year, once when migrating north, and once
when migrating south. That location might be around Vancouver island.
Thus if our theory is correct that whaling aboriginals originated in
the arctic in the arctic seagoing peoples ancestral to Inuit, then we
should find aboriginal peoples in the vicinity of Vancouver island with
deep whaling traditions, who we MIGHT discover have words in their
language that resonate with Inuit and Finnic words
Being a student at the University of Toronto in the 1970's, albeit
in Applied Science, I had access to the "stacks" (where the books were
shelved) in the central library, and I went to several corridors of
bookshelves pertaining to the North American Native peoples. I
located the section which covered the Native peoples of the west coast,
and pulled out book after book, and scanned it first for seagoing
traditions, and then for some words in their language that seemed to resonate with Finnic. Having been
raised with Estonian, I could resonate with anything that seemed
Finnic, even if shifted in minor ways. I put each book back immediately, otherwise I would have a
hundred books out, that staff would have to re-shelve. If I got
positive results, I left the book out and thenI looked more carefully at the language, culture, and
what archeology had found for that people.
Once again, this was not an exhaustive project. I
used what the university had. There may exist considerably more
information, and more discoveries may be possible, should someone wish
to pursue it further.
The objective was simply to find enough evidence to
support the hypothesis, that a boat peoples tradition ultimately
originating in the Baltic postglacial landscape expanded into the
arctic ocean, spread around the arctic, and from there spread southward
too, into northern lake-lands, or coasts that, before about 6,000 years
ago, were not previously occupied. (No inhabitants were there to claim
territory and repel newcomers.)
I will focus on whaling peoples to begin with,
because whaling traditions were easy to identify and investigate. They
are also more likely to have retained the original culture and
language, since whaling is so specialized, people following it would
mix well with people with other ways of life. The first thing I
discovered was that a few peoples along the Pacific coast, who pursued
whales, actually originated from the interior at an early time. Their
language would not be linked to the original whaling people expansion.
Thus archeological information was important to identify which peoples
arrived by sea and established on the coast at the early times - such
as about 5,000 years ago.
REACH THE PACIFIC
The Inuit of Alaska clearly originated
the migrations of whale hunting peoples to that location along arctic
coasts. My opinion is that
they most likely reached Alaska from the east, from the same peoples
from which the "Dorset" culture developed, who ultimately came from the
arctic European coastal waters. In my view, already expressed above,
early temporary climate warming the original sea-hunting peoples were
able to travel through the channels of the central arctic of North
America, and then the cooling that followed blocked it again, and
separated the two cousin peoples to diverge to some degree. Finally
there was a warming again that brought them in contact again which
resulted in the "Dorset" culture adopting the innovations that
characterized the "Thule" culture. But, in my view they were
same people. Aside from evidence of a few territorial conflicts, there
nothing to suggest one people exterminated the other. I believe they
were a single people with roughly the same language, and what changed
was that the more superior material culture (mainly hunting tools)
One piece of evidence suggesting there was basically
one culture, is the fact that the word "Inuit" (meaning 'the people' in
their language) for the people supposedly of the "Thule" culture, is
close to the name of the Algonquians along the Labrador coast and north
coast of the Saint Lawrence, which is "INNU". The "INNI" stem, we have seen, is used
in many other Algonquian peoples, in the singular meaning 'person'.
Furthermore when we get to the Pacific, we find the seagoing aboriginal
peoples of Japan called "Ainu". What is interesting about the
"INNI" stem, is that the Estonian word for 'person' is "INIMENE". This
suggests a spread of a people whose word for 'person' was based on
This coincidence seems to support that the
peoples of the "Thule" and "Dorset" culture were basically the same in
non-material culture, and the differentiation is purely an arbitrary
archeological distinction based on material culture.
We saw earlier in the 17th century illustration
that the Greenland Inuit were whaling people, using the same whaling
methods that we see in a White Sea rock carving. But ALL the Inuit
peoples were whalers at their core. Whales were being hunted from boats across the
Canadian arctic to Alaska and then south through the Aleutian Islands.
Before we look at whaling peoples of the east side
of the Pacific ocean let us have a quick look at the "Ainu" of Japan,
whose name and seagoing traditions appear to link the Ainu name with
the Inuit name, or for that matter the "Innu" name of the Algonquian
peoples on the Labrador coast.
Ainu of the West Pacific Coast
AINU ORIGINATED FROM WHALING PEOPLES
It is common sense the these circumpolar whaling
have ventured southward in the Pacific from the Bering Strait and
Aleutians. Perhaps the Ainu legacy in Japan represents whaling peoples
established on the west site of the Pacific. Were the Ainu
A Wikipedia entry states that "Surviving Ainu folklore reveals a long history of whaling and a spiritual association with whales" ( Etter, Carl (1949) Ainu Folklore: Traditions and Culture of the Vanishing Aborignes of Japan,
Kessinger Publishing, pp. 164-171) But what does "long" mean? Was this
a recent development? Archeological evidence in the form of whale
remains discovered in burial mounds suggests that whales have been
consumed in Japan from early prehistoric times. It has been assumed
that consumption of whales originally stemmed from stranded
whales. But if it can be determined when seagoing boats arrived in
Japan, we can assume that whaling was part of the culture of these
seagoing peoples, and that it would have been part of the expansions of
whaling peoples. It would not have been a local development.
What else do the Ainu offer that links them
to the boat peoples? The most obvious cultural practice they have is
the "dragon boat", which refers to a dragon-like head at the prow of a
seagoing boat. This custom of an animal head on the prow dates back to
the original custom of depicting the head of the animal from which the
boat skin came, on the prow. See Chapter 3, for the discussion of its
origin in the moose skin boat with the moosehead on the prow. The rock
carving from the White Sea that depicts whaling, also show moose-heads
on the prows. Alta Rock carvings show more with the moose head, and
some with reindeer heads. Both the "dragon boat" of the
Ainu, and the "dragon boat" of the Norse I believe had the same origin in arctic Europe.
sizable trees were available there was a reverting to the dugout, but
the tradition of the head on the prow continued. Since boat was now
made of wood, the animal head on the prow could be a fantastic
one. (Note Germanic cultures originated in interior settled
farming peoples, so obviously the people who actually made the Norse
dragon boats were not ethnically Germanic, but derived from Norwegian
natives who already had thousands of years of experience making and
using boats along the Norwegian coast. The Norse expansion into Norway
basically assimilated the coastal people from their original native
What can we say about the Ainu at the islands of Japan? Ainu can also be found on the Russian coast today.
Going back to before recent historic events, the
Ainu have been recognized as aboriginal peoples - they were
hunter-gatherers-fishers who had the same spirituality as all
aboriginal peoples, based on natural phenomena and the presence of
spirits in everything that could be viewed as living. As aboriginal
peoples they suffered the same persecution from Japanese governments as
aboriginal peoples elsewhere in the world at the hands of immigrant
Boats among the Ainu, were dugouts. They could have
originated with skin boats and reverted to dugouts when coming to a
coastal region with substantial trees.
are members of the indigenous peoples who practice bear worship. The
deification of the bear is also found in the original
pre-Christian Finnic cultures. Towards the east, the
Finno-Ugric Ob-Ugric Khanty had a tradition of giving a bear that has
been killed a wake of many days, in which performances are carried on
to honour the bear, whose head and skin is propped up as if viewing the
We might have already wondered if the word "Ainu"
had a meaning similar to how "Inuit" means 'the people'. The meaning of
"Ainu" today is 'human' which in fact also means 'person'.
According to accumulated entries about the Ainu in
Wikipedia, scholarly descriptions of the Ainu, come to many opinions
about their origins. We can ignore them, because obviously, as
seafaring peoples, their ancestry is broadly distributed . Many
observers see Europe-type eyes, and wavy abundant hair. Others see
Mongoloid eyes and straight black hair. The Ainu have been mixed up
with many peoples of the Asian coasts and any conclusions from genetics
or appearance is impossible. They could represent a genetic
replacement, where so many peoples have become part of them from other
cultures, that the original genetics has been diluted. Too much history
has passed with the people who identify as "Ainu" to
include the "Ainu" in the investigation. We cannot look for clear
connections to the seagoing boat peoples. We have pointed to
similarities in the word "Ainu" and "Inuit" or "Innu" meaning 'person'
or 'people'. We have also pointed to the connection between the Ainu
"dragon boats' and the skin boat peoples tradition of the animal
head on the prow. What about language?
According to linguists, the Ainu language cannot be
connected to any other
language, and is therefore called a "language isolate". But it has some
features in common with Finnic languages. Terms which are prepositions
in English - to, from, by, in, at - are postpositions in Ainu. In
Finnic languages, postpositions are added to stems and viewed as case
endings. Furthermore, the language is agglutinative, as are Finnic
languages. (Aggultinative means endings can be added to endings. As I
said above the agglutinative form can be seen as a degeneration of the
"polysyntheitc" form of Inuit, where words are composed of many small
elements preceding or added to stem words.)
Linguistic resonances? Various words have noticable
parallels in Finnic. I have already mentioned the word "Ainu". Another
is that a village is called "kotan". In Finnic kota, kodu, means 'home' and it could refer to a village. A storehouse was called "pu" which compares with Estonian pood
'store'. The left side of a fireplace of a traditional house,
where the husband and wife sat was called "shiso" which compares with
Estonian sisu 'the
inside'. The Ainu also prayed to the god of fire. The reason for
doing so has to be connected to past experience with volcanoes. A scan
of words is not very fruitful, but here and there one sees remarkable
coincidences among words that have a good probability of being
preserved, such as "ka" for 'also' (also in Estonian), or "kat" for
'build' (Estonian katus 'roof' or the verb katta 'cover'), or "mak" for 'mountain side' (Estonian mägi 'mountain').
These are remarkable coincidences and could represent remnants of the
original language that by chance faile to be changed or replaced.
But for the most part, the Ainu language does not resonate with Finnic
as much as we will see on the east side of the Pacific. The Ainu, in conclusion, have had so many
twists and turns in their experiences in recent centuries,
that there is no clarity in regards to their history and prehistory,
other than what is obvious from their being an aboriginal
hunter-gatherer-fisher peoples with a spirituality that is shared by
indigenous peoples, which includes a spirituality including a reverence
to the bear, and to thunder too. Reverence to thunder was found on the Pacific side, as we will see.
Our conclusion about the Ainu is that they
originated from the expansion of whaling peoples, but have in recent
centuries become mixed with other peoples. This is not unusual among
aboriginal peoples influenced by new peoples arriving among them.
We can wonder if whaling peoples also continued
further south than Japan. This is a possible direction of further
study, starting with determining whale migration routes; but I have not
done such investigations. I believe if there were, then such peoples
would have disappeared, assimilated into indigenous cultures or more
My investigations in the 1970's were directed at
whaling peopes along the North American coast. The remainder of this
page will deal with what I discovered.
The North American
Pacific Coast - The Wakashan Whale Hunters
DOWN THE PACIFIC COAST OF NORTH AMERICA
During the 1970's when I
investigated Native cultures and languages on the North American
Pacific coast, I had not formed any theory about
circumpolar migrations of boat people, and I looked at every language
for which there was a book (there were almost 500 languages in North
America in the 17th century, so I must have looked at least a hundred).
I hoped to find words that would have resisted change such as words for
'mother', 'father', 'earth', 'sky', 'water', 'fish', 'sun', 'day' and
so on. If I failed to find any parallel within a few minutes, I moved
on. If I did find interesting coincidences I lingered longer to find
more and to evaluate whether I was looking at pure coincdences of
whether there seemed to be real parallels indicating a distant genetic
commonality with Estonian.
What I discovered was that
I was seeing Estonian-like words in some languages along the
coast, known more commonly as the Northwest Coast (of North America). I
only discovered then that the speakers of these languages were either
whale hunters, or salmon-catchers. The next section looks at the
language and culture of the whale hunters around Vancouver Island, that
linguists have grouped under the name "Wakashan". All the
"Wakashan" languages (about 5 of them) had deep whaling traditions and
were worth investigating In my investigation in the 1970's I found most
information about the people known as "Kwakiutl"
Archeology reveals that the seacoast culture on the
before about 3000 BC was very similar to the culture of the
Eskimo (Inuit). Thus Charles E. Borden, an archeologist who
studied and wrote about this early culture since the 1950's, often
referred to the early culture as "Eskimoid" (Eskimo-like). Thus
there are archeologists who acknowledge some degree of connection
between the maritime culture of the Northwest Coast and that of the
"Eskimo" (a term that refers mostly to Inuit and Aleutians).
The Northwest Coast also had an abundance of
salmon, and other sea life, thus the seagoing hunting peoples were not
entirely specialized towards whales.
Archeology shows there was a
dramatic growth in cultures around
3,000 BC, (5,000 years ago) and speculate it was the result of climatic change
that promoted a surge in the population of salmon.
By the 1980's the North American
Indian languages had been classified into seven large language families
- American Arctic-Paleosiberian, Na-Dene, Macro-Algonquian,
Macro-Siouan, Hokan, Penutian, and Aztec-Tanoan. Each of these large
language families contained smaller language families.
But we are here interested in the original arrivals,
the whale hunters, and our attention is turned to indigenous peoples on
the Pacific coast of North America that have a heritage of whale
hunting. Of special interest in this regard is the "Wakashan" family of
language The "Wakashan" family of
languages found in Northwest Washington and along the west coast of
British Columbia is one of the smaller language families that cannot be
tied to other language families
Because of the peculiar features
of the Northwest Coast native people, features which include totem
poles, colourful masks and other traits of advanced culture and
technology, scholars have tended to separate the development of the
Northwest Coast culture from the general average progression of culture
among the more inland native peoples. Origins in Polynesia and Asia
been proposed owing to various similarities in art and artifacts.
However, recent archeological findings and scholarly studies do not
support such a simplistic idea as a wholesale settlement of the coast
by immigrants from elsewhere. It is much more complex than that. Any
visitor to the Northwest Coast in at
least the last 5,000 years would have found the coast already occupied
by a strong and healthy maritime people. Thus a migration coming from
the sea would either have been chased away by established peoples, or
if they managed to find
a place to settle and be at peace with their neighbours, they would
have been assimilated into the dominant surrounding culture after a few
generations. The arrivals must have occurred when there were no
seagoing people along the coast, and the coastal areas were vacant of
humans. According to archeology the first inhabiting of the coast
occurred about 5,000 years ago, and my theory is that was when the
"Wakashan" whaling peoples first arrived.
However, archeology does reveal that
there was some intrusion by
land from the Interior. The displacement of the coastal people already
established would still have been as difficult. But from the interior,
the displacement would
not have to occur suddenly, but it could occur slowly as natives of the
Interior slowly learnt the ways of the coastal people and bit-by-bit
intruded into their economic niche.
After the initial arrival of boat
peoples to the vacant coastal areas around 3000BC, 5000 years ago, the coast developed
mainly on its own (in situ),
accepting influences from the interior natives. Apparently the
culture and population blossomed from about then, and as Knut R.
Fladmark determines from his paleoecological study (A Paleoecological
Model For Northwest Coast Prehistory. Knut R, Fladmark, National
Museums of Canada, Ottawa,1975), this occurred as a result of the
sudden flourishing of the salmon owing to a stabilization of a
previously fluctuating ecological environment which greatly affected
the fish. The number of archeological finds from that period onward
suggests that the coastal people acquired free time to develop
higher culture and energy-expensive technology, and the population grew.
Another explanation for the sudden flourishing
of the coast from around 5000 years ago, could be that previous populations were
not inclined towards boats and fishing, and the sudden flourishing
resulted from newcomers from the interior introducing this new maritime way of life that
made greatest use of the abundant salmon. It is possible that original
Americans, derived from land-based people, may have looked upon fish originally
like today modern people look upon snakes or insects. It took newcomers
in boats to introduce the highly beneficial notion of catching and
eating the plentiful salmon. Interior peoples, then, came out to the coast to
exploit this new way of life.
Native peoples of the Northwest coast identifiable from today. There
northern group which included the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and
Haisia, South of them, centred around Vancouver Island were the people
of-the Wakasham group which included Kwakiutl (Kwakwala), Nootka, Bella
Coola,etc. Further south there were primarily the people known as
Salish. Most of these listed are native Americans who converted mainly
to harvesting the plentiful salmon, a few even considering whaling. But
all of the Wakashan language groups have deep traditions in
whale hunting. We will therefore look more closely at the Wakashan
language cultures. I found most information about the Kwakwala.
showing the traditional location
of the Wakashan Languages which appear to have deep roots and whaling
traditions. Kwakwala language, described next, belongs to the North
Wakashan group and occupies the largest area (hatched area). All
of the Wakashan groups have whaling in their traditions, some more
strongly than others.
Archival photo, depicts spiritual preparations done by the whalers
before they headed out into the sea to hunt. The Nootka nation belongs
linguistically to the South Wakashan grouping.
reproduced from Indian
Primitive, R.W. Andrews, Superior Publ., Seattle
SOME BACKGROUND TO THE WAKASHAN PEOPLES
Archeology seems to tell the story of the
Wakashan cultures arriving in the regions generally around Vancouver
Island, when originally the coast was uninhabited (ie sea hunting was
unknown). That makes the Wakashan cultures of special interest in our
search for descendants of the whale hunter people migrations of around
6000-5000 years ago.
It is believed that the
Wakasham cultures most closely represent the original cultures of the
Northwest Coast The first to present this theme was Franz Boas
1902 and 1910 papers, according to Fladmark (p268) "saw an early basic
unity of culture around the North Pacific, from Siberia to the Columbia
River. This continuum was later disrupted by a coastal Eskimo
migration, separating Siberian and Northwest Coast cultures and by the
intrusion of the Tsimshian and Coast Salish, Boas based the Tgimshian
migration on traditional histories of certain clans who claimed an
interior origin. The theory of a coastward Salish movement was
initiated by the pioneering archeological research of Harlan I, Smith,
who interpreted a number of traits found at Marpole and Port Hammond
shell- middens as being of Interior derivation..."
Linguistically, the northern
and Salish languages are different from the Wakasham languages,
also suggesting that people with different languages had arrived from
interior and taken up the maritime culture introduced by the boat
peoples, and presumably occupying places by then not yet occupied.
Since 1950, publications by C.E. Borden have
pursued the concepts of an early Eskimo substratum and later migrations
from the Interior. Fladmark quotes Borden with the following passage,
written after Bordens first season of field work at Whalen Farm site
(my underlining): "
While the evidence which was gathered
last summer... cannot be as yet
regarded as conclusive, the data that were obtained strongly suggest
that an earlier group of Indians who lived at this site for a
considerable time, and whose entire organization was evidently coastal
by long tradition, was eventually overwhelmed by intrusive Indians
whose culture exhibits strong ties with the interior... It
an early period of extensive dislocations among the Indian groups of
the Northwest were caused by repeated waves of migration of Athapaskan
speaking peoples sweeping from Northern regions southward along the
coast and through the interior.. Great unrest was caused among the
Salish, It appears that Salish-speaking groups were jostled out of
positions in the interior of Washington and migrated towards the coast,
where they adapted themselves to a new life. They did not necessarily
settle for long periods in one place but often may have been hustled
along to more distant places by newer groups coming from the interior"
Regarding other linguistic groups
on the Northwest Coast, besides the Wakashan and Salish considered
above, Borden had these notes in a second paper of 1954:(p l94, quoted
by Fladmark p 271) " Again, if as it
seems, the Haida and Tlingit
languages are related to Athapascan we may assume that when the
late-arriving Athapascan peoples were expanding, some of them either
crowded or followed the early Salish southward into the interior of
British Columbia, while a few groups, especially the ancestors of the
Haida and Tlingit, filtered through river valleys...to the coast where
they either displaced, or more likely, mingled with the (Wakashan?)
maritime population already present, at the same time adopting much of
their coastal culture. The
origin of the Tsimshian is obscure. They
may be late arrivals from Asia (cf. Barbeau), but it is also possible
that they migrated northward from an early southern habitat... It is
probable that the Tsimshian came to their present location from the
According to Borden, therefore the
prehistory of the Northwest Coast as archeology shows it in
investigations done the following stages of evolution 1)An early
maritime or "Eskimoid" culture with northern origins; 2)coastal
migrations of interior groups, 3) a final repatterning and intergration
of elements derived from early Interior and Coastal cultures.
To put it simply:
First came the whalers from their circumpolar migrations who
established maritime culture where none had existed before. These would
be the peoples we are interested in, whaling peoples who arrived at the
Pacific as an extension of the westwardexpansions into the North
American arctic Next,
interior people, seeing new opportunities in unoccupied coastal
locations, migrated to the coast, and finally there were various
degrees of merging of cultures as the two cultural and linguistic
groups interracted. Two of the coastal peoples with interior
origins, but now with significant maritime ways of life, for
are the Haida and Tlingit.
We are not particularly interested in these later
arrivals on the coast, but the original whaling seagoing peoples who
lay at the foundations of the "Wakashan" peoples/
By 1962, after excavations
in the Fraser Canyon, Borden still believed the ancestral Wakashans
were responsible for the original maritime culture on the Northwest
Coast, but now was wondering if their culture was transferred back
north and caused the success in the Eskimo there to cause their
west-to-east expansion (the "Thule" cultural expansion) In other words
he wondered if the migrations had gone the other way. Without having
any theory like the one proposed in these pages, of the circumpolar
expansion occurring first, and originating at the White Sea, Borden was
looking an explanation for the origins of the Ekimoan cultures. Borden
avoided proposing a common ancestry for Northwest Coast and Eskimo
culture by using the term "Eskimoid" (Eskimo-like). However, other
scholars went on to propose such a common ancestry.
My theory proposes that the expansion of arctic
boat peoples across the arctic seas came first, and then expansions
southward, both along the Atlantic coasts and Pacific coasts,
came next. The entire theory of the expansion of boat peoples from the
"Kunda" culture of the Baltic, rests on the development of skin boats
in the arctic, and the expansion of skin boat peoples around the arctic
being the first expansions by sea. It is easy to see why. Not just was
there the Gulf Stream washing the seas and coasts of the northeast
Atlantic, but also, if viewed on an actual globe, the arctic coasts
were relatively short, and boats could have coasts where they could
land most of the time.
Viewed down at the north pole, the
spread of arctic skin boat seafaring culture was not as difficult as
crossing the full width of the oceans closer to the equaor. This map
shows that the major challenge was from arctic Norway to Greenland, but
that area had an incentive for seagoing people - the warm waters arriving there from the
Gulf Stream. Elsewhere in the arctic boats could have landed every
evening along the coasts. The only obstacle was the passage around the
arctic being blocked by frozen ocean - such as ice free channels across
arctic North American islands, and the north tip of the Tamyr
Peninsula, where ice tended never to open a passage
Fladmark did not place much faith in
theories pertaining to an Asian or Eurasian connection. He concludes with the following theory: "Before about 5000 years
before present there were oscillating sea-levels varying river
gradients, and climatic fluctuations along the entire coast which
maintained regional salmon . and other anadromous fish productivity far
below present levels. Thus, during the period from about 10,000 years
before present to 5,000 years before present, the coastal people did
not depend on fish as much as they did after. Archaeological data
pertaining to before 5,000 B.P. (before present) show that the early
cultures on the coast belonged to two groups: a northern group who were
probably marine oriented (who probably hunted sea animals and
generally "Eskimoid"), and a southern
group who were probably
land-oriented. The former is called the Early Coast Microblade Complex,
and the latter the Lithic Culture type. Kitchen middens (accumlations
of refuse) from this early period lack shells (indicating the
did not eat shell-fish) and art work
or articles of ground stone, After
5,000 B.P. archeological sites along the entire Northwest Coast show
large midden accumulations of shells, ground stone ornaments and
art-work. This sudden surge in culture Fladzuark attributes to the
ecosystems stabilizing and the regional salmon species suddenly
becoming very productive. According to Fladmark: 'When salmon achieved
full productivity, man probably required little or no adjustment in his
exploitive technology' The maritime technology for catching fish was
already in place, so that 'adaptive developments took the form of
specializing towards this resource more than any other, and making
requisite adjustments in settlement and energy dissipating mechanisms
in response to the pronounced seasonality, locational concentration,
and high magnitude of this single energy source."(p296)
As I said
earlier, another approach is that the indigenous peoples did not
exploit salmon because to them it was a strange creature, and then the
arriving maritime culture promoted it within themselves and to all with
whom they came in contact. Salmon were plentiful and life began to
revolve around the salmon.
Before life began to revolve around the
salmon, the coastal people were mobile and scattered. Afterward, the
people became more focussed on this resource which produced massive
amounts of food ('energy') on a seasonal basis. The result was the
availability of energy to devote to the manufacture of technological
and cultural items. Based on numbers of radiocarbon-dated
artifacts, a surge in population occurred between 4000 B.P and 3000
B.P. (2000BC to 1000BC). As I say, I believe the major cause of
this was simply the early original boat peoples educating the interior peoples
of the degree to which salmon were edible, and causing a rush out to
the coast to exploit this resource. Of course it is always possible
that interior peoples were already familiar with eating fish. But if
so, archeologists will have to find remains of fish bones in kitchen
middens dating to before 5000 BP. If they only find land animal bones
then I would conclude that to them eating fish was as "yucky" as modern
culture feels about eating snakes or insects, in spite of their being
Thus, to conclude the archeological reconstruction confirms that
the Wakashan language
speaking cultures arrivied at a time consistent
with the timing of the expansion of sea-hunting peoples from arctic
Norway across the north Atlantic and across the North American arctic.
whaling peoples in both the north Atlantic and North Pacific followed
whale migrations south and established themselves at the midpoint of
the migrations to encounter them twice a year - once when going north
and once when going south.. The information that suggests they were the first people to
inhabit coastal areas, also helps confirm that in general coasts of
North America were originally uninhabited - perhaps because North America had not
developed any fondness for fish or rough coastal waters as opposed to land animals, and of
course from not having a boat-oriented culture. Humans are land-creatures and adoption
of boats is resisted, unless there is continuous pressure such as a
flooded land, or continuous desirability, such as in this case, the
enormous benefits that came from being able to harvest the great flows
of salmon into the major rivers. The migration of interior peoples to
the coasts, and adoption of salmon harvesting, can only be explained by
the enormous attraction of the salmon-harvesting way of life.
In the following section we will look more closely
at the Wakashan cultures for connections to original whaling
peoples of White Sea origins.
Can We Identify Inuit and Finnic Roots in Kwakwala?
In my random
of Native (Indian) languages in the University of Toronto library in
the 1970's, I was not looking for whaling peoples. I had by then
discovered remarkable coincidences between Inuit and Finnic (mainly
Estonian) languages, and wondered if there might be more languages that
resonated with Finnic, without fully understanding what it would mean
if I were to find it. Such people would have arrived by boats, and one
hgihly probable reason would be for whale hunters to esablish
themselves at a location next to whale migrations.
As I show above, I investigated the background of
the Wakashan cultures, but I had already found some coincidences in the
language. The following is a more detailed description of what I found.
I did not find many books on Native languages of the Pacific coast. For
example, a book on the Nootka peoples (one of the Wakashan groups) did
not offer a very large word list to work on.
It just happened that by that time, a person
M. Grubb had taken on the task of creating a practical writing
system for writing the Kwalwala dialect of the Wakahsan languages. I
had to deal with the complex writing system - which was really a
phonetic writing system based on using standard typewriter keyboard
The book title was A Practical
Writing System and Short Dictionary of Kwakw'ala
M. Grubb (National Museum of Canada, Ottawa, 1977). In spite of the
complex orthography the author created, I was able to sense
Estonian-like words. Not as many as when I investigated Inuit, but
significant nonetheless. Perhaps today there are better
dictionaries of the language, and a simpler wrtiing approach, but I did
by investigation in the 1980's and the internet had not even been
invented yet. One had to find information in books through the library
A Practical Writing
System and Short Dictionary of Kwakw'ala began
by presenting a complex orthography based on the capabilities of a
normal typewriter (or today the standard PC keyboard) This writing
system sought to represent that actual sound of spoke Kwakwala using
standard Roman alphabet Latin sounds. The following are close to
Latin A, B, D, E, H, I, L, M, O, P, Q, S, T, U, and
some extensions such as Ä which is the A found in "happy", and English
for W, Y In this writing system these are then modified
by adding a
sound after one of these major ones. I will show these lesser sounds
small case. Thus for example we have Dz as in English "adze" or Dl as
in "maudlin" or Gy as in "egg-yolk" and so on. If there are two
sounds modifying the main one, the order chosen will be one that give
the closest effect when read.
For the purpose of this article, I simplified the
Grubb writing system a little as follows. Note it is a phonetic writing
system, whereas the FInnic and Inuit words lack detailed phonetics, but
our purpose here is merely to show enough to demonstrate that Finnic,
Inuit, and Kwakwala form of Wakashan, originate from the same
circumupolar arctic sea people who had whaling traditions
STRESS SHOWN BY = UNDERLINED BOLDED
GLOTTAL STOP OR CATCH =
SMALL LETTERS DESCRIBE SLIGHT MODIFICATIONS OF THE PREVIOUS SOUND (this is he phonetic aspect of the writing system)
(note I do not add underlining
to FInnic, as all words sysematically stress the first syllable, nor do
we show the Finnic words in full phonetics)
example in QÄTsI ' STÄLÄ)
As for my representation of the Estonian and
Finnish words, here I write them in caps and add the stress on the
initial syllables, purely to make it look similar to the way I write
out the Kwakwala words. The Estonian or Finnish words are already
written close to the Latin standard, with small variations. The
stress in Finnic words is always on the first syllable. Also, in
Estonian j = "Y" in English, and Finnish y= "Ü" in Estonian or like EU
in Latin. In Estonian-Finnish ö is like "E" with rounded
lips, and Õ is like Ä with lips rounded. For the Kwakwala words, we use
the common application of the Ä for the sound found in happy, while A
is the sound in father
As in the case with the other languages studied, I
selected only the examples that are believable. To keep it brief,
avoid the derivations or compound
words. Note that the words are all based on commonly used words, and
that the author does not get involved with the internal structure of
the language (word stems vs grammatical endings and their rules.) Note
that the Kwakwala words are in various common forms and the Finnic
suggestions may not be in the same form and this may affect meanings
not being in parallel - such as the Kwakwala word being in a verb form
and the closest Finnic form being perhaps a noun. Therefore comparisons
must adjust for the lack of exact grammatical parallels.
KWAKWALA VERSUS ESTONIAN/FINNISH
(PRONOUNCE WITH EXTENDED ROMAN
ALPHABET, SMALL CASE ARE WEAK SOUNDS APPLIED ONTO PRECEDING LARGE CASE
ORIGINAL WAY OF LIFE
All whaling peoples used harpoons to hunt sea animals. Therefore we
should be able to find a word for 'harpoon' in Kwakwala and Inuit and
NOLHÄ 'to cover
harpoon' compares with Est/Finn NOOL/NUOLI and
'he harpoons' This is another renarkable example of a word that is
found in all three languages, and on top of it, the word refers to
something that would be an essential tool for whale hunters. The
Est/Finn contracting of the meaning to 'arrow', is of course due to the
fact that Finnic peoples stopped being whalers millenia ago, but the
use of arrows to shoot at waterfowl, etc still remained. The word
survives also in English "nail" but here even more degenerated. Is it
possible this is a word that dates back to reindeer people in the Ice
'crew' compares with Est/Finn LIIT
union of people, team' This is of course debatable.
For whaling peoples we should also find plenty of
words connected with water and the hard surf that beats upon the
SOUND OF POURING OF WATER
Like in FInnic, words relating to sound, surf, and
shorelines are dominated by the sound K-vowel-L The sound pattern
even extends to the tongue. In Estonian/Finnish as in keel/kieli
There are many cognates fnaming things that can be associated with
either sound or the behaviour of churning water and shoreline rocks. In
Finnic the word exends to boiling (Estonian kee) We do not see
this pattern in this context very much in Inuit, but the Inuit did not
live beside pounding surf, and so such words would have faded, But the
Paciic coast boat peoples lived beside pounding surf even more than the
"Kunda" culture experienced on the east Baltic coast.
'hear' versus Est/Finn KUULE
'hear!' This pairing is very positive, because there are other words,
see below, of this general structure, that pertain to sound. See the
QwALÄh 'flood tide
rocks' This word reflects something also in Estonian -
describing water flow (not necessarily sound) Estonian has KALLA 'pour'
and KALJU 'cliff, ridge
(in water=reef)' If sound is intended
Estonian has KÕLA 'to sound,
resonate (far)' Finnish has similar
if not identical examples.Note also that above we saw the Inuit kallu
'thunder' . This is obviously the same, as the sound of surf on rocks
would be a thundering sound. It is interesting to note these words for sound and pouring and cliffs,
because it reflects a dominant experience of people constantly dealing
with water, rocks, and the sound of surf. It would be reason for these
words to endure. They are not in Inuit because the Inuit were not
dealing with the same pounding surf as coastal people of the Northwest
WA- versus Finnic VEE- for
WA KhÄLÄ 'to hear the
sound of water' versus Est. VEE-KUULA(MA) 'water, to
hear' ('to hear water')
QhÄLÄSÄ 'did you hear
that?' versus Est/Finn KUULSID?
'did you hear that?' Note
that the S may be a 2nd person marker
in both since we have already seen parallelism in the 1st person singular and plural.
'tongue' versus Est/Finn KEEL or KIELI
'tongue, language' Here the
Kwakwala -M and stress on the last part of the word seems to be a nominalizer,
Kwakwala seems more primitive, in that 'tongue' is noticably formed from the word
(Estonian versions are contrived to
parallel the Kwakwala word in putting the noun in partitive sense as
the first part of a compound verb)
WA KhÄLÄ 'to hear the
sound of water' versus Est. VEE-KUULA(MA) 'water, to
hear' ('to hear water')
LA KhÄLÄ 'to
hear banging' versus Est. LÖÖ-KUULA(MA)
'hit, to hear' ('to hear the hit')
QÄ 'YÄLÄ 'to hear
footsteps' versus Est KÄI-KUULA(MA) 'walking,
to hear' ('to hear the walking'
The formula is to put the thing tha makes the sound in front of the word for 'make sound'
These last examples seem to
also affirm the parallels between
WA- versus Finnic VEE- for
LA- versus Finnic LÖÖ- for 'hit,
QÄ- versus KÄI-for 'step,
walk' (See also Inuit qaiqujivunga
meaning 'I ask to
It is in words for family and
relations that we see most connections to both Inuit and Estonian, and
these tend to prove the theory that the Kwakwala language derives from
circumpolar boat people who originally moved into the arctic at the
White Sea and later through the interior to the Alta area.
|| SUGU / SUKU
mother, uncle or aunt-in-law
|| EMA / EMÄN-
| QÄQÄS 'your
||ONU / ENO
|| ANI 'brother of
|ISA / ISÄ
||-?--(might exist but I have not found it)
|ABI/APU 'help' (Est
and FInn uses
the concept of 'help' in the meaning of 'mate' as in 'husband' or
Other commmonly used words are given below
'go' versus Est/Finn LÄHE This is such common word in Est./Finn that it is easy to believe it has endured for millenia
These words show the sound pattern
L+vowel describes the act of going. It is interesting to note that it
is likely that the original word for 'soumd' was K+vowel so that
K+vowel+L+vowel in essence meant to 'let go the sound'
(First person singular marked by -N)
go' versus Est/Finn LÄHEN
Amazingly the first person singular ending is the same! Grammatical
parallels are strong indicators of descent from a common ancestral
language, rather than borrowing.
(First person plural marked by -M-)
LA 'MANTs 'we are
going to' versus Est/Finn LÄHME or
LÄHEMME 'we are going
to...; we are going' Here we again see a grammatical marker parallel in the use of M in the 1st person plural.
LhANTA 'to blow
nose' versus Est/Finn LENDA or
'fly!' This is debatable, but it is amusing as we imagine
something blowing out of one's nose. This needs more investigation into
associated words, such what is the word for 'nose', and whether the
word for 'blow' has connotations of flyings. This is a good example in
which further research is necessary to determine if this paring should
be accepted or not.
QÄ - WALKING
We saw above that QÄ is the
for walking, stepping. In FInnic Estonian the word KÄI very common.
It would have been used steadily to ensure survival over thousands of
Water is always ever present in the lives of boat-oriented peoples,
thus we wouild expect similarities through all the boat people language
'water' compares with Estonian/Finnish VEE- whose
most common noun form is VESI,
partitive VETT The
word also resembles English (Germanic) 'water', But this would be a
coincidence except that the Germanic word probably originated from
KhANWELÄ 'loose on
part KhAN is probably related
to the word for 'walking'. T hen we have WE for 'water' and LÄ for 'go'. Thus an
Estonian parallel might be KÄI-VEE-LÄHE 'walk-water-go'
QIWELÄ 'too long in the
water' uses the element QI to represent 'too long' . The element
QI evokes the use of -GI in Estonian as a suffix meaning 'yet,
still' Thus we can form, in reverse order the Estonian VEE-LÄ-GI 'still on the
OTHER NOTABLE PARALLELS
(note - if the Inuit column is blank, it does not mean a parallel does
not exist. This investigation was limited to what was provided in two
books cited plus my knowledge of Estonian and FInnish, A more
thorough study will no doubt find more parallels. The reason I am
showing more parallel with Estonian/Finnish than with Inuit, is because
I am selecting the Kwakwala words via Estonian. Someone very familiar
with Inuit, will see many more Inuit-Kwakwala parallels as they were
| ELAV or ELÄVÄ
|| KOGU/KOKO 'all; gathering' KODU/KOTI
'be together (in a house)'
| NOGAD 'maker of
songs, wise man'
||NÕID / NOITA 'shaman, sorcerer'
| OLA for
||OLU / OLO 'state of being' (ie 'how things are = truth)
|SELETA/SELITTÄÄ 'explain, sort out'
|ThsAL -ThsALK 'down feathers'
is ThsALK just ;'feather'?
|SULG / SULKA
| suluk 'feather'
| KhUKhU ' NÄ
|KUKAL 'back (nape)
|LAIHwqI'LÄS 'fire in
or LEEK 'fire', LÄIGE
Finn: LEIKKI 'fire'; LEKOTELLA
'to bask in the sun'
| LAGE/ LAKEA
'open area, clear, open'
|PUSA 'to swell up from
|PAISUDA/PAISUA 'to swell'
Finnish PULLISTUA 'to expand, swell'
A SELECTION OF OTHER WORDS
'evil power' suggests Est/Finn
'dim', dusky' This is debatable, but the next word, with the same
HÄM- stem and a meaning closer to the Est/Finn parallel, helps to
speechless' compares with Est/Finn HÄMMASTA/ HÄMMÄSTYÄ 'to
amaze, astound, startle'
Est: HABEMES or HABE
This is remarkable, because it may indicate that the
originally arrived by sea, may have been European. This is
consisent with the boat-people theory, wherein I describe the boat
peoples emerging in northern Europe just south of the retreating
glaciers. Such people would have grown beards. The mongoloid
appearance, with minimal beards, as we saw in previous chapters,
originated from the westaward migrations of Asian reindeer hunters who
converted to the way of life of the boat peoples, in more recent
millenia.. This idea of an original arrival of Europoid bearded men at
the Pacific by
sea can then explain why the Ainu men are well-bearded.
' NI '
'thread' Of course, shoelaces are modern, so the original meaning would have referred to any thin thong or thread.
Est HAKKA! 'start!
go on!' The Kwalwala word here sounds so Estonian-like, it is difficult to reject this one.
'potlach' compares with
'pay' (Note, the potlach custom of the
Pacific coast was to hold a feast in which the host gave away gifts in
order to win a good standing with hosts - because it was not enough to
be strong: neighbours had to recognize it. In this case the
Est/Finn MAKSA is already conceptually more like 'give gift payments' than to 'pay debts')
PhÄLhÄ 'lay a hand
on' compares with PEALE/
PÄÄLE 'onto top of' This is a remarkable parallel. The Kwakwala version is practically parallel
'good' which is best compared to Finnish IHANA
'wonderful' which is represented in Estonian with IHA 'desire, craving'
IKhÄLhÄ 'high above' might resonate also with
Estonian/Finnish IGA- / IKA-
'eternal' The Kwakwala word structure probably breaks down to 'extreme-high', and the IKI word in Finnic too probably has a root meaning of 'extreme' and it may even be sound-psychological.
THERE ARE OF COURSE LOTS OF BORDERLINE
COMPARISONS THAT ARE DEBATABLE. ALL COMPARISONS PRESENTED HERE ARE THE
BETTER ONES INTENDED ONLY TO DEMONSTRATE EVIDENT COMMON ORIGINS IN
From what I have seen, further proper
linguistic study will find more grammatical parallels. We have
vague similarities in 1st and 2nd person markers and case markers.The
Wakashan languages bear further investigation from a Finnic and from a
whaler-people perspective. Kwakwala is only one of a number of
languages characterizes are Wakashan, and surveying them all may
probably result in remarkable further insights. The above
investigations are based on only two books, one with Inuit and the
other with Kwakwala.
But what about culture? Can we find parallels in
culture as well. The most obvious evidence of the long
distance kinship with arctic European seagoing peoples would be the
presence of the animal head on the prow. Somewhere I learned that
Europeans had observed walrus heads on Inuit umiaks made from walrus
skin. Since walrus have no necks, that means the heads would not be
visible - other than perhaps two tusks at the prow. The Greenland Inuit
had umiaks consisting of skin with two poles on two ends, by which the
skin could be removed from the frame. It lacks a head because of this
practice. The separated skin could then be used for shelter.
Furthermore Greenland whalers probably made the boat skins out of whale
On the Pacific coast, it was no longer necessary to
make skin boats because there were giant cedar forests. They could
revert to making dugours. But in the tradition of Pacific coast, the
large cedar dugouts were painted to resemble a whale - with eyes at the
prow. Was this a continuation of a very old tradition. The Ainu too, on
the other side of the Pacific also made boats of wood because forests
with large trees were available, but in their case, they actually
incorporated 'dragon' heads on the prow - something that makes us
wonder if they did not revert to wood boats as readily as the Wakashan
whalers beside giant cedars. Did they continue to use skin boats with
walrus heads on the prow a little longer? Did they try the skins of
A Theme in Whale Hunter Mythology? Descended from Thunder-deity - KALEVA, KALLU, etc
DESCENDANTS OF THUNDER?
I have already mentioned that already
scholars have noted some cultural similarities across the arctic world.
If we include the Wakashan cultures into our scenario of expansion of
seagoing aboriginals some 6,000-5000 years ago, then we might be wise to see
what we can find in their culture.
In the case of the Inuit culture,
there was shamanism and associated beliefs and mythology. We have noted
that the Ainu culture too has all the characteristics of northern
culture - for example the belief that all the active environment
or nature gods. As we mentioned above the Algonquian worldview in this
respect was found in their language itself - from the languge
distinguishing between living (infused with spirit) and non-living
(spirit absent). Finnic cultures for the most part have
become part of modern civilization and the original animism is no
longer used. Finnic world view has modernized
in keeping with the
growth of Indo-European civilization for over a millenium. Traces of
original animism can still be found especially in isolated regions.
The traditonal practitioner of the early shamanism was the shaman.In the Inuit culture
the shaman was
called angakkuq, a word
obviously related to anguti
('man') and anguvaa
('he catches it'). While Estonian and Finnish have similar sounding
words like the Finnish onkia
('he catches fish') or hankkia
procures'), there is no clear linking them to shamanism, unless it is
the Estonian word kangelane
based on kange
'hero, strongman'. I believe these words actually referred to the
secular leader, the tribal chief, and not the spiritual guide. The
Kwakwala word NOGAD 'wise man' or 'maker
of songs' however is close to Estonian/Finnish nõid or
noita 'shaman', 'sorcerer', 'witch', etc.
Also tying in with mythology, we find in these northern boat people languages, the belief in
storm deities. Inuit presents the word aqqunaq for 'storm', which was
close to their akka 'father's
brother'. Finnic mythology saw a god in the
storms called Ukko.
In addition Inuit presents kallu for 'thunder'
which reflects Wakashan Kwakwala QwALÄh 'flood
tide hitting rocks'. (To hear the similarities one has to say the words
without looking at the peculiar phonetic orthography. The sound of "QwALÄh" is
close to QALÄ, KALÄ This one example is not convincing. See further
supportive examples below which more clearly show Inuit words in
Assuming I am correct in comparing the Inuit kallu with QwALÄh, let us consider what Finnic provides.
mythology pictures an ancestor called Kaleva which
can be possibly seen
as a present participle of KALE- where all Finnic peoples are
seen as 'sons of Kaleva', and if KALE derives from KÕLA 'sound, echo' in Estonian,
we might conclude that its origin is in the meaning 'thunder' and
KALEVA originates from something that meant 'thundering one'. Are
Finnic peoples descendant of the Thunder God? There is no
question that ancient peoples would view the agency causing thunder to
be a high deity. Although the Ainu do not appear to identify the
thunder diety with a KALLU type of word, but trather a different word,
they worshipped a thunder deity.
mythology held that the common
ancestor of humanity was the Thunderbird, and that everyone was a
Thunderbird before becoming a human.
Compare with everyone being a descendant of the thunder-deity - a 'son
of Kaleva' in Finnic mythology if we allow KALEVA to be the thundering
Thus it would be
interesting if the Kwakwala word for Thunderbird too was similar to Kalev.
But this is not the case. However there was a second deity amonf the Wakashan cultures. A storm had
both lightning and thunder, hence there ought to be two deities,
brothers to one another. Indeed, in Kwalwala mythology the Thunderbird
was always accompanied by an equally awesome bird (which is also
represented in totem poles) whose name was KOLI, who was the brother of
Thunderbird. Since KOLI is close to the Kwakwala words for sound in the general consonant-vowel pattern,
the original concept was probably that there were two birds, a bird
that caused lightning (ie the Thunderbird is improperly translated and
should be Lightningbird) , and another brother bird who created sound
the sound - the actual 'Thunderbird'..
So in my perspective, KOLI was really a thunder bird, while the
so-called Thunderbird was really a lightning bird. Could this
duality of deity reflect a mixing of cultures? Did the arriving whale
hunters have the Finnic-Inuit KALLU or KALEV, which they knew as
KOLI, referring to thunder diety, and that when there was
the mixing with cultures coming to the coast from the interior, they
found the interior people had a concept of a giant bird, which was
responsible for both lightning and thunder. Therefore the whale hunters
needed to add KOLI to the prevailing collective mythology.
If we were to
see humans being descended from something, it would probably be
thunder, since it is the thunder roll that has the effect, not the
of lightning. The Inuit culture, with its kallu for 'thunder' did
not preserve this mythology probably because in the high arctic thunder
storms are rare, and any early mythologies connected with thunder
storms would have been forgotten more quickly over time..
To summarize: before the boat
people moved into the arctic where there was no lightning and thunder,
there was a deity in ligntning and mostly in thunder. Humans were seen
as descendants from the Thunder God, KALLU (to use the Inuit word
This mythology developed in the Finnish-Estonian region into the myths
of people being 'sons of Kaleva' where the meaning of "Kaleva" was lost
in the haze of time.
IKKE, UKKO - LIGHTNING
But what about the deity that caused lightning? He
was there too from the beginning, and reflected originally perhaps in
words analogous to Finnic ikke
for 'lightning'. I failed to determine from my source material a word
for 'lightning' in Kwakwala, but I think the following listed above,
IKhÄLhÄ 'high above' which I compared
with IGI-/IKI- 'eternal'
but which can also compare with the FInnic word for lightning.
In Finnic mythology, there was a god called UKKO.
This was the Lightning God, because Finnish still uses ukkonen to mean
'lightning'. In Estonian variations on this word pattern for
'lightning' are äike and pikne. The Inuit word
aqqunaq, is similar. Perhaps a
storm was seen as the events involving
lightning. Since we saw above that Inuit also saw akka as 'paternal
uncle' all things considered, the maker of thunder and
father or humanity, was KALLU, KOLI, etc and therefore his brother
UKKO, IKKO, etc accompanied him to produce the flashes of lightning. It
makes sense that the maker of thunder is the more significant as it is
the thunder that terrifies and not the flash of lightning.
Even in the North American mythology of the
Thunderbird, the idea is that the thunder sound comes from the flapping
of the bird's giant wings. The lightning supposedly comes out of its
eyes, but that concept has no parallel in the real world. We can
conclude that the Thunderbird, as the word 'thunder' implies, is indeed
not about lightning, but about thunder, and the lightning aspects have
With this theory in mind, I sought to see if the
Pacific coast had a word for the lightning-bird that has been
misinterpreted as a thunder-bird. Can I find a word that resembles
Finnic words for lightning. In the next section, wherein I look
further south on the Pacific coast, I explore the Karok language
further south and find
IKXIV for 'thunderhead' .
There is no evidence
that the original North Americans distinguished between the maker of
lightning and maker of thunder in their spiritual worldview. The
Thunderbird covered both the light and sound.. I think the standard
mythology was that the thunderbird made lightning and then the sound of
the thunder came from its wings.
We also note that Finnic mythology
does not picture the deities as birds. Thus the Wakashan peoples were
influenced to adopt some of the indigenous concepts such as the deity
of storms being a bird. Except that the Wakashan culture needed to
picture two birds, two brothers, in order to preserve their original one KOLI. If the Thunderbird was modelled after
the bald eagle common to the Pacific coast, the bird that could
symbolize thunder could be the other common large bird found there, the raven.
Moving on to other aspects of Wakashan culture,
of interest is the cultivation of a strong spirit - a strongly
expressive and positive outlook towards everything,
and a cultivation of personal cleanliness (in body and spirit) and
charisma. The Wakashan peoples believed that evil spirits could not
strike someone who was , through self-purifying customs and rituals,
very pure. It was a
source of protection to pursue cleaniness and
purity, as well as a source of charisma. When the Nootka (another
Wakashan culture) hunted a
whale, it was believed that through self-purification rituals (see the
archival photo in Figure 9 above) , the whale could be charmed to let
itself be captured,
that the whale actually wanted to be killed by its hunters in order to
recieve the honour of giving these very pure beings its blubber for oil
and food. This spiritual seduction of prey was played out across the
whaling peoples and can be seen in the ancient White Sea rock carving
presented in another article,
by the custom of a man getting into the water beside the eye of the
whale and speaking to it, before it died, to ensure after death,
its spirit would not haunt the tribe, not bring it bad luck, Making
peace with the spirit is found throughout the boat peoples we discuss.
The Algonquian culture of eastern Canada, still today, follow a
practice of making peace with the animal they killed by honouring it
with tobacco. There is a great fear that bad luck arises from unhappy
spirits. The animal spirit could also be honoured by using every part
of it in honourable ways.
The pursuit of cleanliness and purity and the
belief in the armour of such cleanliness lies in the Finnic sauna
tradition, as seen through traditional beliefs and rituals (which have
been lost in modern popularization of the custom). I therefore wondered
if the sweathouse could be found among
The sweathouse (or "sweat lodge") is best known in
the Algonquians, where they built a small domed structure, like a small
stones carried inside. It does not exist in Inuit culture, probably
because the Inuit had no fuel for heating other than animal fat and it
had to be conserved for the regular house. However approximately
at the present northern border
of California there were several tribes linguistically identified as
Yurok, Karok, and Hupa, who created semi-buried huts and practices that
seem very much like the recent Finnic practices.
Other Pacific Coast Native Peoples South from the Wakashan
In by investigation from library books at the
University of Toronto in the 1980's, I pulled out book after book on
Pacific coast Native peoples, and scanned any lexicons for words that
jumped out at me from similarities to mainly Estonian.
After discovering the similarities in the Wakashan
dialects, notably Kwakwala, I continued south, and discovered two more
languages in the books that resonated with Estonian, These languages,
however, were not connected to coastal whaling, but salmon, But this
does not mean they did not arrive as whalers. Whaling is something that
can only be pursued twice a year - when the whales were migrating north
and next migrating south. Furthermore whaling was difficult, and when
the Pacific coast rivers were found to be full of salmon, it was easy
to abandon whaling, and build a way of life around salmon.
My purpose right now is to see if my findings in
these languages can reveal a little more about the origins of these
people. If we find many parallels with the Kwakwala words, we could
conclude they were branches of the same people. If the languages are
more unique, we have to consider the possibility that these people
originated from immigrants more recent than 5,000 years ago. It is even
possible for traders speaking a FInnic language to have established a
colony perhaps around the Roman Age or earlier.
The above map from "The Cultures
the Northwest Coast" by Philip Drucker (1965) shows the various Native
nations and languages of that coast. For the Vancouver Island area,
the Wakashan group of languages, see also the earlier map. I have
added "Kalapuya" because I will look at some of its words, later. Note also the location of the Karoks.
with the Kalapuyans because I only found a short article on them, and a
small lexicon of words. These people no longer exist. I will pay more
attention to the next language, the one spoken by the Karoks, about
which I found much information. The Karok peoples still exist today.
But let us review the KALAPUYANS first and try to figure them out.
A FISH -CATCHING PEOPLE ON A BRANCH OF
THE COLUMBIA RIVER
The Kalapuyans were located Immediately to the south
and interior from the Wakashan whaling people region, which could
signal they may have been descended from the Wakashan, making their way
into the interior along a branch of the Columbia River, obviously to
exploit the salmon resouces. However, linguistics did not group them
with the Wakashan, but a separate group including Shasta, Takelma, and
Although Kalapuyan tribes are not often discussed in
connection with the North Pacific Coast culture, as they lived slightly
inland (see map above), they occupied the banks of a major branch of
the Columbia River, a river that flowed into the Columbia from the
south, and no doubt they lived by fishing salmon as intensely as the
Columbia River Chinook Indians.
Kalapuyan defines a family of languages or
dialects. By discovering similar words among several languages of the
Kalapuyan family, linguists hoped to discover words that belonged to the
original language, which might be called "Proto-Kalapuyan". Such a
study was done by William Shipley involving a comparison of three
Kalapuyan languages: Tfalati, Santiam, and Yoncalla. This work
(Proto-Kalapuyan, in Languages and Cultures of Western North America,
1970 - see references at bottom) was used here as one of the sources of
Kalapuyan words for comparison with Finnic.
It was been proposed many years
ago - in 1965 - by Morris Swadesh that Kalapuyan languages were perhaps
related to Takelma and together they formed a larger grouping. In any
event, Swadesh presented words of Takelma plus three Kalapuyan
languages (the three described above) in his 1965 paper (see references
below). I also mined that paper as well as a source of Kalapuyan words.
Unfortunately the number of words presented in these
papers is small; however what counts is how many of the words appear to
have Finnic parallels. We are not selecting several words from a large
lexicon. The number of words that resonated with Finnic words in the
case of Kalapuyan is large compared to the total.
The name "Kalapujans" is so close to
Estonian kala püüdjad
'fish catchers' that I hoped to find a
parallel; however I failed to find the data I sought.. I did however
find a word for 'fish' from Swadesh's material. It was given as K'AWAN
(I use ' for the glottal stop or throat catch) which came from the
Yonkalla dialect. It is possible therefore that there could have been a
replacement of L with W. It is possible that they were originally called by KALA-PÜÜDJAN and then over time the
whole language drifted linguistically, influenced by neighbouring
COMPARISONS - KALAPUYAN VERSUS
Because the "Proto-kalapuyan"
words derived by Shipley are still artificial, and possibly incorrect, the following
comparisons we make here are with the real Kalapuyan words, indicating the
dialect with T, S, or Y representing respectively Tfalati, Santiam, or
In terms of
orthography, I continue to use the approach that uses the Latin sounds
represeted by the Roman alphabet as a basis, with additional markers selected from common keyboard
symbols. Emphasis (if the source material gives it) is given by
bolding, the single quote marks a catch in the throat or
glottal stop, and a dash marks a sound break (without catch). These are
very intuitive conventions.
The following table compares not just Kalapuyan with
Estonian/FInnish, but also tries to find parallels in the Karok or
Kwakwala language which we will look at in the next section. Finding
many parallels in Karok can indicate these people may have actually
branched off the Karoks who, as the map shows, were locaed directly
south in the upper Klamath River.
T=Tfalati; S=Santiam; Y=Yoncalla
(from limited resources)
(common words only)
We are limited by what was given in the source lexicon - see next section for Karok)
|PALJU / PALJON
PUHU 'blow / speak'
See also Inuit puvak
|ISA / ISÄ
||Kwakwala: OS 'father'
|TEE / TIE 'do'
Est, TUKKU 'doze, sleep'
|Inuit: TUQUJUQ 'he dies'
||Karok: PAAH 'boat'
/MÄKI 'mountain, hill'
IIN '(the world, human race) to exist'
Inuit: INUK 'person'
Algonquian: ININI 'person'
JALKA 'leg, foot'
|PYAN (T, S)
PÄÄ 'chief, most important'
PÄIKE (Est) 'sun'
|PhÄLhÄ 'lay a hand
on' ('put on top of'
AAHO 'to walk,
go' (note glottal stop at start is a K-type sound)
PEAMÕTTE 'main idea'
MÕTTE / MIETE 'thought'
substitution of M for L ?
(consider loss of initial I)
HUOLI 'want, desire'
Inuit: ALLIAQ 'branches matress'
|SOME TAKELMA WORDS
(neighbouring, but not considered Kalapuyan)
'break in half'
||Kwakwala: KhALAM 'tongue'
|POJA / POJAN
As we see in
this small number of Kalapuyan words, which however form a large
portion of the words presented in the source material, we find not just
resonances with Estonian or FInnich, but also with Inuit, Kwakwala and
Karok studied next. The source material for Karok was much larger, so
we had more to investigate, and more resonances to find.
through words in the Kwakwala language, we looked at
the Wakashan group in the region of Vancouver Island, who were original
arrivals on the coast and brought whale hunting traditions. In
section we look further at the Northwest coast of North
America.continue south along the Pacific coast of North America and
consider other Native peoples whose relationship to the whale hunters
is less clear. They may represent later arrivals or true developments out of the original whaling people like the Wakashan.
If we refer to the map
above, we find the Karok, Yurok and Hupa south of the Wakashan languages area, in northern
California. The Karok, Yurok and Hupa formed the southern
focus of the so-called North Pacific Coast Culture.
While most of the
information of this culture comes from studies of the Yuroks,
a high degree of cultural uniformity among the three groups: Neighbours
on the same Klamath river highway, they visited each other's
performances of the same festivals, intermarried and feuded over the
same issues. (Drucker p 176) But their languages were very different
from each other,
pronounced culture, further south and further inland were simple
patterns of Central Californian genre (Drucker p 177) So
these cutures on the Klamath River stood out and were/are somewhat
In my investigation of Pacific
coast languages for words that to my impressions, resembled Estonian or Finnish, I looked
at the languages of all three, and the Karok
language had most examples by far that
could be compared to Estonian/Finnish. Similarities to Yurok or Hupa as
well as to their cultures were clearly the result of intermingling, and
intermarriage. We can conclude that one or two of them being
original, and the remaining/remainder
arriving in the area by migration from somewhere else. Was the Karok
language the original language on the Klamath and then partly displaced
by newly arriving Yurol and Hupa, or by Karok arriving last, and being
relegated a yet uninhabited upper Klamath. We need much evidence from
archeology, history, and legends to determine who came first and who
The Karok , Yurok and Hupa tribes
are grouped - in spite of their different languages - because the Klamath river
valley tied them all together culturally.
This distinctive northwestern
California culture of the Klamath River valley, which may be considered a variety of the North
Pacific culture centering in British Columbia, reaches its most intense
form among these three tribes
The Karok-Yurok-Hupa culture lacked many of the
features of the Wakashan cultures to their north, but to compensate, there was an
elaboration of certain features well beyond what was practiced in the
north, such as the development of the use of dentalia shells like
1. DENTALIA SHELLS AS MONEY
clear that an economy that used a form of currency had developed among
the tribes of the North Pacific Coast Culture, no doubt from trade by
boat up and down the coast.
Nootka who 'fished' the
shells, like other northerners, sorted them into large medium and small
sizes, and strung them by an imprecise fathom.
Yurok went further and
graded their shell treasures like jewelers sorting fine gems, and
devised a standard of measurement. Yurok strings were all the same
length. The unit of highest denomination was a string filled from end
to end by ten shells of nearly equal length. (Drucker p 177-178)
The Yurok and presumable Hupa and
Karok, thus used dentalia nearly like modern currency. Indeed every
adult male has a mark tatooed on his upper arm by which he could check
the accuracy of the length of a string of dentalia held between thumb
Naturally societies that have
established a monetary standard are interested in "monetary wealth" and
so there was an overwhelming interest in weath, as well as health. The society
idealized the practice of men spending as much time possible in the
routine of sweat bathing and cold water bathing, partial feasting,
observing strict continence, gathering sweathouse wood all for the
ultimate purpose of achieving the dressings of wealth. (Drucker 183)
As in modern monetary society, the Karok, Yurok, and
Hupa even assigned value to
rare items that had little instrinsic value
like the dentalia shells, large obsidian blades, scalps of giant
pileated woodpeckers, and skins of albino deer. The pursuit of rare
goods to which were assigned a high value is an obvious raison d'etre
for a trading people, and I wonder if a trading people arrived at the
mouth of the Klamath at an early time, but not as early as the arrival
of the whalers. Traders who could have navigated the Pacific where
present in Europe a millenium or two before the Roman Empire, when
there were several seatrading peoples like Phoenicians
and Veneti, the latter I have found had a Finnic language, Such traders
followed the practice of estabishing colonies to look after their
interests between arrivals of ships (which could be as rare as once a
year or several years)
But to argue that theory we need to find
cultural practices that can be connected to ancient Europe and which
could not have developed in situ independently. To explore the evidence
of the origins of the Klamath RIver cultures is beyond the scope of
this article. I can only offer what I discovered so far and leave the
question open. The Wakashan cultures we discussed earlier obviously
originate via the expansion of whaling peoples because they continued
whaling practices and their language showed links to Inuit to the
CUSTOMS AND LAW
Other aspects of the society also
indicated sophistication of the kind we associate with Europe. The
principle of wergild was used as a device for resolving conflicts
(conflicts resolved by suitable payments) based on the value of a man's
life being equal to the bride price paid for his mother. In terms of
how much penalty there should be, "With
the same kind of precision
shown in their refinement of the dentalia-grading system, they worked
out an elaborate scale of seriousness of offences against the person,
from murder to an insult....This systematic approach gave an
orderliness to Yurok law that was lacking in the wergild settlements of
groups far to the north, where grandiose demands for blood money were
just as grandiosely rejected." (Drucker, p 184)
Yurok (and presumably Karok and Hupa) society
was made up of small groups of patrilineally related males, clustered
around the genealogical senior of the unit, the 'rich man'. Nominal
owner of the sweathouse and the group's wealth, he directed
activities of the group-owned economic tracts, such as a section of the
salmon weir or acorn grounds. However, as among other Coast Indians,
wealth was really a group, not individual property....(true also in
Europe in the non-Indo-European regions like across northern Europe in
the Finnic regions in Roman times)
It would not be difficult to transpose ancient
Finnic seagoing peoples of the Estonian past to the Klamath River and
see something like the above, result. That is why, when we also
discover that the Karok language had strong resonances with Finnic, we
wonder if that happened. This is an unexpected result of my
investigation. I had only expected to find the consequence of whaler
migrations 5,000 years ago, and not possible arrival of traders
speaking a large scale Finnic trade language, who left behind a colony
that eventually lost contact with the people who brought them. (Some
decades ago, I read of how
THE SWEATHOUSE (SAUNA)
Although sweat bathing
was found in North America, such as the Algonquian "sweat lodge" that used rocks
heated in a fire outside, among the Karok, Yurok and Hupa, it was
refined into an institution with its own special building and
rituals - much like Finnic practices going back over 2000 years. The sweat bath was an important part of
purification for good fortune. The men usually assembled in late
afternoon for the sweat bath; when they left the sweathouse by the flue
exit, they plunged into the chill river water, then spent several hours
alternatively immersing and scrubbing with aromatic herbs, while
reciting formulaic prayers for good fortune." (Drucker p
Finnic culture too viewed the sauna in a religious way.
There was a practice, for example, of leaving the sauna free after the
living had finished so that the spirits of ancestors could visit as
well. The custom probably originated with north Eurasian boat peoples
as a way of defying winter cold, warding off hypothermia, but it could
not be practiced by arctic people because a lack of wood in the arctic
tundra. Animal fat as fuel was far too valuable to spare for creating
an overheated enclosure.
North American sweat bathing was probably the
original efficient one, of a very small enclosure and rocks heated in a
fire outside and brought inside. The Finnic small cabin sauna, in which
there was a rock fireplace in which rocks were heated inside, developed
as a result of ceasing to be nomadic and building log cabins. A small
log cabin was used not just for sweat bathng but for all other purposes
requiring a heated room such as grain drying. It is therefore peculiar
that the Klamath River sweathouse was a proper building with a fire
built inside, as described by Drucker. They
Yurok sweathouse was a
rectangular structure of planks....The walls lined the sides of a deep
pit ....A large fire pit in the floor provided direct heat, not steam,
for sweating. Men entered through the usual round
doorway......Ethnographers and others who observed the Indians still
using their typical structures were impressed by the neatness of the
sweathouses....Sweathouses rarely contained more than neat wooden
stools and well-polished wooden headrests, which were individual
property of each occupant, and perhaps a load of wood stacked beside
the fireplace....etc. (p 180)
Finnic saunas too were semi-buried like the above. The Finnic
might be covered with sod to seal cracks better.
These two men, in the
illustration from archives (see text on the illustrations for the
sources) in this case from the Hupa culture, look like they could be
mistakened for a couple of old Finns of the past century, emerging from
It is certainly possible that a people who were not
nomadic might built permanent sweat-lodges that they could make
spacious. On the other hand, what if traders of Finnic origins visited
the Hupa and Yurok to trade, left behind a colony that became the Karoks, and then the Karoks pursuing the Finnic cultural practices spread it to the indigenous Hupa and Yuroks.
But that theory still leaves the mystery of where
the Hupa and Yurok people came from. It is a question that could be
very interesting to a scholar of the future, but my intent here is only
to report this unexpected discovery that might not be connected to the
original expansion of whaling peoples, but connected instead to long
distance traders who in Europe were called the "Eneti" or "Veneti".
(See elsewhere for my deciphering of the Venetic inscriptions of
ancient Northern Italy, that show the large scale Venetic trade system
that originally carried furs and amber from northern Europe south to
the civilizations of southeast Europe since about 5,000 years ago, used
a Finnic lingua franca.
Such an early date certainly makes it possible for intrepid seagoing
traders to have navigated to the North American coast that early!)
But our purpose here is not to try to solve the
mystery, but only to report on what I found in my investigations in the
As I already mentioned,. although the Karok, Yurok, and Hupa peoples shared the same river, and Yurok and Hupa were somewhat similar, the Karok language was completely different, hence suggesting a separate arrival.
The Karok language is not
even closely or obviously related to any other (in the area), but has been
classified as a member of the northern group of Hokan languages, in a
subgroup which includes Chimariko and the Shasta languages, spoken in
the same general part of California as Karok itself (William
Bright pg 1)
This suggests to me that the Karok may have
arrived by sea. Arriving at the mouth of the river, and finding it inhabited, they
would have settled for the upper reaches of the river that had not yet
been inhabited at the time.. Perhaps the Chimariko
and Shasta are descendants of the original
arrival? I did not investigate these languages - IF there even exists literature on them.
Let us look at the Karok language. I can first present
some general observations here.
general the Karok word list consists of a large number of words that
seem to have been borrowed from Yurok and Hupi. Notwithstanding that truth, the number of words that could be connected to Finnic words was large.
NOTES ON ORTHOGRAPHY USED
The Karok words in the
source The Karok
Language, William Bright, uses a phonetic orthography
dating to the 1950's. In order to be reasonably consistent with what I
did with writing out the Kwakwala language in a more
I interpreted the orthography of the Karok words in my own way like
with the Kwakwala, based on extended Roman alphabet and Latin
phonetics. The accent mark in the
original I show by bolding and the dot representing length I show by doubling
the letter. Sadly until recently with the establishing of an
international phonetic alphabet there have been very many phonetic
orthographies, so that I am sometimes lost when looking at older
materials with older phonetic writin. If my interpretation of the sound of a Karok word is a
litle incorrect, I don't think it is serious enough to alter the
comparison with an Estonian/Finnish word. We are not pursuing precise
linguistics here, just scanning for coincidences in sound patterns and meanings that
are beyond the
probability of random chance. (To better understand how William Bright
'heard' the words, see Bright, William The Karok
Language, 1957, University of California Press,
Note in the pairings below, as with the previous
languages, that the ' marking a glottal stop can be viewed as a "K" in
Finnish words are written in standard Estonian/Finnish without further
markings. (Those with no knowledge of Estonian, the variations
from Latin pronunciation are not great. The most important
characteristic about Estonian and FInnish is that the first syllable is
always emphasized and there are the special characters with umlauts Ä,Ö for AE and OE)
(stress on 1st syllable)
'AHI- 'to burn'
'AAHA 'fire, lantern'
|AHI / AHJO
'fireplace / forge'
|-AHI is also used to mark the
||Estonian uses the -SI- or -I-
to mark the past tense.
|' IŠ 'flesh,
IHU / IHO 'flesh, body'
|HOMME / HUOMENNA
|KUUSRA(H) 'month; sun,
|KUU / KUU
'tree' (This can be debated because of the initial I)
|PUU / PUU 'tree'
|YUMAA 'pertaining to the
|JUMAL / JUMALA 'god' (J is
pronounced like Y)
|KÕIK / KAIKKI 'all' KOOS 'together'
|KOOS / KOOSSA 'together'
|KAASA/ KANSSA 'in accompaniment
|KAKS / KAKSI 'two'
|TIIB or TIIV 'wing'
|ÄIKE , IKKE / UKKONEN
This comparison may be debatable and more info is desirable)
|RAHVAS 'a people, nation'
|'IINIŠ 'to come into
' IIN '(the world, human race) to exist'
compares with Inuit words like inuit
'people' and inuusaaqtuq
'he is born' and also those in Algonquian
|INIMENE/ IHMINEN 'person'
|' AAHO 'to walk,
go' (note glottal stop at start is a K-type sound) Compares with
Kwakwala QASA 'walking' and Inuit qai-
||KÄI /KÄY 'walk, go'
compares with Kwakwala 'WÄP
Est. stem VEE-
|VIIHI 'to dislike,
hate' (almost exact!)
|VIHA / VIHA 'anger, hatred'
|HINGA / HENGITTÄ 'breath'
IME / IMEÄ 'suck
|SÜGAV / SYVÄ 'deep'
|SUU / SUU 'mouth'
|IMUUSTIH 'to look at,
Same pattern as the Estonian not Finnish , unless Finnic has lost its equivalent
|IMESTA /IHMETELLÄ 'be amazed'
|' UUS 'pine
|KUUSK / KUUSI 'fir-tree'
|VASTA / VASTA 'against,
|' AASIŠ 'go to
|ASE 'bed, nest'
|KOGU / KOKO 'grouping,
|SÄRA Est. 'sparkle'
Since Inuit ATAATA refers to
'father' this looks like a gender reversal.
NOTE: this instance suggests either Finnic used TAAT long ago (no longer today) or the Karok language in fact did have connection to Inuit, since a people are not easily going to change the name of a mother or father.
|TAAT Est. 'old man'
compare with Kwakwala QÄQÄS 'your grandfather' and Inuit
AKKA 'paternal uncle'
|UKKO 'mythological god'
|MÄGI / MÄKI
|PADI Est. 'pillow'
This looks like a simple matter of substitution of M for L ?
|KALA / KALA 'fish'
|HEA / HYVÄÄ 'good' JA 'yes'
|' AK 'pertaining to use of
More info needed for this one.
|KÄE/ KÄEN 'of the hands'
|' ASA 'to wear on one's
|KASUTA Est 'use'
KASUKAS Est 'fur coat'
|OOTA / ODOTA 'wait'
|KUNIŠ 'sort of, kind
|-KENE Est 'kind of'
|TARVE / TARVE 'instrument'
|-VA suffix for action over
||-V / -VA suffix marking
|-TIH suffix marking
|-TI ending for Estonian
past imperfect passive
|-AHI like past
|-SI / -I marker for
The Karok source
words I scanned also include all kinds of compound words and
derivations. We selected
only those that show strong correspondences. Some may be coincidences,
but some patterns are sufficiently unique that they could not appear by
Unfortunately the studies presented here are not exhaustive nor
intended to be. My intention is only to point out remarkable
coincidences in language to add to the broader multidisciplinary study
that includes the information from archeology and associated sciences.
It is difficult to assess how many words of a total
lexicon have parallels in Finnic (Estonian or Finnish) because the line
between what we accept and what is debatable, is subjective. But in my
scanning of words in Basque, Inuit, Ojibwa-Algonquian, Kwakwala,
Kalapuyan, and Karok I was looking for 1 in 35 commonly used words. But
even 1 in 50 is remarkable enough if we consider a typical vocabulary
or commonly used words is about 1000 words (It means we find 20 words,
which is enough to indicate the coincidences are not random change,
especially considering we have to find close parallels in both the
sound pattern and meaning.
Conclusions Regarding the Spread of Seagoing People Beyond Europe
I believe I have presented enough evidence to
successfully argue that the original boat peoples of northern Europe,
probably starting from the "Kunda" culture at the east Baltic coast,
indeed migrated to the White Sea, developing skin boats where there was
a lack of trees, then migrated to arctic Norway and then from there
both across the North Atlantic, then across arctic North America to the
North Pacific and then descend the coasts - probably motivated by whale
migrations - and inhabit new territories along the coasts.
These broader expansions occurred about 6,000 years
ago, introducing boats and harvesting the seas to peoples who formerly
had been land-based (since it is far easier to copy a successful way of
life than to develop it by trial and error over many generations,)
While finding remnants of a Finnic language may
identify descendants of the original seagoing voyageurs, the impacts of
them was extensive, leading to seatrade, crossing oceans for conquest
and colonization, and generally moving humanity onto seas and rivers.
Originally, like the apes, we only went near or into the water when
forced to do so. Mastering the use of the sea was as significant a
development as perhaps the mastering of farming.
The Inuit Language of Igloolik, Northwest Territories, University of Laval, Laval, Quebec, 1978
Some problems in North American archaeology 1902, American Journal of Archaeology (2nd series)
Ethnological problems in Canada. 1910, Journal Royal Anthropological Institute 40:529-39
Notes on the prehistory of the southern Northwest Coast. 1951, British Columbia Historical Quarterly 14:241-46
Facts and problems of Northwest Coast prehistory, 1950, Anthropology in
British Columbia 4:35-49 Some aspects of prehistoric Coastal-
Interior relations in the Pacific Northwest 1954a, Anthropology
in British Columbia 4:26-32
The Karok Language, 1957, University of California Press, Berkeley&Los Angeles
Cultures of the North Pacific Coast, 1965, Chandler, San Francisco
Proto-Kalapuyan, 1970, Languages and Cultures of Western North America,
ed. E.H.Swanson Jr., Ohio State Univ Press, Pocatello, Idaho, 1970
Kalapuya and Takelma, July 1965, International Journal of American Linguistics, vol 31, No. 3
author: A.Paabo, Box 478,
Apsley, Ont., Canada
2013 (c) A. Pääbo.