Rediscovering America, Part 2000

By: Daniel Nardini



                   Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary    This seems to be happening every five to ten years on Columbus Day (October 10th). And the same old question asked by revisionist historians is, “who discovered America?” I have been hearing this question ad nauseum for close to 20 years, as if there is some “new” 100 percent proof that some one or some other people had “discovered” the Americas. Let me be clear about one thing, the very first to discover this continent were the present Native Americans. For tens of thousands of years, this hemisphere remained unknown to all other peoples in Africa, Asia and Europe until an Italian sailing under the Spanish flag, Christopher Columbus, put the Americas permanently on the map for everyone on every continent to know.


                        But for some reason, there are those crackpot writers who are trying to prove that someone else came to the Americas before Columbus—in this case from China. In this specific case, I am talking about Gavin Menzies—a well known British retired naval officer and author. His most recent book, “Who Discovered America?”, Menzies alleges that the Chinese, under the famous Muslim eunuch named Zheng He, actually crossed the Pacific Ocean and had made contact with the Native Americans 70 years before Columbus did. Menzies goes on to further state that the Chinese had been crossing the Pacific to the Americas before Zheng He’s voyage in 1418.


                            Menzies uses “proof” of an 18th Century Chinese map that he claims is a copy of a 15th Century map used by Zheng He. If this is among the best proof he has, then it is a joke. First, if the Chinese, or any Asian group, had any real contact with the Native Americans, we would be seeing this in the Native American cultures. According to all historical chronicles written by Americans 300 years after any of the native peoples on the U.S. west coast could have had any contact with any Asian peoples, there were simply no similarities in common between the Native Americans and the Chinese or any other Asian group.


                              Indeed, we see no evidence of any kind of Asian influence in Native American art, in Native American architecture, in Native American society, and most certainly none in Native American religions. The only people we know who came before Christopher Columbus who were not Native American were the Vikings. We have archeological proof from a site in New Foundland known as L’Anse aux Meadows that a Viking settlement was created there around 1000 A.D. However, the Viking settlement maybe lasted 30 to 50 years, and was then abandoned. Because of it temporary nature, the Vikings never influenced the peoples around them. This is the only case we know of where Europeans came before Columbus, and any place in the Americas where a non-Native American people had not only visited but had established any settlement in the Americas.

Yet we keep seeing some authors and pseudo-historians who claim that the Americas were “discovered” before Columbus and then heavily influenced by people from Asia. I personally see it as an insult to the Native Americans and to Columbus himself. What some of these so-called experts are saying is that the Native Americans could not have created the many wonders and great civilizations that existed in this hemisphere, and that Columbus really did not put this continent on the map for all to know. Unless, by some extremely weird chance that someone can prove 100 percent beyond a reasonable doubt that some other people came to the Americas before Columbus, I have to keep dismissing all these theories as crackpot ideas.

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