The Voyages of the Whale Hunters
In the far north, where trees were small, it was only possible to make small one-person dugouts (like the Khanti still have). The "Kunda" culture of the Baltic, which - from the large harpoons that have been found - hunted in the sea, was able to make large seaworthy dugouts as their north-south migrations in the east Baltic, allowed them to find the required large trees needed. But when some of them moved north towards the White and Arctic Seas, only small dugouts were possible and seaworthy vessels with high walls had to be made in another way. The skin boat I believe developed in the arctic where the established traditional dugout could not be made large enough for use in the open sea.. My theory is that the inspiration for the boat made of skin on a frame began when someone mistakened a swimming moose for a floating log, and that inspired an attempt to make a moose carcass into a boat. That introduced the principle of using ribs to hold the skin. Over time the priniciple was refined and large boats were developed from sewing skins together; but the source of the skins continued to be honoured by the moosehead (now possibly carved) on the prow. These new large skin boats could be used to hunt whales, and rock carvings near the White Sea and Lake Onega are testimony to whale hunting about 6000 years ago. Interestingly the Greenland Inuit appear to have been hunting whales from their large skin boats - although now made of different skins - not long ago, as shown in an illustration in an 18th century book. Whale hunters, lacking any fear of the open water, and accustomed to travelling long distances and even following whales, were the instrument for the expansion of boat peoples beyond their origins in northern Europe. The currents of the North Atlantic suggest the North Atlantic was crossed easily and the "Dorset" culture became established when a tribe became established in the current routes of the sea east of Labrador. The connection between Finnic languages of the region south of the White Sea, and any other people with whaling in their traditions, can be seen in language comparisons. Although not close enough to permit comparative linguistic analysis, comparing the Inuit language with Estonian/Finnish presents similarlities in many fundamental words . But skin boats ventured south as well, and produced such crafts as the birch bark canoe (skin boat using birch bark as skin), and the Pictish skin boat later made of ox hides when the walrus of the northern British Isles were extinct. They also circled the arctic waters (a relatively small distance if you view it on an actual globe and not on a map that stretches the north and south regions.) and descended down Pacific coasts as well.
Another misunderstanding that scholars have had about boats is that they assume that any people anywhere can decide to build a boat and suddenly take to the water. Even our modern experience can tell this is not true. Who today can build a sleek dugout like today's Khanti can still build, without actually having a Khanti master show us. Those who have attempted without instruction can only manage a crude trenched log. But even before ANYONE had created a dugout, how would an inventor even know what was needed? If humans have never before glided in a water vehicle, how would they know that this would be useful? How would they know that this new method of getting around will give them greater success than the original method of creating paths and walking?
It is important to bear in mind that if some invention is not yet in use, it cannot come into use immediately just because a human can think of it. Human ingenuity can invent something to solve an immediate task, and even invent something exotic for entertainment, but inventions that shape an entire way of life take a long time to evolve. A good example today is the automobile. The automobile could not have come into existence, had it not been for precedents in earlier vehicles drawn by horses. The automobile simply replaced the horse with an engine. Before that, even the use of a horse took a long time to develop. Even though humans were entertaining themselves by jumping on the backs of horses for sport from the moment they investigated the animals, it probably took 1000 years for conditions to push societies to develop the horse into the fabric of society. Similarly other beasts of burden like oxen, took some time to become adopted into practical uses. Ironically, North America certainly had animals that could have been similarly domesticated - bison domesticated to pull wagons, or the riding of a large animal like a moose - but it never developed. And yet, within a couple of generations after the Plains Indians saw the Spaniards riding horses, they were suddenly riding horses.
Why human societies can adopt something almost instantly once its use has already developed in another society is simply explained: It is not the invention that is the difficulty, it is the entire framework of life that surrounds it. There is also the imitation factor. Humans, like apes, are imitators. They can imitate something that is already done. (10,000 artists can create a copy of the Mona Lisa, but only Leonardo da Vinci could create the original out of nothing!!.)
An automobile could not have developed without the conditions created in the Victorian era, of cities in which everyone moved from place to place in horse-drawn buggies, wagons, and carriages. But after the automobile was invented, every nation in the world could now imitate it, and even manufacture them and become the world leaders, overtaking even the nations in which the automobiles came into first use.
Thus, applying the theory to the evolution of a boat-oriented way of life: obviously humans had always been able to create boat-like toys from floating bowls in water, and even creating huge boat-like bowls and having a child play around with it in water games. Obviously too whenever ancient tribes found their way blocked by a river or a lake, they were intelligent enough to put together some sort of raft to cross it. The issue is not in human ingenuity. The issue is in the development of an entire way of life revolving around transportation and hunting using a boat, instead of the traditional ways travelling on foot. If it had never existed before; if humans have previously only hunted and travelled on foot; then doing these things with a boat required a major evolution, perhaps as elaborate as our long evolution today towards the automobile, starting with the horsedrawn wagon, nay-- starting with harnessing the power of a horse!.
The development of a boat-using way of life thus had to go through many trial and error developments, and NATURE judged which choices were better and which were worse (Tribes that adopted the better ways were more successful, had more children, and also found rival tribes copying their methods.)
One interesting observation about inventions that are not toys but become part of the way of life of a human society, is that every new development needs to be founded on an old one, because too dramatic a development throws the operation of that way of life into chaos.. Early automobilies for example had to be concieved of as carriages without horses. That would not disrupt society's operation (other than putting liveries out of work, but then, the liveries turned into automobile repair facilities.) If someone had produced an automobile that looked like a modern automobile right away, the public would not have been able to relate to it. The horseless carriage was wonderful. It was still the familiar carriage, but it did not need a horse to pull it.
The evolution of the boat had to proceed in a similar way. It had to slightly improve something already being done. If someone produced the skin-covered frame boat right away, people would not have been able to understand it.
The boat probably began with men straddling logs. Then someone cut a hole in it so that the man did not have to dangle feet in the water. Then the hole was made more comfortable, and larger, to hold more than one man. Then someone discovered that making the outside more streamlined allowed it to travel faster.
It may have taken several generations of someone instituting a change and then many people testing whether the change was beneficial. Eventually the log turned into a dugout with a streamlined shape and thin walls (to be light enought to carry). Such sleek dugouts are still made and used by the Khanti of the Ob River in Siberia, althought they can only make small single-man versions on account there are no large trees in their northern environment.
People who travelled into the sea, such as the Baltic sea, to harvest fish there, learned that they needed large dugouts to withstand the large waves of a sea (or large lake). Archeology reveals that early dugouts in forested regions were large ones, many meters in length, and typically holding up to seven men - three pairs of rowers and one helmsman. Indeed this is permanently recorded in the Estonian and Finnish languages, where the word for "7" is similar to the word for "pertaining to riding" (Est. sõiduse > seitse), and the word for "5" is similar to the word for "pertaining to carrying" (the center two rowers replaced by goods.)
The original dugout boat peoples did not venture into the sea, since going out on the open sea was in itself unnatural. However, once they had developed institutions of hunting sea animals that sometimes lingered away from shore, those animals drew them out. The culture that emerged out of the earliest "Maglemose" dugout boat peoples, to harvest the sea, is called the "Kunda" culture. It was located up the east Baltic coast. Archeology has found an abundance of large harpoons, indicating that these people hunted major sea animals, probably seals.
The "Kunda" seagoing dugout of about 6000BC, was a successful one, and its users no doubt expanded into Lake Lagoda and Lake Onega too. The land was still depressed from the former weight of the glaciers, and it was probably possible to ride a boat from the Baltic Sea area to the White Sea. Those bands that travelled north to harvest seas further north, had to return south whenever they needed to build a new seagoing dugout, because the trees in the north were small, and above the treeline, nonexistent. While the "Kunda" culture in the Baltic, was able to find forests with huge trees a meter in diameter from which to make large seagoing dugouts, those bands who moved north out of the Baltic Sea, found their large dugouts rotting away and no large trees to replace them. All they had were smaller trees for making small one-person dugouts, not suitable for hunting large sea animals in the sea.
The rock carvings of Lake Onega, north to the White Sea, and across the European arctic to the coasts of arctic Norway show a very interesting boat. The simplest and smallest one shows a moosehead on its prow, and it holds no more than three men. When comparing the scale of people versus the size of the head on the prow, it is clear that what they have done is in fact created a "dugout moose". They have taken a moose carcass, slit it open along its back, and removed its body. Then to retain its shape, they have simply used the same principle as the moose itself has to hold its shape - ribs. It is possible that the earliest and simplest "dugout moose" retained the moose's own ribcage. I can easily see them using the moose's own skeleton - moving pieces around. Then using fire - just like in the creation of a dugout - to dry and preserve the inside. The final result is a boat which is a dugout moose mummified and hardened by drying with fire. The resulting boat offered a very high prow that could handle high waves. This was the beginning of all the subsequent boats that have ever been built - up to the oceanliners of modern day - based on the principle of putting a skin on a frame. The greatest oceanliner on earth starts 6000 years ago with a moose swimming across a lake and being initially mistakened for a floating log!!!!
As the rock carvings also show, pieces of skin could be sewn together, and more frame added, in order to create a long boat capable of holding 20-50 people.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE SKIN BOAT FROM THE "DUGOUT MOOSE"
Theory by Andres Paabo
The concept of the original boat did not involve frames and skins. All boats were dugout logs. The dugout is still made by the Khanti of the Ob (image at right is from a Lennart Meri film produced in Estonia in the 80's) However this dugout is small because at the northern edge of the forest zone, the trees are too small to make large seaworthy dugouts.
All the rock carvings of arctic Europe show this small dugout (upper image to right, showing a rock carving from the Norwegian arctic islands)that can carry only one person showing it still had its use. But the boats used for harvesting the sea, are large skin boats that have high prows to withstand the high waves of the sea.It is interesting that the single person dugout is also seen in Canadian rock carvings (image to left from book by Dewdney), helping argue that the people who crossed the Atlantic with skin boats also brought knowledge of creating the small river-dugout. While some may say that the image shown to the left is a birchbark canoe, I disagree. Dugouts were very slim because it was not possible to build up the sides . Birchbark canoes were nothing more than skin boats using birchbark skin instead of animal skin.
Boat people who wanted to harvest the arctic, therefore could not use the slim dugouts made from the small northern trees. They had to develop something new. My theory is that it began with someone's idea of trying to make a dugout from a dead moose carcass.
The Lake Onega rock carvings present several examples showing the small moose skin boat being used in sea-hunting. Allowing for some variation by the artist, the scale of the moose head is generally of natural size, when compared with the size of the two or three people inside.
All the skin-on-frame boats of the world owe their origins to this beginning, which I believe began with applying the concept of the dugout to a moose carcass. The idea may have begun with someone seeing a moose swimming and initially thinking it was a large floating log. Coming close they discover it is a moose; however the idea of making a large boat was already planted in their mind and they wondered if a boat could be made from it. In the beginning the idea of a skin on a frame did not exist. It was born when the concept of the moose's ribs was employed to hold the skin in shape.
Note that the moose has a massive body giving a great deal of skin that can be stretched to create a boat large enough to hold three men.
The image to the right, shows an illustration from Alta, Norway rock carvings. It illustrates that this basic boat was not local. Since the moose (shown above) is a forest zone animal, the use of the moose meant that its users did not remain in the arctic, but migrated between the arctic coast and forested regions. It is interesting that the Lake Onega carvings show no images of moose with antlers. Since males grow antlers in summer and shed them in fall, it follows that the Lake Onega people were in the Lake Onega area only in winter-spring. They then left for the arctic, perhaps going as far as Alta, and did not experience the moose with antlers. The Alta rock carvings also show boats with reindeer heads. It suggests that those people who DID stay in the arctic, and did not return south, used the reindeer as a substitute, sewing many skins together.
The next step was of course the enlarging of this boat, to hold many more people. The obvious way to enlarge it was to simply sew skins together and make it longer. The following images compares a rock carving of a large boat at Lake Onega, with a typical UMIAK of the Alaskan Inuit. The umiak shown was made of walrus skins, but it gives an idea of size. Walrus skin was discovered to be a better skin than reindeer, for those peoples who stayed in the arctic and did not descend south in winter to the forested regions where moose were found.
Rock Carvings Showing Whale Hunting in the White Sea as Early as 5000-6000 Years Ago
The arctic boat people who developed whale hunting, not only created large boats, but their quest for whales took them far into the sea, as they searched for whales. If we speak of the expansion of boat-people throughout the ancient world, then we have to owe it to these people. Only those sea people willing to take on whales would ride the open sea as boldly as the whales themselves. Since whales migrated up and down the Atlantic coasts, these people may followed them southward down the coast of Europe, establishing the early Atlantic coast long range sea peoples associated with what archeologists call the "Megalithic Culture". When successsful, and developing cities, they may have been the source of the legends of Atlantis.
There is no question that highly developed methods of whale hunting existed as early as 5000-6000 years ago, because they are shown in carvings dated to about that time. The most amazing rock picture is the one shown below (presented here intepreted in black and white, with the whale hunting event set appart from other elements around it for clarity.)
Whale hunting from moose-skin boats, probably on the White Sea (in today's arctic Russia, north of Lake Onega). This image is developed from reproductions from rock carvings that have been dated to between 5000-6000 years ago. (Light grey restores missing, worn, sections)
from Description de histoire naturelle du Groenland, by Hans Egede, tr. D.R.D.P. Copenhagen and Geneva, Frere Philibert (This image derived from Canada's First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from earliest times by O. P. Dickason, Toronto, 1992)
Whale hunting tribal territories would have developed according to the behaviour of whales. Whales migrated up and down Atlantic coasts, both on the European side and the American side. Obviously tribes on one side would in the long run diverge from those on the other side, as a result of reduced contact. When the whale hunting culture reached the Pacific, it would also have descended down the Pacific coast, that also has whale migrations. They could have descended as far south as California, since whales did. If you are a whale hunter, would you not wonder where they went, and try to follow them?
While whales and the search for large sea animals in general, like also seals and walrus, may have been the original reason for boldly venturing into the open sea (quite scarey until one is used to it), once there, the sea-going hunters also had access to new places to fish, and that would have caused the culture to florish and expand, even without whales. The situation would have been similar to what happened with the creation of the dugout canoe. There too the water craft suddenly gave access to water animal hunting locations previously inaccessible, and benefitted the people beyond what they originally expected.
The Arctic Sea-People of North America and Greenland - the "Thule" and "Dorset" Archeological Cultures
It is known that whales do not cross the ocean. They migrated up and down the coasts of the continents. Thus one tribe would be associated with whale migrations up and down the North American coast and another associated with whale migrations up and down the European coast. When the whale-harvesting culture reached the Pacific, then tribes would be formed there too, establishing their tribal territory to particular whale migrations. Whaling was of course difficult, so more realistically, most of the year was probably spent harvesting smaller mammals like walrus and seals, reserving the whale hunt for the time when all the clans of a tribe congregated and socialized - ideally annually - at one special location.
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 which is believed to refer to Iceland. 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 about the time of the making of the rock carvings showing large 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.
Realistically it was both. We know that about the time of the Norse landings on North America there was a climatic 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 0AD). 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. Now the cousins were returning. (The other solution is that the "Thule" and Pacific whaling cultures originated from whalers who migrated eastward from the White Sea over top of Siberia, which may have occurred anyway, since real events are not always simple ones, in spire of scholars wanting to simplify the past.) While it is imagined that one people conquered the other, it would have been at best a passive conquest - the ones with the better tools and technique being naturally stronger and more successful. While we can picture angry words and skirmishes between those with the "Thule" culture and those of the previous "Dorset" culture, we should not assume that the one killed off the other. Successful "Thule" technology would have been adopted by the original peoples, the "Dorset", once they saw it, in much the same way as the arctic peoples in modern times quickly adopted rifles and now snowmobiles. Thus perhaps there is territorial conflict only in some instances, and soon, after a few generations, the best of both cultures merge into a new culture. In other words what is today called "Inuit" is probably a combination of the best of "Thule" and "Dorset" practices. Both cultures, obviously had to have been similar to begin with, since both were seagoing cultures, originating from the same circumpolar expansion of whale-hunters.
Today all the 'Eskimo' culture across arctic North America is assumed to be from the "Thule" culture, and is given the name "Inuit", but in truth, we do not have any way of knowing to what extent the resulting Inuit culture of the North American arctic, from Alaska to Greenland, contains elements of the earlier archeological "Dorset" culture of people known as "Tunit". Common sense would suggest that the resulting culture in the east around Greenland retained more "Dorset" elements, while the culture in the west, near Alaska remained purely "Thule". Also, is the modern Inuit language closer to the language of the "Thule" or the "Dorset"? Or where they essentially of the same circumpolar culture, differing only dialectically. Thus, for example, it is possible that the "Thule" and "Dorset" culture already spoke similar language, and both called themselves by a word like INNU, so that when the two mingled, they quickly merged, after some generations of intermarriage, into one "Inuit". One possibility is that the Algonquian Native nations of the northeast quadrant of North America originated from "Dorset" peoples pushed south along the Labrador coast, and then after a time expanding inland up the rivers. In Quebec the Montgnais and Churchill River Algonquians called themselves "Innu".
Supporting the possibility that the difference between "Dorset" and "Thule" culture may have been largely in their material culture and that their ethnicity was similar, is the fact that modern Greenland 'Eskimos' have legends that link them to the east towards arctic Europe, not to the west. Greenland 'Eskimos' insist without question they came from the east. Since archeology shows the "Dorset" culture expanded east-to-west, it means the Greenland 'Eskimo' memory is related more to the "Dorset" culture, and further east to arctic Europe. This makes sense because Greenland is the most easterly of the 'Eskimo' peoples. More "Dorset" cultural descendants would be found among the Greenland 'Eskimo' than Inuit of arctic western Canada.
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. Thus we have to be careful about assuming that the "Thule" and "Dorset" archeological cultures were different ethnically. They could have been ethnically only as different as, say, an American and British person.
If the theory that circumpolar waters became populated by the same culture, originating in whale hunters (and then pushed south following the whales), then the evidence should exist in language as well. With the new view of Finno-Ugric languages (see FINNO-UGRIC LANGUAGES: Origins in the Aboriginal Languages of Prehistoric Europe) it is likely that modern Estonian and Finnish is descended from the language of the "Kunda" culture. Indeed history shows that peoples of the east Baltic coast developed into intrepid seafarers, carrying on trade across the northern seas. (As described elsewhere, they were identifiable with the later Picts of northern Britain, because legend at the time of Anglo-Saxon monk Venerable Bede, said that the Picts came "from Scythia in longboats" - the east Baltic coast at that time was the Scythian coast.).
Since sea-hunting culture does not spring into being fully developed, the moose-head-boat sea-hunters shown in the rock carvings from Lake Onega to the White Sea, must have originated from the "Kunda" culture, where sea hunting in Baltic waters first developed.
It follows that the language spoken by the whalers - yes the same ones in the illustration above showing the capture of a whale - was derived from the "Kunda" people's language, the same one from which Estonian and Finnish developed. If these whale hunters then expanded around the arctic, it follows then that we should be able to find Estonian and Finnish words that have parallels in the Inuit language of the North American arctic, consistent with many thousands of years of separation (These parallels would not be strong enough for proper comparative linguistic analysis, but enough to suggest support for the circumpolar whale hunter migration theory.) Furthermore, we should also find Finnic words in further expansions from these people, down the coasts.
A LANGUAGE AS TAUGHT TO CHILDREN GENERATION TO GENERATION IS MOST FILLED WITH INTUITIVE INFORMATION
There have been in recent years self-styled "scholars" (such as one finds on the internet) who have done extensive work trying to prove that one language or another derives from some exotic source, such as Basque. They have not learned Basque as a child, and simply thumb through a dictionary. This does not recognize that the words of a language as laid out in a dictionary do not have equal stability and depth. The word that is a hundred generations old may sit beside one that was invented or borrowed in the last decade!! Studies will prove that the basic language taught to children contains many basic words that have the deepest origins, and will endure the longest into future generations. Thus having learnt the language as a child is very important for making good decisions that are not absurd. For example the word for 'person' (Estonian inimene) will tend to be much older more enduring, than the word for, say 'pencil' (pliiats ). Someone thumbing through an Estonian dictionary who uses the word for 'pencil' in the argument, will be arguing an absurdity. Thus someone looking for parallels between two languages, should have learned the language used as the tool in their childhood so that they will have an intuition about which words are fundamental, and more likely to have deep origins, and thus avoid other words, uncommon dictionary words, whose probability of applicability is low. Someone who merely goes through a dictionary giving evey word an equal value cannot produce a meaningful study.
Comparison of Inuit and Estonian/Finnish reveals coincidences in basic words, consistent with having had the same origin. As the following sampling shows, parallels can be found in all the fundmental areas -- concepts relating to boats, fish, harpooning, hunting, and even some family relations, Unlike the names of objects in the everyday environment, these basic items at the core of a culture are likely to resist change and be preserved. Note that in the following study I use Estonian as the primary language, looking up Finnish parallels to Estonian. It is possible that if the study uses Finnish as the primary language, additional good parallels can be found, especially if Finnish has retained more archaic words.
Note that in the absence of independent ways of determining which Estonian/Finnish words have deep roots, the approach used is to limit the Estonian/Finnish vocabulary to common words - such as is taught to children - based on the idea that words deeply entrenched in basic vocabulary also tend to be the oldest, transferred from generation to generation with little change. In the past there have been "scholars" who have compared languages only by thumbing through dictionaries. That approach will produce many absurd results because in a dictionary, every word, old and new, original and borrowed, has the same value. There is no way of determining from a dictionary which are deeply entrenched in the language - and most likely very old - versus those that have been recently invented or borrowed to adapt to modern realities. This kind of study should be done by someone who was actually raised in the language and retains all the intuition about it, untained by specialized words of recent development and usage. My childhood language is Estonian, and I use the intuition of Estonian. For meaningful results, at least ONE language being compared must be one for which the investigator has developed a deep intuition from it being their first language.
The following is a brief summary of the better words I have found in a relatively small lexicon of Inuit words. I avoid the grey zone of other possibilities. The grey zone is better investigated by linguists who can add further observations to justify their choices. Here we give only those that really jump out strongly, and are quite obvious - needing no extensive arguing.
Linguists say that every millenia, as much as 80% of a vocabulary changes. But by the same token 20% may represent core words that are so important that there is a reluctance to change them. After 4-6 millenia, how many of those 20% unchanging words continue to survive? It is possible that words that resist change after 1000 years continue to resist change. The longer one uses a word, the longer one wants to continue to use the word. What is significant about the interpretations below is the number of examples there are that relate to hunting, boat-use, land, sea, water, family, and other core concepts important to a boat-oriented people. This tends to indicate we are dealing with the core words that resist change. Loanwords tend to manifest in names of new things, not core concepts.
The source of the Inuit words and expressions tested in my brief study included only a few 1000 expressions. (The Inuit Language of Igloolik, Northwest Territories, Louis-J Dorais, University of Laval, Laval, Quebec, 1978). There is wisdom in using common words and phrases in both languages, because it ensures that comparison is made between the 20% or so core words that resist change.
The following examples do not follow any particular order. I note them in the order in which I encountered them. Note that to make the argument strong, I have not included 'borderline' (grey zone) parallels. Nor is the source of the Inuit words exhaustive as only a small lexicon is used. Today there are better compilations of words, and a linguist with intuition in Estonian and/or Finnish and/or Inuit can do a better study. Nor are any obscure Estonian or Finnish words used in the analysis, to ensure that we are dealing with core vocabularies which are most likely to endure.
INUIT COMPARED TO FINNIC
Beginning with 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
The Inuit infix -ma- as in ikimajuq 'he is (in the situation of being) aboard'. The Estonian/Finnish use of -ma/-maan in a similar way describes a situation of 'being'. While modern Estonian uses -ma as the ending marking the first infinitive, it originated from 'a verbal noun in the illative (into)' (J. Aavik).
The Inuit -ksaq as in nuluaksaq 'material for making a net', strongly resembles the Estonian translative case ending -ks so that Estonian can say võrkuks '(to be made) into a net'. The Inuit additional -aq is a nominalizer, and Estonian also has -k as a nominalizer. Although a little contrived, one could say võrkuksik and it would mean 'something made into a net'
In Inuit the ending -ttainnaq means 'the same for' as in uvangattainnaq 'the same (another?) for me'. In Estonian/Finnish there is teine/toinen, meaning 'another, the other'.
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 'he swells' which compares with Finnish pullistua 'to expand, swell'.
In Inuit there is -quji as in qaiqujivunga meaning 'I ask to come.' This compares with Estonian/Finnish küsi/kysyy 'ask'. Note also that the example qaiqujivunga presents qai- which resembles Estonian/Finnish käi/käy 'go'. Thus we can invent via Estonian for example "käi-küsi-n" which can be construed as 'I ask-to-go'.
In Inuit there is -ajuk as in tussajuq meaning ' 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.
In Inuit there is -tit as in takutittara 'I make him see' which compares with Estonian/Finnish tee/tekee 'make, do'.
In Inuit there is suluk 'feather' which compares with Est./Finn sulg/sulka 'feather'. This is one of the clearest parallels.
Inuit kanaaq ' lower part of leg' versus Est./Finn kand/kanta 'heel'
Inuit kingmik 'heel' versus Est./Finn king/kenkä 'shoe'
Inuit nirijuq 'he eats' versus Estonian närib 'he chews'
Inuit saluktuq 'thin' versus Est./Finn. sale/solakka 'thin'
Inuit katak 'entrance' versus Est./Finn. katte/katte 'covering'
Inuit ajakpaa 'he pushes it back' versus Est./Finn. ajab/ajaa 'he pushes, shoves (it)'
Inuit kina? 'who?' versus Est./Finn. kelle?/kene? stem for 'who?'
Inuit kikkut? plural 'who?' versus Finnish ketkä plural 'who?' (Estonian uses the singular for plural)
Inuit kinngaq 'mountain' versus Est./Finn. küngas/kunnas 'hill, hillock, mound'
Inuit iqaluk 'fish' versus Est./Finn. kala/kala 'fish'.
Inuit tuqujuq 'he dies' versus Est. tukkub 'he dozes'.
Inuit iluaqtuq 'suitable comfortable' versus Est./Finn. ilu/ilo 'beauty joy delight'.
Inuit akaujuq is another word for 'suitable, comfortabe' and might be reflected in Est./Finn. kaunis/kaunis 'beautiful, handsome'
Inuit angunasuktuq 'he hunts' or anguvaa 'he catches it' compares with Est./Finn öngitseb/onkia 'he fishes, angles' or hangib/hankkia 'he procures, provides'
Inuit nauliktuq 'he harpoons' versus Estonian/Finnish naelutab/naulitaa '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)
Another word of great antiquity in Inuit is kaivuut 'borer' which compares with Est./Finn. kaev/kaivo 'something dug out' today commony applied to a hole dug out of ground.
Inuit qaqqiq 'community house' versus Estonian/Finnish kogu/koko 'the whole, the gathering'
Inuit alliaq 'branches mattress' compares with Est./Finn. alus/alus 'foundation, base, mattress, etc'
Inuit ataata 'father' compares with Estonian taat/ 'old man, father'
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 Finnish eno means exactly as in Inuit, 'mother's brother'. A similar word also exists in Basque (anaia = 'brother') since Basque has connections to the ancient Atlantic sea-going peoples
Inuit akka refers to the 'paternal uncle'. In this case Estonian uses onu again, but Finnish says sekä 'paternal uncle'. See later also ukko.
A most interesting Inuit word is saki meaning 'father, mother, uncle or aunt-in-law'. This suggests an institutional social unit. In Estonian and Finnish sugu/suku means 'kin, extended family' and is commonly used in for example sugupuu 'family tree'.
In Inuit, paa means 'opening'. This compares with Estonian poeb 'he crawls through'. The stem is used in poegima/poikia 'to bring forth young', and is commony used in poeg/poika meaning 'son', 'boy'; but its true nature is actually genderless.
Inuit isiqpuq 'he comes in' is interesting in that it shows the use of the S sound in concepts of 'inside' which is common in Estonian and Finnish, as in sisu/sisu 'interior' or various case endings and suffixes.
Another very basic concept is seen in Inuit akuni 'for a long time', as it relates to Est./Finn. aeg/aika 'time', kuna/kun 'while', and kuni/--- 'until'.
Inuit unnuaq 'night' compares with Est./Finn. uni/uni 'sleep'.
Inuit sila means 'weather, atmosphere', and compares with Est. Finn. through sild/silta 'bridge, arc' if we use the ancient concept of the arc of the sky.
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 Estonian/Finnish kagu/kaako means 'south-east'. Prevailing winds travelled from the north-west to the south-east; thus the word may originate in a relationship to wind.
Inuit puvak 'lung' connects well with Estonian puhu 'blow'. Finnish has developed the word to mean 'speak'.
The Inuit nui(sa)juq 'it is visible' may have a connection with Estonian/Finnish näeb/näkee 'he sees'. In modern Estonian, the concept of 'visible' could be expressed by näedav. Algonquian Ojibwa has a similar word.
Inuit uunaqtuq 'burning' relates to Est/Finn. kuum/kuuma 'hot' but most strongly to Finnish uuni 'oven'.
Inuit kiinaq means 'edge of knife'. This compares with Est./Finn küün/kynsi 'fingernail'
Inuit aklunaaq 'thong, rope' compares with Est./Finn. lõng/lanka 'thread'.
Inuit words sivuniq 'the fore-part' compares exactly with Finnish sivu 'side, page'. But also Inuit sivulliq 'past', 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.)
The Inuit kangia 'butt-end' compares with Est./Finn. kang/kanki 'lever, bar' or kange/kankea 'strong, intense'
Inuit uses pi to mean 'thing', which has no parallel to Est. /Finn., however other words with PI show interesting parallels: Inuit pitalik means 'he has, there is' which may compare with Est./Finn. pidada/pitää meaning either 'to hold' or 'to have to'. Inuit uses piji for 'worker' and pijariaquqpuq means 'he must do it'. Also pivittuq means 'he keeps trying but is unable to', which resembles Est./Finn. püüab/pyytää 'he tries, he entreats'.
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.
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/---; Inuit qalirusiq 'hill' resembles Est./Finn. kalju/kallio 'cliff'.
The most interesting Inuit words are those that relate to the sea, land, and mother, because they will reveal whether in the Inuit past there existed the same boat-people world-view also found in northern Europe.
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. (This may explain why Danish bog-people threw offerings into the 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'. In addition there are 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 'sea'. The intention of this discussion is to show that the worldview appears to reside within Inuit language as well, suggesting distance origins of Inuit in the same boat-peoples, the same great expansion of mainly around 6000 years ago..
However, we must also note that while Inuit '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'.
But then again, 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'.
No matter how you look at this matter, there is no question that Estonian/Finnish, and Inuit, share in an ancient worldview of boat peoples which involve concepts of World-Plane, and World-Mother, identified by AMA.
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 means '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.
Other notable words might include Inuit umiaq 'boat'. If umiak is a condensation, and the original Inuit word was UIMIAK or even UIMAJIK, then once again Estonian too could combine UI and MA and JA and the K nominalizer, and get UJUM/JA/K. While an invented word, Estonian would interpret it as 'something that is an agent of the situation of swimming, floating'. Also Inuit has umiirijuq 'he puts it in the water'.
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 an adoption by Germanic settlers into Scandinavia of the aboriginal high god. Norse mythology contains other features that can be traced to the Finnic mythology of the aboriginals into which they settled, when Scandianvia was Germanized during 0-1000AD.
In addition to many basic words, such as given above, there are 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 ending.)
NOTES ON COMPARING LANGUAGES WITH DEEP CONNECTIONS
There isn't enough to permit a proper comparative linguistic analysis. It has been tried but the results were inconclusive (See references to the "Eskimo-Uralic Hypothesis" in scholarly indexes). But we do not expect it, since comparative linguistic analysis cannot be applied to two languages whose separation time is more than about 3000 years. The hard information suggests the spread of the White Sea whale hunters began about 6000 years ago. The linguistic approach requires reversing the compared languages to a "proto" form representing the time of separation.
With respect to the expansion of boat-peoples, there was probably an initial separation around 6000 years ago as some of the Finnic speakers (boat people) of northern Scandinavia ventured by sea into the west and never returned. However, as the theory of boat-people expansions argues, there were MANY crossings of the North Atlantic in subsequent millenia adding words from northern Scandinavia to the dialectically changing language in the North American arctic. Furthermore there were contacts between the North Atlantic sea-people and indigenous land-based people such as perhaps indigenous caribou hunters. The only reason comparative linguistics cannot handle a separation of more than 3000 years (nor for languages that do NOT represent a simple split from a common parent) is because comparative linguistic techniques oversimplify the reality, and do not allow for language change to occur in realistic complex ways, including convergence, loanwords, and waves of changing contacts and circumstances over time.. My view is that the best once can do with looking at languages that suggest very ancient contact in complex ways, is that, with the view that all the various connections and influences occurred a 'long time ago', we must try our best to concentrate on words in both languages that are old too (ie relatively unchanged from a 'long time ago') The main way of eliminating recent words, I believe, is to limit the vocabulary of one language to the language learned as a child, since language given children tends to be repeated generation after generation - as already mentioned. There are other scientific methods that can be used to reduce arbitrariness and subjectiveness. Comparisons like the above can be subjected to statistical analysis of empirical results. One can create a "control" if the same analyst is first given lists of arbitrarily and randomly generated (by computer, say) words that sound similar to Estonian or Finnish. An overly imaginative analyst will imagine more correspondences in this 'control' experiment, while another one with less imagination will see less. Thus each analyst establishes their own 'control', so that when they study the actual language, the relationship to the 'control' should be constant for each. (The analysts of course cannot know that they are being given a computer-generated word list for the 'control'. They must think it is a real possibly Finnic language.)
The linguistic similarities between the Inuit language and our examples of Finnic - Estonian and Finnish - taken in isolation might not be convincing to a critically-minded linguist. However, in this study we cross many fields, and do not concentrate on only one field. Thus while the linguistic argument by itself is not earthshaking, when we add to it the other cultural and archeological coincidences, images from rock art, and so on - IT ALL ADDS UP. The reader is asked not to made judgements only within their own field, but add to it evidence from outside their field. Linguists should also look at the archeology, archeologists at the linguistic evidence, and both at other evidence like the nature of North Atlantic currents, and so on. The further we go back in time, the less we can rely on only one field for answers, and the more we have to bring together data from every possible direction, to make the case.
The original sea-people of the North Atlantic were probably like what we see in the illustration of Greenland 'Eskimo'/ Inuit -- with enormous skin boats, capable of holding up to fifty men, women, and children, as they travelled from island camp to island camp. They were evidently hunters of large sea animals. Indeed, if you look at the illustration, even though the few kayaks in the foreground are like typical kayaks, the skin boats look different from the umiaks in the western arctic. They have extensions on both ends, perhaps creating handles so that men can pick them up easily. They look like a well developed vessel, the result of a long history of use in such activity. Note also how they made camps on islands.
The rock carvings found at Alta Norway (see PART THREE: SOUTHWARD MIGRATIONS OF CIRCUMPOLAR SKIN-BOAT PEOPLES), that cover granite cliffs there, tell a story about people coming there to harvest the rich sea life off the arctic coast of Norway, where the warm waters of the Atlantic Drift (originating as the Gulf Steam on the American coast) ended up. Originally they would have travelled there seasonally, and then returned south in the dark and cold winter. But then some stayed. The "Komsa" archeological culture at the top of Norway, that camped all winter at the mouth of the Teno River, was one of the first cultures that remained all year, enduring the sunless months. The Alta carvings also suggest that there were people there who stayed, because of the many images of boats with reindeer heads on the prows, not moose heads. Reindeer were smaller, and many skins had to be sewn together, but if one did not descend south into the forests to hunt moose, that was what you had to use. The large moose-head skin boats, such as depicted in the White Sea rock carving of whale hunting, speak of returns south into Lake Onega, where winter was spent hunting moose on skiis (There is an image at Lake Onega of a man following a moose on skiis).
I mentioned above the possibility that the White Sea whalers may also have migrated east along the north coast of Siberia. Perhaps they represented a subgroup also specializing in hunting walrus. The Inuit umiak of the western North American arctic, as seen in modern centuries, was made of walrus hide.They could have come via the arctic Siberia route, mainly chasing walrus and seals, and that may be the reason for the new development of "Thule" culture. Since a walrus had no head, the walrus-hide skin boat would not display a head on the prow. Still, there are, I believe, anecdotes about such walrus-skin boats having had tusks at the front. Thus the head of the animal from whcih the skin was made was still represented.
The head on the prow of a vessel is a phenomenon that has endured down through time, and its last manifestation has been the hood ornament on the modern automobile or truck, particularly if the ornament represents an animal. In culture we do such things, and we do not know why; but some customs can have roots that are many thousands of years old.
The head of the animal from which the skin was obtained appears to have been an important tradition in sea-going traditions. Dugout boats, which were hollowed logs, did not have this tradition. It is a tradition of vehicles created from putting a skin on a frame. It follows that in addition to language, another feature that will help us track the expansion of the sea-going boat peoples (but not the dugout-boat peoples), is evidence of the animal head at the prow.
Whale-hunting traditions have endured on the Pacific coast, particularly in Native peoples of the region around Vancouver Island and to its south.(Peoples of the "Wakashan" languages) There, memories of whaling are still strong, and attempts are being made to recover the culture. If you look at the graphics painted on the large dugouts of the Pacific coast, you will see eyes painted on the front. If asked, the artist may say it is to help guide the way, but it may tell another story. Because of the giant cedar trees of the Pacific coast, whaling peoples arriving there were able to return to the creation of seagoing dugouts. They may have arrived in skin boats made of whale skin, with the whale head represented by painting its eyes at the front. Converting to the cedar dugout, the continued to paint the eyes at the front. It had to have occurred this way, because such a practice of representing the head of an animal at the front has never existed in the dugout boat tradition. The coincidence between Pacific coast seagoing dugouts having an eye painted on the front, and the whaling traditions cannot be assigned to random chance!!
Thus, besides circumpolar expansion of the sea-going skin-boat peoples, there was venturing southward. The main inspiration for southward exploration would have been the north-south migration of some species of whales. Encountering whales at the south tip of Greenland, the whaling people could have followed them as they left, down the coast of Labrador. But already whaler peoples in arctic Norway could have followed whales too as they migrated back south along the coast of Europe.
On the North American side, this southward venturing could have led to the birth of the Algonquian Native cultures, whose languages at the time of European colonization (16th century) was found to cover the entire northeast quadrant of North America, in a manner consistent with boats making their way up all the rivers that drained to the coast. The Algonquian boats were dugouts everywhere except along the coast and where birch trees were plentiful. Along the coast there were skin boats (including those made of moosehide), and in the northern regions that had birch bark, skin boats were made of skins of birch bark sewn together. Obtaining birch bark was clearly easier than obtaining a moose hide. Besides, a moose hide had other uses. If we are looking for the survival of the older "Dorset" traditions, it would probably be in the Algonquian cultures. Indeed the Great Lakes Algonquian legends speak of origins in the east, at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence. Newfoundland had up to historic times a Native group called the Beothuks, whose culture first manifested there in the early centuries AD. But we cannot dismiss the possibility that there have been many waves of oceanic peoples coming across the North Atlantic in skin boats and venturing southward along the Labrador coast, moving with the same winds and currents as the Norse around 1000AD.
On the European side the same story probably applies. Archeology identifies seagoing peoples on the Atlantic coast of Europe as early as 4500BC, on account of the "megalithic" (made of enormous stones) constructions from southern Portugal to northern Britain, taking either the form of large burial chambers covered with mounds, or stone circles and alignments. The oldest megalithic stone alignments are found at Carnac, France, in southern Britanny. The famous "Stonehenge" was a relatively late development from the same general culture. The oldest constructions were all found close to the sea, and widely distributed in southern Portugal, Brittany, coasts on either side of the Irish Sea, Orkney Islands, and even across to the north end of the Jutland Peninsula by 2000BC. It suggests a trading people that eventually promoted their culture inland up the rivers, eventually making eastern Europe generally a culture of this nature.
These mysterious people certainly knew how to travel in the open sea, and may have created more wealthy cultures towards the south, off Portugal, and been the source of the legends of Atlantis, first brought forward by Plato, which he claimed ultimately came from Egyptian priests. They may have crossed the Atlantic in the middle, leaping from island to island, with the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic being the half-way point.
But the southward-migrating sea peoples, may have merged in their southward migrations with dugout-peoples, and the skin-on-frame approach of boat design, caused the evolution of the boat made of planks on a frame. The original dugout became the keel, and ribs arising from it could then take boards, to initiate a new approach that combined the best features of both original designs.
The most important principle in boat design was the displacement of water. The boat with a hull that displaced water with essentially air achieved greatest buoyancy with least weight. The frame with skin/hull was the way to create to greatest water displacing space with least materials.
made of reindeer skins engaged in fishing with nets
Regardless of how Atlantic seafarers evolved towards the south, their northern cousins carried on generation after generation. The activity was not focussed entirely on large sea-mammals (whales, porpoises, seals, walrus, etc) but there was plenty fishing. Nets could bring in large quantities which could then be salted and smoked.
If these seagoing skin boats were at Alta, they were also elsewhere in the sea too, down the Norwegian coast, and in the British northern isles.
The sea-going peoples of the British northern isles obviously originated from the arctic skin boat peoples because they have always used skin boats. When walrus became extinct in the British northern isles, the people there, the "Picts", made skin boats from ox-hide. The Irish called them curraghs, the Romans curucae. The following illustration comes from an 18th century illustration. To my amazement, it appears to have an oxhead, at the prow, adhering to the ancient tradition of the head of the animal whose skin was used being put at the prow.
Thus, if the "Picts" came from the same traditions, and we can tie them back all the way to the White Sea, then the Pictish language would have been, like the Inuit, of the same Finnic nature. Little has survived of the Pictish language.
Author Farley Mowat, has searched historical material for everything he could find about the skin-boat peoples of the northern British Isles, and established from historical quotes with great certainty of British islands and coast being inhabited by peoples who travelled everywhere even long sea voyages in skin boats.(Farfarers, Toronto, 1998) However he failed to make any connection between them and the skin boat traditions across the Scandinavian arctic. In whatever way they evolved among the British Isles, it is clear they originated from the same culture as depicted in the rock carvings of Norway. Originating as long ranging seafarers "Finns" migrating in the open sea, by the historical era mixed cultures would have developed that fished closer to the islands and maintained settlements. Aboriginal peoples, making contact with civilization pushing up from the south will adapt to participate, and exploit new situations. And that is what historical records indicate.
In the first century AD, the Romans had invaded the British Isles and were establishing armies in various locations, including in the North, to assert control everywhere. There is no question that if there were people of the open seas in the outer British Isles, they would have fled from the Romans, and settled elsewhere. I find it not a strange coincidence that, according to archeology, the Beothuks of Newfoundland appear about the same time as the Romans are asserting control over the British Isles. The word that "Beothuk" represents, has similarities with some variations on names applied to the Picts. The name may simply mean "catch" (as in "catch fish"), which in Estonian is püüdma 'to catch'. The noun for 'catch' is, with -k nominalizer püük, plural püügid. We can easily derive with Estonian words like püükide 'of the catches' or püüdek 'something of the catches'. Farley Mowat may have been right in his Farfarers, about seagoing native British having landed in Newfoundland, but in Roman times, not centuries later - The Beothuks! (For more comment on Mowat's theory and the question of "longhouse foundations" along the Labrador coast see accomanying article EXPLAINING "LONGHOUSE FOUNDATIONS" ON THE LABRADOR COAST)
Meanwhile there were the "Dorset" whaling peoples migrating up and down the Labrador coast, living under their large boats - but contrary to Mowat's concept they were not overturning their boats. They were removing the skins and creating tents - this permitted a wider shelter than simply overturning the entire boat which was no more than two people wide. My alternative theory to the issues raised by Mowat in his Farfarers are dealt with in a separate article.
When Greeks and Romans ventured north into the British Isles, they heard of an island in the North Atlantic called "Thule" which has been identified as Iceland. (Note: The name "Thule" for the North American archeological culture has no connection to the historical "Thule". Archeologists used that name based on the region, so named, in northwestern Greenland where the archeological culture was first archeologically identified among the earlier "Dorset"). Given that we have been able to make many connections between the oceanic aboriginals and the Estonian/Finnish language, this is yet another, since the word "Thule" (Greeks used TH for the "D" sound) is exactly the Estonian word meaning 'of fire' (tule with T soft almost like D). Since Iceland is actively volcanic and volcanic plumes drift eastward across to Norway, the fact that Iceland was a '(place,island) of fire' would have been known far and wide among anyone whose habit it was to travel the North Atlantic.
The circumpolar boat people did not descend south only down the Atlantic coasts to manifest skin boats in the British Isles, but also the Pacific coasts. On the east coast of the Pacific we find the Ainu peoples of Japan, known for introducing the "dragon boats" to Japan. The name "Ainu" is obviously from the same origins as the "Inuit" not far to the north at Alaska, which I argue originated from the word for 'person' or 'people' (but originating from a longer term 'people of the water' See article UINI- UENNE - UENETI: Are Ancient Boat People identifiable by Names?) .
"PERSON" = "INDIVIDUAL"
There has been a suggestion that maybe the word "Ainu" is related to the Estonian word ain 'individual, singular' , however the Estonian ain can be seen to be similar to French un , and can be seen as a variation on the concept of 'person'. In primitive cultures the whole world was animated, so that everything including rocks were 'persons'. That is why even in English, the word individual is synonymous with 'person'. The primitive notion has endured. Thus we can call a tribe of 'persons' a tribe of 'individuals'. Therefore, making a link between "Ainu" and Finnic ain, changes nothing. It still refers to 'persons')
During the 1970's when a student at the University of Toronto, I went into the stacks (shelves) where books were kept and pulled books off the shelves in the section covering the North American Native (Indian) languages, flipping through the word lists, to see if words that resembled Estonian words jumped out. At that time I had only done my study on the Inuit language (summarized above)and had wondered if any of the numerous other Native languages of North America would produce similar results. Would I find more coincidences? What would it mean if I did?
At that time 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 hundreds). I focussed on words that would have resisted change such as words for 'mother', 'father', 'earth', 'sky', 'water', 'fish', 'sun', 'day' and so on. I would look up such words, and if I failed to find any parallel for one or two such basic words, I moved on. What I discovered was that I was seeing Estonian-like words in languages along the Pacific coast, known more commonly as the Northwest Coast (of North America). I only discovered later that the speakers of these languages were either whale hunters, or salmon-catchers. The next section introduces whalers of the Northwest Coast that seem to have a connection with the Inuit, and words that, like the Inuit words, have parallels with Finnic (focussing on Estonian and Finnish) Further studies are presented in PART THREE of the UI-RA-LA series.
Archeology reveals that the seacoast culture on the Northwest Coast before about 3000 years ago 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.
The Northwest Coast also had an abundance of salmon. Archeology shows there was a dramatic growth in cultures around 3,000 years ago, and speculate it was the result of climatic change that promoted a surge in the population of salmon. But another view is that the original North Americans did not enter the seas, nor eat fish. This is possible, if the original North Americans were descended from hunters of large mammals like mammoths. Such people would have regarded fish as a second rate food that involved the complexities of catching something swimming in water. To understand this negative view towards eating marine life, we today need only think of our modern attitude towards eating snakes or insects.
If that was the case, then the arrival of people by sea, introduced a new way of life. Once salmon as well as whales became part of a way of life, the population would have exploded because there was so much of it. Thus we need not speculate about a surge in the populations of salmon to explain human population growth. We only need a change in attitudes towards eating fish. Salmon were then caught and dried and stored for the entire year in the course of a few weeks. That left tribes free to pursue other things, giving rise to a wealthy cultured people.
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 there remained a sizable number of smaller language families and individual languages which have not been grouped into a larger language family. A great many of these are found along the Pacific coast of North America, which suggest arrivals by sea mixing in with indigenous peoples.
The "Wakashan" family of languages found in Northwest Washington and along the west coast of British Columbia is one such family. There are six languages in this family of which Nootka and Kwakiutl have the greatest number of speakers remaining. Others are Kitimat/Haisla, BellaBella/Heiltsuk, Oowekyala, Makah, and Nitinat. All of them have whale hunting traditions in their past.
Because in this case we cannot argue a connection all the way back to the White Sea through archeology (like we can connect the "Dorset" culture to arctic Scandinavia), what I will do first, is to present my study of the Kwakiutl or Kwakwala language. (I will henceforth use "Kwakwala" as it is more appropriate to use their name for themselves.)
In my random investigation of Native (Indian) languages in the University of Toronto library in the 1970's, one of the books I discovered in which I saw Estonian words was A Practical Writing System and Short Dictionary of Kwakw'ala by D. 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.
THE ISSUE OF INTUITIVE COMPARISONS
Linguists today have taken the view that if one simply compares one's own language with another, one will always find correspondences. My experience looking at over 100 lexicons of Native (Indian) languages in North America in quick scans for words that resembled Estonian, proves to me that this is not the case. In all but a few cases, I found no correspondences, or isolated ones that were obviously coindicences. It all depends on what you accept as being a correspondence. This does not need linguistic training. We are all gifted with the ability. We all attempt to listen to a foreign language using our own language. If a French speaker says "mer" ('sea') and English-speaking listener may think they said "more". Clearly what one accepts and does not accept depends on the person. Some imaginative persons may listen to a foreigner speak a whole sentence and imagine their own invention for the entire sentence. For example "Comment s'appelle" is heard as "Comment on this apple". I gave an example above of how one person interpreted "Canada" using a Basque dictionary, to mean 'At the far end we'll have a noisy-get-together' i.e. 'On the other side we'll have a party'. It sounds too absurd. Thus the validity of direct intepretation of one language with another depends on the person doing the interpreting and the principles followed. If one demands extreme closeness in both form and meaning, it becomes very difficult to find correspondences if those correspondences do not have a real basis. . Even if there are results, one wants to find further coincidences too, since by the laws of probability, the more coincidences point to the same conclusions the less likely the results are random chance. In any interpretation of words of one languages with another, three steps can be taken to reduce false results
a)use only words from your childhood as they tend to be enduring words and most very old,
b)look for good quality closeness in BOTH word form and meaning (Some studies find closeness in form and then stretch the imagination for the meaning - for example 'small' is seen to be an okay result for 'insect' because an insect is small. That should be inadmissible without much more evidence.) The probability of finding closeness in both form and meaning is much much more difficult than finding closeness in form only, with the meaning achieved by wild distortion.
c)make sure one is not comparing fragments including case endings in one language with fragments in another. (For example "apply" and "apple" are not related, because the stem is not "appl-")
d) Language is a logical system, and results should have a logic. Even if the logic cannot be explained in linguistic terms, it can be explained in logical arguments.
Thus the notion that one must not interpret one language with another, is incorrect. Just like hiring an interpreter to translate one language into another, it depends on the quality of the person doing the interpreting and their basis for making judgements. Even with the best interpreting, the results are never absolutely true; they are probablistic. Statistical analysis could be applied to get a better idea of the level of probability that can be applied to results. But we all have an intuition as to what seems probable and what seems suspicious.
The work I viewed began by presenting a complex orthography which I simplify below to bring it as close to the Latin sounds of the Roman alphabet as possible. The following are close to Latin A, B, D, E, H, I, L, M, O, P, Q, S, T, U, and English for W, Y Other sounds are derived by adding a faint sound after one of these major ones. I will show the lesser sounds with 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. Other conventions used here:
STRESS SHOWN BY = BOLDED TEXT
GLOTTAL STOP OR CATCH = ' example in QÄTsI ' STÄLÄ Why does this language need to be described in such a complex way? It has to do with a language ceasing to be drawn out and syllabic. A primitive word like DA-LA compresses down to DLA and then DlA . All the while the L is still needed, so the D must be spoken in a way that continues to acknowledge it.
While I could have used other ways of describing the words, including universal phonetic alphabet, I use the conventions give here to make reading of the following so intuitive that anyone can read it, who has a basic understanding of the Latin standard of pronunciation of the Roman alphabet.
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
To keep this study as short as possible, I select only major words, and avoid the derivations or compound words.
KWAKWALA VERSUS ESTONIAN/FINNISH
OLA for 'truth' which compares with Estonian/Finnish OLU or OLO 'state of being'
KhwALÄ for 'alive' which compares with Estonian/Finnish ELAV or ELÄVÄ 'alive'
ÄLUMÄS 'new' which compares with Estonian/Finnish ALUS or ALUS 'foundation, beginning'
LÄ 'go' versus Est/Finn LÄHE
LAN 'I go' versus Est/Finn LÄHEN
LÄHyqDAN 'I went' versus Est/Finn LÄKSIN or LÄHIN
(note here grammatical correspondence in the 1st person singular present and past tenses - grammatical correspondences are always more powerful indicators of ancient connections than words)
LA ' MANTs 'we are going to' versus Est/Finn LÄHME or LÄHEMME 'we are going to...; we are going' (note the M seems to be a 1st person plural marker)
LhANTA 'to blow nose' versus Est/Finn LENDA or LENTÄ 'fly!'
SOUND AND HEARING:
KhÄLÄ 'hear' versus Est/Finn KUULA 'hear!'
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)
KhALAM 'tongue' versus Est/Finn KEEL or KIELI 'tongue, language' (here the Kwakwala -M seems to be a nominalizer, namer, which could be used in Est Finn too KEELEM or KIELIM. The Kwakwala seems more primitive, in that 'tongue' is formed from the word for 'hear'. Is it possible Estonian/Finnish too created KEEL, KIELI from a more basic more fluid word like KUULE?)
COMPOUND WORDS RELATED TO SOUND:(Estonian versions are uncommon but valid if first element is assumed partitive)
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'
These last examples seem to also affirm the parallels between
WA- and VEE- for 'water'
LA- and LÖÖ- for 'hit, bang'
QÄ- and KÄI-for 'step, walk' (See also above Inuit qaiqujivunga meaning 'I ask to come.')
If the Kwakwala language is distantly related to Inuit, it seems that QÄ or KÄI is also the basis for the Inuit name for the small skin-covered vessel known as the kayak
QwALÄh 'flood tide hitting 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.
We saw above that QÄ is the stem for walking, stepping. Here are fome other uses of the element-
The best way to interpret this into Estonian or Finnish is to use the ending -SE which was common in Finnic in earlier times as a nominalizer, giving KÄI-SE 'the walking'.
' WÄP 'water' compares with Estonian/Finnish VEE- whose most common noun form is VESI, partitive VETT
KhANWELÄ 'loose on water' seems to display a similar case ending in WELÄ to Estonian-Finnish VEEL or VEELÄ 'on the water' The first part KhAN is probably related to the word for 'walking'. Thus an Estonian parallel might be KÄI-VEEL 'go upon water'
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 VEELGI 'still on the water'
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.
Kwakwala Estonian-Finnish Inuit
SUYÄ'|IMÄ 'heritage, family' SUGU/SUKU 'family' SAKI 'father, mother, uncle or aunt-in-law
U'MÄ 'noblewoman, queen' EMA /EMÄN- 'mother/lady' AMAURAQ 'great grandmother'
(note that in all but Estonian, the sense is that of a very important, ruling woman. This may be related to the fact that the World Mother was also AMA so that it was important this be an important woman. Besides Estonian, only Basque uses AMA in the more plain sense of 'mother')
QÄQÄS 'your grandfather' UKKO 'myth: sky-father' AKKA 'paternal uncle'
GAGUMAS 'shadow' KAGU/KAAKKO'south-east' UQQU 'lee side'
(note that if prevailing winds are from the northwest, the shadow/shade is on the southeast side of an obstacle to it.)
ANIS 'aunt' ONU/ENO 'uncle' ANI 'brother of woman'
OS 'father' ISA/ISÄ 'father' -?--(might exist but I have not found it)
QwALI'YI 'uncle' VELI 'brother' --?--
ABAMP 'one's mother' ABI/APU 'help'
(in Estonian and Finnish, the word for 'mate' ie husband or wife is expressed by the concept of 'assisting half or assisting side' - ABIKAASA or AVIOPUOLISTO)
GENERAL LIST (not grouped, in random order)
HÄMI ' 'evil power' suggests Est/Finn HÄMAR/HÄMÄRA 'dim', dusky'
HÄMÄNIKw 'scared speechless' compares with Est/Finn HÄMMASTA/ HÄMMÄSTYÄ 'to amaze, astound, startleä
SAL ' YÄ 'sorting out' compares with Est/Finn SELETA/SELITTÄÄ 'explain, sort out'
ThsALThsALK 'down feathers' compares with SULG/SULKA 'feather' which compares with Inuit SULUK 'feather'
LAIHwqI ' LÄS 'fire in hole' uses a stem for 'fire' that resembles Estonian LÕKKE or LEEK (Finnish LEIKKI) It might also be related to LÄIGE 'shine' or Finnish LEKOTELLA 'to bask in the sun'
KUHwq ' ID 'break in half' seems like Est/Finn KATKEDA 'break in half'. Also 'two' os KAKS(I)
HÄPAM 'hairy face' Est: HABEMES or HABE 'beard'
HABAHysTE 'beard' Est. HABESTE (another possible form)
KhUKhU ' NÄ 'neck' Est. KUKAL 'back (nape) of neck'
' NI ' YU 'shoelace' Est NIIT 'thread'
HÄGÄ 'go (on)!!' Est HAKKA! 'start! go on!'
LAQAKhwAS 'burnt place' compares with Est/Finn LAGE/ LAKEA 'open area, clear, open'
NOLHÄ 'to cover with harpoon' compares with Est/Finn NOOL/NUOLI and Inuit NAULIKTUQ 'he harpoons'
GUKwALÄ 'be together (in a house)' compares with KÜLA/KYLÄ 'settlement'
GUKw 'house' employs the KOO concept found throughout Finnic regions KOGU/KOKO 'all; gathering' KODU/KOTI 'home, hut, teepee'
NOGAD 'maker of songs, wise man' compares with NÕID / NOITA 'shaman, sorcerer'
MAHwqÄ 'potlach' compares with Est/Finn MAKSA '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 more like 'give gift payments' than to 'pay debts')
HANAKA 'requesting' compares to Est/Finn ANNA 'give'
PUSA 'to swell up from soaking' compares with PAISUDA/PAISUA 'to swell'
PhÄLhÄ 'lay a hand on' compares with PEALE/ PÄÄLE 'onto top of'
ISEN 'I do not' compares with Est/Finn EI/EN
' NÄQwA ' ÄLÄ 'bright, lighted' compares with NÄGEMINE or NÄKÖ 'seeing, sight'
LI ' ALUT 'crew' compares with LIIT / LIITO 'league, union of people, team'
To conclude, Kwakwala had many words which use a stem IK with variations, to represent a high state of being.
IK 'good' which is best compared to Finnish IHANA 'wonderful' which is represented in Estonian with IHA 'desire, craving'
IKhÄLhÄ 'high above'
IHyk ' MAN 'I am fine'
and many more
These positive meanings are reflected in, but not in direct parallel by Estonian/Finnish words like IGI-/IKI- 'eternal'; IHU/IHO 'skin, body' ; HIGI/HIKI 'sweat'
HykIQALÄ 'fire' probably is related to the above too.
What is remarkable with Kwakwala, as with Inuit, is the large number of words relating to family that have correspondences with Finnic, as well as some grammatical parallels that are noticable in the words. These tend to point to common deep origins, even if over time the superficial vocabulary has changed. Note that this is just a simple investigation. There are other languages of the Wakashan family of languages, that may provide more insights and more parallels with Finnic languages, demonstrating an ultimate origin in the whale hunters of the White Sea. From what I have seen, further proper linguistic study may find many grammatical parallels with Finnic languages. We have noted vague similarities in 1st and 2nd person markers and case markers. I am not a linguist and I welcome any linguist of Estonian or Finnish first language (or linguist with Kwakwala as first language if one exists!) to look further into the Kwakwala language or indeed generally at all the Wakashan languages. Perhaps this has not been noticed before on account of the way the sound of the language has departed from the drawn out syllabic form of Estonian and Finnish.
Some of the whaling people who arrived on the coast, changed their focus to harvesting the great abundance of salmon, and whaling traditions vanished. In PART THREE SOUTHWARD MIGRATIONS OF CIRCUMPOLAR SKIN-BOAT PEOPLES: I will look at a few more Native languages from further south, where once again I found remarkable parallels with Estonian, too remarkable to view as random chance. In those cases however, the people were extinct and/or the amount of information on them and their language was sparse.
I did some investigating with respect to cultural similarities in Inuit, Kwakwala and Finnic cultures, which will be summarized here. These similarities help support the linguistic and archeological revelations.
In the case of the Inuit culture, there was shamanism and associated beliefs and mythology. Shamanism has vanished in Finnic culture - which has modernized in keeping with the growth of Indo-European civilization for over a millenium - but shamanism remains alive in the most remote Finno-Ugric cultures, such as the Khanti of the Ob River. Shamanism is also found among the remote Samoyeds, and perhaps exists within Saami culture somewhere, if one looks for it.
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 ('he procures'), there is no clear linking them to shamanism, unless it is the Estonian word kangelane based on kange 'strong' , which means 'hero, strongman'. The Kwakwala word NOGAD 'wise man' or 'maker of songs' however is close to Estonian/Finnish nõid or noita 'sorcerer', 'witch', 'shaman'.
Also tying in with mythology is the belief in storm deities. Inuit presents the word aqqunaq for 'storm', which was close to akka 'father's brother'. Finnic mythology saw a god in the storms called Ukko. In addition Inuit presents kallu for 'thunder' which reflects Kwakwala QwALÄh 'flood tide hitting rocks'. Finnic mythology pictures an ancestor called Kaleva which can be possibly seen as a present participle of KALE (KALLU??) where all Finnic peoples are seen as 'sons of Kaleva'. Nothing is known about this mysterious ancestor, so presumably he is a deity. Let's look at the Pacific coast to see if we can find a similar thunderous deity there.
Kwakwala mythology held that the common ancestor of humanity was the Thunderbird, that everyone was a Thunderbird before becoming a human. Thus it would have been interesting if the Kwakwala word for Thunderbird was similar to Kalev. But this is not the case. However there was a second deity. 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, the original concept was probably a bird that cause lightning, whose brother created sound. So KOLI is really a thunder bird, while the so-called Thunderbird is really a lightning bird. It follows that originally Kwakwala mythology used the word KOLI for the Thunderbird, and in that case the Finnic and Kwakwala mythology would both hold that humans were descended from KOLI, KALE, KALLU, etc. If we were to see humans being descended from something, it would probably be thunder, since it is the thunder roll that intimidates, not the flash 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.
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 for 'thunder'), which was more impressive than the lightning flash. 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. Meanwhile it developed in the Wakashan whaling peoples into myths of people being descended from the Thunder God as well; except that in the course of history confusion developed between the God of Lightning and God of Thunder. Both were seen as brothers, but which named the Thunder and which named the Lightning?
In Finnic mythology, there is 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 for 'storm', aqqunaq, is similar. Perhaps a storm was seen as the events involving lightning, and the thundering was the the noise this enormous monster made.
Obviously there has been confusion in history as to what names what, with respect to everything that occurs in a storm. However, the coincidences in mythology are not the kind of thing that would arise from random chance. There is a connection through time. If all that I have presented above is correct, then we could say that the Kwakwala people are also 'sons of Kalev' and extremely distant cousins of Estonians and Finns.
Moving on to other aspects of culture, when I read about the traditional culture of the Kwakwala and other Wakashan peoples, I found agreement with traditional Estonian/Finnish 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 hunted a whale, it was believed that through self-purification rituals (see the archival photo) , 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.
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 dating back thousands of years). I therefore wondered if the sweathouse could be found among the Kwakwala. The sweathouse was found throughout throughout North America, but usually it was more makeshift and primitive (redhot stones carried into a temporary tent) than the recent Finnic sauna. 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. We will look at these other cultures in PART THREE.SOUTHWARD MIGRATIONS OF CIRCUMPOLAR SKIN-BOAT PEOPLES:
While the expansion of boat peoples during the period of warming after the Ice Age was restricted to the capabilities of the dugout boat, the invention of the skin boat from the concept of a dugout moose, greatly increased the expansion, allowing boat-oriented peoples to expand everywhere in the northern hemisphere. The large seaworthy skin boat, whatever skin it used, but which originated in the boats with moose heads depicted in Lake Onega and White Sea rock carvings, both crossed the north Atlantic, and travelled south along the Norwegian coast, and through the British Isles. Those that crossed the north Atlantic continued into the Canadian arctic as the "Dorset" culture, and travelled down the Labrador coast, inspired by currents and the movements of whales. Whale hunters from the same origins somehow reached the Pacific too We looked at the language of one of the nations of the Vancouver Island area - the Kwakwala (Kwakiutl) and found remarkable coincidences that cannot be attributed to random chance, with some of the coincidences referring back also to Inuit (producing three way correspondence - and in once case, the word for 'aunt', 'uncle', a seeming four way coincidence which brings the Basques into the picture too. In PART THREE SOUTHWARD MIGRATIONS OF CIRCUMPOLAR SKIN-BOAT PEOPLES: I will look at Basques, Picts, Basques, and Algonquians and a few more Native peoples from the Pacific coast south of the Wakashan, from the linguistic and archeological point of view, to further trace the migrations of boat people as early as 3000BC.
The traditional notion that human expansion only occurred by land, is not just wrong, but not as significant as it has been made out to be. The land-expansion of humans can be likened to the expansion of animals like wolves, horses, bison, etc. It occurred passively, slowly, sparsely, and very early. The expansion of boat people was aggressive, intelligent, and fast, occurring mainly within the fourth millenium BC, with later waves only supplementing the original one.
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Addressing the Debate Raised in Farley Mowat's "Farfarers"
It is valuable to at least scan the above general article to better understand the concepts peresented here.
Thus today, archeologists may speak of evidence of crossings of the North Atlantic dating back many thousands of years, as evidenced in the archeology on the coast of Labrador; while at the same time popular culture celebrates the "Norse" as the first Europeans to "discover" North America by their landing on the Labrador and Newfoundland coasts of Canada about 1000 AD. The saga of their visit was recorded in the Icelandic texts called the "Vinland Sagas" that spoke of journeys from Greenland to a place called "Vinland". And over the decades other theories have proposed other "civilized" Europeans visited the coast of North America before the Norse, the most popularized one being that Irish monks reached the Canadian coast in curraghs, skin boats of ox hide that had been used in the British outer islands by the native "Picts" there..
This preoccupation with the recent past of European civilization "discovering" America has been seen more recently to be somewhat pointless, since LIVING North American Native culture is better respected, and it is acknowledged that a great deal of history occurred for thousands of years right here in North America; that North America did not begin in the 16th century. Thus the accidental stumbling on North America by the Greenland Norse certainly was certainly not the first time it occurred, considering that according to rock carvings found in places like Alta, Norway, dating to up to 6000 years ago, show large seaworthy skin boats capable of crossing an ocean just as easily as a Norse ship. Furthermore the Irish curraghs, if monks managed to sail to Labrador or Newfoundland with such craft made of skins, themselves originated from aboriginals from the same traditions as those of arctic Norway. As I demonstrate in SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of the Whale Hunters the skin boat was invented by the seagoing aboriginals of the European arctic, and the Irish curragh itself is obviously descended from it - replacing ox skins for walrus skins after walrus became extinct in the British Isles.
Author Farley Mowat, coming from an older generation which thought in terms of "Norse" and "Irish Monks" and "discovery" by civilized Europe, was naturally disposed to view unusual manifestations in the archeology of the Labrador and Newfoundland coast, as evidence of visits by civilized Europeans, whether by Norse or others. Accordingly, departing from the archeologists' desire to view the archeology as representing features from aboriginal peoples, Mowat conjured a fantasy of "Albans" from the British Northern Isles spending weeks crossing the North Atlantic, and spending a half a year on the Labrador coast, harvesting walrus for their tusks.
His far-fetched theory was written up in his Farfarers: Before the Norse (Toronto, 1998), and the theory has been ridiculed by all scholars upon whose territories he tred.
Starting with the archeological mysteries of remains of "longhouse foundations" and cylindrical rock "beacons" visible from the sea, and the suggestions by some archeologists that they may have been made by Greenland Norse, Mowat let his imagination run wild, suggesting that his walrus-hunting "Albans" created shelter by turning over their enormous curragh-like skin boats onto low rock walls, and that this was the origin of the remains of seeming walls of longhouses. Associated with these sites there were also large cylindrical rock "beacons" visible from the sea, which were obviously intended for boats to find the sites. The sites were obviously re-used in annual cycles of activity.
Having established this notion of overturned skin boats, Mowat then proceeded to determine where they would have come from. By the term "Albans" he was referring to ancient British. They could easily have endured in the north even as the southern parts of the British Isles were invaded by Celts and Romans. These "Albans" would be identifiable with the peoples of the British Northern Isles from whom the Irish monks borrowed curraghs to sail in search of desolate islands to practice their religion.
In his investigations into the "Albans" and their origins, he found evidence of the use of skin boats by natives in the British Isles, dating back to the Roman Age and earlier. He found historical references to these people arriving at markets at the Scilly Islands in their skin boats, and sailing over the ocean to a place called "Mictis". In these people, Mowat found the perfect candidates for his theory about the Labrador "longhouse foundations".
To the Oestrimnides (now Skilly Islands at the southwest tip of the Britain) come many enterprising people who occupy themselves with commerce and who navigate the monster-filled ocean far and wide in small ships. They do not understand how to build wooden ships in the usual way. Believe it or not, they make their boats by sewing hides together and carry out deep-sea voyages in them. .....[Roman poet Avienus, quoting fragments from a Carthaginian periplus (seaman's sailing directions) dating to the 6th century BC - taken from Farfarers, Mowat, p 40]
Another early reference to British in skin boats is from Pliny (the Elder) who explains in his Historia Naturalis written around 77A.D. that a much earlier historian, Timaeus, made reference to an island called Mictis, "lying inward, in the sea; six days from Britain where tin is found, and to which Britons cross in boats of osier covered with stitched hides" (This information is given in Farfarers p 337)
The trouble is that, as these quotes suggest, the golden age of the "Albans" occurred probably before Roman times. Indeed, the fortifications in the British north, called Broches, were built during the Roman Age, as defences against Celts, and indeed Romans. The Romans were keen to assert control over all of the British Isles. I believe, therefore, that the original native British, those disposed to harvesting the sea with skin boats, simply sailed away to Norway, Iceland, and even North America during the Roman Age. If they were able to sail to Mictis (which I will explain below was probably Norway), well they could have remained there, safe from oppression of Romans or Celts. If they were able to sail west and land on fertile coasts of Labrador or Newfoundland, well they would have gone there too. Unlike land-based people who had no alternative than to accept the authority of invaders, these people could leave.
Thus, I believe that Mowat made a basic error. If his "Albans" reached the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland, then they were the Newfoundland peoples known as the "Beothuks". According to archeology, the "Beothuks" appeared in Newfoundland about this time, in the early centuries AD, in the Roman Age. But they did not come to harvest walrus. They came to find a new home. They did not come with missionaries, because the Christian Church was still in its infancy.
I have discussed in greater detail in SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of the Whale Hunters, the fact that the British Northern Isles peoples who sailed in skin boats, must have ultimately originated from the general sea-going aboriginals of the Scandinavian arctic. At some early date, as early as 3000BC, some would have migrated south into the British Isles, found a wealth of sea life there, and some would have remained there, living a more localized life, compared to the original seafarers who lived a more nomadic, seasonally migratory, life in the style of ancient aboriginal hunters-fishers. Being of those origins, the language they spoke would have been "Finnic", and so they would have had words that can be interpreted via modern Finnic languages.
Mowat rightly assumes that the words the ancient Massilian Greek visitor to the north, Pytheas cited, like Thule and Orcades, came from the northern natives. But what was that language like? If it was Finnic as the theory of expansion of skin boat peoples suggests, then the word Thule should possibly interpret well with Finnic, such as with Estonian or Finnish. The name Thule has been accepted from earliest times to have been the name of Iceland. Iceland is characterized by the fact that it is actively volcanic, spewing smoke across the North Atlantic to the British Northern Isles and Norway. If it had a name, it seems that the name should make reference to this, since ancient names were simple descriptions of what was named. The name recorded by Pytheas as Thule (Greek TH sounds like a "D"), a word that is exactly identifiable with Estonian tule (single T is more like an English "D") which as a genitive would mean '(place, island, etc) of the fire' (Indeed in Estonian tulemägi, literally 'fire-hill', means 'volcano') Finnish, which retained an -n genitive would have called the island tylen, which is also recorded in historical records.
A further word, worth looking at from a Finnic perspective is the abovementioned Mictis. It could be an abbreviation and Germanic distortion of mägedese 'place of the mountains'
Perhaps of greater significance to our argument that the Beothuks were in fact fugitives from the British Northern Isles, is the fact that Estonian can interpret the name "Picti" (first initiated by the Romans) with püükide (Ü= as in "ewe") which would mean '(people, etc) of the catches' (of fish, etc). I believe that the northerners in the skin boats appeared at markets of mainland Britain selling fish and other marine products, and thus the native British, speaking the same Finnic-type language, simply identified northerners as fishermen, as sea-harvesters, fish catchers. (This notion that the language of the Britannicae was also Finnic is controversial because it has long been assumed it was a Belgic type of Celtic; however in the first century A.D. the Roman historian Tacitus, in describing the Aestii of the southeast Baltic in his Germania, who can be viewed as ancestral to Estonians, wrote that their language was "closer to that of the British".)
In some historical records the name Peti appears, perhaps abbreviated and hardened by the Norse language since it appears in Norwegian texts. This can be seen as a degeneration of the original word. Indeed, according to Ptolemy's information, the name Epidi appears in the British north in Roman times. See the discussion below. Peti, could be an abbreviation and/or dialectic distortion of BEOTHU which is seen in Beothuk, the -K in Beothuk could have been a nominalizer added by the Basque language, as a result of the early Basque contacts with the Beothuks in Newfoundland.
So is it possible the Beothuks were Mowats "Albans" who hunted walrus and created the "longhouse foundations"? We note that humans are by nature very territorial, so that Beothuks could not trespass on hunting territory already occupied by indigenous "Dorset" culture seafareres. That may be the reason they ended up in Newfoundland, south of the Labrador coast "Dorset" peoples. We note that since the Dorset culture sea people did not sail, but went with currents, it is possible that they avoided travelling south past Newfoundland, on account currents would drive them out into the open sea. By staying adequately towards the north, if swept to sea, they would be carried back to Greenland. See the map of the current circuit "C".
Thus there is logic in the fact that the Beothuks ended up in Newfoundland. And it is interesting to note that aboriginals in skin boats appear in the Vinland Sagas: : But one early morning as they looked around they caught sight of nine skin-boats: the men in them were waving sticks which made a noise like flails, and the motion was sunwise . . . . . .They were small and evil-looking, and their hair was coarse; they had large eyes and broad cheekbones. . . (Eirik's Saga, 10) If one did not know that this account was made in Newfoundland, one might think it described Picts. The argument for making a connection between the "Peti" and "Beothuks" is strong.
Also arguing against Mowat's theory of a later (post-Roman Age) "Alban" group that travelled back and forth from the British Northern Isles, is the fact that in the Roman Age, it is unlikely that people finding such a wealth of sea life as was found on the Canadian coast, would really find any reason to go back the the British Northern Isles to face the oppression by Celts and Romans that forced the building of the brochs.
Collectors and sellers of walrus ivory must be well-established, European-based, traders. Where they? For example the Atlantic traders called the "Veneti", although falling under Roman authority, remained dominant in sea trade, and adapting to the Roman Empire, would have continued to operate in procuring resource goods, and selling them to the most profitable markets in Europe. Thus the only possible scenario for early trade involving the Labrador or Newfoundland coast, was that the Beothuks were visited from time to time by Veneti, who traded with them, and possibly even maintained a trading post or two.
Supporting a theory that Newfoundland and Labrador was visited by Veneti traders, is the fact that they were closely associated with the Picts in the north parts of the British Isles, already in the Roman Age. Note in the following map, the names Vennicones in the British north and Vennicni (obviously an abbreviation of the same Vennicones) in the north of Ireland. I see them as settlements of traders, handling wares from "Picts" on the one hand and visiting VENNE trader ships from "Scythia" on the other.
There has been a tradition to assume that the name of the Picts, originating from Roman"Picti" first used in the early 3rd century AD, was derived from a Latin word meaning 'painted', presumably from native British painting their bodies for war. However all indications are that it was an indigenous word, not one invented by Romans. The appearance of a people called Rhobogdi has been mentioned above. We will look at Ptolemy's naming more closely. The map below shows the two locations of the names Rhobogdi and Epidi.
I show how one can arrive at Epidi by raising the vowels and abbreviating Rhobogdi. Such names were collected in Roman times from sources who were usually not natives, but officials working for the Romans and the distortions could have been made by the official and not the natives themselves. Since the major occupation of the northern peoples was harvesting the sea, one could suggest that the Picti word (Bogdi in the example), had something to do with catching fish, etc. That inspires us to suggest the Estonian püükide 'of the catches' may be some sort of parallel. (We bear in mind that Estonian has a very strong sea-trader tradition and would qualify as being located on the coast of "Scythia"!) The Rho at the front, would be the RA found in Rhone, Rhine, etc. which means 'way, path' and is often seen in the names of the earlier trade waterways (Ptolemy named the Volga Rha) but more often ot appeared as a suffix: Lige-RA, Wese-RA, Od-RA, etc.
There probably were two types of historic Picts. One type were sea-harvesters and used skin boats made from walrus hides, lived nomadically on outer shores and islands, and lived in semi buried circular rock shelters (like igloos, but made of rock and covered with sod). They were of the oceanic sea-hunter stock which had ultimately come from arctic Norwegian shores, and perhaps remained tied to it. The other type of people associated with the term "Pict" in later history, were long distance traders of the Veneti trade network, who made their stops at the trader-Picts. Ptolemy's map even suggests these trader-Picts were established beside the sea-hunter-Picts in order to be handy to each other. To the west of the Rhobogdi were the Vennicni and on the east side near today's Aberdeen were the Vennicones. Since the term VENNE, VENTA, etc were associated with trading, they can be seen as the trader-Picts, with long distance links to the east Baltic coast (the coast of "Scythia")
If the Beothuks are identified as an offshoot of the Picts of the British Northern Isles of the Roman Age, then information from the Roman period, suggests that the sea-harvesters always had an association with the VENNE-named traders. They probably spoke close to the same language. The Picts and VENNE may have defined the two divisions of the later historic Picts - the one group being sea-harvesters, and the other being the trader settlements.
Thus Mowat may have sensed something, and even looked at the Beothuks as candidates for his theory, but finally he dismissed the Beothuks. The problem lies in the fact that if the Beothuks arrived in Roman times as semi-civilized Picts, over a period of many centuries of isolation, they would have become more primitive again, and so the kind of people Mowat was looking for could not be found in them. If there were civilized peoples visiting Newfoundland between the time of the Romans and the Norse, they would likely have been the VENNE traders, because, after all, having always had close association with the Picts in northern Britain, they would have been aware of any Pictish who had sailed away and settled in territories to the west as well as those who had sailed away to the east to the Norwegian coast. It is also worth noting that the Norse called the VENNE traders by the name Vindo (plural Vindr) and the possibility exists that the Norse used the term "Vinland" as a result of rumours about the Vindr traders having visited the place.
Returning to Mowat's theory, could any people from the British Northern Isles have been crossing the North Atlantic, camped under overturned skin boats, harvested walrus, and taken tusks back to Europe to sell? It seems to me that in the course of history, during and after the Roman period in the British Isles, any northern natives who were not able to sail away, were doomed. Some may have endured by keeping to the more remote islands, where the only people they encountered were Irish monks who sought the isolation for their own religious reasons.
Before the Roman Age, they were so prevalent, that ancient historians saw them everywhere even in the south, riding in their crazy skin boats. After the Roman Age, during the rise of Christianity, those who had remained in the British Northern Isles and had not fled to Norway or Newfoundland (by my theory) were only witnessed by the monks on remote islands, as the following passage suggests:
Originally it was the "Peti" and the "Papae" who inhabited these [Northern] islands. The first of these people, I mean the Peti, were scarcely taller than pygmies. Morning and evening they busied themselves to an amazing degree with the building and fitting out of their towns. But at midday, thoroughly drained of all their strength, they lay low in their little underground houses under the pressure of their fears.... But in the days of Harold the Hairy... some pirates [Vikings] kin to the very powerful pirate Rognvald advanced with a large fleet across the Solundic Sea. They threw these people out of their long-standing habitations and utterly destroyed them; they then made the islands subject to themselves. (from a 12th century compendium called Historia Norwegiae, above excerpt from p 111, Farfarers.)
Proceeding further forward in time, even these "Peti" have vanished, but maybe not. Mowat wrote:
Existing Shetland traditions speak of a people called Finns who inhabited Fetlar and northwest Unst for some time after the Norse occupied Shetland. This name is identical with the one by which the Norse knew the aboriginals of northern Scandinavia. It is also the name given by Shetlanders (of Norse lineage) to a scattering of Inuit (sic). who, in kayaks, materialized amongst the Northern Isles during the eighteenth century.. (Mowat, Farfarers, p 110, Toronto, 1998)
Mowat's dismissing the "Finns" as lost Inuit (ie from Greenland) shows a lack of awareness of the meaning and application of the word. In recent times scholars have identified the historic use of the word with "Lapps" (today "Saami") but in earlier times the word "Finn" also referred to aboriginals on the sea, and in forests, anywhere in the Scandinavian Peninsula that they were found. The use of the word "Finn" by the invading Germanic powers was similar to Europeans calling all the North American natives "Indians" for the longest time. The Danish kingdom conquered the Norwegian coast from 800-1000AD, established rule, and assimilated the "Finns" with which they had contact. Only the reindeer-"Finns" in the mountains, making a living in a peculiar way off reindeer, were spared assimilation.
But if we go back to before 800 AD, it would be hard to separate the seagoing "Finns" of the British Northern Isles from those seen on the Norwegian coasts. Historic accounts of Picts crossing the sea to Mictis, can only refer to crossing the sea to Norway. Mowat thus may be in error in dismissing people called "Finns" as being lost Inuit from Greenland. They were more likely the remnants of aboriginals of the Northeast Atlantic, who moved from place to place between the British Northern Isles, Norway, and perhaps Iceland and the Faeroes. Were the "Picts" and seagoing "Finns" variations on the same northeast Atlantic sea people. It is well known that aboriginal people varied everywhere in the degree to which they became involved with civilization. It often depended on how close they were to the encroaching civilization.
Thus, to summarize, although Mowat's vision of early British riding around in skin boats, may be correct, and in the north their defending themselves with the use of brochs may be correct, and their ability to travel both to Norway as well as Iceland may be correct.... it seems to me that evidence of their continued existence after the establishing of Celtic and Roman power, is lacking. All the information from the later period, at best speak of "Finns" or small people called "Peti". They do not seem like the strong entreprendeurial people Mowat depicts crossing the North Atlantic and living for a half a year in harsh conditions just to spend days harvesting walrus. Even if such strong entreprendeurial people still existed after the Roman Age, they would not have harvested walrus themselves. Throughout history, traders obtained goods by trading for them. If there had really been any "Albans" seeking walrus tusks, they would have journeyed to the Labrador coast with their boat filled with trinkets, traded them for walrus ivory, and returned home. Next year they would have done the same, spending little money and time, and letting the aboriginals obtain the desired goods in their efficient manner, and also avoiding angering the aboriginals by trespassing on their hunting territories. Any trade-minded people, like indeed the Greenland Church later, knew that the easiest way to obtain walrus ivory was to trade for it. And certainly evidence points to that happening from time to time, whether the traders were from among the VENNE or someone else.
What Mowat describes simply would not happen. Later in history the Basques and others did embark on harvesting seas themselves, but only when demand greatly exceeded what the aboriginals could supply. In the American interior, when it came to the fur trade, the Europeans never abandoned the wisdom of having the Natives themselves obtain the furs and to trade them for it.
Thus excluding any "Albans", or even Beothuks, as the makers of the "longhouse foundations", we come to the question, who made them and how? The answer is the same as it has always been - it was made by "Dorset" seagoing peoples. But how? What was the way of life that gave rise to them?
The entire story of the Picts and "Albans" that preoccupied Mowat in most of his Farfarers, thus can be seen as going off track, and although interesting, having no bearing on the mystery of the "longhouse foundations" that sparked the entire work.
Both the "longhouse foundations" and "beacons" described earlier, can be, and have been, assumed by archeologists to have been made by seagoing Eskimos of some sort. Still, the boat shaped archeological sites have posed a mystery to archeologists in that they have not found any evidence of how they were roofed. Let us therefore leave behind the story of the skin-boat peoples of the Northern British Isles, and even the Beothuks, and pursue the question that started it all.
Since the locations where the "longhouse foundations" were found, have no materials from which the longhouses could be built besides rocks and sod, the mystery has always been in how they would have been roofed. Did the visitors carry poles and skins with them for that purposes. If they were roofed by materials that seagoing people carried with them, then the problem was that carrying the materials for building the shelter would encumber the tribe. Surely if there were special materials for roofing the longhouses, it might be smart to leave them there, protected, for whenever the clan returned. Thus Mowat's idea of the boats themselves being used for the roof is intelligent; but since the natives themselves had skin boats, umiaks, why not consider the possibility that the seagoing aboriginals themselves could have done it. No need to invent any foreign visitors from far away. Ironically, Mowat actually himself presented the idea of Inuit camping under their skin boats in his introductory pages:
"Certain it is that almost every Stone Age people throughout the northern circumpolar region depended upon skin boats. . . . As late as the 1970's Alaskan Eskimos still made umiaks sheathed in walrus hides that could carry thirty or forty people across the stormy Bering Strait. When bad weather (or good hunting) brought such travellers ashore, they would turn their umiaks upside down to provide themselves with shelter. A big one upturned on a stone-and-turf foundation could provide comfortable housing for a large family, even in winter." (p 18 Farfarers)
And yet, he failed to present any discussion about eastern seagoing Eskimos of the Labrador coast turning over their skin boats onto the "foundations". He could have argued against it, still; because their skin boat shape was long and narrow and not consistent with the wider shape and width demanded by the "longhouse foundation" (Mowat had assumed a typical wide European-type shape for the "Alban" skin boat, which would have had a better fit to the foundation.)
Mowat may also have failed to consider seagoing Eskimos because he may not have been fully aware of their superioriy in the ocean. Perhaps in his research he did not encounter the Greenland Inuit skin boats and their dominance of whale hunting before the Basques entered the whaling industry in the 16th century. He made no mention of the Greenland Inuit whalers of the 16th century, who displayed a familiarity with this activity that could only come from a long history. As summarized by O.P. Dickason: ( my underlining)
"The closest to sustained, contact that developed between Natives of the eastern Arctic and Europeans during this period was through whaling. This began along the Labrador coast and the Strait of Belle Isle, where Inuit met with Basque whalers, and later with French. These encounters introduced Europeans to Inuit technology for deep-sea whaling, which during the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries was the most advanced in the world. Combined with European deep-sea ships, that technology led to the efflorescence of world-wide whaling. Initially, Inuit-white encounters followed the pattern of trading and raiding. It is not known if this behaviour extended to Davis Strait, where Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, and Scottish whalers were operating irregularly off the Greenland coast; but by the first half of the eighteenth century, Inuit were occasionally working with Europeans as the latter intensified their whaling activities. . ." (p92, Canada's First Nations:A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times, O.P. Dickason, Toronto, 1992)
The skill in whaling obviously was not newly acquired. Most likely whaling and harvesting of sea life generally, had been firmly established in the northwestern Atlantic from earliest times, among the "Dorset" culture, dating back 5000-6000 years ago.
The harvesting of large sea-animals must have been established and spread widely through the arctic seas long ago. We note that a toggling harpoon found at L'Anse Amour Mound in Labrador dates back to 7500 years ago (Archaic Cultures in the Strait of Belle Isle Region, Labrador, J.A. Tuck, R.McGhee, Arctic Anthropology, XII, 2 (1975) pp 76-91) .
According to archeologists, many millenia ago, humans arrived and spread through the Canadian east arctic from east to west in a number of stages of what archeologists called the "Dorset" culture. Recently, an archeological "Thule" culture spread from the Canadian west arctic to east arctic replacing the most recent version of the "Dorest" culture. It seems brother peoples coming from the west challenged the "Dorset" peoples with new technology, displaced them and/or absorbed them. But was the displacement total? It is reasonable to assume that the better "Dorset" activities and methods endured, and were not displaced. A sea-going "Dorset" people may have continued to travel the waters of Labrador and Greenland, affected little by the "Thule" culture. Or more likely there was a blending of cultures, wherein the "Dorset" may have had superior whaling techniques, which remained undisplaced. Thus the "beacons" and "longhouse" sites perhaps belonged to older "Dorset" traditions rather than the new "Thule" traditions, induring in the seagoing nomads of the Labrador coast, and lasting into the 18th century in the "Greenland Inuit". It would explain why Greenland Inuit have a sense of having always been there, not of having come from the west. A culture such as archeology finds it, reflects only the physical culture. New physical culture can be adopted without language, history, or soft culture being changed.
No written description makes the case for the sophistication of aboriginal whaling activity in the North Atlantic than this illustration of Greenland "Eskimos" gathering to hunt whales.
Greenland Inuit clans meeting to hunt whales
from Description de histoire naturelle du Groenland, by Hans Egede, tr D.R.D.P., Copenhagen and Geneva, Frere Philibert.
(Image adapted from reproduction in Canada's First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from Earliest Times by O.P. Dickason, Toronto, 1992. )
It is easy to imagine that the techniques first shown in this prehistoric illustration are also depicted in the illustration of the Greenland Inut,
Significant to our quest for an answer to the "longhouse foundations" is the appearance of the Greenland "Eskimo" skin boats. They have poles on the ends, that may have been intended for handling the boat, and there is a crosscrossing of rope on the side, which suggests the skins are designed to be easily removed. Compare these Greenland skin boats with an illustration of the Alaskan version. The Alaskan umiak looks like a more permanent construction.
Detail from 18th century illustration of Greenland Inuit whaling showing the sides made of two long poles, probably with skins attached. In addition there appears to be ropes suggesting the skin was easily removed by "unlacing". This suggests that the skin was easily removed to be used for the purposes of creating a shelter
By contrast, the Alaskan skin boat, looks quite permanent. It lacks features suggesting a desire to easily handle the boat and remove the skin. Various parts of the skin may be affixed directly to the frame here and there by pieces of rope though the skin, in contrast to the Greenland scheme of holding the skin by pressure of the "lacing" on the outside.
The illustration of the Greenland "Eskimos" shows a gathering of the clans (bands, extended families) of the sea-going tribe. Each large umiak would represent one clan, and it appears there are four clans, which is a typical number for a natural tribe. Among boat-using hunting people across the northern world, a tribe would consist of some four to six clans who had established over many generations, claims or rights to specific hunting territories, rights which they would pass down from the clan chief to male descendants.
The manner in which clans unite to form tribes is influenced by their circumstances. In a forest setting, the clans might unify into a tribe if the clans each occupy a branch of a river system. In the case of ocean-people, the pattern of ocean currents, coasts, and winds could join a number of clans into a tribe.
The hunting territory for the seagoing peoples was not defined in terms of land area as in civilization (based on farming people) but in terms of specific hunting areas in the sea. The clan would move within their own territory, from one hunting area to another according to the patterns of nature, in a usually annual circuit, only coming back to the same place the following year. Each clan would defend their territory, and respect the territories of the other clans. There would have to be an agreement if more than one clan hunted at one location. They moved through the environment on their own, but congregated, usually annually, at an agreed-apon location, to affirm their identity in the larger social order, the tribe, exchange news, pursue celebrations, find mates. A good place for the multi-clan meeting was where food was plentiful enough to support all the clans together, and where it was advantageous to have help from each other, such as hunting whales.
Each clan had their own territory, their own number of campsites that they visited year-by-year, and they would have guarded their rights to the animals. It is because hunting territories, campsites, associated clans, etc were all strongly defined, that a clan was not likely to wander aimlessly. Strange territory meant they could be intruding on some other people's territory and had to be on guard, proceed with caution. It is because of this ownership of hunting areas, that it would be difficult for any foreigners to intrude. Any Europeans attempting to harvest some animal like walrus from a location a clan owned, could end up being attacked by the entire tribe - other clans coming to the aid of the clan experiencing trespassing. While it would not have been difficult in recent history when Europeans had guns , early Europeans would not have had much defence against the aboriginals if they intruded on the aboriginal hunting territory.
Thus the archeological features discussed by Mowat, the seeming longhouse foundations and the beacons visible from the sea, are easily explained in terms of envisioning a sea-going people of the northwest Atlantic, who spent most of their lives moving around on the open Atlantic and harvesting large sea-animals like whales. These people would have systemantically visited familiar campsites year after year, in their annual circuit, camped on rocky coasts and islands if it was needed, to be close to their hunting places, and used methods and equipment that had been adapted to this specialized form of life over countless generations. With a way of life spent mostly on windblown rocky islands, being able to use the skins of one's boats as shelter would certainly have been part of a good system. The boats shown in the illustration were clearly not invented overnight, but over centuries in adapting to the special conditions encountered in the seas off the coasts of Greenland and Labrador.
The places where the sea animals were located were usually far from the coast, among scattered rocky outcrop; and so, the sea-harvesting clans needed to be able to improvise their life on even small rocky islands not far from the hunting sites. They would improvise shelters from very large skins that were easily removed from frames with the long poles, by "unlacing" the rope. The debated "longhouse foundations" may simply have been one form of shelter, designed for open flat terrain. Elsewhere they draped the skins against rock walls, in front of caves, etc.
Merely overturning umiaks produced cramped shelters. Using skins of boats rather than whole boats gave greater versatility and comfort in fashioning shelter. It solves the objection of the umiak being too narrow if overturned. Possibly two skins could be combined to create a large communal shelter for two clans. Below reproduces, from Farfarers one of the remains of the so-called "longhouse foundations". Note that the scattered rocks do not show a constructed wall; and that assumptions that there was one, is speculation. The nature of the edges, with rotten turf and stones, could merely represent the accumulation of rocks and turf used to hold down and seal the edges of the tent through repeated use.
Pamiok Longhouse No. 2 site after reproduction page 8 of The Farfarers:Before the Norse, Mowat, Toronto, 1998
(The black rocks are thought to be in their original positions)
The shelter, the longhouse, may have been made out of two umiak skins, connected to two poles each. The base would then be held down by rocks and turf - which would explain why nowhere have archeologists found proper walls, only loose stones and turf. The following speculates on what was done. It requires further research by people with more information about the traditional Greenland umiak.
Who made them? Mowat records archeologist Tom Lee saying "I've found little in the way of artifacts except a lot of Dorset-culture litharge [scraps and flakes of flint] . . .Dorsets appear to have camped here after this longhouse was abandoned." Lee assumes the site was abandoned, because he preconcieves a wall. But if there never was a wall, and it was a tent-site re-used over and over by the Dorset people who left only their food scraps behind, then it would agree with the concept that it was made by seagoing Dorset people who came with a large umiak, or two per clan, pulled them ashore, removed the skins, and erected the longhouse tent using the skins. When they left they took everything except scraps away with them.
Typical cylindrical pillar of rocks often over 6 ft (2 m) tall that are best explained as markers of campsites in the annual circuit of movement of the seagoing Dorset clans, to be seen from the sea.
These beacons were not made by the recent Inuit peoples, who instead erected irregular stone structures called inuksuak made from a few large rocks. They were made by seagoing peoples. With respect to a beacon found near the Pamiok No. 2 location, Mowat quoted archeologist Lee as saying ". . too big, Too regular. Too well made. Not Eskimoan at all. And look at the thickness of the lichen growth on them. They're too old to belong to the historic period."
But something that is old, that predates the newer culture, would belong to the earlier "Dorset" culture, would it not? Attributing them to foreigners is speculation.
Mowat continued: (p 162) "Tower beacons of this type are also found on Britain's Northern and Western Isles, Iceland, western Greenland, the eastern Canadian high arctic, the Atlantic coast of Labrador, and Newfoundland." I add that other sources say they can be found on the Norwegian coast too. This means that the beacons were a North Atlantic skin-boat sea-hunter institution, as typical and widespread as the Atlantic skin boat itself. Note on the following map that all these locations mentioned by Mowat, plus Norway, circle the North Atlantic. It suggests two divisions of North Atlanic seagoing aboriginal peoples, eastern and western. I have defined these divisions acording to the absence of islands between Iceland and Labrador and by the patterns of the ocean currents. Mowat may want to view the makers of these beacons as a relatively civilized seafaring people, but the truth may be that they were largely primitive (in the sense that they were nomadic, and lived off the sea in a self-sufficient manner), and all belonging to the same race as the Greenland Eskimos. It is European chauvinism that wants these people to be more like the modern seafarer of the Northern British Isles, rather than the Eskimo/Inuit.
Version of March 2, 2006 - appearance edited Nov09 - may be modified later - may contain errors
© A. Pääbo 2003-2006
Now some more background.
When I first heard of the relationship of the Boreal Archaic peoples to the early Scandinavian slate-grinders, I began to develop a theory much along the same lines as Paabo is presenting here. part of the theory is as related under the earlier article on the Red Paint People and the Algonquins, but part of it involved early-Postglacial Circumpolar peoples and the origins of the Inuit, because all of these cultures seem related anfd they had reached all the way aound the arctic by 1000 BC, and they all seemed to be speaking languages of the Uralic family or other languages related to it. Since we are speaking of Scandinavia before the Indo-Europeans we are indeed speaking of Finnish (Suomi) peoples; and the theory that the Yukaghir and Eskimo-Aleut-Chukchee languages are derived from Uralic and Samoyede languages is on a pretty steady grounding.
One point of evidence I was awre opf from several decades back is that there is a clear continuity (diffusion) between Jomonic Japan, the Aleutians, and the Northwest Coast area of North America, with the same type of harpoons in use throughout in the period of, say, 3000-1000 BC. There is also the matter of Scandinavian settlements on the islands of Spitzbergen early in the postglacial period and bringing with them the same sort of rock-art as in Scandinavia; presumably they had come to that area as whalers.
One thing I can say abour Paabo's theory is that Paabo is probably correct in his derivation of
Ui-RA-La, only I would have spelt the first part "Uni" or "Una", the old word for sweet waters (freshwater) as opposed to saltwater (nATL or nATR, the latter of course finally becoming our generic word "Water" but also a recognisable root for "Salt," Soda," and the Latin "Natrium" (Sodium). And I would add that Basques were indeed famous whalers from a very early date:
AND I had independantly arrived at the idea that northern skin-boats started out primarily as mooseskin (elkskin) boats, partially from some of the same evidence which Paabo cites.
I do however have a caveat: Languages are not only related through evoultionary lines of descent (vertically), they are also related through borrowing from their neighbours (laterally-both processes are analogues to gene flow directions in human evolution) In a sense, all languages are creole mixes incorporating elements of several different unrelated languages: English is certainly an example. So that even if you do have linguistic relationships between different people, that does not automatically mean a common genetic origin for those peoples. I shall have more to say on this when I have more of my say, but I can mention now that this has to do with continuities between Aglonquins , Megalith-builders and Basques as being both culturally contiguous to and genetically (originally also Linguistically) distinct from the Finns, Samoyedes and Inuit. Paabo relies heavily on Linguistics for his arguments and Linguistic arguments are at best "Iffy". If he had bolsterd his case with more Archaeology and diffusion of similar types of stone tools and harpoons along with the skin boats, he would have had a stronger case all around. Nonetheless Paabo's Linguistics are not too far out of line with standard sources yet and I shall be dropping some more hints along those lines in part 3. At this point the reader should probably remain aware of the relationships suggested to the Uralic languages in Wikipedia I mentioned last time: the Uralic languages hold a unique position in relationship to other surrounding language groupings, and they are central to both of the hypothetical Nostratic and Eurasiatic superfamilies. There are reasons to refer back to both of these notions in Paabo's writings still to come.
Best Wishes, Dale D.