The Native American Discovery of Europe before Columbus

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Over twenty years of exhaustive research in libraries throughout Europe and the United States, Jack D. Forbes employs a vast number of primary and secondary sources to paint a clear picture of the diverse and complex societies that comprised the Americas before 1492 and reveals the surprising Native American involvements in maritime trade and exploration. Starting with an encounter by Columbus himself with mysterious people who had apparently been carried across the Atlantic on favorable currents,

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The Native American Discovery of Europe before Columbus

Our stories of the Seventh Prophecy tell us that the Ojibwe people once lived along the Atlantic Ocean in what is now New Foundland, Nova Scotia, Maine and as far south as Virginia. Many histories commonly tell of the visits of men of the light-skinned race to this area as early as 1000 AD. But long before this it was Native Americans who had visited Europe, Ireland as far as the North Sea. In around 1470 Native Americans, at least a man and a woman, had landed in Galway Bay, Ireland and Christopher Columbus spoke with them. This is the knowledge that made Columbus so certain that he could sail westward across the Atlantic and find another land. He thought it would be the Orient and India. He later learned many other sources to support this concrete evidence but the firstperson testimony of these Native American explorers was "hard evidence" that anchored all of his research.

The books that Columbus read also referred to "Indians" who had landed in Germany with merchandise. In his copy of Aeneas' Historia rerum he wrote:

If it was a great distance [from India to Germany] the vessels could not pass without ill fortune; but this proves that it is near at hand.

He also wrote in the  margins of his copy of Historia,

People from Katayo came towards the east. We saw many notable things, and specifically in Galway, Ireland, a man and his wife.

We can see from his notations that Columbus learned of the relatively short distance to exotic, unknown lands westward across the Atlantic. The mythical "courage" that has been assumed was actually an assurance that was the result of his contact with Native Americans who had survived a crossing of the Atlantic from the west. Therefore, he knew he would survive a crossing of the Atlantic from the east to the west. He just thought it would be China and India and was very confused when he arrived in the New World.


American history does not begin in Europe, nor does it commence with Columbus' voyage of 1492 nor even with the Viking explorations five centuries earlier. According to THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE America, north and south, have long been populated by intensely adventurous and inventive people who were themselves explorers, colonists, and developers of civilizations.

The First Americans explored and settled the entire American hemisphere including each and every inhabitable island, a story of epic proportions.

THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE takes up the saga of American travel and exploration in ancient times . The primary focus of this work is to present evidence relating to American voyages to European waters from about 9000 years ago to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries of our own era.

The story of Native American voyages and adventures in the Caribbean and Atlantic, some going back perhaps thousands of years, can be seen as part of a revolution taking place in the very notion of what constitutes the history of the Americas. Here we see the Original Americans as being actors in the drama of human history, as discoverers in fact ( a title seldom heretofore reserved for them).

Readers may be amazed at the information about American maritime activity, with advanced sea-going cultures extending back in time to at least 7,500 years ago in the area of northeastern New England through Labrador (where, apparently, the first toggle-headed harpoons were used anywhere on earth). The Atlantic Seaboard generally, southward to Brazil, and the Caribbean region, provide evidence of vital sea-going cultures largely unknown to modern historians and the general public. But also the Inuit or Eskimo-related peoples of the Greenland region provide data indicating superb maritime accomplishments, including the circumnavigation of Greenland and navigation in difficult polar waters, extending apparently to the North Sea of Europe.

The arrival of Americans in Europe before 1492 suggests that a revision of American history is in order. Not only did Columbus himself respond directly to contact with a man and a woman whom he met in Ireland in c. 1477, after their voyage from the west, but the evidence of other arrivals was cited by the European cosmographers who influenced navigators seeking a sea route to the west.

The American story in Europe also includes the very substantial numbers of Indigenous Americans who reached that continent as captives, visitors, emissaries, and sailors after 1492 and who have had a powerful genetic, cultural and intellectual impact upon European developments. This part of the story has been severely neglected by scholarship which has remained largely unconcerned about Original American influences upon European physical and cultural evolution.

THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE will require a reevaluation about how American history, including the history of the Americas, is written and taught. Certainly it is an exciting project, which opens up thousands of years of new time-depth for historians and others to work in, breaking down the notion that only archaeologists should deal with pre-1492 America's past. Even more, it transforms Native Americans from mere objects which are acted upon into actors participating not only in American history, but in world history as well.

Here is a work that can extend the history of my people into the pre-history of Europe, visiting there and gathering information that one day led to the warnings of the Seven Prophets. It is said that around 900 AD seven prophets came to my people to warn them of the times to come in which a Light-skinned Race would come to their lands, some of them seeking cooperation and sharing and others with a long face and sullen attitude who would try to steal from them and dominate them. They were warned to remove themselves from their ancestral lands to move far into unknown territory toward the setting sun. There they would find a haven that would allow them to maintain their culture while others who remained along the great salt water would be invaded and overwhelmed by the Light-skinned Race.  Thus began the great migration through Great River into the Great Lakes that would become the Great Ojibwe Sea and become well-known through the poetry of Longfellow as Gitchie gumi, a corrupted Ojibwe name for the Great Sweetwater, Gitchie-gami.

Jack Forbes says of his background that has lead him to his research into THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE:

Growing up as a mixed-blood of part-Native American ancestry, living among relatives with unique and original opinions, exposed to very strong and independent aunts and cousins willing to break with popular conventions, and living in the midst of Mexicans of Indigenous origin in the countryside of El Monte, California, I was led thereby at any early age to explore sources about ancient America, north and south, with an openness of mind, an openness which soon brought me into conflict with books which pretended that “American” history commenced in Europe and that the Pilgrims and the Jamestown adventurers were the “first Americans.” The Native Americans were consciously transformed into enemies and aliens who were not seen as being actors in the drama of American history except as enemy warriors or victims of a triumphant imperialism.

All during high school and college I grappled with the Eurocentric orientation of most history texts, until, finally, with my first book, APACHE, NAVAHO, AND SPANIARD, I was able to approach American history from a perspective which ignored current boundaries and which accepted the possibility that Native Americans were legitimate actors in their own history and not simply foil or environment for European adventurers. The field known as “the new American Indian history” grew partly from that beginning.

The great challenge that we face as twentieth-first century scholars is to be able to shift history away from the practice wherein each dominant group seeks to impose its own vision of the past, and instead to make the story of an entire land, a whole continent, or even the entire globe the focus of our research. This is what THE AMERICAN DISCOVERY OF EUROPE attempts to do. It’s objective is not only to tell part of the story of ancient America, but to open up our minds to what the very concept of “American” really means, showing that we do live in a very old part of the Earth, and a part which has had a significant history which we should no longer dismiss as “prehistory” or ignore because “Indians” were only “savages” after all.

The American hemisphere and its original peoples are the focus of this work. I invite the reader to join me in an adventure, a discovery of what riches are to be found when we extend our horizon beyond the intellectual borders conceived in colonialism.

This book will be available in late 2006 or early 2007, but orders can be sent in at any time I am told.

Comments from other reviews:

"A fascinating book that makes an important . . . contribution to the subject of pre-Columbian contacts between American and Europe. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Provocative. . . . Turning the concept of 'discovers' on its head, Forbes dispels a lot of common assumptions about who 'discovered' whom in the Americas, in an extensive and fascinating exploration of early maritime histories of the Native Americans."--Bloomsbury Review

"Forbes makes an unusual and fascinating contribution to the story of the New and Old Worlds and the links between them, questioning in a welcome way the truth and ideological sway of orthodox history. He leads his reader along paths rarely, if ever, trodden, ultimately in search of a fairer account of native America and its role in the world. This is a quest Forbes's own ancestry and--not least--keen sense of language well equip him to undertake. He eminently succeeds."--Gordon Brotherston, author of Image of the New World: The American Continent Portrayed in Native Texts

"A decisive, independent, and long overdue contribution that pulls the plug from the inflated icon the Christian West has made of the slaver Christopher Columbus in his mistaken attempt to reach India."--Hartmut Lutz, professor of American studies, Greifswald University, Germany

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© 2007, Allen Aslan Heart / White Eagle Soaring of the Little Shell Pembina Band, a Treaty Tribe of the Ojibwe Nation