Viking warriors, feared far and wide for centuries, met their match in "Vineland."

American History Myths Debunked: Columbus Discovered America

ICTMN Staff
5/19/12

As we continue our look at Cracked.com’s widely read post ““6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America,” we look at myth number four, Columbus Didn't Discover America: Vikings vs. Indians.

For our first entry in this series, "American History Myths Debunked: No Native Influence on Founding Fathers," click on the link.

Okay, let’s get the first glaring problem out of the way. Yes, it’s still taught in most American schools that Columbus “discovered” America, but we all know the absurdity of this “fact” on multiple levels. First, Columbus could not have “discovered” America, as you can’t discover something that already existed and was populated. So we'll ignore the “discovered” portion of the myth that and focus instead on a second component, which is that it’s also overwhelmingly obvious that Columbus was far from the first European to reach the “New World” (again, something can’t be “New” when it’s actually old and inhabited.)

Cracked.com’s myth: America was discovered in 1492 because Europeans were starting to get curious about the outside world thanks to the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

Yes, this is a myth. The point that Cracked.com makes is that Columbus was far from being even the first European to find these shores. That distinction goes to the Vikings, the legendary Norse warriors and explorers who were raiding and settling many parts of the world from the late 8th to mid 11th century. And so it was the Vikings, not Columbus, who first made contact with American Indians. And probably wished they hadn't.

The evidence seems to point to Vikings making contact with American Indians as long ago as the 10th century, as they explored the northeast coast of America, what they called Vineland (or Vinland). A.M. Reeves, N.L. Beamish and R.B. Anderson’s “The Norse Discovery of America,” which was published in 1906, goes into great detail on the encounters between the ferocious Vikings and the Native inhabitants of Vinland.

Vinland got its name from a prisoner of Leif Erikson’s who went missing when a Viking party landed and explored modern day Boston Harbor. Fearing his prisoner (whom he favored) Tyrker had been slain by the Natives, whom the Vikings had learned to respect (and, some might argue, fear), they sent out a search party for him. Instead of finding him dead, they found him in a state of agitated glee. A German, Tyyker was not far from camp, holding an arm full of wild grapes (much as they grew in his home country), thus, Erikson and the Vikings called this “new” world Vinland.

On page 319, the authors of “The Norse Discovery of America” state simply and unequivocally that Columbus missed “discovering” America by about five hundred years: The sagas give very full and interesting accounts of the various products of Vinland and of the natives or aborigines with whom our Norse explorers came in contact…What I desire particularly to emphasize at this point is the fact that Leif Erikson was the first European and the first Christian who planted his feet on American soil and, as such, he deserves a conspicuous place in the history of our country.

The language is a bit stuffy, and certainly Eurocentric, but keep in mind it was written over a hundred years ago. The point is, the Columbus narrative so many millions of kids are taught is a myth.

There are plenty of books that support the argument that the Vikings were the first to encounter American Indians (with the Basques being second, described in Mark Kurlansky’s must-read book, “Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World,”) such as Annete Kolodny’s upcoming “In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland,” and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery” (which we'll be reviewing), Charles C. Mann's "1491" and William F. Fitzhugh and Elisabeth Ward’s “Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga.” These, and many other books, do much work in spreading the overwhelming evidence of a Viking presence in North America, with some scientists putting the Vikings as far south as modern day North Carolina, and as far west as Oklahoma.

Cracked.com states, “After spending a couple decades sneaking ashore to raid Vineland of its ample wood pulp, the Vikings made a go of settling North America in 1005. After landing there with livestock, supplies and between 100 and 300 settlers, they set up the first successful European American colony ... for two years. And then the Native Americans kicked their ass out of the country, shooting the head Viking in the heart with an arrow.”

We believe Cracked.com is talking about the story of Leif Erikson’s brother, Thorvald, who sailed with a 30-man crew to Newfoundland and spent the winter at Leif’s camp. In both the aforementioned “The Norse Discovery of America,” and in Robert Wernick’s “The Vikings,” published in 1979, the story of Thorvald’s demise is told.

Thorvald attacked nine Natives of New Foundland, who were sleeping under three skin-covered canoes, managing to kill all but one. The one who got away, however, returned in force. A battle ensued, and Thorvald was killed by an arrow to his heart. He was buried there, which the authors of “The Norse Discovery of America,” claim makes his grave the first Christian grave in the western world. “His grave was marked by two crosses, one at the head and one at the foot. Then the little band of Norsemen, having lost their leader, returned to Greenland,” they write.

The real sly point Cracked.com is making, however, is not just calling out the absurdity of Columbus “discovering” America, but that those first European “settlers” who are often given credit for subduing, overtaking, or any other euphemistic term you want to use for slaughtering Natives, could not possibly have done so against a healthy American Indian force. If the Vikings, who set up a successful colony in Greenland that lasted more than 500-years, who were renown warriors, could not colonize America, how in the world could a bunch of exhausted, untested settlers manage to do it?  Well, if you read tomorrow’s "American History Myths Debunked: The Indians Weren't Defeated by White Settlers", here at Indian Country Today Media Network, which will go into detail about the Plague, you’ll know exactly how.

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husbandofmoonlight's picture
husbandofmoonlight
Submitted by husbandofmoonlight on
The insistance of using the absolute arrogant american term "American Indians" is simply another way for the dominant culture of "criminals" (the Americans) to maintain their "subliminal messages of superiority/control----- "America" was named after a lifelong friend of Columbus--Americus Vespucci--and the "inhabitants were immediately named "Indians" because he believed that he had "landed" in the "western part of India---hence the "west Indies"------------------ For those readers who are interested in factual "history" -v- "revisonist"---see Vine Deloria Jrs. "The Nations Within" an excellent source as well as "Hidden Cities---by Roger Kennedy---and there are hundreds of references from the " The Seeds of Change"--(mulitple authors)---- "Ignorance is a steep hill with many perilous rocks at the bottom"---Mohammed the Prophet---"Information is knowledge; knowledge is power" Shaka Zulu-----------"Know ye the truth, and the truth shall make ye free" ----John 8:32 KJR------------- Aside from Native American DNA being exceptionally distinctive it is exceptionally ancient and Native Americans (see the Hidden Cities references) can show "public works that predated the Pyramids of Giza" and the "oldest stone strcture on earth is in PimaPunta Peru----approx 7K BCE-----which indicates that "agriculture was well developed in the "Americas" at least one thousand years before any where else; and the most "productive Cultigen" (look that one up)Corn is at least 5 thousand years old-------indeed, no other continent's inhabitants introduced MORE "cultigens" than the "Americas"--------- I stopped using the "term" "Indian" --more than 30 years ago--and urge others to learn their own history---not that misinformation the 'establishment" of "criminals"---the USA---uses. Thank you for your time................ Husband of Moonlight

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THE REFER OF ANCIENT GREEK PLATO THAT TALKED ABOUT ATLANTIS AND THAT IT WAS ON THE WAY OF JOURNEY TOWARDS ESPERIA ...PLATO SAYS THAT ESPERIA WAS CONNECTED WITH A PATH OF SAND WITH THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA. I AM NOT REFERING TO THIS BECAUSE IM GREEK SOTO ADVERTISE OR PROJECT THE GREEK FOUNDINGS ....BUT FOR SURE IT WAS ALREADY INHABITED ...ANCIENT GREEKS WERE HAVING COMMERCIAL TRADES WITH ESPERIA ......INCAS ETC EXISTED SINCE ANCIENT TIMES ....IF ONLY WE GRASP THE INCAS EXISTANCE THERE IS NO NEED OF OTHER EVIDENCE ABOUT WHO FOUND AMERICA ! IT IS ON PURPOSE IGNORANCE OF THE AMERICANS THAT INVADED THAT COUNTRY SO TO SHOW THEIR SUPERIORITY AS THEY STILL DO KNOW ! IF YOU DO NOT HAVE HISTORY TO SHOW ABOUT EXISTANCE THEN YOUO JUST CREATE IT OF YOUR OWN !

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Interesting using the term, "Christian", on these Viking invaders. They were anything BUT Christ-like. They were vicious, ruthless killers. These Invaders brought more death by their diseases they passed on to our peoples than were ever killed in battles or out-right murders of our peoples. The diseases that were brought from European Invaders wiped out whole populations & tribes. Untold 10's of thousands of our peoples died from the diseases these raiders had in their bodies that we had no immune system protections against. Passed on through being around us & passed on by the rape of our peoples at times. Nothing took the toll on native peoples though until the invaders from Spain came to the North American Continent. Their ruthlessness, murders & torture led to the complete destruction of whole civilizations of native peoples. These Spanish Invaders enslaved the masses that had survived the murders to take valuable minerals from Mother Earth, they stole untold billions of valuables directly from these folks & have dared to say they have a right to their long sunken treasure ships valuable cargos. The only thing Spain has the right to do is return all those valuables removed from these old wrecks back to the peoples whose ancestors they forced to work in the gold & silver mines, stole from the temples & homes. How dare Spain still claim they own these valuables they obtained through force, extortion & cold-blooded murders of untold millions of native peoples! Return our valuables Spain! Claiming all our, valuables, lands & ancestors in the name of some European ruler or the Catholic Church was a right they had no right to do. The Creator made our many peoples the caretakers of His Creation. Our peoples did not rape the lands for their minerals, our peoples did not destroy the great herds of Pte, our ancestors did not pollute Mother Earth. Our ancestors only used what we needed to survive. We learned the healing ways of the plants & roots using what was needed & no more. One cannot own the land. We are only caretakers of Mother Earth until we walk on that journey & join our ancestors.

Wut's picture
Wut
Submitted by Wut on
The Europeans didn't discover America. The Americans were ALREADY there. The Europeans didn't know there was an object the size of two continents in the ocean. Discover, my ass.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
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The Truth Hurts's picture
The Truth Hurts
Submitted by The Truth Hurts on
The truth is, Columbus was looking for the Israelites. He found them. The Native Americans. The Native Americans used to speak ancient Hebrew. They were the northern Tribes of Israel and the so called African Americans are the Southern Tribes. The Spaniards found, enslaved and destroyed the Native Americans aka Israelites. These are hidden truths of history I'm sure most will scoff at but with research will find to be true. I can prove it 100% unequivocally.

proud2bamerican's picture
proud2bamerican
Submitted by proud2bamerican on
husband of moonlight, if i am guessing correctly you are british. if you are, then you cant be saying americans are evil for a few reasons 1) we would be typing this in german if the Americans had not helped your insignificant island (actually the british are not totally insignificant- they have a family of rich figure heads that traipse about drinking tea) 2) remind me, who created (and started) modern democracy? Americans 3) the americans have done more good than bad but the europeans not so much. who killed more native americans than the black death did europeans? europeans. who ATE each other because of their laziness? europeans. who traded slaves under horrible conditions? europeans (and europeans only ever stopped slavery because it didnt benefit them any longer- it was mostly for show). and remember, we have more people in new york and los angeles than you do in your entire country so dont get sassy.
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