To those of us in Clay County the world’s oceans seem a great barrier. There is something frightful about not being able to see solid ground on the horizon. Yet, to water going people waterways are efficient means of transportation. Thousands of years ago, the ocean was a welcome highway for people along the coasts. It is far easier to travel over water than over land, there are no mountains and deserts to impede travel. Because of easy navigability many theories have arisen to show how people traveled to the Americas.
Islands in the South Pacific share two uncommon characteristics with South America: the same genetic strain of chicken and sweet potato. It is unlikely that chickens flew or potatoes floated across the Pacific. Sweet potatoes are native to the Americas and that particular variety of chicken came from Asia. It is supposed that South Pacific Islanders brought their chickens in their long canoes by going from island to island and then to South America. Then on return trips to the islands they brought back the versatile sweet potato.
Pre-historic arrowheads and spear points known as Clovis Points, named for Clovis, New Mexico where they were first discovered, do not resemble anything found in Mongolia where the Pre-Columbian Indians are thought to have originated. These fluted stone points also found in Virginia and the Carolinas dating over 13,000 years old, look much more like the weaponry of the ancient Solutreans, who lived in France and Spain and during the last ice age could have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in small boats along the ice edge in the same way people may have migrated from Asia. Then they could have taken their technology west across North America leaving behind artifacts as they traveled.
I will discuss more unusual similarities and possible explanations next time.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.