Re: Pacific islander's in Lat-am?

Chris Amies (
Tue, 01 Aug 1995 19:58:18 GMT

In article <>, C.V. Kimbrell ( writes:

>> Anyone have any comments (flames)?

What artefacts, precisely?

For a long time the contention has been that latin american natives
sailed westwards across the Pacific, at least as far as the
Marquesas (see Thor Heyerdahl for examples) without asking the
obvious question of why would they do such a thing? The south
americans had land, crops, lots of room for expansion, so why
would they let themselves in for hazardous exploration across the
ocean? Heyerdahl these days is discounted on grounds of prevailing
winds, etc.

However, there are connections between the two cultures. The sweet
potato (kumara) is found in both the Pacific cultures and South
America. Bellwood (in _The Polynesians_) says it is of "Andean
origin, on both linguistic and botanical grounds", which suggests -
if we discount Heyerdahl's hypotheses - that the Pacificans may have
journeyed as far as South American and brought back sweet potato
stocks. Let's remember that the Polynesians were what you might term
long-phase nomads - they would settle in one place for a few
generations then move on somewhere else. This may explain for example
the extensive relics of settlement that Fletcher Christian and the
'Bounty' mutineers found on Pitcairn when they landed there; relics
of plantations, stone platforms, but no people. I don't think it's
impossible that Pacificans would have sailed as far as the Americas.
The general tendency of migration was from west to east - in the
eastern Pacific we have the name 'Hawaiki' for an ancient homeland
from which the people came, but this name doesn't occur in the
Western Pacific, presumably because 'Hawaiki' was the Western Pacific

I think it is very possible that Pacificans did reach South
America. However, your suggestion that this in some way negates the
idea of the Bering Strait crossing seems less valid to me. The
Bering Strait crossing by Asiatic peoples into the Americas was
several thousand years ago. The Polynesian expansion across the
Pacific was more recent; between 1500 BC and 1 CE they were
settling the western Pacific, the Marquesas, Society Islands, and
Easter Islands, by 500 CE, and the rest by 1000 CE. So any
hypothetical move further East would have taken place at about the
time of the rise of the Central/South American cultures (Aztecs,
Inca, Olmecs, Toltecs, and so on).

Is it not possible that any Polynesian settlement on the mainland
of what is now Latin America might either have been subsumed into
the body of the rising cultures of that area, or else simply wiped

>> --
>> truth is stranger than fiction
>satire can be Pun,, uh, phun ah fun

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