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Frontiers of Anthropology

This blog is to encorporate discussions on Lost Continents, Catastrophism, The origin of Modern Humans and the Out of Africa theory, Genetics and Human Diversity, The Origin and Spread of Civilization and Cultural Diffusion across the face of the Globe.

Deluge of Atlantis



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More On Uralics Part 1

[Say twenty years ago I started out theories along a similar line and so I already hasd many of the facts at my disposal that Paabo uses to bolster his arguments. Since I also have the added advantage of my own separate research, I shall be providing my own comments and arguments at the end. –DD]

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NEW: SEEMING CONFIRMATION OF THIS BOAT PEOPLE THEORY IN POPULATION GENETICS STUDIES – SEE A.PÄÄBO INTERPRETATIONS OF “Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution” by Lutz Roewer, Peter J.P Croucher, et al. , 2005


Basic Introduction To The Theory of a Worldwide Expansion of Boat-peoples From Northern Europe



Although humans were smart enough to devise rafts to cross bodies of water we are not by nature water-creatures; thus the evolution of a part of humanity into a life using boats and getting around on water could not have occurred spontaneously just anywhere. It had to have occurred in a place where there was no other alternative where survival depended on it. Through natural selection those groups who devised the best ways of dealing with the watery environment were the ones who produced the largest populations and flourished. The following presents the basic theory by Andres Pääbo about the appearance and expansions of a boat-oriented way of life that marks an early stage in the evolution of Europe after the Ice Age. This side of the European past has never before been told, because traditionally scholars have focussed on the evolution of farming and sedentary civilizations particularly in the Indo-European tradition. The focus here is on the Atlantic side, including likely North Atlantic crossings, but there is evidence that peoples from the same origins entered Siberia and the Pacific.

The Reindeer People and the Water People

The story begins at the height of the Ice Age, when glaciers cover the entire north part of Europe. In southern Europe there were people who lived in caves and hunted bison, horses, reindeer and other large animals who lived in plentiful grasslands.


Map 1. The Ice Sheet over the north of Europe. Humans who followed Reindeer, Bison, Horses, and other migrating herds were distributed according to the migration patterns of these herds. As the Ice Sheet withdrew and humans began expanding northward, the first split was between the reindeer hunters who occupied the tundra of the North European Plain, and the descendants of the Bison hunters who were forced to adjust to the disappearance of grassy plains and plains herds. The second split came later, from about 10,000 BC when the reindeer hunters continued into the north, following the reindeer herds, while others stayed behind and were forced to deal with a land filled with water. This later split is the one that linguistically caused the “Uralic” language to split between “Samoyed” and “Finno-Ugric” (See next map – Map 2.)

But when the Ice Age came to an end, the climate warmed, and the southern parts of Europe became increasingly forested. Grasslands vanished, and brought an end to herds of many of the animals. But reindeer were animals who lived on the tundra plain north of the tree line. Forests could not swallow up tundra in the same way they could swallow up grassland, because trees could not grow in arctic conditions. Thus there was always a northern limit to trees, and beyond that a tundra plain which could be inhabited by reindeer. Those humans who sought to continue the way of life of the Ice Age, needed only to shift north with the reindeer and the reindeer kept north of the tree line.
Archeology reveals that the latest reindeer hunters in continental Europe were in the region of Poland. These were about 90% dependent on reindeer, and therefore needed to follow the reindeer north as the climate warmed. Such reindeer hunters would have moved northward as a very sparse people, throughout the eastern part of Greater Europe, over many thousands of years. Staying in arctic conditions they continued to develop increasingly pronounced mongoloid features, which are considered adaptations to the arctic. (Eye squint against glare of snow, flat face to prevent wind flowing over the face, squat body to reduce heat loss, etc). Being separated from the cousins that stayed behind in continental Europe, their appearance after many thousands of years changed dramatically. Also, according to modern genetic analysis, they developed enough genetic mutations to become quite distinct from the original Europeans in their genes as well.
The modern peoples with highly arctic mongoloid features and traditions of reindeer hunting/herding are the Samoyeds of arctic Russia; however the fact that Norway’s Saami (formerly “Lapps”) show much genetic mutation in their mtDNA relative to Europeans, suggests that in spite of their Europeanized outward appearances, and their Finno-Ugricized languages, the Saami too originated, at least maternally from these original reindeer people. As you will see later, when the glaciers shrunk over Scandinavia, the northern part was exposed first and it would have been at that time that the Reindeer-Saami ancestors entered. The Finno-Ugric influences came later as a result of northward expansion of boat peoples to exploit the rich sea life in the waters of arctic Scandinavia.
Although both the Finno-Ugric and Samoyed languages are considered part of the larger “Uralic” family, the two groupings of peoples are very different from one another. The speakers of “Samoyed” who were today located in the treeless arctic parts of northern Russia, have traditions that are entirely about reindeer hunting, thus suggesting origins in the abovementioned reindeer-hunters. By contrast the traditions of the “Finno-Ugrian” speakers are about boats, forests, waterfowl, fish, etc. making them the obvious descendants of the boat-using hunter-fisher gatherers. And the “Samoyeds” are also racially arctic mongoloid, while Finno-Ugrians are basically racially European and – excluding mixed races like the Khanti – at most show mild mongoloid features. This, as well as the new mtDNA genetics, suggests that the original assumption that the Uralic family divided in the region of today’s Russia somewhere must be WRONG! The only way to explain the strong differences is that the separation occurred already in Europe well before 10,000BC. The reindeer hunters left Europe first, and the boat-peoples remained for millenia south of the glaciers as they developed their new boat-oriented way of life. They did not expand eastward until their boat-oriented way of life was mastered and became successful.
Early interpretations about the Uralic languages appear also to have been wrong about the subdividion of Finno-Ugric languages, portraying a series of migrations which was fashionable among linguists in those days. The better explanation is simple–the boat peoples expanded throughout the Finno-Ugric range (and into areas where the original languages have become extinct) and then subdivided according to distance and communication barriers, which for boat peoples, was according to water system boundaries.
In the new theory, that suits the data better, the the Finno-Ugrians can be viewed as the speakers of languages of people who broke away from the reindeer hunters and stayed behind in continental Europe while the reindeer hunters – who became the Samoyeds and Saami – continued into the north. Such a scenario would produce the long time of separation required by the racial, folkloric, and genetic data, while still preserving the evidence of a relationship between “Finno-Ugric” and “Samoyed” under the “Uralic” heading. Then the expanded Proto-Finno-Ugric boat peoples simply differentiated dialectically over millenia into the four linguistic families (Baltic, Volgic, Permian, and Ugrian) according to water basins, and then differentiated further as a result of settling down with agriculture.

-How difficult it is to correct a wrong theory that has become entrenched- Much has been written about the “Uralic” languages of western Eurasia, which have a basic subdivision between the “Samoyeds” and “Finno-Ugrians”. The former refer to peoples in the high arctic, originally reindeer hunters, now herding them, who have strong arctic mongoloid racial features.
The original linguistic studies of the late 1800’s concluded from only linguistic distances, that an original “Uralic” language family split into the “Samoyed” language family and the “Finno-Ugric” language family in the vicinity of the Ural Mountains around 6000BC, and then the original parental “Finno-Ugric” language started to subdivide and subdivide, with each breakaway group migrating elsewhere. The problems with this theory are countless, notably, when one takes into account the far-ranging nature of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers such as found in Canada in around 1600, the theory of splitting and migrating does not make sense, since these peoples were migrating annually through entire river systems.
In the history of this subject, it appears only one contemporary linguist was intelligent enough to realize something was wrong. In 1907 Heikki Ojansuu expressed the view that “the F-U peoples once occupied a broad zone extending somewhere from the region of Ilmajärvi, then along the Volga and its tributaries to the region of the Kama and the Urals” He believed that hunters and fishermen needed large areas for their activities (Heikki Ojansuu, Oma Maa, 1 (1920), 318-328). Later another Finn, Paavo Ravila noted, but did not realize the solution of simple dialectic differentiation, that the geographical distribution of the F-U languages closely reflected their relationship. Later, another Finn, Erkki Itkonen, proposed the conflicts the original linguists’ theory had with archeology (that found no evidence of migrations) could be reduced by assuming the F-U peoples occupied the entire area from the Urals and the Baltic from time immemorial. (Itkonen, Oma Maa, 1958) Toivo Vuorela summed this line of thinking as follows (Vuorela, The Finno-Ugric Peoples Eng. trans. J. Atkinson, 1964) “In this sense [Itkonen] refers to Ojansuu’s idea of an ‘unbroken zone of peoples’ from Ilmajärvi to the Urals, and to Ravila’s view that the geographical distribution of the F-U languages reflects their relationship. When the once food-gathering peoples, who had needed wide areas in which to move about, became agriculturalists and so were more inclined to stay in one area, ‘the various groups that were accustomed to live together became virtually frozen to the spot in their former hunting grounds’ — and thus dialects became more and more separate and over centuries and millenia developed into separate languages.
The idea of hunting people ‘being frozen to their former hunting grounds’ is interesting from the point of view of the Estonian and Finnish words for ‘family’ pere/perhe . It is possible that this word originates from PEO-RA (ie, pida + rada) meaning ‘hunting,trapping, catching + trail, way, road’ suggesting that each clan had their own hunting territory of trails, something confirmed among Canada’s Algonquian Indian past; so that when they had to settle down, the hunting trails disappeared so that all that was left was the clan, the family, the PEO-RA, or pere/perhe.
Another issue was whether Finno-Ugric languages existed to the west of the Baltic, since no Finno-Ugric languages survived there. Had there been even one Finno-Ugric language alive in the west Baltic, all the thinking would have taken another route. Nonetheless the German Gustaf Kossinna tried to place the F-U homeland in North Germany and Scandinavia (Mannus, I-II Mannus Bibl. 26 (1909-1911)) Interestingly, there is a suggestion in the Estonian folk epic Kalevipoeg that (assuming the part I will refer to is from original folklore and not invented by the compiler) there was, perhaps back in the Viking Age, Finno-Uric speakers in Norway. In the story, Kalev has three sons, one becoming Kalevipoeg, the hero of Estonian and Finnish folklore, another going to Russia to become a merchant (referring probably to the Votes and others who carried on trade to the Dneiper and Volga) and the third to Norway to become a warrior. It is clear that the intent was to acknowledge all known peoples obviously related to the originator of the legend. This last Norwegian warrior character is interesting because it was during 800-1000AD that Danish kings were on a campaign to bring Norway into their kingdoms. Thus for two centuries southern Norway and up its coast was a region of conflict, requiring soldier assistance. Thus around 800-1000AD, Estonians would have perceived there to be a related people always at war with the Danish armies, and hence the legend-maker included a son of Kalev who was a warrior/soldier in Norway, in order to give an origin to the related people in southern Norway. Since archeology indicates trade connections between Norway and northern Britain (ie the Picts), we can extend the Finno-Ugrians even to the Picts, at least those of the east side. The connection between the trader-Picts and the east Baltic is affirmed by the Anglo-Saxon scholar monk Venerable Bede who wrote that the Picts had come in longboats “from Scythia”. In that day, “Scythia” was the region from the east Baltic eastward. Clearly traders from Greater Estonia were arriving on the British east coast, and were witnessed to speak a language similar to that of the Picts who recieved them.
If we begin to view the Finno-Ugrians as the result of water-people expansions, then that opens the possibility of including still other groups, far and wide, into the family.


The probably correct interpretation is simply expressed follows: Since they are by tradition a boat-people, we can propose origins for the “Finno-Ugrians” in the boat-people who developed in the flooded lands under the glaciers. If the original language of the reindeer hunters was the common ancestral one, then the “Finno-Ugrians” can be viewed as the speakers of languages of people who broke away from the reindeer hunters and stayed behind in continental Europe while the reindeer hunters – who became the “Samoyeds” – continued into the north. Such a scenario would produce the long time of separation required by the racial, folkloric, and genetic data, while still preserving the evidence of a relationship between “Finno-Ugric” and “Samoyed” under the “Uralic” heading. Then the expanded boat peoples simply differentiated dialectically over millenia into the four linguistic families (Baltic, Volgic, Permian, and Ugrian) according to water basins, and then differenatiated further as a result of settling down with agriculture.
The word “Uralic” comes from the “Ural Mountains” and was chosen by the early linguists because they originally thought the Finno-Ugrians and Samoyeds split from each other near the Ural Mountains. The name “Ural” is probably Finno-Ugric, making reference to the water-filled lands on both sides of the Urals, but especially to the east in the Ob River basin. In any event, as explained later, I generate the word UI-RA-LA to describe the early world of boat people who moved about in such a watery universe. (In Estonian ujuda, in Finnish uida mean ‘to swim, float’.) The peoples under this new heading, as you will see, will exclude the “Samoyed” because they are not boat-people, but could include more peoples than the “Finno-Ugrians”, such as the Basques. The Basque word for ‘water’ is ur, and it is possible that it may be an abbreviation of UI-RA ‘the floating-path’ . We discuss this further, below.
The following sets out to generally describe the ancient boat-people, how they came to be, and how they expanded far and wide, in a completely new way not found in any other literature. The source of the insights lie in Canada, in the nature of the Inuit and Algonquian native peoples, who were also boat-peoples in a similar setting.

The Emergence and Expansion of Water People

We begin with the idea that while humans were always able to devise ways to cross bodies of water, they were basically creatures of the land, and therefore were not inclined to a life in a watery landscape constantly using boats for hunting and travel. This being the case, a boat-dependent way of life needed severe natural pressures to cause it to evolve. I propose that the only place in the world where this pressure existed, where the humans there could not escape, was in the north of Europe below the melting glaciers, in the late stages of the Ice Age. We know for example that there was land in the North Sea, which became submerged when the sea level rose. What if the sea rose gradually enough to allow an evolution of a boat-using way of life, instead of suddenly drowing everyone. We have to stress that a way of life in boats is not natural, and needs both environmental pressure and a period of acculturalization.
At the peak of the Ice Age, the glaciers descended to the central part of continental Europe. Geologists tell us that as the glaciers developed they drew water out of the oceans and lowered the sea level. When the climate began to warm, when the Ice Age receded, when the glaciers melted, the sea level did not rise immediately because the glacial meltwater first spilled into the land and inland seas and it would take some time for the water to flow to the sea and raise its level. Thus there was a period of time during which the lands below the glaciers were inundated, and any hunters found there would have no choice but to develop ways to travel on water. Gradually they adapted and soon they had access to a rich bounty of fish, sea-mammals, and waterfowl, not to mention animals that like water like the “moose” (American English) or “elk” (British English).
Geologists tell us additionally that the Ice Age receded initially slowly, and then accelerated. For 10,000 years climatic change was barely perceptible, but then around 10,000-6000BC the warming was very fast. The reason for this is that when most of Europe was covered with glaciers, its white color reflected the sun’s rays back into space. But as the melting progressed and the dark colors of the earth were exposed, less sunlight was reflected back into space, and the heat gain of the earth accelerated, causing the glaciers to melt faster and faster until in the very last stages everywhere the land was warming and the glaciers were depositing their water. Water was being dumped far more quickly than it could drain to the oceans. It was a very wet land, but the boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers flourished, probably more than any other people. It an be argued that the boat-people became the dominant group in Europe. I call their watery world UI-RA-LA. It’s peak of expansion was probably at about 6000BC. Then climatic warming slowed down again and things stabilized at the state reached by then.

INSPIRATION FOR “UI-RA-LA” USED IN THIS PROJECT The UI- is inspired first by Estonian/Finnish elements uj-/ui- ‘pertaining to swimming, floating’. Secondly is the fact that the major tribe of the Aquitani in Roman times was called Uiteriges which interprets via Est/Finn as ‘floating nation’ (uide-riigi). the -RA- is inspired by the apparent presence of the “RA” element in the ancient names of major trade rivers. For example the Loire was Ligera, the Volga is shown by Ptolemy as Rha (Roman “rh” meant trilled “r”), and indeed the original names of the Rhine and Rhone. In addition Basque uses -RA as the ending meaning ‘directed towards’, and RA in ancient pre-Indo-European languages like Sumerian has the meaning ‘route’. It exists also in Finno-Ugrian, incorporated into words. In Estonian for example rada ‘trail, path’. Finally the -LA ending similarly has an ancient presence, although sometimes losing the -A. In Est/Finn it is the ending meaning ‘place of, territory of’ and it exists in Basque as ola. Overall, the construction “UI-RA” would mean ‘the floating, sailing, way’ and it could be the origin of the Basque word for ‘water’ ur. The full construction “UI-RA-LA” might lie behind the word “Ural Mountains” and refer to the vast areas of marshland adjoining them particularly to the east. (But this is supposition. I hope someone can confirm this.) Last but not least, the UI construction appears in the Inuit language of the Canadian arctic (the Inuit were an arctic boat-people) in relation to the behaviour of water (example: uijjaqtuq ‘water spins’). In general, it is possible to account for the words Finni, Vene, and Venedi by a word of the form “UI-NI”, which would mean ‘(people, person) of the water’. The form Finni can arise directly from “UI-NI” while the form Vene requires a dialect with a slightly lower vowel-“UE-NE”. The form Venedi is nothing more than a plural of “UE-NE” that is “UE-NE-TI”. By the same token the original “UI-NI” too can be pluralized to arrive at “UI-NI-T” which is remarkably close to arctic North America’s Inuit. For a complete study of the name of the boat-people, see the associated article “UINI”: QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL NAME OF THE BOAT-PEOPLES

These people would have identified themselves as ‘water-people’, which was probably something like UINI, arising from the psychologically natural sound “UUU” which seems to describe ‘flowing’. We discuss the matter of name elsewhere.
Since the warming climate was causing the populations of wildlife to increase, and new way of life using boats was successful, the boat-people populations began to increase in parallel to the wildlife. Bands and tribes grew large, and daughter tribes split off from mother tribes, and migrated far enough away to establish a new hunting-fishing-gathering territory. By nature, humans form bands, extended families of brothers and sisters, children and elders, moving together through a territory. But bands can meet up with bands, to form tribes. Evidence suggests that an average natural tribe had about 5-7 bands. The pattern of life of nomadic hunter-fisher-gatherers is that every band moved around in their band territory throughout the year, but annually 5-7 bands would meet at a central location to socialize, trade, mate, and generally reaffirm a larger tribal social order. Thus the region of linguistic and cultural uniformity extended over the total area of the movements of all the clans of the tribe. Furthermore, sometimes two or three neighbouring tribes would congregate in larger festivals, and that would counteract the development of dialects between one tribe and the next. If the territory covered by a band of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers was large, then areas of linguistic and cultural uniformity could be very large, much larger than is commonly assumed.
The most important and least recognized aspect of the boat-peoples is that with boats, boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers could travel over five times faster and farther than the earlier hunters that moved on foot over clear open land. That means boat-using hunting-fishing-gathering territories could be over five times larger than that of the earlier big animal hunters, like the reindeer hunters. For example, if a reindeer hunter band covered a territory 100km in diameter, the boat-users could cover a territory of 500km in diameter. Furthermore, since boat-use was determined by the nature of the waterways, their territories would be stretched in various ways. A linear territory could assume the form of travelling 1500km up and down a river, or along a coast.
Thus it is clear that as the populations grew, breakaway bands and then tribes would have to travel a great distance to remove themselves from the territories claimed by the parent band. If families were having three children, then a breakway tribe would form every 50 years or less, and move about 500km away. They could expand 1000km in every century. The most recent example of rapid expansion of a boat-people is that of the Canadian arctic “Thule” culture from Alaska to Greenland in only about 500 years.
It is important to note that the expansion of the original populations was unopposed. Before the boat peoples there were no previous peoples across the subarctic forest zone of Europea. Archeology reveals that before the evolution of boat-peoples the water-filled forests south of the tundra were unoccupied. The only people to be found there before the expansion of boat people would have been the reindeer-hunters. But the reindeer hunters were above the tree line and moved around on foot, therefore they were rarely found in the niche into which the boat-people expanded. In a sentence–the boat-peoples were unopposed! They did not have to displace any earlier peoples. They did not have to battle with people already there.




Figure 1.

Humans are territorial creatures, and one clan or band could not steal resources from the territory of another, without causing a fight. Thus each clan assumed their own territory, and passed it down within the clan, patrilineally among hunters since men were most involved with hunting territory. Early farmers, however passed down farmlands matrilineally since traditionally women took care of villages, collecting plant foods, and processing. (Recent example: Iroquoian farmers of America). Later farmer-herders, starting with Indo-Europeans, were patrilineal again because the male role of defender of territory against enemies took precedence and rule returned to the male.
The accompanying illustrations shows the typical manner in which a boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherer tribe would occupy a river, with each clan claiming a tributary. Annually they would all ride down the river to a tribal meeting place near the mouth. (Examples are found in recent Canada). In addition, I show the clans of nomadic hunters that move on foot, such as ancient reindeer hunters. Here too, each clan would have their own territory, but not as far apart from the others since it had to be walked. Annually or so, the clans would come together. Reindeer hunters might meet at a place they all ambush reindeer on their migrations. Thirdly there are the settlers who don’t move, because they are tied to farmlands, and cannot abandon the farmlands for long. In this diagram I also happen to place the pedestrian hunters and settled peoples within the geographical area of the river-people. This illustrates that territory is not only about land area, but also nature of the activity and resources. Reindeer hunters and boat-people were not in territorial conflict because boats could not travel where the reindeer were. Settlers and boat people were not in territorial conflict because settlers grew their own food and did not hunt the wild. Of course this is not absolutely true. Boat-people probably tried to steal a reindeer now and then, and settled people might occasionally fetch something from the wilderness. Boat people might kill a reindeer or throw seeds on a clearing of land, or keep a domestic animal. That’s when conflicts occurred. But usually they got along and they could co-exist in the same landscape.


Figure 2.
While it is easy to picture bands located on the tributaries of a large river (like the Oder) travelling up and down their rivers from one campsite to the next, perhaps 5 locations in a year, it is not as easy to determine how hunters would have behaved on the sea. Obviously in the Baltic (such as the “Kunda” culture) they probably kept close to the shore, avoiding the high waves of the sea, but in the arctic ocean, it was probably beneficial to move with the ocean current, expecially since this current had warm water in which sea life was abundant. The adjoining diagram is my suggestion as to how arctic Norwegian oceanic hunters probably moved from site to site with the ocean currents, at least to avoid paddling against the current.


Figure 3.

Linguists have observed how arctic languages seem to span entire continents. Why? The reason is that food density (the concentration of food animals and plants) in the arctic is low. The hunter-gatherer was forced to travel over much greater areas than he might otherwise have wanted (We are all naturally lazy), going from one choice place to another, in order to survive. But when we look at languages in the south, such as in a jungle (New Guinea for example), we find many languages all having come the same parent language, because food density was high in the jungle. Farming settlements too created situations in which food density was high. Such situations caused tribes to remain in the small geographical region and defend small regions from intrusion by neighbours. From polarizing with neighbours they developed in their own way in their language, customs, etc. so that soon there were many ethnicities and languages in a small geographical area. This differenatiation according to food supply is also the reason southern jungles have such a diversity of species and ecological niches (territories). While low food density and spreading out of people is usually attributed to the arctic, it can also be applied to desert areas. Here too, a pedestrian nomadic people’s language can end up covering a larger geographical area


Boat use has its greatest advantage in making it easier for hunter-peoples to live in environments in which food supply was sparse. While the reindeer hunter had no problem since staying in touch with a reindeer herd ensured a concentrated supply of food, the boat-using hunter who hunted a wide variety of animals – whatever could be found – had to travel and travel to find the food. The boat, the canoe, in extending the range at least five times, made it possible to survive in subarctic forests where previously it would not have been possible to find enough food on foot.
There is no need to debate these ideas to any great extent, because proof can be found in the traditions of boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers of Canada. The further north the people live, the lower the food density in the land, and the further they had to travel to secure their food. Thus for example the Cree around forested part of the the lower Hudson Bay, covered a territory as much as 3000km wide, their far-ranging movements keeping the language from breaking into many separate languages over that entire area. (Europeans did however note three dialects). North of them, the arctic ocean boat-oriented Inuit had established a single language, with about three dialects from Alaska all the way to Greenland.
Towards the south, where food density was greater, people did not have to travel as far. Shorter-range interaction between peoples caused dialects to develop into distinct languages. For example in Canada, the Ojibwa boat-people lived throughout the Great Lakes water basin, the Algonquins in the Ottawa River water basin, the Montagnais Innu in the Saguenay River water basin, the Labrador Innu in the Churchill River water basin. Note how water basins defined the regions, since boat-use was generally confined to the water basin.
The large territory of boat-using peoples can also be seen in the traditions of the Ob-Ugrians of the Ob River. It has been noted that the Khanti occupied a territory as large as all of eastern Europe. At an early time there would have been similar situations in the Vistula, Dneiper, Oder, Rhine, Volga, etc. where one boat-people dominated an entire water basin. The modern Finno-Ugric language subdivisions are in fact defined over water basins : Balto-Finnic in the Baltic water basin, Volgic in the Volga, etc. This is proof that the early stages of the Finno-Ugrians were similar to that of the recent Algonquian natives of Canada. As we might expect, the linguistic boundaries of boat-peoples, corresponded with where boats could easily travel.
As already noted, because the territories of boat people were large, when populations grew and tribes formed out of parent tribes, the new tribes needed to travel far enough away so as not to overlap the parental territory. That meant moving out of the parental water basin into a new one. The entire region between Britain and the Urals could have been filled in less than 1000 years. Thereafter there would have been internal dynamics until territorial stability was achieved — everyone knew what regions belonged to what clans and tribes.
A natural human tribe consists of 5-7 bands (extended families of brothers and sisters, their children and elders). (Larger tribes require political organization, government, to remain as one.) From the Canadian evidence, the most common pattern among boat-peoples is that the 5-7 bands each owned one of the water basins of the tributaries of a large river so that the tribe as a whole owned the entire river water basin. The bands travelled through their large territories on their own for most of the year, and then they all came together once a year to socialize, find mates, trade, exchange news. The tribal meeting place was usually near the mouth of a river.
In the case of peoples who fished and hunted sea coasts, perhaps a tribe was distributed along the coast, each band claiming a part of the coast. Archeology shows that there was a cultural unity along the south Baltic which they have named “Maglemose”. If the bands of this tribe travelled the coast, the central location where the bands got together would have been at the mouth of the Oder as it would be a central location. And on the east Baltic the bands of the tribe archeologists have called “Kunda” would probably have met at the Dvina (Daugava, Väina) at the Gulf of Riga. The mouth of the Vistula would have been the gathering place of bands who travelled the Vistula. If the three tribes wanted to meet in a large gathering, the mouth of the Vistula was a good place. Archeology has found overlapping of archeological cultures there. Another location where it appears two or three tribes came together is Lake Onega.


Figure 4.

The adjacent map is developed from a learned text on the archeology of northern Europe, that depicts the detectable archeological groupings found in the archeological artifacts. As my theory goes, there was at first a rapid expansions, and then as the Ice Age came to an end, and the environment stablized, so did human populations. Each geographical area had its own special characteristics that influenced the boat-peoples within them to adopt ways of life a little different from those of other geographical areas; but we have no reason to believe that language change with material culture, since it was independent of geographical circumstances. At this early stage, all the archeological cultures shown could have easily spoken the same language, with only dialectic variation. Thus as the various bands/clans had settled in annual circuits of travel and nature-harvesting, they guarded each their own territory, so that it was difficult for another hunter people to enter any part of the north without getting into serious conflict with the established peoples. Insofar as each tribe consisted of several clans/bands, the tribe’s territory was the total of the territories of the individual bands/clans. Because bands/clans associated with each other, they would have had the same material culture, and therefore there is no question that each archeological culture represents the territory of only one or two tribes, each with 5 to 7 clans/bands/extended families.

THE OCEANIC TRIBES. The patterns followed by oceanic hunters are more mysterious. They may not even have had annual cycles, only meeting other bands every five years or so. The Shetland Islands lore speaks of a people they called Finni who were estabished for a few years on its northern islands, and then disappeared.

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 was aso the name given by Shetlanders (of Norse lineage) to a scattering of Inuit [?] who, in kayaks, materialized amongst the Northern Isles during the eighteenth century. . . .In any event, Shetlanders used the same name for these small-statured, dark skinned strangers that their ancestors had given to the people who preceded the Norse in Shetland. (F. Mowat, Farfarers, Toronto 1998)

Farley Mowat, quoted above advanced a theory that original British who he called “Albans” endured in the Northern Isles, and hunted walrus, travelling all the way to the coast of Canada. In my theory there were always two types of boat-peoples in the British Isles, the original dugout-using interior hunter-gatherers who were orientated towards the east, became traders, and the skin-boat oceanic hunters that came down at an early time from the arctic Norwegian coast, and always remained sea-hunters, much like the Basques further south.
If there was a circling ocean current, like there was north of arctic Norway, and also between Norway, Greenland, and Iceland, the movements of the oceanic hunters might have gone with the current. The collective tribal meeting place would be in the mid-point somewhere. For example the location where the “Komsa” culture settlement was found, in north central Norway, would be on the edge of a cycling current.
Thus we see that the regions covered by a tribe of bands keeping contact with one another, could be very large. That means when the populations were growing, a new tribe had to roam a considerable distance to find fresh territory. Rapid expansion over vast areas during prehistoric times when the lands and seas were relatively empty, had to be the norm.
In the prehistoric period, populations would have continued to grow as long as the climate was warming. When the glacier, which was centered on the mountains of Norway became small, climate change had slowed down. The populations of boat peoples stabilized. They had expanded as far as nature allowed, and now they settled each into their water basins, and each tribe started to dialectically change within their territories because there was little communication across water basins. These small changes are reflected in archeology.
We know that boat people went into the Volga, because three of the Finno-Ugric language families are accessed by getting onto the Volga. What is unknown is the situation in the Dneiper and other rivers draining to the Black Sea from the Baltic direction. Languages originally there have vanished.

Map 2. This map speculates on the distribution of different tribes of boat-using hunter gatherers. This speculation is, based on the water basins and the direction of the drainage. Note that this map does NOT show the continuing land-based people in the dry interior regions. They were obviously there and archeology has found evidence of them, and their expansions. The reader should bear in mind that , aside from identifying the Reindeer people, our focus here is on the boat people. If there were large areas of high, dry, passable ground that could be inhabitated by pedestrian peoples, then certainly there would have been pedestrian peoples there, in the very same geographical regions


The Northern Algonquian Situation in Recent Canada as a Model For the Early Finno-Ugric

As I said above, while humans could devise a raft of some kind probably even 50,000 years ago, they were basically land-people and the development of the design of the boat, the manner in which one travelled and hunted, etc had to be a slow process. It may have taken 1000 years or more to refine the dugout boat, determine what to hunt and fish, develop new tools and techniques, etc. Those that had better ideas were more successful. It was thus Nature that gradually selected the people and methods that worked best. More successful methods resulted in more children, more population growth, more expansion. We must not picture a sudden invention of boat use, and a sudden expansion. It could have, by chance, happened only in one place, and expanded from there.
Those who cannot grasp the idea that some activity that is not innate to humans takes special circumstances and time to develop can also look at horseback riding. Humans were always able to leap onto the back of a horse and ride around for amusement. But it took a long time to integrate such activity into the way of life of a society. But once the activity has become established it is easy to copy. After the North American Indians had seen Spaniards riding horses and captured horses that had escaped to the wild, within a century all the Indians of the North American plains were riding around on horses. In the last century, our use of the automobile was made possible by the prior establishing of precedents in horse-drawn wagons and carriages. The auto engine simply replaced the horse. Thus we can argue that it took 1000 years to create our modern society based on automobile use. First we had to establish all uses of the automobile first with the horse.
Thus it is never a question of whether a human can make and ride a boat or not, but that the boat use becomes integral to the way of life. It takes a long time of interraction between a society and the environment for this new way of life to evolve.
Thus, the new culture involving boat-use did not happen overnight, but once it was matured, it could be easily imitated. The population growth in the beginning when the people had not figured out their new boat-oriented way of life was probably nil, then as their methods improved there was slow population growth and then a faster one, until the boat-culture had reached its final optimum form. For example early dugout canoes were probably crude cavities in logs, but in the end they were the sleek, thin-hulled, designs such as are still created by the Khanti on the Ob River. Once the boat was developed, it could endure by imitation. It is far easier to imitate than originate. (In the world of art, any capable artist can make a copy of the Mona Lisa, but only Leonardo da Vinci created the original.)
It would have been a process that took at least 1000 years, probably 2000. Perhaps the crudest boat people, making only a hole in a log, and stumbling about as best they could, began in 10,000BC. Perhaps it wasn’t until about 8,000BC that the new way of life in a watery landscape had reached maturity and dramatic expansion began.
The idea that a boat-culture does not happen unless Nature imposes pressures forcing humans to make it happen, or that it does not happen overnight, leads us to ask whether boat peoples in other parts of the world were independent evolutions, or whether they all acquired the basic culture from the boat people under the north European glaciers.
I have referred to the Inuit (Eskimo) of arctic Canada. Their boats were made of skins and included a one-person craft called a kayak and the other a large vessel that would carry an entire clan, called an umiak. To their south in the subarctic forests there were the Algonquian boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers who travelled up and down the rivers. They included Cree, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Montagnais, Innu, etc. Their boats were made by covering a frame with birch bark. The birch bark canoe can be viewed as a form of skin boat. Algonquian peoples towards the south along the Atlantic coast also demonstrated dugout canoes and skin boats using moose-hide. Were these boats independently developed or did the prototypes come across the North Atlantic? There are many similarities between the culture of the Algonquians and what is found in Finno-Ugrians. One of the most mysterious is the similarities in rock paintings made from boats on cliffs beside water, found both in central Canada and in Finland. Both are made from boats with red ochre. There are rock paintings in Siberia too. How much coincidence do we need before we decide on there having been a connection? That is a question for another time.



If we look at a map of Europe and North America side by side, as in the illustration below, and then notice the long range of the distribution of some northern language/ethnic families in North America, it is obvious that early Europe, was similar in having a single language or ethnicity spanning an enormous range purely from the factors of low-food-density and long-range boat-travel . Such a large distribution can only come about in the ancient northern world, before wars and refugees and so on, if there is a rapid expansion of a people through a land, unopposed by other people already there with similar economic ways. Rapid expansion only occurs when the expanding people 1) come into possession of something that caused their populations to multiply, and 2) their expansion was unopposed (they entered an empty economic niche). The warming climate promoted the first, and the lack of previous people in the freed (from ice) forests and marshes ensured the second.

Fig 5

The first illustration shows the areas of the world that were covered by ice at the height of the Ice Age. When the ice melted all the wet lands were free to be entered, not by people on foot who would have had difficulty there, but by people with boats. In other words, the regions under the glaciers were to be properly inhabited first by boat peoples who could successfully live in such a landscape crisscrossed with lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Fig 6

The second illustration shows the real situation in North America not long ago, and a probable European situation around 2500BC. The white lines show boundaries. Non-white text indicates people not boat-people, and light blue arrows suggest trans Atlantic expansions. The names in white are popular modern ones. But I also show, in cyan blue capitals, variations on names beginning with “UI-” that appear to be precedents for modern words like “Finnic” and “Venetic” and “Inuit”. For a detailed investigation of the question of the original name of the boat-peoples see the next article “UINI”: QUEST FOR THE ORIGINAL NAME OF THE BOAT-PEOPLES Did a boat people emerge also under the melting glaciers in North America? That is an interesting question. Did the boat-using way of life come from northern Europe or was it an independent development? Note that it doesn’t take much because human can copy a way of life much more quickly than evolving it. If so, the fact that European settlers to northeastern North America still found skin boats, birch-bark boats, and dugouts, suggests it didn’t develop as early as in Europe where boat culture was already highly developed 1000BC. The full story of boat peoples evolution in northern North America and Siberia is left for another time.
Note also in the illustration that the “Algonquian” language family of North America is located in the forested area, as if these people were accustomed to being boat-using forest people, previous to a rapid expansion into an empty region. The “Athabascan” family is located in the prairies, but . these were not a boat people; they came by way of the Bering Strait and we can presume that they maintained a language family over a large region by being nomadic buffalo-hunters. Furthermore, by 1600 the plains peoples had horses.
North of both, were the Inuit, formerly called “Eskimo”. The Inuit were specialized arctic boat people. But before them were an archeological “Dorset” culture. Inland from the coast there were a reindeer (caribou) hunting people too that has now vanished.
North America presents interesting problems that need their own separate focus.
On the right side of the map we show how the boat people distribution might have been around 2500BC, using what is known from archeology and linguistics as a guide. It is not a final definitive description (and may not exactly agree with other maps on this page). The purpose is to merely construct something parallel to 1600 AD North America, using Europe’s geography of water bodies and river flow directions as a guide. The intention is to demonstrate that the ancestors of the Finno-Ugrians were not localized in the way that has been assumed, and that their territories were defined by where they could travel by boats, far more than where they could travel on foot. This connection to boat-use and the water-geography, has never been considered previously


Skin Boats and the Oceanic Boat People

Since humans were not naturally inclined to live on water, I believe that peoples who sailed into the oceans and seas developed a little later. For example evidence of boat-people off the coasts of arctic Norway, does not really appear until about 4000BC. Currently archeologists have rationalized that they came there by coming up the Norwegian coast. By why would they travel north in ocean waves along a forbidding shore with glaciers in the distance, when there were plenty better places to go? This and other similar common sense arguments suggest that the original sea-hunters of the Norwegian coast came from the east, via arctic Norway. Once the sea-hunters were estabished, approaches were possible from the south. We are here interested in the beginnings. If we consider the beginnings, that is the first boat-peoples in the Norwegian arctic, then we cannot ignore the fact that the glaciers covered the entire southern part of Norway, so that anyone coming up from the south would have to follow the edge of glaciers and open seas devoid of sea-life. On the other hand at the very same time the northeast coast of Scandinavia was ice-free. Humans are more likely to have found an actual coast there, and wildlife along it to draw them forward.
There are other reasons to believe that oceanic hunters originated from the east. Humans do not adapt to something that is unnatural to humans easily. There had to be strong pressures forcing boat people to take into open ocean waves. Such pressures would have existed in the north where food density was low. The best proof that the oceanic hunters originated in the arctic comes from the fact that the northern boats were skin boats. It was only necessary to invent the skin boat if a people’s most southerly location lacked any trees with large enough trunks.
Thus, I believe that the original boat-people on the coast of arctic Norway came by way of the White Sea in skin boats. Rock carvings found at the Norwegian island of Sørøya, show images of a light dugout, too small for ocean waves, but also a high-prowed vessel with a moose-head prow (“moose” is an American word of Algonquian origin for what is “elk” in British English). I believe that this moose-head boat was a skin boat made from the full hide of a moose, slit along the back, frame inserted, leaving the head attached for spiritual reasons. These people obviousy also had dugouts, but, like the Khanti dugouts, were too small to navigate in open seas. Possibly the Inuit kayak (Connection to Estonian käi ‘go’ ??), which enclosed the top to allow waves to break over the top, was in effect an adaptation of the tiny one-person northern dugout to high waves.
If the boat was made of a moose hide, it meant the people had to winter in a place with moose, in the forested zone. Since the arctic was cold and dark in the winter, early visitors to the arctic did not stay there through the dark winter. They all returned to a more southern place. Lake Onega was an ideal wintering place for boat people dealing with the White Sea and beyond. It was also a place to hunt moose and make more boats.
It is therefore significant that rock carvings of the very same small-size moose-head boat that was found in arctic Norway at the island of Sørøya has been known for a long time at the famous carvings at Lake Onega.


Figure 7.
A representation of an image found at the rock carvings at Russia’s Lake Onega. There are larger boats depicted but we are interested in the smaller version that appears to be able to hold a maximum of three men, and the moose head size relative to the humans suggests a real moose head.

Figure 7a.
The photo from which the above illustration is made. It is taken from a frame of the film “Kalevala” by Lennart Meri, as shown on Finnish and Estonian TV.

Figure 8.
A representation of a similar image found on Norway’s arctic island of Sørøya where ancient visitors appeared to have hunting the sea-life of the warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift. The carvings also depict a rather small and thin dugout. Both suggest that the people came from a place with moose (Brit. “elk”, Est. “põder”) and reasonable size trees.

Figure 8a
The photo of Sørøya rock from which image taken


Furthermore some of the images at Lake Onega show sea-harvesting activity that would only occur in the arctic ocean, not at Lake Onega, as if they were picturing last summer’s activities. One image, for example shows the catching of a whale. By contrast, the Sørøya carvings show images of forest animals, as if when there, the reminisced about their other home, their winter home.
Thus there is a strong possibility that a boat-people made annual journeys to the White Sea and on to arctic Norway to harvest sea-life in the warm waters there.
In the annual cycle of nomadic hunters, entire bands, including women and children, moved together from camp to camp and they did not have to return to the same place until the next year (or whatever the length of their nomadic circuit.) Thus they could all move six months away from their wintering location, and six months back. In actual fact, the time distance from Lake Onega to the warm waters of the Atlantic Drift, was about a month or so. We cannot underestimate the distances humans will travel on the ocean, considering that in the 16th century Basque whalers were regularly crossing the Atlantic in sailing ships to harvest whales off the Canadian coast.
After a time, some of these visitors to the Norwegian arctic decided to stay in the north through the winter darkness . Lacking moose in their environment, they now made skin boats from reindeer or walrus hides. No longer returning to the White Sea or Lake Onega area, they were able to migrate further in search of new sea-hunting places. With population growth it was necessary for daughter bands to find such new locations. They migrated south to the outer islands of Britain becoming ancestral to the “Picts” who history records having skin boats. The eastern and interior parts of Britain would already have been established with the original dugout-boat peoples and traditions, but the seas had until that time been an empty niche. Then after spreading through the outer and western parts of Britain, perhaps some migrated further south, possibly ending up as far south as Portugal, possibly inspiring the legends of “Atlantis”. They would have become the founders of the Atlantic “Megalithic” culture, a culture that built hill-tombs and alignments of large rocks not far from the coast (meaning they were a people who followed coasts). The “Megalithic” culture, as some scholars have called it, gradually spread up the western European rivers establishing the culture throughout western Europe.
Others of the arctic Norwegian sea-hunter traditions, migrated across to Greenland and Iceland and further, becoming the archeological “Dorset” culture of the Canadian east arctic. Canadian archeology reveals the “Dorset” culture has affinities with northern Norway archeological culture, and had expanded east-to-west across the Canadian arctic reaching the location where later a “Thule” culture started coming back the other way. (Was “Thule” ethnically a daughter to “Dorset” or the original White Sea culture coming to the Canadian arctic having travelled in the other direction over top of Siberia?) The “Dorset” culture appeared around 3500 BC, which coincides with the “Komsa” culture that stayed in the Norwegian north instead of migrating north-south.


Fig 9

If we look at a map of the world’s ocean currents, it becomes very clear what happened. Considering that the early oceanic boat people had small skin boats and were probably not particularly evolved in the use of sails, they must have simply followed the currents. A map of the world’s ocean currents can give us a good idea where early ocean-travellers without navigation skills or sails might have travelled. Below we look only at the North Atlantic.
The above map shows how the Gulf Stream, also known as the North Atlantic Drift, crosses the open part of the ocean from the American coast below Newfoundland, and heads to the waters of arctic Norway, then the currents turn in counter-clockwise circles. These circles could be exploited by oceanic hunters, to create a circuit to follow annually or over a longer period. The main circuits are given above by letters A, B, and C. The first oceanic boat people, those coming to the White Sea with moose-skin boats, could have travelled in circuit A, because such a circuit would have brought them to the region of Sørøya where moose-head boat images are carved. The archeological “Komsa” culture too lay on the edge of circuit A. Significantly, the regions of the Norwegian coast where some 3000 images have been found carved on rock, at Alta, Norway, and which has since 1985 been declared a World Heritage Site, lies close to the junction of circuits A and B. Furthermore Alta lies at the mouth of a river that extends inland–meaning all interior boat peoples could travel there too.
If the culture in circuit A was successful, its population would have grown, and a break-off group would have wandered out of circuit A in the direction of Greenland and soon found themselves in circuit B. The home base for this circuit was perhaps the Lofoten Islands area. Circuit B would also have had a camp at the east end of Iceland. Note that, although the British Isles are somewhat towards the south, history shows that seagoing “Finns” appeared at the north end of the Shetland Island. Clearly they would have belonged to circuit B. Such people stayed several years, suggesting the tribe did not meet annually but over longer periods of time, so that the bands would not need to travel this large circuit within a year.
Finally, by breaking out of circuit B towards Greenland, groups could have travelled towards Davis Strait, and found themselves in circuit C. Evidence suggests that Greenland Inuit whalers of the 16th century did indeed follow this circuit. Earlier, the “Dorset” culture may have travelled in circuit C. But note that while circuit B will allow return to th Norwegian coast, once groups reach circuit C, they cannot easily go back, except by paddling against the current near Greenland, or by travelling for a month across the open Atlantic. This need to travel for a month or more through the open Atlantic meant that IF boat-people had arisen in North America, it is unlikely anyone who got caught in the Gulf Stream would have been prepared with adequate food and fresh water to survive the trip. For that reason, we have to view North America being visited by people across the North Atlantic, not the opposite.


Fig 10
The rock carvings at Alta, Norway, were pecked into granite, from 7000 to 2000 years ago, and much of it portrays inland animals that could be accessed by heading inland. At this latitude there is a river from the interior and no mountain barrier. It could have brought Finnic forest boat-peoples to the coast in summers.

Fig 11

As at Lake Onega, there are many depictions of boats, large and small, and the act of fishing, sealing, etc.The earliest moosehead boat is shown. Compare with the moosheadboatimages above. What is evident is that in due course the Alta area was perhaps settled and so moosehead boats were replaced by reindeerhead boats.

Fig 12

Fig 13

People often fail to notice the reindeer head. This is very important as it is the origin of all traditions of an animal-head (sometimes seen as a “Dragon-head”) at the prow, including those in Japan where it must have arrived via the Ainu aboriginals of Japan.
The tradition of a skin boat honouring the head of the animal, apparently in earlier times was carried on even when the animal was walrus. Many Inuit walrus-skin umiaks had the walrus head at the prow. The tradition was apparent even in the 18th century in the British outer islands in the boat the Irish called curragh The adjacent image reproduces a section of a drawing of such a boat. By that time, skin boats were made of ox-hide, and so as we would expect, there is an ox head on the prow.The significance of the curragh having the head at the prow is that the sea-harvesters around the British Isles, were part of the same cultural and probably linguistic milieu as all the other skin boat peoples, and thus the original language and culture around Britain was of a Finnic type, ie derived from boat peoples rather than land-based Europeans.

Fig 14

When we consider Alta in relation to the ocean currents, it is clear that there must have been, by accident or design, north Atlantic crossings through the millenia, basically taking the same route as the Icelandic Norse did–going with the currents and winds, and preferably keeping land (ie Greenland coast) in sight. If there were Atlantic crossings that contributed to the Inuit or Algonquian cultures of northern North America, this Alta region, could very well have been the origin of the voyagers. The map above, thus includes the location of Alta, to show how logical it is to propose that there has always been a trickle of ocean crossings for 7000 years.
If this is so, then images of skin boats, with their characteristic animalhead thing at the prow, should appear in rock art in the Algonquian region of Canada. Although some of the images can be argued to depict recent rock paintings of recent European boats, there are some images that are quite old and have the required characteristics of a north Norwegian skin boat — prow has a head and goes straight down, instead of being curved like a wooden boat.

Fig 15

It is possible that people arrived in skin boats and then changed to dugouts (or invented the birchbark canoe) for going into the interior. The adjacent image from one of the older Canadian rock painting sites at Bon Echo appears to depict a skin boat with an animal head. Not the shape of the boat is consistent with skin boats at Alta, that is, the bow goes straight down. There is no question this is an Alta type skin boat much like the one shown in one of the illustrations above.

It is reasonable to assume that the earliest migrations were current-dependent. Reading the currents would let them navigate well. Knowing the currents, if they did nothing but drift, they would end up back in familiar territory. Later use of sails complicated matters, because the sailors were now departing from the rock solid patterns of ocean current, and dealing with less certain behaviours of the wind. For that it was necessary to develop navigations skills that ascertained position with the help of counting the days and looking at the sky. That came later. The following map shows the manner in which oceanic peoples would have spread from the White Sea area, westward over top of Scandinavia and then, with success, continuing into empty niches in the ocean. As in the case of the expansion of the original dugout boats, we assume that initially the oceanic environment originally has no humans, so that expansion from the arctic Norway region is unopposed.
The evidence that the main base for the expansion of oceanic boat peoples was at Alta, Norway, where a great abundance of rock carvings have been found including images of men harvesting the sea in boats with both moose heads and reindeer heads. There are also images of hunting reindeer from boats as they cross water. This region of Norway has been the traditional home of the “Finns” and northern Norway was called “Finnmark” (just as the region Sweden claimed that was inhabited still by natives, was called “Finnlanda”) The term “Finn” used in the Germanic languages of historic Norway and Sweden, was a term that generally referred to the aboriginal peoples of Scandinavia. This included people who hunted in forests, harvested the seas, and tended to reindeer herds. The first two – the seacoast people and the interior hunters – were truly of boat-people traditions. The third group, the one who tended to reindeer herds and who today refer to themselves as Saami are and were a little different, in that they were not boat peoples. Indeed their reindeer-dependent culture obviously originated from the same ancestal reindeer people as the Samoyeds towards the east in arctic Russia. What happened? I think it is a very simple matter. Originally arctic Scandinavia only had the reindeer people in the interior, following their reindeer herds. And then around 4000BC, with the development of the skin boat, and the discovery of harvesting the ocean off arctic Norway, boat people moved in, first staying seasonally, and then staying permanently (ie Komsa Culture). A situation developed (looking at the Komsa situation), in which sea-harvesting skin-boat people, were found along the coast, and reindeer people in the interior. Because they each had different ways of life, they were not competitive, and contacts would have developed between the boat people and reindeer people. In the large spans of time, the two groups would have merged through intermarriage, resulting in the Saami. The modern Saami clearly reflect their mixed origins. On the one hand they maintain reindeer-management traditions that are very ancient, and on the other hand, their appearance is quite European now, and their language is so Finnic in character that it has been included in the Finnic languages.
Unlike some people, I don’t find the origins of the Saami to be a particularly complicated problem. Common sense says that originally there must have been reindeer hunters following reindeer herds, who originated from the same stock as the Samoyeds to the east who also still maintain reindeer. And then Finnic boat peoples came up from the south, and eventually many stayed there, to intermarry with reindeer hunters. This did not happen towards the east, in arctic Russia, because the expansion of the Finnic skin-boat peoples was biased in the westerly direction where the warming Atlantic current nurtured an abundance of sea life.

Fig 16

Map 3. The map above develops further from the previous map which depicted the initial expansion of the dugout boat peoples. This map primarily adds the expansion of oceanic people using seaworthy skin boats (lighter blue). It also proposes some specific zones of the original boat peoples. Some explanation is needed: “Brito-Belgic” refers to boat peoples around the coast of the North Sea and into the Rhine. The gathering place for this tribe would have been the Rhine; “Suevo-Aestic” refers to the south Baltic zone, that in later history was occupied by the tribes the Romans called Suebi or Suevi, and the Aestii of the eastern coast (both of which were originally Finnic). Their major congregating site was at the mouth of the Vistula. Archeologically speaking, the Magelemose culture, associated with the earliest boat peoples, would include both the “Brito-Belgic” and “Suevo-Aestic” zones. Archeological study would also identify a “Volgic” group, whose extent reached up to Lake Onega, and interracted with the Finnic groups at Lake Onega. (Interraction of several cultures is evidences by overlap of artifacts in the same area.) Archeology has also confirmed a “Megalithic” culture that went from Portugal, up to the British Isles and by 2000BC also across to northern Denmark. The only speculative detail in the map is the choice of calling the people who occupied rivers that drained from the north down into the Black Sea as “Venedic”. See the next section for some comments about “Venetic” traders that developed from boat people exploiting their familiarity with boat travel for trading purposes.

Note, as always: a)Boat people are not in territorial conflict with land-based people such as farmers. Because the boat people lived in watery areas, and farmers sought high, open, ground, they would not often come into contact. b)These maps do not deal with the land-based peoples partly because land-based peoples are amply covered in other scholarly literature, and partly because land-based cultures can exist in the same regions as the water based cultures and showing both on the same map would complicate matters. This study is about boat-people, a highly neglected subject to date.

The Boat-People And Farmer/Herders

During the great expansion of boat peoples, all the rivers that emptied into the northern seas were highways that the could be used to travel into the interior of Europe. As the boat peoples paddled up the rivers, the waterways became smaller, and soon they were prevented from continuing where the creeks and springs were too small for boats. Unless they wanted to drag heavy dugouts through the forest to the next water system, they did not go further. However there were some places where entering another water system that drained south was easily done from the northern water basins. One example might be the transfer from the Rhine to the Danube. As already mentioned, the original boat-people expansion entered the Volga, and eventually produced the Volgic subdivision of the Finno-Ugrian family.
But the easiest southward flowing waterway to enter from the north was probably the Dneiper. Rivers draining into the Baltic and rivers draining into the Black Sea seem to have shared source waters, the same marsh areas. Thus it is valid to propose that the boat people originally occupied the entire region from the Baltic to the Black Sea (shown in Map 3 as “Venetic”) Note that the Dneiper and rivers like the Bug and Dneister, all flowed to the Black Sea. One of the implications of this is that boat-people on these rivers were most inclined of all of the boat people to make contact with the farmer-herder peoples and their civilizations in the south around the Black Sea. For this reason, I believe that they were the origins of the Venedi/Veneti who appear in Homer’s Iliad as the “Eneti of Paphlagonia”, the region on the south coast of the Black Sea, on the west side. They came to the aid of Troy. Troy’s location at the entry to the ancient Hellespont by which ships sailed from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, is good reason for coming to its aid, if the Eneti were traders.
It is because boat-people in the Dneiper, Bug, and Dneister had easy access to the Black Sea area and the developing farming civilizations there, that I have covered these river water basins with the “Venedi” designation in the above map. Volga too was used for trade: the Volga flowed into the Caspian Sea but one could get from the Volga to the Black Sea. as well.
Obviously, southward travelling boat people encountered land-people in the south engaged in farming activities. But there would not have been any conflict in their meeting. It is important to bear in mind that boat-people and land-people can co-exist because they live in different environments and economic activities . On the other hand. hunting people fought hunting people over hunting territories. Farmers fought farmers over farmland. Fisher-people fought fisher-people over fishing ground. Reindeer people fought other reindeer people who attempted to take an animal from their herd. But people in different circumstances from one another had no basis for quarreling. Instead they would interact. (If one group eventually became dominant with respect to the other, it would occur in passive, not active, ways. In North America, the native hunter-fisher-gatherers of the wilderness were never directly in conflict with the European settlers. Still, they came to an end passively by the settlers cutting down the wilderness when they made farmland.)
Scholars constantly make the serious error of assuming that the presence of one people in a region excludes the presence of another. It is true if both peoples are of a similar nature, but not true if they represent two different ways of life that do not conflict with one another. Growing your own food did not conflict with catching food from the wild, hunting reindeer did not conflict with harvesting the sea, and so on.
Thus it was possible for farmers or herders to develop in the lands between the rivers of Europe that were dominated by boat-peoples, if these interior lands were suitable for farming or herding. This was the case of the region north of the Black Sea. This region, moreover, had grasslands where horses could flourish. It was a location where nomadic horse-hunters could evolve.
Moving from the Black Sea towards the Vistula it was a very marshy landscape, not very attractive to farming. But going north beside the Dneiper one found high ground. It was over such high ground that farmer-herders moved and settled, in several waves, the last wave being Slavs pushing out the Balts. Other expansions followed the central European highlands towards the region now Germany, as well as south into the Alps.
Thus peoples living in their separate economic niches, co-existed. They did not need to dominate the other as would be the case if the two had been similar, trying to claim the same economic niche. But in the long run, after many generations, the two dissimilar peoples could combine the best of their two cultures and produce a new one that was superior to the original two. (I have already discussed above the obvious merging on boat peoples and reindeer peoples in arctic Scandinavia, giving rise to the reindeer Saami.) But it would only develop if the combined culture was better than the original ones in their pure form. The resulting mixed culture, if it were more successful, would produce more offspring and crowd out the older distinctive cultures. The ethnicity, the language, of this mixed culture would depend on which tradition was the most important in the way of life, forming the core of the mixed culture. In the north Baltic area, for example, the successful result was a combination of hunting-gathering-fishing plus a settlement with limited farming, plus trading. A little of everything. Other ways of life faded out of existence since the most successful ones produced the larger populations.
In other instances, the pure original culture was the best, and two different peoples would endure side by side. An example would be the boat-oriented trader whose nomadic life on water, was so opposite to that of the farmer, that any compromise would reduce the ability of either to do their job well. It may be the reason the Basques endured. They were too much out in the ocean to merge with Indo-European agricultural ways.

Proposed New Structure of the Family Tree of Reindeer and Boat People

In the above study, we propose that the original “Uralic” language defined by the linguists, was actually the proto-language of northern Europe in the late Ice Age, and that one group, the reindeer hunters continued with the reindeer into the north, becoming the “Samoyeds” and the other group stayed in the marshlands of the Baltic and North Seas for a while – until they had developed a new boat-oriented way of life – becoming the “Finno-Ugrians”. The “Samoyeds” then settled in the arctic above the tree line with their reindeer herds, while the “Finno-Ugrians” expanded rapidly from Britain to the Urals, with their new boat-oriented way of life. Subsequently the “Finno-Ugrians” settled into the various water systems, and their languages began to diverge from one another according to geographical separation, leading the the modern Finno-Ugric linguistic divisions which correspond with water systems. (Ob-Ugrians in the Ob River; Permians in the Kama River; Volga-Finns in the Volga River; Balto-Finns around the Gulf of Finland basin).
The original linguists’ theory started with the “Uralic” family, and showed it dividing between Samoyeds and Finno-Ugrians.That is still fundamentally true, except it probably occurred in Northern Europe and perhaps as early as 12000 years ago. The following tree, in attempting to make the separation between them more like 12000 years or more, proposes the split occurred aready back in continental Europe when people who eventually became boat-people stayed behind while the reindeer people continued north with the herds.

Fig 16

THE ABOVE TREE DIAGRAM WAS DESIGNED PURELY FROM ALL THE ARCHEOLOGICAL AND LINGUISTICS etc DATA IN 2002, BUT NOTE HOW CLOSELY IT CORRESPONDS TO THE Y-STY CHROMOSOME CHART IN “Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution” by Lutz Roewer, Peter J.P Croucher, et al. , 2005. SEE MY Noc 2010 PAPER Y-STR-PAABO.pdf WHERE YOU WILL FIND MY INTERPRETATION OF THE BOAT PEOPLE STORY SUPERIMPOSED ONTO THE CHART DEVELOPED BY THE STUDY. SEE BELOW FOR A SUMMARY.(some of the differences include that “URALIC LANGUAGES” should be only the Boat people languages, leaving the Reindeer people separate, and that it seems “MIDDLE FINNIC” and “EAST FINNIC” should be one group, which then splits between east and west side of the Baltic – which makes more sense. The above map is in the light of the Y-STR analysis a little rough, and I will develop a new one shortly. The tree superimposed on the black genetics tree chart makes much more sense in many respects) – A.P. Nov 2010


The above diagram includes boat-peoples not yet acknowledged to be connected to the Finno-Ugrians, and excludes others we may bring into the tree from Siberia and the Pacific side of the world. In general the diagram describes how peoples who became boat-peoples separated from the main body of reindeer hunters, then subdivided and travelled in numerous directions as suggested by the complexity of the tree under the boat-people branch.
Note how the reindeer hunters remained more or less where they were without any dramatic changes . The reason the reindeer hunters did not produce dramatic migrations or expansions is that they were tied to their reindeer herds and so could not go anywhere else than the reindeer herds. The wild reindeer herd populations in turn were regulated by nature and geography. All they could do was to domesticate their herd to make them more productive to support a larger population of humans. But they could not move away from their herds.
On the other hand, the boat peoples were free to travel quickly over water, anywhere water would carry them; and they could hunt and fish whatever they could find. That gave them enormous freedom to expand and travel. That is why they soon expanded world-wide. My diagram suggests that they reached North America.
Missing from the diagram are their travels into Siberia and beyond: the Ainu of Japan, sea peoples of the Pacific, etc. Can we find evidence of an ultimate origin for them in northern Europe? One institution that appears to have begun in northern Europe is the animal head on the prow of a boat. This practice has continued down through the ages in the various ‘Dragon Boats’ and finally we see it as an ornament on the hood of an automobile. The practice may date back to the very first skin boat, made of a single moose hide with head left attached, situated on the prow. Images of these boats are found in the European arctic, carved in rocks, and date to as early as 6000 years ago.. I discuss this separately elsewhere.
Note that the reindeer hunters, not being water-people, would not be included in a tree of UI-RA-LA,but the reindeer hunters without doubt were the parents to UI-RA-LA boat peoples.

Extent of Expansion of Boat People

So far we have been looking at Europe and the north Atlantic. There is no question that the boat-peoples expanded everywhere that their boats woud take them.


Fig 17

The most interesting observation that can be made of the above current map, is that once there were boat capable of ocean waves – and the arctic skin boats fit that requirement – migrations throughout arctic waters was easy as land was close together. The notion that there were contacts by boat, between Europe and North America via the North Atlantic, or between east Asia and North America via the North Pacific, at the earliest times, is so obvious that one wonders why it has to be debated. If we show that there are certain words in common between Finnic languages and Inuit language, should we be surprised? And yet, scholars feel it needs to be debated. This theory, as presented here, should not even need to be a large issue. It is so obvious. All we need to do is to establish that there were seaworthy skin boats in arctic Norway some 6000 years ago – and this is clearly evidenced in rock carvings; that there were people who harvested the sea; and that there were sea currents that would have helped men in such boats to venture towards North America into the North American arctic and down the Labrador coast. Every requirement is present.
It is true there may be a need to debate crossings through the centers of the oceans. Those journeys would required plenty of fresh water on board, as well as food. Did Polynesians cross the middle of the Pacific? Did sea peoples from the Iberian coast cross the middle of the Atlantic to visit the Bahamas? Were the latter Atlantians. There is plenty to debate when we consider crossings through large spans of open water. But there is no reason to debate the prospect of seaworthy skin boats following the edge of sea ice, the coast of Greenland, and allowing ocean currents to carry them.
But not in the north. There was plenty of places to land, to fetch fresh water (or freshwater snow), and to procure food along the way. There was NOTHING to prevent circumpolar adventures if there were men with an adventurous spirit (or indeed, men who got lost, but were still able to survive off the land and sea.) The idea that ALL original arctic peoples were basically the same people, from the same origin, should be an established obvious fact in our body of knowledge.
We have focussed on the evolution of boat peoples in northern Europe and their expansions, including by sea across the North Atlantic. However, they certainly also travelled across the top of Siberia, and down various rivers that drained into the arctic. We need to look closely at the large rivers that feed into the Arctic Ocean. The Ob River system still has Finno-Ugrian water people on them – the Khanti. They still have dugouts, and their traditions speak of long trade journeys into Mongolia and northern India. The Hungarian language is closest to them, but how the Hungarian language came south to where is is now has not been considered to any great extent. Then there are the historic “Huns”. Hungarians claim they had nothing to do with “Huns” and that they originate from “Magyars”. But what if the Magyars are nothing more than a community of Huns who settled north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile history tells us that the Huns who fought the Romans also settled in the region now Hungary, and indeed that is the source of the name. The name “Hun” is so close to “Khanti”, that it seems to me the “Huns” may have evolved from a trade colony of Khanti, established at the upper reaches of the Ob River system.
To the east of the Ob, is a similarly large water system, the Yenisey. Together the Ob and Yenisey hold a vast region of swamp where water-people could have flourished.
The third major northward-flowing river is the Lena. It reaches south to the vicinity of Lake Baikal. Also, at the curve of the Lena, the tributaries are such that it would not be very difficult to cross over to the Pacific, if a water people every tried it. The Lena River has produced interesting rock carvings and paintings depicting people in boats who were very interested in moose (British “elk”). This too is a subject for further study, especially since the rock carvings and paintings bear similarities to ones already described, in Alta, Norway, and on rock walls in northern North America..


The preceding has been a general introduction to the theory and concept of a special branch of humanity who left land and took to the seas. Being five times more mobile than people on foot, and finding the water-world to be uninhabited by humans, they expanded everywhere that boats could go, and UI-RA-LA describes this world of original water-peoples of about 6000-4000 years ago, who may have passively spread everywhere in their following of coasts.


Because most of the theory is based mostly on commonly accepted information, most of the information for which references are not given in the text, come from most textbooks, etc. One book as being very important: Eesti Esiajalugu, Jaanits et al, 1982, Tallinn. Other special sources of data, pictures, quotes are given immediately within the text.

THIS UPDATE – Nov 2009

© A. Pääbo 2002-2006

In the case of references, the practice of this Blog and all my Blogs in general has been to default to the English Wikipedia. Since I know where Paabo is is coming from, I personally do not find fault with the statement “most of the information for which references are not given in the text, come from most textbooks, etc” BUT I realise that many readers WILL object to such a statement and demand more references. Therefore I shall amplify where possible.

Under the main entry “Uralic Languages” comes a series of suggested continuities with other language families and hypothetical Superfamilies:
Possible relations with other families
Many relationships between Uralic and other language families have been suggested, but none of these are generally accepted by linguists at the present time.


Main article: Ural–Altaic languages

Theories proposing a close relationship with the Altaic languages were formerly popular, based on similarities in vocabulary as well as in grammatical and phonological features, in particular the similarities in the Uralic and Altaic pronouns and the presence of agglutination in both sets of languages, as well as vowel harmony in some. For example, the word for “language” is similar in Estonian (keel) and Mongolian (??? (hel)). These theories are now generally rejected[15] and most such similarities are attributed to coincidence or language contact, and a few to possible relationship at a deeper genetic level.


Main article: Indo-Uralic languages

The Indo-Uralic (or Uralo-Indo-European) theory suggests that Uralic and Indo-European are related at a fairly close level or, in its stronger form, that they are more closely related than either is to any other language family. It is viewed as certain by a few linguists and as possible by a larger number.


Main article: Uralic–Yukaghir languages

The Uralic–Yukaghir theory identifies Uralic and Yukaghir as independent members of a single language family. It is currently widely accepted that the similarities between Uralic and Yukaghir languages are due to ancient contacts.[16] Regardless, the theory is accepted by a few linguists and viewed as attractive by a somewhat larger number.


Main article: Eskimo–Uralic languages

The Eskimo–Uralic theory associates Uralic with the Eskimo–Aleut languages. This is an old thesis whose antecedents go back to the 18th century. An important restatement of it is Bergsland 1959.


Main article: Uralo-Siberian languages

Uralo-Siberian is an expanded form of the Eskimo–Uralic hypothesis. It associates Uralic with Yukaghir, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, and Eskimo–Aleut. It was propounded by Michael Fortescue in 1998.


Main article: Nostratic languages

Nostratic associates Uralic, Indo-European, Altaic, and various other language families of Asia. The Nostratic theory was first propounded by Holger Pedersen in 1903 and subsequently revived by Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky in the 1960s.


Main article: Eurasiatic languages

Eurasiatic resembles Nostratic in including Uralic, Indo-European, and Altaic, but differs from it in excluding the South Caucasian languages, Dravidian, and Afroasiatic and including Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Nivkh, Ainu, and Eskimo–Aleut. It was propounded by Joseph Greenberg in 2000–2002. Similar ideas had earlier been expressed by Björn Collinder (1965:30–34).


The theory that the Dravidian languages display similarities with the Uralic language group, suggesting a prolonged period of contact in the past,[17] is popular amongst Dravidian linguists and has been supported by a number of scholars, including Robert Caldwell,[18] Thomas Burrow,[19] Kamil Zvelebil,[20] and Mikhail Andronov.[21] This theory has, however, been rejected by some specialists in Uralic languages,[22] and has in recent times also been criticised by other Dravidian linguists such as Bhadriraju Krishnamurti.[23]

All of these theories are minority views at the present time in Uralic studies.

Other theories

Various unorthodox comparisons have been advanced such as Finno-Basque and Hungaro-Sumerian. These are considered spurious by specialists.[24]

[See also Dene-Caucasian languages:  Wikipedia_Dene_Caucasian_languages ]
[“Considered spurious” does not discount the relationships as  possible under larger headings such as the Nostratic, which would encompass the smaller groups such as Hungarian (Magyar) and Sumerian without quibbling. In this case it is necessary to make note of all of these hypothetical connections because Paabo shall be citing most of them.   Best Wishes, Dale D.]

Posted by Dale Drinnon at 9:27 AM

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Labels: Andres Paabo, Circumpolar Mesolithic, Hyperboria, Nostratic Languages, Uralic Languages



DrusinJanuary 25, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Köszönöm as always


DrusinJanuary 25, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Between the ancient ice sheet and the Italian Alps a narrow corridor would have existed explaining the similarities of Magyar and Finnish. I have been fortunate enough to visit Budapest a couple of times, anyone whose heard Hungarian can relate, it just sounds ancient.


DrusinJanuary 25, 2012 at 10:02 AM

It means thank you and is pronounced “couw-soo-noom”


Dale DrinnonJanuary 25, 2012 at 1:34 PM

BTWm, the theory had gone that the CroMagnons making the Solutrean Crossing into America were using hide boats like umiaks.

And in case you are wondering, I definitely relate the “Venedic” peoples of Eastern Russia to the VEDAS.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


GJNMarch 3, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Thanks for the great articles, Farley Mowat is a brave man to venture into even mentioning an european presence in Canada, please don’t diss our national hero, yes I am Canadian and I’ve lived amongst the Inuit.

Food for thought…the inuit have a verbal history of little people who previously occupied the north…I would love your thoughts on that one.

in a nutshell, I think these pygmyesque people predated the influx of people from siberia, potentially the original settlers of North America came from Europe?

in simple terms, these little people were destroyed by the newcomers from Siberia, aboriginal peoples in Canada believe that they have always been here, it would be an absolute upset if it were shown that the people who came thousands of years later (europeans), were actually following in the footsteps of thier ancestors, the original settlers of NA.

Farley is brave in the way that his thoughts may be interpreted by aboriginal peoples in Canada, not only pride, but land claims, monetarial settlements for displacement and other issues of psuedo-nationalism within the Canadian content are at risk of being upset with this train of thought. Caucasian skeletons have disappeared, beacons have been torn down, long house foundations destroyed on spec that there may be some validity to these claims.

obviously Mr. Mowat has had to fill in some gaps, I think it would be worth working with his thoughts rather than against them. Consider him as a pioneer, and yourselves as well in this field, work together to fill the voids, I’m sure there are some fascinating discoverys awaiting that will completely change the way we look at the spread of people throughout the north.

Thanks again, really enjoyed reading your articles.

GJN Physical Geographer, Concordia University, Montreal


Dale DrinnonMarch 3, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Not strictly “The original” but “Among the original” colonists of North America. It seems fairly certain that other more primitive people s preceeded them, and we have various indicators that Neanderthaloids were first ie, the earliest colonists were “prehuman” as we generally understand the term). But while making that allowance your comments are certainly both useful and pertinent.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

More on Uralics Part 2

Illustration of Inside a Broch


located at




The Voyages of the Whale Hunters

by Andres Pääbo

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.


Introduction : From Dugouts to Skin Boats

The theory of the expansion of Boat Peoples from the watery lands south of the Ice Age glaciers ( THE ORIGINS AND EXPANSIONS OF BOAT-ORIENTED WAYS OF LIFE : Basic Introduction to the Theory ), proposes that the first boats arose from logs converted to carry people – the dugout canoe. Archeologists have not found very many canoes since most have rotted away. Only a few have been found – or parts of them – preserved in bogs. The greatest testimony to it are adzes. Stone adzes have been found in great quantity, and for some reason scholars have looked on them as just another tool along with knives and axes, whereas they were the most important tool as it supported the entire growth of the dugout boat based expansion across the north from Britain to the Urals.
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.

From the “Kunda” archeological finds, the image at right shows a large harpoon and an adze head -used for hollowing a log for a dugout with the help of fire.

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.

Theory by Andres PaaboThe 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 skin boat was designed to deal with the high waves of the open sea. By lengthening the boat it could hold more people, and a large boat with many people was needed to catch the ultimate of sea creatures – the whale.


The Lake Onega large boat, obviously made of skins on a frame. The moose head, perhaps now carved of wood instead of a mummified real head is seen at the front. At the front of this image we see what is pobably a seal.

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)

The above illustration is very surprising, because it first of all proves that the large boat shown in the Lake Onega rock carvings is not some kind of fantasy boat, as early archeologists said. It really existed. It was needed for whale hunting. Compare this technique with that used by Greenland Inuit in the 18th century, as depicted in the following old illustration. It is exactly the same activity, proving that the White Sea whale hunters of 5000-6000 BC were basically the same people.

Greenland ‘Eskimo’ 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 (This image derived from Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from earliest times by O. P. Dickason, Toronto, 1992)

Note in the above illustration the gathering of clans, each clan presumably with its own large skin boat. Whale hunting needs the cooperation of all the clans of a tribe, as in the ancient pictures. The only difference is that the Greenland ‘Eskimo’ skin boats are unique in appearance, having adapted over thousands of years to the use of skins of other animals than the moose, and other conditions, since they lived far from the land of the moose.

Map shows ocean currents of the North Atlantic and some of the names mentioned in this text. The names in quotes represent archeological “cultures”. ALTA and ONEGA name two major locations of rock carvings showing boats, dating to 6000 years ago. The letters A, B, C show areas where currents loop around. Since early boats were not particularly wind-driven, they would have been oriented to currents, and each of these loops could have defined a tribe undertaking migrations that may have lasted many years before returning to the same place.

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


The fact that there are today ‘Eskimo’ peoples in Greenland, and that only a few centuries ago they hunted whales in their large skin boats called umiaks, proves that there were sea-going peoples who could easily have travelled anywhere in the northern ocean if they had a mind to. Why they didn’t is easy to understand. Hunters were tied to their prey. If their prey were whales, then they travelled in sync with the migrations of whales. That was very much like reindeer hunters, adapting to the migratory patterns of particular herds. Each tribe claimed ownership of a particular herd.
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.

The Linguistic Ties Across the Arctic

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.


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.
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.)


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 Further Expansions of the Seagoing Skin-Boat People

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.


This map shows ocean currents for the entire world, plus in pink, obvious routes that boats without sails would have taken, using currents to move them along. For explanation of names UINI, see background article UINI- UENNE – UENETI: Are Ancient Boat People identifiable by Names? The so called “dragon boats” in Japan are obviously descended from the moosehead skin boats too, as much as the Viking “dragon boats”. Once boats were made of wood skin, the origins of that head at the front was forgotten and boat-builders began to play with it. Whale-hunting traditions are still remembered down the Pacific coast of North America as well, notably around Vancouver Island and down the Oregon coast.

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.

These images from the Alta carvings depict skin boats
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 Pacific – Southward Migration of Whale Hunters

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?) .



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’)


Investigating the Ainu from the point of view of both Inuit and Finnic languages, as well as seagoing boat culture, is certain to produce results (especially since the dragon-boat can be linked back to the moosehead boat, even if the boat reverts to wood.) But we leave it to another time. My concentration has been on the appearance of whaling on the North American coast. We begin with the linguistic evidence – words in languages of the Pacific coast of North America, that seem to have parallels in Estonian/Finnish.
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.

The East Pacific – The Wakashan Whale Hunters

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.


Map showing the traditional location of the Wakashan Languages which appear to have deep roots and whaling traditions. Kwakwala language, described next, belongs to the North Wakashan group and occupies the largest area (hatched area). All of the Wakashan groups have whaling in their traditions, some more strongly than others.


The East Pacific – Investigating the Kwakwala Language

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.


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:

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.
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!’

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-
QÄSÄ ‘walking’
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.

Mythological Parallels Through the Skin Boat World

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.

Archival photo, depicts spiritual preparations done by the whalers before they headed out into the sea to hunt. The Nootka nation belongs linguistically to the South Wakashan grouping.

reproduced from Indian Primitive, R.W. Andrews, Superior Publ., Seattle 1960

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:

Summary: The Expansions Continue

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.



updated 2009





Addressing the Debate Raised in Farley Mowat’s “Farfarers”


Author Farley Mowat stirred up debate in his 1998 book Farfarers when he created an elaborate theory that explained mysterious rock arrangements on the Labrador coast of Canada as foundations of “longhouses” as the work of walrus hunters from the Northern British Isles he called “Albans”. The mystery of how these longhouses were roofed was simple, he said – they came in skin boats of the curragh variety found in Britain until the last century, and overturned them. Along with this theory, he wove an original story with regards to the history of the British Isles. His theories were immediately dismissed by the scholarly world as sheer fantasy. It is all too easily to disagree with a theory, and offer no alternative. The following article addresses Mowat’s thesis, and offers an alternative perspective that is in keeping with my theory of the expansion of skin-boat peoples as presented in SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of the Whale Hunters
It is valuable to at least scan the above general article to better understand the concepts peresented here.





The idea of Europeans crossing the Atlantic in ancient times has a double standard, one standard used by archeologists and others who think of aboriginal peoples as real humans, and another standard used in popular thinking, which treats the aboriginal peoples of the world in much the same way as it does animals – part of the background – as if only the behaviour of the “advanced” civilized person means anything.
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.

(left) typical cyllindrical pillar of rocks used as beacons to be visible from the sea, and (right)Pamiok Longhouse No. 2 site after reproduction page 8 of The Farfarers:Before the Norse, Mowat, Toronto, 1998


An example of a “longhouse foundation” , and typical cylindrical pillar of rocks seemingly acting as ‘beacons’ to be seen from the sea found on the Labrador Coast of Canada. They were the subject of debate, that spawned Farley Mowat’s book, Farfarers: Before the Norse. Question: who made the “longhouse foundations” and how did they cover them when the environment lacked building materials other than stone and sod?

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?

How Did It All Begin

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. )


This illustration of whale-hunting is impressive. It shows clearly just how sophisticated the northwestern Atlantic seagoing aboriginals were in terms of having mastered a way of life harvesting the sea. What is shown must represent the culmination of millenia of sea-harvesting traditions specially designed for the North Atlantic, traditions that may date back to origins in arctic Scandinavia. I presented the following illustration from rock carvings dating to some 5000-6000BC in SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of the Whale Hunters


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 archeologist of the site, Tom Lee, interpreted the distribution of rocks and turf as a broken turf and rock wall, and used the loose rocks to build a speculative reconstruction which is shown in Farfarers page 7. If the skin boat comes apart easily, if the skins can be easily removed by several men via the poles, and if the poles themselves become supports, then we have all the ingredients for shelter. A shelter and an umiak cannot exist at the same time. And that is what is suggested in the illustration – the boats appear to contain everybody (other than those placed temporarily on rock islands) – men, women, children.
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.


Conception of he Pamiok No. 2 site with a tent made using 2 umiak skins including the poles that formed the skin boat sides..

One would expect that the interior would have had arrangements of stones for fireplaces, sleeping platforms, etc. In my interpretation, shown in the illustration, most of the interior stones actually belong in the interior, and the fewer stones around the edges were never used as a wall, but simply piled on the edges of the tent to hold down the edges. Turf pieces sealed the cracks. Repeated use meant the site’s edges always looked broken down since they were never built up.
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.

The large number of such “longhouse sites” in the region of Ungava Bay suggests it was a congregating area for clans. Indeed a major hunting site was nearby. As mentioned above, while clans moved through the environment independently, they congregated at special locations of abundance and activity of larger scope that many clans could better perform together.

The Cylindrical Beacons – Seemingly Used Around the Entire North Atlantic


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.

Mowat’s map of the cylindrical beacons in the Canadian arctic shows them widely distributed on the Canadian east and arctic coast. The wide distribution of these “beacons” — in Ungava Bay, Hudson Strait, eastern Hudson Bay, down the Labrador coast, etc — cannot be explained by occasional cross-Altantic visits by Europeans (ie “Albans” or Norse). They were obviously established by sea-going aboriginals of many clans, and over many generations. They could be very old. Once made, there was no reason to remove them. They became permanent landmarks.
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.

The “beacons” are found throughout the North Atlantic (areas in the lighter lines), and it is clear they were made by ancient skin-boat-using aboriginal sea-harvesters of the North Atlantic, who comrpised two divisions (heavier lines). The eastern division has long vanished, while the western division was last represented by the Greenland whale hunters.


A map of the currents of the North Atlantic shows why there would have been a natural division between eastern and western tribes. The circling of the currents encourages one division to be set up mainly around circuit B, and the the other in circuit C. In addition note that the space betwen Iceland and Labrador, without islands, would discourge travel between the two divisions, except along the coast of Greenland. This current along Greenland , travelling east to west would encourage peoples from B, with evolving European racial features , to venture towards the west. The names “Dorset”, “Fosna” and “Komsa” refer to archeological designations of prehistoric cultures in these areas, their artifacts seen along the coasts and islands. I propose they were all related and ultimately has the same origins.

These beacons, placed to be visible from the sea, thus marked the locations of campsites for the nomadic sea-going aboriginals of the North Atlantic. Once an ideal campsite location was established, it would be reused over and over, year after year, and thus it was useful to construct beacons visible from the sea, in order to find the place again and again.

Version of March 2, 2006 – appearance edited Nov09 – may be modified later – may contain errors
© A. Pääbo 2003-2006

–The second article explains how I came to post this on the blog: it was an example of the “Lemurian Tall Ships” theory I was trying to explain to Drusin. I had of course read The Farfarers and in fact I own a copy of the book.
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.

Posted by Dale Drinnon at 6:42 AM

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Labels: Andres Paabo, Circumpolar Culture, Circumpolar Mesolithic, Farfarers, Hide Boats, Hyperboria, Uralic Languages, Whaling

1 comment:


DrusinJanuary 26, 2012 at 11:41 AM

the brochs may have been fortified trading outposts. perhaps you might ask some of your readers to look at the information i’ve been collecting about trade routes and defensive structures at ? I would really appreciate any more insights or information on the matter.


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Friday, January 27, 2012

More on Uralics Part 3

We now come to the third and final chapter of Andres Paabo’s thesis concerning the origins of the Northern peoples, the ones that I call Hyperboreans (Following Herodotus) And which Paabo says are all descendants of the original Uralics from Scandinavia following the end of the Ice Age. This might seem contradictory until you consider the map of the Uralic Urheimat that I added in an earlier blog entry.

It is also well to note that writers speaking of similarities in cultures between the Old World and New World did speak of a boreal zone of cultures which included the subarctic (taiga) regions of both Eurasia and America (primarily) and which shared a number of cultural features not usually seen further south unless the features derived directly from this cultural region. This area included the use of sleds and sleighs, skis and snowshoes, and the extensive use of birch bark (which is also big in the European Mesolithic as well as the Algonquin area) One of the paramount and characteristic features of this cultural zone was use of the sauna (sweatbath)-DD.





Looking at Algonquians, Picts, and Pacific Coast Tribes
Andres Pääbo

When the long-range seagoing peoples expanded around the arctic sea, in their quest for whales, porpoises, walrus, seals, and so on, they became established in whatever new environment contained these sea animals. However all along there was also fish as a mainstay of their lives, and so these people could enter territories in which such large sea-mammals were rare, but fish was plentiful. Since fish (freshwater fish) were also found inland, skin-boat peoples could also travel up rivers and settle inland, thriving on annual harvests of plentiful fish like salmon. This chapter deals with a few identifiable descendant peoples, arising from the original oceanic peoples. These people arose in a very simple way – they descended the coasts from the arctic waters, and adapted to lives that were less dependent on sea mammals and more dependent on fish. The peoples discussed here include the “Picts”, Algonquians, and selected Native peoples of the Pacific coast of North America.
(Note this document is a first version and may have unforseen mistakes in it.)


Introduction : Skin Boats Descend Oceanic Coasts

The theory of the expansion of Boat Peoples from the watery lands south of the Ice Age glaciers ( THE ORIGINS AND EXPANSIONS OF BOAT-ORIENTED WAYS OF LIFE : Basic Introduction to the Theory ), proposes that there was an original expansion across northern Europe of peoples originating in the “Maglemose” archeological culture. PART TWO SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of Whale Hunters looks at the evolution and expansion of the oceanic boat peoples starting with the invention of the skin boat from the moose carcass. We also looked at the Unuit language and found remarkable parallels with Estonian and Finnish, thus producing an echo of the circumpolar movements of whale hunters, and then the Kwakwala language of the Northwest Pacific coast of North America
Obviously if there are sea peoples in the arctic, once they have the capability to do so, they will also start to migrate south along oceanic coasts. Once the skin boat peoples were established in arctic Norway, they were free to migrate southward along the Norwegian coast and into the British Isles, and even further south, establishing people ancestral to the Picts. Similarly once the circumpolar whalers were in the arctic near Greenland, some were free to migrate south along the Labrador coast (the same way the Icelandic Norse ventured south in 1000AD) and establish themselves there, and south to Newfoundland and even further. At the lower end of the Labrador coast was the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, which was the gateway into a large inland water system known as the Great Lakes. They would have travelled into that water system. There they would have become ancestral to the Algonquian speaking peoples, the ones best known for the birch bark skin boats (canoes).
Similarly circumpolar sea peoples arriving at the Bering Strait were free to descend south along the Asian and North American coasts (although ocean currents there favoured the Asian side) We will look at a few Native cultures that were found and recorded at the midpoint of the NorthAmerican coast for cultural and linguistic features that would tie them to the boat-people expansion.
Because voyages across the North Atlantic would begin in the Norwegian arctic waters, we begin our journey with some attention on the great number of rock carvings found at Alta, Norway. I believe that Alta, Norway, was a staging area for many of the migrations that contributed to the culture of the northeast quadrant of North America.

Second Origins from the Interior to Alta Area

While Lake Onega and the White Sea was the first staging area for the expansion of peoples into the northern seas, the coast at Alta, Norway, was the second staging ground. The region of Alta, Norway, was originally under glaciers, so that location did not become relevant until the glaciers had receded, freeing up the coast as well as the interior.


The three maps at right review the concept presented in the main theory of the expansion of boat peoples. In the beginning there were no humans on water (or than creating rafts as needed to cross bodies of water) and north Europe was home to reindeer hunters, each tribe oriented to a particular herd. As the world climate warmed, the reindeer, needing to keep north of the forests, shifted their migrations north and the hunters followed (1). These eventually became the Samoyeds. As the glaciers shrunk, the Kola Peninsula,White Sea, and the emerging Baltic was free of Ice. It was at this time that reindeer hunters could migrate west into the Kola Peninsula (2) (and then further west as the glaciers shrunk) This division of the Samoyeds mixed later with incoming Finnic boat peoples and became the reindeer Saami. And at the same time the new dugout-boat peoples expanded through the north south of the glaciers, eastward until further passage was blocked by the Ural Mountains (3). These formed the foundation of all the Finno-Ugric boat peoples. Finally, with the region of Finland and northern Norway becoming free of ice, and the development of skin boats, many groups of Finnic boat peoples migrated to the northern coasts, to harvest sea life in the arctic seas, especially in the waters warmed by the North Atlantic Drift. (4). Those who remained in the arctic year-round then used the ALTA area coast as a staging location for excursions into the sea both west and south (5)

Alta, Norway is a location that must have been the meeting place for many tribes – tribes who were indigenous and harvested the seas, tribes who arrived seasonally from the interior, and possibly visitors from farther away. The visitors, finding granite hills engraved with carvings, would have added their own at every visit. Such places where many tribes congregate, to trade, exchange news, socialize, and engage in common festivals are well known throughout the world of northern hunting peoples. For example the Lake Onega region was one such place, the region at the mouth of the Vistula another. It is also possible to predict such locations according to the organization of water systems. Such locations appear in archeological investigations as different archeological “cultures” overlapping in that area, suggesting they came together, camped near one another. It is in such locations that sites of religious/spiritual nature can be found.


Alta, Norway granite cliffs are covered with carvings.

The rock carvings in Alta are dated between 6200 and 2000 years old, and made by people who lived by hunting and fishing. Archeological investigation shows that the coastals camps established by these mobile peoples ate much fish, mainly cod. There are no images of a cod, probably for that reason: familiarity. The images are dominated by fishing from boats of all sizes (one shows a crew of 32) made of skin (leather) on a frame. The wildlife depicted include reindeer, elk. bears, dogs and/or wolves, foxes, hares, geese, ducks, swans, cormorants, halibut, salmon and whales. They also depict people, boats, hunting, trapping and fishing scenes, as well as people taking part in dances and ritual acts.

For example they show techniques of capturing reindeer that were still found among the Inuit of arctic North America in this century in respect to the caribou (North American reindeer) These rock carvings were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on Dec 3 1985, the only prehistoric site among four Norwegian sites on a list of sites considered to have particularly great national and international value. Since 1972, about 4000 images have been recognized, dispersed on approximately 60 panels in four separate areas in Alta. The largest is at Hjemmeluft/Jiepmaluokta, where Alta Museum is situated. The Alta carvings ceased to be made around 500AD.


As we noted earlier, with respect to the distribution of the moosehead boats, there was annual migration between wintering in the Lake Onega area and harvesting the White Sea and beyond through the rest of the year. Originally that was entirely the origin of peoples harvesting the Norwegian arctic waters, because glaciers blocked access to the Norwegian arctic from below. But when the glaciers had shrunk, access to the coast from the interior was easy, even easier than today considering the interior lands were more depressed and wet. As a result, a new pattern of migration developed, in this case between the coast in the Alta region, and the interior regions. Indeed the boat journey via the rivers was easy, and the ancient elevated Gulf of Bothnia and the lakelands of what is now Finland were not far away for boat peoples. For this reason it may be possible to make links between the rock paintings on rock faces in Finland and the rock carvings at Alta. The Alta images are carved in granite and thus have preserved themselves well. The Finnish rock paintings are worn and often hard to make out, since paint is not as durable as a carving in granity; but it is reasonable to assume that they are basically from the same peoples. There are large areas in between without any evidence of images for one simple reason – it is marshland and a lack of granite walls or floors.
As in the case of the other source of arctic boat peoples, eventually there would be a tribe who remained in the arctic and did not migrate back into the interior. Although it is obvious from common sense, it is also proven by the fact that the Alta rock carvings show a great number of skin boats with reindeer heads, hence made from reindeer hides. Since the carvings show moosehead boats and some images of moose too, it is likely that Alta became a major meeting place between peoples from the interior and peoples who had become indigenous to the arctic. All the while there are in the northern interior reindeer peoples who had originated from the east, but were now becoming part of the international mix of peoples converging on the area.

Map using the modern topography, shows that Alta was easily accessible because there were no mountains blocking the way, as well as major rivers oriented in suitable directions. The presence of images of moose and some moosehead boats, suggest that some of the visitors to Alta, who made their own carvings at Alta, migrated to and from the coast in this way from the interior. These people depicted in the Alta carvings were, therefore not exclusively oceanic people. It is this sort of people who are the best candidates for peoples like the Algonquians of North America. (Later in time there is also a connection between the coast and the interior at the Lofotens, as discussed later.).





Important to people who scattered into the environment in clans was having places to congregate to affirm large social orders. Several clans formed a tribe, and several tribes formed a ‘people’. The fact that each tribe lived in a different environment, meant that material culture differed, but language and cosmology that was independent of circumstances would have remained largely undifferentiated as long as they congregated to affirm their large social order. .
Besides the tribe, consisting of a number of extended families, being reaffirmed at certain tribal congregating sites, there were places where several tribes could meet. These locations are suggested when archeological artifact material overlaps or has contact. The map shows some locations of overlap which probably were intertribal congregating places. Our interest here with respect to the Atlantic sea-harvesters, is the Alta area. The adjacent map is developed from a learned text on the archeology of northern Europe, that depicts the detectable archeological groupings found in the archeological artifacts. I have proposed certain areas as multi-tribe meeting areas, based on points where three peoples territories meet, as well as major traditions such a rock carving sites. At this early stage, all the archeological cultures shown could have easily spoken the same language, with only dialectic variation. We bear in mind that the main reason for variation in the artifacts is that they lived in different environments. The “Kunda” culture for example hunted seals, so had large harpoons.



The Finnic boat peoples of the interior regions made images according to available rocks. About the same time as the images at Alta were carved into rock, these far-ranging boat-oriented hunters were also drawing the images onto vertical rock walls beside ancient waters. Because of the long range migrations of boat peoples they would be the same or closely related to those from the interior who migrated to and from Alta. The Finnish rock paintings are of similar age as the rock carvings at Alta, but paintings deteriorate much faster than carvings made into granite; hence the Finnish rock paintings are very blurry and smeared. Similar rock paintings are found on similar rock walls in the Great Lakes of North America, but they are much clearer and younger.The people who made the rock paintings and carvings made them only where Nature provided the surfaces. That is why there are large regions without images – there simply were not rock surfaces to use. These people could have been very widely distributed/


North American Algonquians – the Rock Art Evidence

Anyone who is aware of the rock paintings on the walls of cliffs in Finland, which were painted from boats, and also those in North America around the Great Lakes, cannot help but notice their similarlities. In both regions, separated by the Atlantic, people in canoes found it necessary to stop beside sheer walls descending to the water, and make paintings using red ochre. Did these people first come from Finnic sources in northern Scandinavia, via the Alta gateway, first crossing the North Atlantic in skin boats, and then travelling inland in shallower vessels?


This image, by Dewdney reproduced from Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (S. Dewdney & K.E. Kidd) represents a section of the rock paintings found on the rock face beside the water at Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. In the center we see a boat with a prow with an animal head. Does this depict a skin boat of Scandinavian origin?


A very important concept regarding aboriginal peoples, was that, like all humans, they were very territorial. Supposing the arctic waters west of Greenland were already inhabited by seagoing peoples, an early “Dorset” culture, arriving before the glaciers permitted the development of the Alta area. Then later, when the Alta area became a new staging location for boats heading west into the ocean, new migrations would have run into the “Dorset”, and been forced southward along the Labrador coast. It is there who could have become the Algonquians. Thus, in a sentence, the Algonquians could have originated in a second wave of migrations, from the second staging area, Alta. We have nothing to prove it, other than the concidences of making rock paintings on cliff walls, and indeed the similarities of images, as I will show.

How similar are the Canadian rock paintings to those in Finland, or how similar are the images when comparing the two locations?
The rock paintings at Lake Mackinaw, Ontario, are interesting because they are towards the east, hence closer to the direction from which visitors would have come. For example visitors would have taken a large skin boat up the Saint Lawrence, then created new boats that were more durable for transporting over rough terrain, than skin boats.

The tall cliffs at Lake Mackinaw, in southeastern Ontario, Canada, within Bon Echo Provincial Park, have an impressive concentration of red ochre paintings.


Fantasy creatures and long canoe that
could be a dugout


The image above shows an impressive location that canoes would have passed on a route northward from eastern Lake Ontario. One should not imagine that men made intentional journeys to such cliffs, but rather that it was on their normal long-distance canoe routes, and that the voyagers were impressed and moved to make drawing. (Possibly feeling the same way as a tourist with a camera). Obviously where there were no cliffs descending to the water, there were no drawings. We should not assume that because a region has no drawings the people did not pass through there. There simply were no places to put drawings. Southern Ontario does not have very many locations such as the one at Lake Mackinaw in southeast Ontario. The greatest concentration of rock paintings done on cliffs beside the water are found alongside Lake Superior and lakes towards its northwest. A detailed study of the Great Lakes rock paintings is found in Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes (S. Dewdney & K.E. Kidd)


Lake Superior versus Alta Artistic Style

Note the similarity of style between the Lake Superior (La Croix) moose on the left and the moose from the Alta carvings to the right.

In general the artistic style of many of the woodland animals at the Alta carvings is quite similar to Alqonquian artistic styles. The result of North Atlantic crossings and visitors?


North American Algonquians – the Mystery of the Word “Canoe”

There has been a debate for some time as to the origins and meaning of the word “Canoe”. Native linguists have offered some proposals, however there is a third alternative related to Scandinavian arctic origins. So far we have talked about skin boats depicted at Alta, clearly designed for use in the ocean. So far we have assumed that the boats used on rivers were dugouts. The fact that the Inuit possessed a small skin boat known as the kayak, shows that where trees were completely absence, the small arctic dugout was replaced by a small arctic skin boat. But did skin boats replace dugouts in southern regions too? The birchbark canoe, is certainly an example. It is basically a skin boat, except the skin used is birch bark sewn together. Their advantage was their light weight. They could be easily carried from one water system to another.
Is there any evidence of skin boats in ancient Finnic Scandinavia, used in the interior in the manner of the birch bark canoes of the Algonquians – making them light to be readily carried from one water body to another?
Historical records do speak of small skin boats used in northern Scandinavia among peoples known by names such as the Anglo-Saxon Cwens, Germanic Quans. Historical records speak of the Cwens crossing the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula easily because of small skin boats that they could portage with ease. To be specific, they are described crossing over into the Lofotens to attack unwelcome Norse settling there as the Danes conquered Norway in 800-1000 AD.
The earliest and most extensive description of it comes from a northern Norwegian of the 9th century, “Ohthere” (in Anglo-Saxon), who spoke about them at the court of King Alfred of Wessex, where his accounts were recorded. King Alfred presented his accounts in his Orosius. The man Ohthere, said as follows:
Then along this land southward, on the other side (east) of the mountain, is Sweden, to that land northwards; and along that land northwards Cwenaland. The Cwenas sometimes make attacks on the Norse over the mountain, and sometimes the Norse on them; there are very large freshwater seas between the mountains, and the Cwenas carry their boats over land into these lakes and thence make attacks on the Norse; the boats are very small and very light. [from Orosius]
I believe that the Cwens, identified today as the Kainu dialect at the north end of the Gulf of Bothnia, may have been a tribe from among the original Finnic natives of forested Sweden. Elsewhere in the historical record, they appear with their names expressed a little differently, such as Quans. Because of the similarity of the word to the Swedish word for ‘women’ (kvinna) a myth developed in history that the Quans, etc were people dominated by women. But the truth may be that when the region now Sweden was invaded by Germanic men, that they took wives from among the natives, from among the Quans/Cwens and that the Finnish word ‘kvinna’ came from them. (It would be similar to in North America the word squaw entered the English language.)
[The word Kvina is ethe origin of the English word “Queen”, with once again the idea of rulership inherant in it. So I would not diosmiss the idea so lightly-DD]
Since the name UINI or UENE meant ‘of the water’ it could also refer to a boat (as it did in many Balto-Finnic languages as “Vene”) Thus, the actual name of the Cwens/Quans may have actually been NAHK-UENE, ‘skin boat’, (employing the Esto/Finn nahk ‘skin,fur’). Observers would have interpreted this longer word as K’WEN. It is interesting to note that the Finns called the descendants Kainu, which means the original may have been NAHK-UINI since the form with the ‘I’ can more easily transform to Kainu (NAHK-UINI –> K-UINI –> K-AINU). \
Note that it is also possible, with the Cwens matter, to take the approach that the initial “K” sound was a dialectic feature at the start to launch the UINI, and not an abbreviation of “NAHK”. After all, in the same region, there was also the word “Finni”. With “Finni” versus “Cwens, etc”, we may be talking about Germanic speakers hearing two native dialects, one which they interpreted as having “F” at the front and the other as having “K” at the front. My only reason for pursuing the NAHK-UENE angle is the fact that history records their having very light skin boats, canoes. It sounds very logical.
The K-UINU appear to have carried on trade up the Tornio River reaching the Lofotens via Narvik, thus placing peoples with a more developed, trader, character, in the Lofotens area before the arrival there of the Norse during the 800-1000AD conquests by the Danish kingdom of the time.
The K-UINU skin boats were not kayaks, but at least, they presented examples of light skin boats used for navigating through river systems. It is not known if such boats were always made out of animal skins or whether at any time bark, such as birch bark, was used. Certainly there was birch bark through the area.
The northern Algonquian people of Canada are now famous for the use of boats that used birch bark as their skins. Perhaps, just as the invention of the kayak is the reason for the expansion of the Inuit, the invention of the birch-bark canoe, from original models that used animal skins, was the reason for the expansion of the Algonquians. Birch bark was readily everywhere in the northern forests.
The argument in favour of this approach to the origins of the word ‘canoe’, is that ancient peoples named things by describing them. Alternative explanations fail to provide as appropriate a description as here. The name for the vessel would have endured, even as the original meaning was forgotten.

North American Algonquians – the Linguistic Evidence

In the last section – SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of Whale Hunters. – we looked at many words in the Inuit language of the North American arctic, that showed close parallels with Estonian and Finnish. If here we propose the Algonquian canoe-oriented hunters of the northeast quadrant of North America, also came largely across the North Atlantic, then we should also be able to find connections across the North Atlantic between Algonquian languages and Finnic languages. That is what we want to find out.
Perhaps northeast North America originally did not have people with a boat-using way of life (ie earlier people may only have used boats, rafts, to cross bodies of water, not to use as an everyday vehicle for hunting-gathering.) Perhaps peoples who crossed the North Atlantic, bringing the boat culture, mixed with indigenous hunters, and the combined culture, adding boat use to hunting, experienced a dramatic explosion that caused the migrations inland. The fact that Algonquian languages were found up all the water systems draining into the northern Atlantic, proves that there was an introduction of new culture that was so beneficial that it caused a population growth that promoted expansion. Only a small number needs to have come, who then intermarried with the natives and produced a more successful culture causing their small beginnings to expand dramatically, absorbing or diminishing the original native hunters.

This map shows how easy it is for oceanic boat people (labelled “Dorset Culture) to access the northeast quadrant of North America. both from the north via Hudson Bay, and up the St Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.

The Algonquians of Quebec and Labrador called themselves “Innu”. There were the Labrador Innu associated with the Churchill River, Montagnais Innu associated with the Saguenay River. But as we moved west, the names changed a little. The Algonquins of the Ottawa River valley today call themselves “Iniwesi” which means ‘we people here alone’. The Ojibwa peoples use variations of the word “Anishnabe” whose meaning is something more complex than ‘the people’. However all the Algonquins have their word for ‘man, person’ in a form similar to inini.
One of the concepts discussed above is the use of the AMA pattern to express ‘water’ in the sense of an expanse, a sea. In the discussion of the Inuit language, it appeared it was found there.Yes, we can find it within Ojibwa. For example ‘he surfaces out of water’ is mooshkamo, the word for water being expressed by I believe -kamo. The AMA pattern is also in gitchi/gami ‘great water-body = ocean, sea’. As we saw, the intrinsic meaning of AMA was ‘wide expanse, world-plane’. The same idea seems to be present in Ojibwa, in that gami properly refers to a ‘water-body, sea’ and not to the liquid. But we can go further and even find that one of the Ojibwa patterns for ‘mother’ is -geem- which is relatively close to gami. Does this indicate a view of a large water body as mother, the same as we see everywhere else, as discussed above? (Estonian ema, Basque ama ‘mother’)
Let’s now turn to the Ojibwa word for ‘water’, the liquid.
As already suggested, the Finnic word VEE or VII is the stem for ‘water’. But also the pattern UI- in Estonian/Finnish also speaks of water, liquid. It is possible that vee developed from ui-. The -N adds the idea of possession, genitive case.
Although the Inuit language presents the V sound, the Ojibwa/Anishnabe language lacks the V, and B plays the role of the V. In the Ojibwa/Anishnabe language there exists the suffixes biiyauh a verbalizer meaning ‘quality character nature of water or body of water’ and bi, bii ‘verbalizer/nominalizer refering to liquids, water’. Examples are biitae ‘water bubble’, biitau ‘surf’, nibi ‘water’, ziibi(in) ‘river’, mooshkibii ‘he surfaces out of water’. It can be argued that the sounded “B” was the original sound, since it is easier to make than “V”. In other words, the Inuit “V” and even the Finnic “V” may have originated from a softer B-like sound that is simpler than “V”. (A chimpanzee can produce a “B” sound!) Thus the original word for ‘water’ or ‘liquid’ may have sounded not like modern Est/Finn. “VEE”, “VII” but more like “BHII” or “WII”.
It is clear that there is indeed parallelism between the Ojibwa and Estonian/Finnish, considering that Ojibwa did not have the “V” sound, that “B”=”V”. While Inuit presented the pattern UI- for ‘water’, Ojibwa presents BI. We note that the sound “V” can also evolve from a consonantal use of U (ie “W”). Is it possible that “UI” was the original word for water among the original boat peoples?
Concluding, generally we see that, although vague, both Inuit and Ojibwa have words that suggest that at a very ancient time the concept of ‘expanse of sea’ was AMA, and that the ‘expanse of the sea’ was identified with the World Mother. Furthermore, both have the same word meaning ‘water, liquid’ if we allow the possibility that “UI-” can evolve into “BI-“. And we can include the Finnic languages, if we allow that “UI-” can also evolve into “WI-” and “VI-“.
Are there more connections between Algonquian language and Finnic? The following paragraphs will take a quick and brief look at the Ojibwa language, to see how it fares in terms of finding Estonian/Finnish parallels. The examples given here are from the “Ojibway Language Lexicon” by Basil Johnson, presenting the dialect of north of Superior, a dialect that is unlikely to have been subject to much influence from other cultures in the past.
Ojibwa Koogaediwin means ‘village’, ‘temporary encampment’. As we saw in PART TWO SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of Whale Hunters. there was Inuit qaqqiq ‘community house’ versus Estonian/Finnish kogu/koko ‘the whole, the gathering’. Indeed in the Estonian landscape a common name for a village was Kogela ‘place of gathering’.
We saw that the Inuit language had the dual form, but that was not significant since the explicit recognition of a dual form is only needed if the concept of being in a paired situation is important. What was important though, was that it appeared that the dual form was marked by the “K” as it is in Estonian/Finnish (example kaksi). In Ojibwa too, the sound “G” appears to have a function similar to Estonian at least. The pronoun niin means ‘I’ but adding ge- to the front as in geniin makes it ‘me too’. This is analogous to Estonian ka mina ‘also me’. It applies similarly to other pronouns. Ojibwa reveals a dual in the imperative, where commanding two people is marked by -G at the end. For example commanding one person is biindigen! ‘you go inside’, while commanding two people is biindigeg!. This resembles the Estonian plural imperative, which uses the -ge ending as in mine! becoming minge!.
Ojibwa also distinguishes between animate and inanimate words. All nouns in Ojibwa or Cree language are animate or inanimate and the verbs must agree. The main implication is that animate nouns always end in G in the plural, while inanimate nouns end in N in the plural. For example the animate inini ‘man’ in plural becomes ininiwag while the inanimate ishkode ‘fire’ becomes ishkoden. This phenomenon of animate versus inanimate can be interpreted in an interesting way. Animate beings are things which ‘accompany’ the human, and thus require the K, G sound that marks accompanying. There is no distinction between animate or inanimate in Estonian/Finnish, but once there may have been, since many names of animals or trees begin with KA, KO, KU. For example Estonian karu, koer, kajakas, kaur, kala, kull, kask, kuusk, etc . It suggests the primitive ancestors named animate things with “KA” plus some descriptive suffixes. It is clear that in the ancient past there was a more systematic use of the K sound in ways that recognized parallelism of animate things.
It is significant to investigate the Ojibwa word for ‘land, earth’. As I said above, if the sea-people used the word AMA to refer to the World-Mother, and mainly to the Sea-Mother, then they would have had another name for the land. In Basque, ‘earth’ is given by lur. This could in my view originate from ALU-RA ‘way of the firmament, foundation’. The Ojibwa word for ‘earth’ is aki, but this word is similar to Ojibwa words related to time! For example ajina ‘a while, a short time’. And once again we see a parallel since it compares with Estonian aja- stem for aeg meaning ‘related to time’. In the Inuit examples we saw Inuit akuni ‘for a long time’, which we compared to Est./Finn. aeg/aika ‘time’, kuna/kun ‘while’, and kuni/— ‘until’. Estonian also has the interesting imperative akka! meaning ‘begin!’. Ojibwa has akawe! with the reverse meaning ‘wait!’ These examples of words pertaining to time suggests that the Ojibwa word for ‘land, earth’ presents the concept of ‘the everlasting place’.
One of the unique aspects of boat-people spiritual world-view is that spiritual journeys are seen to be carried out in spirit boats. The word for the soul-spirit in Ojibwa is chiibi after death and chiijauk when still alive. We can speculate on whether it has a connection with the Chi of oriental worldview, but for the present, we can point to Estonian, and its traditions using “HII”.
Most recently in Estonian tradition HII was used in the idea of grove as in püha hiis ‘sacred grove’, thus one may wonder if it only meant ‘grove’. The answer is that püha ‘sacred’ is probably redundant in püha hiis. The -S ending on hiis suggests it originates from HIISE, meaning ‘something connected with HII’. Elsewhere in the Estonian vocabulary one finds that hiig- means ‘extreme, giant’, and indeed that parallels also to English high. (As I propose elsewhere English arose from a pre-Indo-European base that was of the same linguistic universe as the Finnic languages, and many English words are interpretable by Estonian when they cannot be interpreted by any other language.)
The concept ‘big, high, great’ exists in Ojibwa also in the word kitchi. Perhaps there is a connection between the two CHI situations. (?)In that case the common concept in all is ‘extreme’.
However, the Ojibwa use of CHII in chiimaan, the word for ‘canoe, boat, water-vessel’ is peculiar, but can be explained in terms of the concept of the human body being a vessel of the spirit — the boat too was seen as a vessel, container, hence the name chiimaan.
To continue the quest for parallelism, the following are a sampling of words in no particular order, that jumped out at me. A proper study of correspondences requires a greater knowledge of Ojibwa than I have. Ojibwe, like Inuit, is built from strings of elements. There are no clear ‘words’ in the sense of modern European languages having clear ‘words’. Thus it is necessary to be able to break down the words into constituent components.
The Ojibwa word inashke! sometimes abbreviated to na! can be compared to Estonian näe! ‘look!’ which is based on Estonian/Finnishnäha/nähtä ‘to see’. There was a similar situation above with Inuit.
The Ojibwa word awun ‘fog’ is interesting because the Algonquians had the practice of the sweat lodge, which in Finnic is called sauna. In Finnic the word fails to break down, other than au means ‘honour’; but if we assume auna is ‘fog’, then the initial S would suggest ‘in the fog’.
An interesting Ojibwa word that used the word for ‘water, surf’ is kukaubeekayh meaning ‘(river) falls’. This word compares with Estonian/Finnishkukuda/kukua ‘to fall’. Also kukozhae ‘ashes, cinders’ may reflect the same meaning of falling. An Ojibwa speaker can tell us if the implication in the kuko- element is ‘fall’.
Ojibwa kun means ‘bone’, and it compares with Estonian kont ‘bone’.
Ojibwa pun means ‘lung’ which reminds us of Inuit puvak ‘lung’ which connects well with Estonian puhu ‘blow’.
Ojibwa puyoh means ‘womb’, which reminds us of Inuit, paa ‘opening’, Estonian poeb ‘he crawls through’ Est/Finn poegima/poikia ‘to bring forth young’.
Another Ojibwa word element that is both in Inuit and Estonian/Finnish is -nozhae- ‘female’. We recall Inuit ningiuq ‘old woman’ and najjijuq ‘she is pregnant’. These compare with Estonian/Finnish stem nais-/nais- meaning ‘pertaining to woman, female-‘. The Ojibwa nozhae is very close to Estonian/Finnish nais-/nais-, and with exactly the same meaning. Estonian says naine for ‘woman’, genitive form being naise ‘of the woman’
In Inuit we found the word for ‘father’ to be ataata. However the common Estonian word for ‘father’ is isa. This is reflected in Ojibwa -osse- ‘father’.
In Ojibwa we have the following referring to trees: metigimeesh ‘oak’, metigwaubauk ‘hickory’, and metigook ‘trees’. In Estonian/Finnish mets/metsä means ‘forest’.
Ojibwa iss, iz, izo is a verbalizer, reflexive form, indicating action to the self, to one, to another. This compares with Estonian/Finnish ise/itse ‘(by) self’.
Ojibwa kae is a verbalizer that makes nouns into verbs. Can be compared to Est/Finn. käis/kydä ‘to go, function’. There was something similar in Inuit.
Ojibwa ssin, assin shin is a verbalizer meaning to be in a place. This compares with Estonian/Finnish cases and words that use -S- and denote a relationship to the ‘inside’ of something. For example Estonian says tule sisse to mean ‘come inside.’ Note that we found above that Inuit too employed “S” to convey the idea of ‘interior’
In terms of pronouns there is nothing close to Estonian/Finnish, except for kakina ‘all’ which compares with Estonian/Finnish köik/kaikki also meaning ‘all’.
Another very close parallel is between Ojibwa naub or naup meaning ‘lace, string together, connect, join, unite’, and Estonian/Finnish nööp/nappi ‘button’.
Ojibwa pagi, pagid ‘release, let go, free liberate, set free’ can be compared to Estonian põgenik/pakolainen meaning ‘refugee, escaper’.
Ojibwa asin means ‘rock’, which compares with Estonian/Finnish asi/asia ‘thing, object’.
Ojibwa kayashk ‘seagull’ corresponds to Estonian kajakas ‘seagull’.
The preceding is a small sampling of words that leap out to a person familiar with Estonian. It is by no means an exhaustive study. Further study is necessary, possibly focussing on words shared with other Algonquian languages and Inuit. What is interesting about the Algonquian languages is that their distribution in northeastern North America is such as one would expect if boat peoples travelled up all the rivers after descending via the winds and currents of the Labrador and Newfoundland coast, and finally being discouraged to go further south only below Newfoundland where the Gulf Stream current came from the opposite direction. The exception to this pattern are the Cree, who lived in the water basin of the south part of Hudson Bay. It is however possible that the Cree transferred into this northern water basin after first travelling up rivers such as the Ottawa or Saguenay, and then followed the Hudson Bay southern coast.
If the Algonquian boat-using hunter-fisher-gatherers originated from voyagers who crossed the North Atlantic at an early time (and they could be a southern branch of the “Dorset” culture) then we have to consider that the voyagers may have all been men, and they took wives from people already found there, indigenous people without a boat-culture. The combined talents perhaps produced a new more prosperous culture that caused a population explosion that then fuelled the expansion up the rivers. We must not forget that we cannot have a dramatic expansion of peoples without population growth, and we cannot have population growth without some beneficial development. I suggest that if the original peoples of northeast North America did not use boats as a daily vehicle, then a people who came with a boat-culture already developed would have introduced the conditions that would have caused the required population growth as they would have entered an untouched economic niche.
We also note that the Algonquians who retained the name Innu to describe themselves, were within Quebec and Labrador. Is it possible then, that the influence of the newcomers was strongest where they first came, and that the influence degenerated with those who migrated westward into the interior? Are the Algonquians indeed descended from the “Dorset” culture? Common sense is that the “Dorset” did not vanish. Some merged with the Inuit, and others would have been pushed south into Labrador and Quebec. Pushed south, and into the interior, they were no longer able to make their skin boats out of walrus skins, and thus was born the birch-bark skin canoe. It is logical.
As stated at the start, the INI, form was used by the Algonquians of Labrador and Quebec in the form Innu. Nonetheless the more westerly Algonquians still had words of the form inini to mean ‘man, person’. Since the Inuit had inuk to mean ‘man, person’ we have to conclude that there is some sort of connection between them, that they both ultimately originated from peoples who came with skin boats.


At the European Atlantic: Norway, Iceland, and Northern Britain – The Skin Boat “Finns”, and “Picts”

There is no question that there once existed an “Atlantian” people. They travelled the north Atlantic ocean, camping on islands, as we can see in the illustration of Greenland Inuit whale hunting. They were short people, and that is to be expected too, as an adaptation. People who travel extensively by boat need strong upper bodies, but can have short legs (Short legs on large torsos can be still seen among the Inuit – short legs are also good for reducing loss of body heat) Author Farley Mowat (Farfarers, 1998), pictured a people he called “Albans” based in the British northern islands. He pictured them being most interested in walrus, and travelling as far as the Labrador coast to obtain walrus ivory to sell in Europe. Mowat’s view of the skin boat traditions of the northeast Atlantic was far too narrow, however. He made no mention of the rock paintings of skin boats in Norway, and made no connection between the Norwegian examples of skin boats and the skin boats of the British Isles, recorded in historical records and surviving through the centuries as the Irish “curragh”.
We can read with interest when Farley Mowat reveals that in the traditions of the Shetland Islands in the north of the British Isles, sea-harvesting peoples called the “Finns” appeared.
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: Before the Norse, p 110, Toronto, 1998)
But it did not occur to Mowat that these were the same people as the ones he was looking for, and not some other people? He was looking for people closer to himself – settled people living on the coasts – and thus did not seriously consider “Finns” to have been identifiable with “Sea-Lapps” from the Norwegian coast, and that possibly they were less primitive than the Inuit/Eskimo he assumed they were. The difference between the Altantic seaharvesters that were called “Finns”, and those who left a record of skin boat use in the British Northern Isles, may be simply that the latter became more localized by becoming more involved with the economies of the interior of Britain. There is indeed proof that skin boat peoples of the British Isles were more localized than their migratory ancestors, and found everywhere on the coasts, at least on the west side. According to Mowat in Farfarers, the Roman poet Avienus, quoting fragments from a Carthaginian periplus (seaman’s sailing directions) dating to the six century B.C. described a rendevous with native British in skin boats as follows.
To the Oestrimnides [Scilly Islands] come many enterprising people who occupy themselves with commerce and who navigate the monster-filled [ie walruses, seals, whales, propoises, etc] 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. (quotes in Mowat, Farfarers)
The people described in the above passage are clearly not the long ranging oceanic aboriginals, but still they are probably descended from them. Finding good conditions in the British Isles, and the ability to trade wares from the sea for other goods, they would have formed an intermediate culture. It is these people that are identifiable with the archeological “Picts”. They exploited land resources and trade, (such as keeping sheep and goats on various islands roaming wild, to harvest from time to time when they stopped there). It was never a one-dimensional situation.
Evidence that the skin boat of the British Isles was descended from the Norwegian skin boats is found as late as the 18th century. A drawing of a curragh from the 18th century is interesting in that there is an oxhead on the prow. This is remarkable as it suggests descent from an arctic European tradition of putting the head of the animal whose skin is used, at the prow, a practice that began with the moose-skin boats and the moosehead on its prow, visible in ancient rock carvings such as those in the Norwegian arctic at Alta, and Sørøya, and other places like Lake Onega.

It is only because of my noting the animal heads on the prows of skin boats in Alta and Lake Onega carvings that I saw the oxhead on the prow of this Irish curragh made of ox skins.

When boat skins were later made of planks, the practice of the head on the prow seems to have continued for a time, giving rise to the “dragon boat” concept. The presence of the “dragon-head” in Norse vessels demonstrates that the Germanic conquerors of the Norwegian coast (800-1000AD) became identifiable with seafarers purely from the Finnic natives starting to speak the Germanic language (Norse), and participating in the new Norse culture. The idea of Vikings originating from Germanic heritage is false. They originated from the Finnic boat peoples, and became speakers of Germanic Norse in much the same way that North American Native peoples have become English speakers..
Another important historical reference presents us with another truth that ought to be obvious – that the skin boats of the British Isles crossed the waters to Norway as well. This comes from Pliny the Elder dated to 77 A.D. in which he writes about information from an earlier historian Timaeus whose original work has been lost.
The historian Timaeus says that there is an island named Mictis lying inward six day’s sail from Britain where tin is found and to which the Britons cross in boats of osier covered with stiched hides. (Pliny, NaturalHistories, IV, 14, 104.)
Mowat suggests that this place called Mictis might have been Iceland. However if the skin-boat seafarers of the British Isles had an intimate relationship with any location it may have been the Lofoten Islands of Norway. We also note that since the Gulf Stream flowed past the British Isles and north towards the Lofotens, then the sailing was with the current. If we can use Finnic to decipher the word Mictis, we could suggest something like MÄGE-D-ESE ‘mountainous land/place’ , which is an obvious description of Norway. Finnic languages were highly syllabic, and foreigners speaking Greek or Latin had a tendence to compress syllables.
If they travelled to the Lofotens, that brings into play the Cwens spoken about by Ohthere (as discussed earlier), who seem to have carried on trade between the Lofotens and the Baltic, employing portable skin boats, canoes.
Thus we can accept that many of these oceanic skin-boat peoples, who ventured away from the Norwegian arctic waters where they began, and then became localized among the British Isles, tended to sheep on land behind their huts, and traded with interior peoples; but at the same time the traditional way of life would have continued as well: there were also the long-range migrations of traditional oceanic people, who made circuitous migrations from one harvest area to another. They would be the ones who would camp for a time on outer islands (like the Shetlands) to use as a home base for harvesting the surrounding seas. The “Finns” of Shetland traditions were not, I’m certain, accidental visitors of Inuit. I think they were people who deliberately migrated in a circuit which touched on Iceland, Faroes, Shetlands, and Norway.

Looking at the map above, showing how the ocean currents circulate, it is likely that the “Finns” who touched on the northern islands of the British Isles, can probably be identified with the “Fosna” archeological culture of Norway, or at least, that part of them who would have migrated in current circuit “B” (see map). Such people would have travelled, over a period of several years, between the Lofotens of Norway, Iceland, and then back via Faroes and Shetland, and then back to the Lofotens.
These oceanic people would have had no interest in making their way into the dangerous surf close to the coasts. They appear to have preferred staying in the outer islands. Why not? According to historical references to Irish monks seeking to live on isolated outer islands, and encountering only the natives there, the “Picts”, the dwellings the natives created resembled igloos made of stone, that is, domes (or near domes with a small roof) created by piling rocks round and round. They procured goats and/or sheep and placed them on grassy islands, and from time to time came back to the island to capture and eat them in addition to what they caught in the seas. Obviously those “Picts” who became more settled, if any did, became more diligent breeders of these sheep and goats.
History affirms that Iceland had aboriginal peoples, but not on the main island which had little more than volcanoes. They were the Eskimo-type people who were better off camping on the outer island close to the areas they fished and hunted. Since these were seasonally migratory people, foreign observers would never observe them to be settled anywhere. They would never need to build any permanent dwellings anywhere. Thus the absence of any early permanent settlement on Iceland should not be construed as Iceland being unknown. It was known, alright – by aboriginal peoples. They were known by the “Picts” and “Finns” too insomuch as they themselves were aboriginal or semi-aboriginal. Therein lies the problem in Mowat’s Farfarers – he cannot accept that the people he envisions – the “Albans” (one group among the Pictish north of the British Isles) – were more primitive, more like Greenland Eskimo, than he wants to admit. Why this problem? Because there has always been a dicotomy of view as to the “discovery” of North America. Archeologists and anthropologists accept that aboriginal peoples may have migrated throughout the arctic waters, and known all about Iceland, the North Atlantic, Labrador, etc. – already maybe 5000-6000 years ago. But there is also that racist perspective which says “aboriginals do not count”, and so there are endless debates as to whether the Norse landings around 1000AD were the “first” or whether there were earlier landings on Labrador or Newfoundland coasts, by Irish monks; or some other group. Who cares? Aboriginals always knew, and European seagoing aboriginals from the Alta area, visited and perhaps stayed millenia ago. Archeology has found evidence of contact with Europe – primitive aboriginal Europe.
Mowat, growing up in a generation that saw North America as an unknown land first visited by Eric the Red and others – the romantic story that enthralled schoolboys a half a century ago – NEEDED to make his “Albans” just as civilized and just as part of the European civilization as the Norse. If they were aboriginal like the Sea-Finns of Norway or like the Greenland Eskimos, well there would not have been a story; there would not have been the “Wow” factor, of proposing people from Britain encountered the Labrador coast and Newfoundland even before the Norse. Thus Mowat, needing civilized peoples in Iceland, started looking for evidence of farms and settlements there, before the Norse. Oh yes, there were the aboriginals camping on islands doing their sea harvest, but if we want to find the somewhat civilized “Albans” then we have to find farms. And so Mowat ventures the theory that many of the farms attributed to Norse, were actually stolen by them after they wiped out the “Albans”.
It is assumed by most academics today that Iceland was the Thule mentioned by the Greek traveller Pytheas, who voyaged in the north around 320BC, presumably with natives as hosts or guides. We should not assume that Pytheas sailed unknown waters of the north with a ship and crew from the Mediterranean. He was obviously taken by people who knew the region and Thule was the name they gave to Iceland.
Most likely Pytheas was a Massilian merchant (ie at Marseilles) who was always engaged in commercial dealings with Veneti merchants who were established in Brittany and constantly sailing to and from Britain (according to Julius Caesar), as well as delivering goods south via the Loire and Rhone River routes. He may have asked the Veneti traders if he could accompany them north, and if they would show him where major northern goods came from – tin, walrus ivory and skins, and amber – since in fact his journey proceeds first to Britain (where tin came from) then to the Orcades (Orkney Islands) where once there were walrus herds, and finally it appears all the way to the southeast Baltic, where the island of Abalus was identified as the source of amber.
We have mentioned often that the original Scandinavia and northern Britain was originally “Finnic”, and that means linguistically as well. Indeed even today the surviving northern reindeer Saami are considered linguistically Finnic. The next closest are the Finns and then Estonians. (I don’t know the Saami language, and therefore my comparisons are with Estonian ) Thus it is interesting to note that the word Thule seems to be a simple Finnic word that easily describes Iceland. Considering that Iceland is an island with active volcanoes that erupt ever generation or so, it would be natural to call it ‘(island, land) of fire’. In Estonian it would be pronounced exactly as the Greeks would say Thule (In Greek Th represents the softer “D” sound. In Estonian and Finnish the single T is spoken like a “D”. A double T is needed for the harder T of English)
The modern Estonian word for ‘volcano’ is tulemägi literally ‘fire-mountain’, and so the word tule is correct in association with volcanoes. “TULE-” is the stem to which endings are added, and so a foreigner would always hear the stem as case endings are added (tule-sse, tule-st, tule-lt, etc). Thus Pytheas, listening to his hosts speak, would repeatedly hear “dew-leh” which would be written in Greek Thule. Finnish adds an -N for the genitive, hence ‘of fire’ is tulen, which agrees with one ancient reference which called it Tylen.
Because they have long disappeared, assimilated into the Norwegians, most people are unaware that the peoples formerly called “Lapps”, earlier called “Finns” and today called “Saami” were not a single cultural group. Their various dialects were also different enough to almost be regarded as separate languages. Generally the literature says, there were three types of “Lapps”, the Sea-Lapps, Forest Lapps, and Reindeer Lapps, all but the last enduring in the Norwegian north into modern times. The Reindeer Lapps have endured strongly, and that is why they, or “Saami” as associated with reindeer herders, today, and the public knows little of the fact that the whole Scandinavian peninsula was once filled with “Finns” of every nature. In other words, at one time, perhaps as late as the stories of “Finns” camping on the Shetlands, there were “Sea-Lapps” of “Sea-Finns” down the. Norwegian coast, and travelling into the British north to fish; and there were “Forest-Lapps” or “Forest-Finns” across the entire Scandinavia where land was not under the Germanic plow, as far as Finland and beyond. Southern clans and tribes, those in greater contact with encroaching farmers, whether Celtic or Germanic, adapted towards more civilized ways – adopting farming, engaging in trade, following European culture. The matter of “Finns” is not black-and-white. The northern isolated regions had more primitive “Finns”(“primitive”=living self-sufficiently off Nature) and the southern farmable regions has more civilized “Finns” (“civilized”=living within established civil structures, interdependent, specialized activities).

The Disappearance of the “Picts” and “Sea-Finns”

History reveals that Britain was invaded by Romans and Celts, and then by Germanic invaders. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the withdrawal of Romans from Britain, history states that there were three groups fighting to seize power in the void left by the departure of the Romans – the Germans (Angles, Saxons, etc) pushing in from the southeast coast, the Celts pushing in from the southwest coast, and the “Picts” from the north. When the term “Picts” is used in historic texts, it refers generally to all the peoples in the north, which would generally tend to exclude the primitive peoples there. What is important is that the north was different from the Romans and the Celts, and had its own language, which was presumably the native British language.
History reveals that when southern civilization pushes into the north, it assimilates natives from south to north; thus it is a reasonable assumption that the northerners, whether seafarers or not, were descendants of the original British who retained their original language and culture. (Those in the south had become Romanized or Celticized) Author Mowat did not like to use the term “Picts” because he chose to see the “Picts” as immigrants, accepting a legend described by the Anglo-Saxon monk-scholar Venerable Bede. He therefore invented “Albans” to maintain a distinction. My own view is that the term “Picts” was always an ambiguous term when used. It included anyone in the north parts of Britain, whether trade, fisherman, crofter, or migratory aboriginal “Pict” who moved from place to place in an annual cycle. My view is that, as in recent North America, the impact of civilization has different effects on different native groups. Some become very involved in civilization, and others remain grimly entrenched in their traditional ways. And of course those who became increasingly involved with Roman, Celtic or Germanic ways, eventually assimilated into them and vanished.
After Britain had been taken over by Anglo-Saxons, Ireland by Celts, and the Scots were beginning to take over in the north, a monk scholar named Venerable Bede, in his description of Britain, attempted to identify the “Picts” of his time and their origins. Obviously deriving his information from arrogant patronizing Celtic sources, perhaps Irish monks, he told a strange story of Picts arriving by sea in longboats, attempting to land in northern Ireland, and being told by the Scots there that the land was full and they should cross over to what is now Scotland. The Picts in Bede’s north were a peculiar people in that they followed their descent matrilineally. It is in the nature of legends to try to explain prevailing realities; thus the explanation for their matrilineal culture was that when the Scots told them to move on, the Scots also gave the Picts Scottish wives because the Picts came without any women. Out of gratitide the Picts therefore kept track of the lineage of these Scottish woman. What patronizing garbage!
This story is obviously self-serving self-glorification on the part of Scottish and Irish legend-weavers. If we investigate the matter, the evidence seems to point to a different story. The Picts, descended from native people, were in northern Ireland first, and the Scots were migrating from the southern parts of Ireland in search of a place to settle. Reaching the north, they found the Picts there, and it would be the Picts that told the Scots to cross over into the northern part of Britain, since the first Scottish settlements appear on that side. The Picts who told the Scots to move on, according to Ptolemy’s geography of Ibernia (Ireland in the Roman Age), were probably those he called Rhobogdi. This word can be interpreted as a low vowel dialect version, or an interpreter’s corruption, of a word that in higher vowels would sound like RHIBIGDI. If we assume that RHI- is some sort of descriptive prefix, then we have BIGDI, a word that is a perfect candidate for the origins of the word Picti that first appeared in Roman records in the third century AD. (Yes, the word is first used with reference to a people in the north of Britain about the same time as the information of Ptolemy’s geography of Abion and Hibernia!)
The soft form of BIGDI is significant in that Finnic language tends to be softer. (T is more like “D”, P more like “B”, K more like “G”, unless these are all doubled). If we interpret it with Estonian, it could have a simple meaning ‘(people) of the catches’ (ie catches of fish, etc) which in modern Estonian would be püükide (“pew-kee-deh”). (Supporting the presence of such a word in western Europe is the French word for ‘catch’ pêche) It seems reasonable that during Roman times, the northerners would come south to sell their catches at markets, and, since the catches from the sea were the major product of the north, all the northerners could have eventually acquired the general description of ‘people of the catches’. One of the problems faced by people trying to make sense of the Picti word, is that in Caesar’s time the peoples south of the mouth of the Loire were called the Pictones. That was the reason Mowat assumed that some of the Pictones migrated north with some of their neighbouring Veneti, and that was where the name came from. But if the name had a descriptive meaning, the two names could be a coincidence: both fished and both assumed a name that described that.
The Venerable Bede, said also that the Picts came “in longboats from Scythia”. We can read this part of the legend in the following way: The people identified as Picts were seen in Bede’s time to recieve long distance traders arriving in longboats, and it was observed the Pict language was similar to that of the visiting traders. It was established that these visitors came from “Scythia”, and thus the deduction was that the Picts had originated in the same place.
In Greek times “Scythia” referred to all the lands north and west of the Black Sea, but by Roman times only the northern parts remained “Scythia”, the southern part becoming “Sarmatia”. By Bede’s time “Scythia” would have been understood to be the lands to the east of the east Baltic coast. Since all the peoples with boats and engaged in trade in “Scythia” were in Bede’s time (a century or two before the Vikings), Finnic (Estonians, Livonians, etc) , we conclude that the Picts to which Bede referred were those who were part of a trade network, and who recieved goods from the east Baltic coast. Given that to the west of the Rhobogdi Ptolemy shows Vennicni, we can presume that the Vennicni name is a corruption of Vennicones in Ptolemy’s Albion near Aberdeen, and that these are identifiable with the trader-Picts who were part of the Veneti/Venedi world of traders. Thus we see two groups identifiable with “Picts”, the sea-harvesters who only fished, and the traders who maintained trading posts and warehouses and awaited the arrival from time to time of a longboat with goods. Within these two groups, the level of primitiveness, or civilizedness, varied too; however I believe that in general, the larger populations in the south generally saw the north as the region of the “(fish) catchers” in much the same way that in North America, the eastern coast is generally seen as the regions of “fishermen” , or the “fishing industry” even though much else is going on there too.



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”which the Venerable Bede claimed was the source of the Picts!) 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 trade links to the east Baltic coast (the coast of “Scythia”)

In his description of “Picts” Bede was probably describing the more visible trader-Picts, descendants of VENNE traders, not the less visible Picts out at sea, and living on islands and coasts. The sea-harvesters would rarely have been encountered by farming peoples, if the VENNE traders served as intermediaries in any trading contacts with the farmers to the south(Celts, Saxons, etc). The trader-Picts, as stated, may have been people of a Baltic-Finnic nature, hence the connection with “Scythia” behind the east Baltic. But the sea-hunter-Picts could have had another dialect, more like the dialect of the Greenland or Norwegian sea-hunters. Or indeed, something like the Greenland Inuit, if we include them among the North Atlantians.
Mowat, in reviewing Bede’s story as I described it, accepted Bede’s story hook line and sinker, and therefore, if “Picts” were immigrants, had to invent “Albans” as the original people. To deal with the reference to “Scythia” Mowat said that it was a reference to the Scilly Islands at the southwest tip of Britain. But this presumes Bede was confused about what “Scythia” really meant – which is impossible as everywhere in Latin texts “Scythia” is east of the east Baltic (Finnic) coast. Where then does “Scilly” come from? In Ptolemy’s geography, not far from their location the name Uxella appears. I suggest that the Scilly Islands were originally called “Uxella Islands”, and the modern name “Scilly” is a corruption of that over the centuries. (“Uxella” via Finnic suggests a combination of uks and -la giving ‘place of the door, port’ which reminds us once again of the deep Finnic aboriginal nature of not just Scandinavia, but east into the British Isles.)
The end of both the seagoing “Finns” and the “Picts” came around 1000AD, as a result of the conquest of the Norwegian coast by the Danish kingdom, and then the expansion of the Celtic Scots into the Pictish north. The dominant culture eventually takes over. Memories of “Finns” visiting the Shetlands, or accounts of dark-complexioned “wild Irish” (as the illustrator of the curragh called them), may represent the last witnessing of these peoples in the British Isles. After civilization arrived in the British north, there was a new breed of fishermen, who lived in settlements, did farming or kept herds on the side, etc. They weren’t real sea-people, forever migrating seasonally from camp to camp. They were land people who had a permanent settlement and went to sea now and then.
Most references to ancient British, whether they were called peoples of Britannike or Albion, referred to the highly visible localized and settled peoples of the British mainland. They did not refer to the sea-going peoples with their skin boats who inhabited the outer islands and coast, and appeared to observers only at coastal markets. Thus these sea-people are relatively invisible in the historical records made by visiting Greeks and Romans.
I think that there was in the British Isles ALWAYS the dicotomy of peoples, the peoples of the land territories and the peoples of the surrounding seas. And because they lived in such different environments they did not interract very much, and were therefore ethnically somewhat different, although ultimately both were of the same origins in the northern aboriginal boat-peoples or water-peoples in general.
When the British Isles were invaded by the Romans and the Celts, the only escape the sea-hunters of the British Isles had from the aggressors, was to simply sail away, find a new place to live that lacked the ugly Europeans. Some may have migrated to Canadian shores. It is interesting that according to archeologists the natives called “Beothuks” appeared in Newfoundland around about Roman times. Interestingly, when Portuguese captured some into slavery in the 17th century, there is one record that stated that they resembled Portuguese except a little taller and better built in the upper body. Were they Picts, refugees from Roman expansions into the British north? Did the name “Beothuk” have a similar meaning? (In Estonian püüde or even peode means ‘of the catching’; also we note that Ptolemy identifies a tribe named Epidi) I have no doubt that Farley Mowat did look at the Beothuks of Newfoundland as candidates for his “Albans”, but as before, rejected them because they were too primitive. His book Farfarers simply HAD to be about civilized peoples not about aboriginals; otherwise how could it trump the saga of the Norse. Imagine if a book talked about aboriginal seagoing peoples in the British Isles “discovering” North America. The concept has been advanced and is continuing to be advanced by archeologists. For more discussion about the subject tackled by Farley Mowat in his Farfarers, including a better theory about mysterious “longhouse foundation” remains on the Labrador coast, see the background article: EXPLAINING “LONGHOUSE FOUNDATIONS” ON THE LABRADOR COAST
Pure common sense alone suggests that boats landed on the Canadian coast of Labrador and Newfoundland numerous times, since the circumstances of sea-faring aboriginals, and ocean currents to carry them towards the west has existed since about 5000BC. And if so then we would expect that the cultures and languages of the peoples of the Canadian arctic (Inuit) and of the forested regions below (Algonquian-culture peoples), would possess in their language and culture elements that can be compared with those of the Finnic-Uralic world at the origins of skin boats, and more directly oceanic people of the northeast Atlantic, historically appearing as skin-boat peoples there, described as short people called “Finns” and in northern British waters, “Picts”.

The Basques as Southern Descendants of Sea Peoples

I believe that all the Atlantic oceanic people originated from the same origins – the skin boat peoples who harvested the seas off the coast of arctic Norway. That was their training ground. Once they had mastered their way of life and their populations grew, some wandered south, discovered the British Isles, and then with continued success, some continued further south. Now finding themselves in regions with large trees, they could create ocean-going vessels again with wood.

That brings us to the question of the Basques. The Basques in recent centuries have been well known as harvesters of the Atlantic, including whaling in the waters off the North American coast from as early as the 16th century. It is easy to believe that they are descended from the same world of oceanic seafarers as the Picts, Norwegian “Finns”, and the Inuit. One does not learn to be at home on the waters of the Atlantic overnight. (Similarly the Portuguese have the same origin, except that the coastal Portuguese have lost their original language in much the same way as the original people of the Norwegian coast did.)
The Basque language, is acknowledged to be pre-Indo-European. Some scholars assume that the Basques are descended from the original peoples of nearby regions dating back to the cave people who left art on cave walls. However, we have to recognize that there were two types of people during the pre-Indo-European civilization in Western Europe – the seagoing people and the interior people. The Basques display strong seafaring traditions, and therefore it is reasonable to propose that they are descended from the Atlantic seagoing peoples. This in turn implies that they are distantly related to Finnic and Inuit cultures, to the peoples of the expansion of boat-peoples. While it is possible the Basques learned whaling in the modern era, it is equally possible that the Basques have always known, and have had an ancient connection with peoples like the Greenland Inuit whalers. We don’t know very much about what the Basques did in ancient times.
It happens that Basque presents some words that can be interpreted with Estonian. Not too many – otherwise linguists would already have made a connection common knowledge – but it is there. Reasoning the possibility of Estonian and Basques having a common origins, if the Basques originated from the earlier boat-people, the dugout people, and not the later oceanic skin-boat people, then the separation between Basque and the Finno-Ugric languages would have been maybe as much as 12,000 years, because that is when the “Maglemose” dugout-boat peoples began to expand. That amount of separation is far too great to find any similarlities at all. On the other hand, if the Basques emerged from oceanic hunters, then the linguistic distance would be less, less than 6000 years, dating back through arctic Norway and Lake Onega to the “Kunda” culture. In other words, if Basque roots lie at the same place as the roots of Inuit, that is going back to the whale hunters of the White Sea, then the common language is about the time of the Lake Onega or White Sea rock carvings, or about 6000 years ago. It follows that we SHOULD find the same nature of similarities between Estonian and Basque as between Estonian and Inuit, or other boat people descended from the same “Descendants of KALLU”.
Would it be reflected in a comparison of Basque and Estonian?
A genetic connection between two languages cannot be proven by conventional comparative linguistic analysis if the two languages are more than about 3000 years apart. However the ability to find a great number of coincidences that are unlikely to have been borrowed from a mutual third language, has statistical significance. If there are coincidences better than what would occur by random chance, conclusions can be drawn from it. Let us do a short comparison of Basque and Estonian words. For more discussion about how reliable such comparisons may be, see the sidepanels in PART TWO.
The grammatical structure of Estonian and Basque are similar, having many case endings, for instance. But it is not close enough to merit discussion. Our intention here is not to make definitive linguistic discoveries, but to show that – along with the other evidence – comparing Basque with Finnic does not contradict our theory.
I will focus on words: I used a mere 1000 common Basque words as the source, and my own basic knowledge of Estonian words. I found that the majority of Basque words were obviously Basque versions of Romance names, borrowed from many centuries of influence from Romans and then French and Spanish. Thus if we eliminate the Romance words, we greatly reduce the number of usable Basque words.
From this limited word list I found a rate of coincidence with Estonian that is significantly greater than random chance. One has to recognize that the Basque words have to not only resemble Estonian words but the meanings have to resemble each other too. The probability of such double coincidence by random chance is very low. Usually, when bad comparisons are done, the analyst finds correspondence in the form, and then contrives an explanation to bring two meanings such as “insect” compared to “small” because an insect is small – such absurdity. You will not that in the following comparisons, the meanings are the same or very close.
Words I found include: Basque su ‘fire’, compared to Estonian süsi ‘coal, ember’, süüta ‘fire up’; Basque oroi ‘thought’ compared to Estonian aru ‘understanding’; Basque ama ‘mother’ compared to Estonian ema ‘mother’; Basque uste ‘believe’ compared to Estonian usk ‘belief’, usu ‘believe’; Basque ola ‘place’ vs Estonian ala ‘field (of endeavour)’; Basque kale ‘street’ vs Estonian kald ‘bank, shore’ (ie original streets of boat people were rivers, shores); Basque ke ‘smoke’ vs Estonian kee ‘boil’; Basque leku ‘space’ vs Estonian lage ‘wide open (place)’; Basque hartu ‘take’ vs Estonian haara ‘grab hold’; Basque ohar ‘warning’ vs Estonian oht ‘danger’; Basque tira ‘pull’ vs Estonian tiri ‘pull away, pull loose’; Basque gela ‘room’ vs Estonian küla ‘living place, abode, settlement’; Basque lo ‘sleeping’ vs Estonian läbeb looja ‘(it, like the sun) sets, goes down, goes to sleep’; Basque marrubi ‘strawberry’ vs Estonian mari ‘berry’; Basque txotx ‘twig’ vs Estonian oks ‘branch”; Basque ohe ‘bed’ vs Estonian ase ‘bed’; Basque osatu ‘complete’ vs Estonian osata ‘without any part”; Basque or zakur ‘dog’ vs Estonian koer ‘dog’; Basque jan ‘eat’ vs Estonian jänu ‘thirst’; Basque jarraitu ‘continue’ or jarri ‘become’ vs Estonian järg ‘continuation’, järel ‘remaining, to-come’, etc; Basque giza ‘human’ vs Estonian keha ‘body’; Basque haragi ‘beef/meat’ vs Estonian härg ‘ox’; Basque izen ‘name’ vs Estonian ise(n) ‘of oneself’; Basque lau ‘straight’ vs Estonian laud ‘board, table’ (ie straight piece of wood); Basque lasai ‘calm’ vs Estonian laisk ‘lazy’ or lase ‘let go’; Basque ezti ‘honey’ vs Estonian mesi ‘honey;
Basque is considered to be descended from the people the Romans generally called Aquitani, located mainly in the Garonne River water basin as far as the Pyrennes mountains. Aquitani in fact implies ‘water-people’. The name may originate from Uituriges or Uitoriges ( Caesar Gallic Wars, I, 18) the name of a people who controlled Burdigala the town on the lagoon formed by the outlets of the Garonne River. The word Uituriges or Uitoriges resembles Estonian/Finnish because the the first part corresponds well with UI- words meaning basically ‘swim’, such as Estonian uju, Finnish uida. The latter part of Uituriges, is the word meaning ‘nation’ (as in Estonian riik, riigi), hence the name Uituriges means ‘floating nations’. An alternative name for them in the historical record was Bituriges. If this was a true alternative name, then we should look to BI in the meaning of ‘water’, and the full word paralleling modern Estonian Veederiigid, meaning ‘water-nations’. This latter version would be the most applicable inspiration for the Latin Aquitani. I believe in a pre-literate world where people and places were named by describing them, that it is possible BOTH versions Uitoriges and Bituriges were used.
The most interesting word in Basque from the point of view of sea-peoples is the word for ‘water’ which is ur. This word exists, in my view, in the name “Uralic Mountains”. Clearly URALA is a Finno-Ugric word. But can we connect the first part UR- with Basque ur? Perhaps we can if we allow ur to an abbreviation of UI-RA. The -RA is a widely used element of the ancient world, appearing in association with travel-ways. Furthermore, the Basque allative case ending (motion towards) is -ra. Combining this with the appearance of UI in the historical name Uitoriges, suggests it is possible Basque ur is an abbreviation of UI-RA, ‘the way of the floating, swimming’. It obviously did not view ‘water’ originally as the liquid but as the sea over which the seafarer travelled.
The Basque word for ‘earth’ appears to add an L to ur producing lur. But it is more likely from ALU-RA, ‘land-territory path’. ALU (Estonian alu ‘base, foundation, territory’) is reflected in Basque ola meaning ‘place (where something is done)’. Thus here once again the Estonian interpretation mirrors something in Basque, indicating too that Basque and Estonian were closer at an earlier time. The chances of the Basque lur being based on ALU is supported by the fact that in Roman times the stem ALU occurs several times, especially in the Roman name Albion but more clearly in the Greek Alouiones (read ALU-AVA-N). If the native British used ALU or ALO ‘land-base’, ‘territory’ as the stem for some geographic names, then we can expect that the ancestors of the Basques did too, since in seafaring terms both places were part of the same Atlantic world.


The comparing of words of two languages is treated with suspicion by linguists because it is so subjective. What one scholar thinks is close, may seem far for another. For example one scholar who likes to find Basque everywhere, has written “Canada, spelled Kanada in Basque, clearly is assembled with the vowel-interlocking formula: .ka-ana-ada, akabu (ultimate, extreme end) anaitu (to get together) ada (noise of…), ‘At the far end we’ll have a noisy-get-together’ i.e. ‘On the other side we’ll have a party’. This interpretation is absolutely and utterly absurd. Ancient people named places by their most characteristic and obvious description. A large lake, for example might be called “Large Lake” in that language. Even an Estonian interpretation of “Canada” would be better than the one presented above – konnade ‘(land) of the communities’ – because it is a plain obvious description.
In comparing words of languages, I try to be restrained, to limit the comparisons to extremely obvious parallels. If we do not limit ourselves to close parallels, we enter the realm of the imagination, in which the human mind becomes able to see anything in everything.


The West Pacific – The American “Northwest Coast”

(This puts onto the internet investigations I did in the 1980’s)

In PART TWO: SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of Whale Hunters) we looked at the Wakashan group in the region of Vancouver Island, who were original arrivals on the coast and brought whale hunting traditions. In this section we look further at the Northwest coast of North America.continue south along the Pacific coast of North America and consider other Native peoples whose relationship to the whale hunters is less clear. As I mentioned in PART TWO, during the 1970’s when a student at the University of Toronto, I went into the stacks where books are kept and pulled books off the shelf covering the North American Native (Indian) languages, flipping through the word lists, to see if words that resembled Estonian words jumped out, focusing on basic words such as those for ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘earth’, ‘sky’, ‘water’, ‘fish’, ‘sun’, ‘day’ and so on. What I discovered was that I was seeing Estonian-like words in several languages along the middle Pacific coast, known more commonly as the Northwest Coast (of North America). PART TWO looked at the acknowledged whale hunter peoples around Vancouver Island whose languages have been grouped under the name “Wakashan”, with special attention to the Kwakwala (Kwakiutl) language. Below, we take a closer look at the situation on the Pacific coast with a view of understanding better the origins of the various peoples there – which ones came by boat already with maritime traditions, and which ones moved to the coast later from the interior and adapted to coastal life. It is the ones who were boat peoples originally in which we hope to find a background extending back in time to the circumpolar skin-boat migrations.


The above map from “The Cultures of the Northwest Coast” by Philip Drucker (1965) shows the various Native nations and languages of that coast. The variation in the language groups are often so extremely different from their neighbours, that much speculation has been fuelled as to how the diversity of peoples arrived there – which came by boat and which came from the interior and borrowed maritime habits already found there. The scheme is not exactly the same as some other interpretations. For the Vancouver Island area, the Wakashan group of languages, see also the map in PART TWO. I have added “Kalapuya” because I will look at some of its words, later.

Because of the peculiar features of the Northwest Coast native people, features which include totem poles, colourful masks and other traits of advanced culture and technology, scholars have tended to separate the development of the Northwest Coast culture from the general average progression of culture among the more inland native people. Origins in Polynesia and Asia have been proposed owing to various similarities in art and artifacts. However, recent archeological findings and scholarly studies do not support such a simplistic idea as a wholesale settlement of the coast by immigrants from elsewhere. Any visitor to the Northwest Coast in at least the last 5,000 years would have found the coast already occupied by a strong and healthy maritime people. Thus a migration coming from the sea would either have been chased away, or if they managed to find a place to settle and be at peace with their neighbours, they would have been assimilated into the dominant surrounding culture after a few generations; Only if the immigrants came in a fleet of boats with a superior technology could we expect the language and culture of the newcomers to become established and survive. Such an event is not likely to have occurred; however, before the coast was settled, indeed before North Americans even considered maritime life.
However, in the case of intrusion by land from the Interior, the displacement of the coastal people already there would not have been as difficult, because the displacement would not have to occur suddenly, but it could occur slowly as natives of the Interior slowly learnt the ways of the coastal people and bit-by-bit intruded into their economic niche.
After the initial arrival of boat peoples around 3000BC, the coast developed mainly on its own (in situ), accepting influences from the interior natives. Apparently the culture and population blossomed from about 3,000 BC, and as Knut R. Fladmark determines from his paleoecologi’cal study (A Paleoecological Model For Northwest Coast Prehistory. Knut R, Fladmark, National Museums of Canada, Ottawa,1975), this occurred as a result of the sudden flourishing of the salmon owing to a stabilization of a previously fluctuating ecological environment which greatly affected the fish. The number of archeological finds from that period onward suggests that the coastal people acquire free time to develop higher culture and energy-expensive technology, and the population grew.
Another explanation for the sudden flourishing of the coast from around 3000BC could be that previous populations were not inclined towards boats and fishing, and the sudden flourishing resulted from newcomers introducing this new maritime way of life that made greatest use of the abundant salmon. It is possible that original Americans, derived from land-based people, may have looked upon fish like today modern people look upon snakes or insects. It took newcomers in boats to introduce the highly beneficial notion of catching and eating the plentiful salmon.
The main groups of native people on the Northwest Coast were the following. There was the northern group which included the Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Haisia, South of them, centred around Vancouver Island were the people of-the Wakasham group which included Kwakiutl (Kwakwala), Nootka, Bella Coola,etc. Further south there were primarily the people known as Salish.
Linguistically, the northern and Salish languages are different from the Wakasham languages, suggesting that people with different languages have arrived from the interior and taken up the maritime culture of the people who were originally there.
It is believed that the Wakasham cultures most closely represent the original cultures of the Northwest Coast The first to present this theme was Franz Boas who in 1902 and 1910 papers, according to Fladmark (p268) “saw an early basic unity of culture around the North Pacific, from Siberia to the Columbia River. This continuum was later disrupted by a coastal Eskimo migration, separating Siberian and Northwest Coast cultures and by the intrusion of the Tsimshian and Coast Salish, Boas based the Tgimshian migration on traditional histories of certain clans who claimed an interior origin. The theory of a coastward Salish movement was initiated by the pioneering archeological research of Harlan I, Smith, who interpreted a number of traits found at Marpole and Port Hammond shell- middens as being of Interior derivation…”
Since 1950, publications by C.E. Borden have pursued the concepts of an early Eskimo substratum and later migrations from the Interior. Fladmark quotes Borden with the following passage, written after Bordens first season of field work at Whalen Farm site: ” While the evidence which was gathered last summer… cannot be as yet regarded as conclusive, the data that were obtained strongly suggest that an earlier group of Indians who lived at this site for a considerable time, and whose entire organization was evidently coastal by long tradition, was eventually overwhelmed by intrusive Indians whose culture exhibits strong ties with the interior… It appears that an early period of extensive dislocations among the Indian groups of the Northwest were caused by repeated waves of migration of Athapaskan speaking peoples sweeping from Northern regions southward along the coast and through the interior.. Great unrest was caused among the Salish, It appears that Salish-speaking groups were jostled out of positions in the interior of Washington and migrated towards the coast, where they adapted themselves to a new life. They did not necessarily settle for long periods in one place but often may have been hustled along to more distant places by newer groups coming from the interior” (Borden,1950, p245)
Regarding other linguistic groups on the Northwest Coast, besides the Wakashan and Salish considered above, Borden had these notes in a second paper of 1954:(pl94, quoted by Fladmark p 271) ” Again, if as it seems, the Haida and Tlingit languages are related to Athapascan we may assume that when the late-arriving Athapascan peoples were expanding, some of them either crowded or followed the early Salish southward into the interior of British Columbia, while a few groups, especially the ancestors of the Haida and Tlingit, filtered through river valleys…to the coast where they either displaced, or more likely, mingled with the (Wakashan?) maritime population already present, at the same time adopting much of their coastal culture. “The origin of the Tsimshian is obscure. They may be late arrivals from Asia (cf. Barbeau), but it is also possible that they migrated northward from an early southern habitat… It is probable that the Tsimshian came to their present location from the interior.”
According to Borden, the prehistory of the Northwest Coast as archeology shows it in investigations done the following stages of evolution 1)An early maritime or “Eskimoid” culture with northern origins; 2)coastal migrations of interior groups, 3)a final repatterning and intergration of elements derived from early Interior and Coastal cultures.
To put it simply: First came the whalers from their circumpolar migrations who established maritime culture where none had existed before, and then interior people seeing new opportunities in unoccupied coastal locations, migrated to the coast, and finally there were various degress of merging of cultures as the two cultural and linguistic groups interracted. Two of the coastal peoples with interior origins are the Haida and Tlingit.
By 1962, after excavations in the Fraser Canyon, Borden still believed the ancestral Wakashans were responsible for the original maritime culture on the Northwest Coast, but now was wondering if their culture was transferred back north and caused the success in the Eskimo there to cause their west-to-east expansion (the “Thule” cultural expansion) Borden avoided proposing a common ancestry for Northwest Coast and Eskimo culture by using the term “Eskimoid” (Eskimo-like). However, other scholars went on to propose such a common ancestry. (Our own theory of the circumpolar expansion of boat peoples, particularly whalers, of course proposes a common ancestry going back to the first development of sea-peoples at the White Sea.)
Fladmark does not place much faith in theories pertaining-to an Asian or Eurasian connection, but acknowledges the possibility in the following passage: “ is always tempting when dealing with microblade assemblages to draw comparisons and ultimate origins from Eurasian Upper-Paleolithic cultures. Certainly it is possible to find Eurasian parallels for any of the traits of the Early Microblade Complex – for example thick-nosed scrapers of the early Moresby Tradition of the Queen Charlotte Islands are remarkably similar to Aurignacian carinate scrapers. However, the marked absence of important Upper Paleolithic traits, such as true burins and backed blades on the Northwest Coast, indicates that correspondences are generalized, and any attempt at directly deriving the Early Coast Microblade Complex from Old World ancestors would be speculative at least.” (p286) Fladmark himself relates the archeological evidence to paleoecological events on the Northwest Coast, and concludes with the following theory. Before about 5000 years before present there were oscillating sea-levels varying river gradients, and climatic fluctuations along the entire coast which maintained regional salmon . and other anadromous fish productivity far below present levels. Thus, during the period from about 10,000 years before present to 5,000 tears before present, the coastal people did not depend on fish as much as they did after. Archaeological data pertaining to before 5,000 B.P. (before present) show that the early cultures on the coast belonged to two groups: a northern group who were probably marine oriented (who probably hunted sea animals and were generally “Eskimoid”), and a southern group who were probably land-oriented. The former is called the Early Coast Microblade Complex, and the latter the Lithic Culture type. Kitchen middens (accumlations of refuse) from this early period lack shells (indicating the people did not eat shell-fish) and art work or articles of ground stone, After 5,000 B.P. [=3000 BC]archeological sites along the entire Northwest Coast show large midden accumulations of shells, ground stone ornaments and art-work. This sudden surge in culture Fladzuark attributes to the ecosystems stabilizing and the regional salmon species suddenly becoming very productive. According to Fladmark: “When salmon achieved full productivity, man probably required little or no adjustment in his exploitive technology” The maritime technology for catching fish was already in place, so that “adaptive developments took the form of specializing towards this resource more than any other, and making requisite adjustments in settlement and energy dissipating mechanisms in response to the pronounced seasonality, locational concentration, and high magnitude of this single energy source.”(p296) As I said earlier, another approach is that the indigenous peoples did not exploit salmon because to them it was a strange creature, and then the arriving maritime culture promoted it within themselves and to all with whom they came in contact. Salmon were plentiful and life began to revolve around the salmon.
Before life began to revolve around the salmon, the coastal people were mobile and scattered. Afterward, the people became more focussed on this resource which produced massive amounts of food (‘energy’) on a seasonal basis. The result was the availability of energy to devote to the manufacture of technological and cultural items. Based on numbers of radiocarbon-dated artifacts, a surge in-population occurred between 4000 B.P and 3000 B.P. (2000BC to 1000BC)
Comparison of the languages and mythology beween the Wakashan (using Kwakwala as the example) and Finnic languages was done in PART TWO, and it tends to agree with the archeological findings of connections with Inuit, and ultimate origins in the ancient Finnic whaler cultures depicted in the rock carvings of arctic Scandinavia. It is hard to argue against the conclusion that the Wakashan languages and cultures originate as “Sons of the Thunder-god KALLU” , and were then influenced subsequently by the newcomers – Salish, Haida, Tlingit – from the itnerior. See PART TWO >> SEA-GOING SKIN BOATS AND OCEANIC EXPANSION: The Voyages of the Whale Hunters for full investigation of language and mythology of the Wakashan peoples, particularly Kwakwala (Kwakiutl)
Other languages further south, also with echoes with Finnic languages/cultures, produce their own unique mysteries.

SOUTHERN GROUPS OF NORTH PACIFIC COAST –KAROK, YUROK, & HUPA If we refer to the map above, we find the Karok, Yurok and Hupa at the south end, in northern California.
While the story towards the north seems to speak of early arrival of the Wakashan groups from the north as “Eskimoid” whalers, and later migrations towards the coast of interior peoples, plus some mixing, the story towards the south is less clear. However we look at it because of similarities with Finnic culture.
The Karok, Yurok and Hupa formed the southern focus of the so-called North Pacific Coast Culture While most of the information of this culture comes from studies of the Yuroks, there was a hight degree of cultural uniformity among the three groups: neighbours on the same river highway, they visited each other’s performances of the same festivals, intermarried and feuded over the same issues. (Drucker p 176)
Surrounding this pronounced culture, further south and further inland were simple patterns of Central Californian genre (Drucker p 177) North of this area where the Pacific coast cultures of diminishing intensity until one reached the Columbia River and the Chinook tribes. In this area too, in the interior was the Kalapuyan tribe, which we will look at also, later.
As concerns the Karok, Yurok and Hupa cultures, in spite of the sameness of culture, the languages are not. The Karok language is not closely or obviously related to any other language.
In my investigation of Pacific coast languages for words that resembled Estonian or Finnish, I looked at all three, and the Karok language had most examples by far that could be compared to Estonian/Finnish. Since Karok bears no resemblance to Yurok or Hupa, we can presume that this association between the languages is a relatively recent development – one or two of them being original, and the remaining/remainder arriving in the area by migration. Before I advance a theory about Karok origins, we will look at the Karok culture and then at words that resonate with Estonian/Finnish words – as much as I could find using the limited word list in the source material.
The Karok , Yurok and Hupa tribes are a group that – in spite of their different language – practiced a similar culture. All of them occupying the Klamath River valley in northwestern California, wherever their culture came from, the river valley tied them all together culturally.
This distinctive northwestern California culture, which may be considered a variety of the North Pacific culture centering in British Columbia, reaches its most intense form among these three tribes
The Karok-Yurok-Hupa culture lacked many of the features of the culture to their north, but to compensate there was an elaboration of certain features well beyond what was practiced in the north, such as the development of the use of dentalia shells like modern money.
The Nootka who ‘fished’ the shells, like other northerners, sorted them into large medium and small sizes, and strung them by an imprecise fathom. Yurok on the other hand, graded their shell treasures like jewelers sorting fine gems, and devised a standard of measurement. Yurok strings were all the same length. The unit of highest denomination was a string filled from end to end by ten shells of nearly equal length. (Drucker p 177-178)
The Yurok and presumable Hupa and Karok, thus used dentalia nearly like modern currency. Indeed every adult male has a mark tatooed on his upper arm by which he could check the accuracy of the length of a string of dentalia held between thumb and forefinger.
Naturally societies that have established a monetary standard are interested in “monetary wealth” and so there was an overwhelming interest in weath, and indeed the society idealized the notion of men spending as much time possible in the routine of sweat bathing and cold water bathing, partial feasting, observing strict continence, gathering sweathouse wood all for the ultimate purpose of achieving wealth. (Drucker 183)
While the Nootkan and Kwakwala people in British Columbia put themselves through various purification rituals just as rigorously, they did not identify as precisely as the Karok, Yurok and Hupa, what the outcome of these rituals would be To the tribes in British Columbia, the purpose of purification rituals was to become charming and charismatic so that the spirits of the environment would act favourably towards them, but what constituted favourable behaviour was left open to the circumstances and needs of the time.
As in modern monetary society, the Karok, Yurok, and Hupa even assigned value to rare items that had little instrinsic value like the dentalia shells, large obsidian blades, scalps of giant pileated woodpeckers [!!!], and skins of albino deer. The pursuit of rare goods to which are assigned a high value is an obvious raison d’etre for a trading people, and I wonder if a trading people arrived at the mouth of the Klamath perhaps 2000 years ago (about the time of the Romans when there were several seatrading peoples like Phoenicians and Veneti) and settled there on the river, and by doing so transferred their trader material culture to the natives, including the sauna (more about the sauna, below) We note that in the northeast parts of North America too, the native peoples had little concept of material wealth until the concept was brought by European traders seeking furs and suddenly transforming an animal’s coat into a monetary unit.

[Note: The “Giant Pileated Woodpeckers” are an unidentified species. See the companion blog Frontiers of Zoology under the category “Greater Imperial Woodpeckers.” If I am correct in my asumption, these continue to be sighted as small-“Pteranodons” in the Columbia River area and California up until recent times-DD]
Other aspects of the society also indicated sophistication of the kind we associate with Europe. The principle of wergild was used as a device for resolving conflicts (conflicts resolved by suitable payments) based on the value of a man’s life being equal to the bride price paid for his mother. In terms of how much penalty there should be, “With the same kind of precision shown in their refinement of the dentalia-grading system, they worked out an elaborate scale of seriousness of offences against the person, from murder to an insult….This systematic approach gave an orderliness to Yurok law that was lacking in the wergild settlements of groups far to the north, where grandiose demands for blood money were just as grandiosely rejected.” (Drucker, p 184)
Yurok (and presumably Karok and Hupa) society was made up of small groups of patrilineally related males, clustered around the genealogical senior of the unit, the ‘rich man’. Nominal owner of the sweathouse and the group’s wealth, he directed activities of the group-owned economic tracts, such as a section of the salmon weir of acorn grounds. However, as among other Coast Indians, wealth was really a group, not individual property….(true also in Europe in the non-Indo-European regions like across northern Europe in the Finnic regions in Roman times)
Although sweat bathing was found throughout North America in more improvised forms using rocks heated in a fire outside, among the Karok, Yurok and Hupa, it was refined into an institution with its own special building and rituals. The sweat bath was an important part of the ritual purification for good fortune. The men usually assembled in late afternoon for the sweat bath; when they left the sweathouse by the flue exit, they plunged into the chill river water, then spent several hours alternatively immersing and scrubbing with aromatic herbs, while reciting formulaic prayers for good fortune.” (Drucker p 180) Primitive sweathouses were found among other Indian people throughout North America notably the Algonquians who we believe are also from boat-people, hence ultimate north Scandinavian aboriginal origins. But here it was in a permanent structure with an interior fireplace. Drucker described it as follows: They Yurok sweathouse was a rectangular structure of planks….The walls lined the sides of a deep pit ….A large fire pit in the floor provided direct heat, not steam, for sweating. Men entered through the usual round doorway……Ethnographers and others who observed the Indians still using their typical structures were impressed by the neatness of the sweathouses….Sweathouses rarely contained more than neat wooden stools and well-polished wooden headrests, which were individual property of each occupant, and perhaps a load of wood stacked beside the fireplace….etc. (p 180)


Early Finnic saunas too were semi-buried like the above. The Finnic versions might be covered with sod to seal cracks better.


These two men, in the adjacent illustration from archives (see text on the illustrations for the sources) in this case from the Hupa culture, look like they could be mistakened for a couple of old Finns of the past century, emerging from their sauna.

Was the similarity of the Karok-Yurok-Hupa sweat house with Finnic sauna of the last millenia a coincidence? The natural result of continued development from the primitive makeshift “sweat lodge” of the Algonquians and others? Or does it suggest, as with other cultural behaviour the arrival of traders into the Klamath, from Finnic sea trade peoples of Roman times or earlier? (The southerly Finnic cultures in the European north, through contacts with continental Europe and beyond, did establish seatrade in northern waters and possibly south too via amber trading)
Perhaps the Klamath River peoples, already shaped by early whale hunters, received a new wave of visitors, now more advanced, who were able to enhance what already existed (based on the principle that it is easier to evolve from something that already exists than to invent something entirely new and therefore mysterious to the general public.)
As a result of the pursuit of wealth the Karok-Yurok-Hupa culture was more secular than the coastal Indians of British Columbia. Here, instead of working to please ambiguous imagined spirits, men worked to gain the liking of the dentalia shells (to attract money), or quite real things such as charming a real deer he could see rather than an imagined spirit before seeing a real deer.
Still, there WAS religion, just as there is religion in out modern secular world. Humans need to addess an unknown even if in most of their regular lives they deal with hard reality not superstition. There was the World Renewal Cycle. Because their live was based on harvesting salmon, and collecting acorns, the ritual involved the concept of ancestral people and the First Salmon and the First Acorn. This ritual ensured continued success in harvesting salmon and acorns. Peculiar to the Karok-Yurok-Hupa societies was that they generated major festivals around these rituals, whereas towards the north the ritual towards the first salmon was a solemn act, which was not spun into celebrations, socializing, etc. In this respect once again, their culture resembles what was found in northern Europe among the indigenous aboriginals, when they gathered at places accessible to several adjacent tribes. In particular, Finnic culture had the midsummer festival that marked the longest day or shortest night of the year, with a huge bonfire to light up the night during the few hours of darkness — but this was a concept only found in the north where the annual progression of the length of day or night was dramatic ultimately culminating above the arctic circle in days or nights lasting months.
Are these similarities in culture and daily life with developed Baltic Finnic culture of maybe the Roman Age, pure coincidence? The result of parallel evolution from the foundations laid down by whale hunters? Or does it suggest traders of ultimate Balto-Finnic origins arriving at the mouth of the Klamath around the Roman Age – before or after? Are the further coincidences in words in the Karok language, suggestive of later arrivals, or are we looking at words carried to the area already from early times by the first whalers to migrate down the coast from the circumpolar boat peoples?
The Karok language is not closely or obviously related to any other (in the area), but has been classified as a member of the northern group of Hokan languages, in a subgroup which includes Chimariko and the Shasta languages, spoken in the same general part of California as Karok itself (William Bright pg 1)
This suggests to me that the Karok may have arrived by sea, and travelled upriver. Possibly there were no people along the river originally, if the indigenous people were land-based and had no interest in fish, and the Karok found an empty economic niche. Perhaps the Chimariko and Shasta are descendants of the original arrival.
The following is my investigation of Karok words

The Karok words in the source The Karok Language, William Bright, uses a phonetic orthography dating to the 1950’s. In order to be reasonably consistent with what I did with writing out the Kwakwala language in a more readable fashion, I interpreted the orthography of the Karok words in my own way like with the Kwakwala, based on the Latin phonetics. The accent mark in the original I show by bolding and the dot I show by doubling the letter. Sadly until recently with the establishing of an international phonetic alphabet there have been very many phonetic orthographies, so that I am sometimes lost when looking at older materials – since I am not a trained linguist familiar with such things. If my interpretation of the sound of a KAROK word is a litle incorrect, I don’t think it is serious enough to alter the comparison with an Estonian/Finnish word. We are not pursuing precise linguistics here, just scanning for coincidences that are beyond the probability of random chance. To better understand how William Bright ‘heard’ the words, see Bright, William
The Karok Language, 1957, University of California Press, Berkeley&Los Angeles
Thus to summarize: the phonetics of Latin is used as before with Kwakwala TRYING to present it the same way; bolding means emphasis of a sort, length is shown by doubling the consonant. Furthermore the ‘ means glottal stop. For Estonian/ Finnish it is written in standard Estonian/Finnish without further markings. (Those with no knowledge of Estonian, please refer to any handbook on pronouncing Estonian or Finnish; however the variations from Latin pronunciation are not great.).

KAROK ESTONIAN/FINNISH (stress on 1st syllable)
‘AAHKU ‘to burn’ AHI / AHJO ‘fireplace / forge’
‘AHI- ‘to burn’
‘AAHA ‘fire, lantern’

-AHI is also used to mark the past tense. Estonian uses the -SI- or -I- to mark the past tense.

‘ I Š ‘flesh, body’ IHU / IHO ‘flesh, body’
PAAH ‘boat’ PAAT ‘boat’
‘ IMMAAN ‘tomorrow’ HOMME / HUOMENNA ‘tomorrow’
KUUSRA(H) ‘month; sun, moon’ KUU / KUU ‘moon’
‘ IPAHA ‘tree’ PUU / PUU ‘tree’
YUMAA ‘pertaining to the dead’ JUMAL / JUMALA ‘god’
KOO ‘all’ KÕIK / KAIKKI ‘all’
KOOVAN ‘together’ KOOS / KOOSSA ‘together’
KOOKANHI ‘to accompany’ KAASA/ KANSSA ‘in accompaniment with’
KARU ‘also’ KA ‘also’
‘ AXAK ‘two’ KAKS / KAKSI ‘two’
TIIK ‘finger’ TIIB or TIIV ‘wing’
TIIV ‘ear’
TIIT ‘fin’
IKXIV ‘thunderhead’ ÄIKE , IKKE / UKKONEN ‘lightening’
‘ARAARA ‘man, person’ RAHVAS ‘a people, nation’
‘IINIŠ ‘to come into existence’ INIMENE/ IHMINEN ‘person’
SÜNNI / SYNTY ‘be born’
‘ IIN ‘(the world, human race) to exist’

Note: This compares with Inuit words like inuit ‘people’ and inuusaaqtuq ‘he is born” AAHO ‘to walk, go’ KÄI /KÄY ‘walk, go’

compares with Kwakwala QASA ‘walking’ and Inuit qai-

‘ AAS ‘water’ VEE-/VEE- or VESI/VESI ‘water’

compares with Kwakwala ‘WÄP VIIHI ‘to dislike, hate’ VIHA / VIHA ‘anger, hatred’
IMYAH- ‘to breathe’ HINGA / HENGITTÄ
IME / IMEÄ ‘suck’
SU’ VARIH ‘deep’ SÜGAV / SYVÄ ‘deep’
SU’ ‘down, inside’ SUU / SUU ‘mouth’
IMUUSTIH ‘to look at, watch’ IMESTA /IHMETELLÄ ‘be amazed’
‘ UUS ‘pine cone’ KUUSK / KUUSI ‘fir-tree’
VAASAN ‘enemy’ VASTA / VASTA ‘against, opposing’
VAASIH ‘back’ ‘opposite side’?
‘ AASIŠ ‘go to bed’ ASE ‘bed, nest’
KOOKA ‘kind, classification’ KOGU / KOKO ‘grouping, collection’
SIIRIH ‘to shine’ SÄRA Est. ‘sparkle’
TAAT ‘mother’ TAAT Est. ‘old manä

Since Inuit ataata refers to ‘father’ this looks like a gender reversal

‘AKAH ‘father’ UKKO ‘mythological god’compare with Kwakwala QÄQÄS ‘your grandfather’ and Inuit AKKA ‘paternal uncle’MA’ ‘mountain’ MÄGI / MÄKI ‘mountain’
PATUMKIRA ‘pillow’ PADI Est. ‘pillow’

‘AAMA ‘salmon’ KALA / KALA ‘fish’
This looks like a simple matter of substitution of M for L ?YAV ‘good’ HEA / HYVÄÄ ‘good’
‘ AK ‘pertaining to use of hands’ KÄE/ KÄEN ‘of the hands’
‘ ASA ‘to wear on one’s body’ KASUTA Est ‘use’
KASUKAS Est. ‘fur coat’
HOOTAH ‘late’ OOTA / ODOTA ‘wait’
KUNIŠ ‘sort of, kind of’ -KENE Est ‘kind of’
-TARA ‘instrument’ TARVE / TARVE ‘instrument’

-VA suffix for action over extended time -V / -VA suffix marking present participle
-TIH suffix marking continuing action -TI ending for Estonian past imperfect passive
-AHI like past tense -SI / -I marker for past tense

The number of examples is small because the source list was small. This list represents about one in 35 words, similar to our other comparisons. The source words include all kinds of compound words and derivations. We selected only those that show strong correspondences. Some may be coincidences, but some patterns are sufficiently unique that they could not appear by random chance. The connection of some ancestors of the Karok language and the boat people is supported by the word ‘IIN for the existence of the human race. It resonates with Inuit INNUK ‘person’.

The Kalapuyan Languages

Immediately to the north of the original home of the Karok Indians lay the homelands of the Indian tribes that belonged to several linguistically defined groups including the Shasta, Takelma, and Kalapuyan. Although Kalapuyan tribes are not often discussed in connection with the North Pacific Coast culture, as they lived slightly inland (see map above), they occupied the banks of a major branch of the Columbia River, a river that flowed into the Columbia from the south, and no doubt they lived by fishing salmon as intensely as the Columbia River Chinook Indians.
Kalapuyan defines a family of languages or dialects. By discovering similar words among several languages of the Kalapuyan family, linguists hope to discover words that belonged to the original language, which might be called “Proto-Kalapuyan”. Such a study was done by William Shipley involving a comparison of three Kalapuyan languages: Tfalati, Santiam, and Yoncalla. This work (Proto-Kalapuyan, in Languages and Cultures of Western North America, 1970 – see references at bottom) was used as one of the sources of Kalapuyan words for comparison with Finnic.
It has been proposed many years ago – in 1965 – by Morris Swadesh that Kalapuyan languages are perhaps related to Takelma and together they formed a larger grouping. In any event, Swadesh presented words of Takelma plus three Kalapuyan languages (the three described above) in his 1965 paper (see references below) and I also mined that paper as a source of Kalapuyan words.
The following short study looks at Kalapuyan words which strongly resemble Estonian and Finnish words, starting with Shipley’s list of Kalapuyan words, and then adding words that Swadesh presented but Shipley did not present, to enlarge the source words. Even so, the total number of words remains small; however our intent is not to do a linguistic study but to show that we are able to find remarkable parallels that by laws of probability suggest they cannot all be mere random chance correspondences.
Like the Karoks, it is difficult to link Kalapuyans to the whale hunter migrations, since they too had moved into the interior and lived off harvesting salmon.
To begin with, the name “Kalapujans” is so close to Estonian kala püüdjad ‘fish catchers’ that I hoped to find a parallel; however I failed to find the data I sought. I did however find a word for ‘fish’ from Swadesh’s material. It was given as K’AWAN (I use ‘ for the glottal stop or throat catch) which came from the Yonkalla dialect. It is possible therefore that there could have been a replacement of L with W.
Because the “Proto-kalapuyan” words derived by Shipley are still artificial, the following comparisons are made from the real Kalapuyan word, indicating the dialect with T, S, or Y representing respectively Tfalati, Santiam, or Yoncalla.
In terms of orthography, I continue to use the approach that uses the Latin sounds as a basis, with additional markers selected from common keyboard symbols. Emphasis (if the source material gives it) is given by bolding, the single quote marks a catch in the throat or glottal stop, and a dash marks a sound break (without catch). These are very intuitive conventions.

PAL (T) ‘big’
PALA (S)PUU£ (T,S ‘blow” EEFAN (S) ‘father’

TIITA (S) ‘give’

HUUSU (Y) ‘good’

TAHKI (T) ‘kill’

PA£ (T) ‘lake’
PAA£ (S,Y)

MEEFU (T) ‘mountain’

NUNA (T, S) ‘nose’

MIM (T,S) ‘person’

T-ASTU (S) ‘sit’

HUYS (T,S) ‘smell’

YALKYAK (T) ‘straight’

PYAN (T, S) ‘sun’

KwAYN (T) ‘swim’
KwAY (S)

PAMYUT (T) ‘think’

K’AWAN (Y) ‘fish’

PUUHA (S) ‘alder (tree)’
PO-P (T)
PEEM (T) ‘tree’

HUL-LII (S) ‘want’

WAL-LA (S) ‘down’

(neighbouring, but not considered Kalapuyan)

KAA’-M ‘two’

‘ EL-AA- ‘tongue’

PEYAAN ‘daughter, girl’

PALJU / PALJON ‘much, alot’

PUHU / PUHU ‘blow / speak’

ISA / ISÄ ‘father’

TEE / TIE ‘do’

HEA / HYVÄÄ ‘good’

TAPPA / TAPPA ‘kill’

PAAT (Est) ‘boat’

MÄGI /MÄKI ‘mountain, hill’

NINA / NENÄ ‘nose’

INIMENE (Est) ‘person’

ISTU/ ISTU ‘sit’

HAIS / HAISU ‘smell’

JALG / JALKA ‘leg, foot’

PEA / PÄÄ ‘chief, most important’
PÄIKE (Est) ‘sun’

KÄI / KÄY ‘go’

Est. PEAMÕTTE ‘main idea’
MÕTTE / MIETE ‘thought’

KALA / KALA ‘fish’

PUU / PUU ‘tree’

HOOLI / HUOLI ‘want, desire’

ALLA / ALLA ‘down’

KAKS / KAKSI ‘two’

KEEL / KIELI ‘tongue’

POJA / POJAN ‘child; boy’

PAAH ‘boat’

MA’ ‘mountain’

‘ IIN ‘(the world, human race) to exist’

‘AAMA ‘salmon’

‘ IPAHA ‘tree’

‘ AXAK ‘two’

Note that although the number of comparisons obtained, the original sources of words was quite small. The word list for Karok was also moderately small. These comparisons can be continued if larger number of original (old) words can be uncovered. It is clear that in whatever way the Finnic seafarers arrived and mixed with indigenous peoples, the very fact that some of the above words are also found in Karok, Kwakwala and even Inuit seems to point to the arrival of boat peoples, originally of the same groups that became the Inuit, perhaps even more than once over the course of time.


Nobody likes science that uses intuition, because the value of the result depends on the quality of the intuition. But intuition works when used by experienced people, and can even be quantified a little by having the intuitive person first try to establish the “control” of what results are achieved at random. Then when that same person analyzes a real language, a rate above the “control” suggests that the results are not purely random chance. It is analagous to the manner in which drug companies test drugs – one group is given a placebo and the other the real drug and the results are recorded. If the results from the real drug are better than the results among those THINKING they are taking a real drug, but really only taking a placebo, then that proves the result. Why can’t we try something similar with comparing languages in which the languages are far too old for standard comparative linguistics?
In my case, in my quick scanning ofl the books on North American Native language in the stacks in the University of Toronto library in the 1980’s I developed a good sense of what was random from the over 95% that I rejected. Intuition is helped by intelligence too. I knew that a valid result will tend to have a large number of basic words corresponding such as words for ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘person’, ‘water’, and so on. A random result will not highlight such core words and the correspondences will not even be close.
Language must also have logic in it. What is the likelihood (to invent an example) of the word for ‘mouth’ becoming the word for ‘water’ (An ignorant “scholar” might argue for pages that saliva is water therefore we must accept) The science when using intuitive rather than deductive approaches, lies in the laws of probability. In the examples given for the Kalapuyan we note that there is correspondence with Finnic in the word for ‘nose’, and the word for ‘smell.’ That coincidence is the most powerful one of all the data. The fact that BOTH have good correspondences, adds support, since if a people preserve the word for ‘nose’ they will more probably also preserve the word for ‘smell’ since the two are connected concepts.
Thus, in the absence of formal linguistic analysis methods – impossible for such distant comparisons – we can look for proof within the conceptual logic of the results themselves. Logic also allows the presence of the same word across several language to lend support to an argument that , considered in isolation, is uncertain. We note that all the words for ‘fish’ begin with a variation of the KA- sound, although many of the K have become glottal stops. This takes us back to Inuit IQALUK, which seems to imply Finnic KALA is a condensation of the original formulation.
The purpose here is not to prove anything specific with respect to these languages, but purely to show SOME evidence that seems to point towards the southward migrations of circumpolar skin boat peoples to the North Pacific coast and their settlement there. Nothing has been studied to any depth, and there is much opportunity for students to pursue one of these angles further, using more data and better analysis methods.


(Other references are cited within the text or illustrations)
Boaz, Frank
Some problems in North American archaeology 1902, American Journal of Archaeology (2nd series)
Ethnological problems in Canada. 1910, Journal Royal Anthropological Institute 40:529-39
Borden, Charles
Notes on the prehistory of the southern Northwest Coast. 1951, British Columbia Historical Quarterly 14:241-46
Facts and problems of Northwest Coast prehistory, 1950, Anthropology in British Columbia 4:35-49 Some aspects of prehistoric Coastal- Interior relations in the Pacific Northwest 1954a, Anthropology in British Columbia 4:26-32 Bright, William
The Karok Language, 1957, University of California Press, Berkeley&Los Angeles
Drucker, Philip
Cultures of the North Pacific Coast, 1965, Chandler, San Francisco
Shipley, William
Proto-Kalapuyan, 1970, Languages and Cultures of Western North America, ed. E.H.Swanson Jr., Ohio State Univ Press, Pocatello, Idaho, 1970
Swadesh, Morris
Kalapuya and Takelma, July 1965, International Journal of American Linguistics, vol 31, No. 3

–As I had mentioned in my editorial comment in the last blog posting, Paabo relies mainly on Linguistics and I made up my corresponding theory based on Archaeologically recognised cultures, stone-tool types and other aspects of Physical culture. Below are a series of maps I made up to show the advance of Mesolithic and later Boreal-Archaic cultures until they finally colonised all around the Arctic Ocean, The Northwest Coast cultural area and the Sea of Okhotsk, and full across both Canada and Siberia. The sources are the standard reference books Cambridge Encyclopedia of Archaeology, especially the maps in the Appendix Chapter 64, “Chronological Atlas”, Figs 64:14-64:20, pgs 444-447, and crossreferencing to An Introduction to American Archaeology -DD

Arctic-Mesolithic Map 1, 6000BC


Arctic-Mesolithic Map 2, 4000 BC


Arctic-Mesolithic Map 3, 2000 BC

–The overall picture is much the same as Paabo’s overall scheme: plus the lower latitudes of the New World and Europe involve the Algonquin as I had stated in the earlier article still popular on this blog. I see no reason to modify my statements made on the earlier blog and no conflict with Paabo: in this case we are talking about languages and peoples related to the Uralics, but at a remove from them. Using the Nostratic superfamily model and my own earlier statements on the matter, the Basque and related languages were remnants of Megalithic Europe, much-modified over time (non-controversial) and related most closely to Sumerian and some Caucasiatic languages in a sort of Megalithic family (dslightly more controversial, but supported by many experts and cited on the Wikipedia) which in turn has a New World extension in the Algonquin, Wakashan, Salish and Almosan family classifications (the more controversial component, but still supported by professional Linguistts, especially in Russia). All of these languages are seen as related to Uralic but at a remove, and otherwise counted in the Eurasian family grouping by other Linguists particularly in Russia. And as can be seen on the bottom map below, the influence of the Algonquin-speaking carriers of the Boreal Archaic had spanned the width of Southern Canada to begin showing up in the Northwest Coast area in the period of 2000-1000 BC, about contemporary with the organization of the “Eskaleutian” cultures into arctic-mammal hunting specialists, and the arrival of the Dene speaking peoples out of Asia into the Western USA (the “Chinese” cultural featues associated at the time includes cremation burials in small mounds or cairns, which shows up in the Archaeological record of the West Coast just about then) Cressman, Butler, Swanson and others are cited in An Introduction to North American Archaeology as to the sudden introduction of the “Boreal Archaic” elements into the NWCoast area (supposedly from the area around the Great Lakes) In a total of a dozen works between them, as cited in the text. And the diffusion of the same Boreal Archaic culture Northward into the area around Hudsn’s Bay, to eventually be absorbed into the later Inuit cultures when they expanded into the area, is also documented similarly in the same book but as associated with an earlier set of dates.
Please remember that Archaeologists have been aware of the similarity in ground-slate tools in both the New World Boreal Archaic and in Scandinavia since the 1920s and some claims for TransAtlantic diffusion were the direct result of those observations and advanced by some of those scientists at that time.
This all appears to hang together very well as an overall wiorking theory. Next part of this shall explore a very old suggestion of “Finns” as inhabitants of Britain and especially Ireland, Scotland, the Orkneys, Shetland and other islands, and their more familiar survival into Folklore according to the theory.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

Posted by Dale Drinnon at 5:48 AM

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Labels: Algonquin, Andres Paabo, Circumpolar Culture, Circumpolar Mesolithic, Farfarers, Hide Boats, Hyperboria, Megalithic, Northwest Coastal Cultures, Nostratic Languages, Uralic Languages, Whaling



DrsinJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:01 PM

There’s a lovely little island called Kiawa Island off the coast of Charleston, SC.


DrusinJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:11 PM

I think those shells on some random pattern on a string may be a contraceptive bead bracelet. They’re still used around the world to great success,even working better than many modern forms. Population control i’m sure would also have been important knowledge for them.


Dale DrinnonJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:46 PM

Hey Drusin, good guess on the shell bracelet-that could well be some sort of Atlantean invention since we already know they were into making shell money and shell beads, and that they seem to have developed the abacus (and quipus). They could easily have figuredout the menstrual cycle and hit upon the device of handing out personal abacuses for birth control. Overpopulation of the main island of Atlantis, depletion of resources and croop failures all seem to have combined in forcing the Atlanteans to expand outward and this is stated in some of the myths about the Antediluvians.
Paabo does definitely state that there must have been Atlanteans but he seems a little unclear as to any differentiation between Pleistocene or Holocene Atlanteans: I surmise that the people that called themselves Atlanteans continued to do so until the Phaethon catastrophe circa 1100-1200 BC or whenever it was (since there is the “Ages in Chaos” aspect to that part, too) And at one time I would have said that Uralics were Atlanteans and definitely related to Sumeriands and Basques: now I only say that they were most likely adjacent and borrowed extensively from one another.

There is a book called “The Key” that has been circulating for a while: I had not read it but I heard of it. The author states that a lot of place names around the world contain the common roots AWA, HAWAH, AK, OG , ALA,and so on and actually these sound like Finnish words to me (Unless the Atlanteans did use them as well, which is only an inferrance at present). But by that theory, Kiawa Island comes from AK-AWA, but I personally would also allow that IKI is just as good to include in the roots (so that you could have HAWAH-IKI, for example)

Best Wishes, Dale D.


Dale DrinnonJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:53 PM

BTW, I do NOT insist on all of Paabo’s lingiuistic derivations on being correct and in my opinion he uses far TOO MANY examples of the sort when he could also be pursuing other avenues of evidence. In particular, the name “Pict” might more reasonably be related to “Picane” (Pygmy) especially when we are speaking in terms of the “Pechs” and “Pixies” (For which see the part 4) and there is no reason to make a big deal out of “Canoe” (Which has alternatively been interpreted to mean “Dug-Out”[the action of digging out as a verb])

Best Wishes, Dale D.