In a recent post on this blog we learned about the Haida people of British Columbia, Canada and how their oral tradition speaks of their ancestors sailing across the Pacific to Hawaii and even to Asia. The post I’m referring to is at:
From British Columbia to Hawaii is 2,763 miles and from Hawaii to Japan is about 4, 116 miles. So what we are talking about here is a distance between BC and Japan of about 6,879 miles and that is a pretty long distance. Question is when the Haida ancestors were doing all of this sailing upon the Pacific waters was the distance between these lands as long as it is today?
I bring this subject up because there is something known as “The Expanding Earth Hypothesis” which basically says our planet is growing and has grown bigger and bigger since the origins of our planet began. This theory has been mostly rejected by mainstream scientists today but let’s take a look at it for ourselves.
There are actually three different forms of the EET (Expanding Earth Theory). These are:
- Earth’s mass has remained constant and the gravitational pull has decreased over time.
- Earth’s mass has grown with the volume in such a way that the surface gravity has remained constant.
- Earth’s gravity at the surface has increased over time in line with the suspected growth in mass and volume.
The theory holds the concept that as the planet expanded in the past (and still is today) that the continents move. Another theory is Plate Tectonics which most scientists today accept.
That all said I think it safe to say two things. First, we don’t know exactly when the ancestors of the Haida People were sailing from British Columbia to Hawaii and on to Asia and back engaging in trading. And second, it’s safe to say that the continents as we know them today were not in the same place they are today. In fact, they were likely a little closer to each other and maybe even rearranged a bit.
What I’m alluding to is this. Maybe when the Haida ancestors were sailing the Pacific the distances between BC, Hawaii, and Asia were not as great as they are today. Instead maybe those distances were only a thousand miles apart or maybe even a few hundred miles apart in some places. In addition, sea levels were likely lower than they are today and that means that islands would have been exposed across the Pacific that today are under water and I think it likely people lived on those islands just as they live on islands like Hawaii today.
So, considering such a scenario means that it was not unthinkable for the Haida ancestors to pull off exactly what their oral traditions say they did. When we consider prehistoric times we have a tendency to frame them in a context we see today. That’s just human nature. However, when we look at ancient and remote times we often need to remove our blinders and see beyond our “tunnel vision.” The world that we see today is NOT the world of yesterday. It certainly is not the world of our prehistoric ancestors an that’s important to remember especially when we consider oral traditions such as that of the Haida People of British Columbia and others. What we see today as a long journey may, in prehistoric times, not really have been such a long journey after all. In fact, it may have been a moderate journey or in some cases even a short journey.
It’s been expressed on this blog many times that we need to take the oral traditions of native people more seriously and I wholeheartedly agree. For far too long we “experts” have minimized native oral traditions and passed them off as “superstition” not only in the Americas but everywhere else. It’s been said that within every “myth” is some element of “truth” and I’d say something similar when it comes to oral traditions. I’m sure that over the eons of time some who have passed on oral traditions have expounded upon them or maybe even exaggerated them a bit and then passed them to the next generation. But, they still contain some element of truth and it is that truth we should be looking for and taking seriously.
When it comes to the Haida People there’s no doubt in my mind that their ancestors likely did sail to and trade with folks in Hawaii and Asia. That’s not the question. The question is how far of a sailing distance are we talking about in that time? Thousands of miles or less and maybe even much less?
Finally, here’s something else. Most all of the Native American tribes along the Pacific Coast have oral traditions speaking of a time where there were great floods and how their people had to move upland where we find them today. That’s pretty clear to me that the sea levels were possibly significantly lower than they are today. They also speak of “mythical lands” that were once out in the oceans but were “buried” by the flood waters over time and, thus, can no longer be seen today. Are such oral traditions speaking of continental drift and plate tectonics? I think that is most likely and that means the voyages were not as long as they would be today across the Pacific and back home to BC.