James Donahue. Mongols In America. Were the Mongolians the First to Settle America?
Michigan's Cass River winds through a large, unsettled swampland in northwestern Sanilac County known as the Minden game area. There a forest fire in 1881 uncovered a large, flat sandstone plate covered with ancient rock carvings, or petroglyphs, preserved for hundreds of years under several inches of sediment and fallen leaves. As far as I know, they are among the few ancient rock carvings of their kind to be found east of the Mississippi.
I worked as a newspaper reporter in that part of the state at the time the Michigan Historical Commission declared the area a historical park. Because the sandstone was eroding from a century of exposure to humans and weather, a protective building was erected on the site.
During my visits, I became acquainted with the late Lynn Spencer, a retired rural mail carrier and area history buff, who lived in a modest house in a nearby hill. Before the area became a state park, Lynn and his wife took it upon themselves to guard the rock and lead visitors back through the woods on personal tours.
Among the visitors, Spencer said, was a noted scholar of early American archaeology, who spent several days studying the carvings, taking photographs and making a complete record of each mark in the rock and its position in relation to all of the other marks. Most of the so-called "primitive art" shows the usual images of animals, with stick figures using bows to fire arrows into them. They also include what looks like footprints of birds and images representing the spirits of the earth and nature. Then there are some strange carvings of human figures wearing peaked hats that were of particular interest to the scholar, Spencer said. He said the triangular shaped caps appeared to him to be a type of coulee hat worn for hundreds of years, and still worn by Chinese men. This scholar, whose name has been long lost in the cobwebs of my past, projected a theory that an exploratory delegation from China once visited that area of Michigan. It was such an important event to the native tribes, they recorded it in the rock.
I thought it a far-out theory when I first heard it. The chances of Chinese visitors coming to America before Columbus and traveling as far inland as Michigan, seemed highly improbable.
Since then, other clues pointing to possible visits by Chinese or Far Eastern sailors to this country have surfaced. Divers off the coast of California found strange round stones, with holes carved in their centers, in areas where ship's captains might have anchored before sending a small boat to make landfall. The Chinese have used stones like these as anchors for their junks and other sailing craft as long as anyone can remember.
During our three-year adventure in various parts of Arizona, my wife Doris and I lived with the Navajo people, made friends with various Hopi, and while I worked as a newspaper reporter in Show Low, my beat took me among members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. While the tribal members didn't seem to like one another, and would not admit a common ancestry, I noticed that the features and language of the Apache and Navajo people were strangely similar. Not only that, but their features appeared almost oriental.
The more I associated with these two tribes, the more suspicious I became that there was some kind of a link between them and the Far East.
One day I was invited to come to a private resort get-away in the forest just outside the town of Pinetop-Lakeside to meet a delegation visiting the Four Corners Area from Mongolia. What was revealed to me at that meeting was an incredible story.
It seems that this group of Mongolian visitors became fascinated by America's Four Corners (the point where the states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico all join). They were interested because it had peculiar similarities to a place called Four Corners that linked four providences of Mongolia on the exact opposite side of the world.
If you examine maps, you will find that the joining of four states at a single point only occurs in these two places in the world.
This was only the beginning of the list of synchronicities in this story, however. The Mongolian visitors bore such a close resemblance to the Navajo and Apache people it was obvious they all were descendants of a common ancestry at some distant point in history.
Not only that, but their life styles were amazingly similar. Even though living separated for hundreds, if not thousands of years, at opposite ends of the planet, both tribes raised sheep, wove rugs with similar colorful patterns, lived in wooden octagon buildings with peaked roofs, and spoke a similar language. Many of the words they used sounded alike. Their ancient native customs, passed down for centuries, also were similar.
Members of the Mongolian visiting party, and representatives of both the Navajo and Apache tribes who participated in this historic meeting, were so amazed at this information, they were convinced that they were in some way related to one another.
Plans were made to send a delegation from the Arizona tribes on a similar fact-finding mission the following year to Mongolia. I did not stay long enough to find out if they made the trip or what was learned.
A study by Chinese scholars only recently found a link between rock carvings found in Central America and ancient Chinese writings. They discovered that the carvings here so closely resemble the 3,000-year-old Shang Dynasty characters for the sun, sky, rain, water, crops, trees and stars the carvings match pre-221 BC Chinese script. Chang Yuzhi, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he believes there is "very strong evidence" of a link between the two cultures.
While people in this part of the world think of the Mongolians as a barbaric people, this is a misconception. Through the leadership of Genghis Khan in the 13th Century, the Mongolian people rose to become a great nation. After a brilliant military conquest, Khan led the Mongols and the conquered world in what may have been its first great awakening; a period of spiritual, mental and social development unlike anything experienced since. It was under the rule of Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, that the Yuan Dynasty came into existence. It may have been during one of these bright moments in the distant past that the Mongols sent ships on exploratory missions, actually reaching and settling in North America.
Whether they came by ship or crossed the Bearing Sea on foot during the ice age, it is my belief that the Mongolians, a people living in the northern providences of China, were among the first people from Asia to settle the North American continent. And they are still here.
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