Maritime Essay

Topics: Polynesia, New Zealand, North America Pages: 9 (2459 words) Published: May 18, 2013
A Clouded Past

History is as foggy and undiscovered as the future, indeed the textbooks our parents read

in school are radically different from those that we learn from today. And our children will no

doubt learn a history that we can only imagine in our present. As our technology develops, we

find new ways to discover the past and, in many cases, that discovery disproves theories we

previously held about ancient times. One such example can be found in a new theory that

suggests that the Americas were actually settled by coastal Eastern Asian Peoples who traveled

on small boats and used kelp forests for sustenance on their long journey. The “Kelp Highway”

theory suggests that the first people to settle the Americas traveled along the northeastern coast

of Asia and eventually the west coast of what is now the United States. Additionally, a “New

Polynesian Triangle” theory provides evidence that Polynesian peoples actually reached the

coasts of South America and even up to the North American coast. Research for both of these

theories is still in progress and cannot be proven in this day and age. However, the Kelp

Highway theory and the New Polynesian Triangle theory, though quite new, do offer ample

evidence for how the Americas were settled. These theories have both fascinated and frustrated

explorers and archeologists in recent times, for they challenge many long held beliefs. The

evidence supporting them is, however, quite convincing and, as time goes on, will no doubt

become more accepted into historical teachings. If these theories are one day proven to be true it

will most likely only affect our textbooks, but that isn't to say that it would not matter. History

is the search for factual truth, for precious knowledge of what went on in times past, and in this

sense every mistake that is corrected in our social science books is very important.

There is evidence found that shows the possibility of Polynesians settling along the Pacific Islands and also continuing to the Americas. The older Polynesian Triangle theory suggested that the Triangle extended to three points; from New Zealand to Hawaii to the Easter Islands. However this new theory suggests that the triangle of Polynesian migration was actually bigger, starting in Australia, stretching up to where Vancouver is today, and then down south past the Easter Islands towards South America. The new triangle theory connects the idea that the first people to settle in North America had connections with Polynesian peoples due to their similarities in language and culture. Experts now agree that the population of Easter Island coincides with that of Hawaii (two islands that the Polynesians would have passed through on their migrations). Easter Island (or Rapa Nui as it was once called) has been the host of a plethora of recent carbon dating experiments. Ongoing studies find that the island saw its first people much later than previously thought before, making the New Polynesian Triangle seem all the more likely. The island was most likely populated by Polynesians navigating canoes or catamarans from the Gambier Islands or the Marquesas Islands. When English explorer James Cook found the Island he noted the similarity in the languages that all of the island locals used throughout the Polynesian's migrational path. Even more evidence can be found in their art. Easter Island is world famous for its Moai statues, massive men with oversized heads carved out of solid stone. These works of art may seem unique to Rapa Nui but upon closer investigation one can find a trail of similar pieces throughout the Polynesian migrational path. “Similarities between Polynesian and Andean art and architecture provide another suggestion of contact. It can be seen how the eyes of some of the Moai ancestral figures of Easter Island mark an intermediate step in the development of Polynesian tiki or sacred effigies...
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