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Various repsonse to qustions about "White people in America"

I don't think you have to bother with diffusionism at all, just genetics. The following is taken from Lionel Wafer's description, written in 1699, of a some members of group of Central American indians he encountered (quoted in _The Metabolic Basis of Inherited Disease_, Stanbury et al.)

"There is one complexion so singular . . . they are white ... 'tis a milk-white lighter than the colour of any Europeans ... Their seeing so clear as they do on a moon shiny night, we us'd to call them moon-ey'd. For they see not very well in the sun ... their eyes being but weak and running with water if the sun shines towards them ... when the moon shiny nights come, they are all life and activity ... neither is the child of ... these white Indians white ... but copper-coloured as their parents were"

This is as good a description of oculocutaneous albinism as some of our medical students could give. As the authors of the article note, Wafer hits all the main points - white skin, photophobia, recessive inheritance.

(BTW, I've always liked the term "moon-ey'd", given the title of Mayan rulers, k'inich, sun-eyed or sun-faced.)


Nancy McNelly
Dept. Of Anatomy & Neurobiology
Boston University Medical Center


One point I should have added to that description of oculocutaneous albinism in Central American Indians:

I have been asked "what about the blue eyes? Everyone knows albinos have pink eyes"

As far as humankind goes, what everyone "knows" is generally wrong. For the most part, the irises of human albinos range from blue to silvery grey in color.


Nancy McNelly

1) 'Guero' (and Guera) here in South Texas is many times used as a nickname for somebody who is lighter skinned or haired than the group that person is hanging out with. Medium brown hair looks pretty light when surrounded by people with black hair. It's doesn't have to mean blond. As a child, Crazy Horse was known by a name that translates to "Curley". Apparently, his hair had a wave to it.

2. Although accepted wisdom says that the hair color variability for everybody except Caucasians is black to brown, coarse and straight, there is always:

a. albinism
b. mutations
c. physiological conditions/ vitmin deficiencies/diseases that affect hair and skin color, hair texture.
d. people who deliberately change their hair color for all sorts of reasons by all sorts of methods
e. gray hair

3. In general, skin color of populations vary from darker to lighter the farther away from the Equator the members get. (Well, it used to work this way.)

4. Ever seen a Indian that has been out of the sun for a while? He looks pretty pale. (Go to a pow-wow. Look at the men who normally wear shirts and trousers in loincloths, definite tan-line.) I grew up down the Tamiami Trail from a Seminole village. The Seminoles never struck me as being darker than any other tanned resident of South Florida. In fact, my uncle from Georgia (the roofer) was considerably darker.

In other words, there are many reasons for variability in skin/hair color besides genetic pre-disposition. What a person means when he calls someone "white/light/fair" (or "black/dark/dusky") is relative, depending on all sorts of factors and probably has very little to do with is meant by those terms today.

And, if you ask me, this is all an exercise in trivia.

Jackie Davis


>I believe that Thor Heyerdahl already proved, in his book "The Ra",
>that trans-atlantic travel, by means of a papyrus vessel, could be
>accomplished. Furthermore, in "Kon-Tiki" he showed trans-pacific travel
>to Polynesia was possible from the New World.
>Therefore, couldn't it very well be true that there was contact between
>the Old and New Worlds?

Could happen and did happen are two different things. If people came over from the Old World to the New with any kind of significant regularity archaeologists would expect to find the remains of their settlements and their artifacts - countless excavations by archaeologists have not recovered such materials (with, of course, the exception of the Vikings in Canada).

Since no materials of definite Old World origin have been recovered, most archaeologists conclude that there was not significant contact between the two worlds prior to the 1500s. All evidence indicates that New World and Old World cultures developed independently of each other.

So let's pose your question another way. Since archaeologists have demonstrated that people entered the New World at least 12,000 years ago, couldn't it very well be true that New World pops. were of equivalent intelligence to their Old World counterparts and developed their own civilizations without outside help?

Peter van Rossum


In article <Dx63sA.Hqz@tc.fluke.COM> djoiner@tc.fluke.COM (David Joiner) writes:

>After reading, and responding to the subject of "whites" in pre-columbian
>mesoamerica, I get the feeling that those defending that "no scientific
>evidence of significant contact" between the Old and New worlds occurred,
>assume, and thus more fervently defend, that those of us that may
>speculate that contact was possible are trying to push a racist
>Old World, whites lifting the New World savages out of barbarism, theme
>on them.
>Unfortunatly, because those that may assume that racism is the motive, they
>try not to see the possibilities when some archeological finds do not
>fit their assumptions.


Could you be more specific about exactly which archaeological finds
you are referring to?  I have seen no artifacts of definite Old World
contact which has been accepted by the majority of archaeologists.
There have been reports of possible artifacts of this nature but all
the materials I've seen on them indicate that there are major problems
with verifying their authenticity.  Archaeologists have looked into
the vast majority (if not all) of these cases and found them lacking
in verifiable data - that's how science works.
>Most archeologist, when they find evidence of contact and
>influence by different cultures, ie. Egyptian culture influence into
>Jewish culture, (more so than what was assumed in the past) it is
>not put down as racist. (At least I haven't read that much into it
>as I do the sentiments of those defending no pre-columbian contact
>with the Old World).
I agree that it is not inherently racist, and judging from the rest of
your post I don't get the impression that you are pushing a racist
ideology.  But be aware that many who have pushed Old-New World contacts
have had at least racist undertones.
>What makes it so important to those to feel that meso-america had to develop
>thier culture independent of those other cultures that existed on this
>same planet at the same time as they did? Why do they always use the
>same argument that the ocean is too big, and that it couldn't be done,
>for any contact". (Is there any "physical evidence" of cultural contact
>between the New World and Asia and those residing in the Pacific Islands,
>other than cultural similarities? ie. artifacts, written records, etc?)
Excuse me, but archaeologists would definitely call artifacts, written
records, etc. physical evidence.  Its exactly this type of physical
evidence of contacts which is lacking in the case of Old-New World
>Are we certain that only a chance occurance may have happened, (some
>fool fisherman lost out at sea) and that whatever they may have brought
>to meso-america got swallowed up in real culture and surely was never
>heard of again.
Maybe not certain, but so far I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.
>What makes it wrong to at least give a thread of possibility that
>those similarities in thought, religion, architecture, government,
>symbols, myths, etc. and that they may not have occurred independently,
>but that, like all of us, if someone comes up with a good idea, we
>don't throw it out, but take it, modify it to our means, and come
>away with what is our own?
Nothing wrong with giving it the "thread of possibility" but without
substantial indications that it is true I see no reason to accept
a possibility as fact.
>My gosh, is it racist to say that Rock and Roll had its roots in
>I'm not promoting that many significant transoceanic voyages occurred,
>or that any similarities in culture diminishes what our New World peoples
>did and achieved. I just would like to see those who defend no contact
>would do it on the basis of open scientific debate, not closed minded,
>(and in their own way prejudiced) banter.
It can never proved that something did not occur, it can only be
proved that something did occur.  Therefore, it is incumbent on
those who believe these contacts occurred to show verifiable proof.
As far as I am aware none have been able to do so.  Again, if you
believe these contacts occurred, please list the specific evidence
you believe supports this claim - otherwise it is you who is
being unscientific.
>And also, those who may herald
>any "discoveries" of "whites" in pre-columbian America, if your whole
>hope is to prove some sort of racial superiority, I'm certain you'll
>always be dissappointed.
>David Joiner
Peter van Rossum

> ... artifacts such as the tablet from Grave Creek Mound.
But wasn't that explained (and revealed as a fake) by Read in 1879?
(Fell's suggestion that this extremely tiny 'tile' is a royal
commemorative is just silly, IMHO).
-- Doug Weller