ENTERLINE’S THEORY

Mr. Enterline’s theories are so flimsy they are difficult to understand, a feat in itself. Anyone who’s spent time with a demanding child who wants a one-sentence answer as to why the sky is blue will know the feeling.

He equates the Eskimos as Hyperboreans not because of their northern location particularly, but because they are characterized as "happy people". The many Inupiat and Yu’pik people I know would strongly aver they are no happier or sadder than any other people. Unfortunately, the editors must have been careless with checking footnotes as the introductory references to Nansen’s In Northern Mists do not match the text.

There also seems to be confusion as to the importance of the return of the sun to Alaska’s Native people. The great winter "Inviting-In" or "Messenger" feast of the Eskimos was to celebrate the great stores of food laid in and in doing so strengthen the bonds of the extended families, so important even today. The sun had nothing to do with the festival.

The author quotes from Franz Boas’s The Central Eskimo. It’s a shame he didn’t read the chapter more thoroughly as he then surely wouldn’t have written: "The Eskimos’ geographical knowledge included the technique of drawing primitive maps -- cartograms...." Boas writes in the sentence just anterior to the selection quoted: "As their knowledge of all the directions is very detailed and they are skillful draftsmen they can draw very good charts."

It is quite surprising that the author states "...Clavus was not actually trained as a geographer" and "...Clavus was not actually an authority on the North..." then goes on to show maps that show the similarity of Clavus’s map of Greenland to the Seward Peninsula of Alaska. If this map is conjectural, likely taken from Clavus’s research among old libraries, why would it be taken as evidence of anything concrete, let alone a peninsula thousands of miles from Greenland?

The main point to be made here is the length of time the Birnirk, or early Thule tradition, took to make its way from Alaska to Baffin Island and south to Greenland. Archaeologists date the first appearance in Alaska of this culture to around 500-900 AD. Wales, Alaska, on the Seward Peninsula, has a Birnirk burial mound that has been designated a National Landmark.

The Birnirk Culture made its way to Baffin Bay and down to Greenland between 600 and 1600 AD, although dates vary according to different archaeologists, but certainly a minimum of a century was spent making the journey, or introducing the new culture. Why people would possibly bring along their maps of their former territory, or, assuming only the culture traveled, passing along this information defies belief. The Birnirk tradition almost certainly began in Asia; the Ekven site in Chukhotka, Siberia, is currently thought to be the birthplace of this culture. Are there medieval maps that reflect Chukhotka?

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