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"Rediscovering Vinland, Evidence of Ancient Viking Presence in America"   

 

Plain Talk on the Genetic Issue

Explanatory notes for <  vinlandsite.com/Proofpage   >

Frederick N. Brown    1997

For some, a world outlook entails a vision of permanence and stability; that like the day, time commenced at some point and will continue to another; that the world is fixed, unchanging, and immutable - all that is necessary for human comfort is written for the ages as preparation for a coming Winter.

Others see the universe in constant flux; that when the Lord made time, He made it in plenty - perhaps to see that not everything would happen all at once - that all things are ~ all life is ~ in motion ~ dynamic; that things work in cycles, the earth swells in some places and subsides in others, making the very continents impermanent; that even the heavens and the stars have their times.  That while we can see and fear death, destruction, and cataclysmic eruptions, it is far more difficult and requires a different article of faith to envision that somehow, somewhere, there is a constructive force that perpetually re-generates our world and universe. For those who seek, no matter how much is known, there are always new lands, new voyages, new horizons ~ and an approaching Springtime.

Time

Time is something we sometimes regret when we look in the mirror or observe our childhood friends. And yet it has its values. Things change. We learn. We are not the people we were a few years ago. Indeed, we are not really the same as we were a few hours ago. For in that brief time the perpetual battle of microbes has been waging within our bodies; our auto-somic defenses in constant re-organizations to new microbial and viral threats of which we are unaware. Perhaps all those white blood corpuscles are marching now to a different drum-beat; to a better dressed line; with more experienced drillmasters and generals the more and longer they do their work. We can learn much from time.

One William H. McNeill does much with it, for in his publication "Plagues and Peoples" he delves into spans of historical records uncommon for historians. Examining public health records from extended eras of ancient and modern history he is able to determine factors of plagues and pestilences that have afflicted populations over eons. Consequently he is able to sometimes establish particular diseases and their courses in eras and severity. His statistical base then, is an enabler to understanding of diseases and immunities uncommonly approached or observed for public scrutiny nor even professional immunologists. Moreover, the statistics allow a differentiation of effects on main-lands, islands, insular populations of lands the size of England and Japan - and in different time spans.

He remarks as observable fact that certain diseases recur in cycles and that within these cycles specific diseases tend to follow paths of diminishing effects. That when a disease first strikes a population, it does so with terribly grotesque and "florid" symptoms, affecting individuals traumatically and populations with measurable and immediate depletions in numbers. However, as a disease cycles through long term epidemic/endemic patterns, its effects diminish - the population and the attacking microbes tend to gradually reach an accommodation, with each responding in typical patterns - each organism gains experience and sometimes strength. At every epidemic recurrence of a disease symptoms become systematically less and less severe. What starts at first strike as severe disease with extremely traumatic effects, progresses to one with less trauma, to a relatively minor affliction, to a sustainable childhood disease, and ultimately to an apparent disappearance. The two formerly hostile organisms reach an eventual accommodation to each other with no harmful effects observable. A disease recognized as observable by most is measles, which now, in Caucasians, is a mild childhood disease but was formerly a quite severe one. Its severity can be seen in the factors of mortality when contracted in adulthood by those unlucky in the inheritance "draw" or in certain non-Caucasian populations, particularly Native Americans.

The disease called tuberculosis has always been a subject of alarm and consequent attention by public health officials. But McNeill remarks that tuberculosis is a very old disease and may be so old that it pre-dates the emergence of life from the sea. Accordingly, all humans would be expected to have reached the accommodating stage of it and we can imagine that we are all essentially immune to what we might call "human" tuberculosis. The disease we know as tuberculosis is, in fact, a transmutation form that has crossed from cattle to humans (m.bovis). Consequently, the immunology cycle of diminishing effects can be inferred to have commenced at about the time of cattle domestication, and that this must be an "Old World" phenomenon, since "New World" aborigines did not domesticate cattle. (They did domesticate the ruminants llama and alpaca, also the rodent guinea pig).

Therefore we can establish a curious time differential in this case, based on the fact that the indigenous populations of the New World descend from a rather limited origin of Mongolian racial population(s) that transited the Bering Straits at some time prior to cattle domestication; whose history after the stricture of those straits to immigration remains separate and distinct from "Old World" experience. So far as TB and many other diseases are concerned, development of responses and varying symptomology were strictly "Old World", stemming systematically from populations who had domesticated cattle or who were in contact with those populations.

Thus, epidemic/endemic cycles of TB have progressed for a considerable time - perhaps 10,000 years - and there are "Old World" populations who have developed partial immunities to this disease. In its simplest form it is a contagion of the lungs which secondarily results in debilitation of the body with death resulting in a relatively brief time. It is also known as "consumption" because of this wasting away of physical resources. Among Native Americans of the colonial era, it was often referred to as the "white" or sometimes "white man's" disease, probably from pale complexion of victims and its association with invading colonists. How long before death occurs depends on the genetic history of the victim in a population pool which has a history of exposure. So diverse are morphologies of TB Old World responses that some medical practitioners go so far as to say that tuberculosis is a difficult disease to contract, while others - and historical records - aver that it is so contagious that it can be contracted from the air; which happens to be true. In fact, both observations are accurate, depending upon which population is being considered. This differential is explained by the historical experience of the population of the victims - in the Old World, both syndromes are in effect with some populations sensitive and others less so. It is claimed by some specialists that (before anti-biotics) 95% of Caucasian children had been exposed to TB by age ten but that the majority succeeded in resisting the disease with little further risk of contagion. It was found that a small percentage of children developed "spots" (scars detected by X-Rays) on the lungs from a less than successful resistance and that these individuals were at great risk of recurrance or re-infection at a later period of life. They were usually suspected to be "carriers" - people who did not demonstrate overt symptoms but who transmitted the disease to others. Public health authorities made every attempt to isolate these children (and adults when found) by removal from general school populations, etc.

In fact, there are Old World populations where the epidemic/endemic cycles are so extended that many individuals can resist contraction of TB to defer death to old age, to divert secondary symptoms to other parts of the body, and to maintain energy enough to reproduce themselves and thereby contribute their biological strength to their progeny. European history is replete with biologies of persons who lived relatively normal lives with what was termed "consumption" and certain other types, "humpbacks" (some), another of which was called "scrofula". For these persons, defenses were inherited by simple genetic transmission in addition to antibodies that occur in colostrum - the first three days of mother’s milk.  Offspring of these naturally immunized persons thereby assist in the gain of resistance of the overall population. Whatever a mother and father are, or acquire, they transmit to their progeny. The defenses are present and remain in effect even if the offspring does not contract or be exposed to the disease. And in the order of things, if one parent is weak in resistance, it may happen that the strengths of the stronger parent may prevail in the genetic order of three to one. Offspring failing to inherit the strengths will therefore, being susceptible at some time in the epidemic/endemic cycle, be more likely to contract the disease and either die or - enfeebled - lack resources to reproduce. In this way a population will tend to gain resistances to disease precisely as it does to any other inimical attack.

TB is characterized by the formation of small "tubercles" which initially affect the lung, but which, if death is deferred, then migrate to other parts of the body such as neck glands. If the victim survives long enough, it may happen that these tubercles will attach themselves upon certain bones, usually the ribs near the lungs and also the spine and then lower at the pelvis. When this happens they often deform the bone and also leave characteristic lesions, the presence of which are one of few post mortem symptoms apparent of TB. When soft tissue decays after TB death, there is no other sign of the cause except traces upon hard tissue - the bones - but also hair, another "hard tissue". Therefore, it is apparent that when these lesions and particular hair appear on skeletons, it is conclusive evidence that the individual had suffered tuberculosis and also belonged to some society that had had protracted experience with that disease. Some of these societies might appear sickly, disease ridden and susceptible - yet, these individuals were alive when expectations infer they should be dead. Bone deformation in Europe is well remarked but rare in Native Americans from just these causes.  Indeed, I am told that the factor is sometimes used to trace migration routes of ancient Old World populations.  

Immunologists term this sort of circumstance as effects upon "naive" populations - those who have not had contact with a disease, or "sophisticated" populations - those who have had at least some contact with a disease with some evidence of the epidemic/endemic cycles. Europeans, in general, were "sophisticated" for TB since just about all of them practiced cattle domestication and had done so for a long period of their history.

Now this epidemic/endemic cycle of tuberculosis did not occur in the New World. Populations in the Western hemisphere were effectively isolated by the sea barriers from events in the Old World until some nautical contact occurred and thereby transmitted interchanges of disease that had not previously been present. This event is universally understood as dating AD1492 with the discovery of Caribbean Islands by Christopher Columbus. Native Americans of Mongolian descent, wherever located, simply did not have this experience, nor, indeed, experience many of the other disease cycles that had occurred in Europe. While notably described by early explorers as "healthy" with physical deformities rare or uncommon, they were "naive" to most of the introduced diseases and to TB in particular. McNeill remarks that in the altiplano of the Andes, populations were isolated by mountain ranges and could not sustain the interpersonal contact necessary for widespread epidemic conditions.  Disease of European introduction was responsible for vastly more deaths, depletions and destruction of Amerind societies than any other factor or combination of factors.  Historians aver that an overview of native population depletion of virtually all American Indian tribes on both American continents resembled bacteria in a petri dish recoiling in aversion to penicillin by demonstrably fading away at distance from a toxin. The terrible and tragic human depletion is only now becoming understood.  Some estimate that it represented at least a 95 percent depletion and this extended across the South Seas all through the "Age of Exploration".  As comparison, the Bubonic Plague, thought to be a horror of the ages, only took something like 30 percent in the Old World.

To expand this to where the effect is more apparent, the following might aid those to whom this is news:

The expedition of Lewis and Clark in 1804/06 followed the Missouri River across the great plains.  At this time they recorded numerous contacts and visits of natives along the way, sometimes even going so far as to describe "great numbers" and "numerous" individuals as well as the occasional village.  One has the feeling that they were never out of contact with Indians for many miles until the Rocky Mountains were reached.  They also frequently remark on the unfortunate tribe of Mandans, at that time a rather sizeable group. There were still many American Indians in this area.

They do record some abandoned villages and attribute the abandonment to infestations of fleas.  The Columbia River Natives at the Pacific coast also had a number of abandoned villages and Lewis and Clark attribute it here, correctly, to disease introduced by numerous trading vessels at the Columbia River.

In 1876, some 70 years later, the US Army mounted three expeditions to subjugate the last of the Indian holdouts in much the same area of the plains but southward of the Missouri River, along the Yellowstone.  Three prongs of attack along rivers covered many thousands of square miles in a diligent search for Natives, yet found none at all until a large encampment was discovered at the Little Big Horn River in Montana.  The population of this encampment numbered about 7000 and were the remnants of at least five different tribal groups. While this population was not the entire number of survivors, it does indicate a considerably reduced population.  The unfortunate Mandans had been entirely eliminated, victims of European disease and inter-tribal (mainly Sioux) warfare.

Indians everywhere were victims of "first strike" epidemics which reduced them sometimes from these initial onslaughts to small percentages of former numbers.  Ordinarily, if left alone, they might have recovered their populations with now newly introduced immunities.  However, in most cases, while so reduced, European settlers appeared bearing perpetual re-infections and antagonistic attitudes with the result that few tribes have recovered or prospered and many eliminated.  New attitudes and new medical approaches appeared in the early 20th century and now the Indian, while still more susceptible to disease than whites has only a much more benevolent social prejudice to contend with and his own internal differences to resolve.  A few tribes here in Arizona may well now exceed their numbers of 200 years ago.

How long the epidemic/endemic cycle to TB must be can be answered here in what is known of timing - somewhat less than 20,000 years (inferred impassability of Bering Straits) and definitely more that 500 years (known introduction after 1492), since there is no evidence to date that American Aborigines have developed much natural resistance, if any at all, to TB. Probably we might presume a timeline in the order of 10,000 years which some historians estimate as the commencement of cattle domestication. Today, Native Americans who survive TB are beneficiaries of modern anti-biotics and not any genetic acquired resistance that has been observed to date. They suffered tuberculosis acutely from 1492 to the present day in a distinctly "na´ve" manner as a pure lung affliction resulting in death, usually in a brief time - in adults in a year or two and children often in but a few months. Since the effect has been noted as in the earliest stages just after contact with first explorers, it is possible that the "first strike" of "florid" effects might kill some in a few days.

At this point of the discussion, the immunology question becomes both genetic and empiric; the argument is advanced hereby into accepted norms of scientific research.  The factor, therefore, requires investigation of its contributory information - whether the evidence is true or otherwise.  So far as disease immunities in particular, and TB specifically are concerned, we are dealing with populations, Old World/New World, holding distinct, if invisible, characteristics. TB lesions and spinal deformities appearing on post mortem skeletons are unique in themselves. While there are other causes of lesions and spinal curvature, apparently those caused by TB are unmistakable. They are common in the Old World and rare to non-existent in the New. They constitute just as definite a human trait as any visible one which, it would seem self evident, also are results of environment and experience.  

The appearance of these lesions among Narragansetts in the New world, proves positively that the individual upon whom they occur is descended from a genetic line of humanity that has developed partial immunity over a long period of time. There simply is no other way for these to appear except by the two factors of contraction of the disease tuberculosis and membership in a gene pool that has developed the relative immunity to it. The thing is impossible - the lesions cannot form by accident or chance - they are caused by a specific microbe co-responding with an individual who has some measure of resistance which has been inherited from forebears. It is a "natural" function of the same order of science as a chemical reaction or radioactive decay where time is a factor in the equation.  Thus, the question transcends even genetics to a "natural" and fundamental action; it is now empirical; perhaps the only such factor in any Vinland study.

"Outsiders" (of a population) have the option of gaining  this (or any other) trait by the simple expedient of mating and producing progeny with and by those of the "stronger" population. The individual, of course, gains nothing, but the progeny have good prospects of gaining strengths in the genetic order of three to one if the trait be what is termed a "dominant" one. This is the event that is evident in the genetic (and anthropological) makeup of Narragansett "Indians" of southern New England. Their proven variance in these lesions show them as neither Viking/Caucasian nor Amerind/Mongol, but a combination of both. Recorded is the presence of TB lesions upon bones in 17 of 59 individuals in one cemetery, and tubercular hair on one at another burial ground.  This is sufficient to demonstrate that the tribe was unique.  And the word "unique", when applied to anyone or any population is another way of saying "genetics". 

Of course, there is always a "first time" and in order to pursue that line of thought it must be considered if both factors for development of the immunity have been present. This thought is opened by the news of presence of tuberculosis (but not the resistance) in a naturally preserved mummy in Peru. We would then suppose that Narragansetts - and all other Native Americans - had been exposed to TB and just by coincidence Narragansetts had been the first to respond with these visible "sophisticated" symptoms. The argument against is this: we know the origin date of the tribe as approximately 1000 years ago when they signaled their arrival in the Pettaquamscutt River Basin/valley, a geographic feature (glacial rift) that became a central locus of their territory. It would seem impossible for TB to have been endemic in the Americas, for the impact, when it came, was so universal and so deadly to all other Indians that it signifies an early "catastrophic" and "florid" stage of the disease. If it were endemic, there is no factor imaginable that could restrain it from being periodically epidemic. The great populations remarked by Cortez in central Mexico would be unable to subsist in the presence of TB - as, in fact, they did not in the period shortly after contact. And if TB were ineffective there, how much less so at 5000 miles remove in southern New England and across thinly populated deserts. The presence of TB in Peru, therefore, might be a result of contact with llamas and alpacas - not bovine but nearly so as, at least, ruminants. And as McNeill remarked, the populations way up in the altiplano were isolated from each other to the degree that epidemics did not occur except locally

And now we find that a number of skeletons of Narragansett Indians with unmistakable lesions on bones resulting from TB. Additionally we have uncovered another individual from another cemetery who had characteristic tubercular hair. And this latter individual is known by name and history as the daughter of a Narragansett nobleman and thus a likely a direct descendent of the Vinland Voyagers.

There are several ways to view this situation and all are supportive of the idea of descent from a people with a relative immunity. One is the concentration of exhumations - 17 out of 59 burials. The next is the age of the youngest victim who died at about age three. For a three year old American Aborigine to live so long as to form lesions on bones defies comprehension of immunologists.  Another is the age of the oldest victim at 45 years at death.  He had been born prior to the landings of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. The evidence shows that TB was not only prevalent by the time of the burials (~AD1660), it was common in the Narragansett population.

Endemic with certainty, and for some reason not epidemic among Narragansetts alone - we see from several well documented factors that Narragansett public health was much better than their neighbors, and seemingly parallel to that of incoming colonial populations who possessed long term contact with tuberculosis. These several factors are: the census of 1670 which shows the population not only sizeable but compact and dwelling in such close quarters as to seem specially susceptible to epidemic diseases; that two knowledgeable observers remarked that "the plague" "did not seem to be among them"; that the tribe was able to mount a sizeable army in 1676 - a century or more after contact and at a time when most other aborigines of the area were decimated and sometimes annihilated. (Present day boundaries of Rhode Island were set in the 1663 founding charter which was a reflection of presence and power of the Narragansett Tribe. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut Colonies had been intent upon advancing to the shores of Narragansett Bay - aggressions prevented by the militarily advanced and still populous Tribe. The attack upon Providence during the 1676 war was perpetrated by an army of at least 1500 and some researchers estimate nearer 2000.  They formed for battle almost at the same spot as where the present State House now stands. This was not only the largest body of men formed as an army in New England by either Indians or Colonists, it may have been the largest ever formed into an entity by any Indians north of Mexico ever. And this at a time when all other Amerinds in contact were dying and declining.)  Narragansetts stand alone among all "New World" residents, inclusive of South Sea Islanders, in "escape" from European pestilences. This is just as sure a signal of varied genetic makeup as the lesions themselves, for peoples of similar genetic structure variances in immunology simply do not occur. If a microbe is toxic, it is toxic to each and every individual of similar genetic structure.

It is truly astonishing to consider that the historical record that has developed makes no consideration for the possibility that has now been amply demonstrated. Historians aver that the Vinland Voyagers were driven away or became discouraged by ill relations with the aborigines in residence. Yet, there were over 200 Vinland voyagers who were predominately male, and those males with little opportunity and few prospects in a return to their homelands of European Greenland and Iceland. For some, a much better option would entail remaining where they found themselves - and in order for them to do this on a simple day-to-day basis, they must seize, win, or purchase Native American females to tend hearths, cook, dress furs and skins - and incidentally rear progeny. These progeny must be those noted in the anomalies of land use distinctions in the Pettaquamscutt River Valley which commenced about a thousand years ago.  They would necessarily possess the language and adaptations to natural conditions as their mothers, but some of the sociology, perhaps some of the language, and many of the genetic traits of their adventurous fathers.  

Incredible as it may seem, this is what the evidence indicates. And the evidence is by no means weak - it is the initial and most plausible explanation of a genetic factor to be drawn from the observation of lesions on bones and hair of 18 individuals. But so far from historical doctrine does this seem to be, the scientists of note (arch. site RI1000 ) could not approach closely the theme that this might be so. Instead, they attempted to demonstrate that the development occurred within the microbes themselves. This sort of thing also occurs - it occurs today in the increase in mortality after a period of quiescence of an imagined conquest of TB by anti-biotics. The cycle of recovery has occurred again - mycobacterium tuberculosis has also recovered in the same way that humans had over eons - Mother Nature plays no favorites.

From 1492 to 1660 is but 168 years. Even allowing for other visitors of earlier times - even to that of the Vikings in AD1000 there is no way possible for any human population of the New World to have internally developed such an immunity by cyclic experience alone. The formula simply does not compute.  Narragansetts must have obtained their self evident immunity at an earlier stage of their history in another place where TB had been endemic - the Old World!

There simply was not time enough - there were insufficient or absent antagonistic microbes. We know this from observations after 1492 where after 500 years such syndromes have yet to appear in Native American populations. The population must certainly have a history of contact with European populations. Here is the crux of the matter.

Very well, are there possibly other explanations of this phenomenon? We might try to examine those we can imagine.

Supposing there were intermarriage among the Narragansett Indians and the nearby colonists in the period between 1492 and 1660 and that this had resulted in progeny carrying resistance.

First recorded contact was in 1524 where enough cultural characteristics were noted to bear on the matter. Giovanni Verrazano at that time mentioned that the Narragansett visitors sent their women to a small island rather than risk boarding of the ship "Dauphine". In his two week stay he also remarked on the modesty and chastity of the women. Moreover, the later chronicler Roger Williams also mentioned the same. Their family ties were exceptionally strong and Williams says they did not tolerate adultery. Therefore, the presence of that large number of victims in the one cemetery seems to rule out the idea - culturally they would seem to be an unusually promiscuous group in a moral society. Yet, their style of burials indicates no amount of cultural censure whatsoever. Moreover, the female individual with tubercular hair (elsewhere, Charleston, RI) was known to have been of the noble class. Surely, she would not have been the product of promiscuity - and at an age of some 35-40 at death would make her conception in about 1620 when European contacts were very few.

Could these be European colonial individuals who had "gone Indian" and died among them? This seems doubtful. They not only were buried among Indians, they were buried in Indian manner (lain on right side, flexed position, heads to southwest) and no sign of any Christian belief at all. Christianity was as difficult to depart in those days as now. It would seem that some of those 17 would have some other indication of a different set of beliefs. With all this, the Caucasian population of the area was very small and not of a tendency to mix freely with natives. It would seem difficult to get 17 people together in one spot, to say nothing of burying them together.

Until quite recent times, disease and potential epidemics were widely observed and discussed - a philosophy that now seems restricted to medical specialists.  There were many in every culture who were alert to the dangers of distance and origins of both travelers and visitors/invaders.  Differential immunities in geography,  while not fully understood, was readily accepted.  Shipwreck survivors and travelers were sometimes - in places often - murdered from fear of being carriers of pestilences.  The differential in immunology between Europeans and Amerinds is a sharp and distinct factor, no less a difference between Europe and Africa, western Atlantic and eastern Pacific lands.  Here in the Narragansett Amerind occurs a "blip" in the equation - something that can be explained only through migration and intermarriage.  I repeat here notice by Richard Henry Dana in "Two Years Before the Mast" (1820) that the population of Kanakas (Polynesians) was declining in his day by 2% a year.  While this does not seem a high percentage, it does signal the beginning of the end,  for 50 years only would result in only a few scattered survivors.  It also defines my remark on general interests for, while Dana did not record this until years later, he did become aware of it when he was but an 18 or 19 year old ordinary seaman.  

In these many long years of study - bearing on thirty five now -  this writer has found it extraordinarily difficult to approach the Amerind point of view concerning this issue.  This is primarily because there was not universal nor written communication throughout the Americas and the cultural climate enforced each population to suffer their tribulations alone.  Apparently early on they understood that the white man brought disease that would ultimately destroy them, but their efforts at resistance and cooperation among themselves came too late and likely would have been futile no matter what they did.  It is difficult to conceive the terrible conditions in their villages when once the pestilences struck - many of them wiped out completely.  Mandans, a large plains tribe, were annihilated apparently with no increase in normal warfare, from disease alone.  Indeed, the true history of the Euro American/Indian relationship is not so much of warfare, but actually the movement of European pioneers into lands essentially depopulated of natives and whose survivors were demoralized and ineffective.  

A fine Amerind insight to the effect of disease comes to us in  "Madonna Swan - a Lakota Woman's Story" as told to Mark St. Pierre, pub. 1991 University of Oklahoma Press.  For those overseas unfamiliar with tribal locales, Lakota are a plains tribe dwelling essentially in the area of the Dakotas, North and South, Wyoming and Montana.  Some segments of the tribe are also called Sioux and they are famed as heroic warriors and fiercely independent people largely responsible for the overcoming of General G.A. Custer at the 1876 battle of the Little Big Horn river, in Montana.  

While Mrs. Swan's story is of modern times, it does span a period to the past.  Her Uncle (or Great Uncle) was present at the Little Big Horn where he occupied himself in aiding women and children to escape what was initially feared as an approaching massacre.  She had been born in 1928 on the Cheyenne reservation in South Dakota.  It was her misfortune to contract tuberculosis at age 15, was hospitalized for some ten years and was saved by draconian treatments of removal of all her left ribs and left lung.  She became a teacher and respected person among her people and, so far as I know, still lives.  

What she has to say concerning TB and her experiences is of interest to us.  First is the important element that the Indians called TB "the white man's disease".   This is what they believed and which this paper stresses and is generally accepted by immunologists - and is the basis of our scientific argument.  Mrs. Swan describes several types affecting her friends of which we had been unaware.  Primarily it infected the lungs as it did Mrs. Swan but she described several other symptomologies such as TB of the skin  (frequent eruptions resulting in death), and a peculiar one, TB of the tonsils (removal of which effected a cure).  While I have been informed that TB mycobacterium is a slow growing organism, it is apparent through the book that speed of contagion was more rapid than would be expected in a Caucasian environment, often resulting in death at two years from onset and in children even quicker.  She describes several episodes where death occurred a mere two days after onset of symptoms.  

Her ordeal was long and painful.  It is likely that she would have died - certainly if she had not been hospitalized.  But some five years after her admission she was transferred to a regular (Anglo) sanitarium where more advanced treatments and drugs were available as well as the extreme operation of removal of ribs and lung.  

For a short period of her lengthy stay at the sanitarium, she was joined by her younger brother, also a victim.  I cannot determine how long his pathology extended, but from the way she describes it,  he seems to have shown first symptoms and died within a year.  

She and a friend both kept diaries.  When they compared these some years later they noted that in the years 1944 and '45 no one was discharged from the hospital at all - death was the only exit.  In 1950 the two found that they could record five hundred deaths and this was a count only of those they were aware of  - "(not including) those we had not heard of and did not include those who died at the San that we didn't hear of, or those that went home and later died, or those who ran away and died".  This is a span of some five years in a hospital that served a total population of perhaps 50,000 people.  This death rate is very high and alone could explain a severe reduction in overall population from TB. 

 The deaths are one thing, the effects on survivors are another.  While Mrs. Swan's siblings numbered nine, five died young, only one from an accident so the rest must have been from disease of some sort.  I have difficulty in numbering the next generation but believe it numbers only 5, so a reduction is apparent in this family, which is likely typical/average.

 

It is hoped that this discussion will yield an insight to the claim of resolution of the Vinland Sagas.

 

Frederick N. Brown               all rights reserved         July,  2000

 

Follows a change of pace perhaps not for everyone.  It rhythm is intended to speak to those who know the sea
and its human travelers.  If you do happen to find that it "speaks" to you, you will have a better understanding of Vinland, the Sagas, and seamen through the ages..
 
THE VOYAGE OF WAVE CLEAVER
A Sea-Pilot's plea for a crew
Yon high horizon, void appearing, mere nether barricade of mystery beyond!
Ours - if striving keeps us found.
Steadfast Leifur's Chaffing Courser waits at voyage end.
She - illustrious vessel that transited Europe and wracked on a spit in America;
She - that made Vinland thrice or more times;
We who trace her mystic wake need traverse but once!
Gentle surging morning tide - swirl and suck of wash among the rock indeed can become boom and crash of devastation, but our ship of senses ne'er founders nor becalms.
Our literary vessel - grand endeavor - may prove enduring and ranging as another.    
  So come aboard!
Find your place, fore or aft; test your gear and oar.
Resolve your mind to the trial at hand - the ship is bare afloat.
Her bow sways and bobs; keel stroking binding sands those fractions connoting
 a last, light thrust will set us on our way!
Feel the shuddering, thrumming, streaming heartbeat of adventure, sea,
of earth, history - life !- beneath your feet   ---           Look!
Multifarious shore-watchers tally reflective few -
cognitive ones who fathom our industry; portend our cargo and our manifest   -  come aboard !
            Stout hands await to row offshore;
supplied, sufficient, secure ;   Pilot confident, guided, charted.
Sparbound sail's tenacious sinews test titanic, strident gale
--heaving, striving flaxen dray onward straining Sea Steed and Striding Bison ----
---- o'er white horses of the tumbling, running, rumbling sea.
Minds and souls fly and soar 'mong nebulous seabird throng; with dolphins and whales 
that sweep through our flood.
Slack'ning ne'ermore for fog nor storm nor breaking wave,
 our crafted sloop tight oaken haven.
Come aboard!
That spray from windward will not afflict - the cold of it invigorates.
The strike of it - e'en ice - but pleasurable sting; the white of it a brightness in the night time;
the flight of it the beat of angel wing.
Who can say but it is spindrift flung from shaken locks of gods   -----  of Neptune !
There!                    Look there!
Rising land?  Strands 'neath towering clouds?
through languid mists glazing slow, slick swell?
Low forested shore - pleasing refuge?  - or island yielding rest, sweet water, new bearings?
Is that footing - the land we seek?     There!
There !!  just o'er the bows; that lesser glint, horizon breaching, hovering billows!
Our lookout cries it; our Pilot holds it so; our people yearn it!
Can it be - our goal at last?
Vinland?                  ---             the good?

( copyright  1989     Frederick N. Brown, Phoenix,  AZ     Revised  2002   Yarnell,  AZ
"Sea Steed" and "Striding Bison"  may well be names of ships that traversed to Vinland.  So also might be "Chafing Courser". 
The contexts of the Vinland Sagas mention these in such a way as to infer a generalized reference but might just as well be specific.
The Voyage of Wave Cleaver, Inc is a wholly independent research enterprise of some 25 years duration.
The website <     vinlandsite.com     > summarizes the program and <      vinlandsite.com/Proofpage     > contains our formal offering 
of proof that Leif Ericksson's Vinland has at last been found.  This is supplemented by
 <       vinlandsite.com/Plain Talk on the Genetic Issue     > which has proven to be our most popular page.
Proofpage is what is termed an "Argument in Science" - that is, similar to a mathematical argument, it consists of accepted truisms 
and published facts which, in combination, constitute proof positive.  What the argument requires are attempts at rebuttal - disavowals
 of the truisms or presentation of information which might detract from what is now evident truth.
The "argument", now five years in the public weal, no  responsible rebuttal has been offered - no "Scientific disavowel"  has been brought. 
 Until such disavowel is presented, it is the position of this organization that the issue is decided - Leif Ericksson's landing site and 
Thorfinn Karlsefni's "Hop" are located at Pettaquamscutt in the State of Rhode Island.
 
 "Rediscovering Vinland, Evidence of Ancient Viking Presence in America"   
 

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