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No. 137: SEP-OCT 2001

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Alaska's "Mummy People," Were They Ainus?

When The Russians First Arrived In The Aleutian Islands In The Mid-eighteenth Century, They Encountered The Remnants Of A Mysterious Ethnic Group Now Called The "Mummy People." Although These People Did Mummify Their Dead -- like Several Other Ancient Cultures -- they Were Far From Being Cadavers When They Drove The Russians Off The Beach Of Kodiak Island With A Rain Of Sharp Darts, Spears, And Lances. According To A Recent Article In Ancient American, They Also Launched Large Stones At The Russians Using Catapults! Protected By Body Shields Made Of Wood Covered With Rawhide, The Mummy People -- what Was Left Of Them -- were Formidable Warriors. But Who Were They?

Actually, The Russians Were Not The First To Meet The Mummy People In Mortal Combat. The Eskimos Had Faced Them In Their Island-by-island Conquest Of The Aleutians Begun Several Centuries Earlier. Today'S Aleuts Carry A Mixture Of Eskimo And Mummy-people Genes.

It Is The Uncertain Origin Of The Mummy People That Intrigues The Most. They Are Thought To Have Arrived In The Aleutians Some 7,000 Years Ago -- but From Where? Helping To Answer This Question Are Thousands Of Their Mummies Unearthed Over The Last 300 Years. Their Bones Resemble Those Of The Ainus Still Surviving In Northern Japan. Like The Ainus, The Mummy People Possessed Some Caucasian Features. In Fact, Some Had Reddish Hair.

The Ancient American Article Adds That The Ancient Aleuts Used The Decimal System, Manufactured White Parchment, And Made Fires Using Combustible Sulphur And Sparks Struck From Pyrite.

(Pettyjohn, F.s.; "Who Were The Caucasian 'Mummy People' Of Alaska?" Ancient American, No. 39, P. 26, 2001)

Comment. For Earlier Speculations About Possible Ainu Incursions Into North America, See Sf#124. We Wonder How Kennewick Man And Those Caucasian Mummies Recently Dug Up In Asia Fit In.

When the Russians first arrived in the Aleutian Islands in the mid-Eighteenth Century, they encountered the remnants of a mysterious ethnic group now called the "mummy people." Although these people did mummify their dead-like several other ancient cultures -- they were far from being cadavers when they drove the Russians off the beach of Kodiak Island with a rain of sharp darts, spears, and lances. According to a recent article in Ancient American, they also launched large stones at the Russians using catapults! Protected by body shields made of wood covered with rawhide, the mummy people -- what was left of them -- were formidable warriors. But who were they?

Actually, the Russians were not the first to meet the mummy people in mortal combat. The eskimos had faced them in their island-by-island conquest of the Aleutians begun several centuries earlier. Today's Aleuts carry a mixture of Eskimo and mummy-people genes.

It is the uncertain origin of the mummy people that intrigues the most. They are thought to have arrived in the Aleutians some 7,000 years ago -- but from where? Helping to answer this question are thousands of their mummies unearthed over the last 300 years. Their bones resemble those of the Ainus still surviving in northern Japan. Like the Ainus, the mummy people possessed some Caucasian features. In fact, some had reddish hair.

The Ancient American article adds that the ancient Aleuts used the decimal system, manufactured white parchment, and made fires using combustible sulphur and sparks struck from pyrite.

(Pettyjohn, F.S.; "Who Were the Caucasian 'Mummy People' of Alaska?" Ancient American, no. 39, p. 26, 2001)

Comment. For earlier speculations about possible Ainu incursions into North America, see SF#124. We wonder how Kennewick Man and those Caucasian mummies recently dug up in Asia fit in.

From Science Frontiers #137, SEP-OCT 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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