America

It’s Official: Early Scholars Described America’s Indigenous People As “Moorish”

The origin of America’s native populations has long been a subject of debate. The theory that the indigenous natives of America were the result of Asians crossing the Bering Strait is no more substantial than the idea that America was populated by Moors having traveled across the Atlantic and settling in the Americas. Actually, the latter theory was the opinion of most scholars before the abolition of slavery. Others believe that America is an old melting pot and it indigenous inhabitants is a result of several migrations from both Africa and Asia. Published in 1864, The Indian Races of North and South America by Charles De Wolf Brownell, makes this observation on page 15 of his classic work:

“Some theorists have indefatigably followed up the idea that we are to search for the lost tribes of Israel among the red men of America, and have found or fancied resemblances, otherwise unaccountable, between Indian and Hebrews words, ceremonies, and superstitions.

Others have exhibited equal ingenuity in carrying out a comparison between the Moors of Africa and the Americans, claiming to establish a near affinity in character and complexion between the two races. They suppose the Moorish immigrants to have arrived at the West India Islands, or the Eastern coast of South America, and thence to have spread over the whole continent.”

According to Brownell, whose writings were published decades before the inception of the Moorish Science Temple of America and the birth of Noble Drew Ali, it was an opinion of early scholars that the Moors were the first to populate the Americas and such comparisons were largely due to “a near affinity in character and complexion between the two races.” Amazingly, early scholars agree that the Carib native tribes most certainly originated from Africa. Published in 1855, Ethnological and Philological Essays by James Kennedy states:

“On these grounds, Bryan Edwards dissents very justly from this hypothesis; and observing that the Carib seemed to him to be an entirely distinct race from other Indians, widely differing from them in physical appearance and manners, he framed an opinion that they were in reality of African descent, and that their ancestors had come across the Atlantic. Before referring to Bryan Edwards, I had come to the same conclusion, from what had come under my observation of this people. Their general appearance and features, notwithstanding their straight shining hair, gave me the idea more of the African than the American Indian; and the fact of their having come from Africa was not, even according to Rochefort’s account, inconsistent with their traditions, as these merely stated that they had come by sea from a far country, without distinctly hewing whether it was from the east or the west.”

Kennedy’s work confirms that many scholars of his day and earlier noted the African origins of the Caribbean tribes was certain and that such may also be said of natives of the mainland in theory. Not only does Kennedy provide support for his claims, but incorporates the published opinions of academics preceding his own work. Kennedy further solidifies his thesis by providing an intense comparison between the languages of the Caribbean natives and that of Africa, finding almost identical matches. Although not cited in Kennedy’s work, one example of this is found in name of the Taino deity, Atabey.

Atabey is the supreme goddess of the Taínos (native peoples at the pre-Columbian era), one of two supreme deities in the Taíno religion. Yet, we find that Atabey is a compound name consisting of two Moorish names, Ata, meaning “gift” in Arabic, “forefather” in Turkish, and in Fante, Ata means “one of twins”.  The second term Bey, meaning “chieftain,” also appears in Arabic and Turkish. A full report on the history of the title Bey can be found in a previous article submitted by the author on the subject.

How is it then that the name of one of the main deities of the early Tainos can be found in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and amongst the ancient Akan people of Ghana, save that this culture was founded by Moors. More importantly, why are we to understand that the ships of Columbus, which were navigated by Moors, found their way into the territory of the Caribs whose culture scholars found identical to that of West Africa?

Among Archduke Ferdinand’s 1596 inventory, the Kunstkammer chamber were many relics of authority and it has long baffled some historians as to why all the Mexican items were called Moorish. Published in 1888, Albert Samuel Gatschet, in a book entitled, The Karankawa Indians, The Coast People of Texas, writes:

“The term Moorish; as here applied, can scarcely be regarded as a deceptive one inasmuch as “Montezuma, the king of Temistitan and Mexico,” is subsequently designated as “a Moorish king” in this same inventory of 1596.

It is interesting to note the gradual changes that occur in the wording of the subsequent periodical official registrations of this “Moorish hat.” In 1613 its description was faithfully reproduced. In 1621 the word “Indian” was substituted for “Moorish;” with this single alteration the original text was again transcribed in 1730.” 

Here is a clear reference that describes articles collected from among the indigenous tribes of Mexico during the 15th century to have been termed Moorish and were later changed to Indian. Published in 1895, The Journal of American Folklore -Volumes 8 – 9, page 112 states: “Mexican life is one of Moorish origin,” Over the next few months, we hope to explore the forgotten knowledge of ancient America.

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