Blonde Blue-Eyed Indians

105182105411111CDPby Neva Bodin

A blond Indian? With blue eyes? Legend or fact? I heard the stories as a child living in North Dakota, a mid-northern state. Known as the Mandan Indians, they lived in earth lodges along the Missouri River. No one saw blond Indians anymore in the 1950’s that I knew of. They were a mystery of the past. I have visited their earth lodges near Mandan, ND.

 

According to an online article by Charles W. Moore, titled “DID 14TH CENTURY SCANDINAVIAN EXPLORERS VISIT MIDWESTERN NORTH AMERICA?”, the Pennsylvania Packet and General Advertiser, a newspaper founded in 1771, “reported that ‘a new nation of white people’ had been discovered about 2000 miles to the west of the Appalachians, ‘acquainted with the principles of the Christian religion’ and ‘extremely courteous and civilized.’”

In 1804, the Mandans were visited by Lewis and Clark, who found them hospitable enough to spend the winter with them. And there they met the Shoshoni captive Sacajawea, who guided Lewis and Clark, when she and her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, were persuaded to join them as interpreters for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Moore writes, “Clark later reported that the Mandans were ‘half-white.’”

The first recorded visit to the Mandans was in 1738, by Pierre Gautier de Varennes, Sieur de Verendrye from present-day Manitoba. (North Dakota now has Verendrye Electric Company.)

 

Reportedly, Verendrye found a “runestone,” a raised stone with Nordic inscriptions, along the Missouri river during his visit. He didn’t write about it in a report, but discussed it with Swedish scientist, Pehr Kalm. According to online Wikipedia, the stone was reportedly “sent to Quebec, where Jesuit priests concluded that it was written in “Tatarian” writing. They reportedly then sent it to the French Secretary of State, the Comte de Maurepas. There are no descriptions of the stone after that time, but it has been claimed that it was shipped with other artifacts to a church in Rouen (the Rouen Cathedral?), later to be buried under a pile of rubble when the building which housed it was destroyed during World War II. The Minnesota Historical Society has offered a $1000 reward for the stone’s rediscovery.”

Theories exist on how blond and blue-eyed Indians came to be. Because of the physical features and the reported Verendrye Runestone, conjecture is that Scandinavian expeditions are responsible. Moore theorized perhaps one expedition commissioned by the King of Norway in 1347 to find remnants of people who had years earlier (986) settled Greenland under Eric the Red, and who then abandoned the settlements when climate change made it a cold and inhospitable place, ended up with the expeditioners in Minnesota or North Dakota as they followed the rivers. Part of the expedition, which was under a man named Paul Knutson, who was never reported as having returned to Norway with remnants of the expedition party, then assimilated themselves into the Indian population.

While legends and stories of the blonde Indians vary, and some historians disbelieve their existence, there are also those who claim that facts can be found to corroborate their stories.

Moore claimed George Catlin, famous frontier artist, wrote of them. Some claim because they had religious beliefs similar to white men, it proves the contact with whites and origin of the white Indians. And I found it interesting that a chief who was named Big White was taken to Washington to meet President Thomas Jefferson by Lewis and Clark. Big White, also known as White Coyote, had a wife named Yellow Corn.

“I set myself down with the bigwhite man Chiefe [Mandan Chief Bigwhite (Sheheke)] and made a number of enquiries into the tradition of his nation…He told me his nation first came out of the ground…and saw Buffalow and every kind of animal also grapes, plumbs, c…and determined to go up and live upon earth, and great numbers…got upon earth, men womin and children.”
–William Clark, Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, August 18, 1806 http://www.rockwellmuseum.org/George-Catlins-Mandan-Indians.html.

Does this not sound like man being created from dust and landing in the Garden of Eden?

 

By 1837, small pox, brought up river by passengers and traders on a boat of the American Fur Company, had nearly wiped the Mandan Indians to extinction. Accounts of the number left varied from around 21 to 145.

Legend or fact, there is much more evidence to their existence than Bigfoot!

Find me on: https://writingwranglersandwarriors.wordpress.com/, Facebook and Twitter@NevaBodin1 or www.nevabodin.net

32 thoughts on “Blonde Blue-Eyed Indians

  1. I’ve heard of the Mandan’s before too. Fascinating that Lewis & Clark encountered them. I wonder if the expedition stayed by choice or if something happened to prevent them from going home.
    Fun post.

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    1. There’s quite a bit of information on the web. I was surprised as my family told me about them when I was quite young and since our farm was about 90 miles from the lodges, I was fascinated with the tale.

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    1. Hopefully you can find some more info. There were several sights and some with other pictures of darker haired Indians with lightskinned features. Thanks for reading.

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    1. Thanks Abbie. I have known a reddish haired Indian with freckles, but she was half-Irish. Heritage is a funny thing. This gal had a sister who looked like an Indian princess with long black hair and copper toned skin and another sister with black hair and freckles. But they knew their heritage.

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  2. Neva,
    This early history is so fascinating. I have always been interested in the stories of who and what came before Columbus arrival. Did Native Indians walk across the Bering Strait, are the Southwest Pueblo tribes part of the Anasazi’s? What happened to the Roanoke settlers? You have touched on a subject that is so full of potential. Thank you for adding more to the stories. Doris

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    1. Thanks doris. I find those questions fascinating too. It’s like today’s stories, only certain ones get into the news and their are so many important ones that get lost in the marching of time.

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  3. This is fascinating stuff Neva! I thoroughly enjoyed the post and would love to learn more. I hadn’t heard of the Mandan tribe. It’s interesting though, because living in Mexico I met people with bright red hair and blue eyes, blonde hair and so forth. They were native Mexicans and the line has been passed down for centuries. Who knew?

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    1. I live in Wyoming and have many friends who are part Native American although you wouldn’t guess it to look at them. I find it wonderful and know I am being reminded of the history of early traders, trappers, etc. who lived here or passed through many years ago. Thanks Linda.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about them. Our farm was about 90 miles from the earth lodges so it was very interesting to me at a young age.

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  4. Excellent post, Neva. That early Viking/Scandinavians got about quite a bit isn’t in doubt, but it’s a shame that there’s no way DNA could be used to provide some idea of origin of the Mandan. Fascinating history,thank you!

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    1. Thanks Nancy, I bet no one has even thought about that! It sounded like a legend by the time I was a kid and DNA certainly wasn’t a subject then. Bet they could still find some evidence of that past history if they tried. Maybe an historian will take on the cause some day.

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  5. We know the Norsemen were exploring the New World, so blonde, blue-eyed Indians are not out of the question. This kind of reminds me of the tales that have sprung up about North Carolina’s “Lost Colony.” The woman I now live with, Sharon, was born in Oklahoma, is part Indian — I think Shawnee and Cherokee. When needing medical attention, she goes to an indian clinic in Las Vegas. She doesn’t look Indian, though.

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    1. I love those kinds of tales. I think the mystery with the Mandan Indians is they existed when it wasn’t known for sure that norsemen had even been in the area! So part of the intrigue is “who done it?”

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  6. Very fascinating post, Neva. Though I know of the Mandans from my time in Montana, I have never heard of the blond, blue-eyed Native Americans — I’m intrigued as well and hope to learn more! Thank you for enlightening us!

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    1. Thanks for reading Gayle. I think the fascination is that there weren’t suppose to be any scandinavians in the area at the time to create this phenomenon. But obviously those Vikings got around!

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  7. Have you read the book “Westward from Vinland” by Hjalmar Holman? He writes of Viking remains of implements and weapons found in Minnesota that are consistent with those used by the Vikings in the 1300s. He also writes of the Mandan Indians and the “Kensington stone” a Rune inscribed stone dated 1362 discovered also in Minnesota that describes an account of a Viking groups’ troubles there.
    Blond indians called Beothuk were also living on Canada’s east coast of Newfoundland. They lived near former Viking settlements there as well. There are none alive today and have been extinct since the early 1900s.

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    1. I haven’t read that book. Will have too look that up. Sounds interesting. Thanks for reading and the reply. The story of the blonde Indians intrigued me when I was young. Did not know of the name Beothuk either. Thanks again!

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  8. Where is the picture of the blue-eyed Mandan from? I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else on any of the webpages with Catlin’s art. Could you send me a link or let me know where I can find it if it is not available online? Thanks.

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      1. Hjalmar Holand, “The Kensington Rune Stone: A Study in Pre-Columbian American History.” Ephraim WI, self-published (1932). http://100777.com/node/373 have things to say on the indians. And I’m not finding the picture I found then either, so not sure what happened to the website I saw. However, we also know not everything listed as fact on the internet is indeed fact. Sorry about that. That picture plus another I have on my computer which was a photo hasn’t popped up with this search.

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  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandan Check out this link. It makes reference to blue and grey eyed Mandans and lighter haired ones as well. They do however discount the possibility of the Norse presence despite the evidence presented in the book by Hjalmar Holand, Westward from Vinland. Pictures I cannot find and I think there are none of the blue eyed blond native people. According to Holman the last one died in 1905.

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    1. I believe that Jesus Christ is from the Mandans because his body was ship back to the Ohio pyramid after his death. King Joseph of the Old Testament is buried in the Grand Canyon, Alexander the Great was also buried here in America, except some man wanted to be a King of Egypt so his body was also stolen from America.

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  10. Please research the Mandan Indians tribe more, because some of Old Testament Prophets are buried here in America. Jesus Christ is buried at the Ohio pyramid here in America.

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  11. Hi, I have Native American heritage. And I was curious what year the painting was drawn of the blonde blue-eyed Indian? And how come this isn’t in George Catlin’s paintings website for example? Your theories may be correct. But I can’t find any details related to that painting…

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