Not White nor Brown

August 31, 2009

Many of us were taught in the early grades that Captain Cook and Vancouver were the principals who brought knowledge of the Pacific Northwest to the European/Asian continent, but this simply isn’t so.

The first records of discovery are affixed to a number of journals penned by  a Chinese navigator during the Sun Dynasty of 420 – 479 A.D. Hui Shen wrote of discovering a land of giants, who were covered in hair and the latitude he recorded coincides nicely with the region of the Pacific Northwest.

Fact is, early Chinese mariners used a magnetic needle and navigation by the stars prior to the birth of Christianity. Spaniards in the Gulf of California reported seeing large Chinese junks at anchor in 1544.

Eunice Harrison, wife of an early British Columbia judge, wrote in her journals of a trip she had taken with her husband into the interior of the province. During an encounter with the natives of Kispiox, near Hazelton, she was shown a ancient disk, actually sixty-four of them in all.

They were very ancient Chinese and engraved with ideograph designs. On one side there were eight diagrams from the Book of changes’ with the names in ancient Chinese characters. On the other side; “The Heaven is round while the earth is square.” Then follow six musical rules and nine mathematical formulas in between, with the following as an order rather than an invocation: “Wherever the God of Charms goes, all evil spirits shall disappear.” This being a charm of the Taoists.

The natives exchanged folklore that had been passed down from generation to generation which suggested the men who brought these disks to their country were believed by the natives to be blood-brothers and it is hard to argue that there was definitely a likeness to those same physical Asian characteristics that was dissimilar to the natives on the lower coast.

Photos of these discs are within the BC Archives, so the origin of the tale must have some truth, however more recent opinions would suggest that they were of A.D. 1500 to 1600. There too is Chilkat Tlingit mask which uses Chinese temple coins for eyes.


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