It may be true that fringe historians are not themselves racists, but they sure have a following among racists. Take a look at the video offerings from “The Peasant King,” a YouTube user and self-described independent researcher who holds what he says are multiple degrees. His video playlist is a cornucopia of racist, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial claims, most of which involve fringe history, and all of which he annotates with the kind of commentary that is all too familiar from the radical right and conspiracy culture. Naturally, a disproportionate number of videos are about the Nephilim, who might as well be the mascot for extreme cultural conservatives of a Biblical bent.
Here are his thoughts on whether Freemasonry is controlled by World Jewry: “It blows my mind that gullible people still see a Masonic square and compass and do NOT even realize that is the same geometric shape as the six pointed hexagram, a.k.a. ‘The Star of David.’” And then there’s this gem on the question of whether Native peoples are truly the first Americans: “Just more 100% evidence from oral histories that blow away the politically correct non sense (sic) that claims ‘Indians’ have a monopoly on ancient America.” He also feels that the discovery that Native Americans share DNA with people from Siberia is proof of “diffusion” (well, duh!), which he misunderstands as an influx of white people (“Europeans”).
But, really, he’s most interested in the damn Nephilim-Giants, which, if we take his playlist as indicative of his thinking, he seems to feel proves that Native Americans weren’t the first Americans and therefore… well, I can’t really see any conclusion to that sentence that doesn’t become justification for racism.
The Peasant King puts a great deal of weight on a Paiute oral history of the dispersion of peoples, which states that in the beginning there were two sets of twins, which he cites to what seems to be a video from the early 1990s: “There were one light skinned and one dark skinned, two sets. They would not get along, would always fight.” Peasant King takes this as proof that the Paiutes recognized that Europeans were at least coeval in their American antiquity, but to do so he rejects the majority of mainstream scholarship on the subject.
The story of the Paiute dispersal myth is rather interesting. It was recorded in 1883 in Life Among the Piutes by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, the same woman who accidentally invented the red-haired cannibal giant myth beloved of Nephilim theorists. She recorded the story from her memory of her grandfather’s meeting with the first white settlers:
In the beginning of the world there were only four, two girls and two boys. Our forefather and mother were only two, and we are their children. You all know that a great while ago there was a happy family in this world. One girl and one boy were dark and the others were white. For a time they got along together without quarrelling, but soon they disagreed, and there was trouble. They were cross to one another and fought, and our parents were very much grieved. They prayed that their children might learn better, but it did not do any good; and afterwards the whole household was made so unhappy that the father and mother saw that they must separate their children; and then our father took the dark boy and girl, and the white boy and girl, and asked them, ‘Why are you so cruel to each other?’ They hung down their heads, and would not speak. They were ashamed. He said to them, ‘Have I not been kind to you all, and given you everything your hearts wished for? You do not have to hunt and kill your own game to live upon. You see, my dear children, I have power to call whatsoever kind of game we want to eat; and I also have the power to separate my dear children, if they are not good to each other.’ So he separated his children by a word. He said, ‘Depart from each other, you cruel children; — go across the mighty ocean and do not seek each other’s lives.’
It should be rather obvious that this is a case where an oral tradition has been purposely adapted to incorporate current events—in this case first contact—by remodeling the story to help place a newly encountered people in a quasi-historical framework. As many scholars have noted, Winnemucca, who bridged two cultures, had many reasons to revise oral tradition to provide a singular origin for white and Native peoples and thus unify her own multiple identities. That Winnemucca is not an entirely reliable narrator is evident from the promotion she gave her grandfather, whom she labels the tribe’s chief, despite his having been but one of many elders, and one with no official title.
At any rate, the story was told in the 1850s and the context makes plain that the story was not a widespread and familiar account of creation but rather Winnemucca’s grandfather seems to have developed the story on the spot as a reaction to events, much as oral traditions have changed over time in other cultures. Indeed, the Handbook of Native American Literature by Andrew Wiget records many different attempts to shoehorn contact with Euro-Americans into Native mythology, and the Paiute version was neither the first nor unique in this regard.
But the Paiute in general and Winnemucca in particular are best known among fringe historians for their red-haired cannibal giants, the result of the Lovelock Cave archaeological site, where normal-sized human skeletons found in 1911 were mythologized into those of giants because of roadside attractions promising glimpses of Bible giant bones in the 1920s—almost certainly mammoth bones from nearby fossil beds. They gained their red hair and cannibalism because Winnemucca had recorded that a lock of old hair from an extinct tribe of enemies on a dress she owned was red (due to the decay in its black pigments), and that her tribe’s ancient enemies—who were not giants—were cannibals. Adrienne Mayor suspects that the cannibalism claim came from the burnt-flesh smell of the guano deposits in Lovelock Cave. Winnemucca does in fact describe the cave as being filled with a terrible smell after the death of the cannibals.
All of this, though, gives us this lovely YouTube video from another YouTube user: First Americans: Ancient White Migration: Nevada, USA.
The comments on the video speak for themselves. It’s horrible. Fortunately, MUFON is planning a conference to ask whether Bigfoot is “flesh and blood” or a space alien. (Does this mean aliens are not composed of such rude material as flesh?) So at least Sasquatch isn’t one the Nephilim! Unless you’re a Nephilim theorists and believe space aliens are really fallen angels, which would actually make Bigfoot a Nephilim hybrid… OH, GOD, MAKE IT STOP!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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