Alternative and fringe authors have been arguing that white people dominated the Americas for hundreds of years, beginning with the clergymen who first visited the New World in the wake of the Conquistadors. A lively debate emerged in the 1500s and 1600s about whether the Americas had been visited by apostles of Christ, European priests, or various saints. St. Thomas was one of the most popular candidates for the great white civilizer of the Americas, and of course Gerónimo de Mendieta’s account of Quetzalcoatl in Historia eclesiástica Indiana 2.10 is the most important foundation for claims that Native Americans worshiped Caucasians as deities.
As far as I know, Mendieta’s account from 1596, which is frequently cited, is rarely presented in full translation. He is likely citing the earlier work of Andrés de Olmos, who began studying Mesoamerican culture in 1533. Here is what he said:
The god or idol of Cholula, called Quetzalcoatl, was by universal account the most celebrated and had the greatest and most worth among the other gods. According to their histories, he came from the parts of Yucatan (although some said from Tula) to the city of Cholula. He was a white man, of portly person, broad brow, great eyes, long black hair, and large round beard; of exceedingly chaste and quiet life, and of great moderation in all things. The people had at least three reasons for the great love, reverence, and devotion with which they regarded him: first, he taught the silversmith’s art, a craft the Cholulans greatly prided themselves on; second, he desired no sacrifice of the blood of men or animals, but delighted only in offerings of bread, roses and other flowers, of perfumes and sweet odors; third, he prohibited and forbade all war and violence. Nor were these qualities esteemed only in the city of his chiefest labors and teachings; from all the land came pilgrims and devotees to the shrine of the gentle god. Even the enemies of Cholula came and went secure, in fulfilling their vows; and the lords of distant lands had in Cholula their chapels and idols to the common object of devotion and esteem. And only Quetzalcoatl among all the gods was preeminently called Lord; in such sort, that when any one swore, saying, By Our Lord, he meant Quetzalcoatl and no other; though there were many other highly esteemed gods. For indeed the service of this god was gentle, neither did he demand hard things, but light; and he taught only virtue, abhorring all evil and hurt. Twenty years this good deity remained in Cholula, then he passed away by the road he had come, carrying with him four of the principal and most virtuous youths of that city. He journeyed for a hundred and fifty leagues, till he came to the sea, in a distant province called Coatzacoalco. Here he took leave of his companions and sent them back to their city, instructing them to tell their fellow citizens that a day should come in which white men would land upon their coasts, by way of the sea in which the sun rises; brethren of his and having beards like his; and that they should rule that land. The Indians always waited for the accomplishment of this prophecy, and when the Christians came they called them the sons of the gods and brothers of Quetzalcoatl, although when they came to know them and to experience their works, they no longer took them for heavenly.
From this account, more claims that Native Americans worshiped white men as gods emerged. Several Spanish accounts apply the same description to the Peruvian deity Viracocha, though as in Mexico no pre-Conquest sources support the claim. In the 1800s, Ignatius Donnelly asserted that Native Americans worshiped white men from Atlantis as gods. In the 1920s James Churchward followed suit, replacing Atlantis with Mu. In the 1990s Graham Hancock repeated the claim yet again, replacing Atlantis with a more nebulous “lost civilization” that he identified as “white” no less than twelve times in Fingerprints of the Gods. Frank Joseph has published claims about the lost white colonizers from Atlantis with clockwork regularity since the 1980s. Other fringe writers would assert that the Mi’kmaq worshiped a white man, Earl Henry I Sinclair of Orkney, as the god Glooscap. It’s rather a theme in fringe history that authors believe Native Americans worshiped white people because their gods were (in Euro-American accounts) described as white.
Why doesn’t this work the other way?
Those are primary sources. Among secondary observers of varying quality, the equivalent of the Spanish missionaries, we find more extreme claims. Bernard de Montfaucon, the seventeenth century French antiquarian, recorded instances of several black-skinned statues of the pagan gods. Godfrey Higgins in his 1836 study Anacalypsis (4.1.10) asserts that all the Greek gods were black in color and that Roman Catholics worship the black-skinned Krishna under the guise of Christ.
Now this evidence is every bit as good as Mendieta’s claim that Quetzalcoatl was “white,” yet we do not hear alternative and fringe authors proclaim on that basis that a lost, matriarchal high culture from sub-Saharan Africa colonized Europe and India or that Europeans or Indians mistook them for goddesses. Why the double standard?
A few academics have tried to connect the statues to Africa, notably Lucia Birnbaum, who sees them implausibly as a survival of Paleolithic African shamanism. As a Sicilian-American and a feminist, she unsurprisingly finds the Black Madonna figures crossed from Africa to Europe in the Stone Age via Sicily as part of a proto-feminist goddess cult. However, it is primarily among the Afrocentric writers that we find an inversion of white fringe writers’ claims for Quetzalcoatl. Ivan Van Sertima, for example, saw the Black Madonnas as evidence that Europeans borrowed their religion from an Egyptian (read: Black African) original, substituting Mary for Isis.
Fringe writers of the past went to ridiculous lengths to try to avoid the implications of their own claims. In his Atlantis the Antediluvian World (1882) Ignatius Donnelly, for example, was adamant that the presence of “white” people in the legends and iconography of the Americas meant that they were the ruling race of ancient Atlantis. But when confronted with the “Negroid” features of the Olmec stone heads (for Donnelly knew nothing of what Native Mexicans actually looked like), he contorted himself into knots to avoid giving credit to black people:
As the negroes have never been a sea-going race, the presence of these faces among the antiquities of Central America proves one of two things, either the existence of a land connection between America and Africa via Atlantis, as revealed by the deep-sea soundings of the Challenger, or commercial relations between America and Africa through the ships of the Atlanteans or some other civilized race, whereby the negroes were brought to America as slaves at a very remote epoch.
At any rate, the conclusion was this: Native Americans were so stupid they even deified white people’s slaves because white people were just that awesome.
But lest you think that this is an obsolete racist idea from Victorian times, recall this: David Childress as recently as 2007 said almost the same thing in The Mystery of the Olmecs, though he gave the Africans a slight promotion:
These ancient sea kings were mixed group that included bearded and mustachioed Caucasians, and people with African, Oriental, and classic “Chinaman” features. On top of this were dwarves and hunchbacks (both considered good luck), who often served as musicians and storytellers to amuse the crew and keep them entertained. No one was a slave on the ship, though there was a strict hierarchy.
Guess who was on top of the “strict hierarchy.” Yes, the whites, as we know from his references to the “White Gods” in 1996’s Lost Cities of Atlantis and 1992’s Lost Cities of North and Central America, citing the race-based claims of Harold T. Wilkins and Pierre Honoré. The masters of the “Atlantean League,” Childress wrote, had “blond hair.” By contrast, the “Negroids,” Childress says, were the lower-ranked “warrior-caste” from an Atlantis ruled by white priest-kings, or else they were Muvians, whom James Churchward said had a white ruling class and black laborers. At any rate, the implication given in Childress is that the Olmecs were so in awe of the white men and their black underlings that they memorialized all of them in their art to the exclusion of depictions of any Native Americans at all.
What is interesting is that Ivan Van Sertima, who was himself Black, viewed history from the perspective of someone who was not part of a privileged class and therefore was willing to imagine a multipolar world where ancient peoples of all races mutually cross-pollinated. Thus he had no problem with Native Americans in Roman Europe or, in theory, a white Quetzalcoatl. (Childress personally favors St. Brendan as Quetzalcoatl, despite the impossibility of the dating.) But Childress, who quotes Van Sertima extensively, sticks with his “strict hierarchy.” And that hierarchy bears an uncanny resemblance to nineteenth and twentieth century racial hierarchies and stereotypes: at the top a spiritual and beneficent white ruling class, followed by an Asian merchant class, a Black laboring class, and at the bottom a weak and impressionable Native American underclass waiting for enlightenment at the hands of their Great White Fathers.
5/13/2014 10:11:40 am
When read in full the description of Cholula sounds a lot more like Santa Claus than any real European visitor.
5/15/2014 05:15:04 am
That's a good question. Especially since we still aren't really 100% sure how a Trireme was rowed. These guys seem to know an awful lot without telling the rest of us how they arrived at their conclusions.
5/13/2014 12:39:20 pm
I suppose, when it comes to the extreme proponents of fringe history, it really is a matter of black and white.
5/13/2014 11:44:33 pm
No allusions to Racism here.
5/14/2014 02:55:53 am
I made no claim that Childress was a racist.
5/13/2014 01:08:08 pm
"Ivan Van Sertima, for example, saw the Black Madonnas as evidence that Europeans borrowed their religion from an Egyptian (read: Black African) original, substituting Mary for Isis."
5/13/2014 01:48:27 pm
As I understand it, Van Sertima's position was that essentially Christians stole the whole of the Egyptian Isis cult and papered over it with Mary. This is much more extreme than the suggestion that the veneration of Mary incorporates some iconography and/or elements from Roman-era Isis cults.
3/11/2019 05:43:04 pm
There is no contradiction between "black African" and Egyptian. One can be both at the same time.
5/13/2014 04:15:04 pm
I just recently read that Donnelly passage. Now I understand why Hancock bent over backwards insist that the Olmec heads *didn't* represent slaves; he had read Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, knew exactly how racist it came across, and didn't want to sound like everybody's bigoted grandpa, so he used words like "proud", "charismatic", and "strong", in a manner befitting a commercial for hair products marketed for black people.
5/13/2014 08:28:04 pm
Graham Hancock is also married to a black woman.Still doesn't prove he is not racist it's just that anything goes when it comes to erasing Native Americans from the history books but when anything bad is said about blacks the whole world comes crashing down.In the USA, anything goes when it comes to dispossessing Native Americans of every last bit of their memory
5/13/2014 11:41:03 pm
Probably because like Lewis Spence, Guy Ballard, Erich Von Daniken and Scott Wolter = Graham Hancock is not a racist and does not want to start the Fourth Reich. Certainly no anti-Racist organisations have got any concerns about him.
5/14/2014 12:29:47 am
H. P. Lovecraft was anti-Semitic and married to a Jewish woman
5/14/2014 01:07:16 am
You can not be a racist and willingly or unwilling promote racist concepts and ideas. A great deal of fringe theorist, politicians, journalists, ect are guilty of this.
5/13/2014 09:38:32 pm
That Childress quote doesn't sound racist at all (apart from the odd inclusion of "Chinaman") - given he's describing an entirely fictional situation, sailors from Atlantis, I wouldn't use that as a stick to beat him with.
5/13/2014 11:39:02 pm
Probably because like Lewis Spence, Guy Ballard, Erich Von Daniken and Scott Wolter = David Hatcher Childress is not a racist and does not want to start the Fourth Reich. Certainly no anti-Racist organisations have got any concerns about him.
5/13/2014 11:56:22 pm
When the likes of Graham Hancock and David Hatcher Childress refer to Atlantis and the White Race Themes - This is not them being "Racists".
5/14/2014 12:10:52 am
Madame Blavatsky and Guido Von List were two very different people who believed in Theosophy. Guido Von List was inspired by Madame Blavatsky and Theosophy develop his Racist Theories that later during the 1930s inspired the Nazi party and the formation of The Third Reich.
5/18/2014 05:13:39 pm
I suppose that all of us can be accused of saying or doing something racist if those doing the judging use the definition of racism to the nth degree.
5/14/2014 12:53:01 am
Kif what evidence to you have that they are not racists that allows you to assert positively that they are not?
5/14/2014 01:13:39 am
Point is people who claim not to be racists can still promote racism whether they are aware or not.
5/14/2014 02:37:16 am
The worst racist are the apologist.Some people just want to indulge in their insane racist fantasies without impunity because it doesn't affect them.
5/14/2014 03:34:06 am
I agree, instead of feeling bad for what has happened people should be working to prevent and educate about racism and discrimination so that it will happen less in the future.
5/14/2014 05:29:05 am
KIF, I can't help but notice that you've included Frank Joseph in a list of people you've consistently claimed aren't racist. I know you didn't specifically say that that about him, but I'm not sure what you mean when you say that people are ignorant about him--you're aware that he was literally a Nazi, and in fact was the leader of the National Socialist Part of America, right? He is most certainly a racist.
5/14/2014 05:42:44 am
Methinks this is how we separate the men from the trolls :)
5/14/2014 01:36:07 pm
I think perhaps the problem here is that being racist or not isn't really a binary system. It's not a switch where if it's in one direction, you are the depths of evil, and the other you're a saint. There really is a spectrum.
5/14/2014 03:35:04 pm
"like an idiot child wading into a pond full of leeches and crocodiles, that doesn't mean they don't need to be told to haul their moron arses out of it before it's too late."
5/14/2014 03:58:28 pm
One can be a racist without being hostile or even aware of it anymore than we might view ourselves as different from other animals. They simply see some race as superior beings and others as incapable of matching their own anymore than we would expect a chimp to win a debate. Promoting unsupported racist ideas is not only a sign of racism but goes beyond simply holding those beliefs by actively spreading them.
5/15/2014 12:39:31 am
Well Said Gary.
5/14/2014 04:45:32 pm
Jason, it's time you get your own TV show. SOMEONE has to expose the FRAUD being perpetrated on the masses. People actually believe the crap they watch on these shows and there is NO ONE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT! NO ONE! Revisionist history has gone wild and it is DESTRUCTIVE! Time to make a mockery of fringe history/science and their practitioners.
5/15/2014 04:43:25 am
Let's all meet halfway and say all gods and godesses were brown... like me! /s
5/18/2014 02:56:55 am
6/20/2017 12:43:26 pm
I think it is quite amazing how far some white people will go, to up hold the myth of white superiority.
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