Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered America, right?


Then it was Leif Erickson and his band of Norsemen who came earlier and settled on Nova Scotia and discovered America, right?


None of the above, says Fred Rydholm, a retired Marquette school teacher who has turned his retirement into a continuing study of our Upper Peninsula, its origins and its people.  Fred taught a two-day class recently at Bay de Noc Community College and colored everything from geology to conspiracy, so you really got your money's worth.

Copper is the key, says Fred.  Despite the early open pit mining by Native Americans, despite the deep shaft copper boom of the mid-1800s, despite the modern smelting operations at White Pine, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the vast mother lode that stretches from the Keweenaw to Isle Royale.

The Indians (as Columbus had incorrectly named them) came from all over to dig and trade the copper they found here.  There are traces of 5,000 Indian ore pit mining operations scattered throughout the area, Fred says.  If those mining operations continued for thousands of years, as they probably did, imagine the tons of copper they found and traded?

But where did it go?  There are only a few scattered copper arrowheads in museums today.  No native copper pans or kettles or tools.  Where indeed, did it go?

Exported, says Fred.  There was more traffic back and forth across the Atlantic than is now believed.  Traces of European and Middle Eastern culture can be found all across our country today, and Fred is outraged that nobody, to date, has figured out why.

"It's obvious," he says.  "They came across the ocean."  He says that native legends and traditions continually talk of their coming from "The Land of the Rising Sun," to the east, across the ocean, then up the St. Lawrence and spreading through the Great Lakes area, then out onto the plains and beyond.

The theory that most of the migration came across the Bering Strait land bridge is wrong, he contends.  Some of it came that way, but 90 percent came by ship from the east.

Fred presented another theory that can be a little mind-boggling.  There were four dynasties in Egypt, he says, and when each of them crumbled the slaves fled to the north.  Where?  To Lapland, he says, and cites the high cheekbones and clear eyelids and other physical characteristics that are found today in Native Americans.  From Lapland they proceeded across the Atlantic to a new home in the Americas, and they were here long before Columbus or Lucky Leif or anyone else came to these shores.

Also mind-boggling is Fred's conviction that there is a conspiracy of silence about all of this because the obvious facts do not accept the conventional wisdom of all the scholars and historians.  They don't want you to know, says Fred, although exactly why they don't escaped me at the time.


Obviously Fred knows more about the subject than 99 percent of the rest of us, and he's done extensive traveling and research to back up his theory.  

It's different than the conventional wisdom.  It's fascinating and full of mystery, and challenging to the mind to contemplate.  And shouldn't that be the way we view history?