[An essay from my memoir workshop with the prompt of Columbus Day]
In light of the controversy that Columbus Day can bring up as well as the hurt and disagreement it can stir up, I’d like to tell you about Madoc, the son of the true and rightful King of Wales in the 12th century, Owain Gwynedd, and who is the true first discoverer of the Americas!
Prince Madoc sailed across the Atlantic, landing on the shores of Mobile Bay, Alabama in 1170. This is commemorated by a plaque in place from 1953 until 2008, obviously another casualty of another controversy.
There are several tribes known as the Welsh Indians, thought to be descendants of the Native Indian tribes and the Welsh settlers who came here in 1170 with Prince Madoc.
The Mandan people are a different group of Indians and were said to be different from their neighbors in their culture, language and their appearance, probably appearing more Caucasian than their other Native contemporaries.
It was found that the Mandan boats are similar to the Welsh coracles as well as fortresses and other village architecture that is related to medieval Welsh/European designs because of its extreme similarity.
The Mandan people still survive to this day, but have intermarried with other tribes after a small pox epidemic.
Thomas Jefferson believed in the legend, and commissioned Lewis & Clark to look for these Welsh Indian tribes on their explorations.
In addition, during the French and Indian War, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (Francis Lewis) was captured and is said to have a conversation in Welsh with the Indian chief. This is not a singular event, but it is often thought of as an anomaly. I’m not so sure.
The legend reached a peak of interest in the Elizabethan era when the British were laying claim to New World lands and claimed that their representatives were here before the Spanish who laid claim to many areas of the New World.
Historian John Smith of Virginia (c. 1624) wrote that Madoc went back to Wales for more people and then returned for a second voyage to the New World. From this point, he never returned to Wales.
There is no historical or archaeological evidence that Madoc actually arrived on our shores, but we have the circumstantial speculations, some of which that I’ve outlined above.
Prince Madog and the Discovery of America- an investigation by Michael Senior
The Discovery of America – Betsey and Guilio Maestro