26 February 2010

Human Migration - The Arctic and North America During the Mini-Ice Age

From 1200-1800, Greenland and northern North America experienced climate change caused human and animal migration that has not been repeated to the present day. The climate in these areas began to change dramatically during the one to two centuries of the latter half of the Medieval Warm Period (700-1200) and the onset of the next natural climate cycle, the Mini-Ice Age (1300-1800).

The Greenland Norse, whom I write about, and the pre-historical ancestors of certain northern American Indian tribes, depended on large land and littoral animal species for their existence. As the climate decayed from the benign temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, inland ice and snow pack and coastal sea icepack would have increased with the onset of the Mini-Ice Age. The animals affected would move gradually south to ensure their own survival. Humans who depended on them, moved with them.

A study of Indian language groups reveals that massive human migration occurred on the North American continent during the Mini-Ice Age. It is virtually impossible to determine origin and relationships between the tribal bands because of the mixing of peoples that occurred as a result of this climate induced forced migration.

I am specifically interested in the Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Athapascan language groups, because the people speaking these languages would have had contact with the Greenland Norse settlers in my Axe of Iron series of novels, as the Norse moved south with them.

To offer credence to my contention of climate-caused human migration I offer the case of the contemporary Cree and Ojibwe Indians, both tribes are Algonquian speakers. Their pre-historical ancestors, the Naskapi and Anishinabeg respectively, play a major role in my novels, for they originated along the shorelines and inland areas of Hudson Bay/James Bay, where my first novel, Axe of Iron: The Settlers, takes place. Their ancestors, fleeing the climate onslaught from the north, spread out over the present day upper Midwest and Great Plains of the United States, where many of them remain to this day.

Others eventually made their way back north, again following their food source, as the climate moderated with the cycle that we enjoy today.

The Haudenosaunee, pre-historical ancestors of the Iroquois Indians, also contacted my Greenland Norse settlers during the period, but you will have to read my books to know how and where that association occurred.

I also offer the present day Navajo and Apache Indian tribes as an example of the mixing of cultures that occurred on this continent during the period. These indigenous people did not originate where they now reside, the American southwest. Their language is Athapascan and their pre-historical ancestors originated somewhere in what is now Canada. Their journey south began near the onset of the Mini-Ice Age, or about 1200.

As these nomadic warrior people took up residence in the southwest they came in contact with agrarian societies that were already there, such as the people we know only as Anasazi. Their invasion no doubt forced the Anasazi to develop the fortified cliff-dwellings - Mesa Verde for example - that they later abandoned as the onslaught of the warrior societies continued. This combined with the drought throughout the southwest that resulted during the period finally overcame their civilization.

Much happened on this continent as a direct result of climate-caused human migration during pre-history. The same thing will happen to contemporary humans - us - during the present natural climate cycle, as global climatic conditions dictate. The stark contrast will be that we will not be able to migrate, as our ancestors did, for we are too, many.

J. A. Hunsinger, Vinland Publishing, http://www.vinlandpublishing.com/
©2010 Jerry A. Hunsinger, All Rights Reserved


Kim Smith said...

Was reading recently about the "shaking tent ceremony" of the Ojibwe. Love your blog!

J. A. Hunsinger said...


Thanks for leaving your comment about the Ojibwa on my Axe of Iron blog, I appreciate it very much.

The pre-historical ancestors of the Ojibwa, the Anishinabeg, appear in the second book of my series, Confrontation, which went to printing Friday. The release announcement will go out this week. They play an increasingly important part in book three of the Axe of Iron series, Assimilation.

Best Regards,