A Description of New Netherlands
Adriaen van der Donck - 1649
OF THE MANNERS AND PECULIAR CUSTOMS OF, THE NATIVES OF THE NEW-NETHERLANDS
How Men and Animals came on the American Continent.
There are various opinions on this subject, and many persons have endeavoured to show how those, whom we name Indians, first came to this part of the world, which is separated from the other parts by the great seas, and which appears always to have been thus separated. Some are of the opinion that they were planted as a colony; others ask, by whom ? and how lions, bears, wolves, foxes, serpents, with poisonous reptiles, and other ravenous beast's came on the continent, because such are never carried or transported in ships. When we speak to the natives of the creation, we can never satisfy them on the subject, or receive from them any affirmation that they believe in the doctrine. Many remark that an unknown chronicle writer has observed, that in former days, when, according to some Rationes Gentium, people , were accustomed to adventures, some persons well equipped and provided, sailed from a part of Norway or Sweden in search of a better country, under the command of a certain chief named Sachema, and that they had never been heard from after they sailed; and as all the native chiefs of the New-Netherlands who reside along the rivers and the sea-shore are called sachems, they conclude that the country was peopled by those adventurers.
We, however, do not concur in this opinion, although the subject seems mysterious. Others go much farther, and inquire whether the natives of the new world have descended from Adam, and whether there has not been a separate creation of men and creatures for the same. This theory they endeavour to support by various reasons. They assert that there has been no deluge over America, and speak of the same as a separate and entire new world, being entirely different in formation and condition from the old world, and by connecting other matters in support of their proposition, they render their subject plausible. They also doubt whether the new world will be judged at the judgment day with the old world. In support of their doctrine they affirm that the period is not long since sinners came there; that the natives were innocent; that the land had not been cursed on their account; and that no righteous punishment can be inflicted on them with the other inhabitants of the old world.
A more probable opinion is advanced by others, who affirm that many years
ago the sea between Cape de Verds and America was as narrow or of less breadth
than the strait between Calais and Dover, and that by the help of the adjacent
and intervening islands, people and animals could pass and re-pass from Africa
to America. If the communication was not there, (which is not to be credited,)
it must have been elsewhere; and as memorials of Chinese origin are found at
the Brazils, it is evident that the Chinese have formerly been there, and that
they came to the country along the broken coast of the strait of Magellan, or
overland from the shore of the Pacific ocean; or that that they had driven a
trade in the country. It is necessary that we support the planting of a colony,
and the removal of people from the old world, and not a separate creation, as
by the latter the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures would be subverted and ruined.
Those who hold other opinions, ask, if at any time people could see across from
Cape de Verds to America, whether, in such a case, Columbus or Americus can
have found a country which was never lost? It is not our intention to follow
those disputations, but we will leave every person to the enjoyment of his own
opinion on the subject, and proceed in our work.
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