July 22, 2007

Madoc and the Welsh Indians

Will DNA turn Madoc myth into reality?

The search is on for evidence supporting the idea a Welsh prince settled in the Americas around 1170There are different stories told in Wales about Madoc (Madog in Welsh) but most agree Madoc was the son of Owain King of Gwynedd (North Wales). Some say his mother was Brenda, a Viking princess from Ireland who sent him to be raised by Pendaran, an old Druid.

When Owain died in 1169, fighting broke out among his 24 children for the right to rule. According to the legend, Madoc decided not to pursue a claim to the throne, so with his brother, Riryd (Regyd), he left the North Wales Coast (now Rhos-on-Sea) in two ships. They sailed west to what is now Mobile Bay, Ala., and liked it so much one ship returned to Wales for more adventurers. They sailed up rivers, settling in what is Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, building stone forts.

After 1186, they were ambushed while sailing downriver. In a truce Madoc and his followers left, sailed to the Mississippi, up the Missouri and settled with a tribe called Mandans.
The evidence:Kimberley, 63, a former engineer who spent years researching the Madoc story, says many historians dismiss it as an Elizabethan invention, created to lay prior claim on the New World by saying that Madoc discovered America 300 years before Columbus.

But Kimberley says he has found copies of references to Madoc that pre-date the reign of Elizabeth I and Columbus' trips.

Kimberley, studying for a master's degree in Celtic History at the University of Wales in the hopes of uncovering more evidence, wants to raise funds to cover the cost of DNA tests to help prove the Madoc story.

The challenge is obtaining permission to test Native American bone samples that pre-date Columbus. Kimberley has found an ally in a Shawnee "wisdom-keeper" named Ken Lonewolf.

Lonewolf, 67, from the Pittsburgh area, believes he is descended from a tribe of Welsh Indians and is working on persuading U.S. authorities to release samples for DNA testing and carbon dating.

"Our last Shawnee leader was named Chief White Madoc; this name must have been passed down for many generations," says Lonewolf.

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