There is an amazing story about how white giants supposedly came to stay with the Seri Indians of Tiburon Island, which is located in the Gulf of California. They were called the Ahnt’-tay ah hek’-tahm, but we know them as the Come-From-Afar-Men and as far as I’m aware, there is only one known source for them, and that is the book Last of the Seris by Dane and Mary Roberts Coolidge (1939). The couple spent six weeks living with the Seris back in the mid to late 1930’s, Mary was a sociologist and mostly interacted with the women and children. While Dane, from Stanford University, was a very well known western writer with over 40 books to his name, worked with the men. Dane is an interesting man, besides working for Stanford University, he also worked for The British Museum, U.S. Biological Survey (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo) and National Museum (Smithsonian). They were to to collect as much knowledge as they could about the ancient Seri Indians, from the existing Elders, some of these Elders were quite old, in fact while they were there one of them passed away.
The story begins when Mary, during one of many conversations with the local Medicine Man Santo Blanco, stated that Giants had once landed on the west side of the island and stayed for nearly a year and a half. Mary was aware of a similar legend, and asked where did they stay, thinking there may be artifacts to confirm the story. But according to Santo Blanco they didn’t live on the island, they stayed in their ship/boat the whole time, using small crafts to get to and from the island. Living on the boat seems a bit odd to me, but I suppose the reasoning may have been that they were concerned about infectious diseases, or being attacked at night, or who knows what. Before I continue, try to remember that most folklore and myths, are usually hugely exaggerated. And when Santo Blanco told his story, it was no different, in legends and myths it’s important to eliminate the obvious elaborations, and look for the what truth you can find.
These Giants were whalers and a lot of the comparisons are whale related. For instance, supposedly their ship was so large that ” four whales would not fill it,” and when the Giants speared a whale “a man would pick it up and put it on the ship,” which we all know is not true. Suffice to say that these people were much larger than the Seri, and they most likely felt they could do virtually anything. It’s hard to try and understand who and what these Giants were about, because the Seris back in the 1930’s were talking about their Ancient ones and the stories they passed down. And if you have ever played the game telephone, you know how fast a story can change. The other troubling point is how to pin down what years these Giants were around, and that becomes difficult when time is expressed by generations and not years. But Mary did ask Santa Blanco when the giants arrived:
“Long after Ahnt ah ko’-mah, the Wise Man. First of all into the world came the Wise Woman. Then came her man. Then Ahnt ah ko’-mah. Then Ahnt Kai’. Afterwards came these giants. They came only once, and the Seris were afraid of them. All except the Old Wise Woman, who talked with them. They took four families of Seris away with them, who were all afraid to go. The Giants promised to bring them back when they returned; but they never came back.”
It’s easy to simply say that they visited long ago, but is that a thousand years or four to five hundred years? Could they be the Vikings or Spanish, or even any other European country back as early as the 1500’s? One clue according to Santo Blanco, could be that the Giants wore a huge hat and boots, but when they went hunting on land, they were in their bare feet, odd… Boots, hat, whaling, could they be Spanish or some other early European settlers? Maybe, but at this point we cannot rule out the Viking as well though. There is historical record about Vikings being whalers as early as the 9th century.
One of the Viking Saga’s written in the 9th century is about Othere of Halogaland and includes some of his whaling adventures. This particular saga comes from King Alfred of Wessex (as in the show Last Kingdom), and again is the only known source. Santo Blanco also let Mary know that the Giants were not alone, they had a woman among them, and she was the wife of the Giants chief. Again, Viking were known to travel with women, and to date I do not have any info on any other early explorers doing the same thing, but it’s possible.
“The Giant Woman was the wife of the Captain. She was whiter than the men and had red hair, She had big braids down her back. She was dressed in thick clothes, and a big cloak or mantle went over her back.”
What does this have to do with the Lost Ship of the desert? It could establish a reference to someone who may have traveled to the northern edge of the Sea of Cortez, and Vikings, as well as Spanish are at the top of the list. But you have to wonder if these giants may have been in the Sea of Cortez simply to hunt for whales and whale oil, and may have never entered the desert at all, who knows. At this point we don’t even know what their country of origin is. It’s also hard to pinpoint a date when time is generated in lives, and not years. We can always “estimate” a time, but in this case the dates can be centuries apart.
Throughout their visit on the island, the Coolidges kept on asking, albeit tactfully, trying to find anything they could. On the last night of their trip, Mary and Dane along with Angelito Coronado were sitting next to the campfire still talking about the Giants. But something was said about the Giants that night that Mary did not elaborate about, the only thing she said in the book was;
“But as I sat by the fire that evening and talked about the Giants with Angelito Coronado, he proved what I had surmised from the start. These whalers were Norwegians.”
She does not specifically say what her reason was, but she does make a reference to some of the Seri wedding rites, and how they were very similar to those performed in Scandinavia. Mary also is enamored with The Yoreme, also known as the Mayo people of the Mayo River area in Mexico. For years people have stated the the Mayo sometimes will have blonde hair and blue eyes and that this is the result of Viking blood. Maybe, not sure, to date there has been no viable proof that they have had any Scandinavian heritage, but you never know what the future might bring…
My conclusion is that there really no way to pinpoint any particular group, or even what years they came through. There have been stories circulating through the years of a Viking ship or two that made it into the desert, and maybe they were the same people would had stayed at Tiburon. Sometimes when a story opens up, it causes more questions than answers, also maybe Santo Blanco was just telling a very interesting and captivating story, to a very eager audience…