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Old 01-10-2013, 12:41 PM   #1
Ulvenok
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Native american indians?

It's common knowledge Tolkien modeled arda on our world, shire roughly being where Tolkien grew up. This has lead to many thinking he was racist and maybe he was but this isn't why I made this topic. Valinor would then be america would it not and the native american indians lived in harmony with nature, qualities I'm sure Toklien would approve of. Is it possible that Tolkien had a certain liking for the native american culture and thought of them consciously when he created valinor and the elven race?

If one would imagine Tolkien to be eru which in a way he is, then could the destruction of Numenor be some kind of metaphor for Tolkien's dislike for how Europe treated the native american indians and about industrialization in general. I know he has said he doesn't approve of his work being perceived as allegorical, but it sure makes sense. His love for nature is apparent through all of his work and the native americans are very much alike to the elves except they're blonde. (racist) just kidding
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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It's common knowledge Tolkien modeled arda on our world, shire roughly being where Tolkien grew up. This has lead to many thinking he was racist and maybe he was but this isn't why I made this topic. Valinor would then be america would it not and the native american indians lived in harmony with nature, qualities I'm sure Toklien would approve of. Is it possible that Tolkien had a certain liking for the native american culture and thought of them consciously when he created valinor and the elven race?

If one would imagine Tolkien to be eru which in a way he is, then could the destruction of Numenor be some kind of metaphor for Tolkien's dislike for how Europe treated the native american indians and about industrialization in general. I know he has said he doesn't approve of his work being perceived as allegorical, but it sure makes sense. His love for nature is apparent through all of his work and the native americans are very much alike to the elves except they're blonde. (racist) just kidding
Valinor had nothing to do with Indians. Valinor was eventually moved from the circles of the world after the destruction of Numenor. It is in fact a Tolkienic version of Faery, like Avalon or Tir Nan Og, except without the Welsh or Irish accents.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:53 PM   #3
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You called me Tonto?

Anyway I think valinor could very well be america before it was invaded by "man". If that is so then Numenor's destruction would be a maybe even greater metaphorical plot device to symbolise his disapproval of how the europeans treated that land and it's people. He hated machines and loved nature, if one would draw paralells between the fictional and real world which Tolkien did. Then I think in fact that Valinor could represent america before the cowboys invaded it.

Drowning Numenor and moving valinor from the world would then be quite significant and very interesting. Also if one assumes Valinor to be america before it was invaded by the europeans then that would maybe help one explain some enigmas in the story that aren't thoroughly explained. Oh yeah and if you calling me Tonto was meant as an insult you're quite off your target since I'm scandinavian.

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Old 01-10-2013, 02:28 PM   #4
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Ulvenok, why do you think "drowning Numenor and moving valinor from the world would then be quite significant and very interesting"? If Valinor is Pre-Columbus America, what happens to America when it is removed from the circle of the world?
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:51 PM   #5
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Uhh what happens to america when it's removed from the world? What kind of question is that, if one would translate moving valinor from the world and destroying numenor, apply that to our own history. Then that'd mean Tolkien would have prefered the colonization of america never to have taken place. If one would try to think of Arda as our real world and it's history, a lot of what happens in the fiction would make more sense and it would also highlight Tolkien's own views on certain geopolitical events throughout history. However this would be a sensitive topic, since people of many cultures love Tolkien today and even interweave their own cultural heritage with Tolkien's fiction, which necessarly was not meant to be perceived in that fashion. In either case if we would try to draw parallels between our own world and Arda maybe some of the enigmas in the stories would make more sense?

(I so deserve an A in english don't you think) xD
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:01 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reply (and your English is excellent!).

If Valinor were America, then it would be more the mythological America than the real one we find in history. The aboriginals weren't all peace loving Noble Savages. They share the same DNA with those that came later from the East, and that DNA contains the genes for war and other orc work.

Also, the natives used some tools, which, given more time, might have led to the smoke stacks that Tolkien seemed to hate.

That said, I can see what you mean about America being the idyllic paradise in the West.
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Old 01-10-2013, 03:04 PM   #7
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Uhh what happens to america when it's removed from the world? What kind of question is that, if one would translate moving valinor from the world and destroying numenor, apply that to our own history. Then that'd mean Tolkien would have prefered the colonization of america never to have taken place. If one would try to think of Arda as our real world and it's history, a lot of what happens in the fiction would make more sense and it would also highlight Tolkien's own views on certain geopolitical events throughout history. However this would be a sensitive topic, since people of many cultures love Tolkien today and even interweave their own cultural heritage with Tolkien's fiction, which necessarly was not meant to be perceived in that fashion. In either case if we would try to draw parallels between our own world and Arda maybe some of the enigmas in the stories would make more sense?

(I so deserve an A in english don't you think) xD
Not without correct use of capital letters for proper names, or proper end punctuation for sentences, or that dreaded phantom menace, spelling.

Given that Middle-earth is supposed to be the very early ages of our own world, I would think that the mythology would mirror the concepts of world geography from our early cultures. Early people had no idea that North America existed, so it makes sense that Tolkien's Legendarium would not include an actual continent of North America, but the fairy realm, which becomes quite clear if one reads BoLT and other Tolkien books on the Legendarium.

Also, I think that this interpretation of the colonisation of the New World is probably too close to the kind of thinking about RotR and World War II which Tolkien deplored in his introduction to LotR. Tolkien wasn't writing an allegory of current events.

And Morth, I think that using the name "Tonto" is unnecessarily inflamatory. We are going through some very serious issues right now in my home country with our First Nations peoples and I think many would find your use unfortunate at best and downright insulting at worst.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:33 PM   #8
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I thought that it was just a bit of a pun on the New World to have the new lands formed after the removal of Valinor from the circles of the world. Numenor has paralels with Atlantisl

Master Alatar, some of us might say that it helps us understand why many Elves preferred to stay in Middle Earth.:P
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:39 PM   #9
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And Morth, I think that using the name "Tonto" is unnecessarily inflamatory. We are going through some very serious issues right now in my home country with our First Nations peoples and I think many would find your use unfortunate at best and downright insulting at worst.
That's interesting. A remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto is being released soon.

P.S. But I removed the offending name from my previous post because I don't want anyone going on the warpath.
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:50 PM   #10
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I thought that it was just a bit of a pun on the New World to have the new lands formed after the removal of Valinor from the circles of the world. Numenor has paralels with Atlantisl
Yes, of course, the Atlantis link! Well put, Mithalwen. It is even more intriguing as apparently Tolkien himself had recurrent dreams of drowning. I think he might even had thought of it as a kind of archetypal dream, but I don't have the Letters at hand now to find the reference.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:05 PM   #11
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If Valinor were America, then it would be more the mythological America than the real one we find in history.
Many westerners had a romanticised vision of the native american indians back then and I think even Tolkien might have fallen prey to this. The buffalo bill tour through europe popularized the legends of cowboys and indians, I don't think young Tolkien escaped this and it might have influenced him, but probably not.
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That's interesting. A remake of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp as Tonto is being released soon.

P.S. But I removed the offending name from my previous post because I don't want anyone going on the warpath.
It wasn't offending at all, I love native americans. But maybe you "native" americans don't like native americans and thought you'd kill two birds with one stone? You don't have to apologize since I did not take any offense. If I had taken offense it'd be kinda too late to apologize you know.

You have already been caught with your pants down, maybe I should take my pants down too and we'd get on with it!!
On a more serious note, I agree with Bethberry.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:28 PM   #12
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Many westerners had a romanticised vision of the native american indians back then and I think even Tolkien might have fallen prey to this. The buffalo bill tour through europe popularized the legends of cowboys and indians, I don't think young Tolkien escaped this and it might have influenced him, but probably not.
Maybe. Certainly, Tolkien had no problem with "native" type peoples, he casts the Lossoth/Snowmen of Forochel (who as the ME equivalent of (probably Greenland) Ekimos/Inuit are problaby the closest thing we actually have to Indians in ME (yes I know Inuit are a different group than native Americans, but they are as close as we probably get).) in an extremely positve light (I apologize for having to use the world "Indian" if it offends but in this contex "Native American" doesnt really work, since Greenland isn't part of America [ A bit like the problem that I, who live in the US have talking about Lenny Henry in a PC manner (He isn't African American, because he isn't American, and "African British" doesn't sound quite right.) And in ME, NO human group can really be given the descriptor of "First Nation" (to use the Canadian Term)
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:09 PM   #13
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And in ME, NO human group can really be given the descriptor of "First Nation" (to use the Canadian Term)
It is rather difficult, isn't it, to think of the Valar as the First Nation.

But if we think of 'indigenous', as a native inhabitant of a particular region (a definition that might even exclude the elves from Middle-earth) or more particularly as "ethnic minorities who have been marginalized as their historical territories became part of a state" then we might have two cases.

First would be the Woses, whose chieftain was Ghân-buri-Ghân. Aragorn's treatment of the Woses and his agreement with Ghân-buri-Ghân is insightful and a recognition of the Woses' right to their territory.

Second just might be the Entwives, whose garden region was blasted by Sauron.

So we may not have to look west for evidence of Tolkien's depiction of indigenous peoples.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:19 PM   #14
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But if we think of 'indigenous', as a native inhabitant of a particular region (a definition that might even exclude the elves from Middle-earth) or more particularly as "ethnic minorities who have been marginalized as their historical territories became part of a state" then we might have two cases.

First would be the Woses, whose chieftain was Ghân-buri-Ghân. Aragorn's treatment of the Woses and his agreement with Ghân-buri-Ghân is insightful and a recognition of the Woses' right to their territory.

Second just might be the Entwives, whose garden region was blasted by Sauron.

So we may not have to look west for evidence of Tolkien's depiction of indigenous peoples.
Indeed. And as for the original question, my answer is a definite "no". There are various made-up races in fantasy and science fiction that are generally assumed to be based on actual peoples. But this is because they have specific, obvious points of cultural similarity. "Lived in harmony with nature" is much too vague to cut it.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:19 AM   #15
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Prior to the last century of the Second Age with the sinking of Númenor, my understanding is that the Americas would have been the far-far east in relation to northwestern Middle-earth (where most of the stories take place). Valinor, Tol Eressëa, and Númenor (later called Atalantë by elves) were the only lands west of Middle-earth, and prior to the Third Age the former two had been removed while the latter was destroyed (al a Atlantis).

It wasn't until then that the world was made round. Thus, any lands discovered by men sailing west from Middle-earth after the Downfall of Númenor would have already present in the far east, just now wrapped around. This falls in line with Tolkien's plan for his Arda to be an Elvish account of the early days of our own earth.

The Avalon link is there as well, as the chief dwelling area of Tol Eressëa was named Avallónë. It was the immortality of Valinor that the Numenoreans sought, just as men hailed the healing and restoration of Avalon in the Arthurian legends.

After its removal, men would eventually find something very different off to their west: what had always been the farthest east, in the opposite direction of their initial migration, a land much more undeveloped in terms of their ideas of civilization.

Native Americans would've had their place in Tolkien's timeline, only he didn't (and probably never would) fill in the gaps between the beginning of the Fourth Age and the present. He reckoned we might now be at the start of the Seventh Age (and that ages had gotten shorter since), so I would guess that the discovery of the Americas would have fallen in the Fifth Age or Sixth Age, or perhaps would've been the significant event heralding the transition from Fifth to Sixth. He always chose significant events to prepare Age changes, such as the destruction of Beleriand and defeat of Morgoth (towards end of First), the destruction of Numenor (towards end of Second), and the final defeat of Sauron and the dominion of Man (end of Third).
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:06 AM   #16
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As Legolas' ME geography indicates, even in Arda the aboriginal Americans might be mistaken for 'Indians' after the Fall of Numenor.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:42 AM   #17
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There are various made-up races in fantasy and science fiction that are generally assumed to be based on actual peoples. But this is because they have specific, obvious points of cultural similarity. "Lived in harmony with nature" is much too vague to cut it.
I was thinking more of it's geographical location in the world and how it relates to our world. But then again maybe that continent after Valinor was meant to be america in Tolkien's mind. In either case it's fun to speculate, I wonder if the other locations in middle earth stand in some relation to our world map. Then Mordor would be around Israel wouldn't it!
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:41 AM   #18
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Then Mordor would be around Israel wouldn't it!
But then Gondor would be under the waves, wouldn't it?
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:04 PM   #19
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I was thinking more of it's geographical location in the world and how it relates to our world. But then again maybe that continent after Valinor was meant to be america in Tolkien's mind. In either case it's fun to speculate, I wonder if the other locations in middle earth stand in some relation to our world map. Then Mordor would be around Israel wouldn't it!
Mordor is directly east of Gondor, so your supposition is wrong. Map from Encyclopedia of Arda

It helps if you read the texts closely or check out the maps Tolkien drew.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:28 PM   #20
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I was thinking more of it's geographical location in the world and how it relates to our world. But then again maybe that continent after Valinor was meant to be america in Tolkien's mind. In either case it's fun to speculate, I wonder if the other locations in middle earth stand in some relation to our world map. Then Mordor would be around Israel wouldn't it!
It is not a matter for speculation, it has nothing to do with America at all. You have to understand the specific mythological references Tolkien uses. Avallonë (Avalon) and Atalantë (Atlantis) have precedence in real world legend and myth.

Atlantis (Island of Atlas) as referred to by Plato was a separate island continent thought to be located (by later cartographers) in the Atlantic Ocean west of Spain and Africa and east of the Americas. Like Tolkien's Numenor, Atlantis sank beneath the sea in a giant cataclysm.

Avalon (Ynys Afallon/Afallach/Aballac in Welsh), The Isle of the Apple, derived from the Old Irish Emain Ablach), is part of ancient Welsh, Cornish, Breton and Briton myth, and is the land where the wounded King Arthur sailed after his fateful battle with Mordred. It is sometimes related to Glastonbury, and is also cognizant with Tir Na Nog of the Irish, the Fortunate Isle, the Isle of the Young, etc. It is, in essence, what Tolkien would refer to as "Faery", the netherworld.

The Americas were a different land mass altogether and not referred to by Tolkien. Such a land mass most likely did not come about until after Eru reshaped the world during the destruction of Numenor.
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Old 01-11-2013, 01:45 PM   #21
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I think you're right Morthoron.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:10 PM   #22
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I think that Ulvenok's right about Morthoron being right.

[Nice summary Morth!]
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:16 PM   #23
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And Ulvenok, what do you think about the south american natives? I always saw the Mayans (due to the human sacrificing) as Black Númenóreans that set up shop elsewhere before Sauron's pseudo-drowning.
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:25 PM   #24
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They worshipped the sun and the sun is, Arien; too bright were her eyes for even the Eldar to look on, and leaving Valinor she forsook the form and raiment which like the Valar she had worn there, and she was as a naked flame, terrible in the fullness of her splendour. I can't imagine any elves would bother worshipping her since they couldn't look into her eyes.

So I think south america would be...probably Valinor yes....
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:09 PM   #25
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Valinor had nothing to do with Indians. Valinor was eventually moved from the circles of the world after the destruction of Numenor. It is in fact a Tolkienic version of Faery, like Avalon or Tir Nan Og, except without the Welsh or Irish accents.
In his preface to the Lord of the Rings Tolkien expresses his dislike of allegory, prefering his work to be read in terms of "applicability"; that is, it can be applied to many situations in the real world but is not intended as a simple parallel to places or historical events.
Tolkien's fellow Inkling C.S.Lewis wrote about 'mythopoeic' stories, which tell us something about who we are in the way that ancient stories do. Avalon and Atlantis have already been mentioned. I would add the worlds of Utnapishtim (Sumerian) and Noah (Hebrew) to this list because their tales contain notions of a world from which we are cut off by floods.

The idea of Valinor being 'moved from the circles of the earth' also relates to that feeling of yearning for something we cannot name (a sort of homesickness which we can feel even when at home) especially when seeing the sun set over the western sea. I'm sure I am not alone in feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on hearing songs which say thing like:

"Living on your western shore,
Saw summer sunsets, I asked for more,
I stood by your Atlantic sea,
And I sang a song for Ireland
"

This is not to say I think Tolkien was thinking of Ireland as Valinor any more than he was thinking of the Americas. If I were from either of those cultures it would make sense to put their name in place of 'Valinor', because that would have special meaning for me, but I think JRR was conjuring up something which is both more mystical and more universally applicable.
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