Man Who Crossed Bering Strait to Brother Who Did Not Cross Bering Strait, c. 30,000 years ago

K, gotta go

Brother,

Things busy so I no write much.

From,

Brother

From the archives of the wonderful Early American archives at the University of Western Seattle’s Cincinnati campus comes this vivid and unexpected portrait of the life of men we know very little about. The earliest Americans did cross the Bering land bridge between Siberia and God’s own Alaska around 30,000 years ago. Before now, we did not even know they were “busy.” Rather, scholars believed a tribe of extremely lazy humans migrated across the Bering Strait, but half couldn’t be bothered as “what’s the difference between two patches of snow?” So the two groups sat and stared at each other across the bridge for several years until the flooding started. (For further discussion, see Dr. Norman Gribaldi’s seminal 1959 essay, “The Flood that Destroyed the Sofa – An Early History of the Bering Land Bridge”)

This letter, however, suggests that perhaps some tribes did space out and try to achieve something in this “New World.” The Brother left behind is probably Thak Simmonds, a clerk whose diligent efforts are responsible for our knowledge of berry rationing in early Human tribes. His brother, Sylvester “Grok” Simmonds disappears from the tribe rolls after being charged with fondling mushrooms, a crime punishable by exile or death in this particular tribe. Could he have migrated across the land bridge? If so, what was he doing that prevented him from writing his brother?

Excavations of campsites in Western Canada have unearthed several similar letters believed to have been written by Grok. Mostly, these are apologies for not having written more. This led some archeologists to conclude this was not a letter at all, but an early sort of amateur blog. Perhaps this was an attempt at mass communication with the old tribe, and the word “Brother” is a generic greeting rather than a specific person. Dr. Sylvia “Grok” Callahan of  Brandeis disagreed, believing the younger Simmonds was really just a very boring person with little to say. This theory was given credence by an apparent diary entry from Saskatchewan: “October As-Many-Fingers-As-I-Have-On-One-Hand-Plus-Two-Toes, Year of the Stick – Cold today. Looked at a tree. Ate.”

Still, there is evidence that, as boring as Grok Simmonds may have been, he may have had a hand in creating the first lasting settlement in the Americas. Outside of what is now Vancouver, a campsite or burial ground was unearthed and subsequently named “Groksville.” Here, scientists believe early migrants settled to stay close to either a large deer herd or golf course (the native words are interchangeable). The chief of the village? Someone named Ned Houser. But his head of janitorial services? That’s right, none other than Grok Simmonds. Far from being a washout from Siberia, our young friend may be responsible for introducing both waterless soap and the concept of using sawdust to clean up vomit to the New World.

Interestingly, the Native American tribes that arose from these early migrants, especially those from the Pacific Northwest, integrated this story into their folklore. An ancient Skokomish legend tells of a great Snake God who came from the frozen north. He would sneak into villages and replace the urinal cakes in the men’s restrooms before devouring a virgin as payment. In the legend, the snake’s name was “Groki.” One final interesting detail is that Groki would leave a note apologizing for the blood, but that he was too busy to explain what was going on. The tribe had a saying, “Cleaning up after Groki,” which meant either skinning and preparing a freshly-killed deer, or scrambling to save par after a particularly wayward tee shot (the idioms are interchangeable).

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