Is There Proof of Indigenous Unicorn Symbolism In North America?


If you aren't a regular reader of this blog, then you might not know that one of Real Unicorn Apparel's co-founders (that's me, Alfonso!) also co-wrote *the* book on unicorns: The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn

The Book of the Magical Mythical Unicorn's front cover.

One of the main things that set our book apart from other books about the unicorn was that my co-author Vakasha Brenman was adamant that we be as thorough as possible in documenting unicorn symbolism across ALL cultures and spiritual traditions. 

That means, we didn't just cover unicorn symbolism in Europe and within Judeo-Christianity

But there might be a reason why some places are familiar haunts for folklore about unicorns; places like Europe, the ancient Middle East, the Indus Valley, China, and such. 

It's simple, the unicorn seems to have not equally been a part of all cultures and spiritual traditions. 

However, you try telling that to the former head of The Unicorn Archive. Especially if the relationship you had with her was less co-author to co-author than second mother to third son. (I love you, Vakasha. May you rest in power. I wouldn't be doing this website without you...)

Photograph of Vakasha Brenman jokingly placing her cane around Alfonso Colasuonno's neck.

No, Vakasha would not accept no for an answer. And so that meant lots of research at libraries, through personal contacts, and, of course, Google.

We did find some interesting leads into examples of native North American unicorn symbolism.

So, could unicorns really have once made their presence known in North America? Read a little sample of what we found in the post below, then decide for yourself. 

Were Unicorn Horn Necklaces A Thing?

Sir John Hawkins' records of his journeys to North America included a curious passage where he interacted with Native Americans in Florida.

These Native Americans wore what, to Hawkins, appeared to be necklaces made of unicorn horn.

In fact, if Hawkins' words are to be believed, the Native Americans themselves told him that they were well-acquainted with unicorns:

"Of these unicorns they have many; for that they doe affirm it to be a beast with one horne."

And not only that, but they gave some of these elusive unicorn horn necklaces to Hawkins and his crew: 

"Of this unicornes horne there are of our company, that having gotten the same of the Frenchmen, brought home thereof to show." 

Interesting, right? But one example is just one example. Let's see if any patterns emerge. 

Not Sure How To Obtain Unicorn Gifts? Just Be An Explorer, Bro

Loathe as we are to admit it, we cannot make the same deal for any of our awesome unicorn merch. 

A man and woman wearing matching Real Unicorn Apparel "I Want To Believe In Unicorns" sweatshirts.

But English explorer John Davis certainly got a sweet unicorn-related deal, if his words are to be believed. 

Just like Hawkins, Davis too claimed that he received a unicorn gift from Native Americans, writing that he received:

"a darte with a bone in it, of a piece of Unicornes horne; as I did judge."

Hearsay or Truth: Arnold Montanus' Claims About Unicorns in the Americas

Arnold Montanus was a Dutch geographer who wrote a popular book titled De Nieuwe en onbekende Weereld: of Beschryving van America en 't Zuidland [editor's note: That translates to "The New and Unknown World: or Description of America and the Southland."]

In Montanus' book, he posited that unicorns were one of the animals native to what was then the colony of New Netherland, which was roughly analogous to the northeastern United States. 

Could this just be popular hearsay? Or was this otherwise serious and respected individual speaking from truth? 

Where There's Unicorn Smoke, Is There Unicorn Fire?

Most everyone knows that the unicorn has a longstanding history as a symbolic representation of Scotland, being featured heavily in Scottish (and British) heraldry.

But did you know that the unicorn also was a symbolic feature of the seals of colonies in Virginia and New England prior to the formation of the United States?

Occam's razor may tell us that as British colonies, seals that featured a known British symbol would make sense.

Of course, there were a number of people who claimed that they saw or received unicorn trinkets and believed the unicorn inhabited the land.

Who's right? You decide. 

And whichever way you feel the evidence points, there's nothing wrong with putting a little sparkle in it!  

A woman wearing a Real Unicorn Apparel hoodie from the Real Unicorn clothing line.

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