The notion that Polynesian seafarers reached the American continents has been kicking around archaeological circles for a very long time. Popularized by Thor Heyerdahl's raft KonTiki, the idea of trans-pacific migrations faded into obscurity in the 1970s, primarily because (well, my opinion anyway) that the emphasis was on Polynesian colonization of South America. Those hyper-diffusionist theories were outmoded and there is plenty of evidence that the American cultural groups got along very well indeed without the Polynesians.
However, there is growing, if patchy, evidence suggesting that Polynesian seafarers did reach the South American coast by ca. 1000. At a session at the 2010 Society for American Archaeology meetings, Alice Storey and colleagues reported on several new strands of evidence. I've been able to corral some recent publications and have assembled some of the new evidence reported to date. Look for more in the future.
Possible Polynesian-American Contact Topics
- Was There Pre-Columbian Contact between Polynesia and America?
- Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceria), Asian domesticate found in pre-contact Americas
- Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), American domesticate found in pre-contact Polynesia
- Chicken (Gallus domesticus), Asian domesticate, found in pre-contact Chile
- El Arenal-1 (Chile) where pre-contact chickens have been discovered
- Chumash and Polynesian Canoes, possible links between canoe styles and fishhooks
- Mocha Island (Chile), where possible Polynesian skeletal material has been identified