« السابقةمتابعة »
all settled communities, in the civilized sense of the term. When a tribe had exhausted one hunting-ground, they removed to another, and if ther encountered another tribe bent on the same errand, they fought until one or the other was exterminated or driven away. And although we meet with chiefs who called themselves kings, as Powhattan did in Virginia, and Massasoit in Vassachusetts, their governing power was a rope of sand, obeyed only by the “braves” or campfollowers when it suited them.
There was a great variety of tribes. Every great valley, lake, or mountain-range had its separate tribe, although the languages they spoke, when closely examined, proved them to be only dialects of a few parent stocks. In all the range of the North Atlantic, there were not over three or four generic stocks, and apparently not more than seven in the entire area east of the Mississippi. These were the Algonquins, Iroquois, Appalachians, Cherokees, Utchees, and Natchezor Chigantual
The Algonquins and their affiliated tribes occupied the littoral districts from the St. Lawrence to Painlico Sound, but of these tribes which extended over the Carolinas, not a soul is now known to be living. The first English and French settlers found Algonquin tribes around the lakes, on the banks of the Illinois and Wabash, and as far as the mouth of the Ohio. Into this great Ilgonquin circle a group of tribes speaking a different langnage intruded themselves shortly before the settlement of the Dutch on Manhattan Island. They called themselves Iroquois and “the Five Nations” (afterwards six by admitting the Tuscaroras among them) and took possession of Western New York. They at first cultivated maize, but, being supplied by the Dutch with fire-arms, they extended their possessions as far west as the Illinois, and as far north as Montreal. Their origin, before alluded to as possibly Mongolian, is uncertain; they have affinity with the Wyandots of the West, and with some of the New Mexico and Crah tribes.
West of the Mississippi were the Sioux or Dacota tribes,
* Schoolcraft, Introductory, pt. VI, p. 31.
embracing the Iowas, Omahas, Otoes, Missouris, Osages, Kansas, Quappas and the circle of the prairie tribes. In the South were the Utchees, the Muscogees or Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Seminoles, inhabiting the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. This group had come from the west and driven out the prior occupants, who were of the Algonquin and Iroquois groups. The Seminoles occupied Florida; the Choctaws occupied the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and the lands thence to the Mississippi. The Cherokees inhabited a secluded territory lying at the end of the Appalachian chain, but not extending to the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Mississippi ; and at this period the Cumberland river was called the Cherokee. The Natchez occupied a position on the Mississippi, from the Red River to the Yazoo; they were descendants of the Toltecs; north of them were the Chickasaws, in Tennessee and Kentucky; but the latter was a neutral war-ground, and was subsequently occupied by the Shawnees, an Algonquin tribe.
The Algonquins, before the Spanish conquest, were the most powerful and numerous race of red men on the Northern Continent. They were divided into many tribes and spread over what are now the Middle and New England States, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic. They included the Shawnees, Kaskaskias, Illinois, Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawattamies, Miamies, Kelistenos, Crees, Blackfeet, Blood Indians, Mushkеags, and kindred tribes. But there was no confederation among them, and they frequently made war on each other. Hence they fell before the more vigorous and better orgavized tribes of the Iroquois, who were the most remarkable of all the red men of America.
The Iroquois or Five Nations (as their name denotes) forined a vast confederacy, without any superiority of one nation over another. "This Union," says Colden,* "has continued so long that the Christians know nothing of the origin of it." The first English and Dutch explorers found it existing, as did the first French settlers in Canada. The Five Nations composing it were the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, and the Senecas. Each of these nations was an absolute republic in itself, governed by its sachems or old men, who, in fact, held no other authority than what was based upon the respect and confidence of the people. They could not enforce any decree. The leaders in war were similarly situated : they were obeyed only so long as their followers had confidence in them.* Yet we find this confederacy so solid and so well administered, that the neighboring nations submitted and paid tribute to it. The Iroquois were so terrible in war, that the Algonquins and other red tribes of the south would flee at hearing the very name of “Mohawk.” They were the fiercest and most formidable people in North America, but were very polite and skilful negotiators, and had a high reputation for hospitality. They were fixed to the soil, and did not change their hunting-grounds as the Algonquins did. It has been remarked that there was a strong resemblance in the principle of the Iroquois confederacy to the Grecian Amphyctionic Council,t and some have even surmised that at a remote period the Greeks had communication with this Continent. Father Charlevoix, a learned Jesuit, who visited New France (Canada) in the middle of the 17th century, says the Iroquois language is mingled with Greek roots : but he seems to think that the Huron language was the root of all the Iroquois dialects : #
* History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada, p. 1.
“Il s'en faut bien que la langue Huronne s'etende aussi loin que l’Algonquine ; ce qui vient sans doute de ce que les peuples qui la parlent ont toujours été moins errans que les Algonquins. Je dis la langue Huronne pour me conformer au sentiment le plus commune ment reçû; car quelques uns soutiennent encore que c'est l'Iroquoise qui est la matrice. Quoiqu'il en soit, tous les sauvages qui sont au sud du fleuve Saint Laurent, depuis la rivière du Sorel, jusqu'à l'extremité du Lac Erié, et même assez proche de la Virginié, appartiennent à cette langue, et quiconque scait le Huron les entend tous.”
* Hist. of Five Ind. Nations, p. 2. | Ethnol. Res. Pt. 3, p. 183. | Journal d'un Voyage, etc., Vol. 3, p. 189.
From this it may be inferred that the Hurons are the primitive stock of the Canadian red men.
Be that as it may, the Iroquois confederacy was so powerful that the French maintained their occupation of Canada with great difficulty against it. The English had the tact to gain the friendship of the Iroquois by offering them facilities for commerce, and were thus enabled ultimately to supplant the French. It is a remarkable fact that these so-called “savage Indians” spected woman, and gave her her proper place in society. They admitted matrons to their public councils, and allowed them to exercise a veto on the question of war, and to interpose to bring about peace,
To such a pitch of power had the Iroquois confederacy reached at the time of the discovery of New York, in 1609, that there can be little doubt that if the arrival of the Europeans had been delayed a century later it would have absorbed all the tribes situated between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the mouth of the Ohio, if not to the gulf of Mexico.* In 1603, when the French explored Canada, they found the Iroquois at war with the Adirondacks; the latter had the best of the struggle for some time, but at length they were overcome, driven out of their own country, and forced to settle where Quebec now stands.t
Reverting for a moment to the assertion of Father Charlevoix, that there are Greek roots in the Iroquois language, it may be as well to quote what Mr. Colden says on the subject. He was commissioner from England to the Five Nations in the time of George II., and became familiar with their history, customs, and languages. He says:
“ I have not met with any one who understands their language, and also knows anything of grammar, or of the learned languages. Their present minister tells me that their verbs are varied, but in a manner so different from the Greek or Latin that he cannot discover by what rule it was done, and even suspects that every verb has a peculiar mode. They have but few radical words, but they compound their words without end.
They have no labials in their language, nor can they pronounce perfectly any word wherein there is
Colden, p. 23.
* Ethn. Res., Pt 3., p. 196. VOL. XXVI.-NO. LII.
Their language abounds with gutturals and strong aspirations,
and their speeches abound with metaphor, after the manner of the Eastern nations."*
These linguistic facts point to an Asiatic origin of the race. This subject was fully discussed in this journal not long sincet and need not be further dwelt on now.
One of the most difficult problems connected with the state of North America before the Spanish conquest is the making an approximately correct estimate of the population of the continent. As regards the so called Indians or red men of the forest, there are no written data to base any calculation upon. But as the great majority of the tribes lived by hunting, and as that mode of subsistence does not admit of density of population, but, on the contrary, necessitates the devoting of large tracts of land to the use of a few persons, it is probable that the population had reached its limit, and did not increase; the tribes frequently changed their hunting-grounds, and were constantly at war with each other, two facts which militate against the idea of there being numerous inhabitants. “ The rate of reproduction is so small among tribes who live by hunting, and the causes of depopulation so great, that until the period of their colonization, neither to increase nor decrease, but barely to keep up their numbers, is the most favorable view that can be presented.”+
In a survey of two hundred years, so far as facts can be gleaned, many of the bands and sub-tribes have most rapidly declined, and yet a greater number have become entirely extinct. The policy of pursuing the chase is so destructive to human life, and so subversive of every principle of increase and prosperity, that it is amazing that the Indians themselves have not perceived it. But when this fatal delusion is coupled with the policy of petty, predatory, tribal warfare, as it has been for all the period we have been in proximity to them, it is only wonderful that of the tribes who were in North America
* History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada, p. 25.
† No. XLVII, Dec. 1871, Art. vü, “ Extinct Races of America—the Mound-builders."
| Ethn. Ros., Pt. 2, p. 8.