The Red Man's Continent: a chronicle of aboriginal America(txt+pdf+epub+mobi电子书下载)

发布时间:2021-08-04 07:35:01


作者:Ellsworth Huntington


The Red Man's Continent: a chronicle of aboriginal America

The Red Man's Continent: a chronicle of aboriginal America试读:


In writing this book the author has aimed first to present in readable form the main facts about the geographical environment of American history. Many important facts have been omitted or have been touched upon only lightly because they are generally familiar. On the other hand, special stress has been laid on certain broad phases of geography which are comparatively unfamiliar. One of these is the similarity of form between the Old World and the New, and between North and South America; another is the distribution of indigenous types of vegetation in North America; and a third is the relation of climate to health and energy. In addition to these subjects, the influence of geographical conditions upon the life of the primitive Indians has been emphasized. This factor is especially important because people without iron tools and beasts of burden, and without any cereal crops except corn, must respond to their environment very differently from civilized people of today. Limits of space and the desire to make this book readable have led to the omission of the detailed proof of some of the conclusions here set forth. The special student will recognize such cases and will not judge them until he has read the author's fuller statements elsewhere. The general reader, for whom this book is designed, will be thankful for the omission of such purely technical details.CHAPTER I.THE APPROACHES TO AMERICA

Across the twilight lawn at Hampton Institute straggles a group of sturdy young men with copper-hued complexions. Their day has been devoted to farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, or some other trade. Their evening will be given to study. Those silent dignified Indians with straight black hair and broad, strong features are training their hands and minds in the hope that some day they may stand beside the white man as equals. Behind them, laughing gayly and chattering as if without a care in the world, comes a larger group of kinky-haired, thick-lipped youths with black skins and African features. They, too, have been working with the hands to train the mind. Those two diverse races, red and black, sit down together in a classroom, and to them comes another race. The faces that were expressionless or merely mirthful a minute ago light up with serious interest as the teacher comes into the room. She stands there a slender, golden-haired, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon girl just out of college—a mere child compared with the score of swarthy, stalwart men as old as herself who sit before her. Her mobile features seem to mirror a hundred thoughts while their impassive faces are moved by only one. Her quick speech almost trips in its eagerness not to waste the short, precious hour. Only a strong effort holds her back while she waits for the slow answers of the young men whom she drills over and over again in simple problems of arithmetic. The class and the teacher are an epitome of American history. They are more than that. They are an epitome of all history.

History in its broadest aspect is a record of man's migrations from one environment to another. America is the last great goal of these migrations. He who would understand its history must know its mountains and plains, its climate, its products, and its relation to the sea and to other parts of the world. He must know more than this, however, for he must appreciate how various environments alter man's energy and capacity and give his character a slant in one direction or another. He must also know the paths by which the inhabitants have reached their present homes, for the influence of former environments upon them may be more important than their immediate surroundings. In fact, the history of North America has been perhaps more profoundly influenced by man's inheritance from his past homes than by the physical features of his present home. It is indeed of vast importance that trade can move freely through such natural channels as New York Harbor, the Mohawk Valley, and the Great Lakes. It is equally important that the eastern highlands of the United States are full of the world's finest coal, while the central plains raise some of the world's most lavish crops. Yet it is probably even more important that because of his inheritance from a remote ancestral environment man is energetic, inventive, and long-lived in certain parts of the American continent, while elsewhere he has not the strength and mental vigor to maintain even the degree of civilization to which he seems to have risen.

Three streams of migration have mainly determined the history of America. One was an ancient and comparatively insignificant stream from Asia. It brought the Indian to the two great continents which the white man has now practically wrested from him. A second and later stream was the great tide which rolled in from Europe. It is as different from the other as West is from East. Thus far it has not wholly obliterated the native people, for between the southern border of the United States on the one hand, and the northern borders of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay on the other, the vast proportion of the blood is still Indian. The European tide may in time dominate even this region, but for centuries to come the poor, disinherited Indians will continue to form the bulk of the population. The third stream flowed from Africa and was as different from either of the others as South is from North.

The differences between one and another of these three streams of population and the antagonisms which they have involved have greatly colored American history. The Indian, the European, and the Negro apparently differ not only in outward appearance but in the much more important matter of mentality. According to Brinton * the average brain capacity of Parisians, including adults of both sexes, is 1448 cubic centimeters. That of the American Indian is 1376, and that of the Negro 1344 cubic centimeters. With this difference in size there appears to be a corresponding difference in function. Thus far not enough accurate tests have been made upon Indians to enable us to draw reliable conclusions. The Negro, however, has been tested on an extensive scale. The results seem to leave little doubt that there are real and measurable differences in the mental powers of races, just as we know to be the case among individuals. The matter is so important that we may well dwell on it a moment before turning to the cause of the differences in the three streams of American immigrants. If there is a measurable difference between the inherent brain power of the white race and the black, it is practically certain that there are also measurable differences between the white and the red.

* D. G. Brinton. "The American Race."

Numerous tests indicate that in the lower mental powers there is no great difference between the black and the white. In physical reactions one is as quick as the other. In the capacity of the senses and in the power to perceive and to discriminate between different kinds of objects there is also practical equality. When it comes to the higher faculties, however, such as judgment, inventiveness, and the power of organization, a difference begins to be apparent. These, as Ferguson * says, are the traits that "divide mankind into the able and the mediocre, the brilliant and the dull, and they determine the progress of civilization more directly than do the simple fundamental powers which man has in common with the lower animals." On the basis of the most exhaustive study yet made, Ferguson believes that, apart from all differences due to home training and environment, the average intellectual power of the colored people of this country is only about three-fourths as great as that of white persons of the same amount of training. He believes it probable, indeed, that this estimate is too high rather than too low. As to the Indian, his past achievements and present condition indicate that intellectually he stands between the white man and the Negro in about the position that would be expected from the capacity of his brain. If this is so, the mental differences in the three streams of migration to America are fully as great as the outward and manifest physical differences and far more important.

* G. O. Ferguson. "The Psychology of the Negro," New York, 1916.

Why does the American Indian differ from the Negro, and the European from both? This is a question on which we can only speculate. But we shall find it profitable to study the paths by which these diverse races found their way to America from man's primeval home. According to the now almost universally accepted theory, all the races of mankind had a common origin. But where did man make the change from a four-handed, tree-dwelling little ape to a much larger, upright creature with two hands and two feet? It is a mistake to suppose that because he is hairless he must have originated in a warm climate. In fact quite the opposite seems to be the case, for apparently he lost his hair because he took to wearing the skins of slain beasts in order that he might have not only his own hair but that of other animals as a protection from the cold.

In our search for the starting-place of man's slow migration to America our first step should be to ascertain what responses to physical environment are common to all men. If we find that all men live and thrive best under certain climatic conditions, it is fair to assume that those conditions prevailed in man's original home, and this conclusion will enable us to cast out of the reckoning the regions where they do not prevail. A study of the relations of millions of deaths to weather conditions indicates that the white race is physically at its best when the average temperature for night and day ranges from about 50 to 73 degrees F. and when the air is neither extremely moist nor extremely dry. In addition to these conditions there must be not only seasonal changes but frequent changes from day to day. Such changes are possible only where there is a distinct winter and where storms are of frequent occurrence. The best climate is, therefore, one where the temperature ranges from not much below the freezing-point at night in winter to about 80 degrees F. by day in summer, and where the storms which bring daily changes are frequent at all seasons.

Surprising as it may seem, this study indicates that similar conditions are best for all sorts of races. Finns from the Arctic Circle and Italians of sunny Sicily have the best health and greatest energy under practically the same conditions; so too with Frenchmen, Japanese, and Americans. Most surprising of all, the African black man in the United States is likewise at his best in essentially the same kind of weather that is most favorable for his white fellow-citizens, and for Finns, Italians, and other races. For the red race, no exact figures are available, but general observation of the Indian's health and activity suggests that in this respect he is at one with the rest of mankind.

For the source of any characteristic so widespread and uniform as this adaptation to environment we must go back to the very beginning of the human race. Such a characteristic must have become firmly fixed in the human constitution before primitive man became divided into races, or at least before any of the races had left their original home and started on their long journey to America. On the way to this continent one race took on a dark reddish or brownish hue and its hair grew straight and black; another became black skinned and crinkly-haired, while a third developed a white skin and wavy blonde hair. Yet throughout the thousands of years which brought about these changes, all the races apparently retained the indelible constitutional impress of the climate of their common birthplace. Man's physical adaptation to climate seems to be a deep-seated physiological fact like the uniformity of the temperature of the blood in all races. Just as a change in the temperature of the blood brings distress to the individual, so a change of climate apparently brings distress to a race. Again and again, to be sure, on the way to America, and under many other circumstances, man has passed through the most adverse climates and has survived, but he has flourished and waxed strong only in certain zones.

Curiously enough man's body and his mind appear to differ in their climatic adaptations. Moreover, in this respect the black race, and perhaps the red, appears to be diverse from the white. In America an investigation of the marks of students at West Point and Annapolis indicates that the best mental work is done when the temperature averages not much above 40 degrees F. for night and day together. Tests of school children in Denmark point to a similar conclusion. On the other hand, daily tests of twenty-two Negroes at Hampton Institute for sixteen months suggest that their mental ability may be greatest at a temperature only a little lower than that which is best for the most efficient physical activity. No tests of this sort have ever been made upon Indians, but such facts as the inventiveness of the Eskimo, the artistic development of the people of northern British Columbia and southern Alaska, and the relatively high civilization of the cold regions of the Peruvian plateau suggest that the Indian in this respect is more like the white race than the black. Perhaps man's mental powers underwent their chief evolution after the various races had left the aboriginal home in which the physical characteristics became fixed. Thus the races, though alike in their physical response to climate, may possibly be different in their mental response because they have approached America by different paths.

Before we can understand how man may have been modified on his way from his original home to America, we must inquire as to the geographical situation of that home. Judging by the climate which mankind now finds most favorable, the human race must have originated in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, or North America. We are not entirely without evidence to guide to a choice of one of the three continents. There is a scarcity of indications of preglacial man in the New World and an abundance of such indications in the Old. To be sure, several skulls found in America have been supposed to belong to a time before the last glacial epoch. In every case, however, there has been something to throw doubt on the conclusion. For instance, some human bones found at Vero in Florida in 1915 seem to be very old. Certain circumstances, however, suggest that possibly they may not really belong to the layers of gravel in which they were discovered but may have been inserted at some later time. In the Old World, on the contrary, no one doubts that many human skulls and other parts of skeletons belong to the interglacial epoch preceding the last glacial epoch, while some appear to date from still more remote periods. Therefore no matter at what date man may have come to America, it seems clear that he existed in the Old World much earlier. This leaves us to choose between Europe and Asia. The evidence points to central Asia as man's original home, for the general movement of human migrations has been outward from that region and not inward. So, too, with the great families of mammals, as we know from fossil remains. From the earliest geological times the vast interior of Asia has been the great mother of the world, the source from which the most important families of living things have come.

Suppose, then, that we place in central Asia the primitive home of the thin-skinned, hairless human race with its adaptation to a highly variable climate with temperatures ranging from freezing to eighty degrees. Man could not stay there forever. He was bound to spread to new regions, partly because of his innate migratory tendency and partly because of Nature's stern urgency. Geologists are rapidly becoming convinced that the mammals spread from their central Asian point of origin largely because of great variations in climate. * Such variations have taken place on an enormous scale during geological times. They seem, indeed, to be one of the most important factors in evolution. Since early man lived through the successive epochs of the glacial period, he must have been subject to the urgency of vast climatic changes. During the half million years more or less of his existence, cold, stormy, glacial epochs lasting tens of thousands of years have again and again been succeeded by warm, dry, interglacial epochs of equal duration.

* W. D. Matthew. "Climate and Evolution," N. Y. Acad. Sci., 1915.

During the glacial epochs the interior of Asia was well watered and full of game which supplied the primitive human hunters. With the advent of each interglacial epoch the rains diminished, grass and trees disappeared, and the desert spread over enormous tracts. Both men and animals must have been driven to sore straits for lack of food. Migration to better regions was the only recourse. Thus for hundreds of thousands of years there appears to have been a constantly recurring outward push from the center of the world's greatest land mass. That push, with the consequent overcrowding of other regions, seems to have been one of the chief forces impelling people to migrate and cover the earth.

Among the primitive men who were pushed outward from the Asian deserts during a period of aridity, one group migrated northeastward toward the Kamchatkan corner of Asia. Whether they reached Bering Sea and the Kamchatkan shore before the next epoch of glaciation we do not know. Doubtless they moved slowly, perhaps averaging only a few score or a hundred miles per generation, for that is generally the way with migrations of primitive people advancing into unoccupied territory. Yet sometimes they may have moved with comparative rapidity. I have seen a tribe of herdsmen in central Asia abandon its ancestral home and start on a zigzag march of a thousand miles because of a great drought. The grass was so scanty that there was not enough to support the animals. The tribe left a trail of blood, for wherever it moved it infringed upon the rights of others and so with conflict was driven onward. In some such way the primitive wanderers were kept in movement until at last they reached the bleak shores of the North Pacific. Even there something—perhaps sheer curiosity—still urged them on. The green island across the bay may have been so enticing that at last a raft of logs was knotted together with stout withes. Perhaps at first the men paddled themselves across alone, but the hunting and fishing proved so good that at length they took the women and children with them, and so advanced another step along the route toward America. At other times distress, strife, or the search for game may have led the primitive nomads on and on along the coast until a day came when the Asian home was left and the New World was entered. The route by which primitive man entered America is important because it determined the surroundings among which the first Americans lived for many generations. It has sometimes been thought that the red men came to America by way of the Kurile Islands, Kamchatka, and the Aleutian Islands. If this was their route, they avoided a migration of two or three thousand miles through one of the coldest and most inhospitable of regions. This, however, is far from probable. The distance from Kamchatka to the first of the Aleutian Islands is over one hundred miles. As the island is not in sight from the mainland, there is little chance that a band of savages, including women, would deliberately sail thither. There is equally little probability that they walked to the island on the ice, for the sea is never frozen across the whole width. Nevertheless the climate may at that time have been colder than now. There is also a chance that a party of savages may have been blown across to the island in a storm. Suppose that they succeeded in reaching Bering Island, as the most Asiatic of the Aleutians is called, the next step to Copper Island would be easy. Then, however, there comes a stretch of more than two hundred miles. The chances that a family would ever cross this waste of ocean are much smaller than in the first case. Still another possibility remains. Was there once a bridge of land from Asia to America in this region? There is no evidence of such a link between the two continents, for a few raised beaches indicate that during recent geological times the Aleutian Islands have been uplifted rather than depressed.

The passage from Asia to America at Bering Strait, on the other hand, is comparatively easy. The Strait itself is fifty-six miles wide, but in the middle there are two small islands so that the longest stretch of water is only about thirty-five miles. Moreover the Strait is usually full of ice, which frequently becomes a solid mass from shore to shore. Therefore it would be no strange thing if some primitive savages, in hunting for seals or polar bears, crossed the Strait, even though they had no boats. Today the people on both sides of the Strait belong to the American race. They still retain traditions of a time when their ancestors crossed this narrow strip of water. The Thilanottines have a





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