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Discovery of the Western Continent


Strange People in a Strange Land

Evliest Inhabitants of the United States—The Mound Builders—Remarkable Works Constructed by them—Evidences

of a Primitive Civilization—Indications of the Antiquity of this Period—The American Indians-Division of the Country Among the Tribes-Names and Location of the Various Tribes—Organization and Government of the

Indians—Their Dress, Manners and Customs_Villages Indian Inventions— The
War Dance--Legends of the Norsemen Respecting the Discovery of America.



E do not know who stone, but chiefly of earth, remain to show
were the inhabitants, the magnitude of the works constructed by
or what was the his- these people, to whom the name Mound
tory of North America Builders” is generally applied. Some of
previous to its discov- these earth-works embrace as much as
ery and settlement by fifteen or sixteen miles of embankment.
the Europeans. That As no domestic animals existed in this
it was at some remote country at that period, these works must
period occupied by a have been constructed by bringing the earth

civilized and used in them by hand; a fact which shows powerful race than the Indians, found by the that the primitive population was a large first explorers, is very certain; but who they one. The construction of the works proves were, what was their history, or what the that they had considerable engineering skill. cause of their extinction, are among the The square, the circle, the ellipse, and the profoundest mysteries of the past. Traces octagon are all used in these structures; as distinct as those which mark the various being all combined in a single system of physical changes which the continent has works in some places. The proportions are undergone, exist to show that these primitive always perfect. The square is always a true inhabitants were both numerous and far square, and the circle a true circle. Many advanced in civilization ; but this is all that implements and ornaments of copper, silver, we know concerning them.

and precious stones—such as axes, chisels, In various parts of the country, an, especi- knives, bracelets, beads, and pieces of thread ally in the valley of the Mississippi, large and cloth, and well-shaped vases of pottery mounds and other structures of earth and have been found in these mounds, and show

the extt... of the civilization of the “ Mound to the mouth of the Mississippi. Unlike Builders” and their knowledge of the arts. all the mounds in Mexico and Central and

In the region of Lake Superior are found South America, those in our country have old copper mines worked by these ancient no trace of buildings on them. Why? people. In one of these mines there was Until I visited Arizona I had no answer. discovered an immense block of copper There the solution was easy.

In those weighing nearly six tons. It had been left regions stone was abundant and timber was! in the process of removal to the top of the scarce; here the reverse was the case. Our mine, nearly thirty feet above, and was sup- predecessors built of wood, the others of ported on logs of wood which were partly stone; the works of the latter remain to petrified. The stone and copper tools used this day, while wooden buildings would by the miners were discovered lying about leave no trace after one or two centuries, as they had been left by their owners ages if indeed they were not burnt by the savages before. At the mouth of this mine are piles as soon as abandoned. of earth thrown out in digging it, and out of

Immense Structures. these embankments trees are growing which are nearly four hundred years old.

Of the second class the best known are :

the square fortification at Cedar Bank, Who were the “ Mound Builders "?

Scioto River, Ohio, with face of 800 feet, The following interesting account of the inclosing a mound 245 feet long by 150 mounds and their builders is from the pen broad; the works four miles north of Chilliof Mr. J. H. Beadle, who has kindly given us cothe, Ohio, a square and a circular fortificapermission to quote from his valuable work, tion inclosing twenty acres each ; the graded entitled The Undeveloped West:

way near Piketon, Ohio; about a hundred In his description, Mr. Beadle says: mounds and inclosures in Ross County,

A people for whɔm we have no name, Ohio; the pyramid at Seltzertown, Missisvaguely included under the general term of sippi, 600 feet long and 40 feet high, and a Mound Builders, have left evidences of exten- vast number of mounds, inclosures, squares sive works in the vicinity of the Mississippi and pyramids on the upper lakes, and scatand Ohio Rivers and their tributaries. These tered through the Southern and Western are of three kinds: mounds, square and States. Every State in this great region circular inclosures, and raised embank contains these ancient structures. . ments of various forms. Of mounds, the By far the greatest division is in Central following are most important and best and South America ; and here we find ourknown: One at Grave Creek, West Virginia, selves at the point where our ancient civiliza70 feet high and 1,000 feet in circumference tion reached its height, among works which at the base; one near Miamisburg, Ohio, 68 are the astonishment of explorers and perfeet high and 852 feet in circumference; the plexity of scholars. Yucatan is a vast field great truncated pyramid at Cahokia, Illinois, for antiquarian research, dotted from one end 700 feet long, 500 wide, and 90 in height; to the other with the ruins of cities, temples the immense square mound, with face of 188 and palaces. But in the great forest which feet, near Marietta, Ohio; and some hun- covers the northern half of Guatemala, the dreds of inferior mounds from 60 to 30 feet southern half of Yucatan, and parts of other in height, in different States, from Wisconsin States, covering an area larger than Ohio, is

n be found the key to our ancient history. 2. They were an agricultural people. The Within a few years past cities have been disc barbarous state requires many times as covered which must have contained a popu- large an area for the same number of people lation of a quarter of a million, in an advanced as the civilized state; and the savage condicondition of civilization; and yet, owing to tion a much larger. The State of Ohio will the jealousy of the natives and the indiffer- support an agricultural population of many ence of modern scholars, next to nothing is millions; yet it never contained fifty thousand known,'and few scientific researches have savages. It is easily proven that that been made upon this intensely interesting portion of the United States east of the subject.

Mississippi never contained half a million In my limited space I confine this inquiry Indians. It follows, also, that a very large mostly to the remains in our own country. I portion of the country around their works


MOUNDS AT MARIETTA, OHIO. From what we see in the Western and must have been cleared of timber and in Southern States, the following conclusions cultivated fields. are evident :

3. They left our country a iong time 1. The Mound Builders constituted a ago.

ago. Nature does not give a forest growth considerable population, under one govern- at once to abandoned fields; a preparatory ment. No wandering and feeble tribes could growth of shrubs and softer timber comes have erected such works; and the extent of first. But forest trees have been found upon the works, evidently many years in erection, the summit of their mounds, which show, by as well as their completeness and scientific annual rings and other signs, at least six exactness, show the controlling energy of one hundred years of growth. There could be directing central power, which alone can no better proof of their great antiquity. account for their uniform character.

Their works are never found upon the


lowest terrace of the formation on the rivers ; | Indiana combined, and could easily have though many signs indicate that they built sustained a civilized population of ten milsome as nearly on a level with the streams as lions. The Aztecs, whom the Spaniards possible. Their “covered ways,” leading found, were the last of at least three civilized down to water, now terminate on the second races, and much inferior to the Toltecs terrace above. It is demonstrable that of the immediately preceding them. Their history various terraces," second bottoms "-on | indicates that they were merely one of the our streams, the lowest was longest in form- original races, who overthrew and ‘mingled ing. From these and many other signs, it is with the Toltecs, adopting part of their reliproved that the last of the Mound Builders gion and civilization. The Peruvian Incas, left the Ohio valley at least a thousand years found by Pizarro, seemed to have been the ago.

second in the series of races. But civilizaHow Long were they Here? tion is not spontaneous; it must have re4. They occupied the country, at least quired nearly a thousand years for the first the southern part of it, where their popula- of the three dynasties to have developed art tion was densest, a very long time. This is

This is and learning far enough to erect the buildshown by the extent of their works, the ings we find. To that race before the Incas, evidences of their working the copper-mines the authors of the original civilization, De of the Superior region, and many other Bourbourg and others have given the name proofs. The best judges estimate that nearly of Colhuas. a thousand years elapsed from the time of their entrance till their departure from the

What may Reasonably be Conjectured. Mississippi valley.

Thus we have the series : a thousand 5. At the south they were at peace; but years since the Mound Builders left our as they advanced northward, they came country; a previous thousand years of setmore and more into contact with the wild tlement and occupation, and a thousand tribes, before whom they finally retired years for the precedent civilization to develop. again towards the south. These facts are Or, beginning in Mexico, etc. : a thousand clearly proved by the increase of fortifica- years of Spaniard and Aztec; a previous tions northward, and broad flat mounds, thousand years for Toltec migration and suitable only for buildings, southward. settlement, and a thousand years before that

So much for proof; and, connecting these for the Colhuas to develop, flourish and with other proofs, the latest antiquarians are decline. This carries us back to the time of the opinion that the Toltecs-the civilized when the same course of events was inaugurace preceding the Aztecs-were our Mound rated on the Eastern Continent. We know Builders. This opinion is the only reason that it has required so long to produce all able one that can be formed under all the we see in Europe and Asia; all reasoning, circumstances.

by analogy, goes to show that at least as When we pass to the more southern long a time has been required to produce ruins the proofs of great antiquity, large equally great evidences in America. population and long occupation are vastly Besides a host of surmises there have increased. Some of them have been alluded been at least nine theories promulgated, and to. The great forest of Guatemala and strenuously defended, in regard to the origin Yucatan is nearly as large as Ohio and of this civilization.

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