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Who first colonized the Western Continent ?

From what far-off land came the primal pioneer to the shores of America ? When and where, and over what trackless seas did he sail?

Who was the mother, who was the father, and what was the language lisped by the first-born under the Western skies?

These are profound questions, which have agitated the minds of men for centuries. Science has wrestled long and earnestly with the mysteries surrounding the Red man; but the wisdom of the wisest has failed in reaching any satisfactory conclusions. The voice of History is silent, giving no response to the long-pressed queries, and even the tongue of Tradition tells not its vague and uncertain tale concerning the origin of the earliest peoples of the Western world. There remains not so much as a hieroglyphic in which may be traced the faintest vestige of the birthplace or language of their sires.

The Indian is enigmatic. He is the profoundest historical problem of all the ages. He is not, however, involved in such mazes of darkness and confusion that there is no clue to the truth. We have well-defined bases upon which to proceed. There are three well-known factors presented in the problems; upon these alone now depend all legitimate calculations if we expect to obtain any trustworthy results.

The prehistoric peoples of America are revealed to us in Custom or CHARACTER; and also in ART and in LANGUAGE. There are fragmentary remains of each of these all over the continent.-The naturalist takes a fossil, and from that fossil he delineates an extinct species. Can we take the fragmentary remains pertaining to the dead races of the con. tinent, and construct therefrom the skeleton of a Truth? The testimonies we have indicate that there was once a people in America possessed of a high order of civilization. The savages of to-day represent the degenerate and retrograding sons of illustrious sires. Hints of the culture of the ancient Americans are yet found in many places in the land. Our prehistoric ruins reflect not only a high order of ART, but art founded upon pre-existent models known in old civilizations. This art displays a mind and a hand trained in the schools of science. The civilization and art of

Vol. XII.- No. 2.-8

the American were yet flourishing when the conquests of the Spaniards Cortes and Pizarro put an end to their vitality. There were--and are yet -visible deep impresses in the CHARACTER of the Aborigines—the distinct marks of nationality--made by the silent but sure forces of thought and habit for countless ages. These, doubtless, descended from the earliest generations here. They indicate, beyond question, an antecedent type long existent somewhere in history.* Thirdly, the LANGUAGE of the earliest colonists of America is full of evidences of illustrious birth. Those people were neither beast nor savage. Their speech was not the gibberish of the untutored barbarian; it was, indeed, a speech which by common consent had origin in cultured minds.

The three factors in our problems are all productive or illustrative of civilization. What era in the world's history does that civilization represent ?

The answer to this query—the index to the theory of these paperslies in the title we have chosen, DID THE ROMANS COLONIZE AMERICA?

We consider first the most universal of the testimonies reflecting the Indian's origin. We say universal, for whithersoever the man wandered over the continent, he left behind him as a testimonial, the shreds of his LANGUAGE. Let us see if we can unravel the strange woof contained in the words found here representing the earliest peoples of the Western World. Mr. Jefferson in “ Notes on Virginia,” has said that “ a knowledge of their several languages would be the most certain evidence of their common derivation.

Were vocabularies formed of all the languages spoken in North and South America, preserving their appellations

it would furnish opportunities

to construct the best evidence of the derivation of this part of the human family.” This, indeed, touches the very key-note of the subject. The appellations of a nation are always indicative of their origin. This fact is observable all over the world. German people usually do not adopt French names. Nor does the nomenclature of France savor of Ireland or China. China does not borrow her words from the Hottentot of Africa, nor from the nations of Britain. And whence, then, came the “appellations ” of the Aborigines of America ?

The most common, and the most universal, and at the same time the most ancient, of the Indian “appellations" have been “preserved." They are the RIVER NAMEs of the continent. These words are the very oldest testimonies that exist delineating the speech of the earliest domi

* See Irving's “ Life and Voyages of Columbus," vol. i., pages 139-141. This authority is quoted as more convenient and accessible to the general reader than the Spanish originals to which Irving refers.

nant races in America. Exactly how old they are, it is impossible to tell. But it is well known that they are not the coinage of the rude people found here in the 15th and 16th centuries, any more than that the names of the rivers of the Old World are due to the present nations there. All geographical nomenclature, with rare exceptions, belongs to remote periods—much of it in the Old World, as well as in the New, to the prehistoric ages.* The Indian names of our rivers belong to a period when one common language was known, when one dominant race ruled, throughout the entire length and breadth of America. These names illustrate or indicate the language of the men who colonized the continent.

How do we know these facts ?

In the very earliest dawn of civilization, in the earliest developments of the human tongue, geographical nomenclature was invented-or had its birth-and titles were applied to rivers. Geographical names rarely ever perish. As the tides of humanity swept over the earth from radial centres, among the very first acts of the primal colonist in all lands was to name the waters. Once rightly applied, the river name usually lives forever. For there is a principle in man which induces the preservation of ancient titles as well as ancient landmarks, which are frequently identical. As the River often became the boundary between man and man, between nation and nation, becoming, in fact, the landmark which could not be removed, the word-its NAME-was kept as something sacred and inviolate. The titles were sometimes supplanted by explorer or conqueror; and often in the defectiveness of the human tongue, or in the caprice of the pen, mere verbal variations, abbreviations, and corruptions of the true word were invented and perpetuated. Yet the ancient names still lived. They were kept in the traditions of man; and they are to-day found in the archives of history, or elsewhere in literature.

There are very few of the Aboriginal titles of the rivers of America, but what a patient search will produce them. Often there are found several names applying to the waters; but the most ancient of all of them is readily detected by its singular conformity to the well-defined model. The mere tribal or dialectic distinction often appears.—There is a science in nomenclature which should be made to delineate the history of these ancient appellations.

Underlying that science is the well-known fact in Indian character, that all the words of our Aborigines illustrated some truth. With them, every name had a definite significance; even tradition tells us that their words

* The origin of many of the most common European and Asiatic names on the maps of the world is unknown.

always “mean " something. * In the preservation of the ancient names, their significance has often descended to us with the title itself; and in many instances we are enabled to read the Indian's word in the light of comparative truth.

One great difficulty, however, to be encountered in the analyses of Indian river names lies in the fact that they come to us not in the garb in which the Red man would have written them for us had his knowledge of language been preserved and developed and cultivated as ours; but they come to us through long ages of mere oral tradition, kept often in mere corruptions, simply in the memories of men; their sound finally transcribed by the pens of foreigners; and the translations reaching us in the fanciful garbs

Spanish, French, German, Anglican, or other Continental languages. The later discoverers and explorers in America heard the Indian speak his river names. They were the words of the earliest fathers herejust as the words of the earliest fathers are heard in India, in Turkey, in Germany, in Russia—heard, in fact, all over the world wherever the ancient river name is spoken.

A very prominent feature of the Indian nomenclature lies in its singular analogy to the words of our oldest civilizations. While it is confidently believed by many that the native names here are, in their musical syllabication, wholly unlike the language of any other nation under the sun, the fact is, there is scarcely a primitive river name found in America, but what an analogous or similar word may be found somewhere in the geographical literature of the Old World. The American names, as heretofore observed, in careful comparisons appear to be constructed on pre-existent models—models known in the language of many peoples of earth. These models illustrate and emphasize another very remarkable fact.

All the primitive peoples of earth are known to have used in the structure of their river nomenclatures, the same common and universal syllabic expressions, designated as Terms; and which are the ancient exponents or significants of our words WATER and RIVER, with their varying conditions. These TERMS are known to man under every condition of his existence, whether civilized or barbarian; they are traced backwards, through the intervening tongues, to the oldest of all known languages. The American Indian uses the same terms in his river names that were used by all the aggressive races that overran and colonized Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Writers on language usually denominate that wide embrace of speech

* Many of our modern names are mere honorary titles or fanciful creations utterly devoid of. meaning. The Indian had but little of the honorary, hereditary, or fanciful in his character. Their words appear to have been constructed on thoroughly scientific principles.

which immediately antedates the historical tongues as the SEMITIC LANGUAGE.* From the Semitic root have sprung three great branches—the Hebrew, the Chaldee (or Aramean), and the Arabic. While each of these has had its countless offshoots and dialects, directly to these three may be traced the historical languages of civilization, and in which are found all the ancient terms for water and river, now known, either in purity or with mere variation and verbal corruptions, in all the river nomenclatures of the world, including that of the Americas. There is no corruption or abbreviation of those ancient terms known to the Oriental or European languages, but what an identical word is found to match it in the river names of the Western Continent. And yet not only does the Indian show familiarity with the ancient terms for water and river, but he had knowledge also of other terms unknown to the ancients up to a certain period in historical annals. That period embraces the Latin.

A glance at the terms themselves may enable us to have a more definite understanding of the problems before us—a more intelligent idea of the manner in which the Indian showed his familiarity with the tongues of civilization. By comparative illustrations, we may be able to trace the Indian down through all the historical eras represented by Hebrew, Sanscrit, Celtic, Phænecian, Arabic, Persian, Indo-Germanic, and even through the Greek into the bosom of the Roman. And if the testimonies of philology have any value in determining historic truth, we may find the earliests colonists of the Western Continent in a people reaching its shores from what is now a province on the western coast of the Kingdom of Italy.

Startling as this proposition may seem, it is made in the sober conviction of its truth. But to illustrate fully all the evidences showing the Indian's familiarity with the historic languages of the Old World, from the Hebrew to the Roman, would detail upon the writer the task of a volume in itself, occupying more than our allotted space in this paper. Deferring that duty to a future issue, we shall have to content ourselves in this with a few brief examples.

In presenting the reader first with the ancient terms found in the structure of river nomenclatures everywhere, it must be remembered that

Lying still beyond the Semitic is what is usually denominated the GERM LANGUAGE-a language of brief roots, or germs, which make up the great body of known tongues. All modern languages are chiefly composite—their composite character obtained from what are now generally regarded “dead languages,” with modern types of the old. The dead languages were also composite to a great extent. They were made up of those brief roots which had birth in the primal speech of man-the Germ Language.

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