Obrázky stránek

time and experience can alone qualify them for these pursuits, which will be found incompatible with the whole course of their education. Nor can they, without such pecuniary means as few will be able to command, become successful farmers. They will be strangers in their native land, exciting jealousy and suspicion, and seeking in vain one kindred feeling. And if they should receive or acquire any property, their Indian relations, in conformity with invariable custom, would live with them in entire indolence, until it was exhausted. What hopes or employment are left for them under these circumstances? We apprehend, that in too many instances they would seek refuge in excessive ebriety ; and this has been remarked upon the frontiers, as the fate of almost every Indian, who has been educated in our settlements. But we have too much respect for the pious men, engaged in this mighty effort, and feel too deep an interest in the result, to wish to discourage their labors by any untimely forebodings. The final issue must be left to the unerring test of experience.

A different plan has been suggested by the Executive Department of the government, and recommended to Congress. This plan contemplates certain conventional arrangements with the various tribes, east of the Mississippi, by which they may be induced to abandon their present places of residence, and remove to the country west of that river. The able and excellent statesmen, with whom it had its origin, have probably, in surveying the condition of the Indians, derived no hope for the future, from a retrospect of the past; and they felt, that the situation of this hapless people pressed upon the responsibility of the government, and the character of the country. But we are seriously apprehensive, that in this gigantic plan of public charity, the magnitude of the outline has withdrawn our attention from the necessary details, and that, if it be adopted to the extent proposed, it will exasperate the evils that we are all anxious to allay.

Migratory, as our Indians are, they all have, with few exceptions, certain districts which they have occupied for ages; to which they are attached by all the ties which bind men, white or red, to their country; and where their particular habits, and modes of life, have become accommodated to the nature of the animals, which furnish their subsistence. The larger quadrupeds, whose flesh is used for food, the buffalo,

[ocr errors]

the moose, the elk, the deer, the bear, the caribou, and the musk ox, are not found in any single quarter of country, and very different modes of taking and killing them are used, founded on their various babits, and acquired by long experience. This is also the case with the fur bearing animals, the muskrat, the raccoon, the otter, and the beaver. And so with respect to other articles of food, the various kinds of fish, wild rice, roots, and berries.

Providence, which tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, has distributed these productions through the country with an impartial hand, and the Indians have availed themselves of the food thus spontaneously offered to them, and have learned the mode of taking, preparing, and preserving it. moval through eight degrees of latitude, and fifteen degrees of longitude, will bring many of them to a country, of whose animal and vegetable productions they are ignorant, and will require them to make great changes in their habits, to accommodate themselves to the new circumstances, in which they may be placed ;* changes, which we, Alexible as we are, should make with difficulty, and with great sacrifices of health and life. It is no slight task for a whole people, from helpless infancy to the decrepitude of age, to abandon their native land, and seek in a distant, and perhaps barren region, new means of support. The public papers inform us, that an attempt was made this season in Ohio, by the authorised agents of the governinent, to induce the Shawnese to remove to the west, and that liberal offers were made of money, provisions, and land. But it seems they declined, alleging that they were happy and contented in their present situation, and expressing their dissatisfaction with the nature of the country offered to them.

But this is not all. Many of the tribes, as we have already seen, east and west of the Mississippi, are in a state of active warfare, which has existed for ages. The Chippewas are hereditary enemies of the Sioux, and the Sacs and Foxes have recently joined the former in the war; and most of the Algonquin tribes, the Delawares, Shawnese, Kickapoos, Miamies, and others, are in the same relation to the Osages. How are these tribes to exist together? As well might the deer associate with the wolf, and expect to escape with impunity. The weak would fall before the strong. Parcel out the country as we may among them, they will not be restrained in their movements by imaginary lines, but will roam where their inclination may dictate. There is a strong tendency to war, in the whole system of Indian education and institutions. How is the young man to boast of his exploits, at the great war dance and seast of his band, as his father has done before him, unless he can find an enemy to encounter? How can he wear on his head the envied feathers of the war Eagle,* and one for each adventure; or paint upon his body a vermilion mark for each wound, if he must pursue game only, and never travel the war path ? A cordon of troops, which shculd encircle each tribe, might keep them all in peace together. But without such a display of an overwhelming military force, we should soon hear, that the war dance was performed, the war song raised, and that the young men had departed in pursuit of fame, scalps, and death. And this scene would be more tremendous, as the Indians were more compressed. They could then neither conceal themselves from the pursuit of their enemies, nor flee from their vengeance. But it may well be asked, how are we to afford the Indians

* These observations do not apply to the removal of the Creeks. Many of their own people, and still more of their kindred tribes, have removed west of the Mississippi. And the country offered to them there, is in its climate similar to their owp.

How are we to preserve them from decline and extinction ? And we must confess, that these questions are not easily to be answered. Some will remove beyond the

[ocr errors]

any aid ?


* The feathers of this bird, the Falco fulvus of Wilson, are highly esteemed by the Indians. No person is permitted to wear them, who has not been engaged with an enemy; and as one is worn for each adventure, they are visible chronicles of the deeds of the warriors. He who has arrived at years of maturity, and is destitute of these evidences of daring, is little better than a squaw. They are tied to the hair, and are admirably adapted to give effect to. the whole Indian costume.

The bird itself is called the Calumet Eagle, and is among the American birds, what the lion is among quadrupeds. These eagles Aly rapidly, and their descent is attended with a sound, which is heard at a considerable distance, and which is a signal to all other birds to disappear.

Their evident superiority has led to the veneration in which they are held. They are rare, and killed with difficulty. A hole is sometimes dug and slightly covered, and here a hunter will watch day after day, with a bird in his hand to entice and take the eagle. At other times a deer is killed, and a covert made near it, where equal patience is displayed, till a successful shot secures the prize. A horse is sometimes given for a feather.

Mississippi. But this will be done gradually, as their circumstances may require, and as their safety may perinit. Others will remain, and perhaps become incorporated with our population.

The whole subject, however, is involved in great doubt and difficulty, and it is better to do nothing, than to hazard the risk of increasing their misery. For ourselves, we think, that the efforts of the government should be limited to certain general objects and regulations. That the laws, regulating trade and intercourse with them, should be revised, and their injunctions and prohibitions rendered more plain in execution. That the officers of the Department should be increased, and stationed at every important point of the frontier, to soothe and encourage the Indians, to enforce the observance of the laws, and to watch the conduct of the traders. That neither expense nor exertions should be spared, to prevent the introduction of whiskey into the country, and that the Indians should be persuaded 10 pass the boundary line, as seldom as possible. That the acts of Congress should be extended to them, under that provision of the constitution, which allows the general government to regulate our intercourse with them, when in our settlements, where they are now lamentably exposed, and left without protection. That hunters and trappers should be excluded from their country. That, as the failure of any of their ordinary articles of subsistence is attended with frightful calamities, provisions should be sent to them occasionally, when suffering froin want; that seed corn, domestic animals, and farming utensils, should be distributed among them, and that honest, zealous men should be employed to labor for them and with them. That they should be encouraged to hold separate property, and to divide their lands among families and individuals. That ten thousand dollars should be annually added to the appropriation for civilising them, until a satisfactory judgment can be formed, of the probable result of this experiment. And that, after all this, we should leave their fate to the common God of the white man and the Indian.

Lewis Cass

Art. VI.—Fauna Americana; being a Description of the

Mammiferous Animals inhabiting North America. By RICHARD HARLAN, M. D. Philadelphia. 1825. A. Finley. 8vo. pp. 318. The object of this work is to present, under a systematic arrangement, a scientific history of all the mammiferous animals of North America, and it is probably the first attempt of the kind. The object, however, which is professed in its title, is not wholly followed up in the body of the work; the animals of Mexico being avowedly excluded from the description and arrangement, although, in the preface, an enumeration is given of those known to exist in that country. The number of animals, described within the region embraced by Dr Harlan's plan, is greater than we should have at first supposed to be now known to naturalists. He has been able to distinguish, he remarks, one hundred and fortyseven species, with considerable accuracy. From his preface we quote the following passage.

A work, having for its object the illustration of the natural history of our country, cannot fail to prove interesting, and has long been a desideratum to naturalists. However unqualified for the task, I have nevertheless found ample room for additions, alterations, and improvements. On the utility of the undertaking it will be unnecessary to insist, when, on reterring to the latest authorities who have treated of this subject, we are struck with the confusion, the errors, and the deficiencies, which still prevail. In the very latest work, Desmarest's Mammalogie, published in the year 1820, which professes to describe all the species of Mammalia hitherto known, the number inhabiting North America is limited to one hundred species. Of these many are described as uncertain, and his accounts of the manners and habits of most of them are at best deficient.'

What these additions, alterations, and improvements are; in what manner confusion has been reduced to order, errors corrected, and deficiencies supplied, may appear in the sequel. Meantime, to exhibit the author's labors within a small compass, we have prepared, and think proper to insert in this place, a catalogue of the animals described in his work, in their systematic order as marshalled by him. This will serve at once to show the field over which his labors have been

« PředchozíPokračovat »