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CHAP. disappointment. His last words were : "Into thy bands,
O Lord, I commend my spirit.”
His body was deposited in a convent in Spain. Ferdinand, it is said, ordered a monument to his memory. The justice he had denied him in life he was willing to inscribe upon his tomb,-it was to bear the inscription : “ Columbus has given a world to Castile and Leon.”
The body of Columbus was afterwards conveyed to Hispaniola. After a lapse of almost three hundred years that island passed into the hands of the French. Generations had come and gone, but the Spanish nation remembered that Columbus had "given a world to Castile and Leon;" and they wished to retain his remains within their own territories. They disinterred them, and with
imposing ceremonies transferred them to Havana in the 1795, island of Cuba, where they still remain.
About seven years after the first voyage of Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine gentleman, visited the West Indies, and also landed on the eastern coast of South America. On his return he published a glowing description of the newly discovered countries. From this circumstance the name AMERICA was given to the New World by a German writer on Geography, who may
have been ignorant of the claims of Columbus.
In the earliest ages of the world the ancient inhabit- CHAP'. ants of America may have come from Asia. The proximity of the two continents in the vicinity of Behring's Straits and the Aleutian Isles, renders such an emigration comparatively easy. There is reason to believe the people found here by Europeans, were not the original inhabitants of the land.
Throughout the continent, more especially in the valley of the Mississippi, are found monuments of a race more ancient-mounds and enclosures of great extent,the work, not of roving savages, but of a people who lived in settled habitations, it may be, as prosperous and peaceful cultivators of the soil. To build these immense monuments, the materials of which were frequently brought from a distance, required the labor and toil of a numerous population. Perhaps in the vicinity of these works, villages and cities once stood. The enclosures were used either as places of defence, or for purposes of worship, and perhaps for both; the mounds evidently as places of burial for kings or chiefs.
The antiquary finds here no inscriptions, which, like those found on the plains of Shinar or in the valley of the Nile, can unfold the mysteries of bygone centuries. He finds only the scattered remnants of vessels of earthen
CHAP. ware, rude weapons of warfare, axes made of stone, and
ornaments worn only by a people rude and uncultivated.
How much of happiness or of misery this ancient people experienced during those many ages, none can tell. In an evil hour came some dire calamity. It may have been civil war, which in its path spread desolation far and wide ; blotted out their imperfect civilization, and drove the more peaceful inhabitants further south, where they founded the empires of Mexico and Peru ; while those who remained degenerated into roving savages, and converted those fertile plains into hunting-grounds. Or may we not rather suppose that centuries after the first emigration, there came another from the same mother of nations, Asia ; —that the latter were warlike savages, who lived not by cultivating the soil but by hunting ;—that these invaders drove the peaceful inhabitants of that beautiful region to the far south, and took possession of the conquered land as their own home and hunting-ground?
Travellers have noticed the near resemblance of the aborigines of North America to. the people of northeastern Asia, not only in their customs but in their physical appearance. “The daring traveller Ledyard, as he stood in Siberia with men of the Mongolian race before him, and compared them with the Indians who had been his old play-fellows and school-mates at Dartmouth, writes deliberately that, universally and circumstantially they resemble the aborigines of America.' On the Connecticut and the Obi, he saw but one race.”
More than two thousand years ago, Herodotus wrote in his history, that the Scythians practised the custom of scalping their enemies slain in battle; that the warrior preserved these scalps as the evidence of his bravery, and used them to decorate his tent and the trappings of his horse. The wonderful skill of these Scythians in han
· Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. III., page 318.
INDIANS FOUR DIVISIONS,
dling the bow and arrow was proverbial in ancient times CHAP Who can tell but the ancestors of the aborigines of America came from Scythia, and brought with them their skill in using the bow and arrow, and the singular custom of scalping ?
Of the North American Indians there were four general divisions; these occupied as many separate portions of the United States and Canada. The Algonquin branch, with its various tribes, claimed the territory extending from the north of Maine to Cape Fear, thence to the Mississippi, and north of the great lakes to the vicinity of Hudson Bay ; their territory completely encircled that claimed by their enemies, the powerful Huron-Iroquois, whose central portion was along the north shores of the Lakes Erie and Ontario, beyond Georgian bay of Lake Huron, and almost to the Ottawa river, and south of the same lakes to the waters of the Ohio and the Susquehannah, and from the west end of Lake Erie to Lake Champlain and the Hud
The Mobilian branch extended from Cape Fear to the south point of Florida ; west along the north shores of the Gulf of Mexico to the Mississippi ; north as far as the Tennessee river and the southern spurs of the Cumberland mountains. West of the Mississippi were the roving tribes of the Dahcotabs, or Sioux.
As the natives of these different portions of the continent closely resembled each other in physical constitution and personal appearance, the first explorers supposed they were one and the same people; but when their languages became better known, ethnologists classified them as different branches of the same great family. In earlier ages they may have been one people, speaking the same language ; afterward, revengeful wars, unrelentingly waged for ages, separated them. Each little tribe or family wandered alone ; as differing circumstances and necessities required, they added new words to the original language ; thus were formed dialects, which philologists have par
CHAP. tially traced, and which apparently lead to the same mother
Their mode of living, customs, and religious belief were also similar ; their houses, or wigwams, were formed of poles placed in the ground, and bent toward each other at the top, and covered with birch or chestnut bark; they dressed in the skins of animals ; wore as ornaments the feathers of the eagle and the claws of the bear,-trophies of their skill as hunters,—and valued more than all the scalps of their enemies ; proofs of their bravery and success in war.
They believed in a Great Spirit that pervaded all things; their heaven lay away beyond the mountains of the setting sun : it was a land of bright meadows and crystal springs, a happy hunting-ground stocked with wild animals, where the Indian hunter after death enjoyed the chase, and never suffered cold, nor thirst, nor hunger more.
Note.-As the several tribes of Indians come within the scope of this history they will be further noticed.