Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/11
WAS MIDDLE AMERICA PEOPLED FROM ASIA? 3
constitute the African or negro subspecies of man.' ' By bringing together isolated features which have resemblances in common, the American Indian has been traced to nearly every known stock. Mr. Henry W. Henshaw, in an admirable address entitled Who are the American Indians ? says : " If you have special bias or predilection you have only to choose for yourself. If there be any among you who decline to find the ancestors of our Indians among the Jews, Phoenicians, Scandinavians, Irish, "Welsh, Egyptians, or Tartars, then you still have a choice among the Hindu, Malay, Polynesian, Chinese, or Japanese, or indeed among almost any other of the chil- dren of men." Had this address been written a few years later he might have added Hittite!
There are two propositions involved in the controversy as to the Asiatic origin of the American race: the one is that America was peopled from Asia by invasions or migrations in pre-savage or pre- glacial times; the other is that the peculiar civilization of Central America was induced by Buddhist monks, who traveled from Asia to Mexico and Central America in the fifth century of our era. Those who sustain the first thesis are without exception men trained in the science of anthropology; those who sustain the second thesis are with a few conspicuous exceptions travelers, geographers, sino- logues, missionaries, and the like.
If Asia should ever prove to be the cradle of the human race, or of any portion of it which had advanced well beyond the creature known as Pithecanthropus erectus, then unquestionably an Asian people may be accounted the progenitors of the American Indians. Any effort, however, to establish an identity at this stage would probably take us far beyond the origin of speech or the ability to fabricate an implement.
The controversy has not raged on this ground, however; the numerous volumes and memoirs on the subject have dealt almost exclusively with culture contacts or direct invasions from Asia in our era, and more particularly with the supposed visits of Chinese Buddhist monks to Mexico and Central America already alluded to. Believing in the unity of the^ human race, the dispersion of the species seems more naturally to have occurred along the northern borders of the great continents rather than across the wide ocean. From the naturalist's standpoint the avenues have been quite as open for the circumpolar distribution of man as they have been for the circumpolar distribution of other animals and plants down to the minutest land snail and low fungus. The ethnic, resemblances supposed to exist between the peoples of the two sides of the Pacific may be the result of an ancient distribution around the northern regions of the globe. Even to-day social relations are said to exist