Page:The American Indian.djvu/101

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CHAPTER IV


THE CERAMIC ARTS

The first point to demand our attention is the distribution of pottery in general. As nearly as can be told, at the time of discovery, North America had but one large area in which no pottery was made. If we draw a line from Ottawa to the mouth of the St. Lawrence and another to Edmonton, and then one from Edmonton to Los Angeles, we shall have, in the rough, the northern boundary to pottery making. There seems to have been a narrow strip down into the bison area that should be excepted. This extended down through the country of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche. On the other hand, certain early information for the Ojibway, Cree, and Blackfoot westward from Winnipeg, indicates that they made pottery; but this about exhausts the exceptions. Practically the whole of the Pacific belt and the great sweep of the caribou area is without pottery, but the Eskimo of Alaska and eastward at least as far as Coronation Gulf made it. Archæological evidence does not change the boundary; hence, we may infer that the distribution of pottery was still in progress at the opening of the period of discovery and that it was distributed from the South. In Siberia we find a pottery somewhat like that of the Eskimo, which suggests that in this case the trait is intrusive from Asia. Yet, we must not overlook the possibility of contact with North American potters around Hudson Bay, a region whose archæology is absolutely unknown. The improbability of this arises from the absence of the trait from the greater part of the caribou-hunting peoples, its tendency to fail the most typical bison hunters, and that its encroachment in each case resembles the fringe of an adjoining area. We see that its extension out into Saskatchewan and Alberta is coincident with the distribution of Algonkian-speaking tribes: the Blackfoot, Cree, and Ojibway.