Page:The American Indian.djvu/171

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CHAPTER VIII


SPECIAL INVENTIONS

There remain a great array of culture traits we have not noted, such as machinery, fire-making, lamps, weapons, musical instruments, fermentation, glues and cements, paper, dyes and paints, woodwork, maps, astronomical knowledge, writing, poisons, medicine, surgery and anatomical knowledge, etc. For descriptive details on these topics, the reader must turn to the standard books of reference. Few of these subjects have been developed to a point whereby significant problems arise and the only function their discussion could now serve would be the increasing of our wonder at the complexity of aboriginal life. Therefore, we shall refer to but a small number of them.

One of the more fundamental traits in which the old culture of Asia outstripped the New World was the development of the wheel and revolving machinery. Yet, we have noted the spindle whorl and find certain kinds of drills that embody a kind of wheel concept. However, among the Eskimo we find drills turned by a strap pulled back and forth and also operated by a strung bow. This gives a reciprocating motion which is the principle in old Asiatic drills and lathes.[1] The geographical position of the Eskimo makes it probable that we have in this a case of relatively recent borrowing from the Old World. The only other New World localities in which these forms of drilling occur are among the Northern Algonkin. From the native sketches in Mexican codices and the references of early writers, we infer that the universal mode of drilling was by rolling between the palms of the hands. Even the Peruvians seem never to have risen above this method. Yet, we have four problematic localities in which forms of the Old World pumpdrill occur: the Iroquois, Pueblos, Round Valley Indians of California and the North Pacific Coast. In the

  1. Rau, 1873. I.