Page:The American Indian.djvu/51

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25
GENERAL DISCUSSION

the Hopi, and Wilson[1] for the Hidatsa. For the Pueblo peoples who still raise maize in the aboriginal way we have little more than the pioneer work of Cushing.[2] With respect to Mexico and the Andean region the literature is even more fragmentary. While we do have a great deal of more or less generalized information, this has been re-stated so often that it is difficult to weigh it and even the very best of such literature can never take the place of exhaustive field studies. For example, it is only from the works of Parker[3] and Wilson[4] that we can form a definite conclusion as to how closely the cultivation of maize of white farmers follows aboriginal patterns.

However, the gross characteristics of aboriginal maize culture are clearly known. In the first place, no beasts of draught were employed, but all was by hand. Nowhere do we find a plowing machine drawn by men. As an independent proposition it may seem strange that the Peruvians, with all their genius, should have missed the idea of harnessing either men or llamas to a digging tool, but when we note that maize grows best in bunches or "hills," while the Old World inventors of the plow sowed grain broadcast, we find a partial explanation. The heaping up of earth around the growing plant is still one of the fundamentals in maize culture. It is a fair assumption that the hoe is an aboriginal solution of the practical problem involved here. The mere sowing of grain by the ancients of the Old World was the one great problem, for after that there was little to do until the harvest, while in the case of maize the tending of the crop was the most exacting. The former presents a much simpler mechanical problem than the latter; in fact, it is not until 1731 that we hear of a horse cultivator in England.

The aborigines dug up the ground with pointed and spade-like tools. From New Mexico to Chile, spade-like tools with foot-rests for thrusting into the ground were common, but in the eastern parts of both continents we find a simple digging stick. In Peru the digging tools were sometimes pointed with copper and bronze.

The hoe was universal in the eastern maize area and seems to have extended into the West Indies, but from New Mexico

  1. Wilson, G. L., 1917. I.
  2. Cushing, 1884. I.
  3. Parker, 1910. I.
  4. Wilson, G. L., 1917. I.