The American Indian/Chapter 14

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The American Indian by Clark Wissler
Chapter XIV



We have now passed in review the traits that are usually taken as constituting culture. The anthropological conception of the term is that it is the trait-complex manifested by a separate social unit of mankind. Some anthropologists take the position that the only correct view of the data of our subject is that which regards the social unit solely and that all such discussions as we have so far made are wrong in principle, because each trait has a peculiar relation to the complex practised by the group. This belief seems to arise in a kind of functional view in which the only problem of importance is to describe the manner in which a given social unit works out its culture. But it is now clear that no social group in the New World can be reckoned guilty of entire cultural independence, and that certain traits have spread over very large parts of both continents, whence the problem of a single social unit becomes of relatively little importance, because until we take in the whole sweep of the phenomenon no true account of it can be given.

As we have stated before this, the number of social groups in the New World is so large that no one can hope to hold in mind more than a small portion of them. Hence, even if we accept the extreme view that our subject should be limited to observing the separate functioning of these social units, some mode of classifying these many groups would still be imperative; for only in this way could the number of groups be reduced to the level of human comprehension. In the preceding chapters we saw that the natives of the New World could be grouped according to single culture traits, giving us food areas, textile areas, ceramic areas, etc. If, however, we take all traits into simultaneous consideration and shift our
The American Indian Fig 67.jpg

Fig. 67. Culture Areas

point of view to the social, or tribal units, we are able to form fairly definite groups. This will give us culture areas, or a classification of social groups according to their culture traits. The historical development of our subject gives us two kinds of culture data and so commits us to two rather distinct classifications—historic culture areas and archæological areas, respectively.


In the initial chapter, we defined nine economic areas, giving us a kind of culture classification which the subsequent discussions proved to have some general validity for culture as a whole. Yet, we have from time to time brought to notice differentiations in the trait-complexes for different parts of these economic areas, suggesting that a close examination of a large series of traits will result in a somewhat different grouping. A perusal of the literature of our subject shows it to be customary to divide the two continents into fifteen culture areas, each conceived to be the home of a distinct type of culture. These areas are, in a sense, generalizations, but the method we have followed here is highly empirical, since for each social group we have checked out the several culture traits and compared them in detail.


1. The Plains Area. For example, in the great western plains of the United States, we have thirty-one tribal groups, of which eleven may be considered as manifesting the typical culture of the area: viz., the Assiniboin, Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Sarsi, and Teton-Dakota. The chief traits of this culture are the dependence upon the buffalo or bison, and the very limited use of roots and berries; absence of fishing; lack of agriculture; the tipi as a movable dwelling; transportation by land only, with the dog and the travois (in historic times with the horse); want of basketry and pottery; no true weaving; clothing of buffalo and deerskins; a special bead technique; high development of work in skins; special rawhide
The American Indian Fig 68.jpg

Fig. 68. The Plains Indian Culture Area
The most typical tribes are underlined

work (parfleche, cylindrical bag, etc.); use of a circular shield; weak development of work in wood, stone, and bone. Their art is strongly geometric, but as a whole, not symbolic; social organization tends to the simple band; a camp circle organization; a series of societies for men; sun dance ceremony; sweat house observances, scalp dances, etc.

In historic times, these tribes ranged from north to south in the heart of the area. (Fig. 68). On the eastern border were some fourteen tribes having most of the positive traits enumerated above and, in addition, some of the negative ones, such as a limited use of pottery and basketry; some spinning and weaving of bags; rather extensive agriculture; alternating the tipi with larger and more permanent houses covered with grass, bark, or earth; some attempts at water transportation; tending not to observe the sun dance, but to substitute maize festivals, shamanistic performances, and the midéwin of the Great Lakes tribes. These tribes are: the Arikara, Hidatsa, Iowa, Kansa, Mandan, Missouri, Omaha, Osage, Oto, Pawnee, Ponca, Santee-Dakota, Yankton-Dakota, and the Wichita.

On the western border were other tribes (the Wind River Shoshoni, Uintah and Uncompahgre Ute) lacking pottery, but producing a rather high type of basketry; depending far less on the buffalo, but more on deer and small game; making large use of wild grass seeds, or grain; alternating tipis with brush and mat-covered shelters; and not as a whole inclined to the sun dance and the other ceremonial practices of their eastern neighbors.

Also, on the northeastern border are the Plains-Ojibway and Plains-Cree who have many traits of the forest-hunting tribes as well as most of those found in the Plains. Possibly a few of the little-known bands of Canadian Assiniboin should be included in this group in distinction from the Assiniboin proper.

These variations from the type are, as we shall see, typical traits of the adjoining areas, the possible exception being the earth-lodges of the Mandan, Pawnee, etc. On the other hand, the tribes of the area as a whole have in common
The American Indian Fig 69.jpg

Original in American Museum of Natural History

Fig. 69. Plains Indian Life—Catlin

practically all the traits of the typical group. For example, the Mandan made some use of tipis, hunted buffalo, used the travois, worked in skins and rawhide, and armed and clothed themselves like the typical Plains tribes; but also added other traits, pottery, basketry, agriculture, and earth-lodges. Thus we see that while in this area there are marked culture differences, the traits constituting these differences tend to be typical of other areas; hence, we are quite justified in taking the cultures of the central group as the type for the area as a whole.

2. Plateau Area. The Plateau area joins the Plains on the west. It is far less uniform in its topography, the south being a veritable desert while the north is moist and fertile. To add to the difficulties in systematically characterizing this culture, arising from lack of geographical unity, is the want of definite information for many important tribes. Our readily available sources are Teit's Thompson, Shuswap, and Lillooet;[1] Spinden's Nez Percé;[2] and Lowie's Northern Shoshone;[3] but there is also an excellent summary of the miscellaneous historical information by Lewis.[4] In a general way, these intense tribal studies give us the cultural nuclei of as many groups, the Interior Salish, the Shahaptian, and the Shoshoni. Of these, the Salish seem the typical group, because both the Nez Percé and the Shoshoni show marked Plains traits. It is also the largest, having sixteen or more dialectic divisions and considerable territorial extent. Of these the Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan (Colville, Nespelim, Sanpoil, Senijixtia), and Lillooet seem to be the most typical. The material traits may be summarized as: extensive use of salmon, deer, roots (especially camas), and berries; the use of a handled digging-stick; cooking with hot stones in holes and baskets; the pulverization of dried salmon and roots for storage; winter houses, semi-subterranean, a circular pit with a conical roof and smoke hole entrance; summer houses; movable or transient, mat or rush-covered tents and the lean-to, double and single; the dog sometimes used as a pack animal; water transportation weakly developed, crude dug-outs and bark canoes being used; pottery not known; basketry highly developed, coil, rectangular shapes, imbricated technique; twine weaving in flexible bags and mats; some simple weaving of bark fiber for clothing; clothing for the entire body usually of deerskins; skin caps for the men, and in some cases basket caps for women; blankets of woven rabbitskin; the sinew-backed bow prevailed; clubs, lances, and knives, and rod and slat armor (Fig. 60) were used in war, also heavy leather shirts; fish spears, hooks, traps, and bag nets were used; dressing of deerskins highly developed, but other skin-work weak, upright stretching frames and straight longhandled scrapers; while wood work was more advanced than among the Plains tribes it was insignificant as compared to the North Pacific Coast area (4); stone work was confined to the making of tools and points, battering and flaking, some jadeite tools; work in bone, metal, and feathers very weak.

Of the non-material traits the most distinctive are: decorative art simple and inconspicuous, rather inclining towards the Plains type on the one hand and that of the North Pacific Coast tribes on the other; lack of definite tribal organization and band distinctions; a weak but still definite social distinction based upon personal wealth, with at least a modern use of the "potlatch" ceremony; hence, there are no striking general ceremonies or ritualistic societies as in the preceding area; puberty ceremonies rather prominent and related to the general belief in personal guardians; mythology largely a record of the "trickster type."

The Shahaptian group includes tribes of the Waiilatpuan stock. The underground house seems to be wanting here, but the Nez Percé used a form of it for a young men's lodge. However, the permanent house seems to be a form of the double lean-to of the North. In other respects the differences are almost wholly due to the intrusion of traits from the Plains.

The Northern Shoshonean tribes were even farther removed toward Plains culture, though they used a dome-shaped brush shelter before the tipi became general; thus, they used canoes not at all, carried the Plains shield; deer being scarce in their country they made more use of the buffalo than the Nez Percé, depended more upon small game and especially made extensive use of wild grass seeds, though as everywhere in the area, roots and salmon formed an important food; in addition to the universal sagebrush bark weaving they made rabbitskin blankets; their basketry was coil and twine, but the shapes were round; they had some steatite jars and possibly pottery, but usually cooked in baskets; their clothing was quite Plains-like and work in rawhide was well developed; in historic times they were great horse Indians, but seem not to have used the travois either for dogs or horses. A number of ceremonial dances also remind one of the Plains. The remaining Shoshoni of western Utah and Nevada were in a more arid region and so out of both the salmon and the buffalo country, but otherwise their fundamental culture was much the same, though far less modified by Plains traits. The Wind River division, the Uintah or Uncompahgre Ute, it should be noted, belong more to the Plains area than here, and have been so classed. In the extreme western part of Nevada we have the Washo, a small tribe and linguistic stock who, in common with some of the little-known Shoshonean Mono-Paviotso groups, seem to have been influenced by California culture, since we find here a form of balsa, or the tule reed raft-like boat of California. Among other variants, the occasional use of insects as food may be noted. On the north of our area are the Athapascan Chilcotin, whose culture was quite like that of the Salish, and to the northeast the Kutenai, with some individualities and some inclinations towards the Plains, especially in social and ceremonial traits.

In general, it appears that in choice of foods, textile arts, quantity of clothing, forms of utensils, fishing appliances, methods of cooking and preparing foods, weakly developed decorative art, meager social organization, distinctions by property, religious and mythological conceptions, there was great uniformity throughout the entire area; while in houses, transportation, weapons, cut and style of clothing, specific ceremonies and war customs, the groups designated above presented some important differences. As in the Plains area, we find certain border tribes strongly influenced by the cultures of the adjoining areas.

3. California Area. In California we have a marginal or coast area, which Kroebe[5] divides into four sub-culture areas. However, by far the most extensive is the central group to which belongs the typical culture. Its main characteristics are: acorns, the chief vegetable food, supplemented by wild seeds, roots and berries are scarcely used; acorns made into bread by a roundabout process; hunting mostly for small game and fishing where possible; houses of many forms, but all simple shelters of brush or tule, or more substantial conical lean-to structures of poles; the dog was not used for packing, and there were no canoes, but used rafts of tule for ferrying; no pottery, but high development of basketry, both coil and twine; bags and mats very scanty; cloth or other weaving of twisted elements not known; clothing was simple, and scanty, feet generally bare; the bow, the only weapon, usually sinew-backed; work in skins very weak; work in wood, bone, etc., weak; metals not at all; stone work not advanced; no picture writing; designs only upon baskets and not symbolic; social organizations simple without gens or clan forms; political solidarity almost lacking; no formal social ranking, but some tendency to recognize property distinctions; ritualism, fetishism, and religious symbolism almost lacking; well developed puberty ceremonies for girls and a kind of secret initiation for men; a mourning ceremony in which gifts are burned; a tendency to maintain a series of dances in a fixed order; a semi-underground or earth-covered house for ceremonies, a sweat house and the sleeping place of adult males; shamanism conspicuous, but absence of fasting and other inducing methods; regalia not elaborate, feather head bands most general; creation and culture origin myths prevail, a dignified creator, but in addition coyote tales.

As with the preceding areas, we must again consider intermediate groups. In the South, the characteristic linguisticindividuality vanishes to make room for large groups of Yuman and Shoshonean tribes; here we find some pottery, sandals, wooden war clubs, and even curved rabbit sticks, all intrusive; but, in ceremonies and other non-material traits, these tribes conform to the California type we have outlined. The extinct Santa Barbara were at least variants, living upon sea food, having some wood work, making plank canoes, and excellent workers of stone, bone, and shell. In northern California are again the Karok, Yurok, Wishosk, Shasta, and Hupa and other Athapascan tribes; here sea food on the coast and salmon in the interior rival acorns and other foods; dug-out canoes; rectangular gabled houses of planks with circular doors; basketry almost exclusively twined; elkhorn and wooden trinket boxes; elkhorn spoons; stone work superior to that of central California; the occasional use of rod, slat, and elkskin armor and also basket hats of the northern type. These all suggest the culture farther north (Area 4), as do the appearance of carving and the more elaborate decorative art. Also, social organization becomes more definite, with clear-cut property distinctions, mourning ceremonies, and the secret initiations are wanting; and the use of stuffed albino deerskins in certain ceremonies is distinctive. Even the mythology is said to have leanings toward that of the North and East.

4. North Pacific Coast Area. Ranging northward from California to the Alaskan peninsula we have an ethnic coast belt, known as the North Pacific Coast area.[6] This culture is rather complex and presents highly individualized tribal variations; but can be consistently treated under three subdivisions: (a) the northern group, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian; (b) the central group, the Kwakiutl tribes and the Bellacoola; and (c) the southern group, the Coast Salish, the Nootka, the Chinook, Kalapooian, Waiilatpuan, Chimakuan, and some Athapascan tribes. The first of these seem to be the type and are characterized by: the great dependence upon sea food, some hunting upon the mainland, large use of berries; dried fish, clams, and berries are the staple food; cooking with hot stones in boxes and baskets; large rectangular gabled houses of upright cedar planks with carved posts and totem poles; travel chiefly by water in large, sea-going dug-out canoes, some of which had sails; no pottery nor stone vessels, except mortars; baskets in checker, those in twine reaching a high state of excellence among the Tlingit; coil basketry not made; mats of cedar bark and soft bags in abundance; the Chilkat, a Tlingit tribe, specialized in the weaving of a blanket of goat hair; there was no true loom, the warp hanging from a bar, and weaving with the fingers, downward (Fig. 70); clothing rather scanty, chiefly of skin, a wide basket hat (only one of the kind on the continent and apparently for rain protection); feet usually bare, but skin moccasins and leggings were occasionally made; for weapons the bow, club, and a peculiar dagger, no lances; slat, rod, and skin armor; wooden helmets, no shields; practically no chipped stone tools, but nephrite or green stone used; wood work highly developed, splitting and dressing of planks, peculiar bending for boxes, joining by securing with concealed stitches, high development of carving technique; work in copper may have been aboriginal, but, if so, very weakly developed; decorative art is conspicuous, tending to realism in carved totem poles, house posts, etc.; some geometric art on baskets, but woven blankets tend to be realistic; each family expresses its mythical origin in a carved or painted crest; the tribe of two exogamic divisions with maternal descent; society organized as chiefs, nobles, common people, and slaves; a kind of barter system expressed in the potlatch ceremony in which the leading units of value are blankets and certain conventional copper plates; a complex ritualistic system by which individuals are initiated into the protection of their family guardian spirits, those so associated with the same spirit forming a kind of society; mythology characterized by the Raven legends.

The central group differs in a few minor points: use a hand stone hammer instead of a hafted one; practically no use of skin clothing, but twisted and loosely woven bark or wool; no coil or twined basketry, all checker work; has a tendency toward paternal descent for its exogamic groups; the crest system less in evidence, but the initiation groups very strong, particularly the cannibal cult, and far less associated with the clans.

Among the southern group appears a strong tendency to use stone arrow-heads in contrast to the North; a peculiar flat club, vaguely similar to the New Zealand type, the

The American Indian Fig 70.jpg

From a painting in the American Museum of Natural History by Will S. Taylor

Fig. 70. The Chilkat Indians

occasional use of the Plains warclub; greater use of edible roots (camas, etc.) and berries, some use of acorns, as in California; the handled digging-stick; roasting in holes (especially camas), and the pounding of dried salmon; a temporary summer house of bark or rushes; twine basketry prevailed; the sewed rush mat; costume like the central group. The art, social, and ceremonial traits of the North all thin out as we move southward.

5. Eskimo Area. The chief résumés of Eskimo culture have been made by Boas,[7] who divides them into nine or more groups, as follows: the Greenland Eskimo; the Eskimo of southern Baffin Land and Labrador; the Eskimo of Melville Peninsula, North Devon, North Baffin Land, and the northwest shore of Hudson Bay; the Sagdlirmiut of Southampton Island; the Eskimo of Boothia Felix, King William Land, and the neighboring mainland; the Eskimo of Victoria Island and Coronation Gulf; the Eskimo between Cape Bathurst and Herschel Island, including the mouth of the Mackenzie River; the Alaskan Eskimo; and the Yuit of Siberia. When we consider the fact that the Eskimo are confined to the coast line, and stretch from the Aleutian Islands to eastern Greenland, we should expect lack of contact in many parts of this long chain to give rise to many differences. While many differences do exist, the similarities are striking, equal, if not superior, in uniformity to those of any other culture area. However, our knowledge of these people is far from satisfactory, making even this brief survey quite provisional.

The mere fact that they live by the sea, and chiefly upon sea food, will not of itself differentiate them from the tribes of the North Pacific Coast; but the habit of camping in winter upon sea ice and living upon seal, and in the summer, upon land animals, will serve us. Among other traits the kayak and "woman's boat," the lamp, the harpoon, the float, woman's knife, bowdrill, snow goggles, the trussed-bow, and dog traction, with the sled, are almost universal and, taken in their entirety, rather sharply differentiate Eskimo culture from the remainder of the continent. The type of winter shelter varies considerably, but the skin tent is quite universal in summer, and the snowhouse, as a more or less permanent winter dwelling prevails east of Point Barrow. Intrusive traits are also present: basketry of coil and twine is common in Alaska; pottery also extended eastward to Cape Parry; the Asiatic pipe occurs in Alaska and the Indian pipe on the west side of Hudson Bay; likewise, some costumes beaded in general Indian style have been noted west of Hudson Bay. All Eskimo are rather ingenious workers with tools, in. this respect strikingly like the tribes of the North Pacific Coast. In Alaska, where wood is available, the Eskimo carve masks, small boxes, and bowls with great cleverness.

These variants all tend to disappear between Point Barrow and Hudson Bay, and it may be noted that they are at the same time traits that occur in Asia, the North Pacific Coast, or the Mackenzie Area (6). Hence, we seem justified in looking toward the east for the typical material culture. From our limited knowledge it appears that the great central group from Banks Island on the west to Smith Sound in North Greenland is the home of the purest traits; here are snowhouses; dogs harnessed with single traces; rectangular stone kettles; and the almost entire absence of wooden utensils; a simple order of social and political life in which the unit is the family; a political chief, in the sense known in Indian culture, not recognized; shamanism rather prominent and comparable to that found in Siberia; great elaboration of taboos and a corresponding requirement of confession; almost no ritualistic ceremonies, but at least one yearly gathering in which masked men impersonate gods; temporary exchange of wives at the preceding; mythology simple and centering around the goddess of the sea animals. Between Greenland and Labrador the differences are small, and apparently due more to modern European influences than to prehistoric causes. The limited study of archaeological specimens by Dall,[8] Solberg,[9] and Boas[10] suggests much greater cultural uniformity in the prehistoric period, a conclusion apparently borne out by the collections made by Stefánsson[11] on the north coast. While this is far from conclusive, it is quite consistent with the view that the chief intrusive elements in Eskimo culture are to be found west of the Mackenzie River.

6. Mackenzie Area. Skirting the Eskimo area from east to west is a great interior belt of semi-arctic lands, including the greater part of the interior of Canada. Hudson Bay almost cuts it into two parts, the western or larger part occupied by the Déné tribes, the eastern by Algonkins, the Saulteaux, Cree, Montagnais, and Naskapi. The fauna, flora, and climate are quite uniform for corresponding latitudes and are reflected to some extent in material culture, so that we should be justified in considering it one great area, if the less material traits did not show definite distinctions. As noted in our first chapter, the chief cultural bond through the region is the use of the caribou. The caribou ranged from Maine to Alaska and throughout all this area furnished the greater part of the clothing and tents and a considerable portion of the food. They could not be taken easily in summer, but in winter were killed in drives, on the ice, or after a thaw, in the water. They were also snared. All of these methods were known from Alaska to Newfoundland. Between the Mackenzie and Hudson Bay ranged the barren ground variety, whose habits were somewhat like those of the buffalo on the plains, and the tribes in reach of their range lived upon them almost as completely as did the Indians of the Plains upon the buffalo.[12] Along with these widely distributed caribou traits go the great use of spruce and birchbark for canoes and vessels, babiche and bark fiber, toboggans and skin or bark covered tents, and the use of snares and nets. Notwithstanding these similarities, the other aspects of culture for eastern Canada appear intermediate to the Eastern Woodland area (7) of the United States. Hence, the great Dene country of the Canadian Northwest is usually considered as a distinct culture area, taking its name from its largest river.

Our knowledge of the Déné is rather fragmentary, for scarcely a single tribe has been seriously studied. Aside from the work of Father Morice[13] we have only the random observations of explorers and fur-traders. It is believed that the Dene tribes fall into three culture groups. The eastern group: the Yellow Knives, Dog Rib, Hares, Slavey, Chipewyan, and Beaver; the southwestern group: the Nahane, Sekani, Babine, and Carrier; the northwestern group comprising the Kutchin, Loucheux, Ahtena, and Khotana. The Chilcotin are so far removed culturally that we have placed them in the Plateau group, and the Tahltan seem to be intermediate to the North Pacific center.

Of these three groups, the southwestern is the largest and occupies the most favorable habitat. From the writings of Father Morice, a fairly satisfactory statement of their cultures can be made, as follows: All the tribes are hunters of large and small game, caribou are often driven into enclosures, small game taken in snares and traps; a few of the tribes on the headwaters of the Pacific drainage take salmon, but other kinds of fish are largely used; large use of berries is made, they are mashed and dried by a special process; edible roots and other vegetable foods are used to some extent; utensils are of wood and bark; no pottery; bark vessels for boiling with and without use of stones; travel in summer largely by canoe; in winter by snowshoe; dog sleds used to some extent, but chiefly since trade days, the toboggan form prevailing; clothing of skins; mittens and caps; no weaving except rabbitskin garments, but fine network in snowshoes, bags, and fish nets, materials of bark fiber, sinew, and babiche; there is also a special form of woven quill work with geometric designs; the typical habitation seems to be the double leanto, though many intrusive forms occur; fish-hooks and spears; limited use of copper; work in stone weak; social organization simple, but yet showing forms of maternal clans, property distinctions, etc., reminding one of the North Pacific area; the hospitable exchange of wives; shamanism very prominent, but no good evidence of ritualism.

Unfortunately, the data available on the other groups are less definite, so that we cannot decisively classify the tribes. From Hearne,[14] Mackenzie,[15] and others it appears that the following traits prevailed over the entire Déné area: the twisting of bark fiber without spindle and its general use, reminding one of sennit; snares and nets for all kinds of game; the use of spruce and birchbark for vessels and canoes; basketry of split spruce root (watap) for cooking with hot stones, noted by early observers; the toboggan; in summer the use of babiche; the short-handled stone adze; iron pyrites instead of the firedrill and fungus for touchwood; the use of the cache; and, above all, dependence upon the caribou; a tendency toward the simplest kind of social grouping; prominence of shamanism and weakness of ritualism. These seem to be the most characteristic traits of the Déné as a whole, and, while neither numerous nor complex, are still quite distinctive.

In discussing this area, some writers have commented upon the relative poverty of distinctive traits and the preponderance of borrowed, or intrusive ones. For example, the double lean-to is peculiarly their own, though used slightly in parts of the Plateau area; but among the southwestern Déné we frequently find houses, like those of the simshian, among the Babine and northern Carrier; while the Sekanais and southern Carrier use the underground houses of the Salish; and among the Chipewyan, Beaver, and most of the eastern group, the skin or bark-covered tipi of the Cree is common. Similar differences have been noted in costume and such social traits as clans and property distinctions, in the west. Pemmican, a specialty of the eastern Indians, was made by the eastern Déné. According to Hearne[16] some of the eastern Déné painted their shields with Plains-like devices, and in the northwestern group we find some sleds of Eskimo pattern. Such borrowing of traits from other areas is, however, not peculiar to the Déné, and while it may be more prevalent among them, it should be noted that our best available data are from tribes marginal to the area. It is just in the geographical center of this area that good data so far fail us. Therefore, the inference is that there is a distinct type of Déné culture, and that their lack of individuality has been over-estimated.

7. Eastern Woodland Area. We come now to the so-called Eastern Woodland area, the characterization of which is difficult. As just noted, its northern border extends to the Arctic, and all the territory between the Eskimo above, and Lakes Superior and Huron below, and eastward to the St. Lawrence, is the home of a culture whose material traits are comparable to those of the preceding area. In brief, these traits are the taking of caribou in pens; the snaring of game; the considerable use of small game and fish; the use of berry food; the weaving of rabbitskins; the birch canoe; the toboggan; the conical skin or bark-covered shelter; the absence of basketry and pottery; use of bark and wooden utensils. The tribes most distinctly of this culture are the Ojibway north of the Lakes, including the Saulteaux, the Wood Cree, the Montagnais, and the Naskapi.

Taking the above as the northern group, we find the main body falls into three large divisions:

1. The Iroquoian tribes (Huron, Wyandot, Erie, Susquehanna, and the Five Nations) extending from north to south and thus dividing the Algonkin tribes.

2. The Central Algonkin, west of the Iroquois: some Ojibway, the Ottawa, Menomini, Sauk and Fox, Potawatomi, Peoria, Illinois, Kickapoo, Miami, Piankashaw, Shawnee, also the Siouan Winnebago.

3. The Eastern Algonkin: the Abnaki group, and the Micmac (not to be distinguished from the northern border group noted above save by their feeble cultivation of maize), the New England tribes, and the Delaware.

While the Iroquoian tribes seem to have been predominant, their culture, as a whole, suggests a southern origin, thus disqualifying them for places in the type group. The Eastern tribes are not well known, many of them being extinct, but they also seem to have been strongly influenced by the Iroquois and by southern culture. We must, therefore, turn to the Central group for the type. Even here the data are far from adequate; for the Peoria, Illinois, Miami, and Piankashaw have almost faded away. Little is known of the Kickapoo and Ottawa, and no serious studies of the Shawnee are available. The latter, however, seem to belong with the transitional tribes of the Eastern group, if not actually to the Southeastern area. Our discussion, therefore, must be based on the Ojibway, Menomini, Sauk and Fox, and Winnebago.[17]

Enumerating their most characteristic traits, we have: maize, squashes, and beans cultivated (though weakly by the Ojibway); wild rice where available was a great staple; maple sugar was manufactured; deer, bear, and even buffalo were hunted, also wild fowl; fishing was fairly developed, especially sturgeon fishing on the lakes; pottery was weakly developed but formerly used for cooking vessels; vessels of wood and bark were common; some splint basketry; two types of shelter prevailed, a dome-shaped bark or mat-covered lodge for winter, a rectangular bark house for summer, though the Ojibway tended to use the conical type of the northern border group instead of the latter; canoes of bark and dug-outs were used, where possible; the toboggan was occasionally used, snowshoes were common; dog traction rare; weaving of bark fiber downward with the fingers; soft bags; pack lines; and fish nets; clothing of skins, soft-soled moccasins with drooping flaps, leggings, breechcloth, and sleeved shirts for men; for women, a skirt and jacket, though a one-piece dress was known; skin robes, some woven of rabbitskin; no armor, bows of plain wood, no lances, both the ball-ended and gun-shaped wooden club, in trade days the tomahawk; deer were often driven into the water and killed from canoes (the use of the jack-light should be noted); fish taken with hooks, spears, and nets, small game trapped and snared; work in skins confined to clothing; bags usually woven, other receptacles made of birchbark; mats of reed and cedarbark common; work in wood, stone, and bone weakly developed; probably considerable use of copper in prehistoric times; feather-work rare; a gens organization, no social classes or formal property distinctions; decorative art tending toward non-geometric forms; a secret initiation ceremony known as the Midéwiwin; a well-developed scalp dance; fixed ritualistic procedures in conducting a war party; ceremonial bundles for war, hunting, and also for social groups; mythology complex, dealing in part with the deeds of Manitou beings; elaboration of song rituals for many phases of routine life; specialization in root and herb formulas for treating the sick, but some shamanistic traits, as the juggler's lodge.

When we come to the eastern group we find agriculture more intensive (except in the extreme north) and pottery more highly developed. Woven feather cloaks seem to have been common, a southern trait. Work in stone also seems a little more complex; a special development of steatite work. More use was made of edible roots. The decorative art was less geometric and ritualism weaker than in the typical group.

The Iroquoian tribes[18] were even more intensive agriculturists and potters; they made some use of the blowgun; developed cornhusk weaving; carved elaborate masks from wood; lived in rectangular long houses of peculiar pattern; built fortifications; and were superior in bone work; maintained a series of masked secret societies, a corn harvest festival, and, above all, a highly developed political organization or "League of the Six Nations," which made systematic conquests.

8. Southeastern Area. The Southeastern area is conveniently divided by the Mississippi River, the typical culture occurring in the east. As we have noted, the Powhattan group and perhaps the Shawnee are intermediate. These eliminated, we have the Muskhogean and Iroquoian tribes (Cherokee and Tuscarora), as the chief groups, also the Yuchi, Eastern Siouan, Tunican, and Quapaw. The Chitimacha and Attacapa differ from the others chiefly in the greater use of aquatic foods. The Caddoan tribes had a different type of shelter and were otherwise slightly deflected toward the Plains culture. We have little data for the Tonkawa, Karankawa, and Carrizo, but they seem not to have been agriculturists and some of them seem to have lived in tipis like the Lipan, being almost true buffalo Indians. These thus stand as intermediate and may belong with the Plains or the Southwestern area. The Biloxi of the east, the extinct Timuqua, and the Florida Seminole are also variants from the type. They were far less dependent upon agriculture and made considerable use of aquatic food. The Timuqua lived in circular houses and, as did the Seminole,[19] used bread made of coonti roots (Zamia pumila), the method of preparation suggesting West Indian influence. The eating of human flesh is also set down as a trait of several Gulf Coast tribes. Our typical culture then may be found at its best among the Muskhogean, Yuchi, and Cherokee.[20]

The following are the most distinctive traits: great use of vegetable food and intensive agriculture; raised maize, cane (a kind of millet), pumpkins, melons, tobacco, and after contact with Europeans, quickly took up peaches, figs, etc.; large use of wild vegetables also; dogs eaten, the only domestic animal, but chickens, hogs, horses, and even cattle were adopted quickly; deer, bear, and bison in the west were the large game, for deer the stalking and surround methods were used; turkeys and small game were hunted and fish taken when convenient (fish poisons were in use, suggesting South America); of manufactured foods—bears' oil, hickory-nut oil, persimmon bread, and hominy are noteworthy; houses were generally rectangular with curved roofs, covered with thatch or bark, also often provided with plaster walls reinforced with wickerwork; towns were well fortified with palisades; dug-out canoes; costume was moderate, chiefly of deerskins, robes of bison, etc., shirt-like garments for men, skirts and toga-like upper garments for women, boot-like moccasins for winter; some woven fabrics of bark fiber, and fine netted feather cloaks; some buffalo-hair weaving in the west, weaving downward with the fingers; fine mats of cane and some cornhusk work; baskets of cane and splints, the double or nested basket and the basket meal sieve are special forms; knives of cane, darts of cane and bone; blowguns in general use; good potters, coil process, paddle decorations;[21] skin dressing by slightly different method from elsewhere (macerated in mortars) and straight scrapers of hafted stone; work in stone of a high order, but no true sculpture; little metal work; ceremonial houses, or temples, for sun worship in which were perpetual fires; these, and other important buildings set upon mounds; elaborate planting and harvest rituals, especially an important ceremony known as the "busk"; the kindling of new fire and the use of the "black drink"; a clan system with society composed of chiefs and four grades of subjects; chiefs regarded as under the sacred influence of the Sun God, reminding us of Peru; political systems developed with strong confederacies; strong development of the calumet procedure; shamanism prominent.

9. Southwestern Area. In the Southwestern are a we have a small portion of the United States (New Mexico and Arizona) and an indefinite portion of Mexico. For convenience, we shall ignore all tribes south of the international boundary. Within these limits, we have what appear to be two types of culture: the Pueblos and the nomadic tribes, but from our point of view this distinction seems not wholly justifiable, since the differences are chiefly those of architecture and social grouping and not unlike those already noted in the Eastern Woodland area. On account of its highly developed state and its prehistoric antecedents, the Pueblo culture appears as the type.[22] The cultures of the different villages are far from uniform, but, ignoring minor variations, fall into three geographical groups: the Hopi (Walpi, Sichumovi, Hano [Tewa], Shipaulovi, Mishongnovi, Shungopovi, and Oraibi); Zuñi (Zuñi proper, Pescado, Nutria, and Ojo Caliente); and the Rio Grande (Taos, Picuris, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambé, Jemez, Pecos, Sandia, Isleta—all of Tanoan stock; San Felipe, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, Santa Ana, Sia, Laguna, and Acoma—Keresan stock. The culture of the whole may be characterized first by certain traits not yet found in our survey of the continent; viz., the main dependence upon maize and other cultivated foods (men did the cultivating and weaving of cloth instead of women, as above); the use of a grinding stone, or metate, instead of a mortar; the art of masonry; loom or upward weaving; cultivated cotton as textile material; pottery decorated in color; a unique type of building; and the domestication of the turkey. These certainly serve to sharply differentiate this culture.

While the main dependence was placed on vegetable food there was some hunting; the eastern villages hunted buffalo and deer, especially Taos. The most unique hunting weapon is the flat, curved rabbit stick, in fact, a kind of boomerang. Drives of rabbits and antelope were practised. The principal wild vegetable food was the pinon nut. Of manufactured foods, piki bread is the most unique. In former times, the villages often traded for meat with the more nomadic tribes. Taos, Pecos, and a few of the frontier villages used buffalo robes and often dressed in deerskins, but woven robes were usual. Men wore aprons and a robe when needed. In addition to cloth robes, some were woven of rabbitskin and some netted with turkey feathers. Women wore a woven garment reaching from the shoulder to the knees, fastened over the right shoulder only. For the feet, hard-soled moccasins, those for women having long strips of deerskin wound around the leg. Pottery was highly developed and served other uses than the practical. Basketry was known, but not so highly developed as among the non-Pueblo tribes. The dog was kept, but not used in transportation, and there were no boats. The mechanical arts were not highly developed; their stone work and work in wood, while of an advanced type, does not excel that of some other areas; some work in turquoise, but nothing in metal. Art flourished chiefly as pottery decoration and in ceremonial painting; the latter tended to be symbolic but usually bordered upon the realistic; a complex social grouping in. which felationship is usually maternal, but the unity of the system is apparent in that the same group names can be traced throughout the different villages;[23] each village independent with an elective governor and a war chief, the final sanction, however, resting with a supreme religious officer; ritualism very complicated; universal offerings of maize meal and other objects at shrines; extensive use of sand painted altars; purification by emetics and headwashing; two sets of priests and ceremonies, one for summer, the other for winter; many societies or cults; a snake dance among the Hopi[24] and a rain ceremony at Sia are special demonstrations; the most common are the kachina ceremonies, part of which are masked dances; mythology characterized by migration tales.

The Pina[25] once lived in adobe houses but not of the Pueblo type; they developed irrigation but also made extensive use of wild plants (mesquite, saguaro, etc.). They raised cotton and wove cloth, were indifferent potters, but experts in basketry. The kindred Papago were similar, though less advanced. The Mohave, Yuma, Cocopa, Maricopa, and Yavapai used a square, flat-roofed house of wood, did not practise irrigation, were not good basket makers (excepting the Yavapai), but were otherwise similar to the Pima. The Walapai and Havasupai were somewhat more nomadic. Among all these ritualism was weak in contrast to the Pueblos, but we have very little data on the subject.

In some respects the Pima and their ethnic neighbors appear to be transitional to the Pueblo type, but when we come to the Athapascan-speaking tribes of the eastern side of the area we find some intermediate cultures. Thus, the Jicarilla and Mescalero used the Plains tipi; they raised but little; gathered wild vegetable foods and hunted buffalo and other animals; no weaving, but costumes of skin in the Plains type; made a little pottery; good coil baskets; used glass-bead technique of the Plains. The southern Ute were also in this class. The western Apache differed little from these, but rarely used tipis and gave a little more attention to agriculture. All used shields of buffalo hide and roasted certain roots in holes. In general, while the Apache have certain undoubted Pueblo traits, they also remind one of the Plains and the Plateaus.

The Navajo seem to have taken on their most striking traits under European influence; but their old type of shelter is again the up-ended stick type of the North, while their costume, pottery, and feeble attempts at basketry and formerly at agriculture, with their strong leaning toward ritualism, all suggest Pueblo influence.

Thus, in the widely diffused traits of agriculture, metate, pottery, and, to a less degree, the weaving of cloth with loom and spindle, former use of sandals, a similar social system, and intense ritualism, we have common cultural bonds between all the tribes of the Southwest, uniting them in one culture area.

The American Indian Fig 71.jpg

Group in the American Museum of Natural History by Howard McCormick and Mahoori Young

Fig. 71. Pueblo Indian Life

In all these the Pueblos lead. The non-Pueblo tribes skirting the Plains and Plateaus occupy an intermediate position, as, doubtless, do the tribes to the southwest, from which it appears that, after all, we have but one distinct general type of culture centering in this area.

10. The Nahua Area. We have just seen how the Pueblo type of culture centered in the upper Rio Grande Valley and how its varying characteristics extend down into Mexico. It is clear from the historical data of the Spanish conquest that when Cortez landed on the Gulf Coast there was one center of culture for the whole stretch of country between the Rio Grande and Lake Nicaragua, and that its most typical representative was the Aztec group round about the City of Mexico. Yet, the Tarascan, the Zapotec and the Mixtec were almost equally typical, while somewhat less typical were the Totonac, and the Otomi.

Some centuries before the discovery of America, the center of the area was in Yucatan, among the Maya, whence it seems to have shifted to the northern tribes we have just noted. Within the bounds of this older center are found the most impressive ruins in the New World (p. 100). While we cannot connect any one ruin with a specific surviving Maya group, it is certain that the builders of all of them were members of the Maya stock. The attainment of this result is one of the most important triumphs of our science, for had we been unable to so connect these ruins with the Maya, we should find the whole Mexican-Central American problem extremely baffling.

The Spaniards found the Maya in eighteen or more independent tribal groups, no longer living in pretentious cities, but no doubt representing the original social units forming the ancient Maya federation. That they were still of a culture type comparable to the Aztec group, is indicated by extensive agriculture (maize, peppers, beans, cacao, etc.), the domestication of bees for the honey and the wax, weaving of cotton so fiine that the Spaniards mistook it for silk, large canoes, and trade with Cuba, hieroglyphic books, a gentile organization with animal names, etc. Archæological research has revealed their former ascendency in architecture, art, calendar systems, and astronomical knowledge. A great deal of these specialized traits of culture passed to the Aztec, but one feature in particular seems to differentiate Maya culture: viz., the absence of copper tools. Their culture was essentially a stone age culture, which used copper and gold, particularly the latter, only for ornament. In the smelting and casting of gold they were very skilful. Thus we have in the ancient Maya a fine example of the height to which a people may rise with only tools of stone and wood. While the later Aztec culture was in foundation a stone culture, it went somewhat farther than the Maya in the development of copper tools, but not so far as did the Inca of Peru.

The present state of native culture in the Central American States is quite the reverse of what the archæology would lead one to expect. This is particularly true of the Maya area in which quite primitive and loosely organized groups of people are found still speaking Maya languages. One of these groups, known as Lacandones, has been carefully studied [26] and may be taken as the general historic type for the whole of Central America. Its characteristics are: agriculture, hunting and fishing, carried on about in the same proportion as in the Amazon country; maize, potatoes, a yucca, calabashes, tobacco, corn, etc., raised; cotton raised and spun; some pottery; bees domesticated; bows and stone-pointed arrows; water drums; gourd rattles; the ceremonial life simple, consisting in the main of an annual renewing ceremony and numerous offerings, from all of which women are excluded. Strange to say, no knowledge of the calendar system and writing of the Maya period survives, for Maya intellectual culture being exclusive to the priestly class, either passed over to the Aztec conquerors or into oblivion.

Aztec culture embodied traits similar to those of the Maya.[27] They had a highly organized government and maintained armies; a gentile social order with gens land rights; intensive agriculture, maize, beans, peppers, gourds, cotton, fruits; intoxicating drink, or pulque, from maguey plant; were skilful builders; made ornaments of gold, silver and copper, cast in molds of wax, clay and charcoal; made some tools of copper and tin; a gold wire technique from which filigree work was derived; fine feather mosaics by the glue method for which large aviaries were maintained; work in obsidian and jadeite highly developed, cutting tools, mirrors, and ornaments; stone mosaic ornaments; finely woven cloth of cotton and agave with excellent dyes; fair potters; books on parchment and on maguey paper; an organized priesthood in whose hands were education and higher knowledge; literature was cultivated; separate schools for girls and boys maintained; children of a social class only, educated; a calendar system derived from the Maya, and an elaborate religious system in which sacrifices were prominent; rituals recited in the temples for regular parts of each day and night and almost constant sacrificing of quails, rabbits and flowers; at certain human sacrifices some of the flesh was ceremonially eaten.

Just how far north and south the full series of Aztec traits was diffused cannot be stated, but for many years preceding the landing of Cortez they had been subjecting tribe after tribe and forcing upon them their own culture. The efficiency and character of their political system has been presented with great clearness by Bandelier.[28] To the north, beyond the Tarascan were the Otomi, by tradition the forerunners of the Aztec, but in later times, at least, less typical. Still further north we meet the Pima-speaking tribes, Huichol, Cora, Mayo, Yaqui, etc., whose culture is clearly intermediate to that of the Aztec and the Pueblo area. Just what the relative values may have been in the past will doubtless be revealed by future research.

Immediately to the south were the Mixes, Zoque, Chaponec, etc., some of which appear in early Spanish writings as wild savage cannibals, but their later docile appearance discredits these old accounts. Yet we may be certain that they were of less culture than the Aztec or truly intermediate.


11. The Chibcha Area. On the southern frontier of the old Maya territory we meet such peoples as the Lenca and Xicaque of less intense culture, but still manifesting many of the fundamental traits of the Nahua center. Yet when near the boundary of Costa Rica, we find wilder tribes with cultures suggesting South America. Just across the line we meet with the Chibcha-speaking Talamanca and the Chiriqui. From here down through the Isthmus we seem to find an increasing number of such traits as poisoned arrows, fish poisons, hammocks, and palisaded villages, all highly characteristic of South American cultures. In fact, the whole isthmian country from the lower part of Nicaragua down is a marginal part of the Chibcha culture area, centering about Bogota, Colombia.

Throughout this area we have environmental conditions similar to those surrounding the Maya, for the whole outer marginal circumference is studded with wild tribes and even the highly organized groups comprising the center in Colombia have some of these lowly folk interspersed among them.

The dominating stock was the Chibcha, whose culture may be taken as the type.[29] Like all Andean peoples, they were agricultural, producing maize, potatoes, manioc, beans, and squashes; no domestic animals for transportation; irrigation systems highly developed; salt was made on a large scale and traded to outlying tribes; cotton was raised and weaving highly developed; fine dyeing; no stone buildings, cane and thatch the rule, walls of wattling, plastered with clay; roads and suspension bridges; no copper, but great skill in gold work, in fact, the center of the art for the New World; a clan organization, or maternal descent; a kind of caste system; one tribe, the Panche, is credited with exogamous clans; no evidence of books or calendar systems; human sacrifices to the sun as an incident in sacrifices of all kinds; an infinite number of local shrine where some power was assumed to be manifest to which offerings were made; five sacred lakes; an organized priesthood with a single head; ceremonial foot-races; coca chewing instead of tobacco and great use of chicha; but some tobacco was used both as snuff and for smoking in stone pipes; a mythical white man who was the culture hero called Bochica; a deluge myth; an Atlas idea of the world; a fairly compact political organization; tribute or taxes in gold and cloth chiefly; a commercial system with markets, and a kind of currency. For further details, see the proper heading under archæological classification.

As to just how far the intermediate fringe of this culture extended into Venezuela, we cannot say, but from archæological evidence it seems to have reached out well into the highlands of the interior. On the south, it met Inca influence in Ecuador.

12. The Inca Area. The approximate northern border of the Inca area is near the equator, in the highlands of Ecuador, and its southern limits somewhere in the Atacama desert of Chile. It is remarkably narrow, following the coast belt of elevated Andean country. Another peculiarity is that the descent to the low level of the Amazon is abrupt, without the usual broad belt of plateau land, and in keeping with this, we find strong contrasts in culture, the intermediate tribes being chiefly in the north and south. Yet, as we shall see in another place, some Inca traits did find their way down into the lowlands.

The dominating stock languages are the Quechua and Aymara, having northern and southern distributions respectively.[30] Reference to the linguistic map will show a few minor stocks, chiefly in the south, who form in the main an intermediate group. Among the largest of these are the Atacamas of northern Chile. Two small remnant stocks, the Puquinas of Lake Titicaca and the Lecan of the north Chilean coast were simple fisher folk who had acquired but few Inca traits, and who may be considered surviving remnants of the earlier population.

Reference to a relief map shows a marked eastern extension of the Bolivian highlans, where we find a veritable swarm of minor stocks not found elsewhere, together with a few straggling Carib, Arawak and Tupi. On their eastern frontiers are successively the Amazonian forests and the Chaco. In culture we find here all degrees of transition. The truly upland groups are rather sedentary and agricultural, some maintaining temples and organized priesthoods. The Manacicos (Chiquitan) and Canichanan had palisaded villages as in eastern Brazil; the former a gentile organization and made good pottery, but the latter were considered cannibals. Cannibalism, in fact, is charged to a large number of these groups.

In the north, in what is now Ecuador, were the Canarian, who by their high development of gold work take a position intermediate to the Chibchan center; but their inland neighbors, the Jivaran, are more like the wild Amazon tribes.

The chief characters pertaining to Inca culture are: an organized government based upon gentile groups; the supreme authority resting in a council who appointed from a hereditary group a war chief, or Inca (see p. 149), agriculture advanced, maize, manioc, peppers, potatoes, fertilization with guanaco and other manures, elaborate irrigation systems; domestication of the llama, with the dog, guinea pig, birds, and monkeys as pets; some fishing on the coast and hunting in the interior; spinning and weaving highly developed, cotton cultivated, vicuna wool, elaborate designs and rich dyes; pottery carried to a high state of development, both in form and design, most unique form, the whistling jar; gold, silver, and copper mined, smelted and skilfully worked; true bronze was made by use of tin; tools and mechanical appliances simple, digging-stick and spade for farming, no hoe; no saws, drilling by rolling in hands; architecture massive, but plain and severe; a system of roads; stone, and suspension bridges; some water travel by balsa; an organized army and fortifications; no writing, but the quipu as a counting device; sun worship, an organized priesthood; a mythical white man founder called Viracocha; a deluge myth; human sacrifices rare, but offerings of animals common; a series of gens gods, or huacas; religious orders of virgins; a sacred shrine on Lake Titicaca; conventional confessions of sins to a priest; two important ceremonies, the new-fire with the banishment of disease and the sun festival.

13. The Guanaco Area. Adjacent to the Bolivian highlands, the elevated lands of the headwaters of the La Plata drainage are known as the Gran Chaco. This is a rolling, wooded, and, in part, swampy plain. Farther south it merges into the Pampas, a level, treeless prairie. Still farther south, we have a more elevated, scantily wooded country in Patagonia. This whole stretch, together with the lower half of Chile, has one cultural center, though its geographical diversity gives certain distinctions. The typical culture is found among the Guaycuruan (Abipones, etc.), Araucanian, Puelchean, and Calchaquian stocks.[31] Engulfed by them are such tiny groups as

The American Indian Fig 72.jpg

Fig. 72, A Patagonian Shelter Tent, Wood, 1876. I

the Lulean and Allentiacan. On the south we note the Chonoan of the Pacific Coast, who seem to have resembled the Alikulufan, Onan, and Yahganan farther south. The eastern slope of Patagonia was occupied by the Tsonekan (Tehuelche). Such of these as occupy the coast line live largely upon sea food.

The culture of the typical group reminds one of the North American Plains area. The Spanish colonists introduced horses and cattle and very quickly the natives became horse Indians, hunting wild cattle.[32] As such, they were nomadic and in the main did not till the soil, but in some cases did

The American Indian Fig 73 1.jpg

The American Indian Fig 73 2.jpg

Fig. 73. Scenes from Fucgian Life. Wood, 1876. I

raise a little maize, etc., just as did some of the intermediate Plains area tribes of North America. All of the central group seem to have woven some cloth, but developed work in skins more extensively; the weapons were the lance, bola, and lasso. A skin boat suggesting the bull-boat of the Plains area was used for fording rivers; warriors rode into battle naked; dead were placed upon platforms, but the bones were afterward buried; smokers mixed tobacco with wood shavings, as in North America.

In the historic period the natives of this area developed an intense horse culture. In many respects this complex was like the horse culture of the North American plains, because it was acquired from the same foreign source. Yet we find in the guanaco area several new features, as the bola, the lasso, and the toe-stirrup. These highly original traits of the horse complex are found among all the typical tribes enumerated above, making it clear that even though they were original inventions, they must have been in their present form diffused from one center along with the horse. Habitation vary a great deal, but still are simple affairs of skin or mats supported by a ridge pole, in many cases without smoke holes. A common form is a kind of skin-covered lean-to. Infants are secured on a board or frame, as in North America (Fig. 12). Among the more primitive tribes the men wear aprons and a robe, the latter giving way to a cotton breechcloth among the Araucans. The footwear consists of a kind of skin boot with long trailing hair from which we get the name Patagonia (duck feet). This boot has an open toe so that the toe stirrup can be used. Yet the prevailing tendency of the area as a whole was to go barefoot.

As we go south in the area, the culture becomes more primitive until at last we reach the Fuegians, who are a seashore people. Still they have much in common with the horse-using tribes of the mainland and are often taken as the surviving remnant of the older population in the area. It is clear that in the period of horse culture the Araucan, Puelchean, Guaycuruan, and Calchaquian tribes were the most strongly developed. The former had a kind of confederacy based upon the family group and had the dual peace and war chiefs observed in the area of higher culture; great value was placed upon oratory. They practised some agriculture and weaving. Shamanism was not well organized, but each local group had at least one such official. Eyebrows and face hair were plucked out, but the lip plug of the Brazilian tribes was not worn. The Abipones, at least, were composed of social castes and had four gentile groups placed in the four directions, reminding us of North American cultures.

The Araucans were clearly intermediate to the Inca center, as indicated by the large use of chicha, tendency toward agriculture, the domestication of sheep and the wearing of wool in later times, great developments of animal and human sacrifices with features closely paralleling those of the North.

The Fuegians and other stocks skirting the western and southern coast were not horse Indians, but developed the use of canoes; built fires in them upon clay hearths; went almost nude even in winter; lean-to shelters; bola not used, but the bow and spear; water-tight baskets; iron pyrites used for fire-making; dogs trained for hunting and even to drive fish by swimming. Some early accounts credit the Chonoans with weaving blankets from dog hair, reminding us of the Salish stock of the northern continent.

When we turn to the north and east, we again meet the complex condition of the Bolivian highlands, for the Chaco is continuous with it. Here is the home of many stocks and representatives of others widely distributed. In the main, the culture of these people is intermediate to that of the great Brazilian area, since we find the lip plug now and then, urn burial, the short wooden club, dug-out canoe, etc. The Charrua cut off fingers when in mourning, as is done in some parts of North America.

14. Amazon Area. Our discussion so far has disposed of all the continent except the Amazon-Orinoco drainage. We see from a map that this drainage comprises fully half the continent. Turning to the linguistic map (Fig. 87), we find it dominated by four stocks: Arawak and Carib in the north-west, Tupi and Tapuya in the southeast. Of these, the former pair is by far the most widely distributed, occupying the whole of the Antilles, the greater part of Venezuela, Guiana, and northern Brazil. It is truly curious how the numerous small stocks of the continent cluster around the very headwaters of the Orinoco and Amazon, as if some of the powerful peoples of the interior had invaded the area from without, sweeping up the rivers and driving all before them.

At first glance, the four main stocks seem to be promiscuously scattered over the area, but if we refer to a relief map we may note that their distribution is coincident with elevation. The Arawak are a lowland people, while the Carib hold to the higher lands, almost without exception. On the other hand, the Tapuya stick close to the high tablelands of Brazil, while the Tupi skirt the coast and up into the lower Amazon. Therefore, we can with a fair degree of confidence lay down the geographical lines along which the expansion of these stocks took place, though as to the directions of movement we cannot be sure. Since the Arawak are most widely distributed over the Antilles and hold to very low lands on the continent where they travel by rivers, on general grounds it would seem likely that their center of dispersion was among the Islands. The Carib, on the other hand, are most intensely distributed as an inland people, from which it has been inferred that such of them as took to the sea borrowed this trait from their Arawak neighbors.

Good studies of the Amazon tribes are rare, but it so happens that the few best are so distributed as to give us the probable range of traits throughout. For the Japura River, or the northeastern section of the area, we have Whiffen's 33 account of the Witto and Boro, whose culture, together with that of their immediate neighbors, may be characterized as follows: live by hunting, fishing, and agriculture; raise manioc, tobacco, and coca, and to a much less extent maize, yams, pumpkins, peppers, sugar-cane, etc.; fields cleared by fire and dug up by digging-stick, no hoe; no tame animals, even dogs rare; all animal life eaten, the monkey being the most nearly staple; honey prized, some tame bees; cassava bread and the "pepper pot," the chief support; manioc squeezed by
The American Indian Fig 74.jpg

Fig. 74. Distribution of Forests in South America. Zon, 1916. I

rolling in a mat; coca chewed and mimora seeds snuffed; tobacco used for ceremonial drink only; curare and other poisons; blowgun, throwing spear, bows, paddle clubs; fish caught by poison, also with hooks, nets, traps, and a trident spear; clay eaten; cannibals, eat prisoners; drum signalling; drums in pairs, male and female, phallic decorations; palm fiber rolled on thigh and hammocks made; pottery; basketry; no metal, little stone, tools of wood; dug-out canoes, sprung into shape when hot from burning out; trees felled by holes and wedging; large wooden mortars for coca, tobacco, and maize; habitations and fields shifted often; whole community in one house, large and square, four posts inside, thatched, no smoke hole; clearing around house, but all concealed in jungle by maze-like path; no clothing except bark breechcloth for men; combs of palm splints for women; human tooth necklaces; ornamental ligatures, nose pins, leg rattles, elaborate body paint; palaver with a kind of black drink of tobacco for all important undertakings of war or peace; the couvade; women not permitted to join in serious ceremonies and not to see boys' initiations, not allowed to join a cannibal feast; personal names not spoken, even true names of mythical characters are whispered; shamanism (paye) important, tricks crude except "voice throwing," sucking for disease, but detecting evil spirits the chief function of a shaman; two serious harvest ceremonies, manioc and pineapple; boys cruelly whipped in puberty ceremonies; ordeals of stinging ants; many social dances; formal recital of one's grievances and a kind of riddle dance; pan pipe, flute, castanet, drum, gourd rattle; each house group exogamous, paternal descent; monogamy, each house has a chief, all adult males the council; many tales resembling European folklore and many animal tales reminding one of African lore; sun and moon venerated; grave burial.

In Guiana[33] we find most of these same traits, but what seems to be a higher culture, since here we have cotton cultivated and spun and the typical cassava squeezer. The Arawak peoples also have a clan organization, maternal descent. None of the Guiana peoples see coca, but smoke tobacco, cigar fashion; the signal drum is absent. The house is similar in form but smaller, the tendency being to form villages; yet as we go in from the coast the transition to the large community house is rapid.

On the south of the Amazon we find the higher culture among the Tupi of the Brazilian coast. The new traits are: smoking tobacco in stone pipes, palisaded villages, fine stone tools, urn burial; but otherwise the culture compares concisely with that of the Arawak and Carib of Guiana. A few small stocks have similar culture, but on the interior plateaus were the Tapuya (the Botocudo, etc.), who stand somewhat apart from their neighbors.[34] All reports considered, these tribes are of low culture and notorious cannibals. They were non-agricultural, did not work stone and made little pretense of weaving. These negative traits and a few positive ones tend to group these people with the Patagonians. If it is true that the Tupi tribes pushed out from the interior and dispossessed the Tapuya, we may consider the earlier existence of a Brazilian extension to the great hunting areas in Argentina and Patagonia. This is made probable on geographical grounds as reference to the forestry map will suggest. Anyway, it is clear that by culture the Tupi belong with the tribes of the Amazon, while the Tapuya belong elsewhere. With the latter eliminated, we have great uniformity of culture throughout. Yet the Tapuya share certain traits with the South Amazons, particularly the large lip plug and, as may be expected, a number of their neighbors in the Matto Grosso show simpler forms of Amazon culture.

Turning again to the Amazon area, including the Tupi, we have remarkable uniformity in the following from north to south and east to west: agriculture; canoes; hammocks; pottery; blowgun; a thatched post-supported house with gables; sword clubs; leg and arm binding; certain types of feather-work; human bone flutes; calabash rattles; use of honey and wax; cannibalism; certain kinds of dance masks; couvade; ceremonial whipping of boys, and women barred from ceremonials. This is truly a formidable list. There are a few traits with partial distribution; thus, on the south side

The American Indian Fig 75.jpg

Photograph by Ehrenreich, 1888

Fig. 75. A Caraja Village in Central Brazil

of the Amazon we frequently find the lip plug in contrast to the north, though it has a close analogy in Guiana. Again, on the south, urn burial is frequent, on the north, grave burial. Coca chewing and tobacco drinking are found in the west, tobacco smoking in the east, pipes in Brazil, and cigars in Guiana. Also, in eastern Brazil we have the pellet bow and the palisaded village. These, however, do not negate the unity of Amazon culture.

Consistent with the wide distribution of these traits is the fact that we have in reality an area of canoe culture. Constant river travel made diffusion easy and sufficiently accounts for the wide range of certain stocks, for the low Amazon Basin is a dense tropical forest through which the rivers are the only roads open to man. Consequently, we have a well-developed canoe complex. Temporary canoes are formed by scraping out the soft interior of a palm trunk and expanding the sides by a brace, and true bark boats are sometimes made by stripping the bark from a large tree, precisely as the Iroquois and some other North American tribes do, in contrast to the fine birch-covered canoe of their Algonkin neighbors. But the real boat is the wooden dug-out. As to the absolute universality of the canoe in the Amazon Basin, there is some difference of opinion, but since it is found wherever we have good data, we may expect that it is a common trait of all.

While more data will certainly bring out greater tribal differences, yet it appears that an unusual degree of uniformity is found from the mouth of the Orinoco down through the entire Amazon basin. As we have noted, the only lines of movement are the rivers, and since these are gathered into one great system, we may expect culture traits to travel far. Colonel Church[35] has shown how certain stocks have moved westward in the open country along the southern rim, detached groups starting down the tributaries of the Amazon here and there, to be dispersed far and wide over its great expanse. One can scarcely escape the conviction that the peopling of the interior was relatively late in consequence of which the culture at the center is quite like that upon the edges of the basin. On the other hand, the apparent remark able conservatism of the natives which has preserved this culture in spite of two hundred years of contact with civilization, may be due to this culture being the only one that can successfully cope with the forests.[36]

15. The Antilles. Finally, we have the Antillean insular area, properly discussed here because it has more affinities with the Amazon area than with any other. Unfortunately, the native life of the more important islands was so completely stamped out by the Spanish conquerors that a comprehensive view of native culture is impossible. Yet, from the narratives of the period, some significant data can be gleaned.[37] So far as we know the pre-Columbian population was first pure Arawak, but later over-run by Carib. This at once connects the island culture with the canoe culture of the Amazon-Orinoco drainage. Among the distinctive traits are manioc culture, raising of cotton, use of the hammock, tobacco taken as snuiif and inhalation, ceremonial emetics, fish poisons, cigars instead of pipes, all of which remind one of the Amazon area.


Such a résumé as we have just made shows how the cultures of the various social units grade into each other. This intergradation has often been cited as an insurmountable obstacle to classification, but it is not necessarily so, for we see that this condition arises from the existence of culture centers, from which culture influences seem to radiate. While it is true that a culture area as marked off on the map is in the main an arbitrary division, it has within its borders a culture center whose geographical positon is coincident with the habitats of the most typical tribes. Between two contiguous culture centers will be found many other social units with intermediate cultures. These relations are so consistent that one can almost predict the culture of a given unit when its geographical position with respect to the established centers is known.

Hence, the culture areas we have designated serve to differentiate culture centers. This is why we have used straight and angular boundaries for our maps instead of more definite curved contours. These boundaries, in fact, are merely diagrammatic, serving to indicate the loci of the points where culture stands half way between that of the contiguous centers. While it may be difficult to empirically locate these points, our analysis of the several areas demonstrates the correctness of the interpretation and makes the approximate location of such points practical. Yet the important thing is not the precise location of these boundaries, but the determination of the centers by analytic methods.

It will be recalled that we have taken a new point of regard for this chapter, for whereas, in the others we singled out culture-trait complexes and sought their distributions, we now isolate social units in order to compare their individual cultures as wholes. What precedes is merely introductory to what is to follow. Already our experience with the social group as a unit in the social complex, leads us to suspect that the mere social unit has little distinctive value as a culture unit. Thus, if we turn to one of these centers, select the social unit appearing to have the most typical culture, and then move outward, we find the culture changes from one social unit to the next, not abrupt, but gradual or transitional.

These facts suggest that progress with our problem will be accelerated if we recognize that the social units are one kind of phenomena and culture complexes another. We are no doubt somewhat confused because our own culture is largely coincident with political grouping and nationalism, and so is characterized by territorial uniformity. This uniformity is due to national standardizations of culture. If we look at the natives of the New World as a whole, it appears that only when a close political organization develops, as among the Maya, Nahua and Inca, do we find a tendency toward territorial uniformity in culture. It thus appears that in their original states, culture and political organization are independent phenomena, but that when the latter reaches a certain status, it seizes upon culture and standardizes it. On the other hand, it is by no means clear what causes led to the curious gradations of culture in regions occupied by many small political units. Standardization is a deliberate conscious process, but we may suspect that the causes underlying gradation lie outside of consciously directed activities.

  1. Teit, 1900. I; 1909. I; 1906. I.
  2. Spinden, 1908. I.
  3. Lowie, 1909. I.
  4. Lewis, 1906. I.
  5. Kroeber, 1904. I.
  6. Boas, 1906. I; Krause, 1885. I.
  7. Boas, 1907. I.
  8. Dall, 1877, I.
  9. Solberg, 1907. I.
  10. Boas, 1907. I.
  11. Stefansson, 191 4. I.
  12. Pike, 1892. I, chapter 4; Grant, 1902. I.
  13. Morice, 1890. I; 1895. I; 1906. I.
  14. Hearne, 1795. I.
  15. Mackenzie, A., 1902. I.
  16. Hearne, 1795. I.
  17. Jones, W., 1906. I; Skinner, 1913. I; 1915. I; Hoffman, 1897. I.
  18. Morgan, 1904. I.
  19. MacCauley, 1887. I.
  20. Swanton, 1911. I; Speck, 1909. I; Mooney, 1900. I.
  21. Holmes, 1886. I.
  22. Goddard, 1913. I; Hough, 1915. I.
  23. Kroeber, 1917. I.
  24. Hough, 1915. I.
  25. Russell, 1908. I.
  26. Tozzer, 1907. I.
  27. Joyce, 1914. I; Spinden, 1917. I.
  28. Bandelier, 1878. I; 1879. I.
  29. Joyce, 1912. I.
  30. Markham, 1910. I.
  31. Dobrizhoffer, 1822. I.
  32. Church, 1912. I, p. 300.
  33. Im Thurn, 1883. I.
  34. Maximilian, 1820. I; Von den Steinen, 1897. I.
  35. Church, 1912. I.
  36. Bowman, 1916. I.
  37. Fewkes, 1902. I.