Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/656

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656
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lies from accumulating wealth. It is the great desire of every chief and even of every man to collect a large amount of property, and then to give a great potlatch, a feast in which all is distributed among his friends, and, if possible, among the neighboring tribes. These feasts are so closely connected with the religious ideas of the natives, and regulate their mode of life to such an extent, that the Christian tribes near Victoria have not given them up. Every present received at a potlatch has to be returned at another potlatch, and a man who would not give his feast in due time would be considered as not paying his debts. Therefore the law is not a good one, and can not be enforced without causing general discontent. Besides, the Government is unable to enforce it. The settlements are so numerous, and the Indian agencies so large, that there is nobody to prevent the Indians doing whatsoever they like.

The efforts of the Canadian Government to introduce agriculture are likewise not very successful. It is true that in some districts the extent of farming-land is considerable. But the Indian does not want to till the soil. The sea yields fish and seals; the woods furnish roots, berries, and deer; and the articles of European manufacture which he wants are either obtained by barter or by a few weeks of work in the canneries, saw-mills, hop-fields, or on ships. The industries to which the Indians of that region take readily are carpentry, canning salmon, etc.; and the introduction of proper methods of fishing and canning fish, of lumbering, and of trades connected with it, would be more probable to lead to satisfactory results than that of agriculture.

 

EVOLUTION: WHAT IT IS NOT, AND WHAT IT IS.

EVERYBODY nowadays talks about evolution. Like electricity, the cholera-germ, woman's rights, the great mining boom, and the Eastern question, it is "in the air." It pervades society everywhere with its subtile essence; it infects small talk with its familiar catchwords and its slang phrases; it even permeates that last strong-hold of rampant Philistinism, the third leader in the penny papers. Everybody believes he knows all about it, and discusses it as glibly in his every-day conversation as he discusses the points of race-horses he has never seen, the charms of peeresses he has never spoken to, and the demerits of authors he has never read. Everybody is aware, in a dim and nebulous semi-conscious fashion, that it was all invented by the late Mr. Darwin, and reduced to a system by Mr. Herbert Spencer, don't you know, and a lot more of those scientific fellows. It is generally understood in the best-informed circles that evolutionism consists for the most part in a belief about Nature at large essentially similar to that applied by Topsy to her own origin and early history.