Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/605

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587
THE DELAWARE INDIAN AS AN ARTIST.

widely different had the European been forced to deal, not with the Lenni Lenâpé as they then were, but as they had been. True, there were statesmen still among them; intellects equal to any with which they had to cope; but the spirit that once seems to have animated the whole nation was broken. The Indians of the seventeenth century were living-011 the memory of departed glory. Not one of the many writers that have given us an account of what he saw in use among these people, when the Indian still possessed

PSM V41 D605 Stone ceremonial object.jpg
Fig. 2.—Stone Ceremonial Object.

the land, refers to many a curious form of stone or bone object, that now for want of knowledge on the subject we call an "ornament" or take refuge behind so convenient a term as "implement." That such objects are full of meaning, could we but decipher it, there is not a doubt.

It is true that, until the products of their handicraft were replaced by similar objects of European manufacture, the Indians were adepts in flint-chipping; made from pebbles shapely axes; carved wooden mortars and even large canoes, and fashioned well-designed pipes both of stone and clay. But what of the far more artistic bird-shaped stones, the so-called ceremonial objects, elaborate gorgets, and even idols? These are found to-day in sufficient numbers to indicate that they were once a prominent if not common feature of every village; but how could they have been overlooked by the Europeans who described their axes and arrow-points, if still in use? They had, it is logical to assume, disappeared from the scene; or, retained, were "relics" in the eyes of their possessors. It is not unwarranted to say, as concerning the Delaware Valley, that when Cornelius Mey discovered the Delaware River, there were Indian "relics" then to be had; and had it