Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/65

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47
REMAINS OF PAST CIVILIZATION.

In South-East Africa, also, a comparatively high barbaric culture, which we especially associate with the old descriptions of the kingdom of Monomotapa, seems to have fallen away, not counting the remarkable ruins of buildings of hewn stone fitted without mortar which indicate the intrusion of more civilized foreigners into the gold region![1] In North America, Father Charlevoix remarks of the Iroquois of the last century, that in old times they used to build their cabins better than other nations, and better than they do themselves now; they carved rude figures in relief on them; but since in various expeditions almost all their villages have been burnt, they have not taken the trouble to restore them in their old condition.[2] The degradation of the Cheyenne Indians is matter of history. Persecuted by their enemies the Sioux, and dislodged at last even from their fortified village, the heart of the tribe was broken. Their numbers were thinned, they no longer dared to establish themselves in a permanent abode, they gave up the cultivation of the soil, and became a tribe of wandering hunters, with horses for their only valuable possession, which every year they bartered for a supply of corn, beans, pumpkins, and European merchandise, and then returned into the heart of the prairies.[3] When in the Rocky Mountains, Lord Milton and Dr. Cheadle came upon an outlying fragment of the Shushwap race, without horses or dogs, sheltering themselves under rude temporary slants of bark or matting, falling year by year into lower misery, and rapidly dying out; this is another example of the degeneration which no doubt has lowered or destroyed many a savage people.[4] There are tribes who are the very outcasts of savage life. There is reason to look upon the miserable Digger Indians of North America and the Bushmen of South Africa as

  1. Waitz, 'Anthropologie,' vol. ii. p. 359, see 91; Du Chaillu, 'Ashangoland,' p. 116; T. H. Bent, 'Ruined Cities of Mashonaland.'
  2. Charlevoix, 'Nouvelle France,' vol. vi. p. 51.
  3. Irving, 'Astoria,' vol. ii. ch. v.
  4. Milton and Cheadle, 'North West Passage by Land,' p. 241; Waitz, vol. iii. pp. 74-6.