Page:The American Indian.djvu/36

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and Arctic explorers among whom it is still the chief dependence.

In pemmican we have our first good example of the many ingenious processes by which the various groups of mankind have converted raw foods into more serviceable and conservable forms. In all cases, the chief consideration seems to have been its preservation and availability for transport.

The next great hunting area is in South America. From the interior of Argentina to the Horn we have in the main an open country, suggesting the central portion of the United States. There are few trees and in some parts, as the celebrated Pampas, there are rich, grassy plains. At the time of discovery (1492), the fauna here was not so rich as that of the northern continent. Yet the guanaco was abundant. This is considered to be the wild llama, a ruminant having close similarities to the camels of the Old World, but much smaller. Another animal of economic importance was the rhea, or American ostrich. The early accounts suggest that the original human inhabitants of this area were a nomadic hunting people, primarily dependent upon the guanaco, which they pursued with the bola and the lasso. For this reason we shall speak of the region as the guanaco area. In the extreme southern part of the area, or lower Patagonia, we find a condition somewhat like that of the Eskimo, the tribes tending to live more on fish and seals, until we reach the Fuegians, who were almost entirely dependent upon marine fauna.

Spanish colonization soon made great changes in the guanaco area proper by the introduction of horses and cattle.[* 1] The latter soon ran wild in great herds like the buffalo of the northern continent, and the former not only ran wild, but were domesticated by the natives. Dobrizhoffer[2] has given us most readable accounts of how completely these natives assimilated horse culture. Some of the Patagonians are still famous for their horsemanship.

Though it is true that in these three great hunting areas the main food was flesh, many vegetable products were used. Even in the Arctic the Eskimo gather berries and edible roots

  1. Col. Church[1] states that horses were purposely turned into the Pampas in 1535.

  1. Church, 1912. I.
  2. Dobrizhoffer, 1822. I.