Popular Science Monthly/Volume 18/November 1880/The Glacial Man in America
|←Education as a Hindrance to Manual Occupations||Popular Science Monthly Volume 18 November 1880 (1880)
The Glacial Man in America
By Benjamin Franklin DeCosta
|A Flock of Mythological Crows→|
IN that distant age when Nature was still toiling at the foundations of the Eastern Continent, portions of America had become dry land, and mountain-peaks in North Carolina were illuminated by rising and setting suns. It is, therefore, an anachronism to speak of America as the New World, especially when we remember the high antiquity of the fauna of North America. Still it is believed that the Eastern Continent was the original abode of man.
But when, or under what circumstances, did America receive her first human inhabitant? Heretofore those who have discussed the question have assigned the event to a comparatively modern period, and have considered the probability of immigrations from Asia by Behring Strait; while others have suggested early transatlantic movements, or the peopling of America from a lost continent of the Pacific Ocean. The discovery of stone implements, however, in the glacial deposits of the Delaware Valley gives a fresh turn to the discussion, and carries the question back to remote periods. It is true that the great antiquity of man on this continent had been maintained previously, but the evidence was quite unlike what is now offered. Yet, whatever may be concluded ultimately respecting the antiquity of the Delaware flints, it is quite apparent that the red-man found in America at the period of its rediscovery by Cabot, Vespucci, and Columbus, was not the descendant of any glacial man. No line of connection can be made out. This continent does not appear to have any Kent's Hole like that at Torbay, affording a continuous history, beginning with the cave-bear and ending with "W. Hodges, of Ireland, 1688." The race that rose to wealth and power in Central America did not succeed any rude spear-maker. More and more is it becoming evident that the people of Central America sprang from a superior race inhabiting the borders, of the Mediterranean. This is indicated by a certain similarity in manners, customs, architecture, and religion. Investigations, now in progress, promise to yield the approximate date of the period when the first conquerors of Mexico and Yucatan crossed the sea. The Spaniards learned that the people whom they conquered had themselves figured in the rôle of invaders, entering from a country called Tulan of Tulapan, and overrunning the then dominant race. It may yet be demonstrated that this took place about the third year of the Christian era. But who were these earlier inhabitants? These we believe were not the descendants of an indigenous race, any more than were the later tribes. There is nothing to show that they were ever connected in America with any glacial or pliocene man. They might, however, be referred to still more remote migrations from Europe, which may have taken place in connection with events that gave rise to the story of the lost continent of Atlantis, as related by Plato. The so-called aboriginal red-man is comparatively a modern, although the author of "Leaves of Grass" asks concerning "the friendly and flowing savage," is he "waiting for civilization or past it and mastering it?" However this may be, he is wandering over the graves of peoples who left no record of their exploits, either in the continent where they sprung into life or where they died. It is, indeed, a significant fact that the East furnishes no very plain tradition of any exodus which peopled America. The prehistoric emigrant must have been possessed of the idiosyncrasies of those who
". . . . fold their tents like the Arabs
And silently steal away."
The absence of such traditions is nevertheless not at all surprising, since the people of antiquity, and notably the Phœnicians, guarded their distant maritime discoveries with care. Indeed, we wholly misapprehend the spirit of that remote age, in supposing that the navigators would hasten to show the way to new-found lands, and proclaim their discoveries to all the world. This was not even the spirit of the sixteenth century, for at that period, in the spirit of the Tyrian and Sidonian sailor, the Spaniards and the French had their plans for stopping the advance of other nations—the one by fortifying the straits of Magellan, and the other by holding the supposed route to the Indies by way of the St. Lawrence.
It is now gradually becoming apparent that the peopling of America was accomplished by more than one race of emigrants, and that at least two distinct expeditions went from Europe to Mexico and Yucatan before the Spaniards. This question, therefore, has its historic and archaeological side, and consists of a number of very distinct lines, which are to be studied separately by specialists, in the conviction that no one theory or set of facts covers the whole ground. Several distinct contributions were made by the inhabitants of the Eastern Continent toward the peopling of America, and, by means of a careful division of labor, we may yet reach some satisfactory solution of a subject that has so long baffled inquiry. Such studies may be conducted on strictly scientific principles, as well as those prosecuted with relation to the story of life in general on this continent; for, if we may accept as historic the representation of Professor Marsh, who pictures the American primates making their way over the miocene bridge at Behring Strait to Europe, and failing, later, when differentiated, to return, because the bridge had broken down, man alone returning to the country of his "earlier ancestry," it is certainly reasonable to hope that the origin of those races not connected with the in-comer by Behring Strait may be satisfactorily explained.
At what period the Atlantic was first crossed by man it is impossible now to conjecture. It was nevertheless navigated in very early times, and was a sea of light, though at the dawn of history it appears as the "Sea of Darkness," inspiring no little apprehension and dread; while Albinovinus sends out Germanicus upon the sea with a ruit ipsa dies. Under the circumstances, therefore, the old discussions will be continued, though the subject of the glacial man in America may be pursued as something wholly independent.
But was there any glacial man in America? To this question the answer is distinct, though given with the reserve which the subject justifies. For the best that is known, we are chiefly indebted to Dr. C. C. Abbott, who was the first to call attention to the stone implements found in the glacial deposits of the Delaware Valley. These implements are chiefly of argellite, though examples of flint occur at higher levels. They have been found at the bluffs near Trenton, both in position where deposited and among the débris at the base. Dr. Abbott says, "Perhaps it is a wise caution that is exercised in but provisionally admitting the great antiquity of American man, but, were these rude implements not attributed to an inter-glacial people, their coequal age with the containing beds would never have been questioned." On this point the Curator of the Peabody Museum at Cambridge observes, in the tenth annual report: "Dr. Abbott has probably obtained data which show that man existed on our Atlantic coast during the time of, if not prior to, the formation of the great gravel deposit which extends toward the coast from the Delaware River, near Trenton, and believed to have been formed by glacial action. From a visit to the locality with Dr. Abbott, I see no reason to doubt the general conclusion he has reached in regard to the existence of man in glacial times on the Atlantic coast of North America."
The support given to Dr. Abbott's conclusions by investigators stamps them as of high interest, while his own arguments are entitled to the same respectful consideration. Several of his observations are not easily set aside. For instance, he says, "if the same age is ascribed to these paleolithic implements and the ordinary Indian relics," then, as already asked, "how could the one series become imbedded, often to great depths, and not representatives of any class of weapons, domestic utensils and ornaments?" It would, indeed, be a singular operation of Nature, that selected one class of relics only for preservation. The conclusion is, "that in the essentially unmodified débris of the terminal moraine in central New Jersey, and in others upon the surface (which, however, are in part only of more recent origin), it is shown that the occupancy of this portion of our continent by man extends back into the history of our globe, in all probability to even an earlier date than the great ice age; and that the maximum severity of the climate did not destroy him; and that subsequently he tenanted our seacoast and river-valleys, until a stronger and more warlike race drove him from our shores."
It is not the purpose of the writer, however, to attempt to add anything to the argument, especially as he is assured that the question now seems to concern the probability of man having existed in America prior to the glacial period. We, therefore, take the evidence as it stands, leaving its strengthening or overturning, as the event may prove, to the future, aiming in this article to give a fuller illustration than has heretofore been attempted of the agreement of the theory with accepted history; for, possibly, it may eventually appear that the glacial man is more closely connected with historic man than could have been expected.
Professor Marsh observes, that "the evidence, as it stands to-day, although not conclusive, seems to place the first appearance of man in this country in the Pliocene," adding that "the best proofs of this are found upon the Pacific coast." The proofs, however, are a little shadowy, consisting of a stray bone or two, instead of stone axes and arrow-heads; though it is clearer that some of the first inhabitants, whenever they came, entered from Asia by Behring Strait, the destruction of the miocene bridge, which once existed there, not impeding their advance. It is unnecessary, however, to suppose that the glacial man was unable to find his way westward from Central Europe. The notion that man in that remote age could not navigate great seas is simply a notion, and likewise it is a notion that more than anything else prevents the advance of scientific inquiry respecting the early colonization of America. Two men in a skiff to-day navigate the entire breadth of the Atlantic, but such a feat forms no new thing under the sun. In the glacial age communication between Europe and America may have been more easy than is now suspected, while a large portion of the journey may have been made over fields of ice. The passage of the glacial man from Europe possibly presented no greater difficulties than the migration of the Esquimaux from Labrador to Greenland. But, however man may have reached America, the theory that the Indian peoples sprang from any glacial stock seems untenable. This, then, necessitates the inquiry respecting the subsequent history of the primitive inhabitant; otherwise, what became of him?
That a people corresponding in the main to the supposed glacial man once dwelt as far south as New Jersey has been agreed by various writers, without any reference to the contents of the glacial deposits, of whose existence they did not dream. When, for instance, we turn to the Icelandic Sagas relating to America, it becomes apparent that the Esquimaux once flourished low down upon the Atlantic coast.
At the present time historians agree, with great unanimity, that the continent of America was visited during the tenth and eleventh centuries by Icelanders resident in Greenland. That country was colonized by the Icelanders in the year 985, and when Eric the Red entered Greenland he found no inhabitants. The third Greenland "Narrative," however, says: "They found there, both east and west, ruins of houses and pieces of boats and stone-work begun. From which it is to be seen what kind of people lived in Vinland, and which the Greenlanders call Skrællings, and who have been there." Thus at that early period the remains in Greenland were identified as works peculiar to the people of Vinland, a region, according to the Sagas, lying southward toward the forty-first parallel.
The account of what the Icelanders saw in Vinland is found in the narratives of Leif and others. In 986 one Biarne, when sailing for Greenland, was blown upon the American coast, and upon his return carried the report of the country to Greenland. In the year 1000, Leif Erickson resolved to visit the region seen by Biarne, and, sailing southward from Greenland, reached the place. The narrative says: "The country appeared to them of so good a kind that it would not be necessary for them to gather fodder for the cattle in winter. There was no frost in winter, and the grass was not much withered." The observation that there was no frost was simply an exaggeration natural to an Icelander coming into a country with a climate so unlike that to which he had been accustomed. Morton wrote home to England that coughs and colds were unknown in New England. Leif's narrative says nothing about any inhabitants; but, in 1002, Thorvald, his brother, sailed to Vinland and found some people at a place a little to the northward of Leif's resort. The Saga says that one day, when opposite a cape, they "saw three specks upon the sand," and that, upon examination, they found that these were "three skin-boats with three men under each boat." Cruelly attacking them for the plunder, the Icelanders killed eight, while one man escaped with his boat. They also saw "several eminences which they took to be habitations." Afterward, they rested and fell asleep on board their vessels, only to be awakened by the natives, who had been notified by the man that escaped, and who had now come to avenge the death of their comrades. When the alarm was sounded, "an innumerable multitude, from the interior of the bay, came in skin-boats and laid themselves alongside." The Northmen at once put up their "war-screens" on the gunwales, and, the Saga says, "the Skrællings shot at them for a while, and then fled away as fast as they could." They did not retreat, however, before dealing Thorvald, the leader of the expedition, his death-wound, it being given by an arrow which struck under his arm. Thorvald was buried on the shore, supposed to be the coast of Massachusetts Bay.* This is the first recorded collision between Europeans and those whom we propose to call the descendants of the glacial man. It shows them as strong and not wanting in the courage that would fit men for the struggle with nature during the great ice period that prevailed in America.
In 1006 Thorfinn Karlsefne sailed to Vinland with an expedition, and reached the place formerly visited by Leif and Thorvald, where they wintered in a very mild climate. But one spring morning, while on an exploring expedition, apparently near Long Island Sound, when "they looked around, they saw a great many skin-boats and poles swung upon them, and it sounded like reeds shaken by the wind, and they pointed toward the sun. Then said Karlsefne, 'What may this mean?' Snorre Thorbrandson replied, It may be that this is a sign of peace, so let us take a white shield and hold it toward them.' They did so. Thereupon they rowed toward them and came to land. These people were swarthy and fierce, and had bushy hair on their heads; they had very large eyes and broad cheeks." The Northmen, how. ever, were not attacked, and remained there until spring, the statement being that "there was no snow, and all their cattle fed themselves on the grass." But in the opening of 1009 the Skrællings returned, offering "skins and real furs" for red cloth, the Northmen refusing to sell them swords and spears. Finally, a bull which belonged to the Icelanders began to bellow, when the Skrællings became frightened, and ran to their boats, rowing away south. At the end of three weeks, nevertheless, "a great number of Skrælling boats were seen coming from the south like a rushing torrent, all the poles turned from the sun, and they all yelled very loud." Karlsefne saluted them with his red shield, the sign of war, "and after this they went against each other and fought. There was a hot shower of missiles, because the Skrællings had slings." At the outset, Karlsefne was forced to retreat, but a rally was made, and the Skrællings retreated. It is also said that "two men fell on Karlsefne's side, but a number of Skrællings." The Saga states that Karlsefne was overmatched, so many natives appearing that it was difficult to believe that they were real men, but rather optical illusions. In connection with the fight an incident occurred which seems to show that the Skrællings belonged to a people of the stone age; for one of them found an axe and cut a piece of wood with it, and thought it was a "fine thing." But when he tried to cut a stone it broke. Then "they thought it was of no use, because it would not cut stone, and they threw it away." It would appear from this that stone was their standard.
Afterward, during a short expedition northward, the Northmen found "five Skrællings clad in skins, asleep near the shore. They had with them vessels containing animal marrow mixed with blood." These were killed. Soon after they fancied that they saw men with one leg called "Unipeds," and for this piece of imagination the narrative has been objected to as unreal, the objector forgetting that the Uniped is a very ancient institution frequently mentioned by sailors. Charlevoix reports a St. Malo captain, who, when in America, saw men with "one leg and thigh." A young Labrador girl captured in 1717 told of those her countrymen who had only one leg.
Finally, Karlsefne decided not to expose his little colony, and prepared to sail for Greenland. On the voyage home they landed in Markland, supposed to be Nova Scotia, and "found there five Skrællings, and one was bearded, two were females and two boys; they took the boys, but the others escaped, and the Skrællings sank down into the ground"; that is, disappeared among the hillocks or slipped into their subterranean dens. The Saga says that the boys were taught Icelandic and were baptized. They called their mother Vathelldi, and their father Uvæge. They also said that two kings ruled over the Skrællings, one being named Avalldania and the other Valldida. These boys also reported that they had no houses in Markland, but that the people lived in "caves or holes."
The second narrative of Karlsefne treats the subject of the Skrællings in the same way, except that these people were of "small stature." The third narrative states that, when the bull (one of the small Icelandic species) began to bellow, the Skrællings "made off with their bundles, and these were of furs, and sables, and all sorts of skins; and they turned and wanted to go into the houses, but Karlsefne defended the doors." Also, before the fight commenced there was more trading, and the women brought out "milk and dairy products," which pleased the Skrællings so much, that, as the Saga says, "they carried away their winnings in their bellies." Such is the account that we have of the Skrællings in the Sagas relating to America. These people do not appear to be referred to again in connection with the voyages, though a geographical fragment mentions "Helluland," which is called "Skrællings Land," not far from Vinland the Good.
The delineation of the people found by the Icelanders in the mild regions of the Atlantic coast is brief, but it is sufficient to fix their character. Rafn, when editing the original Icelandic records, pointed out the fact that these people agree with the Esquimau and Greenlander of to-day. The critic who supposed that the Saga writer should have described a people with the characteristics of the red-man fancied that he found an error indicating their unhistorical character. The Indian, however, was a late comer upon the extreme eastern border of North America. Indeed, the oldest distribution of the American races does not antedate the tenth century, and therefore the appearance of the Skrælling in the Sagas, instead of the Indian, is precisely what the truth required.
It is hardly necessary to restate the points in the description; for, instead of the tall red-man found by later voyagers on the coast, so gentle, kindly disposed, generous, and hospitable—traits wellnigh obliterated by subsequent contact with the whites we have men of short stature, bushy hair, rude, fierce, and devoid of every grace. Also, here in a country covered with fine forest-trees, the principal article of value to the Icelander, the people made their boats of skin like the Greenland kyjack, instead of the bark or the trunks of trees, as often practiced by the Indians, and described by Champlain. The men described in the Saga evidently did not know the use of metals, and they despised the axe when it was found that it would not cut stone. In the fight with Karlsefne's men they slew Thorbrand with a flat stone (hellusteinn), perhaps a celt, which they "drove into his head," thus illustrating, possibly, the rude warfare of the glacial man. Nor should it be forgotten that, while even in the dead of winter the New England Indians wore almost no clothing, these men, encountered by the Icelanders were clad in furs after the spring had set in.
Another resemblance is found in the fact that both the Skrællings and the Greenlanders used slings, the latter being mentioned by Davis, the first European who visited Greenland in modern times. But a still more valuable fact is mentioned by this writer in connection with the voyage of 1585. It has already been stated that, when in Vinland, Karlsefne found that the Skrællings used to indicate peaceful intentions by pointing certain implements toward the sun, while, when turned from the sun, they indicated war. Thus in Greenland the natives, to indicate peaceful intentions, pointed to the sun with their hands, after striking their breasts, refusing to trust themselves with the English until the latter had done the same, through one of their number appointed for the purpose, "who strooke his breast and poynted to the sunne after their order." Davis thus appears as dealing with descendants of the glacial man.
If we are correct in supposing that there was a glacial man, and that the Skrællings were descendants of such a glacial man, it follows that we have in the Sagas four of his words, which may be the oldest known words of human speech: "Vathelldi," "Uvæge," "Avalldania," and "Valldida," the names of the parents of the Skrælling boys and of the two kings. At least, in a recent note addressed to the writer, Professor Max Müller says that there is nothing in the language of the Esquimaux to prevent us from assigning it to an antiquity as high as that of the supposed glacial man.
During the eleventh century the red-man lived upon the North American Continent, while the eastern border of his territory could not have been situated far away from the Atlantic coast. In New England he must have succeeded the people known as Skrællings. Prior to that time, his hunting-grounds lay toward the interior of the continent. In course of time, however, he came into collision with the ruder people on the Atlantic coast, the descendants of an almost amphibious glacial man. Then the coast-dweller, unable to maintain his position, retreated toward the far north. The northward movement, however, may have been voluntary in part. During long ages passed in the companionship of the glacier, the race must have acquired that taste and fitness for boreal life which clings to the native of the north to-day, and which makes the Greenlander feel that his country is the most beautiful in the world.
The advance guard of the Skrællings had reached Greenland before Eric the Red arrived in 985. He found there, as we have seen, both houses and boats, but no inhabitants. It was inferred, at the time the Saga was committed to writing, that the remains belonged to a people of the same race as those seen in Vinland at the south. These early Skrælling visitors had either perished or retired from Greenland. The Icelanders do not appear to have met any Skrællings in Greenland until a late period—at least none are mentioned. But in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Skrællings crowded into Labrador and the regions bordering Baffin's Bay, preparatory to the movement across to Greenland, though many of them may have crossed to North Devon and entered at the northwest. It is probable that extreme necessity was all the while urging them on, the red-man crowding upon their rear with great energy. This is evident from the fact that, when the French entered Canada, the region north of the St. Lawrence was occupied by the Indians. The struggle between the Indians and the Skrællings was long continued, and one evidence of the contact may be found in the common use of a certain engine of war, which the Saga says was employed by the Skrællings in their fight with Karlsefne.
It is said, "Karlsefne's men saw that they raised up on a pole a very large ball, something like a sheep's paunch, and of a blue color; this they swung from the pole over Karlsefne's men upon the ground, and it made a great noise as it fell down. This caused great fear with Karlsefne and his men." The statement at first appears curious and almost childish; yet in Schoolcraft's work on the Indians (vol. i, p. 83) may be found a description of a similar engine employed in the ancient times, when the red-man used to sew up a round bowlder in the skin of an animal, and hang it upon a pole borne by several warriors, which, being swung against a group of men, did great execution. The Skrællings may, therefore, have acquired the idea in their fights with the more skillful red-man then pushing his way into their territory. Pursued by a superior force, we may conclude that the Skrællings retreated into the north. Dr. Abbott himself is of this opinion, saying, "When, also, we consider that the several conditions of glacial times were largely those of Greenland and Arctic America, and that there is unbroken land communication between the desolate regions of the latter and our own more favored land, and, more important than all, that there now dwells in this ice-clad country a race which, not only in the distant past, but until recently if they do not now, used stone implements of the rudest pattern—it is natural to infer that the traces of a people found here, under circumstances that demonstrate a like condition of the country during their occupancy, are really traces of the same people."
That the country as far south as New Jersey was formerly adapted to boreal tribes is evident from the fact that the walrus has been found at Long Branch, while the great auk formerly flourished around the borders of Mount Desert in Maine. Dr. Henry Rink, who for so many years superintended the Danish interests in Greenland, and who studied the question without any reference to the glacial man, reached the conclusion that the "Esquimaux appear to have been the last wave of an aboriginal American race, which has spread over the continent from more genial regions, following principally the rivers and watercourses, and continually yielding to the tribes behind them, until they have at last peopled the seacoast." Originally their distribution was very wide, and their language prevails to-day from Greenland to Labrador and the northeastern corner of Siberia. Professor Dawkins holds that the paleolithic cave-dwellers of Europe were of the same race as the Esquimaux or Innuit, though no such connection can be shown between them as exists between the ancient Skrællings and the Esquimaux.
The Icelandic records prove that the conflicts begun with the Skrællings in the eleventh century in New England were renewed in the fourteenth in Greenland. Possibly it is to the Skrællings that the final extinction of the Icelandic colony in Greenland may in part be attributed. Nevertheless, from the year 985 down to the vicinity of 1335, the Skrællings, so far as the records go, do not appear to have given any trouble. But about that period they suddenly appeared in force. At that time the western coast of Greenland was divided into two districts, called the East and West Bygds, there never having been any Europeans permanently inhabiting the eastern coast, though the Saga of "Thorgill's Nursling" shows that a family or two of Skrællings may have dwelt there.
That the Skrællings appeared in considerable force is indicated by the fact that an expedition was organized to meet them. The "Chronicle" of Ivar Bardsen shows that Bardsen himself was selected by the colonists as their commander. This "Chronicle" was composed during the second half of the fourteenth century, but it is impossible to say in what year. It is certain, however, that upon the 6th of August, 1340, Haquin, Bishop of Bergen, in Norway, commissioned Bardsen to act in Greenland, as the latter was born in that country, and was perfectly acquainted with all its affairs. His commission is still preserved at Copenhagen, and a copy may be seen in Rafn's "Amerikas Arctiske landes gamle Geographie," p. 47. Whether the Greenland colonists appointed him their leader before or after 1340, it is impossible now to say. Crantz, in his work on Greenland, intimates that the killing of some eighteen persons by the Skrællings led to the appointment of Bardsen. The natives gave Crantz a tradition respecting a fight between their Skrælling ancestors and the colonists, whom they called "Kablunæts." A quarrel sprang up about shooting arrows, and blood was shed, the natives declaring that the Kablunæts were exterminated. This may possibly explain what became of the remnant of Europeans left in Greenland in the fifteenth century, but it can not refer to the fourteenth, as the communication was kept up with Greenland during that period. It was in the year 1379 that the eighteen colonists were slain. "Islenzkir Annalar," page 331, says, under that year, that hostile Skrællings invaded Greenland, killing eighteen men, and carrying away two boys captive. It is probable that from this time the Skrællings proved formidable, though, when Bardsen went into the western district to meet them, they were nowhere to be found, having either hid themselves or fled into the inaccessible fastnesses of the north. He nevertheless secured some of the cattle belonging to the colonists, and returned southward to what was called the East Bygd. In Bardsen's time the West Bygd was evidently abandoned, owing to the weakness of the colonists; and he says, in his "Chronicle," that "now the Skrællings inhabit all the west land and Dorps." It must have been from the deserted West Bygd that they came to attack the colonists in 1379. The Icelandic annals of the fourteenth century mention no more fighting in Greenland, and in the fifteenth century Greenland is not mentioned. In this manner Old Greenland passed from sight, and it was not until the seventeenth century that the country was reoccupied by Europeans. Some have supposed that the ancient colony was cut off by the plague, but the little remnant may have been exterminated by the* Skrællings, as the modern natives averred.
The foregoing brief statement of historical facts puts the modern Esquimaux, or Innuit, in connection with a people who dwelt along the temperate regions of the Atlantic coast in the eleventh century. It also indicates that these rude people were driven by a superior race into the far north, where they succeeded the Europeans. These people were also of very great antiquity. What, then, was their origin? Who else could they have been than the descendants of a glacial man?
It is true that none of the bones exhumed on the Atlantic coast have been identified as those of the Esquimaux, though if they existed as late as the eleventh century such remains should be found. Hitherto, however, they have not been looked for, nearly everything exhumed being attributed to the red-man as a matter of course. Nevertheless, there have been those who have not felt satisfied with such a disposition of the whole subject. In many localities of Maine, for instance, the opinion has prevailed of late that many of the shell-heaps were not of Indian origin, and that they should be referred to a more ancient people. Certain indications attracted the attention of the writer long before any glacial man was spoken of. On this point Dr. Abbott makes a suggestion, and argues that the stone implements found indicate two races, one much more advanced than the other. He writes: "When we come to examine a full series of ordinary surface-found arrow-points, as we gather them by the score from our fields, and occasionally find associated with them a rude implement of the type of those found in the gravel-beds, we are naturally led to draw some comparisons between the two widely different forms. The arrowheads and others, which from their size may be considered as spear-or lance-heads, are of two quite different types, being those made of jasper, chert, quartz, and rarely of argillite, of a dozen different patterns, and those of argillite of a nearly uniform pattern, and of larger sizes as a rule; all greatly weather-worn, and varying notably from the arrow-points of other minerals in being of much coarser workmanship, and in this respect seeming to be a natural outgrowth of the skill once exercised only in producing the primitive forms of the glacial drift."
But what have the modern Greenlanders to say respecting their origin? They told Crantz that all the people of the earth originated from one man, who came from the earth, his wife springing from his thumb. This may be their version of what their ancestors learned from the Icelandic colonists who were Christians. Such stories throw no light upon their history, though the Esquimaux gave their family genealogies for ten generations. There is nevertheless something in other accounts related by them which may possibly suggest traditions relating to changes that had taken place upon the globe in the past, and traditions that might have come down from the glacial period, when Nature conducted her operations upon such a stupendous scale. It would appear as though their rude intelligence had argued what would take place in the future from what had transpired in the past. For instance, it was their belief at the time the missionary came among them, that all of the present race would become extinct, and the earth be broken up by some widely operating force, and then purified by a vast flood of water, after which the dust of the earth would be blown together and become more beautiful than before, as the rocks would disappear, being covered with verdure. Now, in this was their fancy stimulated by traditions that had come down to them from glacial ancestors, concerning what we call geological epochs, or was this also taught them by the Northmen? It is, perhaps, to be regretted that we have so few of these relations by the early Greenlander, as they might have proved useful in connection with the attempt to solve the question of his origin. Nevertheless, the case is by no means hopeless, and testimony may yet be discovered that will connect him beyond question with the glacial man.
- "Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen," p. 20.
- "Pre-Columbian Discovery of America by the Northmen," p. 41.
- "Pre-Columbian Discovery," etc., p. 49.
- "Œuvres," tome iii, pp. 59, 60.
- Published by Munsell, Albany, as "Sailing Directions of Henry Hudson."