The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Jesup North Pacific Expedition, The

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Jesup North Pacific Expedition, The
Edition of 1920. See also Jesup North Pacific Expedition on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

JESUP NORTH PACIFIC EXPEDITION, The, an American organization for archæological research, supported by Morris K. Jesup (q.v.), and conducted under the auspices and direction of the American Museum of Natural History. The work began in 1897 in British Columbia. In that year Prof. Harlan I. Smith began to dig in the Thompson River district. In successive years he worked a little farther east, and also around Puget Sound, and down the west coast of Washington. Results of these explorations have been compared and conclusions drawn as to the class of people who inhabited these regions in prehistoric times. Very interesting differences were found among them. Some were more highly developed than others. In particular, one small section east of the city of Vancouver was found to reveal traces of a people much more highly developed than any others of the section, and interesting in many ways to the archæologist. Some of the regions explored revealed the remains of coast tribes; others of interior tribes. At some points these characteristics merged, producing a different type. New discoveries of one season explained things not understood in previous explorations. So to gather up missing links and further elucidate the whole region, especially that interesting little people near Vancouver, it was necessary to take up some new territory and thoroughly explore it. Professor Smith, therefore, went into the Yakima Valley in northern Washington in 1903. On the map this section does not look far from the Thompson River district in British Columbia. And when one reflects how very similar are the white people now inhabiting the two sections and how near the two districts are, it is interesting to find that the prehistoric peoples inhabiting them differed at least as much as the Spanish and the Germans, according to Professor Smith's conclusions. Not only their culture, but their skulls were different, as shown by the skeletons brought back by the expedition. These ancient tribes seemed to have lived, each in its little nook of coast or river valley, for unnumbered ages, never going to see what was on the other side of the mountain; developing each its own little morsel of civilization in its own little way, its life and culture and development modified by the little corner of the earth's surface in which it sat down, seemingly to stay forever. Sometimes shell heaps are found miles in length, and with tree stumps six feet in diameter standing on nine feet of these layers, of which each is only an inch or two in thickness. It took a good many generations of Indians to pile up those successive layers with the shells from their shell-fish dinners. A stump of Douglas fir, over six feet in diameter, stood on a shell heap eight feet below the surface which contained human remains. The tree indicated an age for the top layers of more than 500 years. The material brought back included carved and sculptured pipes, stone mortars, pestles, and sinkers, bone implements used on spears, deer antlers used as handles, stone adzes differing from those found anywhere else, bone needles, shell ornaments, and the like. The expedition also found many paintings and sculptures on rock walls, which were photographed.