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Antiquities of North America

In the absence of any written record of those numerous races which formerly peopled this hemisphere, information must be sought in their monuments, and in the disinterred relics of their ancient manner of life. These, considering the almost unbroken wilderness which presented itself to the first white adventurers, are surprisingly numerous. They indicate the former existence of populous nations, excelling in many of the arts of civilization, and capable, by their numbers and combination, of executing the most gigantic works for religion, public defense, and common oration of the dead. Such relics, though, for the most part, not immediately pertaining to the history of the Indian tribes, have supported the conjectures advanced by Humboldt and other eminent cosmographers, that these races are but the dwindled and degraded remains of once flourishing and populous nations. The retrograde process, to which certain forms of incomplete civilization appear doomed, has perhaps been most strikingly exemplified in the difference to be discovered between the feeble and scattered tribes of the red race, and those powerful and populous communities who occupied the soil before them. The relics of the former people, usually discovered on or slightly beneath the surface of the ground, are of a rude and simple character, differing little from the specimens common among their descendants of the present day. The flint arrow-head, chipped painfully into shape the stone tomahawk, knife, and chisel the pipe, the rude pottery and savage ornaments, are their only relics; and these differ but little from the same articles still fabricated by their successors. Except among the Esquimaux, who occasionally use stone, and who avail themselves of...

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