Collection: Indian Races of North and South America

General Customs and Peculiarities of North American Indians

It were far easier to foretell the period when the extinction of the Indian races must be consummated, and to explain the causes that must sooner or later terminate their national existence, than to trace back their early history. Even a succinct account of the various theories, with the arguments upon which they are based, as to the probable sources whence the early inhabitants of the Western hemisphere derived their origin, would furnish matter for a volume: we shall therefore do little more than allude to the different hypotheses upon the subject, leaving the reader to follow up the inquiry, if his inclination so move him, by the examination of works especially devoted to the discussion of this vexed question. The want of a written language among the aborigines of America; the blindness of the system of hieroglyphics used by the more advanced nations of the continent; and the wild discrepancies in their fanciful oral traditions, leave us little hope of satisfactorily elucidating the mystery by any direct information obtained from the people themselves. Analogies in physical conformation, customs, architecture, language, and religion, must form our principal clew in deciding the question of their origin. That America was first peopled by wanderers from the Old World seems to be a conclusion to which most of those who have treated on the subject have arrived. Exclusive of the supposed necessity...

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Important Dates in Indian History

Important Eras And Dates Interesting Events In Indian History 544-1863. A. D. 544 The Toltecs, according to ancient traditions, commenced their migration from the north to the vale of Anahuac, or Mexico. 648 The Toltecs arrived at Tollantzinco, in Anahuac. 982 Eirek the Red discovered Greenland, and planted a colony there. 985 Biarni Heriulfson discovered the American coast. 1008 Thorfmn Karlsefni planted a colony in New England. 1051 The Toltecs destroyed by a pestilence. 1070 The barbarous nation of the Chichimecas succeeded the Toltecs. 1170 The Nahuatlacas, or Seven Tribes, among whom were the Aztecs, commenced their migration from the north. 1325 The Aztecs founded the city of ancient Mexico. 1492 Oct. 12. Columbus landed at Guanahani, or Cat Island, on his first voyage of discovery. 1498 Columbus first touched the shores of South America, and held intercourse with the Arawaks. 1500 Jan. 26. Vicente Pinzon landed near Cape St. Augustine, at the eastern extremity of South America, and took formal possession. 1501 Portuguese discoverers, under Vespucius, landed at Brazil. 1509 Juan de Solis slain by the natives at the estuary of La Plata. 1518 L. Velasquez de Ayllon landed on the Carolina coast in search of Indian slaves and gold. 1519 Nov. 8. Cortez entered the city of Mexico, and held his first inter view with the Emperor Montezuma 1520 Night of July 1. The “Noche Triste,” on...

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Pontiac’s War

Early in the eighteenth century the French had commenced extending their influence among the tribes who inhabited the country bordering on the great western lakes. Always more successful than the other European settlers in conciliating the affections of the savages among whom they lived, they had obtained the hearty good will of nations little known to the English. The cordial familiarity of the race, and the terms of easy equality upon which they were content to share the rude huts of the Indians, ingratiated them more readily with their hosts, than a course of English reserve and formality could...

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Aborigines of Mexico

The kingdoms of New Spain, as Central America and the adjoining country were first called, presented a far different aspect, when first discovered by Europeans, from that of the vast and inhospitable wilderness at the North and East. Instead of an unbroken forest, thinly inhabited by roving savages, here were seen large and well-built cities, a people of gentler mood and more refined manners, and an advancement in the useful arts which removed the inhabitants as far from their rude neighbors, in the scale of civilization, as they themselves were excelled by the nations of Europe. When first discovered...

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Indians of Virginia

The most complete and veracious account of the manners, appearance, and history of the aboriginal inhabitants of Virginia, particularly those who dwelt in the eastern portion of that district, upon the rivers and the shores of Chesapeake Bay, is contained in the narrative of the re doubted Captain John Smith. This bold and energetic pioneer, after many “strange adventures, happened by land or sea;” still a young man, though a veteran in military service; and inured to danger and hardship, in battle and captivity among the Turks, joined his fortunes to those of Bartholomew Gosnoll and his party, who...

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There is little, besides some analogies in language, to connect the uncouth race which forms the subject of this chapter with the inhabitants of the more genial climates of North America. The Esquimaux (Eskimos) are spread over a vast region at the north, dwelling principally upon the seacoast, and upon the numberless inlets and sounds with which the country is intersected. There is a striking similarity in the language, habits and appearance of all the tribes of the extreme north, from Greenland to Bhering’s Straits. The Manners and Personal Appearance of Eskimos Charlevoix gives a very uninviting description of...

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The Delaware Indians

Associated with the early history of the Delawares are thoughts of William Penn, and of his peaceful intercourse with, and powerful influence over, the wild natives with whom he treated. At the first settlement of the country by Europeans, the tribes of this nation occupied no small portion of the present state of Pennsylvania, but their principal settlements lay between the Potomac and the Hudson. Situated between the great northern and southern confederacies, they were in turn at enmity and engaged in wars with either party; but, at an early day, they were in a measure subdued and reduced...

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New England Indians

It is lamentable to reflect that in the primitive dealings between the venturous Europeans and aborigines of America, the kindly welcome and the hospitable reception were the part of the savage, and treachery, kidnapping, and murder too frequently that of the civilized and nominally Christian visitor. It appears to have been matter of common custom among these unscrupulous adventurers to seize by force or fraud on the persons of their simple entertainers, and to carry them off as curiosities to the distant shores of Europe. Columbus, with kindly motives, brought several of the West Indian natives to the Spanish...

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