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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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CHAPTER II. — Geographical Area Occupied — Ethnographical Position of the Principal Stocks.

THE tribes, on the planting of the colonies, rather roved over than occupied the continent. To hunt the deer and go to war were their prime employments. Powhattan called himself a king in Virginia, and Massasoit in Massachusetts. But the governing power of their kingdoms was a rope of sand, and the Indian society so many camps of anarchy. This was a necessary result of the hunter-state, which is bound together by slight cords, and always requires large districts of forest to lie in the wilderness condition, that wild animals may multiply.

Another striking trait in the Indians was, that they existed in an infinite variety of tribes and septs. Every great valley, lake, or mountain-range, had its separate tribe, although, when closely examined, the languages proved them to be only speaking dialects of a few parent stocks. In all the range of the North Atlantic there were not over three or four generic stocks, and not apparently more than seven in the entire area east of the Mississippi river. These were the Algonquins, Iroquois, and Floridians or Appalachians, and the Cherokees, Utchees, and Natchez or Chigantualguas.

The era assumed for this survey is 1512. De Leon had landed in Florida. Cabot and Cortereal had seen the Indians of the North Atlantic shores, ten or fifteen years earlier. Casting the eye over the map of North America, from the influx of the St. Lawrence, along the indentations of the coast, successively settled by the British colonies, reaching to the latitude of Pamlico Sound in North Carolina, the country was occupied by the multiplied and affiliated tribes of the Algonquin stock. [6] Hence, appeared a family of littoral tribes, who extended along the coasts of the Carolinas, of whom not a soul is known to be living. In the latitude of St. Helena, Broad river,

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and the Combahee, the Spanish called them Chicoreans, but they are known to English history as Yamassees. [7]

Tradition [8] assigns the next place to the Utchees, but they had been, at the earliest dates, subdued by the Muscogees or Creeks, and the remainder, who had escaped the calamities of war, had been adopted into the Creek confederacy, which is a prominent member of the Appalachian group. [9]

Geographical names, still existing, denote that the Muscogees extended, at the colonization, from the Coosahatchee, in South Carolina, through Georgia to the Appalachicola, embracing both its branches, to the Tallapoosa, and the Alabama. Their most ancient seat of power was on the Altamaha, whence, about the settlement of South Carolina, it was removed to Wetumpka. The Seminole tribe of this people extended down to the peninsula of Florida. The Muscogees were conquerors coming from the west, and they had, past doubt, subdued or driven out prior occupants.

The coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Mobile bay, the lower parts of the Alabama, Tombigbee, and the Pascagoula, to the Mississippi, were occupied by the Choctaws. [10] The Natchez, a people of apparently Toltec origin, occupied a position along the banks of the Mississippi, from a point nearly opposite the Red river to the mouth of the Yazoo. North of the territory of the Natchez, began the boundary of the Chicka-saws, reaching east to the head of the Tombigbee, and extending up the left banks of the Mississippi, and into the Ohio, through the present States of Tennessee and Kentucky. [11]

The Cherokees occupied the termination of the Appalachian, neither reaching to the Atlantic, the Gulf, or the Mississippi. In this secluded position, abounding in pure streams of water and fertile valleys, they had lived from ante-historical times. The Cumberland river anciently bore their name, and appears to have been their outlet to the Ohio valley.

At the point where the jurisdiction of the Chickasaws ceased, a professedly neutral war-ground existed, which has received the name of Kentucky, and which was in part occupied at a subsequent time by the Shawnees, an Algonquin tribe. From this point, eastwardly and north-westwardly, the Algonquin group extended over the Alleghanies to the Powhatanic tribes of lower Virginia, the Susquehannocks of Maryland, and the Lenni Lenapees of Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Munsees of New Jersey, and the Manhattans and Mohicans of New York and all New England.

The Algonquins, thus widely spread and divided into septs and tribes, also extended

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west of the Ohio under the name of Shawnees, Kaskaskias, and Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi to a point near the entrance of Rock river. There the Chippewas, Ottowas and Pottawattamies, Miamies, and kindred tribes, spread eastwardly and northerly to the shores of Lake Michigan, the Straits of Michilimackinac, the basins of Lake Huron, St. Clair, the Straits of Detroit, the Miami, the Muskingum, and the Wabash. This group of tribes also extended, under the name of Chippewas and Kelistenos, through the straits and river St. Mary, to and around the borders of Lake Superior, and thence, west and northwest, to the
sources of the Mississippi. Under the name of Crees, or Kelistenos, they extended their conquests along the line of the Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, and through the great Lake Winnepek, to the waters of the Churchill or Missi-neepi [much water] river. They pushed their conquests west of the Suscatchewine to its falls, where, as we perceive from comparisons of language, they acquired the name of Blood Indians, and finally of Black feet, with which name they reached the banks of the Missouri. Under the name of Mushkeags, Gens de Terre, and other nicknames, they extend to the Nelson, and the lower part of Churchill, river, of Hudson's Bay, and thence through the broken and sphagnous regions to the St. Lawrence, and by its northern shores, through the Lake Nepissing, to the great chain of the upper lakes. The whole of New England was covered with tribes of this generic stock. Such a diffusion and dispersion of a group of tribes, has no parallel in North America, and it indicates an original energy of character which is noteworthy. There were not less than twenty degrees of latitude along the north Atlantic, occupied by the Algonquins in their divisions, covering the entire area between the Mississippi river and the Ocean. Within the immense area of Algonquin and Appalachian occupancy, the Iroquois had intruded themselves before the country was discovered. The Iroquois [12] were the Goths of North America. Where the point of their original growth to nationality was, it is difficult to determine, as well as to account how the Indian mind developed that power of confederation and combination, both civil and military, which made them the terror of the Indian tribes of North America. Writers have not been wanting to suggest the existence of a Grecian element in their languages and character. [13] Their own traditions (vide Vol. V., p. 631) deduce their origin from the waters of the great Kanawaga, or St. Lawrence. But language discloses the fact that, at the earliest dates, tribes of this stock occupied upper Virginia and North Carolina, under the names of Mohicans and Tuscaroras. This subject will be examined in its proper place. However they may have wandered, their

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seats of power at the opening of the sixteenth century were in western New York. They were not littoral, but interior tribes, although they had, at ante-historical dates, carried their conquests down the Hudson, the Delaware, the Susquehanna, and the Alleghany.

The Iroquois, by occupying this central position on a broad summit of fertile tableland, favorable for raising the zea maize and abounding in game, had a position of unrivalled advantages. The leading rivers towards the north, the east, west, and south, originated on this summit, which gave them the power of descending rapidly into the enemy's country, and, by abandoning their water craft, or leaving it at a fixed point, returning scatheless by land. Thus they had conquered the Mohicans, the Delawares, Susquehannocks, and others, spreading the fame and the fear of their arms from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi.

West of the Mississippi there were two generic stocks of great importance. They were the Dakotahs or Sioux, and the Shoshonees. The geographical limits of these tribes were also immense; and they were divided into languages, and dialects, and clanships, even more numerous than the Algonquins, Iroquois, and Appalachians.

First in influence of these two stocks, and in the savage energies, manners, and customs, are the Dakotahs, or Sioux. [14] Like the Algonquins, the Iroquois and the Appalachians, who had crossed the Mississippi at different points, at early epochs, they appeared to have come from the south and south-west. At the era denoted for these researches, they spread from the Red river, and the Arkansas, up the valley of the Mississippi, on its western borders, to its sources, having, at early dates, extended themselves eastward to the head of the great lake chain. They embraced the Arkansas, Quappas, Cadrons, Witchetaws, Osages, Kanzas, Pawnees, Iowas, Ottoes, Omahaws, and Missourians, Arickarees, Minatarees, Tetons, Yanktons, and other known Sioux tribes. The Assinaboins, a Sioux tribe with an Algonquin name, were the most northerly tribal element of this ethnographic horde. One of their tribes, the Issati, were found on the head of Lake Superior in Hennepin's day; another, the Winnebagoes, also a Dakotah tribe with an Algonquin cognomen, were seated at Green Bay, at La Salle's first visit, and have but recently retraced their steps, under the removal movement, to the west of the Mississippi.

The Shoshonees have, from the remotest times, occupied the plateaux, and summits, and valleys, of the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark found them to possess its summits in latitude 48° in 1805. Fremont found them spread over the latitude of 42° in 1840. Under the name of Bonacks, and Root Diggers, they have excited compassion, being often reduced to live on roots and larva. Under the name of Niunas, or Cumanches, they cover Texas. The Utahs are, linguistically, Shoshonees. Under this name they are the scourge of New Mexico, and constitute the unreliable and

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perfidious of the tribes of the Territory of Utah. California and Oregon have numerous bands and clans of the Bonacks.

Besides the five prominent stocks of Algonquins, Iroquois, Appalachians, Dakotahs and Shoshonees, there existed, intercalated as it were at wide points, the small tribes of Natchez, Utchees, and the ancient Corees and Chicoras, of Georgia and the Carolinas. The Eries and Andastes, the Mundwa, the Attuckapas, the Mascotins, and Allegans, occupied minor positions.

To the entire groups of tribes, east, west, north, and south, the name Vesperic may be applied, as a term geographically limited to the exact area of the United States.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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