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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 VI. — Antiquities on the Pacific Coasts of Oregon.

A CRITICAL examination of the
Indian antiquities of the United States, it was thought, might furnish some clue to the track of ancient migrations. If the Vesperic tribes came directly from the west, anterior to the period of mound building in the Mississippi valley, it would be but reasonable to expect to find vestiges of the same kind of antiquities on the Oregon coast. With this view, extensive inquiries were directed to that quarter soon after the commencement of these investigations; but, thus far, without the discovery of any such remains. Mr. G. Gibbs, who has had extensive opportunities of examining this coast, is of opinion that no analogous remains of the sort exist. 824 This view is concurred in by Mr. Ogden, of Fort Vancouver, and by other persons who have directed their attention to the subject. Governor Stevens, in the report of his reconnoissances, during 1854, between the valley of the Missouri and the Pacific, concurs in the same view.

He remarks: — "A very interesting subject of inquiry has been pursued by Mr. Schoolcraft, in his endeavor to follow the earth-works of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys into the region west of the Rocky mountains. A careful inquiry among the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the most intelligent free-trappers of Oregon, had satisfied Mr. Gibbs that none such existed in the country. During an examination of the Lower Yakama, however, the old Indian guide who accompanied him pointed out, on the left bank, a work which may possibly be considered as belonging to the same system, although being, so far as is known, a solitary one, it is somewhat questionable. The work consists of two concentric circles of earth about three feet high, with a ditch between. Within are about twenty cellars, situated without apparent design, except economy of room. They are some thirty feet across, and three feet deep, and the whole circle eighty yards in diameter. Captain M'Clellan's party had no time to examine it more particularly, and no tools to excavate. The ground was overgrown with artemisia bushes; but, except the form of the work, there was nothing to attract particular attention, or lead to the belief that it was the remains of any other

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than a Yakama village. Their guide, however, who was a great authority on such matters, declared that it was made very long ago, by men of whom his people knew nothing. He added that there was no other like it. It is well posted for defence in Indian warfare, being on the edge of a terrace about fifteen feet high, a short distance from the river, and flanked on either side by a gulley. Outside of the circle, but quite near it, are other cellars, unenclosed, and in no way differing from the remains of villages frequently met with there. The Indians also pointed out, near by, a low hill or spur, which in form might be supposed to resemble an inverted canoe, and which he had said was a ship. It deserves investigation at least whether any relation can be traced between the authors of this and of the mounds in Sacramento valley, yet occupied by existing tribes.

"In this connection may also be mentioned a couple of modern fortifications, erected by the Yakamas upon the Sunkive fork. They are situated between two small branches, upon the summits of a narrow ridge some two hundred yards long, and thirty feet in height, and are about twenty-five yards apart. The first is a square with rounded corners, formed by an earthen embankment capped with stones; the interstices between which served for loop-holes, and without any ditch. It is about thirty feet on the sides, and the wall three feet high. The other is built of adobes, in the form of a rectangle, twenty by thirty-four feet, the walls three feet high, and twelve to eighteen inches thick, with loop-holes six feet apart. Both are commanded within rifle-shot by neighboring hills. They were erected in 1847 by Skloo, as a defence against the Cayuse. We did not hear whether they were successfully maintained, accounts varying greatly in this respect. In the same neighborhood Captain M'Clellan's party noticed small piles of stones raised by the Indians on the edges of the basaltic walls which enclose these valleys, but were informed that they had no purpose; they were put up through idleness. Similar piles are, however, sometimes erected to mark the fork of a trail. At points on these walls there were also many
graves, generally made in regular form, covered with loose stones to protect them from the cayotes, and marked by poles decorated with tin cups, powder-horns, and articles of dress. During the summer the Indians for the most part live in the small valleys lying well into the foot of the mountains. These are, however, uninhabitable during the winter, and they move further down, or to more sheltered situations. The mission which, in summer, is maintained in the A-tá-nam valley, is transferred into that of the main river." 825

If the Toltecs had passed down this coast in the eleventh century, with the art which they displayed in Mexico, it appears almost impossible that they should not have left some vestiges of it along the route they pursued.

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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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