[The following is the concluding portion of an essay on "Indian Migrations, as evidenced by Language," which was read at the Montreal meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in August, 1882, and published in the "American Antiquarian" for January and April, 1883. As the views set forth in this extract have a bearing on the subjects discussed in the present work, the author takes the opportunity of reproducing them here for the consideration of its readers.]
It will be noticed that the evidence of language, and to some extent that of tradition, leads to the conclusion that the course of migration of the Indian tribes has been from the Atlantic coast westward and southward. The Huron-Iroquois tribes had their pristine seat on the lower St. Lawrence. The traditions of the Algonkins seem to point to Hudson's Bay and the coast of Labrador. The Dakota stock had its oldest branch east of the Alleghenies, and possibly (if the Catawba nation shall be proved to be of that stock), on the Carolina coast. Philologists are well aware that there is nothing in the language of the American Indians to favor the conjecture (for it is nothing else) which derives the race from eastern Asia. But in western Europe one community is known to exist, speaking a language which in its general structure manifests a near likeness to the Indian tongues. Alone of all the races of the old continent the Basques or Euskarians of northern Spain and southwestern France have a speech of that highly complex and polysynthetic character which distinguishes the American languages. There is not, indeed, any such positive similarity, in words or grammar, as would prove a direct affiliation. The likeness is merely in the general cast and mould of speech; but this likeness is so marked as to have awakened much attention. If the scholars who have noticed it had been aware of the facts now adduced with regard to the course of migration on this continent, they would probably have been led to the conclusion that this similarity in the type of speech was an evidence of the unity of race. There seems reason to believe that Europe--at least in its southern and western portions--was occupied in early times by a race having many of the characteristics, physical and mental, of the American aborigines. The evidences which lead to this conclusion are well set forth in Dr. Dawson's recent work on "Fossil Man." Of this early European people, by some called the Iberian race, who were ultimately overwhelmed by the Aryan emigrants from central Asia, the Basques are the only survivors that have retained their original language; but all the nations of southern Europe, commencing with the Greeks, show in their physical and mental traits a large intermixture of this aboriginal race. As we advance westward, the evidence of this infusion becomes stronger, until in the Celts of France and of the British
Islands it gives the predominant cast to the character of the people. 1
If the early population of Europe were really similar to that of America, then we may infer that it was composed of many tribes, scattered in loose bands over the country, and speaking languages widely and sometimes radically different, but all of a polysynthetic structure. They were a bold, proud, adventurous people, good hunters and good sailors. In the latter respect they were wholly unlike the primitive Aryans, who, as was natural in a pastoral people of inland origin, have always had in the east a terror of the ocean, and in Europe were, within historic times, the clumsiest and least venturous of navigators. If communities resembling the Iroquois and the Caribs once inhabited the British islands and the western coasts of the adjacent continent, we may be sure that their fleets of large canoes, such as have been exhumed from the peat-deposits and ancient river-beds of Ireland, Scotland, and France, swarmed along all the shores and estuaries of that region. Accident or adventure may easily have carried some of them across the Atlantic, not merely once, but in many successive emigrations from different parts of western Europe. The distance is less than that which the canoes of the Polynesians were accustomed to traverse. The derivation of the American population from this source presents no serious improbability whatever. 2
On the theory which seems thus rendered probable, that the early Europeans were of the same race as the Indians of America, we are able to account for certain characteristics of the modern nations of Europe, which would otherwise present to the student of anthropology a perplexing problem. The Aryans of Asia, ancient and modern, as we know them in the Hindoos, the Persians, and the Armenians, with the evidence afforded by their history, their literature and their present condition, have always been utterly devoid of the sentiment of political rights. The love of freedom is a feeling of which they seem incapable. To humble themselves before some superior power--deity, king, or brahmin--seems to be with them a natural and overpowering inclination. Next to this feeling is the love of contemplation and of abstract reasoning. A dreamy life of worship and thought is the highest felicity of the Asiatic Aryan. On the other hand, if the ancient Europeans were what the Basques and the American Indians are now, they were a people imbued with the strongest possible sense of personal independence, and, resulting from that, a passion for political freedom. They were also a shrewd, practical, observant people, with little taste for abstract reasoning.
It is easy to see that from a mingling of two races of such opposite dispositions, a people of mixed character would be formed, very similar to that which has existed in Europe since the advent of the Aryan emigrants. In eastern Europe, among the Greeks and Sclavonians, where the Iberian element would be weakest, the Aryan characteristics of reverence and contemplation would be most apparent. As we advance westward, among the Latin and Teutonic populations, the sense of political rights, the taste for adventure, and the observing, practical tendency, would--be more and more manifest; until at length, among the western Celts, as among the American Indians, the love of freedom would become exalted to an almost morbid distrust of all governing authority.
If this theory is correct, the nations of modern Europe have derived those traits of character and those institutions which have given them their present headship of power and civilization among the peoples of the globe, not from their Aryan forefathers, but mainly from this other portion of their ancestry, belonging to the earlier population which the Aryans overcame and absorbed. That this primitive population was tolerably numerous is evident from the fact that the Aryans, particularly of the Latin, Teutonic, and Celtic nations, lost in absorbing it many vocal elements and many grammatical inflections of their speech. They gained, at the same time, the self-respect, the love of liberty, and the capacity for self-government, which were unknown to them in their Asiatic home. Knowing that these characteristics have always marked the American race, we need not be surprised when modern researches demonstrate the fact that many of our Indian communities have had political systems embodying some of the most valuable principles of popular government. We shall no longer feel inclined to question the truth of the conclusion which has been announced by Carli, Draper, and other philosophic investigators, who affirm that the Spaniards, in their conquest of Mexico, Yucatan, and Peru, destroyed a better form of society than that which they established in its place. The intellectual but servile Aryans will cease to attract the undue admiration which they have received for qualities not their own; and we shall look with a new interest on the remnant of the Indian race, as possibly representing this nobler type of man, whose inextinguishable love of freedom has evoked the idea of political rights, and has created those institutions of regulated self-government by which genuine civilization and progress are assured to the world.
188:1 "The Basque may then be the sole surviving relic and witness of an aboriginal western European population, dispossessed by the intrusive Indo-European tribes. It stands entirely alone, no kindred having yet been found for it in any part of the world. It is of an exaggeratedly agglutinative type, incorporating into its verb a variety of relations which are almost everywhere else expressed by an independent word."--The Basque forms a suitable stepping-stone from which to enter the peculiar linguistic domain of the New World, since there is no other dialect of the Old World which so much resembles in structure the American languages." Professor Whitney, in "The Life and Growth of Language," p. 258.
188:2 The distance from Ireland to Newfoundland is only sixteen hundred miles. The distance from the Sandwich Islands to Tahiti (whence the natives of the former group affirm that their ancestors came) is twenty-two hundred miles. The distance from the former islands to the Marquesas group, the nearest inhabited land, is seventeen hundred miles. The canoes of the Sandwich Islands (as we are assured by Ellis, in his p. 189 "Polynesian Researches,") "seldom exceed fifty feet in length." In the river-beds of France, ancient canoes have been found exceeding forty feet in length. One was more than forty-five feet long, and nearly four feet deep. Seethe particulars in Figuier's "Primitive Man," Appleton's edit., p. 177. See also Prof. D. Wilson's "Prehistoric Man," 2d edit., p. 102, for a full discussion of this question, with instances of long canoe voyages.