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Peopling Of America

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



The original American population belonged to the Mongolian race, and seems to have reached the American continent by way of Behring Strait at an early Neolithic stage of development. (There is still a coming and going of native skin boats between the two continents.) Later (though this is a matter for discussion among ethnologists) fresh elements of population and fresh cultural ideas at the heliolithic level may have reached America by sea.

If there were these later ingredients in the American population then either they brought no wheat with them or it died out. Maize, the corn of the new world, is a different plant altogether from any known in the old world. But the religious life of the American peoples betrays the same entanglement of the idea of sowing with a human sacrifice, that prevailed throughout the Neolithic period of the old world.

The American tribes over the great part of the continent remained at a level of Neolithic barbarism. Over acres of seasonal grass they became nomadic, following the bison. In the far north they followed the caribou, the American reindeer. (The horse did not exist on the American continent in the human period until it was introduced by the Europeans.) In the tropical forests they became hunters of birds and small game. But in one or two fertile regions, as we shall note later, they developed a more elaborate social order, irrigated, erected important buildings, and founded cities and empires.



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