descendants at the present day: the Moscos, the Ramas, the Simoos or Smoos a. o.
Between this strip of country on the eastern shore and the two great lakes, Xolotlan (Managua) and Cocibolca (the lake of Nicaragua), the intermediate highland, which shelves gradually towards the lakes, was inhabited by los Chontales, as they are denominated by Oviedo. The name is still preserved in «Departemento de Chontales». They lived in large villages and towns and were agriculturists. Possibly they were of the same stock as, or closely related to, the large Maya-family which extended over the eastern parts of Honduras and Guatemala and furnished the population of Yucatan. This guess acquires a certain probability by the fact of several words in their language being similar to the corresponding ones in some Maya-dialects. The Poas, Toacas, Lacandones, and Guatusos may possibly be their descendants. These also are living at a decidedly lower stage of civilization than their supposed ancestors.
If the eastern part of Nicaragua, on account of its almost impenetrable forests and damp climate, is less fit to be the dwelling-place of a highly cultivated people, the western portion, on the contrary, is much more happily endowed in this respect and seems
- I cannot but contradict, on the ground of my own investigations, the suggestion of Squier, that the nomadic tribes on the east coast of Nicaragua were related to the Caribs, and especially the Melchoras on the river San Juan are certainly of Carib stocks. All the individuals of the Simoo, Rama and Melchora tribe, that I have seen and measured, correspond far more, both in general habitus and cranial characters, to the Talamanca Indians and Guatusos, indeed even to the Indios mansos in Chontales and in Northern Nicaragua, than to the Caribs of Honduras who are proved to be true Caribs, or to the Magdalena Indians in Columbia who are supposed to belong to the Carib stock. The differences are so great as to make it probable that Squier's supposition arises from a confusion of names, more particularly because the name of Caribs was applied to all Indios bravos of eastern Nicaragua during the Spanish time, long before the brave Caribs of St. Vincent, the last remains of that people in the West-Indies, after a long and hard struggle for freedom were expatriated and carried to Ruatan, from where they transmigrated afterwards of their own will to the opposite coast of Honduras.