Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/333

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TRACES OF A PRE-INDIAN PEOPLE.

been assigned to an earlier date than the latter, and considered the handiwork rather of the descendants of palæolithic man.

What is held to be convincing evidence of this has already been given in the statement of the relative positions of the two forms—Indian and pre-Indian—as seen in sections of undisturbed or virgin soil.

Negative evidence of the soundness of this view is had in the character of the sites of arrow-makers' open-air workshops, or those spots whereon the professional chipper of flint pursued his calling.

In the locality where the writer has pursued his studies several such sites have been discovered and carefully examined.[1] In no one of these workshop sites has there been found any trace of argillite mingled with the flint-chips that form the characteristic feature of such spots. On the other hand, no similar sites have been discovered, to my knowledge, where argillite was used exclusively. The absence of this mineral can not be explained on the ground that it was difficult to procure, for such is not the case. It constitutes, in fact, a large percentage of the pebbles and bowlders of the drift, from which the Indians gathered their jasper and quartz pebbles for working into implements and weapons.

If the absence of argillite from such heaps of selected stones is explained by the assertion that the Indians had recognized the superiority of jasper, then the belief that argillite was used prior to jasper receives tacit assent. If, however, it was the earlier Indians who used argillite, and gradually discarded it for the various forms of flint, then we ought to find workshop sites older than the time of flint chipping, and others where the two minerals are associated. This, as has been stated, has not been done. Negative evidence this, it is admitted, but, when considered in addition to the positive evidence of position in undisturbed soil, it has a value that must not be overlooked. Sufficient positive evidence to clear away all doubt of the presence of an earlier people than the Indian on the Atlantic sea-board of America will probably never be forthcoming, yet, to the minds of candid inquirers, there is a degree of probability in the interpretation of known facts that closely hugs the bounds of certainty.

Wholly convinced that valid reasons have been given for assuming that the chipped stone implements made of argillite are older than the similar patterns of weapons made by the Indians, it is desirable to determine whether these ruder objects are the handiwork of the ancestors of the Indians of historic times, or that of the descendants of palæolithic man, and therefore the relics of a preceding, prehistoric race.

A forcible objection that has been urged against the assumption, as it was held to be, of a pre-Indian occupancy of our sea-coast, is the difficulty of realizing that a people sufficiently advanced to make so

  1. "Primitive Industry," chapter xxxi, p. 453, Salem, Massachusetts, 1881.