Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/360

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
346
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the capacious habitation of many families. Utterly unlike both of these was the original dwelling of the Dakota race, as seen among the Mandans and Minnetarees, a spacious semicircular structure, partly sunk in the ground, strongly framed and roofed with timber, and covered thickly with earth.

In their religious beliefs the Indians of the several stocks differed as widely from one another as the Arabs differ from the Hindoos, or the Malays from the Japanese. The principal divinity of the Algonkin tribes, known under various names, Glooskap among the Penobscots and Micmacs of the far east, Nanabush and Manabosho among the Delawares and Ojibways, Napiu (the Old One) among the Blackfeet of the Northwestern plains, is everywhere the same, and is certainly one of the strangest creations of any mythology—a sort of Jupiter-Scapin, half god and half buffoon, who could only have originated among a people in whom the sense of mirthfulness was stronger than the spirit of reverence. Of a totally different character is the grand tutelary deity of the grave Huron-Iroquois people, known as Taron-hiawagon (Holder of the Heavens), or Rawenniyo (our Great Master)—a deity nobler in character and attributes than any of the Aryan divinities. Singularly unlike both the Algonkin and the Iroquois mythologies is that of the fanciful and intensely religious Dakotas, as we find it described in the excellent work of the Rev. S. R. Riggs, "The Bible among the Dakotas." No more remarkable set of deities, and no more surprising contrast to those of their nearest neighbors, the light-hearted Ojibways, could well be imagined than these extraordinary beings—the Oon-ktay-he, or gods of "vital energy"; the Takoo-shkan-shkan, or "moving god," who is "too subtile to be perceived by the senses," who "is everywhere present," who "exerts a controlling influence over instinct, intellect, and passion"; and the Ha-yo-ka, or "anti-natural god," with whom all things work by the rule of contrary—to whom joy seems grief, and misery brings joy—who shivers in summer and swelters in winter—to whom good is evil, and evil is good. Equally evident to any close observer, but too numerous to be now described, are the wide differences in modes of government, in social systems, and in domestic habits among the Indian communities belonging to the different stocks. Finally—or perhaps it should be said, primarily—each stock has its own psychology, or special traits of intellect and character, of which language, religion, government, and social usages are the natural and necessary manifestations.

We conclude, then, that the true elements and bases of ethnological science are found in linguistic stocks. The number of these is not yet fully ascertained, but is probably not less than three hundred, of which the greater portion belong to the Western Hemisphere. The origin of these stocks is a much-disputed question; but every theory which has been proposed respecting it recognizes the fact that the tribe or people who first spoke the mother-tongue of each stock must have had