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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/89

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AMERICAN ABORIGINAL NAMES.

NORTH AND SOUTH AMERICAN ABORIGINAL NAMES.
By M. V. MOORE.

THERE are numerous evidences showing that the same aboriginal peoples who named the waters of North America coined also the prehistoric geographical titles in South America. Scores of actual identities are revealed in the prehistoric nomenclatures of the two portions of this continent. These identities are not only in various terms that appear in the river names which still survive and betray the tongue of indeterminate ages here, but the very same ancient words in full are apparently reproduced in many instances. The reproductions are indeed of such a character as to induce the belief that the earliest civilization of both North and South America had origin in one common ancestry. The oldest nomenclature surviving in the countries both North and South certainly indicates origin in civilization.

We have now no definite knowledge as to how some of the old aboriginal names should be properly written in our English idiom. There are slightly different versions or expressions of the ancient words which have been perpetuated in the idioms of the French, Spanish, and Portuguese—words that are evidently the same thing in remotest origin and structure. From the very beginning of the modern European conquest and colonization, the "Indian" names have been invested chiefly with what is purely a fanciful and conjectural orthography in their English writings. There has been no surviving testimonial, in either living or dead tongues, fixing the definite expression of the ancient words just as the native man would have written them had he been possessed of the proper facilities.

Sometimes the old native names have been made to appear unnecessarily grotesque in their writing—in some instances as much so as the rude savage himself appears personally—the fact illustrated in the writing Youghiogheney for simply Ya-og-ha-na, and in Esquemeaux for Es-ka-mo. Many purely poetic garbs of the old words have become incorporated into our permanent geographical literature. The names Mississippi and Tennessee are examples of the fanciful versions of the old aboriginal titles: the former is supposed to have been in sounds represented by the English writing Mes-sis-a-pa, while the oldest historic records extant showing the latter give the writing as Ten-as-sa. What is evidently one ancestral word appears in the modern versions of Shetuanee, Sewanee, Suwanee, Swanan, and Chowan. The French writing Cheyenne is the same word in the remote ancestry, as is now believed.