Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/349

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HUMAN CULTURE.

The Muskhogean area.

If the reader will examine Merriam's temperature charts in relation to zoological distribution, he will note that the color symbol of the southern states of the Union extends far to the westward. He will not be surprised to find that the Rocky mountains lowered their drawbridges in times past for the migration of ideas. The Muskhogean tribes built pyramidal mounds. They were sedentary. The men were tall and mentally vigorous. Their descendants, now in the Indian Territory, were capable of great enterprises. The women were skilful farmers, weavers and potters. The gulf province was bi-sexual.

The south Atlantic area.

Southeastward from the Muskhogean area lie the Antilles, the Orinoco basin, the Amazon basin, the Mato Grosso and the Pampas. In them men had little to do save to hunt and fish, to fight and to sleep in their hammocks. They were zootechnic, passing into phytotechnic. No great man was ever bred in such a school. The women were farmers, potters, tapa-makers, spinners and hammock-knitters, and there is ground for believing that in several portions of the area there were settlements made up wholly of women, or Amazons (Payne, Hist, of Amer., II, p. 11).

The men in the northern portion were also water craftsmen, and that evoked and trained their hand, their skill and their wits. The Caribs are said to have been the only American people who colonized by sea voyages. In art, men were carvers in wood and stone, attaining creditable skill in Puerto Pico and Guadeloupe. However, as in other areas, there was absence of solidarity. The women on the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Xingu made exquisite basketry and featherwork, and jewelry of teeth and seeds. They cultivated cassava and other plants, and their cabins were thronged with birds of gay plumage. So lacking was industrial stone in all this lowland that shell and teeth were the only materials, on which account Von den Steinen humorously proposes to speak of a bone and shell age of man.

The tribes of the pampas, before the coming of the horse, had a meager life. It is true that the guanaco and the rhea were at hand plentifully. But the men in association with such environment were not much more than clever panthers with long and sharp teeth called arrows and spears.

The women were much more cultivated, being excellent tanners and making rude pottery. Their houses were only shelters of skin and their art was limited to painting geometric patterns on robes. The two sexes were equally non-progressive, but being amply fed they grew in stature and were among the tallest Americans.