Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/211

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

By N. H. Winchell


IT would have been considered an act of great temerity twenty-five or thirty years ago to enter upon an investigation of the Indians of Minnesota in prehistoric time. But, thanks to the rapid progress that has been made in aboriginal research in North America, chiefly under the guidance of the late J. W. Powell and his associates in the Bureau of Ethnology at Washington, it is now necessary only to apply to Minnesota some of the great truths that have been established as to the Indians at large, and to designate under those principles what Indian stocks and tribes have inhabited the state in some of the centuries that preceded the advent of the whites.

In order to clear the field at the outset by the removal of any obstacles that we may have inherited from earlier conceptions of the aborigines, it will be well to repeat some of the important results that have been reached within recent years, viz.:

1. The origin of the ancestors of the Indians was so remote that nothing yet discovered indicates its date or the source from which they came.

2. There are between fifty and sixty Indian stock languages, some of which are as distantly related as the languages of the various Aryan nations, but most of which are as distinct as the English from the Semitic.

3. This shows that the aborigines, if they came at all to America, must have come from a great many directions, or that their coming was so remote that they must have developed these differences amongst themselves by long periods of isolated residence in North America.

4. The Indian stock languages can not be connected, at least have not been connected as yet, with any convincing bond of relationship, with either European or Asiatic languages. The Eskimo are here not included, as that stock ranges from Greenland through North America into Siberia.

5. The aborigines, therefore, are indigenous to the soil of America in the same sense that the Mongolian and Caucasian are indigenous in the lands of the Eastern continent.

6. The "moundbuilders," that fabulous race of Squier and Davis,

  1. An address before the Minnesota Historical Society, February 9, 1907.