Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/217

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
213
PREHISTORIC ABORIGINES OF MINNESOTA

stocks that were, as is known, thinly dispersed along the river courses and ranged in pursuit of game or of their enemies occasionally over the plains. The Athabascan stock, now occupying the interior of Alaska and of northern Canada, may be presumed to have been the first, or among the first, to leave their pristine seats. But they must have left a considerable number of their friends at home, since they still subsist in a large tract in eastern Arizona, western New Mexico and southwestern Texas, under the names of Apache and Navajo, with their subdivisions. The Shoshonean family may not have moved far from their pristine home, at least seem not to have entirely abandoned it, since the Shoshonean area still lies contiguous to the Pacific coast in southern California. They apparently simply improved the opportunity of expansion, and latterly perhaps dispossessed some weaker tribes. Still, it is quite possible that the Shoshonean people were powerful and spread over a wide interior area from which they have never departed even during the prevalence of the glacial climates of the north.

The two great Indian families, however, in which we are most interested are the Algonquian and the Siouan. Let us notice the contrasts in their distribution. The Algonquian spreads over the northeastern part of the United States and Canada, with a small root lingering adjoining the Shoshonean in Colorado, but has no representative on the southeast Atlantic coast. It is true that according to the map the Algonquian stock extends as far south on the Atlantic seaboard as North Carolina, but this southward expansion there is of later date and can be excluded from the discussion. Indeed, the whole Delaware confederacy, covering the Algonquian areas in New Jersey, New York, and some portions of New England as well as all of that in the stales of Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and the most of Illinois, can likewise be excluded, since, as will appear, their acquisition of those areas is of comparatively recent date. It appears, therefore, if the Algonquian stock was governed in post-glacial time by the forces which have been mentioned, that that people started from the southwestern country, spread over the interior plains, and preempted the timbered regions of Canada and the northern United States. It hence follows that the northern part of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and the most of New England were the first settled habitats, in the United States, of the Algonquian people. Prior to the Dakotan incursion, the Algonquian probably controlled areas farther south, especially in Minnesota, while the mainly uninhabited interior, i. e., the plains of the Missouri and of the upper Mississippi, were the fields over which for a long period of time all the surrounding nations sent war parties and hunters, but did not venture to make permanent settlements.

Now compare with this the distribution of the Siouan stock. It has two small areas on the Atlantic seaboard contiguous to similar areas