History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The Indian In His Wigwam
Characteristics of The Red Race of America
From Original Notes and Manuscripts
By Henry R. Schoolcraft
Dewitt & Davenport
This is a lengthy book and covers many of the Red Race who
are not native to New York State. Pertinent parts of the book will be posted.
Thanks to Pamela Wozniak and David Collins for loaning this book for the purpose of using it on our website.
INDIAN ARROW HEADS, &c.
BY far the most numerous relics of the Red Race, now found in those parts of our country from which it has disappeared, are the small stones with which they headed their arrows. Being made of the most durable substances, they have generally remained in the soil, unaffected by time and the changes of season. They most abound in those rich meadows which-border some of our -rivers, and in other spots of peculiar fertility, though of less extent, where the pasture, or other attractions, collected game for the Red men. The stones most commonly used were quartz and flint, which were preferred on account of the facility of shaping them, the keenness of the points and edges, which they readily present under the blows of a skilful manufacturer, as well as their superior hardness and imperishable nature. Multitudes of specimens still exist, which show the various forms and sizes to which the Red men reduced stones of these kinds: and they excite our admiration, by their perfect state of preservation, as well by the skilfulness of their manufacture.
Other stones, however, were not unfrequently used : and a collection which we have been making for many years, presents a considerable variety of materials, as well as of sizes, shapes and colors. Hard sandstone, trap or graacke, jasper and chalcedony, appear occasionally; some almost transparent. One of the larger size is made of steatite, and smooth, as if cut or scraped with a knife, contrary to the common method, of gradually chipping off small fragments of more brittle stone, by light blows often repeated. These arrow heads were fastened to the shaft, by inserting the butt into the split end, and tying round it a string of deer's sinews. A groove or depression is commonly observable m the stone, designed to receive the string. But it is sometimes difficult to imagine how the fastening was effected, as some perfect arrow-heads show no such depressions, and their forms are not well adapted to such a purpose. This peculiarity, however, is most frequently to be observed in specimens of small size, the larger, and especially such as are commonly supposed to have been the heads of spears, being usually well shaped for tying.
It is remarkable that some spots have been found, where such relics were surprizingly numerous. In Hartford, Connecticut, about thirty years ago, many were picked up in a garden, at the corner of Front and Mill streets. The spot was indeed on the bank of the Little River, probably at the head of Indian Canoe navigation: but yet no rational conjecture could be formed, to account for the discovery, except one. It was concluded that the place was an ancient burying ground. Many bits of coarse earthen-ware were found, such as are common in many parts of the country. About two allies below Middletown, Connecticut, on the slope of a hill on the southern side of the Narrows, we discovered, some years since, a great number of small fragments-of white quartz, scattered thickly over the surface of the ground, perhaps for half an acre. Among them were several arrow heads of various forms, most of them imperfect, and many pieces of stone, which at first sight resembled them, but, on closer inspection, seemed to have been designed for arrow heads, but spoiled in. the making. Some had one good edge, or a point or barb, while the other parts of the same stones showed only the natural form and fracture. In many instances, it was easy to see that the workman might well have been discouraged from proceeding any farther, by a flaw, a break or the nature of the stone. Our conclusion was, that the spot had long been a place where Indian arrow heads were made, and that we saw around us the refuse fragments rejected by the workmen. Other spots have been heard of resembling this.
If such relics were found nowhere else out in our own country, they would be curious, and worthy of preservation and attention: but it is an interesting fact, not however generally known, that they exist in many other parts of the world. Stone arrow and spear heads have been found in England for hundreds of years, and are believed to have been made and used by the Britons, who, in respect to civilization, were nearly on a level with our Indians. These relics are called by the common people Celts, from the race whose memory they recal ; and particular accounts of them are given, with drawings, in several antiquarian works. They hear a striking resemblance to our Indian arrow heads; and many of them could be hardly, if at all, distinguished from those of America. African arrows have been brought to this country, in which the points were of the same forms and materials, and fastened in the same manner. About twelve years ago a vessel from Stonington was attacked by a party of Patagonians, who threw arrows on board. One of these which we procured, was pointed with a head of milky quartz, exactly corresponding with specimens picked up in New England.
Among-the relics found in excavating the low mounds on the plain of Marathon, as we were informed by one of our countrymen, who was at Athens some years ago, there were spear heads made of flint, which, he declared, were like those he had often seen ploughed up in his native fields. These, it was conjectured, might have been among the weapons of some of the rude Scythians in the Persian army, which met its defeat on that celebrated battle ground.
A negro, from an obscure group of islands, just north of New Guinea, in describing the weapons in use among his countrymen, drew the forms of spear heads, which he said were often made of stones; and, when shown specimens from our collection, declared that they were very much like them.
It has been thought, that certain instruments would naturally be invented by men in particular states of society and under certain circumstances, as the result of their wants and the means at hand to supply them. It is not, however, always easy to reconcile this doctrine with fasts. For example, the black race of the islands north of New Holland, (of which so little is yet known,) appear to require the use of the bow as much as any other savage people, yet they are entirely ignorant of it, though it has been thought one of the simple, most natural and most indispensable instruments in such a condition of society.
We are therefore left in doubt, in the present state of our knowledge, whether the manufacture and use of stone arrow heads have been so extensively diffused over the globe by repeated inventions, or by an intercourse between portions of the human race long since ceased, or by both causes. To whichever of these opinions we may incline, the subject must still appear to us worthy of investigation, as the history of these relics must necessarily be closely connected with that of different families and races of men in every continent and in every zone.
We would invite particular attention to the position and circumstances of Indian remains which may hereafter be found ; and would express a wish that they might be recorded and made known. Owe newspapers offer a most favorable vehicle for the communication of such discoveries and observations, and our editors generally must have taste and judgment: enough to give room for them. It was remarked in some of our publications a few years ago, that no unequivocal remains of the Red men had yet been discovered in the earth, below the most recent strata of soil, excepting cases in which they had been buried in graves, &c. Perhaps later observations may furnish evidence of the longer presence of that race on our continent than such a statement countenances.
One of the most interesting objects of enquiry, with some antiquaries, is whether there are any ancient indications of Alphabetical writing in our continent. A small stone found in the Grave-Creek Mound, and others of a more doubtful character, are quite sufficient to awaken interest and stimulate enquiry.
A few specimens of rude sculpture and drawing have been found
in different pans or the U. States ; and shells, ornaments, &c., evidently
brought from great distances. There may be others, known to individuals of
which antiquaries are not aware. After perusing the foregoing pages, it will
be easy to realize that all such remains may be worthy of attention. Not only
copies should be made and dimensions taken, but descriptions should be written,
local information and traditions collected, measures taken to preserve the
originals, and some notice given which may reach persons interested in such
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