- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Oct 1916, p. 225-241
- Harris, Very Rev. W.R., Speaker
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- A review of theories advanced in efforts to explain the existence of primitive man on our continent. A description of these lands and their inhabitants before the daring Genoese sailed on his wondrous voyage of discovery. A series of personal reminiscences, with detailed and evocative descriptions follow, of the ancient city of Palenque, Chiapas and the Maya temples and other structures. The history, art, culture, and science of these primitive Americans. The lack of analogy of art or culture that can assimilate the ancient civilization of American with that of any known people. Their skill in medicine and surgery. Aqueducts, causeways and paved roads. Advanced agriculture. Tools made of an alloy of tin and copper. Regretting, while examining the strange and wonderful objects in an American Antiquities exhibit, that from the wreck of this primitive civilization some of the arts belonging to it were not saved and handed down to us. Origin of their civilization. Decline and disappearance of this ancient civilization. Origin of our Canadian Indians. Great Antiquity of Primitive Americans. A detailed description of what has been discovered about these lands and these people who lived here long before our ancestors came here. The strange and unfamiliar animals that must have prowled through the forests and roamed over the plains on this continent, as evidenced through the fossil record. Efforts to solve these puzzles to invite our attention for some time into the future.
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- 26 Oct 1916
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CRADLE LANDS OF CANADIAN INDIANS
AN ADDRESS BY VERY REV. W. R. HARRIS, D.D., LL.D.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto Oct. 26, 1916
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--Before entering upon the subject of this morning's address and, as forming an introduction to the address itself, allow me to briefly review the theories advanced in efforts to explain the existence of primitive man on our continent.
Some writers, following Ballet in his "Reponses Critiques," regard the American Indians as autochtons or as a distinct race evolved from or created in America, and independent of that existing at any time in other continents. Lord Gainsborough was of the opinion that our Indians are descendants of a remnant of a pre-Noachic race of men who escaped the diluvian cataclysm, and are now the most ancient people in existence. Plausible arguments and ingenious sophistries have been made on behalf of a Chinese, Welsh and Japanese immigration. The French anthropologist, Campones, favoured an early Carthagenian colony; while Kircher and Huet contended that the Indians of America are of Egyptian origin. Sir William Jones says they are descendants of Asiatic Indians, and a few of our American antiquaries hold that they are the sons and daughters of the lost tribes of Israel.
Humbolt in his "Essai Politique" was of the opinion that the Mexican Indians are the descendants of the Hiongnoos, who are said, in the Chinese annals, to have emigrated under their leader, Puno, and have entered northern Siberia and were never again heard of.
Matte-Brun after a minute investigation concludes that tribes connected with the Finnish, Ostiac, Permian and Caucasian families, passing along the borders of the Frozen Ocean, and crossing over Behring's Straits spread themselves in different directions towards Greenland and Chili, and that other tribes allied to the Japanese and Chinese, proceeding along the coast, penetrated to Mexico.
Again, we are confronted with innumerable volumes tracing the origin of the Indians to Canaanites, Phoenicians, Monguls, Malays and Scythians. Many who have written on the subject are of the opinion that America received its first inhabitants from islands which lie between the extremities of Asia and America, that is to say, from Yezo, Gama's Land, and other lands, including a cluster of isles, possibly the Aleutian Islands.
Then there is the "Lamanite Myth" of the "Book of Mormon" recording the sailing of Nephi, the prohet, with his sons and daughters from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the coast of South America--600 years before the Christian era.
Amid the confusion of opinions and theories written on the subject we are not then surprised that some writers of the last century should have taken a shorter method to solve the problem by asserting that America had its own population independent of any other continent.
All these suppositions are now relegated to oblivion by students of American ethnology and their ghosts will not, presumably, walk again.
The theory of a submerged continent which in past ages, was inhabited by a civilized people-a land which stretched across the Atlantic from Europe and Africa to America-is now admitted by many scientists to be the only satisfactory solution of the problem involving the origin of the American Indian. Scott Elliott in his book--"The Story of Atlantis" and Henry Scharf in his "Origin of Life in America," supports this contention with very plausible, if not convincing arguments.
The study of ethnology and the search for truth is surely a noble occupation. But when the study is conducted upon severe principles, and with the aid of deep research, it will be found to combine the intellectual enjoyment of the mathematician with the rapture of the poet, and ever to open new sources of interest and delight.
While endeavouring to trace our Canadian Indians back to their cradle lands you will permit me to invite your attention to a description of these lands and their inhabitants before the daring Genoese sailed on his wondrous voyage of discovery.
THE ANCIENT CITY OF PALENQUE, CHIAPAS
I well remember the evening hours I passed alone amid the ruins of the pre-Columbian City of Palenque, near the boundary of Yucatan. Everywhere around me were the gruesome memorials of a civilization and a religion which may have escaped the Noachic deluge, but perished and passed away, as all civilizations and gentile religions by a mysterious law of disintegration, vanish and disappear.
The repose, the stillness, the loneliness and abandonment of the dead city oppressed me with their burden of isolation and sadness. The sombre buildings-the abode of the scorpion and the centipede, the mutilated and wondrous statuary groups, where the cunning of the sculptor gave to the inert stone all the warmth and vitality of life; the shattered altars and fallen pillars, the utter silence and loneliness, shrouding tablets, walls and columns, brought back to my mind memories of the ruined cities of Thebes, of Karnac and Babylon. But the changeless dark green of the foliage, the hue of the moss and the gloomy shadings of the buildings of Palenque, wrap in sadness this ancient city in a shroud that only a tropic land and a tropic climate may weave.
The epigraphic signs on the tablets of stone, the unfamiliar stone faces, the hieroglyphic sculpture on sepulchral walls, and, above all, the heavy odour of decomposing tropical vegetation, separate this phantom in the wilderness from the fallen cities of other lands, and give to it a character of its own and an entity unlike anything seen in Europe or in Asia.
Everywhere around me were ruins out of which came the tamarind trees stirred by the breath of desert breezes and caressed by desert air, and no one, absolutely no one but myself, at that hour and in this weird and lonely place to contemplate the wreck and ruin of avenging time. Around me and upon all sides were heaps of ruins, ghastly in their isolation and silence, for even the stone faces had a solemn sadness like unto the faces of those bereaved of their beloved.
These gigantic stones, the cyclopean walls, the colossal pillars were painful reminders of a race conquered by the foe, by plague, or annihilated by the vengeance of God. The volcano of Masaya, in the sister state of Guatemala, that for long years has been cold, is less majestic in the stern silence of its crater than is this dead Palenque.
The Christian philosopher devoted to the study of the past or the future, the man of faith, or of science who gazes upon these melancholy remains as he wanders among these wrecks and ruins of time, studies the weird figures and looks upon the stony faces of the unknown dead, feels through his veins, nerves and arteries an emotion of terror and awe always produced by the oppression of desert solitude, or by the colossal remains of a buried and forgotten past.
This abandoned city, with its terraces and temples, its pyramids and sculptured figures of men and women, tells more eloquently than written history of the great antiquity of the primitive civilization of the American Indian. For anything we know it may antedate all the civilizations of Egypt and Ethiopia.
MAYA TEMPLES AND STRUCTURES
In the remains of many of the pre-Columbian cities of Mexico, Chiapas and Central America we behold the most elaborate examples of sculpture and stucco ornamentation adorning the altars, panels and walls of the buildings-the work of a people skilled in architecture, drawing and painting, and beyond doubt, excelling in arts that have perished. In many of the halls still standing are arabesques, fashioned in mosaics, fret-work and delicate tracery not unworthy of a place in modern decorative art. Some of the sculptured figures are of heroic dimensions. The curiously designed reliefs, the unfamiliar figures of the altars, and the panel-work on the inner walls of Copan are not surpassed by the temple specimens of Egypt and Assyria on exhibition in Paris and London.
The pillars and stone tablets which carry hieroglyphics are remarkably well executed. These hieroglyphics, or secret writings, were executed in symbols or characters known only to the priests or learned men of the race. We have not, unfortunately, been able to decipher them, so that the characters on the monuments of Copan, Palenque, Quirigua and Mayapan furnish us no data or information. The Maya system of symbolic writing appears to be a species of mnemonics or signs to aid the memory. The hieroglyphics on the Palenque tablets-now in the National Museum, Mexico City-are in perpendicular rows, and, for aught we know, the characters may be alphabetic and stand for a written language. On these tablets we behold a wonderful system of symbolism, and to interpret it, the Aztec or Mexican picture-writing affords us no help.
Apart from the accurate and familiar descriptions of many of the temples and great buildings left us by the early Spanish writers, and of the art and splendour of Mexican structures-we have the testimony of Bernal Diaz de Castillo, a brave and rugged companion of Cortes, the Spanish conqueror, in his brilliant campaigns ending in the conquest of Mexico. In Bernal Diaz' "History of the Conquest of New Spain" we find many surprising descriptions of wonderful buildings, standing m the cities entered on the way from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. Of the city of Cempoal he writes: "We were surprised at the beauty of the buildings some of which had been lately plastered, in which art these people are very expert." He speaks of large structures and fortifications of lime and stone and he adds: "Appearances demonstrated that we had entered a new country, for the temples were very lofty and the terraced buildings and houses of the Caciques were plastered and whitewashed." Of the city of Cholula he tells us that it much resembled Valladolid in Spain. It "had a hundred lofty white towers, which were the temples of their gods. The principal temple was higher than that of Mexico and each of these buildings was placed in a spacious court." Approaching the city of Mexico, he is moved to enthusiasm by the spectacle of its grandeur. "We could compare it," he says, "to nothing but the enchanted scenes we had read of in Amadis de Gaul, from the great towers and temples and other edifices of lime and stone which seemed to rise up out of the water.
"We were received by the great lords of that country, relations of Montezuma, who conducted us to our quarters which were palaces magnificently built of stone, the timber of which was cedar, with spacious courts and apartments hung with canopies of the finest cotton. The whole was ornamented with works of art, painted, and admirably plastered and whitened, and it was rendered more delightful by numbers of beautiful birds."
While reading this "true history," as Diaz calls his book, we must remember that it was written at a time when there were many living who could contradict him if incorrect or false, and when Aztec civilization was declining. His history was never impeached; its fidelity and truth have been acknowledged by all contemporaneous and subsequent historians. Having visited in Yucatan, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras the ruins of these pre-Columbian cities, I am satisfied that his descriptions are as true and reliable as those given in any of our accredited books of travel.
And, as if to corroborate the records of Bernal Diaz, Professor Hiram Bingham, when he discovered in 1911 the remains of the city of Mecchu--Pichu, informs us that "the ruins are on an almost inaccessible ridge, 2,000 feet above the Urabamba river. They are of great beauty and magnificence, and include palaces, baths, temples, and about 15o houses. The huge blocks of white granite, some of them twelve feet long, were so carefully cut that they match perfectly. Though no mortar was used to hold the stones together, the walls have withstood the elements for at least 2,000 years."
Mournfully beautiful are the ruins of the Hondurian city of Copan surrounded by a forest painful in the intensity_ and duration of its silence. It is a phantom in a wilderness and when we demand of it to tell us how many centuries have passed away since the quarry was opened to obtain stones for the buildings; how long was the city inhabited, and when and why was it abandoned, there comes no answer to our questionings.
If, as it is now conceded by students of Central American history, the Quiches preceded the Mayas and another race antedated the Quiches and built the cities, temples and halls whose colossal remains are found all over Central America, Yucatan and Mexico, what assurances have we that many civilized communities did not successively appear, run their course, and perish in the veiled ages of prehistoric times? And by prehistoric times, I mean the ages between the creation of man and the beginning of authentic history. In order to account for the splendour and magnitude of the temples and public buildings of these cities, a centralized form of government must have existed. These wonderful structures could have been erected only by an expenditure of great labour, and under a highly organized system of superintendence. Possibly the government was an imperial autocracy, or it may have been like unto that of Greece, which was in religion and language one nation though politically a confederacy of sovereign states. The architecture and system of writing of these vanished peoples are different from those of any known race of men; ancient or modern. They are of a new order and are entirely and absolutely anomalous. They stand alone. Without models or masters from abroad their architecture originated among themselves. Their culture and refinement were not borrowed from Europe or Asia. They were a distinct and separate people existing apart from and independent of other continents, and apparently indigenous, like the animals, plants and fruits of the soil.
No analogies of art or culture assimilate the ancient civilization of America with that of any known people. Their structural designs and ornamental embellishments were their own, and yet the remains of their great buildings at Uxmal in Yucatan, Copan in Honduras and Mitla in Mexico are, today, as imposing and of as high an order of Architecture as are those of ancient Egypt and Assyria.
PRIMITIVE ARTS AND SCIENCE
Moreover these primitive Americans were skilled in medicine and surgery. The " Notes Sur la medicine et la botanique des anciens Mexicans," published in book form lately by the Vatican Polygot Press, furnish us with many items of information that must surprise those who think that only in recent times have we made valuable discoveries in therapeutics, and that all intelligent study of disease and all permanent advance in human physiology have been made by European methods and by the men of Europe. Among the Mayas of Yucatan and among the people who were in Mexico before the invasion of the Aztecs, doctors constituted a distinct and separate society. They formed a class by themselves and the sons inherited the profession of their fathers.
They had many methods of treating disease and were familiar with diuretics, emetics, dietetics, febrifuges, emollients and vermifuges. They administered their medicines in many ways; as decoctions, infusions, oils, ointments and plasters. Certain gums and resins they applied as electuaries. They prescribed vapor baths, and varied the treatment to suit the disease or the individual patient.
The historian d'Anghiera states that in his own time, 1524, when Spanish physicians, then in Mexico, failed to cure their patients, the native doctors were sometimes called in and often succeeded where the Spanish doctors failed.
Even as late as the days of the conquest, when Maya and Aztec civilization had greatly declined, Cortes and his companions were successfully treated by native doctors, for illnesses and wounds. Cortes was so satisfied with their medical and surgical knowledge that he wrote to Madrid, saying that no European physicians were wanted in Mexico.
These native doctors anticipated modern discoveries of ether and chloroform, for they made use of the seeds of certain plants for anaesthesia and a distilled spirit for decreasing the pain of operations. Surgery, too, was practised to some extent, if we may judge by the large number of trepanned skulls found in caves in Mexico and Honduras. Their surgical instruments were probably made of bronze or obsidian.
In August, 1912, Professor Marshall Seville of Columbia University returned from Esmeraldas, Ecuador, where he passed two months excavating among the ruins of the ancient city. He brought back with him the skulls of men who dwelt in Esmeraldas five hundred years before the discovery of America. Teeth in the jaws of these heads were filled with an alloy, and crowned with metallic caps. In every instance, he assures us, the workmanship, is almost the equal 'of the art of the modern dentist.
Bernadino Sahagun, who was contemporaneous with the conquest and who studied the system of medicine as it existed in Mexico in his time, hints even of antiseptics in his " Universal History of New Spain."
The pre-Columbian scientists of America were also diligent students of botany. When the Spaniards landed at Vera Cruz, in 15ig, native botany was in advance of that of Europe. Several centuries later, the genius of Linnaeus enabled him to substitute for long and crude descriptions of plants, a concise designation-a generic name and a specific classification. But, many centuries before the time of the great botanist, these Mexican and Peruvian specialists had invented a botanical nomenclature, and a plant and herb classification, superior to those of Europe before the time of Linnaeus. They had traced the influence of temperature on plants, shrubs and flowers, and to some extent had systematized their researches. Though their botanical knowledge, compared with our own, today, was imperfect, we have abundant evidence to satisfy us that they had advanced far on the road to mastering the science of botany before their civilization began to decay.
They built aqueducts, constructed causeways and laid many miles of paved roads. The immense ruins which the Spanish conquerors discovered in Mexico and Central America and particularly in the riverine lands of Columbia and Uraqua; the highways cut, in many cases-through stubborn rock or constructed of large blocks of stone; all these with the remarkable remains of ancient canals involving great feats of engineering, prove conclusively the high plane of civilization which these mysterious people reached.
Writing of the advanced agriculture of these ancient Americans, Professor O. F. Cook, who was a member of the expedition sent to Peru, in 1915, by Yale University, says: "At a time when our ancestors in northern Europe were still utter savages, settled agricultural communities must have existed in this Peruvian region. "The native agricultural of this land" he adds, in his article which appeared in the National Geographic Magazine, May, 1916, "reached an advanced stage of reclamation projects long before America was discovered by Europeans. Our undertakings sink into insignificance in the face of what this vanished race accomplished."
"With tools made of an alloy of tin and copper," writes Prescott in his "History of the Conquest of Mexico," "they cut not only metals, but with the aid of a silicious dust, the hardest substances, such as basalt, porphyry, amethysts and emeralds. They cast also vessels of gold and silver, carving them in a very delicate manner. They imitated very nicely the figures of animals and, what was extraordinary, could mix the metals in such a manner that the feathers of a bird or the scales of a fish should be alternately of gold and silver. The Spanish goldsmiths admitted their superiority over themselves in these ingenious works."
In Mexico and Peru copper and tin were alloyed and hardened to the consistency of iron; gold and silver- and bronze were skilfully beaten out and worked into filagree; there were excellent images of singing birds in gold and in silver, and a profusion of gold plate.
The Department of American Antiquities in the National Museum, Mexico City, is the most notable in the world, and is a veritable treasure house of pre-Columbian relics and prehistoric "finds." In one room of this department are exhibited specimens of the famous Aztec picture writings, and Aztec maps and drawings of Tenochtillan, now the city of Mexico. Here also are arms, jewels, glazed pottery and cloth made from the fibres of heneguen and maguey plants. Beautiful examples of feather cloth woven from extremely delicate tissues of cotton, combined with feathers and rabbits' fur, polished crystals, obsidian or volcanic glass manufactured into delicate objects of ornamental or economic value are on exhibition, while figures of gold and silver, exquisitely wrought, and filagree ornaments of beautiful design fill many cases in the museum.
While examining these strange and wonderful exhibits you cannot help regretting that from the wreck of this primitive civilization some of the arts belonging to it were not saved and handed down to us. We do not know for a certainty how their astronomers determined the apparent motion of the sun, or measured the length of the solar year. We cannot understand how they cut and polished crystals and other stones; manufactured delicate and complicated articles from volcanic glass; cast figures of gold and silver in one piece; made filagree ornaments without soldering; applied to pottery smooth and transparent glazes such as we find on our own fine ware, and with colours that, after remaining for centuries buried among ruins, are today fresh and brilliant. Nor do we know how they were able to weave rabbits fur and beautifully delicate feathers with the finest tissues of cotton into valuable cloth.
ORIGIN OF THEIR CIVILIZATION
Here it may be pertinent to inquire into the origin of this extraordinary civilization of these ancient Americans. Anthropologists, such as d'Orbigny, Heinrich, Schlieman and Brasseur de Bourbourg are of the opinion that the regions now known as Yucatan, Chiapas, and Tabasco were the cradlelands of primitive American civilization. From this land in very early days, went out colonies which established themselves in Honduras, Peru and Guatemala, carrying with them the culture and arts of civilized men. From here also detached bodies moved northward and settled in parts of the territory known today as Mexico, where they built Mitla, Xochicalco and other cities whose ruins today excite our astonishment and admiration.
Everywhere in these lands we find the tidal remains of an ancient race which welled up from its primeval bed in Yucatan, multiplied and rolled on over the entire continent. Everywhere also are the melancholy memorials of a people who, after accomplishing great things, ran their course and perished in the veiled ages of prehistoric times.
It is impossible to deny the civilization and vast antiquity of these lands without using methods of criticism that would destroy the credibility of all history. When you move among the remains of these forest-shrouded and phantom cities and gaze upon the ruined temples, altars and monuments, you know that they are but the pitiful fragments left after the wreck of a civilization that was lost long ago in the awful storms of civil war, or in the gradual debasement of individual and national life.
Standing among the wreck and ruin of the temples, statuary and altars of this vanished race, whose language no man may speak, whose faces are unlike those of any people known to us, it is impossible not to credit them with a certain grandeur of thought, high architectural skill, indomitable energy, and a debasement of moral and religious life supremely sad and pitiful.
DECLINE AND DISAPPEARANCE OF THIS ANCIENT CIVILIZATION
We do not know how these primitive races fell, like Milton's angels, from their high estate. Possibly their civilization, like that of all ancient peoples, was destroyed by their own pride and arrogance. For, as Byron tells us:
"This is the moral of all human tales 'Tis but the sad rehearsal of the past, First freedom, then glory; when that fails, Wealth, vice, corruption, barbarism at last, And history with all her volumes vast Hath but one page."
No doubt, also, civil war wore them down and possibly plagues and famines. Flying before their victorious conquerors the defeated remnants moved northwards into the forests and, in time, lost the best part of their civilization. They lost their social strength, their historic memories, arts, traditions, crafts, and, in many instances the very means and methods of cultivation.
Who may deny that the savage or barbarian tribes who roamed the plains or peopled the forests of North America, in the memory of men yet living, were not the descendants of these hunted families, these remnants from a civilization that in remote ages was lost in lurid storms of war, or disappeared under adverse conditions which then, as now, make for the decay of national unity, national virtue and character. Observing in particular the social and the family state and the condition of American Indians from our own observation of their habits and our limited knowledge of their history, we note that the same fortunes have followed the migrations of all dispersed and scattered nations.
When human beings become destitute and desperate conditions of existence confront them, barbarism and savagery will, in time, overtake them. When driven by the fortunes of war, or under the dire pressure of famine, from its own land, the flying remnant gradually separates from the civilization it carries from its home, it loses its culture, just as we would lose it now, with all our refinement, if we were forced to live the nomadic life with its trials and hardships. And in the forests and desert wilderness to which the fugitives fled for safety, we can well imagine desperate conditions of existence and, therefore, impossible conditions of civilization.
ORIGIN OF OUR CANADIAN INDIANS
From this civilized race inhabiting, in remote times, Yucatan, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala came, I am satisfied from my researches, our Canadian and North American Indians. Their colour indicated a southern origin. It takes thousands of years to give colour to a race and thousands of years, under changed climatic conditions, to alter that colour. In their migrations these wanderers from their original home brought with them the seeds of tobacco, squash, and Indian corn or maize which today keep their southern names. They retained the knowledge of making pottery, of fleshing and tanning hides and stringing wampum or shell beads, which arts are practised now among Maya and Mexican tribes. Many of the ceremonial and religious practices of our Indians living in the last century are identically the same as those of the Mayas and Aztecs, when Cortes landed, in 1519, at Vera Cruz.
GREAT ANTIQUITY OF PRIMITIVE AMERICANS
But from what people or from what land did Yucatan inherit its civilization ? The men who colonized the peninsula, who built Xumal, Mayapan and Palenque, were in the material order civilized. They could not have risen from savagery, for there is no record in the annals of the human race of any savage tribe of men advancing, without the aid of civilized man, one single step on the road to civilization. This is history. We must then assume that the men who colonized Central America were civilized. Let me, by way of parenthesis, mention that the chronology of the Bible, the age of man upon the earth, or the universality of the Noachic deluge, have not been authoritatively settled by the Christian Church or by Christian scientists.
We must also, and permissibly, take it for granted that these civilized inhabitants of Yucatan lived before the smelting of iron ore was discovered, for if these ancient people came from Europe, Asia, or Northern Africa, they could not have forgotten the art of smelting or the utilization of iron. The axe, saw, plough, shipbolt, spear-head and chisel were, according to Herodotus; known to all the civilized races of antiquity. The civilization of Egypt goes back to the Deluge. The use of iron was known in the time of Tubal-Cain, son of Lamech, who antedated Noah. It was known long before the building of Solomon's temple, before the time of Hesiod and- Homer. Iron goes back to the birth of history. Now notice this. No article or implement of iron has, until now, been found anywhere among the ruins of ancient American cities, or indications that it was ever known or even heard of by these mysterious people. If our continent was, at any time, peopled by a civilized race from the old world, it must have been long before mankind was familiar with the properties of iron. Nor could these primitive Americans have lost the art of smelting ore if they had descended into barbarism and risen again, for among the tribes of Equatorial Africa, the smelting of iron remained with them in their debasement.
It is also a singular fact that no domesticated animal, if we except the burden-bearing Llama and Alpaca of Peru, were found in Mexico, or in all South and Central America. The Spaniards introduced to these countries, the cow, dog, horse, burro, goat, sheep, hen, and cat, and among all the Indians retaining their tribal languages, these animals are known by their Spanish names. In the Aztec codices or in the traditions of any American race or tribe, there is no mention or memory of a domesticated animal.
Nor can we, by affinity of language with any spoken or written tongue of the other continents of the world, trace any relationship between these people and other races of men. Nothing is so indelible as speech. Sounds that, in unknown ages- of man, were uttered by the races of the earth still remain with us as legacies from unrecorded time. Languages, like seeds, never entirely die. They stay with the soil, and when nations, or tribal families disappear forever, mountains repeat and rivers murmur the voices of these races that have disappeared, beers absorbed or were annihilated. All European, Asiatic and African languages have been followed back to their sources, but the languages of the American Indians rest apart from all other known tongues of our race. Their speech throws no light on the origin of these prediluvian people.
Philologists like Gallatin, Duponseau and Mueller say it differs radically from all other known languages which could not happen if our Indians were descendants from a European, African or Asiatic stock.
No theories of derivation of the languages or dialects of these Indians from those of the old world sustain the test of critical examination or of grammatical construction. Comparison with the Sanskrit, the Hebrew, the Phoenician, Japanese, Chinese, Celtic or Scandinavian languages establishes no affinity between them and any primitive American tongue. As the human voice articulates not more than twenty radical and distinct sounds, whatever resemblance may be found to exist between any other language and those of the Maya, Mexican and Dacotah is of no ethnic value.
While endeavouring to solve the problem of prehistoric man in America and, collaterally the Canadian Indian, we are confronted with another problem of grave import. When America was discovered, strange and unfamiliar animals prowled through its forests and roamed over its plains. Reptilian life was everywhere and fresh-water fish swam in lakes and rivers a thousand miles inland. In these inland lakes species of fish fauna are found which, writes Robert Francis Scarf in his latest book, "Distribution and Origin of Life in America" cannot live in salt water and could not have originated from any ocean fauna. These fish and animals were here ages before the coming of man.
Fossil remains of extinct animals and lizards of giant size and strength, and petrified bones of huge mammalian monsters like those unearthed lately in Africa and Europe, have been recovered from petrified clay in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. How then did these fresh-water fish, these mammalian monsters, these pythons, boas, and reptiles of the forest, these multitudinous animals of many species and varieties, and, finally, man himself, find their way to a land separated from other lands by two great oceans?
The solution of, or preferably, an effort to solve this puzzling problem, will invite our attention sometime in the future. today I can do no more than to thank you, Mr. President and gentlemen, for the patience and gracious courtesy with which you have listened to an address altogether outside the domain of the eloquent and pleasant after-dinner speeches which grace our ordinary meetings.
Mr. Allen W. Johnston--"Tekahionwaki"-a brother of Pauline Johnston, representing the Mohawk Indians, moved the vote of thanks to Dean Harris, which was heartily carried.