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considerable extent by the Indians, or formed an important part of their food. Corn, and beans, and pumpkins were indigenous to the country, and were probably raised in small quantities around each Indian village. But they were left to the labor of the women, whose only instrument of agriculture was a clam-shell, or the shoulder-blade of a buffalo, tied to a stick. Their habits of life were then what they now are. They returned from their hunting grounds in the spring, and assembled in their villages. Here their few vegetables were planted. But although the seed-time came, no harvest followed; for before their corn was ripe, it was generally consumed, with that utter recklessness of the future, which forms so prominent and unaccountable a feature in their character. As the autumn approached, they separated and repaired to their wintering grounds, where, during eight months of the year, they were engaged alternately in the chase, and in those relaxations and amusements, peculiar to the condition of the hunter. This was the annual round of aboriginal life.

It is obvious, that the reduction or disappearance of the game, consequent upon the conversion of forests into fields, and the gradual advance of a civilized people, must have soon begun to press upon the means of subsistence, on which the Indians mainly depended. Other circumstances coöperated in the work of destruction. Fire-arms were introduced, and greatly facilitated the operations of the hunter. Articles of European merchandise were offered to the Indians, and they were taught the value of their furs, and encouraged to procure them. New wants arose among them. The rifle was found a more efficient instrument than the bow and arrow; blankets were more comfortable than buffalo robes; and cloth, than dressed skins. The exchange was altogether unfavorable to them. The goods they received were dear, and the peltry they furnished was cheap. A greater number of animals was necessary for the support of each family, and increased exertion was required to procure them. We need not pursue this subject further. It is easy to see the consequences, both to the Indians and their game.

Herds of buffaloes were once found upon the shore of Lake Erie, and at the base of the Allegany mountains. They have now receded to the plains beyond the Mississippi, and are every year migrating still further west. A few years since, they were unknown in the Rocky Mountains. They have now VOL. XXX.-No. 66.


passed that barrier, and will ere long reach the Pacific. The beaver has nearly disappeared upon all our borders, and hunters and trappers have followed them to the waters of the Columbia. Even the common red deer, once so abundant, is rarely found east of the Allegany, and is becoming scarce in the western regions.

But a still more powerful cause has operated to produce this diminution in the number of the Indians. Ardent spirits have been the bane of their improvement; one of the principal agents in their declension and degradation. In this proposition we include only those tribes in immediate contact with our frontier settlements, or who have remained upon reservations guarantied to them. It has been found impracticable to prevent the sale of spirituous liquors to those who are thus situated. The most judicious laws are eluded or openly violated. The love of spirits, and the love of gain, conspire to bring together the buyer and the seller. As the penalties become heavier, and the probability of detection and punishment stronger, the prohibited article becomes dearer, and the sacrifice to obtain it greater. We shall not attempt to investigate the cause of the inordinate attachment displayed by the Indians to ardent spirits. It is probably without a parallel in all the history of man, and is certainly so, with very few exceptions, in the whole range of their own society. There is a singular uniformity in its operation, destroying the effect of individual character, and substituting a common standard of feeling and deportment. These facts are known to all, to whom the Indians themselves are known. This predisposition was the subject of observation and regret two centuries ago; and the earlier historians and travellers, while they furnish the record of its existence, furnish also the evidence of its overpowering influence and destructive consequences.

Our object, as will be seen in the sequel, is not to trace the operation of all the causes which have contributed to the diminution of the population of the Indians. We confine ourselves to those which may be fairly attributed to the coming of the Europeans among them, and which are yet exerting their influence, wherever the two races are placed in contact. As we shall attempt eventually to prove, that the only means of preserving the Indians from that utter extinction which threatens them, is to remove them from the sphere of this influence, we are desirous of showing, that no change has occurred, or proba

bly can occur, in the principles or practice of our intercourse with them, by which the progress of their declension can be arrested, so long as they occupy their present situation.

The consequences of their own wars, therefore, do not fall within this inquiry. These were in active operation long before our forefathers landed upon the continent, and their extent and effects have been gradually circumscribed by our interposition, until the war-hatchet has been buried by many of the tribes which are near us; and if not buried, will, we trust, ere long be taken from those which are remote.

To the operation of the physical causes, which we have described, must be added the moral causes connected with their mode of life, and their peculiar opinions. Distress could not teach them providence, nor want industry. As animal food decreased, their vegetable productions were not increased. Their habits were stationary and unbending; never changing with the change of circumstances. How far the prospect around them, which to us appears so dreary, may have depressed and discouraged them, it is difficult to ascertain, as it is also to estimate the effect upon them of that superiority, which we have assumed and they have acknowledged. There is a principle of repulsion in ceaseless activity, operating through all their institutions, which prevents them from appreciating or adopting any other modes of life, or any other habits of thought or action, but those which have descended to them from their ancestors.

That the aboriginal population should decrease under the operation of these causes, can excite no surprise. From an early period, their rapid declension and ultimate extinction were foreseen and lamented, and various plans for their preservation and improvement were projected and pursued. Many of them were carefully taught at our seminaries of education, in the hope that principles of morality and habits of industry would be acquired, and that they might stimulate their countrymen by precept and example to a better course of life. Missionary stations were established among various tribes, where zealous and pious men devoted themselves with generous ardor to the task of instruction, as well in agriculture and the mechanic. arts, as in the principles of morality and religion. The Roman Catholic Church preceded the Protestant, in this labor of charity; and the Lettres Edifiantes are monuments of her zeal and liberality. Unfortunately, they are monuments also

of unsuccessful and unproductive efforts. What tribe has been civilized by all this expenditure of treasure, and labor, and care? From the martyrdom of Le Père Brebeuf, in 1649, upon the shore of Lake Huron, to the death of the last missionary, who sacrificed himself in a cause as holy as it has proved hopeless, what permanent effect has been produced? Year after year sanguine anticipations have been formed, to be succeeded by disappointment and despondency. We are flattered with accounts of success, with explanations for the past and hopes for the future; and this, without the slightest intention to deceive. But the subject itself is calculated to excite. these expectations. There are always individuals attending these establishments, who give fair promise of permanent improvement and usefulness. And as these prospects are blighted, others succeed to excite the same hopes, and to end in the same disappointment.

In the Remarks upon Indian Reform,' written by the Rev. Isaac McCoy, to whom and to whose labors and opinions we shall hereafter refer, there are some views upon this subject, so apposite and correct, that we shall submit them to our readers. It must be borne in mind, that the writer is a missionary, and a pious and laborious one.

Societies and their missionaries should carefully guard against what we might term high coloring. We are naturally fond of telling the more favorable parts of the story, and rather desire the unfavorable parts to sink into oblivion. I could readily point to statements respecting missionary operations, which approximate this character too nearly. But I deem it sufficient to mention only this general and undoubted fact, viz. a man in Europe, by reading the whole of our missionary journals, narratives, reports, &c. would be apt to suppose the success of our labors was such, that the aborigines of our country were rapidly improving their condition, both in respect to Christianity and civilization. How would such a one be disappointed on visiting these regions to find, that, instead of improvement in general, they were rapidly decreasing in numbers, and perishing under their accumulating misfortunes.'

The Wyandots, who occupied so much of the care of the Roman Catholic Missionaries, have dwindled to about 700 individuals, who are seated upon a reservation, near the centre of the state of Ohio. Serious divisions of opinion exist among them, and a sedentary life begins to be irksome. Already

their attention is directed to the trans-Mississippian regions. The Delawares, to whom the Moravians so long and faithfully devoted themselves, have already passed over the Mississippi, where they are resuming their pristine habits. A small society yet exists in Upper Canada; but they are diminishing, and certainly their appearance indicates neither prosperity nor improvement. The Iroquois or Six Nations, the Shawnese, the Miamies, the Potawatamies, and the Ottawas, all of whom have engaged the care and attention of individuals and societies devoted to this object, furnish no evidence of any melioration in their condition, which has resulted from the prosecution of these efforts.

The cause of this total failure cannot be attributed to the nature of the experiment, nor to the character, qualifications, or conduct, of those who have directed it. The process and the persons have varied, as experience suggested alterations in the one, and a spirit of generous self-devotion supplied the changes in the other. But there seems to be some insurmountable obstacle in the habits or temperament of the Indians, which has heretofore prevented, and yet prevents, the success of these labors. Whatever this may be, it appears to be confined to the tribes occupying this part of the continent. In Mexico and South America, a large portion of the aboriginal race has accommodated itself to new circumstances, and forms a constituent part of the same society with their conquerors. Under the Spanish régime they existed as a degraded cast; but still they were sedentary, living under the protection of the laws, and providing by labor for their comfortable subsistence.

In other parts of the continent, particularly in California and Paraguay, where the Spanish sway had but a nominal existence, the Jesuits succeeded in collecting the Indians into regular societies, in improving their morals and condition, and in controlling and directing their conduct. In the usual progress of conquest, where permanent possession is retained, the victors and vanquished become connected together, and if they do not form one people, they yet acknowledge obedience to the same laws, and look to them for protection. But from the St Lawrence to the gulph of Mexico, under the French, or British, or Spanish, or American rule, where is the tribe of Indians, who have changed their manners, who have become. incorporated with their conquerors, or who have exhibited any just estimate of the improvements around them, or any wish to participate in them?

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