Indian Linguistic Families Of America, North Of Mexico
by John Wesley Powell
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[Transcriber's Note:

This text is intended for readers who cannot use the "real" (unicode, utf-8) version of the file or even the simplified Latin-1 form. Letters that could not be shown accurately have been "unpacked" and shown in brackets:

['] syllable stress (angled line similar t acute accent) Ⱥ ⱥ ɇ ... vowel with macron Ǎ ǎ ě ... vowel with breve or hacek (see below) ż dot above letter [eo] e with small ring under it á é ś ... â ê ... à è letter with accent (acute, circumflex, grave; accents on European names are generally not marked) ä letter with dieresis or umlaut t l underlined letter [ch] (Greek) chi [K] [S] [k] [t] upside-down letters [n] small superscript n c with cedilla and n with tilde have been reduced to c and n

Where this "unpacking" results in an unreadable word, a simplified form has been added in brackets with an asterisk: [*Unugun].

In the printed text it is not clear whether the author intended hacek (Unicode "caron", angled) or breve (curved). Breve was used in the utf-8 versions of this document, as it is phonetically plausible and the characters are more widely available. Hacek is used here because the bracketed form ǎ is less ambiguous visually than the breve ă.]

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by J. W. POWELL.

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Nomenclature of linguistic families 7 Literature relating to the classification of Indian languages 12 Linguistic map 25 Indian tribes sedentary 30 Population 33 Tribal land 40 Village sites 40 Agricultural land 41 Hunting claims 42 Summary of deductions 44 Linguistic families 45 Adaizan family 45 Algonquian family 47 Algonquian area 47 Principal Algonquian tribes 48 Population 48 Athapascan family 51 Boundaries 52 Northern group 53 Pacific group 53 Southern group 54 Principal tribes 55 Population 55 Attacapan family 56 Beothuakan family 57 Geographic distribution 58 Caddoan family 58 Northern group 60 Middle group 60 Southern group 60 Principal tribes 61 Population 62 Chimakuan family 62 Principal tribes 63 Chimarikan family 63 Principal tribes 63 Chimmesyan family 63 Principal tribes or villages 64 Population 64 Chinookan family 65 Principal tribes 66 Population 66 Chitimachan family 66 Chumashan family 67 Population 68 Coahuiltecan family 68 Principal tribes 69 Copehan family 69 Geographic distribution 69 Principal tribes 70 Costanoan family 70 Geographic distribution 71 Population 71 Eskimauan family 71 Geographic distribution 72 Principal tribes and villages 74 Population 74 Esselenian family 75 Iroquoian family 76 Geographic distribution 77 Principal tribes 79 Population 79 Kalapooian family 81 Principal tribes 82 Population 82 Karankawan family 82 Keresan family 83 Villages 83 Population 83 Kiowan family 84 Population 84 Kitunahan family 85 Tribes 85 Population 85 Koluschan family 85 Tribes 87 Population 87 Kulanapan family 87 Geographic distribution 88 Tribes 88 Kusan family 89 Tribes 89 Population 89 Lutuamian family 89 Tribes 90 Population 90 Mariposan family 90 Geographic distribution 91 Tribes 91 Population 91 Moquelumnan family 92 Geographic distribution 93 Principal tribes 93 Population 93 Muskhogean family 94 Geographic distribution 94 Principal tribes 95 Population 95 Natchesan family 95 Principal tribes 97 Population 97 Palaihnihan family 97 Geographic distribution 98 Principal tribes 98 Piman family 98 Principal tribes 99 Population 99 Pujunan family 99 Geographic distribution 100 Principal tribes 100 Quoratean family 100 Geographic distribution 101 Tribes 101 Population 101 Salinan family 101 Population 102 Salishan family 102 Geographic distribution 104 Principal tribes 104 Population 105 Sastean family 105 Geographic distribution 106 Shahaptian family 106 Geographic distribution 107 Principal tribes and population 107 Shoshonean family 108 Geographic distribution 109 Principal tribes and population 110 Siouan family 111 Geographic distribution 112 Principal tribes 114 Population 116 Skittagetan family 118 Geographic distribution 120 Principal tribes 120 Population 121 Takilman family 121 Geographic distribution 121 Tanoan family 121 Geographic distribution 122 Population 123 Timuquanan family 123 Geographic distribution 123 Principal tribes 124 Tonikan family 125 Geographic distribution 125 Tonkawan family 125 Geographic distribution 126 Uchean family 126 Geographic distribution 126 Population 127 Waiilatpuan family 127 Geographic distribution 127 Principal tribes 127 Population 128 Wakashan family 128 Geographic distribution 130 Principal Aht tribes 130 Population 130 Principal Haeltzuk tribes 131 Population 131 Washoan family 131 Weitspekan family 131 Geographic distribution 132 Tribes 132 Wishoskan family 132 Geographic distribution 133 Tribes 133 Yakonan family 133 Geographic distribution 134 Tribes 134 Population 135 Yanan family 135 Geographic distribution 135 Yukian family 135 Geographic distribution 136 Yuman family 136 Geographic distribution 137 Principal tribes 138 Population 138 Zunian family 138 Geographic distribution 139 Population 139 Concluding remarks 139


Plate I. Map. Linguistic stocks of North America north of Mexico. In pocket at end of volume

[Transcriber's Note:

The Map is available in the "images" directory accompanying the html version of this file. There are two sizes in addition to the thumbnail:

mapsmall.jpg: 615x732 pixels (about 9x11 in / 23x28 cm, 168K) maplarge.jpg: 1521x1818 pixels (about 22x27 in / 56x70 cm, 1MB) ]

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The languages spoken by the pre-Columbian tribes of North America were many and diverse. Into the regions occupied by these tribes travelers, traders, and missionaries have penetrated in advance of civilization, and civilization itself has marched across the continent at a rapid rate. Under these conditions the languages of the various tribes have received much study. Many extensive works have been published, embracing grammars and dictionaries; but a far greater number of minor vocabularies have been collected and very many have been published. In addition to these, the Bible, in whole or in part, and various religious books and school books, have been translated into Indian tongues to be used for purposes of instruction; and newspapers have been published in the Indian languages. Altogether the literature of these languages and that relating to them are of vast extent.

While the materials seem thus to be abundant, the student of Indian languages finds the subject to be one requiring most thoughtful consideration, difficulties arising from the following conditions:

(1) A great number of linguistic stocks or families are discovered.

(2) The boundaries between the different stocks of languages are not immediately apparent, from the fact that many tribes of diverse stocks have had more or less association, and to some extent linguistic materials have been borrowed, and thus have passed out of the exclusive possession of cognate peoples.

(3) Where many peoples, each few in number, are thrown together, an intertribal language is developed. To a large extent this is gesture speech; but to a limited extent useful and important words are adopted by various tribes, and out of this material an intertribal "jargon" is established. Travelers and all others who do not thoroughly study a language are far more likely to acquire this jargon speech than the real speech of the people; and the tendency to base relationship upon such jargons has led to confusion.

(4) This tendency to the establishment of intertribal jargons was greatly accelerated on the advent of the white man, for thereby many tribes were pushed from their ancestral homes and tribes were mixed with tribes. As a result, new relations and new industries, especially of trade, were established, and the new associations of tribe with tribe and of the Indians with Europeans led very often to the development of quite elaborate jargon languages. All of these have a tendency to complicate the study of the Indian tongues by comparative methods.

The difficulties inherent in the study of languages, together with the imperfect material and the complicating conditions that have arisen by the spread of civilization over the country, combine to make the problem one not readily solved.

In view of the amount of material on hand, the comparative study of the languages of North America has been strangely neglected, though perhaps this is explained by reason of the difficulties which have been pointed out. And the attempts which have been made to classify them has given rise to much confusion, for the following reasons: First, later authors have not properly recognized the work of earlier laborers in the field. Second, the attempt has more frequently been made to establish an ethnic classification than a linguistic classification, and linguistic characteristics have been confused with biotic peculiarities, arts, habits, customs, and other human activities, so that radical differences of language have often been ignored and slight differences have been held to be of primary value.

The attempts at a classification of these languages and a corresponding classification of races have led to the development of a complex, mixed, and inconsistent synonymy, which must first be unraveled and a selection of standard names made therefrom according to fixed principles.

It is manifest that until proper rules are recognized by scholars the establishment of a determinate nomenclature is impossible. It will therefore be well to set forth the rules that have here been adopted, together with brief reasons for the same, with the hope that they will commend themselves to the judgment of other persons engaged in researches relating to the languages of North America.

A fixed nomenclature in biology has been found not only to be advantageous, but to be a prerequisite to progress in research, as the vast multiplicity of facts, still ever accumulating, would otherwise overwhelm the scholar. In philological classification fixity of nomenclature is of corresponding importance; and while the analogies between linguistic and biotic classification are quite limited, many of the principles of nomenclature which biologists have adopted having no application in philology, still in some important particulars the requirements of all scientific classifications are alike, and though many of the nomenclatural points met with in biology will not occur in philology, some of them do occur and may be governed by the same rules.

Perhaps an ideal nomenclature in biology may some time be established, as attempts have been made to establish such a system in chemistry; and possibly such an ideal system may eventually be established in philology. Be that as it may, the time has not yet come even for its suggestion. What is now needed is a rule of some kind leading scholars to use the same terms for the same things, and it would seem to matter little in the case of linguistic stocks what the nomenclature is, provided it becomes denotive and universal.

In treating of the languages of North America it has been suggested that the names adopted should be the names by which the people recognize themselves, but this is a rule of impossible application, for where the branches of a stock diverge very greatly no common name for the people can be found. Again, it has been suggested that names which are to go permanently into science should be simple and euphonic. This also is impossible of application, for simplicity and euphony are largely questions of personal taste, and he who has studied many languages loses speedily his idiosyncrasies of likes and dislikes and learns that words foreign to his vocabulary are not necessarily barbaric.

Biologists have decided that he who first distinctly characterizes and names a species or other group shall thereby cause the name thus used to become permanently affixed, but under certain conditions adapted to a growing science which is continually revising its classifications. This law of priority may well be adopted by philologists.

By the application of the law of priority it will occasionally happen that a name must be taken which is not wholly unobjectionable or which could be much improved. But if names may be modified for any reason, the extent of change that may be wrought in this manner is unlimited, and such modifications would ultimately become equivalent to the introduction of new names, and a fixed nomenclature would thereby be overthrown. The rule of priority has therefore been adopted.

Permanent biologic nomenclature dates from the time of Linnaeus simply because this great naturalist established the binominal system and placed scientific classification upon a sound and enduring basis. As Linnaeus is to be regarded as the founder of biologic classification, so Gallatin may be considered the founder of systematic philology relating to the North American Indians. Before his time much linguistic work had been accomplished, and scholars owe a lasting debt of gratitude to Barton, Adelung, Pickering, and others. But Gallatin's work marks an era in American linguistic science from the fact that he so thoroughly introduced comparative methods, and because he circumscribed the boundaries of many families, so that a large part of his work remains and is still to be considered sound. There is no safe resting place anterior to Gallatin, because no scholar prior to his time had properly adopted comparative methods of research, and because no scholar was privileged to work with so large a body of material. It must further be said of Gallatin that he had a very clear conception of the task he was performing, and brought to it both learning and wisdom. Gallatin's work has therefore been taken as the starting point, back of which we may not go in the historic consideration of the systematic philology of North America. The point of departure therefore is the year 1836, when Gallatin's "Synopsis of Indian Tribes" appeared in vol. 2 of the Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society.

It is believed that a name should be simply a denotive word, and that no advantage can accrue from a descriptive or connotive title. It is therefore desirable to have the names as simple as possible, consistent with other and more important considerations. For this reason it has been found impracticable to recognize as family names designations based on several distinct terms, such as descriptive phrases, and words compounded from two or more geographic names. Such phrases and compound words have been rejected.

There are many linguistic families in North America, and in a number of them there are many tribes speaking diverse languages. It is important, therefore, that some form should be given to the family name by which it may be distinguished from the name of a single tribe or language. In many cases some one language within a stock has been taken as the type and its name given to the entire family; so that the name of a language and that of the stock to which it belongs are identical. This is inconvenient and leads to confusion. For such reasons it has been decided to give each family name the termination "an" or "ian."

Conforming to the principles thus enunciated, the following rules have been formulated:

I. The law of priority relating to the nomenclature of the systematic philology of the North American tribes shall not extend to authors whose works are of date anterior to the year 1836.

II. The name originally given by the founder of a linguistic group to designate it as a family or stock of languages shall be permanently retained to the exclusion of all others.

III. No family name shall be recognized if composed of more than one word.

IV. A family name once established shall not be canceled in any subsequent division of the group, but shall be retained in a restricted sense for one of its constituent portions.

V. Family names shall be distinguished as such by the termination "an" or "ian."

VI. No name shall be accepted for a linguistic family unless used to designate a tribe or group of tribes as a linguistic stock.

VII. No family name shall be accepted unless there is given the habitat of tribe or tribes to which it is applied.

VIII. The original orthography of a name shall be rigidly preserved except as provided for in rule III, and unless a typographical error is evident.

The terms "family" and "stock" are here applied interchangeably to a group of languages that are supposed to be cognate.

A single language is called a stock or family when it is not found to be cognate with any other language. Languages are said to be cognate when such relations between them are found that they are supposed to have descended from a common ancestral speech. The evidence of cognation is derived exclusively from the vocabulary. Grammatic similarities are not supposed to furnish evidence of cognation, but to be phenomena, in part relating to stage of culture and in part adventitious. It must be remembered that extreme peculiarities of grammar, like the vocal mutations of the Hebrew or the monosyllabic separation of the Chinese, have not been discovered among Indian tongues. It therefore becomes necessary in the classification of Indian languages into families to neglect grammatic structure, and to consider lexical elements only. But this statement must be clearly understood. It is postulated that in the growth of languages new words are formed by combination, and that these new words change by attrition to secure economy of utterance, and also by assimilation (analogy) for economy of thought. In the comparison of languages for the purposes of systematic philology it often becomes necessary to dismember compounded words for the purpose of comparing the more primitive forms thus obtained. The paradigmatic words considered in grammatic treatises may often be the very words which should be dissected to discover in their elements primary affinities. But the comparison is still lexic, not grammatic.

A lexic comparison is between vocal elements; a grammatic comparison is between grammatic methods, such, for example, as gender systems. The classes into which things are relegated by distinction of gender may be animate and inanimate, and the animate may subsequently be divided into male and female, and these two classes may ultimately absorb, in part at least, inanimate things. The growth of a system of genders may take another course. The animate and inanimate may be subdivided into the standing, the sitting, and the lying, or into the moving, the erect and the reclined; or, still further, the superposed classification may be based upon the supposed constitution of things, as the fleshy, the woody, the rocky, the earthy, the watery. Thus the number of genders may increase, while further on in the history of a language the genders may decrease so as almost to disappear. All of these characteristics are in part adventitious, but to a large extent the gender is a phenomenon of growth, indicating the stage to which the language has attained. A proper case system may not have been established in a language by the fixing of case particles, or, having been established, it may change by the increase or diminution of the number of cases. A tense system also has a beginning, a growth, and a decadence. A mode system is variable in the various stages of the history of a language. In like manner a pronominal system undergoes changes. Particles may be prefixed, infixed, or affixed in compounded words, and which one of these methods will finally prevail can be determined only in the later stage of growth. All of these things are held to belong to the grammar of a language and to be grammatic methods, distinct from lexical elements.

With terms thus defined, languages are supposed to be cognate when fundamental similarities are discovered in their lexical elements. When the members of a family of languages are to be classed in subdivisions and the history of such languages investigated, grammatic characteristics become of primary importance. The words of a language change by the methods described, but the fundamental elements or roots are more enduring. Grammatic methods also change, perhaps even more rapidly than words, and the changes may go on to such an extent that primitive methods are entirely lost, there being no radical grammatic elements to be preserved. Grammatic structure is but a phase or accident of growth, and not a primordial element of language. The roots of a language are its most permanent characteristics, and while the words which are formed from them may change so as to obscure their elements or in some cases even to lose them, it seems that they are never lost from all, but can be recovered in large part. The grammatic structure or plan of a language is forever changing, and in this respect the language may become entirely transformed.

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While the literature relating to the languages of North America is very extensive, that which relates to their classification is much less extensive. For the benefit of future students in this line it is thought best to present a concise account of such literature, or at least so much as has been consulted in the preparation of this paper.

1836. Gallatin (Albert).

A synopsis of the Indian tribes within the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and in the British and Russian possessions in North America. In Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society (Archaeologia Americana) Cambridge, 1836, vol. 2.

The larger part of the volume consists of Gallatin's paper. A short chapter is devoted to general observations, including certain historical data, and the remainder to the discussion of linguistic material and the affinities of the various tribes mentioned. Vocabularies of many of the families are appended. Twenty-eight linguistic divisions are recognized in the general table of the tribes. Some of these divisions are purely geographic, such as the tribes of Salmon River, Queen Charlotte's Island, etc. Vocabularies from these localities were at hand, but of their linguistic relations the author was not sufficiently assured. Most of the linguistic families recognized by Gallatin were defined with much precision. Not all of his conclusions are to be accepted in the presence of the data now at hand, but usually they were sound, as is attested by the fact that they have constituted the basis for much classificatory work since his time.

The primary, or at least the ostensible, purpose of the colored map which accompanies Gallatin's paper was, as indicated by its title, to show the distribution of the tribes, and accordingly their names appear upon it, and not the names of the linguistic families. Nevertheless, it is practically a map of the linguistic families as determined by the author, and it is believed to be the first attempted for the area represented. Only eleven of the twenty-eight families named in this table appear, and these represent the families with which he was best acquainted. As was to be expected from the early period at which the map was constructed, much of the western part of the United States was left uncolored. Altogether the map illustrates well the state of knowledge of the time.

1840. Bancroft (George).

History of the colonization of the United States, Boston. 1840, vol. 3.

In Chapter XXII of this volume the author gives a brief synopsis of the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi, under a linguistic classification, and adds a brief account of the character and methods of Indian languages. A linguistic map of the region is incorporated, which in general corresponds with the one published by Gallatin in 1836. A notable addition to the Gallatin map is the inclusion of the Uchees in their proper locality. Though considered a distinct family by Gallatin, this tribe does not appear upon his map. Moreover, the Choctaws and Muskogees, which appear as separate families upon Gallatin's map (though believed by that author to belong to the same family), are united upon Bancroft's map under the term Mobilian.

The linguistic families treated of are, I. Algonquin, II. Sioux or Dahcota, III. Huron-Iroquois, IV. Catawba, V. Cherokee, VI. Uchee, VII. Natchez, VIII. Mobilian.

1841. Scouler (John).

Observations of the indigenous tribes of the northwest coast of America. In Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London. London, 1841, vol. 11.

The chapter cited is short, but long enough to enable the author to construct a very curious classification of the tribes of which he treats. In his account Scouler is guided chiefly, to use his own words, "by considerations founded on their physical character, manners and customs, and on the affinities of their languages." As the linguistic considerations are mentioned last, so they appear to be the least weighty of his "considerations."

Scouler's definition of a family is very broad indeed, and in his "Northern Family," which is a branch of his "Insular Group," he includes such distinct linguistic stocks as "all the Indian tribes in the Russian territory," the Queen Charlotte Islanders, Koloshes, Ugalentzes, Atnas, Kolchans, Kenáïes, Tun Ghaase, Haidahs, and Chimmesyans. His Nootka-Columbian family is scarcely less incongruous, and it is evident that the classification indicated is only to a comparatively slight extent linguistic.

1846. Hale (Horatio).

United States exploring expedition, during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S. Navy, vol. 6, ethnography and philology. Philadelphia, 1846.

In addition to a large amount of ethnographic data derived from the Polynesian Islands, Micronesian Islands, Australia, etc., more than one-half of this important volume is devoted to philology, a large share relating to the tribes of northwestern America.

The vocabularies collected by Hale, and the conclusions derived by him from study of them, added much to the previous knowledge of the languages of these tribes. His conclusions and classification were in the main accepted by Gallatin in his linguistic writings of 1848.

1846. Latham (Robert Gordon).

Miscellaneous contributions to the ethnography of North America. In Proceedings of the Philological Society of London. London, 1816, vol. 2.

In this article, which was read before the Philological Society, January 24, 1845, a large number of North American languages are examined and their affinities discussed in support of the two following postulates made at the beginning of the paper: First, "No American language has an isolated position when compared with the other tongues en masse rather than with the language of any particular class;" second, "The affinities between the language of the New World, as determined by their vocabularies, is not less real than that inferred from the analogies of their grammatical structure." The author's conclusions are that both statements are substantiated by the evidence presented. The paper contains no new family names.

1847. Prichard (James Cowles).

Researches into the physical history of mankind (third edition), vol. 5, containing researches into the history of the Oceanic and of the American nations. London, 1847.

It was the purpose of this author, as avowed by himself, to determine whether the races of men are the cooffspring of a single stock or have descended respectively from several original families. Like other authors on this subject, his theory of what should constitute a race was not clearly defined. The scope of the inquiry required the consideration of a great number of subjects and led to the accumulation of a vast body of facts. In volume 5 the author treats of the American Indians, and in connection with the different tribes has something to say of their languages. No attempt at an original classification is made, and in the main the author follows Gallatin's classification and adopts his conclusions.

1848. Gallatin (Albert).

Hale's Indians of Northwest America, and vocabularies of North America, with an introduction. In Transactions of the American Ethnological Society, New York, 1848, vol. 2.

The introduction consists of a number of chapters, as follows: First, Geographical notices and Indian means of subsistence; second, Ancient semi-civilization of New Mexico, Rio Gila and its vicinity; third, Philology; fourth, Addenda and miscellaneous. In these are brought together much valuable information, and many important deductions are made which illustrate Mr. Gallatin's great acumen. The classification given is an amplification of that adopted in 1836, and contains changes and additions. The latter mainly result from a consideration of the material supplied by Mr. Hale, or are simply taken from his work.

The groups additional to those contained in the Archaeologia Americana are:

1. Arrapahoes. 2. Jakon. 3. Kalapuya. 4. Kitunaha. 5. Lutuami. 6. Palainih. 7. Sahaptin. 8. Selish (Tsihaili-Selish). 9. Saste. 10. Waiilatpu.

1848, Latham (Robert Gordon).

On the languages of the Oregon Territory. In Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, Edinburgh, 1848, vol. 1.

This paper was read before the Ethnological Society on the 11th of December. The languages noticed are those that lie between "Russian America and New California," of which the author aims to give an exhaustive list. He discusses the value of the groups to which these languages have been assigned, viz, Athabascan and Nootka-Columbian, and finds that they have been given too high value, and that they are only equivalent to the primary subdivisions of stocks, like the Gothic, Celtic, and Classical, rather than to the stocks themselves. He further finds that the Athabascan, the Kolooch, the Nootka-Columbian, and the Cadiak groups are subordinate members of one large and important class—the Eskimo.

No new linguistic groups are presented.

1848. Latham (Robert Gordon).

On the ethnography of Russian America. In Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, Edinburgh, 1848, vol. 1.

This essay was read before the Ethnological Society February 19, 1845. Brief notices are given of the more important tribes, and the languages are classed in two groups, the Eskimaux and the Kolooch. Each of these groups is found to have affinities—

(1) With the Athabascan tongues, and perhaps equal affinities.

(2) Each has affinities with the Oregon languages, and each perhaps equally.

(3) Each has definite affinities with the languages of New California, and each perhaps equal ones.

(4) Each has miscellaneous affinities with all the other tongues of North and South America.

1848. Berghaus (Heinrich).

Physikalischer Atlas oder Sammlung von Karten, auf denen die hauptsaechlichsten erscheinungen der anorganischen und organischen Natur nach ihrer geographischen Verbreitung und Vertheilung bildlich dargestellt sind. Zweiter Band, Gotha, 1848.

This, the first edition of this well known atlas, contains, among other maps, an ethnographic map of North America, made in 1845. It is based, as is stated, upon material derived from Gallatin, Humboldt, Clavigero, Hervas, Vater, and others. So far as the eastern part of the United States is concerned it is largely a duplication of Gallatin's map of 1836, while in the western region a certain amount of new material is incorporated.

1852. In the edition of 1852 the ethnographic map bears date of 1851. Its eastern portion is substantially a copy of the earlier edition, but its western half is materially changed, chiefly in accordance with the knowledge supplied by Hall in 1848.

Map number 72 of the last edition of Berghaus by no means marks an advance upon the edition of 1852. Apparently the number of families is much reduced, but it is very difficult to interpret the meaning of the author, who has attempted on the same map to indicate linguistic divisions and tribal habitats with the result that confusion is made worse confounded.

1853. Gallatin (Albert).

Classification of the Indian Languages; a letter inclosing a table of generic Indian Families of languages. In Information respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, by Henry E. Schoolcraft. Philadelphia, 1853, vol. 3.

This short paper by Gallatin consists of a letter addressed to W. Medill, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, requesting his cooperation in an endeavor to obtain vocabularies to assist in a more complete study of the grammar and structure of the languages of the Indians of North America. It is accompanied by a "Synopsis of Indian Tribes," giving the families and tribes so far as known. In the main the classification is a repetition of that of 1848, but it differs from that in a number of particulars. Two of the families of 1848 do not appear in this paper, viz, Arapaho and Kinai. Queen Charlotte Island, employed as a family name in 1848, is placed under the Wakash family, while the Skittagete language, upon which the name Queen Charlotte Island was based in 1848, is here given as a family designation for the language spoken at "Sitka, bet. 52 and 59 lat." The following families appear which are not contained in the list of 1848:

1. Cumanches. 2. Gros Ventres. 3. Kaskaias. 4. Kiaways. 5. Natchitoches. 6. Pani, Towiacks. 7. Ugaljachmatzi.

1853. Gibbs (George).

Observations on some of the Indian dialects of northern California. In Information respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States, by Henry E. Schoolcraft. Philadelphia, 1853, vol. 3.

The "Observations" are introductory to a series of vocabularies collected in northern California, and treat of the method employed in collecting them and of the difficulties encountered. They also contain notes on the tribes speaking the several languages as well as on the area covered. There is comparatively little of a classificatory nature, though in one instance the name Quoratem is proposed as a proper one for the family "should it be held one."

1854. Latham (Robert Gordon).

On the languages of New California. In Proceedings of the Philological Society of London for 1852 and 1853. London, 1854, vol. 6.

Read before the Philological Society, May 13, 1853. A number of languages are examined in this paper for the purpose of determining the stocks to which they belong and the mutual affinities of the latter. Among the languages mentioned are the Saintskla, Umkwa, Lutuami, Paduca, Athabascan, Dieguno, and a number of the Mission languages.

1855. Lane (William Carr).

Letter on affinities of dialects in New Mexico. In Information respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States, by Henry R. Schoolcraft. Philadelphia, 1855, vol. 5.

The letter forms half a page of printed matter. The gist of the communication is in effect that the author has heard it said that the Indians of certain pueblos speak three different languages, which he has heard called, respectively, (1) Chu-cha-cas and Kes-whaw-hay; (2) E-nagh-magh; (3) Tay-waugh. This can hardly be called a classification, though the arrangement of the pueblos indicated by Lane is quoted at length by Keane in the Appendix to Stanford's Compendium.

1856. Latham (Robert Gordon).

On the languages of Northern, Western, and Central America. In Transactions of the Philological Society of London, for 1856. London [1857?].

This paper was read before the Philological Society May 9, 1856, and is stated to be "a supplement to two well known contributions to American philology by the late A. Gallatin."

So far as classification of North American languages goes, this is perhaps the most important paper of Latham's, as in it a number of new names are proposed for linguistic groups, such as Copeh for the Sacramento River tribes, Ehnik for the Karok tribes, Mariposa Group and Mendocino Group for the Yokut and Pomo tribes respectively, Moquelumne for the Mutsun, Pujuni for the Meidoo, Weitspek for the Eurocs.

1856. Turner (William Wadden).

Report upon the Indian tribes, by Lieut. A. W. Whipple, Thomas Ewbank, esq., and Prof. William W. Turner, Washington, D.C., 1855. In Reports of Explorations and Surveys to ascertain the most practicable and economical route for a railroad from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. Washington, 1856, vol. 3. part 3.

Chapter V of the above report is headed "Vocabularies of North American Languages," and is by Turner, as is stated in a foot-note. Though the title page of Part III is dated 1855, the chapter by Turner was not issued till 1856, the date of the full volume, as is stated by Turner on page 84. The following are the vocabularies given, with their arrangement in families:

I. Delaware. } II. Shawnee. } Algonkin. III. Choctaw. IV. Kichai. } V. Huéco. } Pawnee? VI. Caddo. VII. Comanche. } VIII. Chemehuevi. } Shoshonee. IX. Cahuillo. } X. Kioway. XI. Navajo. } XII. Pinal Leno. } Apache. XIII. Kiwomi. } XIV. Cochitemi. } Keres. XV. Acoma. } XVI. Zuni. XVII. Pima. XVIII. Cuchan. } XIX. Coco-Maricopa. } XX. Mojave. } Yuma. XXI. Diegeno. }

Several of the family names, viz, Keres, Kiowa, Yuma, and Zuni, have been adopted under the rules formulated above.

1858. Buschmann (Johann Carl Eduard).

Die Voelker und Sprachen Neu-Mexiko's und der Westseite des britischen Nordamerika's, dargestellt von Hrn. Buschmann. In Abhandlungen (aus dem Jahre 1857) der koeniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Berlin, 1858.

This work contains a historic review of early discoveries in New Mexico and of the tribes living therein, with such vocabularies as were available at the time. On pages 315-414 the tribes of British America, from about latitude 54 deg. to 60 deg., are similarly treated, the various discoveries being reviewed; also those on the North Pacific coast. Much of the material should have been inserted in the volume of 1859 (which was prepared in 1854), to which cross reference is frequently made, and to which it stands in the nature of a supplement.

1859. Buschmann (Johann Carl Eduard).

Die Spuren der aztekischen Sprache im noerdlichen Mexico und hoeheren amerikanischen Norden. Zugleich eine Musterung der Voelker und Sprachen des noerdlichen Mexico's und der Westseite Nordamerika's von Guadalaxara an bis zum Eismeer. In Abhandlungen aus dem Jahre 1854 der koeniglichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Berlin, 1859.

The above, forming a second supplemental volume of the Transactions for 1854, is an extensive compilation of much previous literature treating of the Indian tribes from the Arctic Ocean southward to Guadalajara, and bears specially upon the Aztec language and its traces in the languages of the numerous tribes scattered along the Pacific Ocean and inland to the high plains. A large number of vocabularies and a vast amount of linguistic material are here brought together and arranged in a comprehensive manner to aid in the study attempted. In his classification of the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, Buschmann largely followed Gallatin. His treatment of those not included in Gallatin's paper is in the main original. Many of the results obtained may have been considered bold at the time of publication, but recent philological investigations give evidence of the value of many of the author's conclusions.

1859. Kane (Paul).

Wanderings of an artist among the Indians of North America from Canada to Vancouver's Island and Oregon through the Hudson's Bay Company's territory and back again. London, 1859.

The interesting account of the author's travels among the Indians, chiefly in the Northwest, and of their habits, is followed by a four page supplement, giving the names, locations, and census of the tribes of the Northwest coast. They are classified by language into Chymseyan, including the Nass, Chymseyans, Skeena and Sabassas Indians, of whom twenty-one tribes are given; Ha-eelb-zuk or Ballabola, including the Milbank Sound Indians, with nine tribes; Klen-ekate, including twenty tribes; Hai-dai, including the Kygargey and Queen Charlotte's Island Indians, nineteen tribes being enumerated; and Qua-colth, with twenty-nine tribes. No statement of the origin of these tables is given, and they reappear, with no explanation, in Schoolcraft's Indian Tribes, volume V, pp. 487-489.

In his Queen Charlotte Islands, 1870, Dawson publishes the part of this table relating to the Haida, with the statement that he received it from Dr. W. F. Tolmie. The census was made in 1836-'41 by the late Mr. John Work, who doubtless was the author of the more complete tables published by Kane and Schoolcraft.

1862. Latham (Robert Gordon).

Elements of comparative philology. London, 1862.

The object of this volume is, as the author states in his preface, "to lay before the reader the chief facts and the chief trains of reasoning in Comparative Philology." Among the great mass of material accumulated for the purpose a share is devoted to the languages of North America. The remarks under these are often taken verbatim from the author's earlier papers, to which reference has been made above, and the family names and classification set forth in them are substantially repeated.

1862. Hayden (Ferdinand Vandeveer).

Contributions to the ethnography and philology of the Indian tribes of the Missouri Valley. Philadelphia, 1862.

This is a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the Missouri River tribes, made at a time when the information concerning them was none too precise. The tribes treated of are classified as follows:

I. Knisteneaux, or Crees. } II. Blackfeet. } Algonkin Group, A. III. Shyennes. } IV. Arapohos. } Arapoho Group, B. V. Atsinas. } VI. Pawnees. } Pawnee Group, C. VII. Arikaras. } VIII. Dakotas. } IX. Assiniboins. } X. Crows. } XI. Minnitarees. } Dakota Group, D. XII. Mandans. } XIII. Omahas. } XIV. Iowas. }

1864. Orozco y Berra (Manuel).

Geografia de las Lenguas y Carta Etnografica de Mexico Precedidas de un ensayo de clasificacion de las mismas lenguas y de apuntes para las inmigraciones de las tribus. Mexico, 1864.

The work is divided into three parts. (1) Tentative classification of the languages of Mexico; (2) notes on the immigration of the tribes of Mexico; (3) geography of the languages of Mexico.

The author states that he has no knowledge whatever of the languages he treats of. All he attempts to do is to summarize the opinions of others. His authorities were (1) writers on native grammars; (2) missionaries; (3) persons who are reputed to be versed in such matters. He professes to have used his own judgment only when these authorities left him free to do so.

His stated method in compiling the ethnographic map was to place before him the map of a certain department, examine all his authorities bearing on that department, and to mark with a distinctive color all localities said to belong to a particular language. When this was done he drew a boundary line around the area of that language. Examination of the map shows that he has partly expressed on it the classification of languages as given in the first part of his text, and partly limited himself to indicating the geographic boundaries of languages, without, however, giving the boundaries of all the languages mentioned in his lists.

1865. Pimentel (Francisco).

Cuadro Descriptivo y Comparativo de las Lenguas Indigenas de Mexico. Mexico, 1865.

According to the introduction this work is divided into three parts: (1) descriptive; (2) comparative; (3) critical.

The author divides the treatment of each language into (1) its mechanism; (2) its dictionary; (3) its grammar. By "mechanism" he means pronunciation and composition; by "dictionary" he means the commonest or most notable words.

In the case of each language he states the localities where it is spoken, giving a short sketch of its history, the explanation of its etymology, and a list of such writers on that language as he has become acquainted with. Then follows: "mechanism, dictionary, and grammar." Next he enumerates its dialects if there are any, and compares specimens of them when he is able. He gives the Our Father when he can.

Volume I (1862) contains introduction and twelve languages. Volume II (1865) contains fourteen groups of languages, a vocabulary of the Opata language, and an appendix treating of the Comanche, the Coahuilteco, and various languages of upper California.

Volume III (announced in preface of Volume II) is to contain the "comparative part" (to be treated in the same "mixed" method as the "descriptive part"), and a scientific classification of all the languages spoken in Mexico.

In the "critical part" (apparently dispersed through the other two parts) the author intends to pass judgment on the merits of the languages of Mexico, to point out their good qualities and their defects.

1870. Dall (William Healey).

On the distribution of the native tribes of Alaska and the adjacent territory. In Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cambridge, 1870, vol. 18.

In this important paper is presented much interesting information concerning the inhabitants of Alaska and adjacent territories. The natives are divided into two groups, the Indians of the interior, and the inhabitants of the coast, or Esquimaux. The latter are designated by the term Orarians, which are composed of three lesser groups, Eskimo, Aleutians, and Tuski. The Orarians are distinguished, first, by their language; second, by their distribution; third, by their habits; fourth, by their physical characteristics.

1870. Dall (William Healey).

Alaska and its Resources. Boston, 1870.

The classification followed is practically the same as is given in the author's article in the Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

1877. Dall (William Healey).

Tribes of the extreme northwest. In Contributions to North American Ethnology (published by United States Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region). Washington, 1877, vol. 1.

This is an amplification of the paper published in the Proceedings of the American Association, as above cited. The author states that "numerous additions and corrections, as well as personal observations of much before taken at second hand, have placed it in my power to enlarge and improve my original arrangement."

In this paper the Orarians are divided into "two well marked groups," the Innuit, comprising all the so-called Eskimo and Tuskis, and the Aleuts. The paper proper is followed by an appendix by Gibbs and Dall, in which are presented a series of vocabularies from the northwest, including dialects of the Tlinkit and Haida nations, T'sim-si-ans, and others.

1877. Gibbs (George).

Tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1887, vol. 1.

This is a valuable article, and gives many interesting particulars of the tribes of which it treats. References are here and there made to the languages of the several tribes, with, however, no attempt at their classification. A table follows the report, in which is given by Dall, after Gibbs, a classification of the tribes mentioned by Gibbs. Five families are mentioned, viz: Nutka, Sahaptin, Tinneh, Selish, and T'sinuk. The comparative vocabularies follow Part II.

1877. Powers (Stephen).

Tribes of California. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1877, vol. 3.

The extended paper on the Californian tribes which makes up the bulk of this volume is the most important contribution to the subject ever made. The author's unusual opportunities for personal observation among these tribes were improved to the utmost and the result is a comparatively full and comprehensive account of their habits and character.

Here and there are allusions to the languages spoken, with reference to the families to which the tribes belong. No formal classification is presented.

1877. Powell (John Wesley).

Appendix. Linguistics edited by J. W. Powell. In Contributions to North American Ethnology. Washington, 1877, vol. 3.

This appendix consists of a series of comparative vocabularies collected by Powers, Gibbs and others, classified into linguistic families, as follows:

Family. 1. Ká-rok. 2. Yú-rok. 3. Chim-a-rí-ko. 4. Wish-osk. 5. Yú-ki. 6. Pómo. 7. Win-tun[']. 8. Mut[']-sun. 9. Santa Barbara. 10. Yó-kuts. 11. Mai[']-du. 12. A-cho-mâ[']-wi. 13. Shaś-ta.

1877. Gatschet (Albert Samuel).

Indian languages of the Pacific States and Territories. In Magazine of American History. New York, 1877, vol. 1.

After some remarks concerning the nature of language and of the special characteristics of Indian languages, the author gives a synopsis of the languages of the Pacific region. The families mentioned are:

1. Shóshoni. 15. Cahrok. 2. Yuma. 16. Tolewa. 3. Pima. 17. Shasta. 4. Santa Barbara. 18. Pit River. 5. Mutsun. 19. Klamath. 6. Yocut. 20. Tinné. 7. Meewoc. 21. Yakon. 8. Meidoo. 22. Cayuse. 9. Wintoon. 23. Kalapuya. 10. Yuka. 24. Chinook. 11. Pomo. 25. Sahaptin. 12. Wishosk. 26. Selish. 13. Eurok. 27. Nootka. 14. Weits-pek. 28. Kootenai.

This is an important paper, and contains notices of several new stocks, derived from a study of the material furnished by Powers.

The author advocates the plan of using a system of nomenclature similar in nature to that employed in zoology in the case of generic and specific names, adding after the name of the tribe the family to which it belongs; thus: Warm Springs, Sahaptin.

1878. Powell (John Wesley).

The nationality of the Pueblos. In the Rocky Mountain Presbyterian. Denver, November, 1878.

This is a half-column article, the object of which is to assign the several Pueblos to their proper stocks. A paragraph is devoted to contradicting the popular belief that the Pueblos are in some way related to the Aztecs. No vocabularies are given or cited, though the classification is stated to be a linguistic one.

1878. Keane (Augustus H).

Appendix. Ethnography and philology of America. In Stanford's Compendium of Geography and Travel, edited and extended by H. W. Bates. London, 1878.

In the appendix are given, first, some of the more general characteristics and peculiarities of Indian languages, followed by a classification of all the tribes of North America, after which is given an alphabetical list of American tribes and languages, with their habitats and the stock to which they belong.

The classification is compiled from many sources, and although it contains many errors and inconsistencies, it affords on the whole a good general idea of prevalent views on the subject.

1880. Powell (John Wesley).

Pueblo Indians. In the American Naturalist. Philadelphia, 1880, vol. 14.

This is a two-page article in which is set forth a classification of the Pueblo Indians from linguistic considerations. The Pueblos are divided into four families or stocks, viz:

1. Shínumo. 2. Zunian. 3. Kéran. 4. Téwan.

Under the several stocks is given a list of those who have collected vocabularies of these languages and a reference to their publication.

1880. Eells (Myron).

The Twana language of Washington Territory. In the American Antiquarian. Chicago, 1880-'81, vol. 3.

This is a brief article—two and a half pages—on the Twana, Clallam, and Chemakum Indians. The author finds, upon a comparison of vocabularies, that the Chemakum language has little in common with its neighbors.

1885. Dall (William Healey).

The native tribes of Alaska. In Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, thirty-fourth meeting, held at Ann Arbor, Mich., August, 1885. Salem, 1886.

This paper is a timely contribution to the subject of the Alaska tribes, and carries it from the point at which the author left it in 1869 to date, briefly summarizing the several recent additions to knowledge. It ends with a geographical classification of the Innuit and Indian tribes of Alaska, with estimates of their numbers.

1885. Bancroft (Hubert Howe).

The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, vol. 3: the native races, vol. 3, myths and languages. San Francisco, 1882.

[Transcriber's Note: Vols. 1-5 collectively are "The Native Races"; vol. 3 is Myths and Languages.]

In the chapter on that subject the languages are classified by divisions which appear to correspond to groups, families, tribes, and dialects.

The classification does not, however, follow any consistent plan, and is in parts unintelligible.

1882. Gatschet (Albert Samuel).

Indian languages of the Pacific States and Territories and of the Pueblos of New Mexico. In the Magazine of American History. New York, 1882, vol. 8.

This paper is in the nature of a supplement to a previous one in the same magazine above referred to. It enlarges further on several of the stocks there considered, and, as the title indicates, treats also of the Pueblo languages. The families mentioned are:

1. Chimariko. 2. Washo. 3. Yákona. 4. Sayúskla. 5. Kúsa. 6. Takilma. 7. Rio Grande Pueblo. 8. Kera. 9. Zuni.

1883. Hale (Horatio).

Indian migrations, as evidenced by language. In The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal. Chicago, 1888, vol. 5.

In connection with the object of this paper—the study of Indian migrations—several linguistic stocks are mentioned, and the linguistic affinities of a number of tribes are given. The stocks mentioned are:

Huron-Cherokee. Dakota. Algonkin. Chahta-Muskoki.

1885. Tolmie (W. Fraser) and Dawson (George M.)

Comparative vocabularies of the Indian tribes of British Columbia, with a map illustrating distribution (Geological and Natural History Survey of Canada). Montreal, 1884.

The vocabularies presented constitute an important contribution to linguistic science. They represent "one or more dialects of every Indian language spoken on the Pacific slope from the Columbia River north to the Tshilkat River, and beyond, in Alaska; and from the outermost sea-board to the main continental divide in the Rocky Mountains." A colored map shows the area occupied by each linguistic family.

* * * * *


In 1836 Gallatin conferred a great boon upon linguistic students by classifying all the existing material relating to this subject. Even in the light of the knowledge of the present day his work is found to rest upon a sound basis. The material of Gallatin's time, however, was too scanty to permit of more than an outline of the subject. Later writers have contributed to the work, and the names of Latham, Turner, Prichard, Buschmann, Hale, Gatschet, and others are connected with important classificatory results.

The writer's interest in linguistic work and the inception of a plan for a linguistic classification of Indian languages date back about 20 years, to a time when he was engaged in explorations in the West. Being brought into contact with many tribes, it was possible to collect a large amount of original material. Subsequently, when the Bureau of Ethnology was organized, this store was largely increased through the labors of others. Since then a very large body of literature published in Indian languages has been accumulated, and a great number of vocabularies have been gathered by the Bureau assistants and by collaborators in various parts of the country. The results of a study of all this material, and of much historical data, which necessarily enters largely into work of this character, appear in the accompanying map.

The contributions to the subject during the last fifty years have been so important, and the additions to the material accessible to the student of Gallatin's time have been so large, that much of the reproach which deservedly attached to American scholars because of the neglect of American linguistics has been removed. The field is a vast one, however, and the workers are comparatively few. Moreover, opportunities for collecting linguistic material are growing fewer day by day, as tribes are consolidated upon reservations, as they become civilized, and as the older Indians, who alone are skilled in their language, die, leaving, it may be, only a few imperfect vocabularies as a basis for future study. History has bequeathed to us the names of many tribes, which became extinct in early colonial times, of whose language not a hint is left and whose linguistic relations must ever remain unknown.

It is vain to grieve over neglected opportunities unless their contemplation stimulates us to utilize those at hand. There are yet many gaps to be filled, even in so elementary a part of the study as the classification of the tribes by language. As to the detailed study of the different linguistic families, the mastery and analysis of the languages composing them, and their comparison with one another and with the languages of other families, only a beginning has been made.

After the above statement it is hardly necessary to add that the accompanying map does not purport to represent final results. On the contrary, it is to be regarded as tentative, setting forth in visible form the results of investigation up to the present time, as a guide and aid to future effort.

Each of the colors or patterns upon the map represents a distinct linguistic family, the total number of families contained in the whole area being fifty-eight. It is believed that the families of languages represented upon the map can not have sprung from a common source; they are as distinct from one another in their vocabularies and apparently in their origin as from the Aryan or the Scythian families. Unquestionably, future and more critical study will result in the fusion of some of these families. As the means for analysis and comparison accumulate, resemblances now hidden will be brought to light, and relationships hitherto unsuspected will be shown to exist. Such a result may be anticipated with the more certainty inasmuch as the present classification has been made upon a conservative plan. Where relationships between families are suspected, but can not be demonstrated by convincing evidence, it has been deemed wiser not to unite them, but to keep them apart until more material shall have accumulated and proof of a more convincing character shall have been brought forward. While some of the families indicated on the map may in future be united to other families, and the number thus be reduced, there seems to be no ground for the belief that the total of the linguistic families of this country will be materially diminished, at least under the present methods of linguistic analysis, for there is little reason to doubt that, as the result of investigation in the field, there will be discovered tribes speaking languages not classifiable under any of the present families; thus the decrease in the total by reason of consolidation may be compensated by a corresponding increase through discovery. It may even be possible that some of the similarities used in combining languages into families may, on further study, prove to be adventitious, and the number may be increased thereby. To which side the numerical balance will fall remains for the future to decide.

As stated above, all the families occupy the same basis of dissimilarity from one another—i.e., none of them are related—and consequently no two of them are either more or less alike than any other two, except in so far as mere coincidences and borrowed material may be said to constitute likeness and relationship. Coincidences in the nature of superficial word resemblances are common in all languages of the world. No matter how widely separated geographically two families of languages may be, no matter how unlike their vocabularies, how distinct their origin, some words may always be found which appear upon superficial examination to indicate relationship. There is not a single Indian linguistic family, for instance, which does not contain words similar in sound, and more rarely similar in both sound and meaning, to words in English, Chinese, Hebrew, and other languages. Not only do such resemblances exist, but they have been discovered and pointed out, not as mere adventitious similarities, but as proof of genetic relationship. Borrowed linguistic material also appears in every family, tempting the unwary investigator into making false analogies and drawing erroneous conclusions. Neither coincidences nor borrowed material, however, can be properly regarded as evidence of cognation.

While occupying the same plane of genetic dissimilarity, the families are by no means alike as regards either the extent of territory occupied, the number of tribes grouped under them respectively, or the number of languages and dialects of which they are composed. Some of them cover wide areas, whose dimensions are stated in terms of latitude and longitude rather than by miles. Others occupy so little space that the colors representing them are hardly discernible upon the map. Some of them contain but a single tribe; others are represented by scores of tribes. In the case of a few, the term "family" is commensurate with language, since there is but one language and no dialects. In the case of others, their tribes spoke several languages, so distinct from one another as to be for the most part mutually unintelligible, and the languages shade into many dialects more or less diverse.

The map, designed primarily for the use of students who are engaged in investigating the Indians of the United States, was at first limited to this area; subsequently its scope was extended to include the whole of North America north of Mexico. Such an extension of its plan was, indeed, almost necessary, since a number of important families, largely represented in the United States, are yet more largely represented in the territory to the north, and no adequate conception of the size and relative importance of such families as the Algonquian, Siouan, Salishan, Athapascan, and others can be had without including extralimital territory.

To the south, also, it happens that several linguistic stocks extend beyond the boundaries of the United States. Three families are, indeed, mainly extralimital in their position, viz: Yuman, the great body of the tribes of which family inhabited the peninsula of Lower California; Piman, which has only a small representation in southern Arizona; and the Coahuiltecan, which intrudes into southwestern Texas. The Athapascan family is represented in Arizona and New Mexico by the well known Apache and Navajo, the former of whom have gained a strong foothold in northern Mexico, while the Tanoan, a Pueblo family of the upper Rio Grande, has established a few pueblos lower down the river in Mexico. For the purpose of necessary comparison, therefore, the map is made to include all of North America north of Mexico, the entire peninsula of Lower California, and so much of Mexico as is necessary to show the range of families common to that country and to the United States. It is left to a future occasion to attempt to indicate the linguistic relations of Mexico and Central America, for which, it may be remarked in passing, much material has been accumulated.

It is apparent that a single map can not be made to show the locations of the several linguistic families at different epochs; nor can a single map be made to represent the migrations of the tribes composing the linguistic families. In order to make a clear presentation of the latter subject, it would be necessary to prepare a series of maps showing the areas successively occupied by the several tribes as they were disrupted and driven from section to section under the pressure of other tribes or the vastly more potent force of European encroachment. Although the data necessary for a complete representation of tribal migration, even for the period subsequent to the advent of the European, does not exist, still a very large body of material bearing upon the subject is at hand, and exceedingly valuable results in this direction could be presented did not the amount of time and labor and the large expense attendant upon such a project forbid the attempt for the present.

The map undertakes to show the habitat of the linguistic families only, and this is for but a single period in their history, viz, at the time when the tribes composing them first became known to the European, or when they first appear on recorded history. As the dates when the different tribes became known vary, it follows as a matter of course that the periods represented by the colors in one portion of the map are not synchronous with those in other portions. Thus the data for the Columbia River tribes is derived chiefly from the account of the journey of Lewis and Clarke in 1803-'05, long before which period radical changes of location had taken place among the tribes of the eastern United States. Again, not only are the periods represented by the different sections of the map not synchronous, but only in the case of a few of the linguistic families, and these usually the smaller ones, is it possible to make the coloring synchronous for different sections of the same family. Thus our data for the location of some of the northern members of the Shoshonean family goes back to 1804, a date at which absolutely no knowledge had been gained of most of the southern members of the group, our first accounts of whom began about 1850. Again, our knowledge of the eastern Algonquian tribes dates back to about 1600, while no information was had concerning the Atsina, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, and the Arapaho, the westernmost members of the family, until two centuries later.

Notwithstanding these facts, an attempt to fix upon the areas formerly occupied by the several linguistic families, and of the pristine homes of many of the tribes composing them, is by no means hopeless. For instance, concerning the position of the western tribes during the period of early contact of our colonies and its agreement with their position later when they appear in history, it may be inferred that as a rule it was stationary, though positive evidence is lacking. When changes of tribal habitat actually took place they were rarely in the nature of extensive migration, by which a portion of a linguistic family was severed from the main body, but usually in the form of encroachment by a tribe or tribes upon neighboring territory, which resulted simply in the extension of the limits of one linguistic family at the expense of another, the defeated tribes being incorporated or confined within narrower limits. If the above inference be correct, the fact that different chronologic periods are represented upon the map is of comparatively little importance, since, if the Indian tribes were in the main sedentary, and not nomadic, the changes resulting in the course of one or two centuries would not make material differences. Exactly the opposite opinion, however, has been expressed by many writers, viz, that the North American Indian tribes were nomadic. The picture presented by these writers is of a medley of ever-shifting tribes, to-day here, to-morrow there, occupying new territory and founding new homes—if nomads can be said to have homes—only to abandon them. Such a picture, however, is believed to convey an erroneous idea of the former condition of our Indian tribes. As the question has significance in the present connection it must be considered somewhat at length.


In the first place, the linguistic map, based as it is upon the earliest evidence obtainable, itself offers conclusive proof, not only that the Indian tribes were in the main sedentary at the time history first records their position, but that they had been sedentary for a very long period. In order that this may be made plain, it should be clearly understood, as stated above, that each of the colors or patterns upon the map indicates a distinct linguistic family. It will be noticed that the colors representing the several families are usually in single bodies, i.e., that they represent continuous areas, and that with some exceptions the same color is not scattered here and there over the map in small spots. Yet precisely this last state of things is what would be expected had the tribes representing the families been nomadic to a marked degree. If nomadic tribes occupied North America, instead of spreading out each from a common center, as the colors show that the tribes composing the several families actually did, they would have been dispersed here and there over the whole face of the country. That they are not so dispersed is considered proof that in the main they were sedentary. It has been stated above that more or less extensive migrations of some tribes over the country had taken place prior to European occupancy. This fact is disclosed by a glance at the present map. The great Athapascan family, for instance, occupying the larger part of British America, is known from linguistic evidence to have sent off colonies into Oregon (Wilopah, Tlatskanai, Coquille), California (Smith River tribes, Kenesti or Wailakki tribes, Hupa), and Arizona and New Mexico (Apache, Navajo). How long before European occupancy of this country these migrations took place can not be told, but in the case of most of them it was undoubtedly many years. By the test of language it is seen that the great Siouan family, which we have come to look upon as almost exclusively western, had one offshoot in Virginia (Tutelo), another in North and South Carolina (Catawba), and a third in Mississippi (Biloxi); and the Algonquian family, so important in the early history of this country, while occupying a nearly continuous area in the north and east, had yet secured a foothold, doubtless in very recent times, in Wyoming and Colorado. These and other similar facts sufficiently prove the power of individual tribes or gentes to sunder relations with the great body of their kindred and to remove to distant homes. Tested by linguistic evidence, such instances appear to be exceptional, and the fact remains that in the great majority of cases the tribes composing linguistic families occupy continuous areas, and hence are and have been practically sedentary. Nor is the bond of a common language, strong and enduring as that bond is usually thought to be, entirely sufficient to explain the phenomenon here pointed out. When small in number the linguistic tie would undoubtedly aid in binding together the members of a tribe; but as the people speaking a common language increase in number and come to have conflicting interests, the linguistic tie has often proved to be an insufficient bond of union. In the case of our Indian tribes feuds and internecine conflicts were common between members of the same linguistic family. In fact, it is probable that a very large number of the dialects into which Indian languages are split originated as the result of internecine strife. Factions, divided and separated from the parent body, by contact, intermarriage, and incorporation with foreign tribes, developed distinct dialects or languages.

But linguistic evidence alone need not be relied upon to prove that the North American Indian was not nomadic.

Corroborative proof of the sedentary character of our Indian tribes is to be found in the curious form of kinship system, with mother-right as its chief factor, which prevails. This, as has been pointed out in another place, is not adapted to the necessities of nomadic tribes, which need to be governed by a patriarchal system, and, as well, to be possessed of flocks and herds.

There is also an abundance of historical evidence to show that, when first discovered by Europeans, the Indians of the eastern United States were found living in fixed habitations. This does not necessarily imply that the entire year was spent in one place. Agriculture not being practiced to an extent sufficient to supply the Indian with full subsistence, he was compelled to make occasional changes from his permanent home to the more or less distant waters and forests to procure supplies of food. When furnished with food and skins for clothing, the hunting parties returned to the village which constituted their true home. At longer periods, for several reasons—among which probably the chief were the hostility of stronger tribes, the failure of the fuel supply near the village, and the compulsion exercised by the ever lively superstitious fancies of the Indians—the villages were abandoned and new ones formed to constitute new homes, new focal points from which to set out on their annual hunts and to which to return when these were completed. The tribes of the eastern United States had fixed and definitely bounded habitats, and their wanderings were in the nature of temporary excursions to established points resorted to from time immemorial. As, however, they had not yet entered completely into the agricultural condition, to which they were fast progressing from the hunter state, they may be said to have been nomadic to a very limited extent. The method of life thus sketched was substantially the one which the Indians were found practicing throughout the eastern part of the United States, as also, though to a less degree, in the Pacific States. Upon the Pacific coast proper the tribes were even more sedentary than upon the Atlantic, as the mild climate and the great abundance and permanent supply of fish and shellfish left no cause for a seasonal change of abode.

When, however, the interior portions of the country were first visited by Europeans, a different state of affairs was found to prevail. There the acquisition of the horse and the possession of firearms had wrought very great changes in aboriginal habits. The acquisition of the former enabled the Indian of the treeless plains to travel distances with ease and celerity which before were practically impossible, and the possession of firearms stimulated tribal aggressiveness to the utmost pitch. Firearms were everywhere doubly effective in producing changes in tribal habitats, since the somewhat gradual introduction of trade placed these deadly weapons in the hands of some tribes, and of whole congeries of tribes, long before others could obtain them. Thus the general state of tribal equilibrium which had before prevailed was rudely disturbed. Tribal warfare, which hitherto had been attended with inconsiderable loss of life and slight territorial changes, was now made terribly destructive, and the territorial possessions of whole groups of tribes were augmented at the expense of those less fortunate. The horse made wanderers of many tribes which there is sufficient evidence to show were formerly nearly sedentary. Firearms enforced migration and caused wholesale changes in the habitats of tribes, which, in the natural order of events, it would have taken many centuries to produce. The changes resulting from these combined agencies, great as they were, are, however, slight in comparison with the tremendous effects of the wholesale occupancy of Indian territory by Europeans. As the acquisition of territory by the settlers went on, a wave of migration from east to west was inaugurated which affected tribes far remote from the point of disturbance, ever forcing them within narrower and narrower bounds, and, as time went on, producing greater and greater changes throughout the entire country.

So much of the radical change in tribal habitats as took place in the area remote from European settlements, mainly west of the Mississippi, is chiefly unrecorded, save imperfectly in Indian tradition, and is chiefly to be inferred from linguistic evidence and from the few facts in our possession. As, however, the most important of these changes occurred after, and as a result of, European occupancy, they are noted in history, and thus the map really gives a better idea of the pristine or prehistoric habitat of the tribes than at first might be thought possible.

Before speaking of the method of establishing the boundary lines between the linguistic families, as they appear upon the map, the nature of the Indian claim to land and the manner and extent of its occupation should be clearly set forth.


As the question of the Indian population of the country has a direct bearing upon the extent to which the land was actually occupied, a few words on the subject will be introduced here, particularly as the area included in the linguistic map is so covered with color that it may convey a false impression of the density of the Indian population. As a result of an investigation of the subject of the early Indian population, Col. Mallery long ago arrived at the conclusion that their settlements were not numerous, and that the population, as compared with the enormous territory occupied, was extremely small.[1]

[Footnote 1: Proc. Am. Ass. Adv. Science, 1877, vol. 26.]

Careful examination since the publication of the above tends to corroborate the soundness of the conclusions there first formulated. The subject may be set forth as follows:

The sea shore, the borders of lakes, and the banks of rivers, where fish and shell-fish were to be obtained in large quantities, were naturally the Indians' chief resort, and at or near such places were to be found their permanent settlements. As the settlements and lines of travel of the early colonists were along the shore, the lakes and the rivers, early estimates of the Indian population were chiefly based upon the numbers congregated along these highways, it being generally assumed that away from the routes of travel a like population existed. Again, over-estimates of population resulted from the fact that the same body of Indians visited different points during the year, and not infrequently were counted two or three times; change of permanent village sites also tended to augment estimates of population.

For these and other reasons a greatly exaggerated idea of the Indian population was obtained, and the impressions so derived have been dissipated only in comparatively recent times.

As will be stated more fully later, the Indian was dependent to no small degree upon natural products for his food supply. Could it be affirmed that the North American Indians had increased to a point where they pressed upon the food supply, it would imply a very much larger population than we are justified in assuming from other considerations. But for various reasons the Malthusian law, whether applicable elsewhere or not, can not be applied to the Indians of this country. Everywhere bountiful nature had provided an unfailing and practically inexhaustible food supply. The rivers teemed with fish and mollusks, and the forests with game, while upon all sides was an abundance of nutritious roots and seeds. All of these sources were known, and to a large extent they were drawn upon by the Indian, but the practical lesson of providing in the season of plenty for the season of scarcity had been but imperfectly learned, or, when learned, was but partially applied. Even when taught by dire experience the necessity of laying up adequate stores, it was the almost universal practice to waste great quantities of food by a constant succession of feasts, in the superstitious observances of which the stores were rapidly wasted and plenty soon gave way to scarcity and even to famine.

Curiously enough, the hospitality which is so marked a trait among our North American Indians had its source in a law, the invariable practice of which has had a marked effect in retarding the acquisition by the Indian of the virtue of providence. As is well known, the basis of the Indian social organization was the kinship system. By its provisions almost all property was possessed in common by the gens or clan. Food, the most important of all, was by no means left to be exclusively enjoyed by the individual or the family obtaining it.

For instance, the distribution of game among the families of a party was variously provided for in different tribes, but the practical effect of the several customs relating thereto was the sharing of the supply. The hungry Indian had but to ask to receive and this no matter how small the supply, or how dark the future prospect. It was not only his privilege to ask, it was his right to demand. Undoubtedly what was originally a right, conferred by kinship connections, ultimately assumed broader proportions, and finally passed into the exercise of an almost indiscriminate hospitality. By reason of this custom, the poor hunter was virtually placed upon equality with the expert one, the lazy with the industrious, the improvident with the more provident. Stories of Indian life abound with instances of individual families or parties being called upon by those less fortunate or provident to share their supplies.

The effect of such a system, admirable as it was in many particulars, practically placed a premium upon idleness. Under such communal rights and privileges a potent spur to industry and thrift is wanting.

There is an obverse side to this problem, which a long and intimate acquaintance with the Indians in their villages has forced upon the writer. The communal ownership of food and the great hospitality practiced by the Indian have had a very much greater influence upon his character than that indicated in the foregoing remarks. The peculiar institutions prevailing in this respect gave to each tribe or clan a profound interest in the skill, ability and industry of each member. He was the most valuable person in the community who supplied it with the most of its necessities. For this reason the successful hunter or fisherman was always held in high honor, and the woman, who gathered great store of seeds, fruits, or roots, or who cultivated a good corn-field, was one who commanded the respect and received the highest approbation of the people. The simple and rude ethics of a tribal people are very important to them, the more so because of their communal institutions; and everywhere throughout the tribes of the United States it is discovered that their rules of conduct were deeply implanted in the minds of the people. An organized system of teaching is always found, as it is the duty of certain officers of the clan to instruct the young in all the industries necessary to their rude life, and simple maxims of industry abound among the tribes and are enforced in diverse and interesting ways. The power of the elder men in the clan over its young members is always very great, and the training of the youth is constant and rigid. Besides this, a moral sentiment exists in favor of primitive virtues which is very effective in molding character. This may be illustrated in two ways.

Marriage among all Indian tribes is primarily by legal appointment, as the young woman receives a husband from some other prescribed clan or clans, and the elders of the clan, with certain exceptions, control these marriages, and personal choice has little to do with the affair. When marriages are proposed, the virtues and industry of the candidates, and more than all, their ability to properly live as married couples and to supply the clan or tribe with a due amount of subsistence, are discussed long and earnestly, and the young man or maiden who fails in this respect may fail in securing an eligible and desirable match. And these motives are constantly presented to the savage youth.

A simple democracy exists among these people, and they have a variety of tribal offices to fill. In this way the men of the tribe are graded, and they pass from grade to grade by a selection practically made by the people. And this leads to a constant discussion of the virtues and abilities of all the male members of the clan, from boyhood to old age. He is most successful in obtaining clan and tribal promotion who is most useful to the clan and the tribe. In this manner all of the ambitious are stimulated, and this incentive to industry is very great.

When brought into close contact with the Indian, and into intimate acquaintance with his language, customs, and religious ideas, there is a curious tendency observable in students to overlook aboriginal vices and to exaggerate aboriginal virtues. It seems to be forgotten that after all the Indian is a savage, with the characteristics of a savage, and he is exalted even above the civilized man. The tendency is exactly the reverse of what it is in the case of those who view the Indian at a distance and with no precise knowledge of any of his characteristics. In the estimation of such persons the Indian's vices greatly outweigh his virtues; his language is a gibberish, his methods of war cowardly, his ideas of religion utterly puerile.

The above tendencies are accentuated in the attempt to estimate the comparative worth and position of individual tribes. No being is more patriotic than the Indian. He believes himself to be the result of a special creation by a partial deity and holds that his is the one favored race. The name by which the tribes distinguish themselves from other tribes indicates the further conviction that, as the Indian is above all created things, so in like manner each particular tribe is exalted above all others. "Men of men" is the literal translation of one name; "the only men" of another, and so on through the whole category. A long residence with any one tribe frequently inoculates the student with the same patriotic spirit. Bringing to his study of a particular tribe an inadequate conception of Indian attainments and a low impression of their moral and intellectual plane, the constant recital of its virtues, the bravery and prowess of its men in war, their generosity, the chaste conduct and obedience of its women as contrasted with the opposite qualities of all other tribes, speedily tends to partisanship. He discovers many virtues and finds that the moral and intellectual attainments are higher than he supposed; but these advantages he imagines to be possessed solely, or at least to an unusual degree, by the tribe in question. Other tribes are assigned much lower rank in the scale.

The above is peculiarly true of the student of language. He who studies only one Indian language and learns its manifold curious grammatic devices, its wealth of words, its capacity of expression, is speedily convinced of its superiority to all other Indian tongues, and not infrequently to all languages by whomsoever spoken.

If like admirable characteristics are asserted for other tongues he is apt to view them but as derivatives from one original. Thus he is led to overlook the great truth that the mind of man is everywhere practically the same, and that the innumerable differences of its products are indices merely of different stages of growth or are the results of different conditions of environment. In its development the human mind is limited by no boundaries of tribe or race.

Again, a long acquaintance with many tribes in their homes leads to the belief that savage people do not lack industry so much as wisdom. They are capable of performing, and often do perform, great and continuous labor. The men and women alike toil from day to day and from year to year, engaged in those tasks that are presented with the recurring seasons. In civilization, hunting and fishing are often considered sports, but in savagery they are labors, and call for endurance, patience, and sagacity. And these are exercised to a reasonable degree among all savage peoples.

It is probable that the real difficulty of purchasing quantities of food from Indians has, in most cases, not been properly understood. Unless the alien is present at a time of great abundance, when there is more on hand or easily obtainable than sufficient to supply the wants of the people, food can not be bought of the Indians. This arises from the fact that the tribal tenure is communal, and to get food by purchase requires a treaty at which all the leading members of the tribe are present and give consent.

As an illustration of the improvidence of the Indians generally, the habits of the tribes along the Columbia River may be cited. The Columbia River has often been pointed to as the probable source of a great part of the Indian population of this country, because of the enormous supply of salmon furnished by it and its tributaries. If an abundant and readily obtained supply of food was all that was necessary to insure a large population, and if population always increased up to the limit of food supply, unquestionably the theory of repeated migratory waves of surplus population from the Columbia Valley would be plausible enough. It is only necessary, however, to turn to the accounts of the earlier explorers of this region, Lewis and Clarke, for example, to refute the idea, so far at least as the Columbia Valley is concerned, although a study of the many diverse languages spread over the United States would seem sufficiently to prove that the tribes speaking them could not have originated at a common center, unless, indeed, at a period anterior to the formation of organized language.

The Indians inhabiting the Columbia Valley were divided into many tribes, belonging to several distinct linguistic families. They all were in the same culture status, however, and differed in habits and arts only in minor particulars. All of them had recourse to the salmon of the Columbia for the main part of their subsistence, and all practiced similar crude methods of curing fish and storing it away for the winter. Without exception, judging from the accounts of the above mentioned and of more recent authors, all the tribes suffered periodically more or less from insufficient food supply, although, with the exercise of due forethought and economy, even with their rude methods of catching and curing salmon, enough might here have been cured annually to suffice for the wants of the Indian population of the entire Northwest for several years.

In their ascent of the river in spring, before the salmon run, it was only with great difficulty that Lewis and Clarke were able to provide themselves by purchase with enough food to keep themselves from starving. Several parties of Indians from the vicinity of the Dalles, the best fishing station on the river, were met on their way down in quest of food, their supply of dried salmon having been entirely exhausted.

Nor is there anything in the accounts of any of the early visitors to the Columbia Valley to authorize the belief that the population there was a very large one. As was the case with all fish-stocked streams, the Columbia was resorted to in the fishing season by many tribes living at considerable distance from it; but there is no evidence tending to show that the settled population of its banks or of any part of its drainage basin was or ever had been by any means excessive.

The Dalles, as stated above, was the best fishing station on the river, and the settled population there may be taken as a fair index of that of other favorable locations. The Dalles was visited by Ross in July, 1811, and the following is his statement in regard to the population:

The main camp of the Indians is situated at the head of the narrows, and may contain, during the salmon season, 3,000 souls, or more; but the constant inhabitants of the place do not exceed 100 persons, and are called Wy-am-pams; the rest are all foreigners from different tribes throughout the country, who resort hither, not for the purpose of catching salmon, but chiefly for gambling and speculation.[2]

[Footnote 2: Adventures on the Columbia River, 1849, p. 117.]

And as it was on the Columbia with its enormous supply of fish, so was it elsewhere in the United States.

Even the practice of agriculture, with its result of providing a more certain and bountiful food supply, seems not to have had the effect of materially augmenting the Indian population. At all events, it is in California and Oregon, a region where agriculture was scarcely practiced at all, that the most dense aboriginal population lived. There is no reason to believe that there ever existed within the limits of the region included in the map, with the possible exception of certain areas in California, a population equal to the natural food supply. On the contrary, there is every reason for believing that the population at the time of the discovery might have been many times more than what it actually was had a wise economy been practised.

The effect of wars in decimating the people has often been greatly exaggerated. Since the advent of the white man on the continent, wars have prevailed to a degree far beyond that existing at an earlier time. From the contest which necessarily arose between the native tribes and invading nations many wars resulted, and their history is well known. Again, tribes driven from their ancestral homes often retreated to lands previously occupied by other tribes, and intertribal wars resulted therefrom. The acquisition of firearms and horses, through the agency of white men, also had its influence, and when a commercial value was given to furs and skins, the Indian abandoned agriculture to pursue hunting and traffic, and sought new fields for such enterprises, and many new contests arose from this cause. Altogether the character of the Indian since the discovery of Columbus has been greatly changed, and he has become far more warlike and predatory. Prior to that time, and far away in the wilderness beyond such influence since that time, Indian tribes seem to have lived together in comparative peace and to have settled their difficulties by treaty methods. A few of the tribes had distinct organizations for purposes of war; all recognized it to a greater or less extent in their tribal organization; but from such study as has been given the subject, and from the many facts collected from time to time relating to the intercourse existing between tribes, it appears that the Indians lived in comparative peace. Their accumulations were not so great as to be tempting, and their modes of warfare were not excessively destructive. Armed with clubs and spears and bows and arrows, war could be prosecuted only by hand-to-hand conflict, and depended largely upon individual prowess, while battle for plunder, tribute, and conquest was almost unknown. Such intertribal wars as occurred originated from other causes, such as infraction of rights relating to hunting grounds and fisheries, and still oftener prejudices growing out of their superstitions.

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