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Os the Indigenous Inhabitants of both parts ^America'
THE varieties in the human species, with respect to colour, may be reduced to three; black, white, and a medium between these approaching to the colour of copper. This last is the complexion of the indigenous inhabitants of both parts of America. The appellation they give themselves is that oiRfd Men: an appellation which
any particular region. It is of no consequence whether their climate inclines to the excess of cold or heat, the fame dusky hue prevails through them all.
In fr.ct, there are fewer varieties among the Indians of America, than among any other race of men. Among the Negroes, for instance, We
seems to be suggested by no degree of find some with flat noses, thick and
vanity, but by the simple desire of distinguishing themselves from those tribes of mankind whose colour is different. Attempts have been made to investigate the causes of the varieties in the human species : these causes have even been confidently ailtgncd; but all the theories on this subject hitherto are frivolous and unsatisfactory. Though the influence of climate could account for the differences in colour, (which is by no means admitted) it would
prominent lips, and woolly hair. We find others not less black, whose features are entirely different, and their hair lank and smooth. We find yet others of a copper complexion, and not a few of a shade still more approaching to white, like that of the mukttos.
Among the American Indians, on the-contrary, there is almost no difference in point of colour. There is also a general conformation of features
still be altogether insufficient to ex- and person, which, more or less, cha
plain the diversities of features and general conformation; circumstances not less distinctive than the different colours of the (kin.
, The Indians are naturally of a colour bordering upon red. Their frequent exposure to the sun and wind «Jiangcs it to their ordinary dulky hue. The temperature of the air appears to have little or no influence in this respect. There is no perceptible differ*nce in complexion between the inhabitants of the high, and those of the low parts of Peru; yet the climates are of an extreme difference. Nay, the Indians who live as far as foity degrees and upwards South or North of.the equator, are not to be distinguished, in point of colour, from those immediately under it. In general, the whole original inhabitants of the Amcrican continent resemble one another so much, that it is next to ini
racterizeth them all. Their chief distinctions in these respects arc a small sorehead, partly covered with hair to> the eyebrows, little eyes, the nose thin, pointed, and bent towaids the upper lip; a broad face, large ears, black,' thick, and lank hair; the legs well formed, the feet small, the body thick and muscular; little or no beard on the face, and that little never extending beyond a. small part os the chin and upper lip. It may easily be supposed that this general description cannot apply, in all its parts, to every individual; but all of them partake so much of it, that they may be easily distinguished even from the mulattos, who come nearest to them in point of colour.
Whoever has seen an Indian of any one tribe, may be considered as having seen them all so far as regards complexion, features, and fhspe. But the pofflble to discriminate die natives of lame observation will not apply with
* From Memnirtj FiUo/ifiJbiquej, Hijlortqnes Phjjiqiits ccnccrnant la dceetsvtrtt <li fAmeriquc. Pax Don Uiioa. just pnbhilied.
Of the Indigenous Inhabitants oshoth parts ef America.
regard to stature, which varies considerably in different regions. The inhabitants of the higher pans of Peru are of a middle size; those of the lower pans, a little beyond it. But the tribes inhabiting the countries from the lix-and-thinieth degree southward, toward the capes of Florida, those also about the thirtieth degree northward, along the banks ot the Miilisippi, bordering on Canada and New Spam, are distinguished by large- stature and ekgance of person. This is a variety which can be ascribed to no difference of climate, seeing the temperature varies as much, erven in the different dissrjcts of Peru, as it does in those countries which are nearest to, or most distant from the equator.
The resemblance among all die American tribes is not less remarkable in respect to their genius, character, manners, and particular customs. The niofl distant tribes are, in these respects, as similar as though they formed but one nation.
All the Indian nations have a peculiar pleasure in painting their bodies of a red colour, with a certain species of earth. The mine of Guancavelica was formerly of no other use than to supply them with diis material for dyeing their bodies j and the cinnabar extracted from it was applied entirely to this purpose. The tribes in Louisiana and Canada have the fame passion ; hence minium is the commodity most in demand there.
It may seem singular that these nations, whose natural colour is red, should affect the fame colour as an artificial ornament. But it may be observed, that they do nothing in this respect but what corresponds to the practice of Europeans, who also study to heighten and display to advantage the natural red and white of their complexions. The Indians of Peru have now indeed abandoned the custom of painting their bodies: but it was common among them before they true conquered by the Spaniards; and
it still remains the custom of all those tribes who have preserved their liberty. The Northern nations of America, besides the red colour which is predominant, employ also black, white, blue, and green, in painting their bodies.
The adjustment of these colours is a matter of as great consideration with the Indians of Louisiana and the vail regions extending to the North, as the ornaments of dress among the nioitpolislied nations. The business itself diey call Maltader, and they do not fail to apply all their talents and assiduity to accomplilh it in the most flni/hed manner. It is here that their patience mines. It is, indeed, the only thing that never fails to excite them to active exertion. The operation requires five or six hours, that is A whole morning, to be completed. No lady of the greatest fashion ever consulted her mirror with more anxiety, than the Indians do while painting their bodies. The colours are applied with the titmost accuracy and address. Upon the eye-lids, precisely at the root of the eye-lafhes, they draw two lines as fine as the smallest thread; the same upon the lips, the openings of the nostrils, the eye-brows, and the ears ; of which last they even follow all the inflexions and sinuosities. As to the rest of the face, they distribute various figures, in all which the red predominates, and the other colours are assorted so as to throw it out to the best advantage. The neck also receives its proper ornaments ; a thick coat of vermilion commonly distinguishes the checks. The full time that has already been mentioned, is requisite for accomplishing all this with the nicety which they affect. As their first attempts do not always succeed to their wish, they efface them and begin a-new upon a .better plan. No coquette is more fastidious in her choice of ornament, none more vain when the important adjustment is finished. Their delight and self-satisfaction are then
so great, that the mirror is hardly ever laid down. An Indian MaRached'to his mind is the vainest of all the human specie*. The other parts of the body are left in their natural state, and, excepting what is called a Cachecul, they go entirely naked.
Such of them as have made themselves eminent for bravery, or other qualifications, are distinguished by figures painted on their bodies. They introduce the colours by making punctures on their skin, and the extent of surface which this ornament covers is proportioned to the exploits they have performed. Some paint only their arms, others both their arms and legs; others again their thighs, while those who have attained the summit of warlike renown have their bodies painted from the waist upwards. This is the heraldry of the Indians, the devices of which are probably more exactly adjusted to the merits of the persons who bear them, than those of more civilized countries.
Besides these ornamcnts.the warriors also carry plumes of feathers on their heads, their arms, and ancles. These likewise are tokens of valour, and none but such as have been thus distinguished may wear them.
The propensity to indolence is equal among all the tribes of Indians, civilized or savage. The only employment of those who have preserved their independence is hunting and fishing. In some districts the women exercise a little agriculture, in raising Indian corn and pompions, of which they form a species of aliment, by bruising them together: they also prepare the ordinary beverage in use among them, taking care, at die same time, of the children, of whom the fathers take no charge.
The female Indians of all the conquered regions of South America practise what is called the urcu (a word which among them signifies elevation.) It consists in throwing forward the hair from the crown of the head uporr
the brow, and cutting it round front the ears to above the eye; so that the forehead and eye-brows are entirely covered. The fame custom takes place in the Northern countries; The female inhabitants of both regions tie the rest of their hair behind, so exactly on the fame fashion, that it might be supposed the effect os reutuaj imitation. This however being impossible, from the vast distance that separates them, it confirms the supposition of the whole of America being originally planted with one race of people.
This custom does not take place among the males. Those of the higher pans of Peru wear long and flowing hair, which they reckon a great ornament. In the lower parts of the lame country they cut it short, on account of the heat of the climate, a circumstance in which they imitate the Spaniards. The inhabitants of Louisiana pluck out their hair by the root, from the crown of the head forwards, in order to obtain a laTge forehead, otherwise denied them by nature. The rest of their hair they cuf as short as possible, to prevent their1 enemies from seizing them by it irf battle, and also to prevent them front easily getting their scalp, should they fall into their hands as prisoners. An enemy's scalp is the greatest marlc of triumph that an Indian can boast of. The operation itself is horrible. When it is performed on Europeans, whd commonly wear long hair, they make an incision through the skin all rounds the head, and then introducing their singers between the scalp and the scull, tear off the hair and it together.Notwithstanding the cruelty of this operation there have been instances of persons who survived it. When the prisoner has no hair it is still more horrible, the Operator having nr/proper hold.
In general, the Indians of Peru,1 whether civilized or savage, and those" of Louisiana, are much addicted trf cfutky. The only .difference aruori^
the (he former is, that such of them as live under the restraint of law are thereby prevented from following this natural inclination as far as it would lead them; at the fame time, whenever that restiaint is withdrawn, their fiaturvd barbarity immediately appears.
Os the Indigenous Inhabitants ofbctk parts e/ America.
In their exhibitions of bull-fights for instance, their great pleasuie is to rush at once, to the number of six or tight, against the animal; each of them armed with a long lance pointed with iron, with which they transfix him all at the fame time. No sooner is be brought to the ground by this United assault, than they cut off the muzzle, the tail, and pieces of the Jhighs, which they take a pleasure in devouring, even before the creature be <lead. Always prompt to engage in any act of cruelty, the eagerness and tivacity which they display on such occasions (hew how much they are delighted with them. Hence it is natural to conclude, that if the restraints of law were withdrawn, they would exercise the same cruelties towards men that they now do towards brute**m*!i. What is most marvellous As the whole is, that they are deliberate in all this cruelty, which seems" tp be neither heightened by anger, nor mitigated by compassion; but to be a •tool and uniform system, from which •hey never deviate.
The whole race of American Indians is distinguished by the wunt of beard, and of hair on any part of their person, excepting the head. They are also dislinguislied by thickness of skin sod hardness of fibres, circumstances which probably contribute to that insensibility to bodily pain for which they are remarkable. An instance os •his insensibility occurred .in an Indian Who was under the necessity of submitting to be cut for the stone. This operation, in ordinary cafes, seldom lists abave four or five minutes. UntavouriMe circumstances in his cafe prolonged it to the uncommon, .period
of twenty-seven minutes. Yet all this time the patient gave no tokens of the extreme pain commonly attending this operation: he complained only as a person does who feels some slight uneasiness. At last the stone was extracted. Two days after, he expressed a desire for food, and on the eight day from the operation he quitted his bed, free from pain, although the wound was not yet thoroughly closed* The same want of sensibility is observed in cases of fractures, wounds, and other accidents of a similar nature. In all these cases their cure is easily efsec-r ted, and they seem to suffer less presenl pain than any other race of men* The sculls that have been taken up in their ancient borying-grounds ara of a greater thickness than that bone is commonly found, being from six to seven lines fiom the oatcr to the in» ner superficies. The fame is remarked as to the thickness of theix skins.
• It is natural to infer from hence, that their comparative insensibility to pain is owing to a coarser and stronger organization, than that of other na-. tions. The cafe with which they en« dure the severities of climate is another proof of this. The inhabitant* of the higher parts of Peru live amidst perpetual frost and snow. Although; their clothing i9 very slight, they sup-port this inclement temperature without die least inconvenience. Habit, it is to be confessed, may contribute a good deal to this, but much also is to be ascribed to the compact texture of their skin, which defends them from the impression of cold through their pores.
The northern Indians resemble them in this respect: the utmost rigours of the winter season do not prevent them from following the chace almost naked. It is true, they wear a kind of woollen cloak, or sometimes the skin os a wild hfl«st, upon their shoulders; but besides that it covers only a small pan of their body, it would appear that, they ul'j it.rathex for oœamexrt..
Os the Indigenous Inhabitants cf loth parts of America.
than warmth. In sect, they wear it indiscriminately, in the severities of Winter and in the sultriest heats of Summer, when neither Europeans nor Negroes can surfer any but the flighted cloathing. They even frequently throw aside this cloak when they go a hunting, that it may not embarrass them in traversing their forests, where they fay the thorns and undergrowth would take hold of it; while, on the contrary, they Aide smoothly over the surface of their naked bodies. At all times they go with their heads uncovered, without suffering the least inconvenience, either from the cold or from those coups dt fileil, which in Louisiana are so often fatal to die natives of other climates.
The Indians of South America distinguish themselves by modern dresses, in which they affect various tastes. Those of the high country, and' of the vallies in Peru, dress partly in the Spanish falhion. Instead of hats they wear bonnets of coarse double cloth, the weight of which neither seems to incommode them when they go to warmer climates, nor does the accidental want of them seem to be felt in situations where the most piercing cold reigns.
Their legs and feet are always bare, if we except a fort of sandals made of the lkins of oxen. These emit a most abominable smell as often as they are wet upon their feet; and, to complete this disagreeable circumstance, they never put them off, but wear them .night and day as long as they can hold together: an evidence, among many others, that might be produced %>'; their disregard to cleanliness, and insensibility to things altogedier disgusting to odier men. - The Indiana arc naturally addicted to intoxication, and prefer always the strongest liquors they can procure. It .is not many years since those of Peru made use of Chica as their common beverage. But the interest of certain . proprietors of vineyards ia. the low
country, especially in the rallies of lea, Pisea, and Nasea,h.isof Lite introduced the use of brandy; die destructive influence of which is already very visible. The fame propensity is remarked in the savage nations to the. North, as far as the Europeans have ever penetrated. These have been accustomed to that pernicious indulgence both by the British colonies in NewEngland, and by the French in Louisiana and Canada. But it is an indulgence which has already greatly lessen* ed the population of those regions.
Their passion, however, for this bewitching poison is so great, that, to procure it, they will attempt the most difficult enterprise's, and pcqictrate the most horrible crimes. It has beed known more than once in Louisiana, that an Indinn, seemingly of the most mild and faithful temper, has basely murdered his master, either .on a jeutv ney or hunting party, merely to get possession of his flidk of brandy. He has waited for this purposetill deep gave him an opportunity to (hike thepcrsiiii* ous blow, and the empty flask has beca found by the side of the dead body.
It is very common in the higher parts of Peru to see upon the- highways the bodies of Indians who hat« died of intoxication. Unable to proceed farther, they lie down in their drunkenness, the rigour of the atmosphere benumbs them, and there they remain. But these warnings have no effect on others. At Quito, the wives do not partake in this vice of thchr husbands, but only attend them for the fake of giving them their assistance. At Peru, on the contrary, the women drink to equal excess with the men, and thereby prevent the possibility of mutual assistance. Th-, rfioft shocking circumstance of all is, that they will take their very infants from the breast and pour these poisonous liquors down their throats, dius training them to habits of drunkenness before they have arrived at the use of reason.