ORIGIN AND EXTENT OF THE ESQUIMAUX (Historic Information)
It has not yet been settled whether the Alaska Esquimaux came from Asia or the Siberian from Alaska, but it can not be disputed that they came from the same original ancestors. It is also an irrefutable fact that the Esquimaux is either of Mongolian parentage, or in very early times became thoroughly mixed with the Mongolian people. The former seems most probable.
The genial, contented disposition of the race suggests Norwegian blood, but the predominating Mongolian features, color, customs, traditions, stoical, philosophical religious indifference, overshadows and breaks down in the mind of almost every investigator all the ancestral theories except the Mongolian.
This Mongolian Esquimaux blood extends down the Asiatic coast to China and Japan and along Northern Siberia. On the Alaskan side it extends from Greenland to the very end of the Aleutian Islands, which is in sight of the smoke of the steamers of Japan, and also along the Pacific Coast on the west side of the mountains as far south as Seattle at least. The whole population of Indians and Esquimaux in America containing Mongolian blood docs not exceed 50,000.
The same rate of decrease applies to Siwash, Aleut and Esquimaux wherever the trader, miner and whaler, with their vice, disease and whisky, can reach them. In their Northern home their whole lives were devoted to a food-struggle for existence; the fish, game, seal, whale, and walrus, upon which they depended, have, by the white man, been almost exterminated. At Herschell and Point Barrow, where once villages of 500 healthy, pure-blooded natives lived, now a half hundred syphilitic mixed bloods mingle with as many whalers each winter. A similar condition of affairs prevailed in Western Alaska during a hundred years of Russian supremacy a most lamentable thing to say about our boasted civilization and Christianity.
Of these people Wymper (page 249), who lived among them on both continents, concludes they are of Mongolian origin; Markham, that they are of Tartar descent; Arctic Miscellanies, that they are Mongolians driven northward by a more powerful Tartar race; Henry W. Elliott's Report, 1875, of natives on St. Lawrence, says, "They strongly resemble Chinese;" A. W. Greeley, 1885, says there is no question but the natives of the two continents had trade relations back in the Sixteenth century; Sessions (page 103) says, "They do not look like our North American Indians, but many of them look like Mongolians;" Arctic Provinces, by Elliott, "They strongly remind us of Japanese faces and forms;" Retzius and Humboldt find the Pacific Coast Indians related to the Mongols; Dr. Sheldon Jackson, for many years among them, said, "In mental traits, artistic ideas, and methods of labor, they are singularly like the Mongolian Japanese;" Catlin says the same; Spurr, 1896, says, "They are wonderfully different from those on the Yukon form Nulato to its headwaters, being round and rosy, rather small in stature, and with a certain Mongolian appearance (page 260). And thus I could continue to name authors of similar opinion, but the most convincing argument is that even persons like myself, who frequently see Chinese, Japs, Aleuts, Siwash and Esquimaux, are often unable to distinguish them. It is not unusual to find Esquimaux having every appearance of a full-blood Jap. In Alaska these people inhabit the tundra belt. They are found twenty miles up the Copper Mine River, on the Mackenzie as far as the Peel, on the Yukon to Nulato, on the Kuskoquim to Kolmakofsky. The Russians carried them farther inland, and the Americans mixed them more. In the treeless and woodless country they built their houses of snow in winter and skins in summer, and buried their dead in skins covered with stones or left them in their abodes sealed to shut out wild animals. In the wooded country or on shores where wood could be found, they built houses of it, and buried their dead in boxes covered with stones or dirt, or erected upon poles to protect them from dogs and wild animals, as they did their food stores. Everywhere they followed their game food from place to place in season, and more than half the Aleutian barabaras, Siberian topecks and Alaskan igloos found are unoccupied save for a few days each year, if at all. Now, as in early years, one may travel the rivers within their territory and find but a few families on each, with three or four exceptions. Ornaments may be found in the nose, ears, lips and elsewhere on the men; anklets, bracelets, tatoos upon the women.
They carve Oriental figures, Chinese idols, and money of very ancient dates have been found buried centuries ago by them, showing conclusively that they were from that country or had communication of some kind with it hundreds of years before discovered by whites. The small race living nearest to the pole, as described by Perry, are almost, if not altogether, pure Mongolian. The similarity of the hieroglyphics from Chaldea traced northward through Asia, then through the Esquimaux, Pacific Coast Indians, and down to the original peoples of Mexico and South America, has lead several archaeologists to say that this was the route over which came the first inhabitants of America, and that the people of Mongolian blood in Alaska and along the Pacific Coast arc the remnant of that people. The argument is believable and convincing, and proofs of which are too numerous to set forth in this small book of conclusions. I have been accumulating facts for several years on these questions, the whole of which will be given in an extensive history of Alaska to be published in about three years from this time.
A comparison of the names of towns in China. Japan, and all Esquimaux and Aleut countries will reveal a marvelous similarity, and the names of towns of the Siwash and Athabascan will be as marvellously dissimilar.
The table may not be a satisfactory test, as some words are not common to all the languages; others may have a broader or narrower meaning; none of them are phonetically or diacritically marked, and the number of words should not be less than a hundred. However, it will serve to convince any one that the Greenland, American, Asiatic, Esquimaux and Alaskan Aleut derive their dialects from a common ancestral language, and that the Japanese language is so similar in many ways that we are justified in concluding that at some period the parent language was the same or closely associated. I am fully convinced that a comparison of dialects from Bering Strait to Japan, and a careful research along the Coast, would corroborate my statement.
The table will also show that the Yukon Indians have a language in nowise related to the others, and that the Haidah (or Siwash) are as distinctly separate.
The fact that the Siwash has the face and features of a Mongolian and Esquimaux more than of any other human being, and yet has no similarity in speech, makes it more difficult to place his ancestry.
A Negro in Africa, and another in America having a common parent, or a Japanese in Japan and another in Alaska having been born in the same household, but acquiring from the beginning different languages, which is often and can easily have been the case many times, will be an illustration of how language may fail to disclose ancestry. Several cases of lost or shipwrecked Japanese have been reported, where they have drifted entirely across the Pacific, in one of which almost a hundred years ago, a Japanese junk landed near Puget Sound. In such cases the blood could become mixed without the language becoming apparent.