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The dividing line between the eastern and western Eskimaux has been ascertained with considerable precision by Captain Franklin. It is found, on the Arctic Ocean, at the northern termination of the Rocky or Stony Mountains, in about 140° of west longitude, where the western resort annually, for the purpose of bartering with the eastern Eskimaux iron tools and other articles of Russian manufacture, for seal skins, oil, and furs. That intercourse is of recent date, and the western speak a dialect so different from that of the eastern, that at first they had great difficulty in understanding each other, The dialects of the several tribes of the western division, though obviously belonging to the same stock, differ also more from each other than those of the eastern Eskimaux. The actual identity of dialect amongst these, and between very distant tribes which have no communication together, is astonishing. Augustus, a Hudson-Bay Eskimaux, of the vicinity of Churchill, (latitude 599, longitude 95°,) who was the interpreter of Captain Franklin, could converse with all the Eskimaux met with during his two expeditions. Of those found west of Mackenzie's River in 1371° west longitude, Captain Franklin observes, that their habits were similar in every respect to those of the tribes described by Captain Parry," (north parts of Hudson's Bay,)“ and their dialects differed so little from that used by Augustus, that he had no difficulty in understanding them.” The distance, in that case was in a straight line twelve hundred miles, and more than twenty-five hundred around the seashore.
As now informed, we may distinguish at least three dialects or languages amongst those eastern Eskimaux, viz. 1. that of the inhabitants of the northern and western shores of Hudson's Bay, which dialect extends westwardly beyond Mackenzie's River, as has been just now stated; 2. that of Greenland, respecting which it must be observed, that the inhabitants of the western have no intercourse with those lately discovered on the eastern coast, and that these may have a different dialect; 3. that of the coast of Labrador, to which it is not improbable that the language of the Eskimaux of Hudson's Straits may be nearly allied.
Captain Parry's vocabulary, taken at Winter Island in latitude 67, is the most recent, complete, and authentic we have of the language of the Eskimaux of Hudson's Bay, and has accordingly been selected in preference to those of Dobbs and of John Long.
Not having had access to Egede's Grammar and Dictionary of the Greenlandish Language, a specimen only could be given, taken from his and from Crantz's accounts of Greenland. There is not, it is believed, any extant vocabulary of the dialect of the western coast of Labrador. It differs so far from that of Greenland, that the Moravian missionaries were obliged to make a new translation of the Gospels for the use of the Labrador Eskimaux, that previously made for those of Greenland not being sufficiently intelligible to the other tribe. An examination of both has however enabled the learned authors of the “ Mithridates” to ascertain the great affinity of the two dialects, in reference both to words and to grammatical forms.
Iceland was discovered and settled by the Norwegians in the latter end of the ninth century. I was informed by Mr. Thorkelson, a learned native of Iceland, and Librarian of the Royal Library of Copenhagen, that it appeared by ancient manuscript Icelandic chronicles, that the island was found already inhabited by a barbarous race, which was exterminated by the invaders. Whether they were Eskimaux cannot be ascertained. Had they been of Norman origin, they would have probably been preserved.
Greenland was discovered by the Norwegians or Icelanders, about one hundred years later than Iceland. Fur colonies were planted shortly after on the eastern and western coast, with whiclt an intercourse was continued, both from Iceland and Norway, till the beginning of the fifteenth century, when it ceased, from causes which have been but imperfectly explained. Unsuccessful attempts were several times made to renew it, and the eastern coast was found inaccessible from the permanent and enormous accumulation of ice on its shores. It was only in 1721, that the Danish government sent a new colony to West Greenland. The ruins of the ancient settlement, but no traces of the descendants of the first colonists, were found. The country was then altogether occupied by Eskimaux, of whom, or any other native inhabitants, no very distinct account is given in the ancient relations.* The southern part of the eastern coast continues to be blocked up by ice. But Captain Scoresby was able in 1822 to approach its northern part from about 69° to 73° of north latitude; and
* If the account, that the Europeans were for the first time assailed by the nations in the year 1386, is correct, it seems to indicate, that the progress of the Eskimaux, in that quarter, was from west to east.
Captain Clavering, the ensuing year, met with a tribe of Eskimaux in about 740 of north latitude. It appears almost incredible that they should have reached that spot, either by a land journey of eight hundred miles across Greenland, or the same distance along the frozen and inaccessible shores between Cape Farewell and the open sea in 69° of latitude. It is much more probable that, at a fornier period, the southern part of the eastern coast was free of ice, in which case we need not resort to the hypothesis, which places the old colony of East Greenland west of Cape Farewell.
In the year 1001, an Icelander, driven by a storm, discovered land far southwest of Cape Farewell, where a colony was soon after sent from Greenland. The country was called Vinland; and, if we can rely on the assertion, that the sun remained eight hours visible during the shortest day of the year, must have been Newfoundland. There, positive mention is made of Indians, who from the description and the name of Skroellings, or dwarfs, given to them by the Normans, must have been Eskimaux.
No mention is made of this European colony after the year 1121, when a bishop is said to have sailed from Greenland to Vinland. But it seems that, to a very late date, there existed in Newfoundland another race of Indians, extremely intractable, seen occasionally on the eastern seashore at the Bay Des Exploits, but residing, as was supposed, in the interior part of the island. These are said to be now extinct; and it is not known, whether any vocabulary of their language, which might indicate their origin, has ever been obtained.
Whatever may have been the origin of the Eskimaux, it would seem probable that the small tribe of the present Sedentary Tchuktchi on the eastern extremity of Asia, is a colony of the Western American Eskimaux. The language does not extend in Asia beyond that tribe. That of their immediate neighbours, the “Reindeer” or “Wandering Tchuktchi,” is totally different, and belongs to the Kouriak family.
The vocabulary of the western American Eskimaux which has been selected, is that of Kotzebue's Sound immediately north of Behring's Straits, taken by Captain Beechy. That of the Tchuktchi, extracted from Krusenstern, was taken by Koscheloff; and a specimen has been added of the language of the island of Kadjak opposite to the Peninsula of Alaska, extracted from Klaproth's “ Asia Polyglotta.”
There does not seem to be any solid foundation for the opinion of those who would ascribe to the Eskimaux an origin different from that of the other Indians of North America. The color and features are essentially the same ; and the differences which may exist, particularly that in stature, may be easily accounted for by the rigor of the climate, and partly perhaps by the nature of their food. The entire similarity of the structure and grammatical forms of their language with those of various Indian tribes, however different in their vocabularies, which will hereafter be adverted to, affords an almost conclusive proof of their belonging to the same family of mankind.
Kinai, KOLUSCHEN, AND OTHER TRIBES ON THE Pacific.
Two tribes are found, on the Pacific Ocean, whose kindred languages, though exhibiting some affinities both with that of the Western Eskimaux and with that of the Athapascas, we shall, for the present, consider as forming a distinct family. They are the Kinai, in and near Cook's Inlet or River, and the Ugaljachmutzi (Ougalachmioutsy) of Prince William's Sound. The Tshugazzi, who inhabit the country between those two tribes, are Eskimaux and speak a dialect nearly the same with that of the Konagen of Kadjak Island. The vocabulary of the Kinai was taken by Resanoff, and is extracted from Krusenstern.
From Mount St. Elias in about 60°, to Fuca's Straits in about 48° north latitude, several tribes are found, both on the main and on the numerous adjacent islands, apparently in some respects superior to the more southern tribes along the shores of the Pacific Ocean; and whose languages offer some remote analogies with that of the Mexican. Although similar affinities have been observed even in the dialect of the Ugaljachmutzi already mentioned, these observations apply more specially to the Koluschen, (the same with the Tshinkitani of Captain Marchand,) who inhabit the islands and the adjacent coast from the sixtieth to the fifty-fifth degree of north latitude. Those best known to the Europeans, are the natives of King George the Third's Islands, called “Sitka" by the Russians. The influence of their language has been said to extend as far south as the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte's Island in 520 north latitude. But it is the opinion of several intelligent Americans, who have carried on a trade with the natives along
that coast, that a greater diversity of languages is found amongst them than had been presumed by earlier travellers.*
The language of the Wakash Indians, who inhabit the island on which Nootka Sound is situated (49° north latitude), is the one in that quarter, which, by various vocabularies, is best known to us. The appended specimen is extracted from the Narrative of J. R. Jewitt, who was among these Indians from 1803 to 1806. That of the Koluschen was taken by the Russian Davidoff. We have added the few words given by Mackenzie, of the language of the Friendly Village near the sources of Salmon River in 53° of north latitude, some of that of the inhabitants of the Straits of Fuca, taken from the Spanish Voyage of the “Sutil y Mexicana,” and a short vocabulary of those on Queen Charlotte's Islands, lately supplied by the Hon. William Sturgis, of Boston.
These languages appear to belong to distinct families. But those several tribes have been introduced here, principally in reference to their geographical situation.t Bounded on the east by a range of mountains, which may be traced southwardly to California, and which, running parallel to the coast, no where recedes far from it, those seashore tribes do not extend, so far as has been ascertained, farther inland than the sources of the short rivers which empty in that quarter into the sea. They, like the Eskimaux, form a belt of about one hundred miles in breadth, wbich separates the Inland Indians from the seashore. We at least know with certainty, by Harmon's and Mackenzie's accounts, that the inland Athapascas extend westwardly within that distance of the Pacific Ocean.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in his voyage to the Pacific, after having descended the Tacoutche Tesse, or Fraser's River, which he mistook for the Columbia, as low down as 52° 30 of north latitude, ascending it again about one hundred miles, and then steering his course by land westwardly, across the chain of mountains last mentioned, arrived at the sources of Salmon River. Descending that short stream to its mouth in Fitzhugh's Sound, he reached the ocean in latitude 52° 20'. He could not collect a vocabulary of the language of the inhabitants of the seacoast, but represents it as differing from
* See Appendix, --Note by the Publishing Committee.
| It is also proper to observe, that though placed on that account under this head, it is without any reference to the unsettled question respecting the boundary between the United States and Great Britain west of the Rocky Mountains,