INDIANS, American. Columbus, when he discovered America, believed he had reached a part of Asia or of India, and in a letter of February 1493 wrote of "the Indians (in Span ish, Indios) I have with me." Thus the abo rigines of the New World came to be called "Indians" (French Indiens, German Indianer, etc.), or, to avoid confusion with the natives of India, "American Indians," for which rather cumbrous term the word °Amerinds," suscep tible of many modifications by means of prefix and suffix, and easily adaptable to the exigencies of modern European and other civilized lan guages, has been suggested by an eminent Amer ican lexicographer and is used more or less by a number of anthropologists and other writers. The word "American," originally applied to the Indians, is still somewhat in use, and Dr. D. G. Brinton styled his comprehensive sketch pub lished in 1891, The American Race' ; but its employment to designate the white population of the continent seems to bar its ethnological application to the aborigines without some qual ifying term. By some writers the Indians are called the "Red Race," and, more popularly, "Redskins" (in French Peaux-Rouges, in Ger man Rothiiute), or "Redmen? terms of no exact somatic significance. A few American and many European ethnologists continue to separate the peoples who created the civiliza tions of Mexico, Central America, Peru, etc., from the Indians, while others, exclude the Eski mo, and others, again, the °Mound-Builders.° But somatic, cultural and linguistic evidence justifies the conclusions of Powell and Brinton in using the term Indians* to include not only the aborigines now existing, or known to have existed since the discovery, but also all the pre-Columbian peoples of America concern ing whom we have little data— the most di vergent are no more than sub-varieties of Amer ican man. This unity is the great ethnic phenomenon of American aboriginal history. The study of Indian languages, archaeological remains, arts and industries, games, social and religious institutions, mythology and folk-lore indicates a general psychic unity, while the so matic diversities do not transcend those observ able in the other great races of mankind. Whether one investigates, as McGee has so ad mirably done, the Seri of the Gulf of Cali fornia, who represent about the lowest type of savage culture on the North American conti nent, or the Mayas of Yucatan, whose approach to a phonetic system of writing touches the high-water mark of Amerindian achievement, one receives the same impression: that it is a question not of very recent civilized or semi barbaric intruders from Asia or from Europe, but of a race (whatever their remoter origins may be) who have dwelt for ages in an Amer ican environment, which has shaped them into the peoples met with by the whites at the time of Columbus' discovery. The limited effect of
the of the Norsemen may be held to discount any °discoveries') by Europeans be fore them; while, on the other hand, the Amer ican-Asiatic contact revealed by the investiga tions of the Jesup North Pacific expedition is as much American as Asiatic, and the (Bering Sea" culture is a local phenomenon no more fundamentally indigenous to the Old World than to the New. The arguments in favor of a trans-Pacific Malayo-Polynesian influence upon primitive America are no stronger than those that can be adduced to support the con trary opinion. The culture of the °Mound Builders* does not in any way transcend the possibilities of what the American Indian was and is yet capable of, nor is it necessary to assume the presence of foreign culture-elements to explain the civilization of Mexico, Yucatan, Colombia and Peru. Since very primitive times America has been essentially the °ethnic island* of Brinton, Keane and other investi gators. The impress of America has been upon the aborigines so long that physically, socially, linguistically they have been "Americanized* in so marked a fashion that their right to be con sidered one of the °races* of mankind is not to be dismissed without cause. To group them merely as a branch of the Mongolian, or, again, of the Malay °race,* is to obscure many points of great importance in the prehistory of Amer ica or to ignore them altogether. The Ameri can Indian is in too many respects a modified (and anciently so) variety of mankind to be thought of as expressing in any serious degree the type of the Mongolian or the Malay.