The origin of Native Americans

Beginning with eastern Asia, we find that the Americans, or in some instances their civilization only, are supposed to have come originally from China, Japan, India, Tartary, Polynesia. Three principal routes are proposed by which they may have come, -- namely, Bering Strait, the Aleutian Islands, and Polynesia. The route taken by no means depends upon the original habitat of the immigrants: thus, the people of India may have immigrated to the north of Asia, and crossed Bering Strait, or the Chinese may have passed from one to the other of the Aleutian Islands until they reached the western continent. Bering Strait is, however, the most widely advocated, and perhaps most probable, line of communication. The narrow strait would hardly hinder any migration either east or west, especially as it is frequently frozen over in winter. At all events, it is certain that from time immemorial constant intercourse has been kept up between the natives on either side of the strait; indeed, there can be no doubt that they are one and the same people.

The theory that America was peopled, or at least partly peopled, from eastern Asia, is certainly more widely advocated than any other, and, is moreover based upon a more reasonable and logical foundation than any other. It is true, the Old World may have been originally peopled from the New, and it is also true that the Americans may have had an autochthonic origin; but, if we must suppose that they have originated on another continent, then it is to Asia that we must first look for proofs of such an origin, at least so far as the people of northwestern America are concerned.

In addition to the theory of a Chinese settlement in the fifth century, which we shall consider subsequently, there are theories of Mongol and Japanese settlement.

In the thirteenth century the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan sent a formidable armament against Japan. The expedition failed, and the fleet was scattered by a violent tempest. Some of the ships, it is said, were cast upon the coast of Peru, and their crews are supposed to have founded the mighty empire of the Incas, conquered three centuries later by Pizarro. Mr. John Ranking, who leads the van of theorists in this direction, has written a goodly volume upon this subject, which certainly, if read by itself, ought to convince the reader as satisfactorily that America was settled by Mongols, as Kingsborough's work that it was reached by the Jews, or Jones's argument that the Tyrians had a hand in its civilization. That a Mongol fleet was sent against Japan, and that it was dispersed by a storm, is matter of history; but that any of the distressed ships were driven upon the coast of Peru can be but mere conjecture, since no news of such an arrival ever reached Asia.

A Japanese origin, or at least a strong infusion of Japanese blood, has been attributed to the tribes of the northwest coast. There is nothing improbable in this; indeed, there is every reason to believe that on various occasions small parties of Japanese have reached the American continent, have married the women of the country, and necessarily left the impress of their ideas and physical peculiarities upon their descendants. Probably these visits were all, without exception, accidental; but that they have occurred in great numbers is certain. There have been a great many instances of Japanese junks drifting upon the American coast, many of them after having floated helplessly about for many months. Mr. Brooks gives forty-one particular instances of such wrecks, beginning in 1782, twenty-eight of which date since 1850. Only twelve of the whole number were deserted. In a majority of cases the survivors remained permanently at the place where the waves had brought them. There is no record in existence of a Japanese woman having been saved from a wreck. The reasons for the presence of Japanese and the absence of Chinese junks are simple. There is a current of cold water setting from the Arctic Ocean south along the east coast of Asia, which drives all the Chinese wrecks south. The Kuro Siwo, or "black stream," commonly known as the Japan current, runs northward past the eastern coast of the Japan Islands, then curves round to the east and south, sweeping the whole west coast of North America, a branch, or eddy, moving towards the Sandwich Islands. A drifting wreck would be carried towards the American coast at an average rate of ten miles a day by this current.

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