CHAPTER XVII. THE ANTIQUITY OF THESE INDIANS—ARIZONA'S VICISSITUDES...


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THE ANTIQUITY OF THESE INDIANS—ARIZONA'S VICISSITUDES—CONQUERED AT LAST—AMERICA'S DARK AGES—A COSTLY BONFIRE—PRESCOTT—HUMBOLDT—BANCROFT—TO THE LAND OF ANCIENT LORE BY RAIL!

IT is a well-known fact that the antiquity of these people is one of the many subjects connected with Arizona that is; and has been ever since the time of the Spanish conquest, taxing the investigation of man. As Governor Safford once said: ‘‘“There is probably no portion of our domain where such a variety of Indians live, speaking so many different dialects, as in Arizona.”’’ And we might add of so many different customs and natural characteristics. In regard to the Zunis and Moquis it is now asked, ‘‘Are they Aztec, Toltec, or what?’’ The nearest we have got to it yet is that they are ‘‘whatever’’ they may be. They may be the descendants of the remnants of some particular tribe, or the remnants of a score of tribes that suffered the incursions of the sixteenth century, consequent upon the invasion and conquest by Cortez. What a revolution was there! What a turning


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upside down of institutions of a civilized, cultivated and refined people, who are now forgotten and almost obliterated by the lapse of time. A people, perhaps, scientific in the extreme, and whose institutions in many respects equalled, if not excelled, some of those of our own civilization. With the opening up of Arizona, the reward to us may be commensurate with our difficulty and delay of getting a practical admission to her. More obstacles, and perhaps oftener, have been thrown in the way to retard the opening up of Arizona than perhaps any other portion of our country. In addition to the most formidable and desperate tribes of Indians that ever combated the approach of civilization, the position of Arizona, subjects us to the incursions of the treacherous Mexican banditti, who are as ready and willing to profit by any misfortune or weakness of his neighbor as the most ruthless Indian. Its position too, subjected it to a great drawback in 1861 and '63 by our civil war; and at a time when she was again budding with success.

Some men, like communities are often found in their egotism, congratulating themselves on the advance—the progression they are making, having an infallible belief that progression, is a magnate taking no back tracks, and meeting with no diversions; that we never lose, but always gain. That we did not lose

A NAVAJO INDIAN BOY.

AN ANCIENT WAR DANCE OF THE APACHES.


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anything in the destruction of the Alexandrian library, or that if we did it was chaff compared to what we gained immediately after, or by the very destruction itself. Or that by the dark ages, although admit, ring they were irksome and disagreeable in themselves-nothing was lost. Others there are who claim to see a complete revolution in all things; who claim a comprehensive distinction between progress and change; who rather glory in finding that which was lost, claiming nothing new under the sun, and who concede that the dark ages are the great Machiavels of time who cunningly and stealthily crowd themselves in to baffle the philosopher in his course, and who simply cover up—hide, things for a limited period, for our employment and amusement in finding again.

From 1520 to 1530, then was the ‘‘dark age’’ of the North American Continent. Enough was covered up during those ten years to take all the science, work, and philosophy of centuries to unearth. This we know. But we do not know but that there is much that will never be discovered, nor even dreamed of. The most of these belong or are connected, in some way with the people of whom we have barely made mention, and of whom if volumes were written, which has already been done, one could scarcely do more. To what extent these facts exist may be made clearer


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by reference to the historian, Prescott. Prescott says: Book VI, Chap. 8:

‘‘“Yet the Aztecs must have been in possession of a much larger treasure, if it were only the wreck of that recovered from the Spaniards on the night of the memorable flight from Mexico. Some of the spoils may have been sent away from the capital; some spent in preparations for defence, and more of it buried in the earth, or sunk in the waters of the lake. Their menaces were not without meaning. They had, at least, the satisfaction of disappointing thc avarice of their enemies.’’

‘‘“Cortez had no further occasion for the presence of his Indian allies. * * * * * * They carried off a liberal share of the spoils, of which they had plundered the dwellings—not of a kind to excite the cupidity of the Spaniards—and returned in triumph, (short-sighted triumph!) at the success of their expedition, and the downfall of the Aztec dynasty.”’’

The memorable night alluded to above was that which is the present patron saint day of Mexico,—the day of St. Hypolito—and was selected and handed down as such from the circumstances connected with it.

Prescott also says, in speaking of the great quantities of the fine arts that is known to have existed


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among the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest:— ‘‘“The first archbishop of Mexico collected these paintings from every quarter, especially from Tezeuco, the most cultivated capital in Anahuac, and the great depository of the national archives. He then caused them to be piled up ill a ‘mountain heap,’ as it is called by the Spanish writers themselves, in the market place of Tiateloco, and reduced them all to ashes.”’’

Humboldt said:— ‘‘“The Mexicans (Aztecs) were in possession of annals that went back to eight and a half centuries beyond the epoch of the arrival of Cortez in the country of Anahuac.”’’

Bancroft tells us also, that the Aztecs retained many traditions and systems of the Toltecs ‘‘whose written annals they also preserved.’’ He also says that at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, there were great quantities of manuscript treasured up in the country.

A recent correspondence to the Philadelphia Weekly Press, says:— ‘‘“At the time of the conquest of Mexico, Cortez fonnd in Mexico a people millions in number, according to his account, enjoying a high order of civilization. Their government was a confederated empire of many states, a rather highly organized system, implying large political knowledge and practical statesmanship. Their religion was one of peace and love, if their temples filled with flowers and birds and fountains, and their daily life and conversation and


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the many virtues transmitted to their descendants today—if these works are any evidence of their faith. They had wealth of gold and silver, and artistic workers in their precious metals. They had fine houses and great public works, temples, aqueducts, roadways. They had a calendar measuring the solar year more accurately than ours, and requiring readjustment not every four years, but only once in half a century. They had full records of their own civilization and history, but they were richer yet in the possession of ample and authentic records of the races before them.”’’

All these annals and paintings met the same fate. All things in short connected with this people that fire would destroy, was obliterated from the face of the earth. It eclipsed the decline and fall of the Roman empire, and the worst features of history repeated themselves in the new world.

Science has heretofore been confined to the ancient recesses of the old world. But only a short space of time will elapse when the steam car alone will lead us to a new field of labor in this channel; curiosity and pleasure will follow closely in the wake of ambition's stronger impulse; and Arizona, New Mexico, and our southwest generally will resound with notes of the choicest ancient lore. The tide of pre-historic study, will be suddenly transferred to our very doors, and the flash of our ignited torch cast a lurid glare on even a pre-Adamite existence.

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