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which lie nearest the foothills, where the landscape is considerably varied by elevations and depressions, there are now many larger lakes covering five or ten acres and quite deep, which were nothing more than dry hollows six or eight years ago. The number and variety of aquatic plants in these lakes are increasing every year, and on the shores of some the cotton woods and willows that have sprung up from seed are becoming quite conspicuous. In the section of which I speak, there are no natural lakes or ponds, but in those which have been the incidental result of the irrigation of the lands around them, the water-fowl, the amphibious reptiles, and strictly aquatic plants have all found for themselves homes in what was but a dry waste, a few 3Tears since. Some of the very oldest lines of ditches are now noticeable, at great distances by the native willows, which have sprung from seed and attained their full size, all along their banks. Otherwise the willows and cotton woods grow only in the mountains or by the rivers whose valleys lie considerably below the level of the plains. Among the plants of the plains are a large class of annuals, the seeds of which seem invariably to germinate in autumn, and the plants, to attain half their growth during the fall and early winter, so that they flower in April and May. These are for the most part gone out of flower before the first of June, in all the uncultivated portions of the country ; and during all the burning months of summer the seeds lie waiting for the rains of early autumn to start them into life. But not so upon the cultivated lands. Here, wherever moisture is given, there is a regular succession of these plants in bloom, through the whole summer and fall; and by the ditches at the side of our village streets, the botanist may in October gather excellent specimens of plants, which, before the settlement of the country, he would have found nowhere after May. The same may be said of many perennials, which, in the vicinity of the water, continue to send forth fresh stems and flowers, long after their season is past in other places.
THE FORMER RANGE OF THE BUFFALO.
BY JOHN G. HENDERSON.
Comparatively speaking it will be but a short time until the
buffalo, like the great Irish elk, the mastodon, the iloilo, and other extinct animals, that have lived since the appearance of man upon the earth, will only be known to us by its bones, with this advantage, however, over the mastodon ; its character, habits and territory over which it formerly ranged are all accurately described by the historian and naturalist, as well as the causes which are leading to its extinction. As civilized man advances, the buffalo, the elk, the deer, the beaver, the otter, the bear, the panther, the wild-cat and wolf, and other members of the wilderness or prairie fauna, must give way to domesticated animals — animals whose original wiklness and savageness have been subdued, and whose whole organization, mental and physical, has been by thousands of years of contact with civilized man modified and changed so as to become subservient to his wishes and purposes. Some, as the buffalo, elk and deer, are slaughtered for their flesh and hides; others as the otter and the beaver, for their skins alone; while still others, such as the panther, wild cat and wolf, are killed on account of their savageness, their existence being incompatible with the presence of civilized man.
For the buffalo are substituted our common cattle, for the wolf and wild cat, our domesticated dog and cat. Instead of clothing himself with the skins of the buffalo and deer, and living upon the fruits of the chase, the civilized man carries with him the sheep, from whose fleece he makes his coat for winter ; or rears the cotton plant, while from its fibres he manufactures his fabrics, instead of fraying the inner bark of the cedar or basswood for the same purpose, as did the aboriginal man.
But civilized man in his march into the wilderness, or in his advance upon the prairies, meets with many new forms of animal life and from their number he now and then selects some, such as the wild turkey, for example, which seems to have a pre-adaptation to domestication, and from such he adds to the stock of his domesticated species.
But the advent of civilized man not only disturbs the native fauna by the extermination of large numbers of animals, but also by causing others to increase largely in numbers. When the enemy of any animal is exterminated or thinned out by any cause, such animal will rapidly increase in numbers. For illustration, the enemies of the smaller birds—the larger birds of prey — are destroyed by civilized man. This gives the small birds an advantage in the struggle for existence and they increase in numbers. It will thus be seen that the real amount of disturbance of the native fauna of the prairie or wilderness is not so easily comprehended as one would at first imagine.
The earl}' Jesuit missionaries and French voyagevrs, who by the way of the Great Lakes penetrated to the valley of the Mississippi, at the end of the seventeenth century, found the buffalo in thousands grazing upon the prairies of Illinois and neighboring states, or flying in countless numbers before the Red-hunter, or the prairie fire.
The idea of their domestication at once entered their heads, and, from that time to the present, many attempts have been made to domesticate them, or, by crossing with domesticated cattle, to impart to the latter some additional valuable quality; but I believe that hitherto all such attempts have proven abortive. Now and then, upon the western frontier, you may see the dun color, high shoulders, and somewhat restless disposition, that indicate a cross between the domestic cow and buffalo bull, but, like the red-blood of the Indian, the mighty throng that is pressing on, soon absorbs it, and obliterates effectually its marks, if not wholly its effects.
It was with a peculiar interest that I read the descriptions of these strange animals, transmitted home by the Jesuit or voyageur, who two hundred years ago first looked upon "our vast prairies on which herds of wild-cattle pastured in confusion." Strange contrast! Where now iron rails mark the highway of civilization and commerce, then were only paths made by tbe buffalo, or the Indian trail to hunting grounds or from village to village. Where now are great cities, built of brick, stone and iron, with their iron and marble fronted palaces of trade, then were Indian villages of sometimes five hundred cabins made of rushes sewed together by the hands of industrious squaws so ingeniously as to render them impervious to rain and snow, and so light as to render it easy for the Indian woman to obey her dusky master when he ordered her to "take up her house and walk." Now huge boats, with gilded saloons propelled by powerful steam engines float on the bosoms of our rivers, then the light canoe made of the cotton wood log by the use of the fire and stone ax, or the still lighter birch-bark, were the only keels that had ever disturbed their waters.
As the sources of information of this character are not accessible to many readers of the Naturalist, I may be pardoned for freely transcribing from accounts given in Jesuit letters and Relations* and from the pages of early French writers and voya<jeurs. Here we see old Illinois — as it was at the end of the seventeenth century — the otter, beaver, and wigwams upon the banks of its rivers, the panthers, wolves, bears and wild-cats in its forests, with its great prairies of wild grass where grazed the deer, the elk, and the buffalo, or at noon-tide shielded themselves from the summer's sun under the shade of lonely cotton wood trees, or in the beautiful groves that here and there studded the plain, like islands upon the bosom of the ocean. Here, too, we see primitive man hollowing out his boat by the aid of fire and the stone ax, skinning animals and dressing their hides with the flint knife, and engaged in war or the chase, armed with the war-club and bow, and whose arrows were tipped with bone or flint. Here are presented to our view the first effects of the contact of civilization and barbarism, we see the Indian eagerly exchanging skins of the buffalo and beaver, and other articles demanded by civilization, for the iron ax, knife, gun, and kettle, to supply the place of the stone ax, flint knife, bow and arrow, and Indian akeek. Here we see the gay and volatile French associating upon terms of equality with the Indian, each adopting the manners and habits of the other and thus assimilating the habits of civilized man with the superstitions and customs of the savage, for the " Frenchman forgot not that the uncivilized man as well as the civilized man, was his brother and he deported himself as man to man." Here we see the Jesuit, the medicine-man of civilization, struggling to displace the superstitious rites and ceremonies of the medicine-man of the forest, to substitute his own no less whimsical, foolish and absurd rites and ceremonies in their stead; and the triumph of the former, when, as on one occasion, after forty dogs had been sacrificed to appease the spirit of destruction,
AMER. NATURALIST, VOL. VI. 6
which, in the form of disease, was laying waste the village, the medicine-man was forced to bow his knee to the cross and offer up his prayer for mercy to the great Manitou of the French. Merc in these old Jesuit Relations and Letters we see the Red-man on bended knee before the blessed virgin, reciting the rosary or repeating Ave Marias translated into the Algonquin language by the Jesuit fathers.
The Jesuit missionary, Father Marquette, who, with Joliet and five French voyageurs, discovered and explored the Upper Mississippi, in the 3'ear 1673, was the first white man who penetrated to the habitat of the buffalo, by way of the Great Lakes. Father Claude Alloiiez and other missionaries, who had penetrated the wilderness as far as Che-goi-me-gon, a great Chippewa Village at the extreme west end of Lake Superior, no doubt had heard from the wandering Sioux, or as they were known in those days, the Nadouessi, of the great plains that lay farther westward and of the vast herds of buffaloes that roamed over them. History, indeed, records the fact, that these Sioux Indians told the strange pale-faces that came among them with "pictures of hell and of the last judgment" of their manner of shielding themselves from the winter's storm with the hides of wild-cattle for the roof of their cabins instead of bark. It was here, too, that the missionaries heard of the Great River, and here, for the first time in history, appear those two Algonquin words, Messi-Sepe. Father Alloiiez, in speaking of the Sioux Indians says, "They live on the great river called Messipi." He blended the adjective Messi, great, and the noun Sepe, river, into the word Messipi, which was no greater corruption of the original than our Missis-sippi. It was here, too, that Father Marquette received tidings of the Great River, and the nations that dwelt upon its banks, and it was here that he resolved to explore it. "This great river," he says, "can hardly empty in Virginia, and we believe that its mouth is in California. If the Indians who promise to make me a canoe do not fail to keep their word, we shall go into this river as soon as we can with a Frenchman and this young man given me, who knows some of these languages, and has a readiness for learning others; we shall visit the nations which inhabit it, in order to open the way to so many of our fathers who have long awaited this happiness.""
At the same Chippewa Village, the Jesuits met the Illinois Indi
* Marquette's Letter to Le Mercier.