Page images

which is more than 200 miles in length; and from this lake the waters are conveyed to Hudson's Bay by the river Nelson. The Severn and Churchill rivers disembogue into the same bay on the west side. The Elk river and Unjigah or Peace river from the Highlands, towards the Western ocean, enter Slave lake, froin which the water is discharged by a large river, on which Mackenzie sailed to the northern ocean, and which is now called by his name.

921. Lakes. The country in which the rivers just mentioned have their sources, is not mountainous, but mostly a vast plain, interspersed with moderate elevations of land, and dotted with innumerable lakes. Some of the lakes are large, and the Winipic equals the Erie or Huron. Slave Lake is not much inferior in size. The Lake of the Woods, which constitutes the northwestern boundary of the United States, is 50 or 60 miles in bredth.

922. Indians. On the Labrador Coast reside the Esquimoes, a tribe of savages distinct in their language and features from all other aboriginals of America. To the north of the lakes live the Algonkins, Chipeways, Kenistenoes, Sarsees, Assiniboins, and many other tribes, who all speak dialects of one common language, and are evidently from the same original stock as the six nations, the Mohegans and other tribes which formerly peopled the Atlantic shores.

923. Description of the Kenistenoes. The Kenistenocs are very numerous, and occupy a vast extent of country, from the Utawas river to lake Winipic, and north to Churchill river and Hudson's Bay. In size and color they resemble the other Indians of North America. Their eyes are keen and penetrating; their couiltenance open and agreeable; they are affable, hospitable, generous and good natured; and the females have regular features and comely persons.

924. Dress. The dress of the Kenistenoes consists of tight leggins reaching nearly to the hips; a belt round the waist, which fastens a strip of cloth or lether before and behind; a close vest or shirt, with a girdle on the lower end, which is fastened with thongs behind; a cap is worn upon the head, made of a skin, with the brush

of the animal for an ornament. These garments are made of dressed moose skin, or beaver prepared with the fur, or of English woollen cloth, and are varied with the season. The lether is neatly painted; and in some parts, fancifully worked with porcupine quills. The shirts and leggins are adorned with fringe and tassels. Fethcirs, the teeth, horns, and claws of animals are occasionally worn to ornament the head and neck.

925. Dress of the females. The garments of the females are of the same materials as those of the men ; but differently made and worn. The garment next the body reaches to the middle of the leg, and is fastened over the shoulder with cords. The lower part is curiously painted and fringed; and round the waist it is fastened behind with a belt decorated with tassels. The arms are covered to the wrist with sleeves. The cap for the head is of lether or cloth, with ends hanging down and fastened to the belt behind. The robe or outer garment is like that of the men. Their hair is di. vided on the crown and tied behind, or sometimes fastened in large knots over the ears. The females tatoo the chin with three perpendicular lines, and ornament themselves with bracelets and other baubles.

926. Manners and Customs. The Kenistenoes, tho less savage than many other nations of Indians, live in the habitual practice of many beastly vices. The business of the men is war and hunting; and the females are condemned to every kind of domestic drudgery. All formal public business among them is begun with smoking. When a person dies, the body is dressed in his best garments, and deposited in a grave lined with the branches of trees, with some domestic utensils placed on it, and over it is erected a sort of canopy. During the ceremony, great lamentations are made, and if the person is much regretted, his relations pierce and cut their flesh with sharp instruments. On the tomb are carved or painted the symbols of the tribe, which are the figures of animals.

927. British Settlements and Trade. The Hudson's Bay Company have several forts or factories in this territory, as at the mouth of the Slude, Moose and Albany

rivers, in James Bay; at the mouth of the Severn, the · Nelson, and Churchill rivers; and on the rivers, particularly on the Saskashawin, along which five or six trading houses are established, the furthest of which is 600 miles west of Hudson's Bay. At these places the traders purchase skins from the savages, who collect them from all parts of a vast uncultivated region. The value of the exports of this company, in peltry, amounts to thirty thousand pounds sterling a year.

928. History. The Labrador coast was discovered as early as 1498 by Sebastian Cabot, who penetrated into the

sea between Greenland and the main, now called Daris's · Strait, from the navigator who made. a voyage thither in 1585. Capt. Hudson first entered the bay of his name

in 1610. Many other voyages were made to this cold · and inhospitable region, without any permanent advan• tages, until a company obtained a charter for the exclusive trade in furs, and began settlements for that purpose.

929. Hearne's Expedition. In 1770, Mr. Hearne de- parted from Prince of Wales fort, on Churchill river, to explore the northern country, and especially a river, near which the savages represented were rich mines of copper. Mr. Hearne travelled from December to July, in - that dismal region, and discovered the river calied Copper Mine river, on which he descended till he reached the sea, which was then not free from ice. After encountering indescribable hardships, he returned safe to - the fort in June 1772.

930. Mackenzie's Voyage. In 1789, sir Alexander Mackenzie, a gentleman concerned in the Canada fur trade, departed from Montreal, and proceeded by the river Utawas, lake Nepissing, French river, lakes Huron and Superior, to the lake of the Woods and the Winipic ; then by several small lakes and rivers, to Elk river and Slave lake, and thence by a large river now call

ed Mackenzie, to the tide waters of the northern ocean. · In 1793, the same gentleman pursued the course of tho . Unjigah or Peace river, and arrived at the Pacific Ocean in the 53d degree of north latitude.

931. Bermuda. A cluster of islands in the Atlantic, about 500 miles from the continent, in the 33d degree of

north latitude, belong to Great Britain, being settled by the English in 1612. They lie in the form of a Shepherd's crook. They are usually called the Bermudas, from a Spanish discoverer; but sometimes Sommer Isles, from Sir George Sommers, who was shipwrecked there in 1609. The climate is excellent, but most of the islands are mere rocks. The principal one is inhabited by about 6000 English people, and 5000 slaves, and the chief town, St. Georges, contains 500 houses. The inhabitants subsist chiefly by navigation ; especially by collecting salt at Turk's Island for export. In time of war, their privateers infest the trade of the United States.

932. Bahamas. The Bahamas are a chain of 4 or 500 isles, between Florida and Hayti, one of which, now called Cat Island, was the first American land discovered by Columbus in 1492. Five only of these islands are inhabited. The original inhabitants were transported to labor in the mines of Hayti, or Hispaniola, in which service they perished. These islands were the resort of pirates, till about the year 1720, when the English dislodged them and began a plantation. The chief town is Nassau, or New-Providence, which is the seat of government. The inhabitants of these islands are not numerous. The principal product is cotton ; but ambergris is found about the islands, and the inhabitants take great numbers of turtle.

933. West India Isles. The isles constituting what are usually understood by the West Indies, form an immense chain in the Atlantic, lying in the direction of

south east and north west, between the longitude of 60 - and 85 degrees west of London, and between 10 and 23 degrees north latitude. The eastern part of the chain bends to the southward, and approaches the continent of America. The isles at this end are called Caribbees, or the Charibbean isles, from the name of the primitive inhabitants. They are also called Antilles, but this name is by some geographers confined to Cuba, Hayti, Jamaica, Porto Rico, and some neighboring small islands. These islands belong to European nations. .

934. Cuba. The largest island is Cuba, which extends about 700 miles in length, between the 74th and 86th degrees of west longitude. Its bredth is not more than 70 miles. It is 100 miles south of the point of Florida, and 90 north of Jamaica. A chain of mountains runs through the island, but the soil is very rich. It was settled by the Spaniards in 1511, who still possess it, but its inhabitants are only about 30,000 Spaniards, and 25,000 slaves. It produces sugar, coffee, tobacco of excellent flavor, spices, cassia, and other tropical plants and fruits. The chief town is Havanna, which is well fortified, contains 2000 houses, and is the center of Spanish trade in America.

935. Hayti, Eastward from Cuba lies' Hayti, the first island which the Spaniards settled in America, and the second in size. It is called St. Domingo and Hispaniola. It is about 450 miles long and 200 broad, and when first discovered, contained a million of inhabitants, who soon fell victims to Spanish avarice, being con

demned to the mines, and to every other hardship and , indignity. This island was divided between the French and Spaniards. The chief town of the Spaniards is St. Domingo, on the south side of the island ; and the whole Spanish population is computed at 125,000 souls. They are remarkable for pride, laziness and poverty ; and sub- sist chiefly by the sale of cattle to the French.

936. French possessions in Hayti. The northern part of Hayti was peopled by the French, who imported Africans to cultivate their land. In the year 1790, the white inhabitants were at least 40,000, and the blacks 600,000 souls. The colony had become extremely rich, chiefly by its vast exports of sugar, coffee, cotton and indigo, which, with a few other trifling commodities, amounted to 34 millions of dollars a year. In 1790, the French government granted the privileges of French citizens to free people of color, which excited the resentment of the whites and generated animosities, which broke out into open revolt, and in June 1793, Cape Francois was burnt and the inhabitants massacred by the blacks and molattoes. By a series of inurders, and open war, the blacks have expelled the whites, and now possess the French part of the island.

« PreviousContinue »