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Constitution of the Indian Mind

American History, Volume I: Aboriginal America (New York: Sheldon, 1860)

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Art & Architecture


way, for the demands of nature in respect to shelter and clothing.

Again, with the art of writing the progress made in each separate generation is recorded, and thus the goal attained in one age becomes the starting point in the next. It follows from this that a race that possesses the art of writing may be decisively progressive, but one which is without that art can only be so in a very limited degree. In this latter case the greatest part of what any one genius discovers or learns dies with him, and the next genius that arises must commence the work anew. Thus the nation, even if it is always rising, is always sinking back again to where it was before. Nothing but the art of writing, to provide each generation with the means of recording what it has discovered, will enable it to keep its hold and go on continually ascending.

The Indians accordingly, being without this art, made no advance whatever. If they did not even retrograde, they lived from generation to genera- tion the same.

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