There was no written language in all North America
when Europeans came, excepting in the form of pictography, which has a near relationship to the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians.
It was used in aid of historic and other traditions, and in illustration of their mythology, which was rich in symbolism, and formed a part of their religious system.
They personified their ideas by delineations of natural objects.
An excellent illustration is given in the act of To-mo-chi-chi, an aged Creek chief.
when he first visited Oglethorpe
, on the site of Savannah
He presented a buffalo's skin, ornamented with a picture of an eagle, saying: “The eagle is an emblem of speed, and the buffalo of strength.
are as swift as the bird, for they fly over vast seas, and, like the buffalo, are so strong nothing can withstand them.
The feathers of the bird are soft, and signify love; the buffalo's skin is warm, and signifies protection.
Therefore, love and protect our little families.”
Similar in purpose are the carvings on the totem poles, especially in Alaska
, by which the natives have preserved their family and tribal records and traditions.
In the town of Berkley, Bristol co., Mass.
, is a stone known as Dighton Rock
, which bears an inscription attributed to
the Norsemen, but which has defied the skill of the archaeologist to decipher.
The Pictured Rocks
on the shore of Lake Superior
, not far from Sault Ste. Marie
, contrary to popular belief, are not the work of human hands, but the effects of water wearing away the sandstone rocks.
They resemble old castles, temples, arches, and other objects when viewed from a short distance.