Sunday, 28 September 2008

In Memorium

From Indian Time Volume 2 Number 12 (Fall 1954)


The hands of the Great Carver have finished the story.

The Story is written

A son has been called home

A great warrior has travelled to the Sand Hills.

Brother A. Hyatt Verrill, my dear friend, brother of all the Indian peoples of the Americas, responded to the call of the Great Spirit on November 14, at 8:50 A.M. This great writer, lover of his fellow son, historian, author, explorer, scientist, inventor, artist and teacher, quit this life at the age of 83.

Brother Verrill invented the autochrome process in photography, in 1903, wrote 115 major books on many subjects, with quantities of other published material, mostly about the natives of the Americas. He opened many new trails into the ruined cities of Central and South America, explored many new sites, and opened the trail of a new line of thought for all students of ancient American history; in addition, he pointed the way to a new America, of tomorrow.

His late book, "The Real Americans", off the press this year, is a gem and reflects much of his love of the Indians in the United States and Canada.

The loss of this fine man is a great blow to our whole peoples, but in him an era did not come to an end, rather he is a part of the New Era all about us. He will live in the lives of all who follow the trail he opened.

In the ancient days of our race, so great a man as Brother Verrill, when he laid down his earthly robes, was remembered in a stone, a Stela of stone with his story engraved thereon. Brother Verrill's story is engraved on the hearts of all who knew him, but it is fitting that we as a people also remember to leave his story in stone, that those who follow us may also remember.

Brother Verrill is buried in Chiefland, Florida. It is the proposal of the League of North American Indians executive that we the Indian people he loved so much, with the kind permission of his family, subscribe a fund to buy a marker as a lasting tribute to our brother. Any person wishing to contribute any some toward such a fund, please forward it to: The A. Hyatt Verrill Fund, 3108 Woodrow Ave., Fort Wayne, Indiana, U. S. A.

The League honored Brother Verrill with our highest award of merit for service to our race, our Eagle Merit Award, two golden eagle feathers. It may interest our people to know he so cherished these two feathers symbolic of our race, that he carried them to the grave with him, dressed in true Indian style - beaded moccasins, buckskin leggings, jacket, little raccoon skin cap with Eagle feathers.

The blood of the Wabenakis flowed in the veins of Brother Verrill, thus a son of the People of the Dawn awaits a new dawn, gathered to his fathers. Mother Earth has taken him to her breast like a tired child, yet his works will march with the Indian people through the endless corridors of time.

It is done.

H. L. LaHurreau.


League of North American Indians

A. HYATT VERRILL This magazine is recipient of what is possibly the last piece of writing from the pen of this great man. He had read the article in the last number of INDIAN TIME on the position of the Indian in Latin America by George Classen a former resident of the Argentine. Mr. Verrill has the following to say:

I have read with a great deal of interest the article by Mr. Classen. While on the whole this is an excellent summing up of the Indian situation in Latin America, it contains a number of serious and important errors. For example, he ignores Peru as a predominantly Indian country, yet there are over 25 million Indians and twice as many mixtures or "Cholos" as they are called. In face, over 80 per cent of Peruvian population is Indian, and practically all labor from "white collar” men to street workers and mechanics is Indian. Household servants, police, military, clerks, gardeners, farmers, miners and even members of the navy and crew of the cable repair ship are Indian.

As soon as one gets back beyone the beaten track of the highways and tourist travel, the only language spoken is the Incan Quechua. Even in the market and on the streets of Lima the Quechuan language is widely used.

Mr. Classen also states that Chile and Costa Rica may be said to be completely white and what Indians there are live in the bush or jungle and have little contact with the life of the country. He also completely ignores Panama. Chile has a tremendous Indian population. No accurate census has been taken, but there are fully 250,000 Mapuches (so-called Araucanians), the only Indian tribe in South America that has never been conquered. There are fully as many Tuelches, and countless Alekleuts, Oonas and other tribes in the neighborhood of the Straits of Magellan. The Mapuches are the most important of the cattle and sheep-raising people of southern Chile as well as the largest raisers of horses. A great many of them have been educated in the United States and Europe, and a number are graduates of Harvard and Yale.

Panama, outside of the larger cities, and towns, is largely Indian, who come into constant contact with the life of the country. They are largely agricultural, but they are manufacturers of baskets, textiles, hammocks, etc. which they sell to the merchants and are the only rubber-gatherers of the country. The San Blas Indians, the most numerous of any one tribe, supply the entire world with the famous San Blas coconut. Many, of the women are hospital nurses, and many of the men hold important government positions.

The Guaymis of Cheriqui Province are famed for the excellence of their baskets and textiles. In Costa Rica a very large proportion of the population is Indian or part Indian. Practically all the servants, the market people, and the laborers are more or less Indian in descent.

Mr. Classen says the handicap of the Indian in Latin America is the social barrier he faces, and the right contact and right impression made over the cocktail or in a country club is impossible for him.

In Peru and in Panama, Bolivia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and elsewhere, there is no social barrier faced by the Indian. This would be impossible owing to the fact that the majority of the people have some Indian blood. Moreover, a great many of the most prominent men in Latin America in all walks of life are part Indian and often full-blooded Indians. Dr. Julio Tello, the world-famous archaeologist, boasted that there was not a drop of Spanish blood in his veins.

There have been Indian statesmen, millionaires, prelates, scientists, authors, and Indian men and women in all walks of life who were, and are received everywhere on an equal footing with the whites.

There are only two countries in Latin America that can truthfully be called overwhelmingly white. These are Argentine and Uruguay. The Indians of Uruguay were completely exterminated, but there is still a large proportion of part-Indians in the Argentine, as the majority of the gauchos are of Indian descent. There is also a number of Tuelches, Oonas and other tribes living in the souther-most portion of the Argentine, many of whom are employed as sheep-herders on the ranches.

Several of the Latin American countries have Indian presidents, among them Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia and Peru.

Mr. Classen states that none of the Latin American Indians are hunters or fishermen. All the fishing and hunting that is done commercially is done by the Indians. Practically all the fisheries in Peru are carried on by Indians and what game is hunted for the market is obtained by Indian hunters. Large numbers of Indians did and still do earn a livelihood by hunting wild animals for their hides to be used as furs, while the Tuelches and Mapuches hunt the South American ostrich and other game.

The wide Indian influence on Latin America has incorporated many Indian words in the colloquial Spanish of the country. Although the Peruvians are credited with speaking the best Spanish in Latin America, yet many of their words in everyday use are Quechuan, such as PALTA for avocado, CHARA for dried beef, CAMOTE for sweet potato, SARA for corn, AMANI for peanuts, TOMATO, CHILE, GUAGUA for squash - the same is true of Mexican Spanish, Chilean Spanish, etc. Plenty of these words have been officially adopted into the Spanish language.

In other words - to sum up - the Indian influence in the majority of Latin American countries is far greater and more widely distributed than in North America. Even in Dutch and British Guiana, which were never conquered or occupied by the Spaniards, the Indian population outnumbers the whites, and has a very great influence on the lives, industries and economy of these countries, as well as having added a great many words in everyday use in the colonies.

By a curious coincidence, Shup-She's article on the opposite page from Mr. Classen's summing up, states that Yma Sumac's (Quechuas) people of Peru are 24,000,000 and the Mapuches of Chile could place 70,000 fighting men in the field if necessary, counters Mr. Classen's comment that Chile is predominantly white and does not even mention Peru as a country with an Indian population.

November 11, 1954__________Signed A. Hyatt Verrill

Editor's note Nothing could be more indicative of the mental and spiritual qualities of this man of genius than that having read George Classen's, challenging article in our last number, he had, on what was practically his death bed, for he died on the morning of the fourteenth, to get down his reactions point by point and send them off to us forthwith. Few writers have ever equalled his tremendous output of written material. To the very last minute he was writing at top speed trying to get everything done that he had in mind. Without his devoted wife and working companion, Ruth Verrill, herself an author and collaborator with him on one of his recent books, he could not have functioned as he did. His second heart, his second brain and his second hand, she helped to organize his material, made the drawings of their research finds, of which hundreds are on file, kept the notes and records in competent order, and generally made herself indispensable to a creative giant whose course was like that of a comet streaking across the sky. We have come to look on them both as intimate friends, and hope that Ruth Verrill's next undertaking will be a biography of the adored husband "Nandi" whose life she shared to the full.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.