Skip to main content

Full text of "The American aboriginal portfolio"

See other formats




J^kf\D f Iff fVlf ^5 *//' 

. .. " 311- 





" -^%^S?- 


! ',;'i 

wiits* '■ ^^WfigiSffltfij,' 



Darlington Memorial Library 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of Pittsburgh Library System 



1 A 

i j : j , , | ' | ) | 


/ " / 









Entered, according to Act of CoDgress, in the year 1853, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Peunsylvi 

P K E F A C E. 

" There is something infinitely more touching in the death of the lowest beggar, 
than in that of the highest potentate upon earth. The little he has to lose speaks 
so bitterly of the little he has enjoyed." 

This is emphatically true of the Indian, as an individual, and as a nation. 

The former, wearied with an existence often protracted, made up of poverty, 
suffering, and degradation, readily assents to a belief in that country divided from 
him only by a long path and a deep river. 

These passed, he has a full entrance to an immortality of happiness, in the 
society of the sage and the warrior, and where the smile of woman beams forth 
upon him for ever. 

As a nation, the remark is equally correct. The Indian yields his home and 
country, convinced, after a few ineffectual efforts at resistance, that there is no 
alternative. He hears the quickly advancing tread of civilization, and with a sad 
heart, makes room for the intruder. He feels his inferiority, believing too, in the 
inscrutable decrees of fate. He goes, hoping to find another home ; he will, at 
least for a time, possess a refuge where he can honor his laws, his customs, and his 
gods. Thus the death of a nation resembles that of the individual. Neither has 
wealth or greatness to lose ; neither can be dispossessed of that rare jewel, happi- 
ness. For can that nation be a happy one, where the murderer finds a city of 
refuge in every heart but the one he has injured? and who would accuse the war- 
rior, with his ungoverned passions, or the woman, with her superstition and degra- 
dation, of being happy ? 

The Indian, delighting in war and in glorious deeds, is yet ignorant of the 
greatest victory of which man is capable — the conquering of one's self. His sorrows 


are not sanctified to him ; he does not come from them holy and great. He has 
not heard of the Refiner who sits watching when the precious metal is heated to 
the greatest degree necessary for its purifying, and then withdraws it from the fire 
which has done its work. He has philosophy to submit, and fortitude to endure, 
but he knows not of the great and living principle that brings hope to the sufferer 
in his hour of trial. He knows not ; and why ? Have there been none who were 
willing to teach the Indian what so much concerns all men to know ? 

More than two centuries ago, the Jesuit fathers were laboring zealously in 
Canada. While all worked with energy, there is no doubt many — some, at least — 
were anxious to convert and save immortal souls. Champlain declared, " The con- 
version of one soul is worth more than the conquest of an empire." 

The Jesuit labored on the rugged and rocky shores of our lakes and rivers, and 
in the deep recesses of our forests. Not only the waves and solitudes echoed his 
voice, but the deep tones of the savage Iroquois and Huron harmonized with his, in 
singing the hymns of the Church. We may denounce the society, but we must 
honor and love the memory of the man ; for how many of " the Order of Jesus " 
fell sacrifices to their zeal ! The Wood of their martyrs witnesses against the men 
who will condemn each of the fathers in the name of the society to whose power 
they felt themselves obliged to submit. 

No difficulties daunted, no dangers appalled them ; they seemed indeed to have 
left home and friends to serve Him whose name they bore. That they did not 
accomplish lasting good was because their zeal was without knowledge. 

And not alone does their zeal deserve to be remembered ; their courage, their 
patience, their benevolence, should be spoken of and imitated by those who have 
been set apart for the task of winning souls to Christ. 

The Jesuits devoted themselves to learning and to self-improvement, that they 
might be all things to all men. Many of them, deprived of advantages in early 
life, sought to remedy this by the most untiring and constant application. Here 
they had the example of their founder, Ignatius Loyola. In the prime of manhood 
" he sat down with children to learn the Latin grammar." Nor do we remember 
him only as a student. He was enthusiastic, ever careless of his own good, seek- 
ing the good of others. Strange that so much dark cunning, deceit, and crime, 
should have disgraced the lives of his followers ! 


The Indian, in many instances, opened his heart to receive the kindness offered 
him. How could he but love the strangers who had come uninvited and unre- 
warded to do him good ! 

The Jesuits, if we sift their motives, had nothing to gain personally in their 
course towards the Indians. What has been done by the people of the United 
States ? Has their policy been dictated by the spirit of the Christian religion ? 
Ask any intelligent Indian now living, and, were it possible, call back the spirits of 
the dead, and what answer should we receive ? 

Yet has many a Protestant missionary labored long and faithfully to bring the 
Aborigines of our country to a knowledge of their Creator. Elliot, and Brainerd, 
and others, met with some success, though working with many drawbacks. As the 
different tribes of Indians, once mighty peoples, in our country, are dwindling away, 
some almost forgotten, so have those who labored for their welfare, temporal and 
eternal, passed from the earth, even their names unknown. It is still so. Pro- 
testant missionaries are living among the Indians in our day ; they are translating 
the Bible into their languages ; they are teaching them — endeavoring to ameliorate 
and elevate their condition on earth, and to fit, for the destiny that awaits them, 
their immortal souls. Yet they see them clinging to the faith of their ancestors, 
offering sacrifices to senseless gods, worshipping they know not what. Though 
making but little progress, the heart of the missionary faints not. He will work 
while it is day, hoping in the end to see some testimony to his efforts. 

Reader ! if thou but glance over these pages, thou wilt see faithfully depicted the 
time-honored customs of the Aborigines of America. 

Should the scenes represented interest thee, the fallen condition of this noble 
race will awaken a feeling of sympathy in thy heart. 

Reflect how short an interval of time has passed since they owned all our 
glorious land, and without regarding the future, what are they now ? 

Mary H. Eastman. 

Washington, D. C, July 27, 1853. 


























It is impossible to trace back to the birth of the Seneca nation, or to find aught 
concerning its early history. The tradition of the Senecas is, that they " broke 
from the earth, from the crest of a mountain," at the head of Canandaigua Lake. 
This mountain, that gave them birth, they called Ge-nun-de-wah-gaub, or the Great 
Hill. Hence, the Senecas were often called the Great Hill People. 

This nation was a powerful one, belonging to the confederacy called " United 
People," or " Five Nations." Subsequently, the Tuscaroras were permitted to join 
the confederacy, which was afterwards called " The Six Nations." These tribes of 
Indians occupied the region of the St. Lawrence, the beautiful valley of the lakes, 
and of the Mohawk River, while their conquests were extended even to the Che- 
rokee country. And not alone were they a terror to other Indians, the early set- 
tlers of our country had reason even to fear their name ; for, besides that they 
delighted in war, the national honor of the United People was dear to them. In 
their councils the chief Sachem presided. When they had decided upon war, he 
took up the tomahawk and cried, " Who among you will go and fight against his 
enemy ? Who among you will bring captives, to replace our deceased friends, that 
our wrongs may be avenged, and our name and honor maintained, as long as the 
rivers flow, the grass grows, or the sun and moon shall endure ?" 

Red Jacket was born near Seneca Lake, in 1750. His early years were passed 
in this beautiful region of country. Here was his constitution strengthened by 
hardy and constant exercise ; while, as he approached manhood, his mind deve- 


loped itself, and his genius soared in untamed flight. Wherever he turned, his eye 
rested upon a scene of splendid beauty ; and his heart ascended in gratitude to the 
Giver of life, that he had made the home of the red man what it was. He thanked 
Him for the magnificent grandeur of Niagara, for the calm beauty of each quiet 
dell. His soul revelled in its passionate love for the land of its birth. She was his 
first love, and though he lived to see her pass from his embrace to the covetous 
white man, he was faithful to her to the last. 

Nor was "the last of the Senecas" distinguished only as the devoted patriot; he 
was the splendid orator — the crafty sachem. He should indeed be called the last 
of his nation, for with him departed its glory and its honor. Though a man of 
peace, so far as an Indian can be so termed, he resisted energetically the arts of his 

He was not the brave warrior with his people, nay, they charged him repeatedly 
with cowardice ; yet often he evinced a moral courage rarely surpassed. He has 
stood before the loftiest statesmen in our land, contending for the rights of the red 
men, and bitterly reproaching the government of the United States with its course 
towards them. Of his several names, Red Jacket is the one by which he is best 
known. Early in the history of our country's great struggle for freedom, he was 
employed as a runner by the British. For his swiftness, an officer rewarded him 
with a richly-embroidered scarlet jacket. When this was worn out, he was pre- 
sented with another. Thus he obtained his sobriquet. His Indian name was 
Sa-go-ye-wat-ha, or, " He keeps them awake." I have said that his people charged 
him with cowardice. Never, then, could he attain any rank as a warrior ; for one 
cowardly act cannot be forgotten among the Indians. He could rouse the passions 
of the Senecas ; he could make their souls thirst for vengeance ; yet he was never 
ready to lead them to battle. On one occasion he retreated at the approach of the 
enemy ; and, although a warrior started up before him, entreating him to rouse up 
his spirit, and fight, it was in vain. The warrior called to the young wife of Red 
Jacket, and said, indignantly, " Leave that young man ; he is a coward." 

Yet was the Sachem ambitious; and it was by the magic of his eloquence that 
he induced the people to advance him to that honor. He was crafty and aspiring, 
while the souls of his auditors were as numberless instruments, upon which his 
mighty mind delighted to play, sweeping over the delicate chords with its viewless 
hand, and the echoes answering the strain ere it died away. For, as they stand 
under the old trees, these children of the forest, with upturned faces, gaze upon the 
countenance of the orator, as he speaks from some gentle elevation among them. 
Now, their dark features glance with a frenzy, for Red Jacket rehearses to them the 
story of their wrongs ; now, great tears are bursting from their drooping eyes, and 
falling upon each manly breast, for he prophetically describes to them the destruc- 
tion of their nation. Ignorant of science and of art, he easily reads the counte- 


nances that he scans with an earnest gaze, and with his miraculous gift of language, 
like the rushing and noisy Niagara, he carries all hearts before him. He writes 
upon them, throbbing in his hearing, sentiments never to be erased. The untaught 
Indian pours forth to breathless listeners the music of his eloquence ; they drink 
in the melody of his flowing sentences ; they will that even the trees would cease 
the waving of each branch, lest they should lose one draught of the intoxicating 
harmony. They love, they hate, with him ; their souls respond to his ; they are 
as little children, willing that he should lead them about wheresoever he may 

It is the old and sad story. The noble Seneca tasted the white man's fire-water, 
and was lost. Hear him, as he speaks : 

"Brothers, listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers 
owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting sun. 
The Great Spirit had made it for the use of the red men. He had created the 
deer, the buffalo, and other animals, for food. He had made the bear and the 
beaver; their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the 
country, and taught us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce 
corn for bread. All this He had done for his red children, because He loved them 
" But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great waters, and 
landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends, and not 
enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked 
men, and had come here to enjoy their religion. 

" They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them, granted their request, 
and they sat down among us. We gave them corn and meat ; they gave us poison 
in return. They brought strong liquor among us. It was strong and powerful, 
and has slain thousands." 

The policy of the great Washington was to treat kindly the " poor children of 
the forest;" and he encouraged every effort to Christianize them. Some of the 
Senecas were persuaded to listen to the missionaries stationed among them ; but 
Red Jacket opposed them by every means in his power, for he hated the Christian 
religion. Its followers, he insisted, only wanted to push the Senecas from their 
ancient seats. He considered them the persecutors of his race, armed and ready to 
attack them at midnight, and spoil them of their heritage. He declared to the 
Indians there was a curse hanging over them, which would descend as soon as they 
abandoned their faith. " We know," he said, addressing them, " that the Great 
Spirit is pleased that we follow the traditions and customs of our forefathers ; for 
in so doing we receive his blessing. We have received strength and vigor for the 
chase. The Great Spirit has provided abundance. When we are hungry, we find 
the forest full of game ; when thirsty, we slake our thirst at the pure streams and 
springs that spread around us ; when weary, the leaves of the trees are our bed. 


No luxuries, no vices, no disputed titles, no avaricious desires, shake the founda- 
tions of our society, or disturb our peace and happiness." 

" Perhaps, brothers," he said to the white men, " you are right in your religion ; 
it may be peculiarly adapted to your condition. You say that you destroyed the 
Sou of the Great Spirit. Perhaps this is the merited cause of all your troubles and 
misfortunes. But, brothers, bear in mind, we had no participation in this murder. 
We disclaim it. We love the Great Spirit ; and, as we never had any agency in 
so unjust, so merciless an outrage, He therefore continues to smile upon us, and to 
give us peace, and joy, and plenty." 

Red Jacket deserted the British, perceiving the state of affairs between the con- 
tending parties, and being assured, that the interests of the Senecas would be best 
secured by their being allied to the United States. After this, we find him, with 
great firmness, resisting the English on the frontier. Yet he preferred his warriors 
considering themselves neutral in the great contest they were witnessing. He 
knew that war must inevitably reduce the numbers of his people, and it was his 
heart's desire to preserve them. He ever bound them to himself by the magic 
chain of his oratory, drawing figures from the varied and exquisite scenery of their 
country, to make them accomplish his will. He was their father and their friend. 
When they listened to him, they even forgot that he wanted bravery, that cardinal 
virtue of the red man. 

It was with the utmost sorrow that he saw the fair country of the Senecas pass- 
ing into the possession of the United States. He urged his people unceasingly not 
to sell it. " We know," he said, " that we have a title to it, and that our title 
is good, for it came direct from the Great Spirit, who gave it to us, his red children." 

Noble in his stature and appearance, of the highest order of genius, loving 
ardently the nation whose interests had ever lain near his heart, a change came 
with the years that passed over the Seneca. " The poison that was strong and 
powerful, and had slain thousands," was consummating its work. His noble nature 
degenerated to that of the brute. One would think there could no longer be any 
interest attached to him. Yet hundreds stared at him, as he was exhibited in the 
museums of our large cities. There he made speeches for money. The gaping 
multitude asked, where were the glowing eloquence and the musical voice that 
once enchanted all who heard " the last of the Senecas ?" Once he would have 
told them that, like the eagle, genius was strong, but, like him, too, it must soar 
aloft ; and that he had fallen for ever from the sublime heights among which it 
made its home. 

Yet the light faintly beamed forth again from the soul of the Sachem, as, unfold- 
ing its wings, it prepared to depart to another land. It turned sadly to the earth 
where it had long lingered, and fancied it might still remain awhile, to overshadow 
and protect the country and people so much beloved. " I am about to leave you," 


said the feeble Sachem ; " and when I am gone, and my warnings no longer heard 
or regarded, the craft and avarice of the white man will prevail. Many winters 
have I breasted the storm ; but I am an aged tree, and can stand no longer. My 
leaves are falling, my branches are withered, and I am shaken by every breeze. 
Soon my aged trunk will be prostrate, and the foot of the exulting foe of the Indian 
may be placed upon it in safety." 

So great was the dislike of Red Jacket to the Christians, that he threatened to 
desert his wife and take another, if she made an open profession of their faith. 
This she deemed it her duty to do, and Red Jacket performed his threat. Yet he 
afterwards returned to his Christian wife, having seen her faithful and virtuous 
course of life ; aud, during the latter part of his life, she is supposed to have influ- 
enced him so far, that he, in a measure, tolerated the society and doctrines of the 
missionaries. Meeting death with perfect calmness, he clung affectionately to 
his ancient faith. "Bury me," he said, "by the side of my former wife, and let 
my funeral be according to the customs of our nation. Let me be dressed and 
equipped as my fathers were, that their spirits may rejoice at my coming. Be sure 
that my grave is not made by a white man. Let them not pursue me there."* 

The matchless orator of the Senecas mournfully depicted the destinies of all our 
aborigines, when he thus foretold that of his own people. " We stand, a small island, 
in the bosom of the great waters. We are encircled, we are encompassed. The 
Evil Spirit rides upon the blast, and the waters are disturbed. They rise, they 
press upon us ; and, the waves once settled over us, we disappear for ever. Who, 
then, lives to mourn us? None. AVhat marks our extermination? Nothing. 
We are mingled with the common elements !" 

* This wish was not regarded. lied Jacket was not interred with the ceremonies of his own, but of 
his wife's religion. 


Itasca Lake is the source of the Mississippi River. It is 3025 miles from its 
mouth, and 1575 feet higher than the Gulf of Mexico. 

The waters of this lake are clear, cold, and pure, with a clean, pebbly bottom. 
Around its shores grow the spruce, cedar, elm, maple, pine, and wild cherry tree. 

Mr. Henry R. Schoolcraft discovered and named the source of the great Missis- 
sippi. He ascended the river with a party, fifteen in all, in birch canoes, starting 
from Sault St. Marie, at the foot of Lake Superior, in 1832. Nicolet visited Itasca 
Lake in 183G. In the picture, the party is landing at the only point where a 
landing is practicable. The latitude of this lake is about 47°. Chippewa Indians 
live in its vicinity. 

It had long been a question, " Where does the Mississippi rise ?" In the year 
1832, Mr. Schoolcraft and a few companions were pushing their way high up 
towards the source of the Father of Waters. The scenery around was as enchant- 
ing as it was novel to those who looked upon it. Hill after hill arose, with tall 
pines towering on their summits. Between their broken sides lay small valleys, 
with lakes, surrounded with brushwood, reposing in their bosom. 

The guide of the party was a Chippewa, named Yellowhead. For two days he 
had been, from the earliest dawn until evening, poleing the canoes of the party up 
the rapids, and through the intricate lakes, towards the south fork of the river, 
above the Amidjegowa or Cross- Water Lake. Soon after the breaking of the third 
day, he informed his comrades that they must prepare to begin a portage. 

This is a mode of traveling very common in Indian country. When it is im- 
possible or unsafe any longer to continue a journey in a canoe, its occupants land, 
and carry their canoes and other effects round to the point in the river, where they 
can again enter them and continue the journey as before. The word of the Chip- 
pewa guide was law to the travelers ; they prepared to obey his directions, and 
thus make a portage over tbe heights called Hauteur des Terres. In this way 
only could they hope to reach Itasca Lake. 

But, first, Yellowhead led them to a place where they could rest and breakfast. 
It was the scene of an Indian encampment, denoted by the ashes that remained 


where the lodge-fires once burned, and by the holes in the ground made by the 
thrusting in of the stakes to support the buffalo-skin tents. Their appetites 
attended to, the guide gave the signal to depart. He took his canoe, twice the 
length of a man, and, without any ceremony, or even word of explanation, disposed 
it over his head. His ludicrous appearance was not without notice from the white 
men of the party, to whom such a style of head-covering might be new : it gave 
the idea of our old Revolutionary cocked-hat stretched to an interminable length. 

Tins was no time to consult appearances. Each man of the party, by putting 
his canoe over his head, was similarly adorned ; and thus the company, fifteen in 
number, made their way over the heights and through the forests, in a costume 
that would have occasioned much surprise had they been in a region to command 
spectators. Their appearance, though, gave them but a moment's thought. Would 
they indeed accomplish their object ? Would they rest themselves by the shores of 
that fair lake, so often sought, but never found ? 

They frequently stopped to rest ; for it was a melting day in July. It was hard 
work, scrambling up the craggy hills, or winding a way through the tangled and 
shady forests. The party, too, had its tardy ones, and sometimes they must be 
waited for. It was indeed hard work ; for at one time they are clambering over 
the hills, and then, as they pass through a lovely valley, they are attracted by the 
cool look of the waters, as they ebb and flow in some little lake that is half hidden 
by its surrounding shrubbery. But here is no place to rest ; for the mosquitoes 
were there before them, and they may not stop long enough to breathe leisurely ; — 
nay, they hasten to leave the inviting spot, and gladly resume their toilsome way. 

Their Indian guide alone knew where they might stay awhile, and repose with 
comfort; and the party had the utmost confidence in his judgment. They obeyed 
instantly his word of command. When he thought proper to order a halt, he 
called out, "Pug i de nun!" and instantly the cocked-hats were lifted from their 
heads, the packs were thrown to the ground, and each man seated himself as com- 
fortably as he could, to stretch and rest his tired limbs. A number of these rests 
had been made, and the adventurous travelers, well-nigh worn out with their 
journey, began slowly to ascend a high hill. They grasped whatever came in 
their way, to assist them as they went on. Had they been seeking for gold or 
precious stones, their courage might have failed them ; they might have said one 
to another, " We will return from whence we came." But they could not despair 
now ; for were not the little hills assembling around them, the rapid current daunt- 
lessly pursuing its upward course, and the shallow sides of the river becoming less, 
as they too advanced beside them ? Now they struggle on ; and as, at length, they 
reach the top of the hill, with eager and longing eyes they gaze around them. 

There it lay — the beautiful lake — swaying its folds of crystal water between 
the hills that had guarded it from its birth. There it lay, placid as a sleeping 


child, the tall pines on the surrounding summits standing like so many motionless 
and watchful sentinels for its protection. There it lay, for seven miles, glistening 
and smiling in the sunbeams, before them. 

There was the secpiestered birthplace of that mighty mass of waters, that, 
leaving the wilderness of beauty where they lived undisturbed and unknown, 
wound their way through many a desolate prairie, and fiercely lashed the timeworn 
bluffs, whose sides were as walls to the great city where lived and died the toiling 
multitude. The lake was as some fair and pure maiden in her early youth, — so 
beautiful, so full of repose and truth, that it was impossible to look and not to love. 
But send her from the protecting walls of home ; let her wander, unwarned and 
unguarded, through the unknown passes of the great world ; she will be as the 
waters that the wearied ones gazed upon, — slowly but certainly losing their fresh- 
ness and beauty, as they pursued their way, and, in time, wandering in strange 
lands, and at last, lost — the one, in the noisy and restless waves of the sea, the 
other, in the less merciful mazes of a relentless world. 

There was but one landing to the lake, our travelers found. It was on a small 
island, that they called Schoolcraft's Island. On a tall spruce tree they raised the 
American flag. 

There was enough in the novelty of the scenery, and of the event, to interest the 
minds of the white men of the party. There was a solemnity mingled with their 
pleased emotions ; for who had made this grand picture, stretching out in its beauty 
and majesty before them ? what were they, in comparison with the great and good 
Being upon whose works they were gazing ? 

A different feeling agitated the minds of the red men, who stood silently, and 
admired, too. Their souls were inspired with reverence for the myth which is 
connected with their religion. They thought of their powerful gods, of the Great 
Spirit, of the terrible giants, and of the souls of their great warriors, who for ages 
had wandered over the regions of the dead. 

Evening came on, casting her shadowy mantle on the beings, who far away from 
the sympathies and assistance of the rest of their race, were gazing mysteriously on 
the crimson waters and on the eternal hills. The glow was fading from the lake, 
and the pines looked solemnly from the hills, which were pressing against each 
other in undefined shadows. 

Needing rest, the travelers still lingered ; and night, with slow and solemn steps, 
was advancing, when the Chippewa guide arose, and, pointing to a hill that was 
near them, — 

" Behold !" he said ; "yonder is the burial-mound of Manabozho's daughter. She 
sleeps for ever, hearing not the storm, and heeding not the wild cries of the night- 
birds that hover around her. 

" White man, Manabozho is all-powerful. He can will, and it is done. This 


river will turn its course if he command it. Yet sometimes his strength forsakes 
him, and he is like a child before the gods of the red man. 

" Time was, when the beautiful daughter of Manabozho sat in her lodge, and 
Chebiabo, the keeper of the souls of the dead, loved her. He loved her, and he 
was all-powerful. But the daughter of Manabozho would not go with him, to be 
his bride ; for she feared him, and she knew that, if she consented to go to his 
lodge, her face would become pale, her blood would cease to flow, and her soul 
would travel far away from the country where were all she loved. 

" So she said to Chebiabo, ' I will not leave the spirit-god, my father, to go with 
you to your lodge.' 

" There was a time when the gods were met together on the earth, — the gods of 
the seas, the tempests, the thunder, and of the great lakes. The god of the ocean 
would say to the distant sea, ' Come !' and the waters rushed, tearing down rocks 
and forest trees, and leaping like giants, crashing and dashing towards him. Then 
would the storms pass away, and the gods, assembled in the pleasant, quiet time, 
would light their pipes, and take counsel together. 

" Itasca, the daughter of Manabozho, was sleeping in her lodge. Suddenly, the 
storm-spirits assembled, the earth rocked to and fro, large trees uprooted, and 
Chebiabo, the terrible master of the land of the dead, stood by her. 

" Chebiabo stood and gazed on the young maiden. He held lightning in his 
hands. He gazed long on the beautiful maiden ; for he loved her. He wanted to 
bear her away to the gloomy regions of the dead. There was his lodge, and there 
should she sit by his side. 

"Manabozho saw him from afar, as he stood by his daughter's lodge. He 
hastened to save her from her powerful lover, but he was too late. Chebiabo held 
the forked lightning in his hands ; and he hurled it, in his wrath, over the hills 
and the prairies. The great sea burst from its ancient sides, the waters rushing to 
and fro. The thunder roared over the tottering earth ; and so mighty and fearful 
was the storm, that the lodge of the spirit-god was crushed, and the daughter of 
Manabozho was buried under the hills of sand. 

" For a time there was perfect silence ; but soon small silver rills were seen 
issuing from the ruins of rocks and imbedded sand. These were the tears of 
Itasca. They were shed for the home and the friends she would never again see. 

" By the cruelty and power of the keeper of the souls of the dead was she torn 
from all she had loved. Thus did he avenge himself on the maiden who refused 
to be his wife. 

" Long did Itasca weep. Her tears emerged from the hills, and trickled down 
their sides, until, collected, they form the lake that is sleeping in our sight." 

The Chippewa guide ceased speaking, and, slowly wrapping his robe about him, 


sought a place for repose. The others followed his example, and lay down to sleep 
on the bleak summit. It was long ere their excited minds yielded to the repose 
their bodies longed for ; and with their last thoughts came a vision of the gods of 
the red men, the pearly tears of Itasca, and the shadowy land where reigned, in 
gloomy silence, Chebiabo, the master of the souls of the dead. Itasca, the name of 
the maiden, the daughter of Manabozho, was given to the lake whose waters at 
last gleamed before them, and repaid all their toils. 


There is before me, my reader, a map of the route of De Soto, where you can 
trace his wanderings from the beautiful bay where he landed, over the large tract 
of country then inhabited by proud, dauntless, Christian-hating Indians, even to 
Little Rock, where he died. 

He came for gold. It was said he came to make Christians of the Indians ; and 
he brought with him, for that purpose, many priests. Both the missions failed. 
The Indians bent not the knee nor the proud heart before the consecrated sign, 
and De Soto toiled in vain for the riches, the hope to obtain which had brought 
him so far. His policy failed ; his cruelty failed ; his religion failed. The melan- 
choly end to his brilliant career is an impressive lesson to those who will take it to 
heart. Yet, we are told, wherever De Soto was, " he passed all captains and prin- 
cipal persons." He was with Pizarro at the conquest of Peru, and afterwards, 
returning to his native Spain, married an earl's daughter. He lived sumptuously, 
and in time was made Adelantado or President of Florida. In the mean time, 
Florida was to be conquered. This was easy to talk of in Spain, but hard to 
accomplish in America, as De Soto and his followers found. 

On the 25th of May, 1539, the Adelantado landed with his fleet at Tampa Bay. 
They called it Espiritu Santo ; for it was on Whitsunday they first saw the land. 

In a few days they came to the town of Vcita, where they were received with a 
shower of arrows. The Indians knew what Christians were ; these were not the 
first who had come among them, seeking for treasure. At Vcita the houses were 
made of timber covered with palm-leaves. The house of the Indian lord, as he 
was styled, stood upon a high mount. Here the President lodged himself; for all 
the Indians had fled at his approach, and were building fires along the coast, to 
warn the neighboring tribes of a danger that was near. 

De Soto had noble captains and brave soldiers with him. They were splendidly 
armed and equipped. Although it was evident they could do little in the thick 
woods of Florida, De Soto was not disheartened. Too dazzling was the gold he 
hoped to amass, to allow him to linger or to fear. There was, he knew, a hard 


journey before him ; but what treasures would be his when he should have per- 
formed it ! 

The Spaniards had many and strange adventures. Soon after leaving Tampa 
Bay, they came suddenly upon an encampment of Indians near a river. The 
Indians leaped in the river, and the Spaniards captured but four women. Spanish 
tactics availed but little in Indian warfare. The Indians annoyed the adventurers 
exceedingly; for they were " a people so warlike and so nimble, that they cared not 
a whit for any footemen. For, if their enemies charged them, they ran away ; and 
if they turned their backs, they were presently upon them. An Indian seldom 
misseth what he shooteth at." 

At one time the Spaniards met with a few Indians, accompanied by a Christian. 
This man was dressed like the Indians, and was scorched by the sun as brown as 
they. The Spaniards were about to fall upon this party with their lances, when 
the Indianized white man called out, " Sirs, I am a Christian ; slay me not, nor 
these Indians, for they have saved my life." De Soto then received the whole 
party into his camp, and listened to the history of the man, who called himself 
John Ortiz. This man had been twelve years with the Indians. His story was 
listened to with great attention and interest. Every eye was fixed upon him as he 
recounted his adventures ; for how knew they but a similar fate might befall some 
one or all of them ? Ortiz had come into the country with Narvaez : he was a 
mere adventurer, and what more were they ? what more was their gallant leader, 
De Soto, with all his haughty splendor and indomitable determination ? 

Ortiz related that at one time he was bound hand and foot by the Indians, and 
all was ready to burn him alive. The daughter of Vcita, the Indian lord, inter- 
posed, entreating her father to spare his life. This was done ; and Ortiz was com- 
manded to remain at the Indian temple, there to guard the bodies of the dead from 
the wolves, that frequently carried them off by night. One night, the body of a 
little child, whose father was a noted Indian, was laid in the temple. The wolves 
succeeded in capturing it; but, as they were bearing it away, Ortiz threw a dart, 
wounding the wolf, that dropped the child, and fell dead beside it. This, how- 
ever, Ortiz did not know. In the morning, the Indians were about to put him to 
death for his neglect; but, hearing his statement, they sent in the direction taken 
by the wolves. The body of the child was recovered ; and Ortiz was ever after- 
wards held in great esteem. Some time after, he was so much in favor with 
another Indian lord to whose power he had been transferred, that he promised him 
to restore him to his countrymen, should any ever again visit the shores of Florida. 
When the Spaniards met Ortiz, he was in search of them, with an escort provided 
by the Indian lord who had promised him his freedom. 

De Soto traversed Florida, and other parts of the country ; and although he 
enforced a certain sort of submission from the Indians in whose territories he was 


abiding, they always managed to thwart him, and never did him a favor, excepting 
when they felt obliged. The poor Indians were put in chains, detained in bondage, 
and slaughtered; but their proud spirits never would yield. They used ingenious 
stratagems, in self-defence. At one time the Spaniards surrounded them when 
they had taken refuge in a lake. They were at a loss how to escape; but at 
length each Indian held on his head a water-lily leaf, and, swimming softly, hoped 
thus to attain the bank. The Spaniards, after a time, perceived the motion of the 
lilies, and went into the water mounted. The Indians again retreated to the lake ; 
yet, rinding themselves thus compassed, they all yielded except twelve, who pre- 
ferred death to being captured. These twelve, too, were taken, and given as 
servants to the Christians. One of the twelve availed himself of the first chance 
of showing his hatred of the Adelantado. He caught him by the neck, gave him 
a blow in the face that caused the blood to flow, and encouraged the other Indians 
to rebel. They paid dearly for their courage. They were tied to a stake in the 
market-place, and shot. 

Follow the track of De Soto and his priests, and what do we see? Indians 
chained with iron collars, to do the bidding of their owners ; Indians cut to pieces ; 
Indians shot in their native rivers and lakes ; Indian women surprised and sent 
away in ships as slaves. Yet did De Soto command the Holy Cross to be set up, 
declaring it " in memorie of ye same whereon Christ, which was God and man, 
and created y e heauens and y<= earth, suffered for our saluation ; therefore he ex- 
horted them to reverence it, and they made shew that they would do so." Poor 
creatures ! they were taught a mercy that they never saw illustrated in the lives 
of their teachers. 

In justice, however, to the priests who accompanied De Soto, I will relate that 
their religion was not always without a witness. Once their guide and interpreter 
fell in a fit, and foamed at the mouth, like one possessed of a devil ; but the priests 
said a gospel over him, and the fit left him. It would have left him, no doubt, 
without the gospel ; but so little mention is made of the priests who came with 
this expedition to save souls, that it is well to give them all credit that may be 
derived from such an incident. 

De Soto found himself in the regions of an Indian " ladye," who courteously met 
him on his way, gave him canoes, and even took the pearls from her own neck 
and cast them about his. She gave him also mantles of feathers and of the bark 
of trees. Her hospitality was unbounded. But soon it came to her ears that the 
Spaniards had been very cruel to many of her poor countrymen ; she then slacked 
a little in her generosity, and was accordingly placed by her visiters under a sort 
of surveillance, and made to walk with the bondwomen of De Soto, while he 
needed her influence with her people, to make them do all that he desired. After- 
wards, the Spaniards fell in with some Indians that were very poor, living upon 


roots and herbs, and wild beasts that they killed with their bows and arrows. Yet 
they were "a very gentle people," and gave liberally to the exacting Spaniard of 
all that they had. In one town De Soto was presented with seven hundred hens; 
in another, three hundred dogs were given him at his demand. 

The route of De Soto in this abundant and beautiful region, his unquenchable 
thirst for wealth, the generosity of the Indians, and their anxious desire to propi- 
tiate the good-will of their stern visiter, the hatred of many, brought on by a suc- 
cession of cruelties, fill with startling and interesting incident the time that he 
passed in traversing our southern country, and bending his way towards the rising 
of the great Mississippi. Some of the Indians were much affected by the gaudy 
splendor of the apparel of their conquerors, and fancied them more than human. 
Once a cacique met him, with two of his subjects who were blind, and entreated 
De Soto to give them sight, as he was " the son of the great Sun." The blind 
men as earnestly besought the restoration of their sight as did those who appealed, 
not in vain, to Christ himself. 

De Soto, on this occasion, disclaimed all miraculous power, telling them that " in 
the high heavens was He that had power to give them health." 

As the Adelantado pursued his way, many of his men and horses gave out with 
fatigue ; and the proud De Soto was forced to ask the friendship of one of their 
chiefs, and to beg provisions for himself, saying he was the child of the sun. The 
answer of the chief was as follows : " That whereas he said he was the child of the 
sun, if he would dry up the rivers he would believe him ; and, touching the rest, 
he was wont to visit none, but rather that all those of whom he had notice did 
visit him, served, obeyed, and paid him tribute, willingly or perforce ; therefore, if 
he desired to see him, it were best he should come thither. That if he came in 
peace, he should receive him with special good-will, and if in war, in like manner 
he would attend him in the town where he was ; and that for him or any other 
he would not shrink back one foot." 

De Soto was much distressed that he could not at once chastise what he con- 
sidered the insolence of this chief; and he did not delay his revenge very long. 
Soon after, the Spaniards fell upon an Indian village, killing old and young, with- 
out even a show of mercy ; only letting those escape upon whom they had inflicted 
horrible wounds, to show what the Weapons of the Christians could do. 

How entirely the aborigines hated De Soto and his followers it were in vain to 
attempt to describe. De Soto invited Acuera, a chief, to a friendly interview — 
how bitter his reply ! " Others," said he, " of your accursed race have in years 
past poisoned our peaceful shores. They have taught me what you are. What 
is your employment ? To wander about like vagabonds from land to land ; to rob 
the poor ; to betray the confiding ; to murder in cold blood the defenceless. No ! 
with such people I want no peace, no friendship. War, never-ending war, exter- 


minating war, is all I want." As there was no measure to the sufferings of the 
Indians, neither was there limit to their hatred towards those who had caused them. 

The time that comes to all, came to De Soto. " He felt in himself that his hour 
approached. The 21st of May, 1542, departed out of this life the valorous, vir- 
tuous, and valiant Capitaine, Don Fernando de Soto, Governor of Cuba, and 
Adelantado of Florida, whom fortune advanced, as it useth to do others, that he 
might have the higher fall. He departed in such a place and in such a time as in 
his sickness he had but little comfort." He died at a point near the mouth of 
Arkansas River. 

De Soto had assured the Indians that he was immortal. He had persuaded 
them, too, that he had a mysterious influence over those around him. Thus, after 
his death, his successors saw the necessity of concealing it, if possible, from the 
Indians, as they were greatly in their power. They secreted his body for three 
days, and then buried it ; then, having reason to suspect the Indians were aware 
of this fact, they had him disinterred. Finally, the body was wrapped in mantles, 
heavy with sand, and at night carried in a canoe, and cast into the river. The 
Indians inquired for him, and were told that De Soto frequently went to heaven 
for a short time, and had on this occasion taken such a pleasant mode of relaxation 
from his arduous occupations. One of the caciques suspected that De Soto had 
received a summons from which neither red nor white man can be exempt. He 
brought to the Spaniards two handsome young Indians, offering them to be killed, 
to serve De Soto on his gloomy journey to the region of death. The Spaniards 
declined the offer with a pretended horror, persisting in the truth of their assertion 
as regarded the absence of De Soto. 

Not even a grave did De Soto earn in the fair and abundant country on whose 
shores the picture represents him as landing. No doubt he thought the brilliant 
skies and the glassy, bright waters, prophetic of his success, as he regarded the 
ships destined to bear to his own country the treasures he should amass here. 
The spears of his followers gleamed in the sunlight ; the graceful palm trees bent 
their tall heads to afford him a pleasant shade ; the high-mettled steeds that bore 
the richly-apparelled cavaliers snuffed up the cool air from the sea, and, like their 
riders, longed to exercise their limbs in conquest. 

Where now are the gay cavaliers once assembled on that shore ? What story 
does Time bear on its wing of the conquest they achieved ? It is written in blood. 

Where are the Indians who once owned this beautiful land of flowers ? Where 
are their towns and their temples? Where are the priests, come from Spain, 
bearing on their bosoms and in their hands the symbols of the blessed Cross ? As 
well ask the winds that bore the Spaniards to Tampa Bay where they have traveled 
since, and how often they have listened to the sighs of the conquered, as he lay 
under the foot of the conqueror ? 


This is the Indian mode of recruiting for war. An appeal to the passsions of a 
savage is always more or less effectual, but this one is invariably successful ; for 
war is his favorite idea, and it is carried out in every act, from the single murder, 
where a foe long hated and hunted has been destroyed, to the noisy and bloody 
battle-field, where many shout the death-cry, and where the keen-edged tomahawk 
gleams in the sun. 

When offence has been given to an Indian, the immediate result is retaliation ; 
and if it be an affair that concerns the nation, the war-cry is soon heard. 

In a conspicuous place one of the warriors raises a post, and commences to shout 
a war-song. The Indians, leaving their usual employments, are soon congregating 
near the spot where the warrior, striking the post, is thus beating for recruits. On 
the ground are seated the jugglers, stunning all present with their discordant music. 

They cease ; for the warrior who is striking the post is about to address those 
who are assembling ; and if he be an orator, he is immediately surrounded by an 
excited audience. 

He knows how to raise a cry for revenge. As yet, he is alone at the post ; but 
soon he will be one of many, who will be eager, like the war-horse, " to swallow 
the ground with fierceness and rage," " smelling the battle afar off, the thunder of 
the captains and the shouting." 

For he appeals to their pride as a people, when he declares their enemies are 
laying in wait to crush them under their feet. He extols the fair country that is 
their own, dwells on the grandeur of its mountains and its ever-growing forests ; he 
calls upon them to remember the valor of their ancients, shows them their home 
in its beauty before them, reminds them of their aged parents, their wives, their 
young children. Will they lose all these ? Shall these dogs, their enemies, chase 
them from their home, and slaughter their helpless families before their eyes ? 

He waits a moment, then cries " Ha ! ha !" for a warrior, with uplifted tomahawk, 
bounds towards the post, and, striking it, has acknowledged the justice of his 
country's claims upon him. He is thus pledged to go on the war-party, and con- 
tinue with it until it returns. It would be in vain now to signify this intention by 


words; for the Indian drum is heard, and the medicine-men are sounding their 
instruments aloud, while towards the scene, here and there, a warrior advances to 
swell the number. 

Again the music ceases ; for the orator must press his success. One will not do 
to face a host of enemies ; and he asks them, " Is there but one among the Dacotas 
who hates his enemy ? Warriors, is there one among us who fears his enemy ?" 
Another, with glaring eyes, strides towards the post, and, shouting, strikes it with 
his tomahawk. 

The orator goes on. " Are my people sleeping, that their foes can come in and 
take their scalps, bearing them to their homes for their wives and daughters to dance 
around ? Am I not a prophet ? Do I not see the battle-field where we go to take 
vengeance on those dogs, our enemies ? Ha ! I hear the death-whoop, and I see 
the red blood flowing from their hearts. Strike them with the tomahawk, as they 
fly before us !" 

The orator laughs and shouts again, for many are now striking the post; the 
number of recruits is swelling indeed. Again he boasts, and talks of murder and 
of blood, rousing his hearers until they are like demons, glaring upon each other, 
yelling and shouting, as they strike the post, and thus enlist for the dangerous 
enterprise before them. 

Wildly they dance and sing, making hideous faces and gestures ; and the medi- 
cine-men unite their deep bass voices to the noisy music, and the women, by their 
wigwams, stand gazing on, and shrinking from the fate which they have reason to 
fear for those who are dear to them. 

If a large number of recruits be needed, or if the warrior who is endeavoring to 
attract them be not immediately successful, day after day he repeats his eflbrts, 
and eventually the number is obtained. 

The warriors then meet in secret, consulting on the plan of the campaign, invoking 
their gods to give them success, and beguiling the time of preparation with stories of 
valor and of stratagem, in which the relater figures as the most important character. 

The war-chief who has the command of the party encourages them with promises 
of success. He artfully induces them to believe that the medicine he possesses has 
a magic power to protect them. 

Inspired with an ardor known only to the savage who is trained for the pursuits 
of war, many a one, with the gay eagle-plumes waving from his head, and with the 
light, springy step of early manhood, — with a heart in whose secret chamber some 
beloved object dwells enshrined, — many such a one leaves his home on the banks 
of the Mississippi, never to see it more. 

Alas for the savage war-dance ! It is one means of draining away the life-blood 
of as noble a race as ever flourished beneath the smile of the Creator, or passed 
away beneath his frown. 


It is with a prolonged breath that the Indian warrior shouts the appalling death- 
cry. It is not the same as the war-cry ; it is a sound unlike and far more terrible. 
The feeling that prompts it is a concentration of all the horrible passions of the 
human heart. Murder, hatred, revenge, and bloody triumph, unite, in one voice, 
to sound a victory. 

The prostrate dead man, with his now useless tomahawk beside him, the arrow 
in his side, and the blood trickling over his brow, was a moment ago actuated by 
the same guilty passions ; his form is now quiet for ever, and his soul fluttering 
away to the gloomy regions of the keeper of the souls of the dead. 

Not so the victor. Every nerve in his body is thrilling with joy. His blood- 
stained knife he grasps with one hand, while high in the other he holds the crimson 
and still warm scalp. His eyes are started in their sockets, his cheeks glow with 
excitement. He listens ; for the hills echo again his voice, and still again. Right 
joyfully falls upon his ear the return of his death-whoop ; it is the triumph for his 
victory, and the death-song for his foe. 

His enemy is dead at his feet. For a while they fought equally, where others 
were yelling and murdering by their sides, but neither had the advantage of the 
other. They fought, not like creatures made in the image of their glorious Creator, 
but like the savage beasts that war unceasingly in the forests of the uncivilized. 
It was life and blood for which they thirsted; and at each thrust the tomahawk 
waved in circles over their heads, and in untamed passion they shouted " Ha ! ha !" 
and again, breathing hard, and glaring fiercely, they renewed the combat. 

The struggle was hard and long, but one succeeded in pushing his foe beyond 
assistance ; then, by the mossy rocks, and under the clear blue sky, they fought, 
man to man. 

Now, his enemy is breathless and powerless. He may, if he will, tear his heart 
away. Not one thought of the guilt that stains his own soul comes in to mar the 
ecstasy of his triumph. Guilt ! nay, it is a part of his religious faith to feel no 
relenting when the life of his victim is in his hand. 

It may be that it is the first scalp that he has taken. If so, what joy ! for the 


mother who bore him, and the maiden he loves, will glory in his success. Even 
while trembling with excess of pleasure, the thought of them comes over him, to 
make almost unendurable the amount of his happiness. For the fame of her son 
or husband is dear to the Indian woman, and the price of an enemy's scalp is far 
above rubies. 

The battle is over, and the warriors are returning to their own country. They 
pass rapidly over hill and valley until they are safe from pursuit ; but when out of 
reach of the vengeance of the conquered, they rest themselves without fear. Then 
they talk over the events connected with the recent fight ; and the war-chief tells 
them to mind how faithfully he foretold all that should occur. He relates to them 
many a wonderful exploit that he has performed ; while the wearied soldiers, stretch- 
ing their limbs upon the grass, smoke and listen, and the young brave carefully 
smooths the hair on his first scalp, adorns it with his handsomest trinkets, feasting 
his eyes upon the horrid sight. He holds it aloft for the rest to gaze upon, and 
laughs with a savage delight as he recalls the moment when he severed it from 
the head of his devoted victim. 

They arrive at home, and joyous is their welcome. As the war-party enters the 
village, the women and children follow in the train of those who come forward to 
meet them. They see the uplifted scalps, and they raise their arms, and laugh, 
and shout. They thank Wa-ken-de-dan, the old woman, the goddess of war, who 
gave to their braves the victory. 

In due time the scalps are carefully prepared and ornamented. They are stretched 
upon hoops, and painted and decked with feathers. The elated warriors cut off 
their hair, paint their faces black, and go in mourning for the enemies they killed. 

The women of the village assemble in their gayest apparel, and dance around 
the scalps. They sing to the loud music of the medicine-men. They hold the 
pole bearing the scalp upon their shoulders. They cry, " Whose scalp have I 
here ?" They tell of all whom they have loved and lost. A mother mourns a 
son, a wife her husband, a maiden her lover, who died upon the battle-field. They 
tell, weeping, how bravely they died ; and now they are avenged. As each one 
concludes, the chorus is sung. 

Day and night the dance continues, until they are all wearied out; then the 
scalps are taken down, and buried with the family of the brave who took them. 


The Indians have a horror of permitting their dead to fall into the power of the 
enemy. They will venture a great deal to prevent it. In the picture, they are 
bearing to their own home their wounded friends, — tenderly too, for they long to 
preserve the life of the comrade who fought so bravely ; or, if he must die, they 
would that it should be among their own people, where the wife may tenderly 
support the aching head, and where the Indian priest may perform the mysterious 
ceremonies of his clan over the dying man, to detain to the last the spirit that 
departs so unwillingly from its feeble tenement. If it is a long distance to go 
home from the field of battle, a litter is prepared to carry the wounded. The 
warriors take two poles, having a blanket or buffalo-skin fastened to them, so as to 
form a sort of cot, upon which the wounded man is placed. An Indian at each 
end raises the poles, and, by means of a strap tied to the ends and thrown over his 
shoulder, he is enabled to bear it for miles before resting. Two Indians can thus 
transport a wounded man from thirty to forty miles a day. 

Doubtless, one reason why they dislike to leave the dead in the power of their 
enemies is because they know every indignity will be offered them. I have 
known children, after a battle, to adorn themselves horribly, yet ludicrously, too. 

The Sioux and Chippewas sometimes skin their enemies. They elevate the skin 
on poles, stretch out the arms, and point the fingers to the country once called 
home. A number of Chij)pewas were killed, near us, on one occasion, by the 
Sioux. The latter prevented their enemies from bearing off their dead, but gave 
the bodies to the Sioux women and children. One of the children made a neck- 
lace, and wore it over her breast, where dangled a Chippewa's finger. Another 
made long curls of the skin, wearing them over her ears. The little boys played 
football with a Chippewa's head. The day before, that busy head was planning 
their destruction. These children were reproved, but could not understand why 
any one would blame them for what they were doing. 

Women and children delight in cutting up the bodies in the smallest pieces. 
I saw an Indian who had been borne from the battle-field, terribly wounded. He 
lay in his lodge, panting with fever, his eyes glaring, and his cheeks fearfully 


flushed. His poor old mother sat weeping by him ; and the door of his lodge was 
lifted up, that he might contemplate a scalp that had been hung there that morning. 
It was evidently a great comfort to him to have it so near. It was constantly sur- 
rounded by a crowd of Indian children, who regarded it with as much admiration 
as the grinding-organ and monkey performances excite in the streets of our cities. 

The Indians fear the spirits of the dead, and do all they can to appease them. 
If they leave the bodies of their friends to the insults of the foe, their souls can do 
them harm. They will avenge themselves by bringing death to the lodges of those 
who neglected them. They will cause famine, and render useless the bow and 
arrow of the hunter. They will unnerve his arm, so that his enemy may prevail 
against him. The warrior is careful, therefore, to give no offence where so bitter 
a reckoning would result ; so he bears to his home the dead or sick friend who 
hoped to have returned victorious by his side. 

Even if the wounded soldier must die, it is a comfort for him to feel that he is 
on his way to wife, and mother, and friend. He knows that he will be watched 
and waited upon to the last. When life is gone, he will be wrapped in a new robe, 
white and clean, not long taken from the noble animal who wore it in his own last 
battle, when he too fell. When dead, the crown of war-eagle feathers will be 
placed around his unconscious head, and new mocassins will adorn his even now 
useless feet. 

As he is borne gently on, he slowly uncloses his aching eyelids, and tries to look 
around upon sky, and hill, and tree ; but they are glowing in a sunlight too dazzling 
for his weakened sight. He sees his kind bearers turn a listening ear, to know if 
their enemies be in pursuit, and he feels almost happy in the belief that nothing 
but the greatest necessity will induce them to leave him in their power. Beyond 
are other bearers, taking home a warrior wounded like himself, but not so fatally. 
Others may recover ; but his own soul hears a voice from afar, and it is rousing 
and preparing its energies for a last flight. Never again will he see wife or child ; 
yet his memory dwells upon them, as they stood tearfully watching him when he 
set out on the expedition which has ended so sadly for him. He is too feeble for 
tears, or the parting from all on earth might draw them from his eyes. 

Yet death is the destiny of all, and he must meet it as the brave warrior should. 

His friends tell him, at last, that he is almost home ; and he feels that he has 
indeed nearly reached — nay, is even now on the borders of that shadowy land 
which is the home of the children of the Great Spirit. 

Soon will his body be laid in the lodge, its inmates now so gaily expecting him. 
His wife will weep at his feet, his young son standing by his side, mournfully 
regarding his altered face. His friends will crowd around him, casting upon him 
gay and costly presents; they will mourn and wail as they array him for the 
funeral ceremony. 


Then at his head will stand a medicine-man, and he will talk to those assembled 
of the virtues, the bravery, the cunning of the dead. He will commend him to 
the young as an example, to the old as one who has wrapped his robe about him, 
and preceded them on the path to the illimitable hunting-grounds of the Great 

They will bid him farewell quietly, as they wrap him in scarlet cloth. Silently 
will they bear him to the burial-place, where, by the side of his relatives and 
friends, will his body rest in peace. No more weakness, such as is now prostrating 
him, no more pain, like that which is now assailing his limbs ! The spirit, that is 
now uneasily waiting its summons, will be then triumphantly united to the count- 
less bands of heroes who join in the giants' songs, singing to Haokah in the regions 
of the dead. 

Such dreamy thoughts console the dying man, as he is gently borne along ; and 
often those who are transporting him, know not the moment when the imprisoned 
spirit has struggled and attained its freedom ; while they are only bearing to the 
bereaved, the mortal remains of the brave and beloved one from whom they so 
recently parted. 

[ N D ] A N 


The burial-grounds in Indian country are always observed to be beautifully 
situated. They are near the village which was the home of the departed ones, 
and the mourning relatives constantly repair to the scaffold on which the dead are 
placed. Here they weep for their loss, vow eternal remembrance, and eulogize 
the memory of their friends who have been called away from the earth for ever. 

When the latest breath is drawn, the friends assemble around the corpse. One 
gently bathes with water the face, and composes the limbs so recently tossing with 
the death-struggle. • The mother or wife stands at the head, and a near relative at 
the feet of the deceased. They call upon him, reproach him with leaving them, 
vow vengeance on his enemies, and exaggerate his virtues. Death throws his 
darkened pall upon all failings, all animosities ; naught but good is remembered of 
the helpless clay before them. 

In the excitement of their distress, they cut off their hair, and pierce their limbs, 
tearing their clothes already crimson with their own blood. They pray for death 
to come to them, that they may see no more trouble. 

A scaffold is raised a few feet from the ground, and the friends of the deceased 
gather round, to assist in depositing the body on it. They first take off all their 
ornaments, and paint their faces black. 

The body is rolled up in a skin, blanket, or piece of red cloth. A coffin or box 
is an unusual luxury to the poor red men. The object in placing the body in an 
elevated position is to keep it away from the wolves. Nothing is left undone that 
affection can dictate to do honor to a departed friend. 

The dead man has a long journey to perform, ere he reach the city of spirits ; 
how can he have strength to perform it unless they supply him with food and 
water ? Both are placed beside him ; and the supply is constantly renewed as it is 
consumed by the birds that are hovering about. Then, with care and in solemn 
silence, they lift the corpse and place it on the scaffold, with the feet towards the 
rising sun. Afterwards, preparations are made for one of their most solemn feasts. 

If the deceased be a warrior, they frequently hang the scalp of an enemy to the 
scaffold ; if a maiden, some favorite dress or trinket is placed there ; if a babe, the 


mother attaches to its side the wooden doll. As far as lies in their power, they 
show every token of affection. 

After the funeral, the relatives of the deceased seat themselves on the ground 
around the scaffold. They rend their clothes, run knives into their flesh, and, 
cutting off long locks of hair, throw them, as a sacrifice, under the scaffold. They 
cry dolefully, alternately smoking and weeping. The pipe, ere it is passed around, 
is solemnly offered to the Great Spirit. 

If the deceased be a great warrior, his friends pronounce eulogies to his memory. 
They call upon the young to imitate his bravery and patriotism ; they relate anec- 
dotes of his life, to illustrate his virtues. They tell wonderful things of him ; how 
often he pealed forth the death-cry on the battle-field ; how he visited the spirits of 
the storm and of the water, and of all that he had chosen to reveal concerning 
them. Eloquence is exhausted, and grief itself becomes wearied ; and the mourners 
return to their homes. 

Each succeeding day brings with it new efforts to show regard and respect. If 
the deceased be a chief, a red flag is planted at his grave ; if an ordinary individual, 
a white one. As before interment, the body is covered with presents, offerings of 
affection from the bereaved, so when the funeral rites are performed, those who 
love the most continue to give of what they possess. Those who are well off in 
Indian wealth delight to share with the dead ; while many can only give the 
tribute of their tears. Nothing is so consoling to an Indian as to feel that the 
friend he has lost has been honored. 

A distinguished Sioux chief was killed, near Fort Snelling, by the Chippewas. 
At the burial-ground belonging to the Fort, his remains were placed near those of 
the United States soldiers and a few members of officers' families who have been 
buried there. This was considered a great honor by his band. They planted a 
flag at the head of their chief, while on the opposite side of the Minesota, a similar 
one waved over a Sioux chief named Flying Sword, who was much esteemed by 
his people, but was shot at the door of his wigwam by a stepson, who thus resented 
the chief's cruel treatment of his mother. 

After a year or two, the body is taken from the scaffold, and the bones are col- 
lected and buried. 

While in Indian country, we frequently visited their burial-grounds. Once we 
found an old man weeping aloud for his son, who had just died. He leaned 
against a tree, to intimate that his grief had made him powerless. Close by him 
the hill was worn away, and the bones of the dead were sticking out of the 
uncovered earth. 

And is this all ? Does the Indian feel that he has taken an eternal farewell of 
those whom he so deeply mourns ? Alas ! his hopes are vague and but little con- 
soling. Yet he has dreamed of a large city, which is the home of the departed. 


There the footsteps of the fleet deer are heard bounding across the endless prairies. 
There the tracks of the buffalo and bear are often seen. The game that is here 
fairing, so that hunger often gnaws at the heart of the Dacota, is there in plenty. 
In the dim future, visions rise of the comfort of the lodges of his people, of the 
soft eyes of his beautiful wife, the merry laugh of his little ones. Mysterious 
voices whisper in his ear of the solemn feasts he shall then celebrate. His droop- 
ing soul takes comfort as he listens. Here he is chased from the shores of his 
native rivers by his unceasing enemy, the exacting white man. He must take a 
last look at all he loves in nature, that his enemy may build large cities, and 
become rich by his poverty. Hardly has he learned to know another country, to 
love another home, when again he must cover up the ashes in his lodge, and bend 
his path towards another resting-place. He must depart at the signal of his foe ; 
there is no one to help. 

The red man turns him from the grave of his friend ; he descends again to the 
lodge and the council; he performs the part assigned him in the world, and in 
turn, is laid beside the friends whom he has buried. 


My reader ! if there be on earth an individual in whom all the bad qualities of 
human nature are found united, it is the medicine-man. He murders and steals ; 
he commits every act of violence and sin under cover of his office. He is doctor, 
priest, and juggler; he is about as skilful in curing bodies as in guiding souls; he 
is respected the more, the more he can impose upon his people ; and who would 
knowingly incur the auger of a medicine-man ? 

When a Dacota is taken sick, he sends for the doctor. By way of insuring his 
coming, he sends the fee by the messenger ; it may be a blanket, a buffalo robe, a 
pipe, or whatever the family may have at command. If the invalid be a child, the 
doctor is sure to find the parents overwhelmed with anxiety, for your Indian 
father and mother are models of parental affection. 

The picture represents the medicine-man working hard for the restoration of his 
patient. He has the sacred rattle, which at one time he shakes over his shoulder, 
and then holds it over the invalid, hoping thus to charm away the evil spirit that 
has cast a spell upon him. On the ground beside him lies his pipe and medicine- 
bag. What the latter contains is only known to the members of his clan ; but it 
possesses miraculous powers, and may be the means of bringing health and cheer- 
fulness to the dismal-looking individual who is under his care. 

It may be that some animal has entered the body, and is gnawing away at the 
heart of the sick man, or the thunder-birds are angry with him ; or Unk-ta-he, the 
water-spirit, has frowned upon him ; or Haokah, the giant, has glanced at him 
angrily with his terrible eyes ; or some medicine-man or woman of another clan 
hates him, and has shadowed over him the evil eye, and will hold a mysterious 
power over the victim, until the flesh will fall from his dry bones. All these things 
the doctor considers, and must do his best. If there be an evil spirit about the sick 
man, he must charm it away by the most solemn incantations. If an animal or a 
fish have possession of his body, the doctor makes of bark a little image of the 
animal, puts it outside the lodge, and directs the young men to shoot it. 

Nothing in his line is left undone to restore the invalid. He rattles the gourd, 



now singing " Ha-he-hi-liah !" quickly and with energy; anon he puts on a solemn 
look, and chants " Ha-ha-ha !" solemnly and slowly. He howls, and grunts, and 
groans, and perspires ; he crawls on his hands and knees ; he makes frightful faces. 
The quicker the patient's pulse beats, the more noise the doctor makes ; the fainter 
throbs his almost motionless heart, the more vigorously he flourishes the rattle. 

If the patient recover, does he not deserve all credit? If he die, who can 
reproach the doctor? Is not death the destiny of mortals? Can the doctor 
reverse a law of nature ? In justice to him, let me add, if he cannot save his 
life, he solemnly presides at the funeral, and 7nost religiously eats his portion of 
dog's-meat at the medicine-feast, which after a while is kept in honor of the soul 
of the departed. Censorious must that man or woman be who accuses the Indian 
doctor of neglect. 

But there are other charges that can be made against the medicine-men, and 
with truth ; for they exercise for their own purposes the most remarkable influence 
over their people. If their cunning and crimes only affected men like themselves, 
or women equally crafty and wicked, it would be of little consequence ; but in how 
many instances is seen the effect of their power over the young ! A father wants 
to sell his young daughter to some of his friends. The girl has already given away 
her heart, but this only makes the medicine-man laugh ; for his own heart is so 
seared with crime, and it may be, with sorrow too, that he has forgotten how the 
young feel. He seeks out the maiden, and talks to her of many things, he tells 
her stories of the young who have despised the warnings of the wise men, and 
what befel them. 

They died, and how ? A sudden fever, a wasting disease. Or, they were borne 
away prisoners, to make mocassins for their enemies ; or their scalps dried among 
the lodges of their foes ; or Unk-ta-he drew them down to his dark lodges in the 

The maiden will not hear at first. She loves, and " love makes her heart glad ;" 
and she will not listen to the words of the medicine-man. But his eye is upon 
her, his form is in her path — the more constantly, if he be the man who has pur- 
chased her lithe form and sparkling eyes. She goes by herself, and looks out from 
the topmost bluff on the fair waters ; the medicine-man is there too, and he bids 
her beware lest, from its depths, the hideous face of some offended water-spirit 
blight her gaze. She paddles her canoe alone among the fairy islands, guiding it 
round the fallen forestrtrees, and singing to herself her own wild thoughts; but 
there the medicine-man has tracked her out ; he holds towards her the bag that 
contains his potent medicine, fatal, if he will it, to her. She hides her head on her 
bosom, and gathers her robe about her, weeping, as she sits in the corner of her 
mother's lodge, and she hears without the voice of her soul's enemy, as he bargains 
with her stony-hearted parent. 


What can she do ? Her heart has died within her ; for the Great Spirit will not 
hear her prayers ; the Spirit of the Woods will not aid her ; all nature has turned 
against her. Faint and helpless, she has only to submit. The successful medicine- 
man takes her to his lodge ; here she can read, in the cruel faces of his older wives, 
the future that will be hers. 

Or, it may be, her rebellious soul resists the fate that is opening before her. She 
sickens at the thought of her unloving heart aching itself away, and the rich juices 
of life slowly drying, while she, a slave to the man she hates, must ever stand in 
his presence, obedient to his will. She has pondered it in her heart, until her 
brain whirls when she asks herself, " What am I to do ?" Alas ! she cannot even 
ask sympathy from the mother who gave her birth ; she is combined against her, 
fearing the arts and power of the dreaded medicine-man. 

Yet there is another parent to whom she will appeal, and not in vain. Nature 
will not close against her, her bountiful heart ; but will at least afford her forgetful- 
ness in her bosom — she can die ! The waters with which she has played from 
her very birth can close over her and silence her throbbing heart, can shield her 
from the evils that she dreads. How often the Indian maiden thus reasons and 
thus acts ! 

Though we might for ever enumerate the crimes of the medicine-man, we cannot 
destroy the influence he exerts among his tribe. The veneration for his office is 
extended to himself; and, however he may wield it, he will hold a secret and 
mysteriously-used sceptre so long as the remnant of an Indian nation is left, in its 
unchristianized condition, on our continent. 


The wigwams of the Winnebagoes are made of strips of birch bark and grass 
mats. Saplings are stuck in the ground, with the tops bent over and tied with 
withes. This forms a sort of oven-shaped structure, about seven feet in height. 
The fire is made in the centre, and a hole left in the top of the wigwam for a 

The usual size of these wigwams is not more than eight or ten feet in diameter ; 
sometimes they are made from fifteen to twenty feet in length, and eight feet broad. 
The wigwam in which is celebrated their famous medicine-dance is made large, 
(from forty to fifty feet in diameter,) as shown in the plate. 

This plate represents the medicine-dance of the Winnebagoes. It is a sort of 
celebration in honor of their sacred medicine, and is given to propitiate the souls of 
the dead ; for the Winnebagoes, like other Indians, believe that the souls of the 
dead can injure them if they do not secure their good-will. Shortly after the 
death of an individual, the nearest relative gives a medicine-feast, after which he 
is privileged to take off his mourning. 

The Dacotas dance in honor of their medicine in the open air ; the Winnebagoes 
keep their medicine-feast in a large wigwam. Each tribe considers this feast of 
the greatest solemnity and importance. 

The medicine may be anything that possesses a mysterious or supernatural 
power. A piece of skin, the tooth of an animal, a stone, a shell, a root, — these, 
placed in the bag of a medicine-man, immediately acquire miraculous influence. 

Some of their medicine is very old, and has been carefully kept. If an Indian 
lose his medicine-bag, he is despised; he is nobody; he cannot look a friend in the 
face until he finds or replaces it. To do this it takes a long time. 

The medicine-bag is made of an otter, or the skin of any small animal. This 
sacred bag hangs outside, near the lodge. Children are taught to respect it ; it is 
never injured, never stolen. It is considered the guardian spirit of the family, and 
all regard it with the greatest reverence. 

Those who partake of the medicine-feast must be solemnly initiated into its 
secret, by certain ceremonies. Women are sometimes allowed communion, but all 


must be prepared for it by the forms that Lave endured for ages. No member of 
this society has ever betrayed its secret. 

This cannot be a mere imposition, to have stood the test of time and constant 
change of circumstance. Mesmerism is undoubtedly connected with it, but in what 
way it is impossible to tell. 

The bower wigwam, in which the Winnebagoes celebrate their medicine-feast, is 
made according to the number of invited guests, for even the members of the 
society cannot come without a special invitation from the master of the feast. 

When new members are to be initiated, they are conducted by a medicine-man 
into the retirement of the woods, where they fast while receiving instruction from 
their priest. He talks to them of the power and sacred nature of their medicine, 
and of other things connected with their religion. They are then required to make 
handsome presents to the society ; they must give what they most value. 

On the mats that lie in the centre of the bower are seated the candidates during 
the process of initiation. Their sensibilities, rendered acute by the preparatory 
fast, are easily excited. They appear to be wholly at the will of the medicine-man, 
and frecmently, during his incantations, become insensible. They fall on their 
faces, as the otter-skin containing the medicine is held up before them by the 
medicine-man, who is all the while singing in low, guttural tones. 

The ceremony over, the new members revive, and are admitted at once into all 
the honors and privileges of membership. They follow the jugglers as they go 
round ; they imitate his motions, throwing the mysterious medicine-bag into the 
faces of the spectators, who become so agitated as to fall to the earth as if deprived 
of life. This part of the ceremony the picture represents. 

When a member is summoned to a medicine-feast, he may not avail himself of 
any excuse. Neither occupation nor distance can be offered as an apology : the 
summons is obeyed, if possible. There is always an entertainment, and dog's 
flesh is a favorite dish at a medicine-feast, The music is the invariable drum 
and rattle. 

Order and solemnity always prevail. The horrid noise of the musicians, the 
contortions of the priests, the mesmeric influence they appear to exert over their 
people, and the strange wildness of the scene, are calculated to oppress a spectator 
with feelings of awe. 


A traveler in Indian country during the summer season cannot fail to be struck 
with the taste of the Indians as regards the location of their villages. Even if 
it be a mere encampment on a hunting excursion, the point of resting is sure to be 
where all that is attractive in nature meets the eye. 

The Indians must be near the river ; and large trees must shade their buffalo 
tents. Convenience is not much consulted by the men, for they have only to eat, 
and lounge, and talk, when they are at home, the women having all else in their 
department. They make the lodges of buffalo-skin, always ; for there is a tradition 
that one of their ancestors made hers of deer-skin, and died soon afterwards. This, 
to their superstitious minds, was an intimation that deer-skin was never more to be 
used for houses, for ever. 

The Dacota woman not only sews the buffalo-skin together, thus making her 
house, but, when on a journey, she carries it on her back. Long and weary may 
have been the day's travel ; but she must put the stakes in the ground, and cover 
them with the buffalo-skins, then ' cut the wood to make the fire, and cook for the 
family before she rests. 

Yet she enjoys the time of encampment too. Accustomed to labor, she is gene- 
rally reconciled to it. She is not without her recreations ; for, while the men are 
hunting, she can rest by the river's bank, singing to her baby, watching the while 
the maidens, as they plunge in and out of the river, diving from her sight, and 
then reappearing near to where she is seated. When the fair summer evening 
glows about them, while the men are gossipping and smoking, the maidens lie about 
the grass, playing games of chance with plum-stones, or enjoying some such pastime. 

The picture represents the camp about to be broken up. The woman on the 
left is uncovering her lodge, thus intimating to the party that the starting-time is 
approaching. No one seems inclined to follow her example. The men lie about, 
taking their leisure, some talking politics, some observing the progress of the game 
of plum-stones. A woman is bearing a heavy burden towards her small lodge, 
made of bark. To the right, an Indian mounted, is ready to pioneer the party. 
On the bank, a woman is washing her face in primitive style, others near her 
bathing in the river. In the foreground, two old squaws are in earnest confab, 


discussing, no doubt, a nice bit of scandal. They are taking into consideration the 
state of their neighbors' affairs in the other lodges. They are quite out of hearing, 
and can pick to pieces the character of every man, woman, and child, in the 

By-and-by, they will all make' a move ; and in the gray morning twilight the 
scene of the encampment will look quiet and sad as a deserted house. Under the 
old elms will be heaps of ashes, over which was boiled their fish or venison. The 
broken ground will show where the stakes for the tents were driven in ; but the 
song, the laugh, and the jest, will not be heard. 

It is very pleasant to the Indians, this roving about during the summer season, 
especially in the northwest, where the long and cold winters deprive them of many 
out-door enjoyments, which they could have in a warmer region. 

The Indians are reckless of the future, but wisely enjoy the gay summer time. 
Yet it were well for them to take thought for the ensuing season. Hunting and 
fishing occupy the men during the day, while the home duties of the women are 
constant and varied. 

Night is not all passed in sleep ; it is often night turned into day. The moon- 
light as often rests on anxious, sorrowful faces, as on countenances calm in repose. 
There is heard at once the loud laugh, the infant's cry, the wild notes of the Indian 
flute, the drum of the medicine-man, from different points of the encampment. 
Even the children forget to be sleepy, when they can listen to the long stories of 
the medicine-women. These stories have always some moral ; they are intended 
to instruct the young in such things as the Dacota should know. They are calcu- 
lated to excite superstitious notions, and often frighten children into a reverence 
for their elders, by inducing them to believe that the aged have a mysterious skill 
in matters above their comprehension. 

Many of the customs and feasts of the Indians are celebrated as they go from 
point to point in search of game. Often they invoke the blessing of Wa-kun-ton-ka, 
the Great Spirit, that the bear, the buffalo, and the deer, may fall beneath their 
arrows ; that they may eat and live, and not die, when the cold winter shall come 
upon them. 


The summer houses of the Dacotas are made of the bark peeled from trees. 
The building of the house is the work of the women. 

These houses are quite comfortable, and their interiors are furnished with all 
that an Indian family deems necessary. Here they live, enjoying the warm 
weather, and preparing for the long, cold winter that will follow. 

They dry their skins on the scaffold attached to the house, making clothing of 
them when needed. Their corn may be seen hanging about, tied in bundles to 
dry, while all the other items of housewifery receive due attention. 

For these houses the bark of the elm tree is principally used. There is a quan- 
tity of this sort in the Sioux country. In the spring, the bark peels off easily in 
large pieces. The women have only to plant poles in the ground, fasten the bark 
to them, and the summer house is soon made. In the roof there is a hole cut that 
answers the purposes of a chimney. The fire in a Sioux or Dacota lodge is always 
kindled in the centre. A place in the lodge is allotted to each member of the 
family. The wife has hers near the door; being servant as well as wife, she is by 
custom placed where she can conveniently go in and out. The husband has his 
place near the fire. 

There is but one room in an Indian lodge. Around its sides are places made for 
sleeping, for they can hardly be called beds. They are simply long pieces of bark 
fastened to upright poles by withes, and are considered by the family very com- 
fortable. A very few other articles complete the contents of the apartment. 

Poor as is the Dacota woman, and meagre as are the arrangements of her house, 
she is always glad to receive a stranger, and gives him freely of what she owns. 
Hospitality is one of the virtues of the Sioux. 

The summer houses are stationary. A medicine-bag, containing the medicine 
that is used by the clan of the family, always hangs near the house. They believe 
it keeps away bad spirits. 

Little Crow's Village, in Minesota, was, a few years ago, the scene of a singular 
instance of Indian policy. 

Big Thunder, the chief of this band, had three wives. The oldest son of each of 


these wives claimed to be chief in the event of their father's death. Big Thunder 
thought proper to settle the succession on the oldest son of the first wife. This 
made the other sons very jealous and angry, and they bitterly reproached their 
father with injustice. 

The old man wished, for the sake of his family and of the band, to have the 
matter settled amicably before his death ; and he endeavored to impress upon the 
minds of his rebellious sons the propriety of his decision. They would not listen 
to him, using threats of a violent nature. 

Big Thunder became very unhappy at the condition of affairs ; so he betook 
himself to the two modes of consolation so much in vogue among Indians. He 
drank whiskey, and beat his wives. 

There was never peace in his wigwam. His wicked sons were always quarrelling. 
The other members of the family took sides as they felt inclined ; and the old man 
was well-nigh beside himself. He felt perfectly justified in never being sober, and 
in constantly beating one of his wives. The oldest of the women said she could 
stand it no longer ; she deserted Big Thunder, and joined another band of Indians. 
It may be remarked here that she never married again. This is related of her in 
proof of her constancy to her husband, but due weight should be given to the fact 
that the old lady was quite infirm, and not in the least good-looking. 

Still, the sons of Big Thunder quarrelled and fought in their lodges, and the old 
man continued to beat his two remaining wives. Death interposed, and obliged 
him to cease so undignified an occupation. He died, and was buried ; and his oldest 
son, Little Crow, reigned in his stead. 

The new chief had but little hope of ever enjoying peaceably his honors. His 
two brothers constantly interfered with him, and threatened his life. Finally, 
they attacked and wounded him so severely, that he was unable to use his hands. 
He was helpless as any of his infants, having several at that time. Like his father, 
he was the husband of three wives, all sisters. All day long he sat in his accus- 
tomed seat in the wigwam, and the three wives took their turns to feed him. His 
youngest was very pretty, and quite a child in years. She never tired of holding 
bread for her husband, and dosing him with venison broth out of a wooden bowl — 
both of her own manufacture. 

The two brothers who aspired to the chieftainship, fearing they had gone too far, 
left for the prairies, where they stayed several weeks, amusing themselves as best 
they could. They thought that by this time the Indians would have forgotten their 
outbreak ; so they returned to their village, and commenced discussing the politics 
of the times in their usual noisy and interfering manner. 

At this crisis, some of the wisest and oldest men of the clan put their heads 
together, to see what could be done. They met in council, talked and boasted a 
great deal of their own excellence in divers matters, and then solemnly took into 


consideration the case of the three brothers. Having sown their wild oats nearly 
a century ago, and being unable, by reason of age or infirmity, to commit any more 
murders, or the like, in an astonishingly short space of time they concluded to 
uphold the majesty of Indian law. 

They said that Big Thunder had been right in his decision, and that his two 
rebellious sons were guilty of treason in not submitting to it ; that the village was 
always kept in a ferment by these quarrelsome young men ; therefore, they must 
be quieted : and the surest way to accomplish this was to blow their brains out. 

The vote was unanimous to this effect. But how was the death of the brothers 
to be accomplished ? for sometimes Indians object to dying before their time comes. 
So the council acted cautiously and with dispatch. 

They appointed three of the braves executioners. They told them to proceed 
at once to the lodge of the two younger brothers, and to send them to the land of 
spirits, whether they wished to go or not. So the three braves, without the slight- 
est hesitation, proceeded to the wigwam where the unhappy brothers lived, almost 
apart from other society. 

However wicked a man may be, we look upon him with a sort of respect when 
we see him meet death bravely. Not when he laughs, and pretends not to care, 
we have no sympathy with him then ; for we know that he is, at heart, crouching 
at the feet of the great destroyer. When we observe him calm, self-possessed, it 
may be, despairing, then there is a chord in the depths of our hearts that resounds 
to his. We almost forget his sin in the thought that he is to die. 

The three braves, as they proceeded in silence to the lodge of the brothers — 
what remembrances crowded upon them ! What were they about to do ? 

These men were the sons of their former chief; they had been their own com- 
panions, friends. In early life they had loved each other ; they had shared their 
pleasures, and joined them in the sports of boyhood. It may be they loved each 
other now. Yet there was no appeal from the stern necessity of the case. 

The brothers sat silent in their lodge. As its door was lifted up, they could not 
but observe with what solemnity of aspect the three warriors entered. 

There was no word spoken. The brothers knew their fate. They folded their 
blankets about them, bowed their heads upon their breasts, and died. 

Now there is peace in Little Crow's village ; and I have been told that the chief 
has brought yet another wife — a fourth sister — to his wigwam. 


Next to the Great Spirit, among some of our northwestern tribes, is worshipped 
Haokah, the Giant-god. The picture represents the dance in his honor, rarely 
celebrated, though ; for even among their bravest men are found few who are 
anxious to pay an homage so painful in its requirements. 

Haokah, the Giant-god, is cold in summer and hot in winter. He is for this 
reason, styled their anti-natural god. 

But if a warrior dream of Haokah, he feels it a duty to offer him a sacrifice, lest 
a dreadful calamity befall him. He prevails upon some of his friends to unite with 
him in the celebration of the dance. 

For this purpose, at day-dawn, they are dressed in bark hats of a conical form, 
and strips of the same article fastened together about their waists. On their hats 
lightning is represented. The Giant^god is said to wear such a hat when he appears 
to reprove the recreant Sioux. The dancers also wear earrings of bark. 

The host has his fire lighted by daybreak, and the unfailing kettle on. In it 
he places a piece of buffalo meat. He then seats himself, to smoke until his visiters 

Each one, as he enters, sits down and smokes, too ; and this continues until the 
water begins to boil, when the dancing commences in earnest. 

It is no child's play. Every limb, every muscle, every nerve, must be put in 
requisition. They must sing, they must shout, they must laugh loud and long, as 
they jump, and twist, and attitudinize in every possible manner. The one who 
makes the most noise is the most devout worshipper of the Giant, and each one 
tries to outdo the other in the use of his legs and lungs. 

The water bubbles up and boils over, and now one of the bravest goes to the 
kettle, putting his hand in the boiling water, takes hold of the meat, shivers, and 
says, "How cold it is!" Each dancer does the same, pretending like the Giant, 
to feel cold when it would be natural to feel heat. They take portions of the 
smoking meat, and eat it with apparent relish. They tear away the mouthfuls, 
chewing with horrid contortions to intimate pleasure. Thus they eat away, until 
all the meat is consumed, when they arrange themselves to dance. 


The medicine-man gives the signal. Again they are jelling, shouting, and 
dancing. The families in the near lodges sit still to listen, for they fear the power 
of the Giant, and they are hoping he may be pleased with the sacrifice offered him. 

The dancers are invigorated by the buffalo-meat, and they go on with renewed 
ardor. The bark fringe about their waists keeps time with their motions, and the 
conical hats nod towards each other. 

The water boils and hisses, leaping over the sides of the kettle into the blaze. 
The warriors laugh and shout ; and one, advancing to the kettle, dips up some of 
the boiling water in his hands. He stoops and throws it over his back, singing, 
" The water is cold ! the water is cold !" 

The next dancer follows, performing the same exploit. Each one does the same 
in his turn ; and then the warriors shout aloud in honor of the Giant-god of the 

" How great," they say, " is Haokah, the Giant-god ! We throw scalding water 
upon our bodies, and we are not scalded ! Great is Haokah !" 

The sacrifice is thus made. The dancers are quite exhausted, and they disperse. 
The medicine-man who piresided remains, and the host feels obliged to place before 
him all the eatables in his lodge ; then he goes away too. 

Like the Pharisee, the medicine-man loves to be seen of men ; so he seats himself 
in a conspicuous place, and talks to those who gather round him, of Haokah. He 
beckons to others, for he likes a good audience. He shows them his hands, that 
have been repeatedly in the scalding water, and they are unharmed. He holds 
them up, and praises the power of Haokah. 

Then he tells them he has seen the Giant ; that he dressed in many colors, and 
wore a forked hat. One side of his face was red, the other blue. He held the 
thunder in his hand. " The Giant carries a bow and arrow, too," continues the 
medicine-man. " These he never need use, as one look will kill the game he 
desires for food. He strides across the rocks and rivers, taking in his hand the 
highest branches of the forest-trees." All this and a great deal more the medicine- 
man tells, and delights himself with the idea that his simple hearers fear him and 
his medicine as they do the Giant. 

There is no doubt that the Indians, before performing this dance, use some astrin- 
gent preparations on their bodies, to deaden the pain, by affecting the skin. This, 
however, they will not acknowledge, and there is no proof of it. 

The mass of the people reverence the Giant, and pay respect even to his name. 
They talk often of him in praise, speaking loud, that he may hear if he be near 
them, or that the spirits in nature surrounding them may bear to his ear the admi- 
ration expressed for him by his people. 


The Dacotas do not often perform the dog dance. They pretend to attach great 
importance to this feast, but perhaps they do not fancy eating more frequently than 
necessary a meal so little tempting. They eat the hearts of their enemies, they 
declare, with as little thought as the heart of a dog. They design in the dog feast 
to show how brave they are, possessing, too, the other good qualities of the animal. 

On the pole, in the centre, they hang the heart and liver of a dog, after having 
cooled them for a few moments in a bucket of water. This is done by one of their 
priests or medicine-men. The Indians form in a circle, and after being silent for 
a short time, one of them barks and jumps towards the pole. Another follows his 
example. They look cunningly at the meat, jumping backwards and forwards, 
then others bark and jump : they seem to hesitate for a moment turning round as 
they jump. All kinds of barking is practised, from the snappish squeaky bark of 
a small dog, to the low and solemn growling of some more respectably-sized animal. 

Suddenly, one becomes courageous, makes horrible contortions, looks round and 
grins, and, with a sudden spring, reaches the pole, bounds, and gnaws off a piece 
of the raw meat. Another does the same. Another aud another, until each one 
bites and growls, and there is a perfect dog concert. This is kept up until it is 
all eaten ; then, after a little more barking, the warriors break up the dance, and 
mingle with the spectators. 

An Indian lodge is not complete without one or more dogs. The Indians are 
very much attached to them, though they frequently eat them. A roasted dog is 
considered a great luxury in an Indian family. They do not trouble themselves 
to shave them before cooking. I saw one ready to be eaten, when I was passing 
through an Indian encampment. It had been roasted before a fire, and though 
some parts of it were quite brown, the bristly hair was sticking out in every 

Indian children are very fond of small dogs. When whiskey is plenty, they 
give them an occasional dram to stunt their growth. In traveling about, an 
Indian woman or child frequently straps the little dog on her back. 

Ed 3 









An Indian woman carries upon her back a portable house-furnishing establish- 
ment. There may be found corn, and a kettle to boil it in ; venison, and any other 
eatables on hand ; sewing materials ; a wooden tub ; a chopping knife ; wooden 
bowls for the family ; a baby strapped to its cradle ; and a dog's head is often 
visible, close to the child's, the dog looking about as much as to say, " This is a 
pleasant mode of traveling." 

When I saw the dog dance, many years had intervened since it had been cele- 
brated. The Indians far and near were assembled to witness it. Canoes were 
flying down the Minesota and up the Mississippi, lined with Dacotas. Young 
girls in richly-embroidered cloth dresses — old women in rags — braves, with the 
strong blood of youth coursing in their veins — old men just able to creep along — 
all wanted to see the dog-dance. They came from the region of St. Anthony's 
falls — from over the hill called Morgan's bluff — you could not look in any direction 
without seeing them in countless numbers. 

One of the spectators was a famous Chippewa chief. He was there with a 
number of his people at that time, to transact with U. S. officers, government 

He brought with him an Indian girl, his niece. Like a figure seen in a dream, 
I recall the appearance of that young creature. Her large, full dark eyes, and 
darker eyelashes, the soft luxuriance of her hair, the pearly whiteness of her teeth, 
her oval face, and graceful figure — what has become of her ? Has this beautiful 
woman been condemned to cut down trees, and bear burdens ? 

The Chippewa chief laid on the grass, and observed, with a dignified indiffe- 
rence, the motions of the dancers. As they assembled, the music commenced. 
Like a flood the Indians were coming from all sides. Nature seemed to have put 
on a sort of coat of many colors, as her children hurried to keep the feast, honored 
by their ancestors. The dance began and finished ; the hoarse music ceased ; the 
dancers and spectators dispersed to their homes. Yet not to their homes, for even 
now must they turn aside, and find another home. In a year or two not an Indian 
will be seen on this land, granted to them by the Great Spirit. Not one, unless 
some wretched creature whom the iron tie of patriotism has brought back, to look 
once more and die — or some other one who is carried about as a spectacle, followed 
from store to tavern — loaded with beads, and degraded with brandy. 

Yet for great and glorious purposes has been set aside the beautiful scene of the 
dog dance — the fertile land of Minesota. 


The picture represents the peculiar mode of the Indian women guarding from 
the hungry blackbirds, the corn they planted. They have been watching its 
growth, and calculating on a heavy crop, and it would be too hard now to lose the 
advantages of their labor. 

The women plant, cultivate, and gather their corn, men rarely assuming any 
trouble with this or any other affairs, except those befitting one whose occupation 
is war. For this purpose they conceive they were created, and accordingly leave to 
their wives and sisters all other employments. 

It is very difficult to keep off the blackbirds from the corn, as it is ripening. 
Such numbers come, that they would, unless driven off, destroy an entire crop in a 
day. The mode of scaring them off is an ingenious one. A scaffold, six or seven 
feet high, is raised in the field, and there the women and children sit, watching 
through the long day. Old women, or those who are feeble and cannot other- 
wise employ themselves, generally perform this part. Children are glad to be 
called upon ; for while they sit under the robe which forms a kind of awning, they 
can dance, or talk and laugh, or what is still better, listen to long, miraculous 
stories about beavers or bears that have souls like men, or about great black spiders 
that have journeyed all over the world. 

A nice breeze is coming in from the prairie. The corn waves with it, making a 
gentle, song-like noise. They can hear the cooling sound of the river's waves 
washing the base of some overhanging rock near them. The thoughtful grand- 
mother has brought them some of her store to eat, when they should feel hungry ; 
and the hours pass away pleasantly. But they begin to be weary of it. The 
Indian boy is restless ; he is tired sitting there. He has a thousand wishes ; he 
wishes he had a drink of water, he wishes something would fly over for him to 
shoot at with his new bow and arrow ; he wishes the corn were ripe ; and, at last, 
he wishes he were a man, for he does not like to be like a woman, guarding corn- 
fields, and he says that before long he will be parching corn to take with him on 
his first war-party, and that be will not bring home less than two scalps. His 

>> \ 


grandmother looks at him admiringly, and tells him he will be a great warrior, 
like his grandfather, who hated his enemies. She describes to him a battle-scene 
that occurred long ago, but near the spot where they are now encamped. She tells 
him that she was hid with her children during the fight, in a hole that was dug in 
the ground, and after the battle was over, her husband drew them out, and how 
happy they were, for there were fresh moist scalps to be dressed and danced round, 
and the very river that wound about the village was red with the blood of their 
enemies, who escaped to their canoes, but were slain even there. 

The boy has become interested again, but lo ! a cloud is moving gently towards 
them, like a great wave of the sea, when the storm has darkened it. It advances, 
and the keen eye of the old woman watches it until it settles over the corn. 
Now is the time. She springs up, and going towards the side of the scaffold, 
commences a most unearthly hooting, pounding with a stick upon an old tin pan, 
or some such unmusical object. The boy has a gourd, and he rattles it and whoops. 
They are making a hideous noise together, and the army of blackbirds is evidently 
discomfited. They fly about in detached masses — there is no order in their ranks, 
when, all at once, from another near scaffold, a woman starts up yelling and howl- 
ing with her tin pan and gourd. It is all over with the blackbirds — confusion falls 
upon them as a body, and they retreat, hungry as they came, affording the hoarse 
women and half-distracted children an opportunity to recover their voices and 
equanimity. They lay down under the awning and doze, and are presently 
invigorated for another onset. 

The corn requires a constant watching to be preserved. When it is nearly ripe, 
it is gathered and partially boiled, after which it is shelled off with a knife, and 
spread on skins to dry. When it is quite hard, it is deposited in sacks for winter 
use, or it is buried in what they call a cach6, near their villages, while they are 
on their hunts. On their return they open the cache, and live on it as long it 
lasts, or until they get something else to eat. A cache 1 is a deposit of provisions or 
goods in holes dug in the earth, and carefully covered over. 

A great deal of corn is used in their feasts, and generally the Indians are very 
fond of it, as an article of food. They lose, in a measure, their fondness for it 
when they live near white people, and learn that among other mysteries in life, 
there are mysteries in cooking. Yet it is much valued by them, and the prayer, 
" Great Spirit, Father ! help us to kill our enemies, and give us plenty of corn," is 
often reverently uttered by the red man, with his hands lifted up towards the 

Lieutenant Simpson notices a green-corn dance, celebrated among the Jeniez 
Indians. These Indians raise corn on the banks of the River Jemez, which is a 
branch of the Rio Grande. The dance was performed in the streets of the village. 
The dancers were men, and they walked slowly forward at first, bending their 


bodies. The upper part of their bodies was uncovered, and painted red. Their 
arms and legs were painted in a variety of colors. On their arms and about their 
necks they wore green bands. They were handsomely dressed, bearing in one 
hand a gourd, containing grains of corn, which they rattled in Indian style ; in the 
other, a string, from which was suspended some tortillas. The musicians sat on 
the ground, making, with a gourd and smooth stick, a sound like grinding corn. 
Some of the principal men accompanied them, bearing stalks of the green corn. 
They made speeches in front of each house, the family being always ready there, to 
receive and listen to them. 

There are times, when our poor Indians are dying from want, when even a few 
grains of corn would be most welcome to preserve life. I remember when many 
died from tearing the unripe ears from the stalks, and eating them quickly as they 
tore them off. They were too proud to complain, and assistance was rendered too 
late for many of them. 

The Indians instructed the Puritans on their arrival on our shores, in the way of 
cultivating and preserving Indian corn. They gave them corn, too, when they were 
suffering from famine. They taught them many things useful to them in their new 
home. Often the children of the English were lost in the forests of the new world ; 
the Indians fed them, and restored them. They bore them in their canoes and on 
their backs across our streams and rivers — they showed them much kindness, the 
aborigines of our country ; and now, after so short a space of time, we smile as we 
look at the picture of their women guarding all that remains of their once great 
wealth. Then they owned all — now we yield them a little room to hunt upon our 
prairies, and to plant corn " that they may live and not die." 


The Dacotas told me that they believed Wa-kun-ton-ka, the Great Spirit, made 
all things, save the thunder and wild rice. 

Thunder, they said, was a large bird, and its mighty wings fluttering through 
the air made the noise we hear. Thunder was a god whom their ancestors wor- 
shipped, who loved and protected the Dacotas ; but wild rice was given them for 
food, and it came of itself. 

Wild rice is a favorite and valuable article of food with the Indians of Minesota 
and Wisconsin. It is of a darker color than the rice growing in our Southern 
country, and when prepared for use has a sweet and slightly burned taste. It is 
very nutritious, and its gathering and preparation are important items in the edu- 
cation of an Indian woman. 

The wild rice grows luxuriantly in the lakes in Minesota, and along the borders 
of the river which bears the same name. 

Mine-Sota means whitish water. There is a formation of white-looking mud 
about the river, and this gave it its name. 

We have not, in our country, a river more beautiful. It winds tranquilly through 
its fair valley, bearing its bright course towards the turbid waters of the Mississippi. 
Could we translate the murmur of its waves into a history of all they have seen 
and heard, how interesting would it be ! 

What treasures of mine and forest lie around it ! What pictures of beauty are 
seen on its shores ! How long have the red men hunted and reposed beside it ! 
How often has blood dyed its stream, as foe grappled with foe in the light barks 
that bore them ! — as the scalp, dripping with blood, was reflected in the pure mirror 
of waters beneath ! 

Or, could we read a prophecy of its future, how will the white man toil where 
the red man died ! How will houses, and noisy machines, displace the lodge, the 
burial-ground, and the bark canoes ! The aged orator stood majestic, and rehearsed 
to his unlearned but admiring people glorious deeds of their ancestors ; there will 
shrewd and money-loving men chaffer and bargain, and triumph over the gold they 
have made ; while woman, proud and learned and beautiful, will stand in rustling 


silk and look down on the very waters where the Indian maidens, resting in their 
canoes, gathered and winnowed wild rice, gossipping the while of their neighbors' 
affairs, and it may be, of those of their own hearts. 

This time, though rapidly approaching, is not yet come. Indian women are still 
gathering wild rice on the lakes and streams of the Northwest. 

The rice grows in water that may be from an inch to six feet in depth. The 
usual height of the stalk is five feet, but it sometimes grows as high as eight feet 
above the water. Early in October, or in the latter part of Serjtember, it is ripe 
for gathering. 

The girls of an Indian village make quite a frolic of gathering it. They paddle 
about the lake, calling to each other from their various canoes, and playing with 
the waters until the notion takes them to go to work. They then push up to the 
shore, and gather in their hands a bundle of stalks, bend them over the canoe, and, 
with a short club, beat out the kernels, that fall into the canoe. This is continued 
until the canoe is quite full ; then they go ashore, discharge their cargo, and return 
for another, continuing this until they have gathered as much as they want. The 
season is delightful, the gay, rich livery of October on hill and tree, the weather 
clear and cool ; so that the time of gathering wild rice is quite a festival among 

Then the rice must be prepared for use. A scaffold is made, four or five feet 
high, and covered with small saplings laid loosely across it ; on this the rice is laid 
when taken from the canoe. Under it a slow fire is kept until the rice is quite 
dry, when the hulls are easily taken off. 

To take off the hulls, a shallow hole is dug in the ground, and a skin placed over 
it; in the skin a small portion of the rice is placed at a time, and an Indian jumps 
and sings, and dances on the rice until it is sufficiently beaten. The rice is then 
put into basins or kettles, and held over the fire until half parched ; it is thus ready 
for use, and will keep in all weathers without mildew or any injury. It is preserved 
in sacks made of skins. A great deal of it is eaten at their feasts. 

The season for gathering wild rice does not last more than four or five days. 
After it is ripe, the first strong wind shakes off the kernels into the waters. On 
this subsist the numberless wild fowl that frequent the country where the rice 
grows. Ducks of every variety, geese, and birds of all sizes and kinds, find 
millions of acres covered with this pleasant food, upon which they fatten ; while 
the Indians gather, in proportion, but a small quantity of it. 

■ US Arm? n 


All the labor among Indian nations is performed by the women, and not the 
least of their burdens is the procuring of fuel for family use. The picture repre- 
sents two women thus engaged. One of them is pulling against a stump, endea- 
voring to get up with her load, to carry it to her canoe, which is waiting not far 
off. The young mother, the principal figure in the picture, with her bundle of 
wood on her back, her child on her shoulder, and her paddle in her hand, has 
almost reached her canoe, where she can rest herself awhile, before starting for 
home. She has her paddle with her, lest some one might fancy her canoe while 
she was gathering her wood, and by taking the paddle, she renders the canoe use- 
less. The weight of her burden is pressing against her forehead, for it is attached 
to the strap which she wears around her head, and which the Indians call a-pe- 
kun. She is tired and thoughtful, and will be glad to take her appointed seat near 
the door of her lodge, and to put the babe aside, strapped to its wooden cradle. 

The Indians do not lay up stores of fuel, but get it for immediate use as they 
need. They rarely, for this purpose, cut down a tree, but use the dead branches 
they can break off, or old trees that have fallen. When encamped in the summer, 
it is comparatively easy to carry it so short a distance, needing it only for 
purposes of cooking ; but, when residing at their permanent villages on the banks 
of lakes or rivers, where the trees are all cut down, it is a heavy task. They must 
go a distance in their small canoes, get it, and cut it as they can, and then bear it 
to their canoes, and make their way home. It is carried, as indeed all their bur- 
dens are, on their backs, by means of the a-pe-kun string, made of raw hide, and 
the strap carried around the head. 

An Indian father, brother, or husband, never condescends to help his wife in 
this, or any work she may have to do. He would be disgraced for ever in Indian 
society, should he be so considerate. A young warrior may be desperately in love, 
and plead earnestly with a maiden to accept his suit, — he, seated on a rock or tree- 
stump, dressed in the height of fashion, according to Indian notions of costume, 
she, cutting down wood to carry to her mother's lodge — but though he vows eter- 
nal fidelity, and compares her to the graceful deer or the stately swan, he never 
dreams of assisting her in her tiresome occupation. Indeed, did his affection 


prompt him to an act so degrading to his dignity, the maiden would despise him 
instead of being grateful. 

The Indians use very little fuel. Their lodges are easily warmed, a fire in the 
centre warms, and answers all purposes for cooking, for fifteen or twenty persons. 
They use dry wood altogether, thus lighting their wigwams. The old people 
require perfect decorum of conduct in the lodge at night, and as there are persons 
coming in and out constantly, and a great amount of courting going on at all times, 
the cheerful pine-knot is frequently thrown in, by some grandmother or watchful 
friend, that she may see that everything is as it should be. She must watch the 
countenances of the youngsters to whom she is relating wonderful stories of the 
storm-spirits or the giant-gods ; and how could she tell in the dark whether they 
were listening to her advice, or whether they were at some of the sly pranks, so 
famous among boys and girls from two years old to twelve. For aught she knew 
they might be pulling each others ears, or be pretending to take each others scalps, 
if the firelight did not put a check upon them. 

A very aged woman is frequently seen bearing a heavy burden, and on account 
of the hard life she leads, she appears as old again as she really is. Indian 
women stoop early in life, and are almost bent double, many of them, when they 
are yet young in years. 

The Dacota women have fanciful stories of Cha-o-tee-da, the god of the woods, 
and of his attendants, the birds of the forests, and of Canotidan, a god who 
dwells in a hollow tree in the depths of the woods. The little birds who dwell in 
the highest branches of the trees are sentinels, watching for the approach of the 
enemies of these gods, and, as they see and hear a long way off, they give informa- 
tion that enables the gods to prepare to give them battle. Many an hour is passed 
by the mother or grandmother in telling the children what she has seen and heard 
of the gods of the woods, while gathering the fuel they are now using. 


The game of ball is universally popular among the North American Indians. 
Almost all of the tribes play it, though each tribe has its peculiar mode. They 
play it in small parties or in large ; on the ice in winter, or on the prairies in 
summer. In some tribes it is customary to use one bat-stick in throwing the ball ; 
in others, one is held in each hand. In winter, the Indians adorn themselves with 
their choicest finery, dressing in their very best ; in summer, they hardly dress at 
all ; so that the same game makes a variety of pictures, seen at different times, 
and under different circumstances. 

It is not necessary that the parties should be equal in number ; braves of one 
village send a messenger to those of another, challenging them to a game of ball ; 
or those of a large village invite those of two or more small villages to the contest. 
The challenge is always accepted ; old men, young men, and boys, are eager for the 
fun. It must here be remembered, that each Indian feels it a sort of duty to enjoy 
himself in the same customs as did his ancestors ; and in the game of ball, duty 
and inclination meet most harmoniously. 

The time appointed has come, and the men are assembled on both sides. Two 
marks are set up on the ice about half a mile apart. The game is to commence at 
a point half-way between these points. Each side has its limits, and the object in 
this game is for the combatants on one side to get the ball beyond the limits of the 
other. Whichever side shall accomplish this will be entitled to all the prizes that 
are displayed to induce emulation. 

The ball is caught up in a bat-stick three feet in length, curved at the end so as 
to form a hoop, three or four inches in diameter. Through this hoop a few thongs 
of raw hide are drawn, so as to form a kind of net, which holds the ball when it is 
caught. One of the Indians, catching it in his net, throws it towards the boundary 
of the other party ; it is caught by one of that party, and thrown back again ; and 
so on. The utmost strength and agility are exercised, and often with little effect ; 
for the ball is often kept going from one side to the other all day without exceeding 
either boundary. Sometimes the game continues several days, the parties stopping 


to eat and sleep a little, and then arousing, with a double energy, to renew the 

Before the game commences, heavy bets are made on the result ; a gun is bet 
against a blanket, a pair of leggins against a tomahawk, an embroidered coat against 
a buffalo robe. These bets are given in charge of some old men of the tribe, who 
distribute them to the winners when the game is over. While the game is going 
on, these men cheer the different parties, laugh aloud, call to them to exert them- 
selves, and, being too old to use their legs, make up for it by an extra use of the 
lungs. Sometimes one of the players becomes much injured; he is struck by the 
ball or bat-stick, or falls, and is trodden upon by some one running over him ; but 
he must not expect any sympathy. 

Sometimes an Indian is so expert as to catch the ball, and run to the limits of 
the opposing party in time to throw it back to his own. This is allowed by the 
rules of the game. The picture represents this movement. The one that has the 
ball is running against time, pursued by the crowd. If, however, one of the oppo- 
site party overtake him, he can knock it out of his net by a mere touch of the bat- 
stick. This his own party are trying to prevent, by warding oft' the blows, so as 
to enable him to get as near the limits as possible before throwing the ball. 

I saw the game played on the St. Peter's River, in the depth of winter. The 
surrounding hills were white with snow, and the ice, dark and heavy-looking in 
some parts, glistened like the sun in others. The scene was inexpressibly wild. 
The long, gaunt boughs of the trees, leafless, and nodding with the wind towards 
the dark, heavy evergreens among them ; the desolate appearance of nature con- 
trasted with the exciting motions and cries of the Indians. It was impossible even 
for the mere spectator to be unmoved ; he must feel an interest in the game, until 
the ball has been at length thrown beyond one of the limits, and the tired and 
hard-breathing men receive the prizes awarded them. 

Then comes the best time of all ; for the old medicine-men are again depositing 
bets on the place fixed to receive them. There are no more tomahawks and hunt- 
ing-coats, but women's gear and trinkets are tastefully arranged, and the women of 
the two parties are going to try their skill, as their great-grandmothers had done 
before them. Young girls are there, ready to begin the game, their dresses trimmed 
with ribands and shining with beads and ornaments of every kind, their cheeks 
glowing with a spot of vermilion, to contrast with their black hair and eyes. Their 
frames are lithe and graceful, their arms round, and their ankles small and beauti- 
fully formed, tinkling with little bells fastened around them. Older women are 
there, adorned and painted too ; but they are beginning to wrinkle and stoop with 
the life of toil to which the usages of the red men condemn them. There are older 
women still — wrinkled old hags, too old even for dress or paint, bent and bony, 
with their eyes sunken, and their fingers clutching the bat-stick, and their careless 


gaze fixed upon the clothing suspended before them for the winners. They are 
eager to begin ; for they are cold in this hard season, and there is not one, it may 
be, to feed them, or to give them the means of comfort. How must they run, and 
throw, and wrestle, for these prizes, caring not for falls, or blows, or blood ! 

How much more dreadful they look, now that the game is fairly going on, than 
did the men ! their faces often smeared with blood, their hair unconfined, their 
tattered clothes hanging about them, as they fly with their utmost speed. Women 
ought not to be there. The young look well enough, with their bright eyes and 
white teeth, and their healthful, graceful limbs ; but the old woman of sixty — nay, 
seventy — with those fierce passions glaring from her dark face, with her limbs now 
exerted to a supernatural strength, now tottering and failing with a weakness from 
which it is in vain for her again to rally. 

The women's plat is over, and they crowd towards the medicine-men to receive 
the prizes. The young blush even through their vermilion, as they receive the 
well-earned rewards, the poor old women seizing impatiently their dues, while 
among those who failed may be seen careless faces, and discontented faces, and 
faces such as one may never wish to see again ; faces full of misery and disappoint- 
ment, and all the sad passions of the heart. Even among savages, woman appears 
to a disadvantage when out of her sphere ; better in the wigwam, or tanning the 
deer-skin, than holding the bat-stick her husband has just laid down. 


It is a grand amusement, demolishing the houses of the musk-rats in winter. 
The Indians, in their warm winter clothes, are keen for the sport, and destroy a 
settlement of these industrious little animals for the enjoyment of the bracing 
exercise, as well as for the money they hope to receive as their reward. The lake 
is dotted with the houses along its grassy side, where the evergreen covered with 
snow bends towards it. 

In the distance, the picture represents the hunter holding up to the sight of his 
comrade the rat he has just speared; while the successful one in the foreground can 
hardly take time to look, so busy is he in filling his sack, which, lying on the ice, 
is almost half full of game. When the day is gone, and gloomy shadows begin to 
fall over the lake, they will have much ado to carry home their burdens to the 

In the lakes and streams that flow into the Upper Mississippi, the musk-rat 
abounds. The skins are used for making hats ; numbers of them are sent to 
Europe, and many of them are used in the United States. The demand for them 
has greatly decreased since other materials have been found for hats and such 
purposes. The Indian hunter now gets a small price for a dozen skins, when, some 
years ago, the same number would have paid cpiite a large bill at the trader's store 
where he dealt, or have obtained, in exchange, blankets, powder, clothing, or what- 
ever he might most need at the time. 

The musk-rat is a playful, sagacious animal, and constructs his house differently 
in different situations, and according to the season of the year. 

It is worth while visiting one of their settlements on a moonlight night. Like 
our fashionables, they live only at night ; that is, it is only then that their brilliant 
qualities are to be displayed. 

They see indistinctly in the day, and appear to pass the time heavily, but at 
night all their faculties are wide awake. 

The pond or stream, the scene of these revels, is a sort of ball-room, more splen- 
didly illuminated by the moonbeams, than ever gas or chandelier lit up our rooms. 
On the little tufts of grass on the edges of the lake, some of the more sedate and 


thoughtful of the fraternity stand and look on with a patronising air, while the 
others are frolicking in the gay moonlight. They cross and re-cross — they plunge 
in and out — they swim — they dive — and, when fatigued, extend their little dark 
bodies over the water to rest. They present a pleasant social picture of society. 
Observe them closer. There is one at a little distance swimming calmly along ; 
he dives suddenly out of sight, and the bubbling water closes over him, and becomes 
tranquil. There he is again, quite close to us, joining his companions in their wild 
freaks, flapping the water with his tail, in a state of perfect exultation. He is 
quite a contrast to those sober, industrious ones on the bank, who are dragging 
about the roots of small plants growing near, to repair their houses, or, it may be, 
to build new ones. From under the old tree stump, near which they are working, 
are starting out a couple more merry fellows, who have been engaged in some 
speculation, and have just found time to come to the gay party. They are already 
splashing and dashing in the middle of the pond, enjoying the opportunity of 
throwing off the cares of business or of state. 

But, though we cannot guarantee the business or the cares, we can the gayeties of 
these happy little animals ; for, look you, sir, if ever you saw fairies themselves 
enjoying their revels more under the silvery moonbeams, than do these humble but 
wonderful little creatures ! 

If, however, you have come not to observe but to kill, be wary ! One flash of 
your gun will scatter the party, and in the depths of the little lake, on whose 
surface they are disporting, will they crouch and lie, until you are tired of waiting 
for them. 

If found near the banks of rivers, the houses of the musk-rat are built where the 
current is not very strong. They always take care, too, in selecting their homes to 
be out of the way of the freshets. 

We know not if they have prophets or spiritual rappers in their society, but 
many things look strange in their political and domestic economy. In the seasons 
that the freshets are most powerful, the musk-rat has known all about it before- 
hand, and has built his home upon such a foundation, that when the rain descends, 
and the floods come, and the winds blow upon it, it will not fall. May we not 
learn from him ? 

Yet are there imperfections in their state of society as in ours. They sometimes 
fall out with each other, though this is when hunger has closed the door of bene- 
volence in their hearts ; and in seasons of famine they go so far as to eat each other 
up. At other times they get along very well — they build houses, take care of their 
young, and enjoy the passing hour. 

The musk-rat builds his house of two stories. He lives generally in the upper 
one, but when disturbed or alarmed quickly takes refuge in the lower. He makes 
comfortable beds of grass in his house, on which to repose when he has worked 


or played too hard. My reader knows that from this animal musk is obtained, but 
no doubt, there are many things about this and all of God's works that would make 
us wiser and better did we know them all. 

One of the stories of the musk-rat's house is under, and the other above the 
water. The Indian knowing his habits seeks thus to take him. He has a long 
iron spear, and going softly up to the south side of the house, and judging from 
the shape and size of it, the position of the upper chamber, thrusts his spear in. 
They are a clannish, gossiping set, these musk-rats, and the hunter is sure to find 
enough there to render it easy for him to kill one or two of them. The rest escape 
to the water, and the Indian pulls away the roots of which the house is built, and 
takes off the dead rats. He then fills up the hole, and goes to the next house, 
attacking it after the same fashion, and so on, until he has one or more victims in 
every house in the lake. 

By this time, those that he first attacked have recovered from their panic, and 
returned. They are probably discussing the disappearance of their friend, and the 
damage done their domicil. Again the spear is thrust in, and again the party is 
routed, and thus in the next house. In this manner great numbers are killed, 
especially in the winter. 

In summer, the Indians use a trap, setting it on the borders of the lake ; when 
the musk-rats come out to feed, they step on the springs, and are taken. A good 
hunter will, in this way, catch a hundred rats a day. 

When he takes them home, his wife skins them, and prepares the skins for 
drying. She cooks the musk-rat for her husband's supper. He considers them very 
palatable when he has no other food. 

Yet the spearing musk-rats in winter gives far more satisfaction to the Indian 
hunter, than the supper he afterwards makes. He greatly prefers the mallard 
duck, the wild turkey, or the dainty venison. 


An eccentric friend frequently quotes to me the saying of another, " There is a 
great deal of human nature in man." There is still more, I insist, in boys. 

Among the enlightened or the uncivilized, it is all the same ; boys love fun and 
mischief to the death. They will dig bait, swing June bugs, tease cats, or shoot 
fish, as the opportunity may present. 

An Indian man sometimes shoots fish, but it is a favorite pastime of the Indian 

In summer, a party collects, and tramps over prairie and marsh to the appointed 
place. This is near the water's edge, by the roots of some old tree, or on a rock 
where there are tall grass and large leaves growing out of the water — favorite 
places of resort for the fish. Here the boys seat themselves, bow and arrow in 
hand, waiting the time to shoot. Here they wait, determined to kill. 

They are not hungry, and will, very likely, throw the fish away afterwards ; but 
they are bent on shooting a number, to gratify a certain propensity to destroy, and 
to show superior dexterity. They are, like all boys, ready for anything in the way 
of fun. For a small reward, there is no limit to the number of mischievous atroci- 
ties they would commit. As nothing more agreeable presents itself at the present 
time, they are congregated here to shoot fish. 

They can, however, be perfectly quiet and well-behaved, if there be an object in 
it; and if you will watch the boy whose turn it is to shoot, as he sits there, de- 
murely waiting the time to let fly his arrow, you will see as sanctified an expres- 
sion of goodness as ever adorned the picture of a saint. 

He is not particular as to the kind of fish ; be it pike, bass, pickerel, catfish, or 
perch, it is all the same. He wants the fun of shooting fish, and he will have it 
too, for there is a fine, handsome pickerel floating noiselessly towards him. He 
watches it ; it is almost near enough. One moment more — it is time ! His arrow 
pierces the fish, and with the light string attached to the arrow he draws it in. 
The boy exults ; it is no great affair to shoot a fish, but something is killed, and 
that is what they all came after. It is now some other boy's turn ; and thus thoy 


go, as earnestly shooting fish as if the Great Spirit had put them into the world for 
this especial purpose. 

The Indians highly prize their boys, indulging them much more than their 
daughters. Great trouble is taken to teach them what they ought to know. They 
are charged to preserve the reputation for bravery enjoyed by their ancestors. 
"You must be like your father and grandfather, whose lodges were hung with 
scalps," an Indian mother or sister frequently says to the boy who can yet hardly 
hold his bow and arrow. 

The medicine-men charge themselves with the education of the boys, to a great 
degree. They make them fight mock battles, urging them on, and shouting at a 
pretended victory. 

Sometimes the little fellows are badly hurt, and go to their mothers to be con- 
soled. One is taken prisoner with the form of a real event of the kind; the 
wounded are borne off, the dead hastily carried away. In this way the boys learn 
to be soldiers ; which is all that they need know, according to Indian notions of 

I remember noticing a party of boys, gaily adorned, on the occasion of some 
scalps being in course of preparation for the scalp-dance. The scalps were hung on 
poles about the village. The boys walked round and round them, heard over and 
over again, from the braves who took them, the incidents of the battle. They 
were murmuring at the slowness of time, that did not make them old and strong 
enough to go out with the war-parties, and return home victorious. 

A sad school this for human nature. And will it ever be so ? If these boys, 
with their vigorous constitutions and intelligent minds, were properly cared for, 
what men they would make ! Mathematics and the Latin Grammar would be 
better for them than looking at scalps, or attacking hornets' nests. The Christian 
religion would do more to make them useful and happy than listening through the 
long night to stories of spirits and giants. I wish our legislators thought so too ; 
then would schools be built in the Indian country, and churches would stand beside 
them. Then would other things interest the Indian boy besides war and its occu- 
pations, or shooting fish through the long day in summer. 


This is a common mode of catching fish. 

In the picture, an Indian is about taking a fine fish from off his spear; the 
hatchet with which he broke the hole in tbe ice lies beside him. 

He is dressed in the warm dress worn by the Dacotas in the winter, his head 
protected from the cold by the cornered hood, which is only worn by the men. 

After the hole is broken, poles are fixed over it, and a buffalo-robe or blanket 
covers them, making a kind of room about three feet in height. The Indian 
thrusts his head into this room, the blanket falling about his neck. The fish come 
near the hole, and lie perfectly tranquil to inhale the air. They see nothing, if 
they look up, for the blanket shuts out the light, while the fisherman plunges his 
spear unerringly, and draws out the fish upon it. 

In pleasant weather, this is an agreeable way of passing the time. Frequently 
you see an Indian lying full length on the ice, his head under the blanket, and 
around him a number of fish of different sizes and kinds ; often, for a time, they 
have nothing else to live upon. 

The Indians make openings in the ice in that part of the pond near the springs. 
There the fish congregate in the winter season, and there the ice is not generally 
so thick. Bass, pickerel, pike, perch, and catfish are caught in this manner in 
great quantities. 

The Indians are not epicures — they are quite willing to eat their fish without 
sauce. Their way of cooking them is simple. Without regard to size or kind they 
are thrown into a kettle of water and boiled — scales, head, and all. The finest 
trout is not preferred to the toughest catfish ; in fact, they only eat fish when 
obliged ; any other kind of food is thought better. 

The Sioux have a great many stories and superstitious notions about fish. They 
are in great fear of Unk-ta-he, the great fish, or god of the waters. If he but rest 
his terrible glance on armed warrior or gentle maiden, it is a sure presentiment of 
evil. He has horns which stand out from the water as he raises his head, and 
these frighten many a fanciful old woman or fearful child. His freaks are terrible 


in the spring, when he flounders about under the strong ice, and it cracks and 
breaks and tumbles down the stream. If any accident occur at this time, " It was 

Sometimes this great fish has a contest with the thunder-birds. He invites the 
thunder-birds to battle with him; he raises his horns; he becomes enraged with his 
enemies, and the placid waters sway wildly at his anger. He calls around his 
allies, and they fight bravely with the thunder-birds. All nature is engaged in the 
combat — the forked lightning plays in the distant clouds, the thunder rolls, the 
forest trees wave their strong branches, and the waters heave and toss against the 
river shores. Sometimes Unk-ta-he is victorious, sometimes the powerful thunder- 
birds conquer, and then the river-god retires to a safe asylum in his home in the 

Nothing alarms a Dacota more than to dream of a cormorant, a bird that feeds 
on fish. The dreamer calls together his friends, and they celebrate the fish dance, 
to keep off the threatened evil. This dance is called Ho-saw-kaw-u-tappe. Women 
are never allowed to join in this feast, and the fish must be eaten raw. Not a 
morsel of it must be left ; bones and all are eaten. During the feast, the fish 
must be touched by the mouth alone. 

Indians do not often fish for pleasure. Were it not necessary for food, the lakes 
and rivers of their fair country would be undisturbed. Their modes of catching 
fish are very simple. They leave to the civilized white man the thousand 
inventions for torturing and killing the harmless tenants of the brook and of the 


Great numbers of fish are taken thus in the spring and summer by the Indians. 
It is a pleasant, lazy way of killing time, and procuring food. 

The warrior does not condescend to paddle his own canoe ; he has no idea of 
putting himself to so much trouble ; so his son or his wife sits at one end of the 
canoe, managing it, while the man, spear in hand, stands up in the bow, ready to 
spear the first fish he sees. 

The fish love to lie under the large leaves and grass that grow out of the water 
near the shore ; so the wife has an easy task. She paddles slowly and quietly 
along the edges of the grass, laying her infant, fastened to its cradle, in the canoe. 
It sleeps sweetly to the gentle motion, waking and looking round when the canoe 
stops, and closing its eyes as the rocking of the bark on the waters composes 
it again to rest. 

Morning and evening are the times for spearing fish. The Indian is very expert 
in throwing the spear, which is from six to eight feet in length. It is made of wood, 
excepting the barbs, which are either iron or bone, and are six or eight inches long. 

Sometimes an Indian will stand upon the gunwale of a bark canoe, which is 
very easily upset, throw his spear six or eight feet ahead, and strike a fish, without 
the least danger of upsetting. 

When tired, he sits and smokes. Silent he is, if he will ; but if his mood be 
sociable, he talks away of his own or others' exploits. Objects in the scenery 
recall incidents in tradition or history on which he loves to dwell ; and a favorite 
tradition is that of the Twin Sisters, which, reader, I will relate to you ! 

There is a point on the banks of the Mississippi, where rises a mound-like hill, 
some eighty or ninety feet high ; it is shaped like the section of a cone, with a flat 
surface fronting the river. 

As the traveler ascends the Mississippi, he has not passed this mound more than 
fifty or sixty miles, when he meets another mound, resembling this one in form, 
size, and location. These mounds the Indians call The Twin Sisters. 

So remarkable are they in appearance, and especially in their close resemblance 
to each other, that it is impossible to pass without curiously regarding them. 
They are said to be the graves of two sisters, who loved each other, were cruelly 
separated, and died. 

On observing the first mound, the mind is enchanted with the fair picture con- 


veyed to the eye. A beautiful prairie stretches along the right bank of the river. 
A range of lofty bluffs is in sight, forming the boundary of two-thirds of the prairie. 
All around these bluffs are large, spreading trees. 

Never had the sound of the axe disturbed the tranquillity of the neighborhood ; 
never had the impression of the white man's foot been left on the earth given by 
the Great Spirit to the Indians. Only the canoe had passed in the shadow of the 
silent hills, only the Indian's voice had been echoed there. No craft of white man 
had there ascended, toiling with the current, no word of white man had ever been 
spoken, where this mound reared its commanding form, facing the waters that 
dashed by it. 

On this prairie (but it was a long time ago) the Indians had established them- 
selves for the purpose of fishing. They were Dacotas. One of them was a very old 
chief, who had two daughters, twins. They were beautiful girls, and so much 
alike, that no one was sure, in addressing them, of not calling one by the name of 
the other. Even their old father was constantly puzzled to designate them, and 
the tones of their voices, from their strong resemblance, assisted in making it more 
difficult to distinguish them. 

These sisters loved each other dearly ; they had no jealousies, no selfish desires ; 
it was as if one bright spirit illumed and animated the two fair forms under its 
continual influence. 

They could not live under the slightest separation ; hand in hand they went forth 
to gather the sweet-smelling prairie-grass, or to bound over the waters in their 
canoes, and when employed about their duties in the wigwam, they were ever in 
reach of each other's voice. 

Thus they lived ; and one fair evening they told their father they were going to 
walk in the shade under the bluffs, and they would be back in time to prepare for 
him the fish he had been spearing. 

The old man watched them as they went forth, their little moccasined feet rest- 
ing on the path, that was strewed with dry leaves, in perfect time, their arms 
enfolding each other's waists. As they turned from him, they smiled but one 
smile; it was the same smile passing over two faces. The same loving spirit 
looked out from the four shining eyes, and played about the two small mouths, 
their lips crimson as the cranberry, when it lies moistening under the melting snow, 
and the glow about their cheeks like the flush that encircles the large forest plum 
when it falls ripe from the burdened bough. 

Not far from the bank of the river, the sisters were seated on the stumj) of an 
old tree ; they were out of sight of the encampment, and had sought this quiet 
place, to talk over their love-affairs. For every pretty woman must have a love- 
experience ; and though these two sisters had made a vow never to go the one 
from the other, yet they were very busy building castles in the air; they were to 
choose husbands who were to be comrades, who would hunt and go to war together, 


and who would from time to time return to their lodges only to find their wives 
happier and more loving. 

Thus they sat, making plans for the future ; when, looking towards the river, 
they saw rapidly approaching them the tall form of a Chippewa brave, one of their 
most dreaded enemies. So sudden and unexpected was his appearance, that he 
seemed to rise from the earth. 

For one moment they gazed at him in speechless, motionless terror, and then 
they fled like birds towards their home. They fled, but not far ; for the hand of 
the Chippewa had seized the nearest one to him. He lifted her in his arms, and 
bore her swiftly to the bank. There his canoe was waiting, with five Chippewas 
to paddle it. These saw that the object of the young chief was accomplished. 
They waited until he had deposited his almost lifeless burden in the canoe, and 
their paddles but touching the sparkling water, they made their canoe fly from the 
reach of the vengeance of the Dacotas. When all danger was passed, they pursued 
their way more leisurely, until they reached the position where the second mound 
rears its imposing front, presenting a surface of the richest verdure. 

Here they rested, while the Chippewa left nothing undone to console the young 
girl. He told her that he loved her, and that if she would consent to be his wife 
she would soon see her sister and father again, even at the risk of his own life. 
Only his affection had prompted him to carry her away from her people ; for he 
loved her the instant he looked upon her, as, seated by her sister, they watched the 
waters over which he was passing. He reminded her that they were both in 
his power, and that he might have killed them, but that her beauty had overcome 
his hatred to her nation. But the girl would not answer. It was only weeping, 
weeping ; or, if her lips uttered words, it was to entreat the Chippewa to pity her, 
and restore her to her home. " My father — my sister !" was the only answer he 
could obtain in return for all his protestations, " take me to them, lest I die." 
Mortified and distressed, the Chippewa determined to leave her to herself. He had 
a lodge erected for her, a sort of bower of young trees, and he left her within, 
hoping that solitude would bring with it not only resignation, but a wish for com- 
panionship. He stayed within sight of the lodge, and kept all quiet around her. 
It might be that sleep would come to invigorate her, and then she would taste the 
food so constantly rejected, though his own hand presented it. At night he gently 
raised the skin that he had thrown over her lodge, hoping to find her awake, and 
not unhappy at the prospect of his society. The moonlight streamed in the lodge, 
and he saw that she still slept. Her face looked lovely in the clear light, but so 
calm, so pale, that he would as soon have thought of intruding upon the repose of 
a spirit as of disturbing her. 

In the morning, he painted his face, and adorned himself to the best advantage, 
trusting to his good looks for a more welcome reception than she had yet yielded 
him. He raised the entrance to the bower lodge, and looked in. She lay in the 


same attitude, her young face resting on her arm, her hand supporting her pale 
cheek. No reproaches, no anger, no tears. Why did the woman he loved lie so 
still 1 and his own heart wildly throbbing at her sight. 

The young man entered, and approached her. She slept. He gently touched 
her hand ; it was cold, and returned to its old position when he released it. He 
placed his hand upon her lips ; they, too, were cold, the hue of the cranberry 
departed for ever. The young Chippewa sat upon the robe upon which she lay. 
His own cheek grew pale as he steadily regarded hers. He drew back aghast, for 
there was no pulse, no heart, no life there, for him. The lover knew that Chebiabo, 
the powerful keeper of the souls of the dead, had been there while he slept, and 
had borne away his love to his own land. 

Then he bent his head and wept. Tears, large scalding tears, fell upon her 
bosom. As he shed them, he felt their full bitterness, and he wondered not that 
so many tears as the maid had wept, should have worn her life away. 

He passed his hand gently over her face, and kissed again and again her cold 
lips. Ah ! could he have restored to them their coral hue, he would have borne 
her on his bosom back to her sister's side, to her resting-place on the old tree where 
he had first seen her. He would have bared his own heart to the arms of his foes, 
could he have brought back the throbbings of life to hers. 

But this he knew was beyond his power, and embracing her once more, he folded 
her slight form in the robe upon which she lay. No hand touched her but his. 
He covered her from the sight of his comrades ere he called them to assist him in 
burying her. After this was done, he returned to his home. 

Over her gradually arose the mound of which we have spoken. No mortal hand 
was engaged in its construction — no mortal eye saw aught concerning it, save 
that it still ascended, towering above the waters like a sentinel appointed by some 
powerful spirit to guard the form of the maiden who slept beneath. 

The other maiden fled towards the Dacota encampment when her sister was torn 
from her by the Chippewa. The Indians were amazed to see her flying alone, her 
arms raised in entreaty, her voice proclaiming what had befallen them, and im- 
ploring the warriors to pursue the Chippewas, and recapture her sister. 

They went forth, their bravest and best, but failed to overtake the Chippewas. 
They returned to relate to the sorrowing girl their failure. She heard them in 
silence. No food had passed her lips since separated from her sister. Sbe had 
wept unceasingly. Now she lay down on the robe to rest. But never did the 
voice of friend arouse her. Her spirit passed away while she slept. 

They wrapped her in her robe, and buried her. Over her mysteriously arose the 
mound that the traveler sees first on ascending the Mississippi. The two mounds 
mark the burial-places of the twin sisters, who lived, and loved, and died. They 
are monuments to sisterly affection, and landmarks to the wanderer as he passes 
over the waters of the Mississippi. 



While the husband, seated outside the lodge, is enjoying the pleasant summer 
weather, the wife is hard at work, dressing a buffalo-skin. 

Part of the labor is done, but she has still not a little to perform. 

When the animal is killed and brought in, the women take off the hair of the 
skin with a knife, after which they moisten the skin, and stretch it to upright 
poles, as in the picture, or on the ground, by means of pegs driven in the earth. 
When there are white people near to whom they can apply, they try to obtain a 
little soap to cleanse the skin ; but, if dependent on themselves, they use, in the 
place of soap, the brains of the animal. These they spread over the skin, scraping 
it with an iron or bone scraper. Thus they remove all the fat and greasy particles. 
Then they rub the skin against a cord that is stretched to a couple of stakes, until 
it has become soft. The work is completed when the skin is smoked. 

To accomplish this, a hole is dug, and a small fire built at the bottom. Over 
the hole a few sticks are laid. Across these they place the skin. The hole is 
covered with leaves or turf, to confine the smoke as much as possible, and to 
smother the flame. 

After the skin is smoked from ten to twenty hours, it becomes of a dingy, yel- 
lowish color, and is ready for use. Mocassins, leggins, coats, and wigwams are 
made of it. 

The only skins used for these purposes are those of the buffalo, elk, deer, and 
antelope. Only the buffalo is ever used for wigwams. 

The buffalo is useful to the Indians for food and clothing. Some of the North- 
west Indians dispose the buffalo-robe, almost their only article of dress, gracefully 
over their person, like a Highland plaid. The leggins made of the skin are some- 
times fringed with human hair, taken from the scalps of their enemies. 

The Indians find great pleasure and excitement in hunting buffalo. They are 
often exposed to the greatest danger, and they relate many instances of the power 
of the human eye in quelling the fury of the animal, and thus saving their own 
lives. When several herds of buffalo congregate, ten thousand is probably less 
than their number, a grand and animating sight ! 

When the buffalo is fired upon, he gives chase in the most furious manner ; the 


hunter must ride away at a full galloj}, reloading his gun, or turning again to dis- 
charge his arrows. The head of the animal, with its shaggy hair, is a good weight 
for a man to lift, after it is cut from the body. 

The Indians find horses of so much use to them in hunting buffalo, that they 
steal them in numbers from the white settlers. When the Stone Indians name 
their children, they make a feast, smoke the pipe of peace, and pray to the Master 
of life to protect the child, to make him a brave hunter, and a good horsestealer. 

It is hard work to tan the buffalo-skin, but the Indian woman expects to per- 
form it. She is a most affectionate mother. A very young woman is often seen, 
while busy at her labor, apparently unconscious of it, so occupied is she observing 
her baby that is swinging by its cradle, fastened to the bough of some near 
tree. No doubt, like the woman to whom the Prophet made offers, hoping to 
improve her condition, the Indian woman would reply, under similar circumstances, 
" I dwell with mine own people." Her children are all her wealth, and she cannot 
do too much for them. 

Strangers in Indian countries, are often affected by the grief displayed by some 
poor Indian mother at the loss of her child. She places food, and even the wooden 
doll, by the little corpse, to sustain and amuse its spirit on its lonely journey. 

A young mother was known to commit suicide, believing her soul would join 
her child's, and protect it in the other world. A mother, standing by the corpse of 
her child, was heard to exclaim, " Ah ! my child, why did you leave me ? why go 
out of my sight so early ? Who will nurse you and feed you, on your long 
journey ?" 

The kindness and hospitality of Indian women towards strangers, who are on 
friendly terms with them, are well known. Instances of wonderful affection have 
been noticed in them towards helpless members of their family. A young daughter 
wrapped her sick father in his buffalo-robe, placed him in a sledge, and drove 
him, without assistance, a long way to the English colony, to entreat means to 
sustain the life that was failing for want of food. 

Sometimes the aged are abandoned on account of their uselessness. " A little 
meat, an axe, are left them by their nearest relations, who, in taking leave of them, 
say, 'It is time for them to go to the world of spirits,' which they suppose lies just 
beyond where the sun goes down, where they will be better taken care of than with 
them, and then they walk away, weeping." This seems peculiarly hard in the case 
of the Indian mother, to be thus forsaken by those for whom she has so faithfully 
toiled. Such instances are isolated, yet they do occur. 

" On the banks of the Saskashawan, an aged woman prevailed on her son to 
shoot her through the head, instead of adopting this last extremity. She addressed 
him in a most pathetic manner, reminding him of the care and toil with which she 
bore him on her back from camp to camp in infancy; with what incessant labor 


she brought him up, until he could use his bow and arrow ; now, having seen him 
a great warrior, she requested that he would show her kindness, and give a proof 
of his courage in shooting her, that she might go home to her relations. ' I have 
seen many winters,' she added, ' and am now become a burden in not being able to 
assist in getting provisions ; dragging me through the country, as I am unable to 
walk, is a toil, and brings much distress.' She then drew her blanket over her 
head, and her son immediately deprived her of life, in the apparent consciousness 
of having done an act of filial duty and of mercy." 

It is common to hear a Sioux woman exclaim, " Oh ! that I were dead, that I 
might see no more trouble ;" and one of their ideas of heaven was thus quaintly 
expressed by an old person, " There will be less paddling to do." 

It is lamentable, the appearance of old women, among Indians. They are so 
wrinkled and ugly, so complaining and so forlorn, that it is no wonder they sigh 
for another world, such unattractive figures do they cut in this. While they are 
able to work they are contented, enjoying the summer encampment and the winter 

The Indian woman delights in the legends that she relates to her children, bearing 
them in mind, too, while she works. While scraping her buffalo-skin, she looks at 
the river, bright and flowing now, but in the cold season hard and cheerless. A 
like thought would recall to her mind some such tradition, which my reader will 
admire. It is a Chippewa allegory, from a writer who heard it while among them. 

"A man from the North, gray-haired, and leaning on his staff, went roving over 
all countries and climes. Looking round, one day, after having traveled without 
intermission for four moons, he sought a spot on which to recline and rest himself. 

" He had not been long seated when he saw before him a young man, very beauti- 
ful, with rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes, and his head crowned with flowers ; and from 
between his lips he drew a breath that was sweet as the wild mountain-flower. 

" Said the old man to him, as he leaned upon his staff, his beard reaching low upon 
his breast, ' Let us repose here awhile, and talk a little. But first we will make a 
fire, and we will bring together much wood, for it will be needed to keep us warm.' 

" The fire was made, and each took a seat beside it, each telling the other from 
whence he came, and what had befallen him in the way. Presently the young 
man felt cold ; he looked around to see what had produced the change, and pressed 
his hands against his cheeks, to keep them warm. 

" At this moment, the old man spoke, and said, ' When I wish to cross a river, I 
blow upon it, and make it hard, and walk over its surface. I have only to speak, 
and bid the waters be still, and touch them with my finger, and they are hard, like 
stone. The tread of my foot makes soft things hard. My power is boundless.' 

" The young man, feeling still colder, and growing tired of the old man's boasting, 
and morning being nigh, said, 'Now, my brother, I wish to speak.' 


" ' Speak,' said the old man ; ' my ear is old, but I can hear.' 

" ' I go,' said the young man, ' all over the earth too ; I have seen it covered 
with snow, and the waters I have seen hard. I have only passed over them, and 
the snow has melted, the mountain rivulets have commenced to run, the rivers to 
move, and the ice to melt. The earth has become green under my tread, the 
flowers blossomed, and the birds sang, and all your power vanished.' 

" The old man fetched a deep sigh, and, shaking his head, said, ' I know thee ; 
thou art Spring.' 

" ' I am,' said the young man. ' Come near me, and behold my head and my 
cheeks. Touch me ; for thou art Winter ! Thy power is great, but thou durst not 
come to my country. Thy beard would fall off, thy strength would fail, and thou 
wouldst die.' 

" The old man knew his words were true ; and, before the morning was come, he 
vanished away." 

Pity the Indian woman, as she labors, tanning the deer-skin, but deem not that 
no pleasant thought comes upon her to beguile the time of her work. Her memory 
is a great storehouse, and from it she draws as she has need. 


The Indians in the foreground of the picture are in search of a new home. The 
husband, with his implements of war and hunting, is comfortably mounted, enjoy- 
ing the fair scenery that is glowing around him. 

Next comes the furniture-wagon of the family. Its construction is very simple. 
Two poles, about fifteen feet in length, are, by means of a strap, supported on the 
horse's neck ; the other two ends rest on the ground. The parts of the poles in 
rear of the train have saplings fastened to them to keep them apart ; on these the 
baggage is placed, secured by thongs of raw hide. 

Two of the children are having a pleasant time, jogging along at a moderate 
rate, while the wife and mother walks behind with her burden. She is watching 
her baby ; its cradle is hung, with the family kettle, to what we called the furni- 
ture-wagon. If at any time it should be suggested that the horse has more than 
he can comfortably bear, the woman is ready to relieve him of the extra weight. 
Sometimes dogs are harnessed in, and made to carry baggage in the same manner 
as the horse. 

The Indians want a country, and they want one over which they can travel 
without interference. Yet this does not justify the remark that has been made, 
that the Indians care not for country or home. 

" We were born," said a Chippewa chief, " on this ground. Our fathers lie buried 
in it. Shall we say to the bones of our fathers, ' Arise ! and come with us into a 
strange land !' " 

The Indian says that the Great Spirit has directed two ways of living for the 
white and the red man, and that is why he has placed the red man where he can 
subsist by hunting, where he can remove his lodge, and follow the bear and. buffalo 
by their tracks, and where, but for the aggressive spirit of the white man, they 
could live happily for ever. 

Nor are they unthankful for the blessings bestowed upon them by the gods they 
worship. When they travel, and are resting, the pipe is lit ; but, ere they presume 
to smoke, the stem is pointed to the heavens and the earth, and the pipe offered to 


the spirits that protect them. They believe it was a divine intention that they 
should be wanderers. 

Some of the tribes say that their ancestors lived until their feet were worn out 
with walking ; and they insist it will ill become them to turn from the good old 
ways, and lead the settled, useful life ordained for the white man. 

In their traveling, they have certain signs, by which they can be followed, if 
they wish it. Some gentlemen were journeying in the Northwest, and found a 
wigwam, in which every member of the family was clad in deer-skin, on a hunting 
excursion. Two of the sons were absent in pursuit of a deer ; but the rest pursued 
their way, leaving signs for the sons to follow on their return. These signs were 
drawn with an axe upon a broad piece of wood, and the sons followed in a short 
time, having had no difficulty in finding their track. 

A stranger passing over the beautiful country of the Northwest, where vale and 
stream and bluff and forest unite to make a glorious picture, will be ready to 
exclaim, " Men may leave their works unfinished ; but thou art a God ! thy nature 
is perfection !" 

Such, Christian reader, is our God. Is it not sad to think how many of his 
creatures travel again and again over their beautiful home, ignorant of the God 
who made them ? 

And as their ancestors journeyed through their long lives — as it is still the choice 
of the red man to go and come at his own will — so his faith teaches him that he 
will roam, delighted and free from fear of intrusion, in the far-off spirit-land. 

The path to this happy country he must travel adorned as a warrior when he is 
celebrating the most glorious of his feasts. It will be a fair region through which 
he must pass. His senses will be charmed by the music of the forest-birds that 
wait on Chah-o-tee-dah, as they nestle in the branches of the tall trees. No 
woman's hand polluted the road through which he must pass as he journeys to 
this land of souls. The warriors who made it sang while receiving the death-blow 
from their enemies. 

Yet he must travel with his bow and arrow, lest the Master of Life should not 
bid him welcome, when, tired with his journey, he waits to enter the city of spirits. 

When admitted to its borders, he joins at once in the celebration of the feasts his 
nation keeps, in honor of the gods, whom they worshipped when on the earth. 


March brings harsh winds and red eyes to the Indians of the Northwest, but in 
its train comes also the pleasant time of making sugar. Although it is a laborious 
season to the Indian woman, yet it is a change from the dull employments of the 
winter that is past. The skies, changeable as they are, promise better things than 
driving flakes of snow ; and the springing up of the first blue flowers of the spring 
is a surety of the summer-time, when the now desolate-looking prairie will be 
covered with flowers of every shape and hue. It may be, too, that food has been 
scarce, and the wan faces of the children light up at the preparations for the sugar 

The time has come, and the plate represents the women hard at work. Cutting 
wood, collecting the sap, boiling and straining it, keeps them pretty busy, while the 
men smoke, and lounge, and talk politics. The leaves of the maple are just start- 
ing into life, while it may be the snow has not melted from the distant hill-top. 

They all love sugar, men, women, and children ; and the present is a gala time 
with them. The children will look as plump again by the time the generous sap 
ceases to run. 

For some weeks previous they have been making vessels of birch bark, in which 
to collect the sap. They strain it through their blankets, or anything that is con- 
venient, not being particularly neat in their operations. When the sugar is made, 
it is put up in small birch bark baskets : the Chippewas call these Mococks. The 
sugar has a dark look, but a very pleasant flavor, provided they have not boiled it 
in the same kettle in which they cook their fish, which is too often the case. 

As the time for making sugar approaches, preparations are made to go into camp. 
The Indians select some spot where there is a large grove of maple trees, and there 
they pitch their tents. They take a little corn with them to the woods, and the 
men hunt venison or wild fowls. The children enjoy themselves, and are allowed 
to assist. The sap continues to run about four weeks. The half-breeds and Cana- 
dian French make a great deal of sugar in the Northwest. They take more pains, 
and are neater in its manufacture. Their sugar is very nice, and of a much lighter 
color. These enjoy the sugar-making season as much as the Indians. 


While the warriors are off on a hunt, and the women are occupied with the 
sugar-making, the young people are often managing their own affairs. Now a 
young wife runs away from her tyrannical husband, or a daughter relieved from 
her grandmother's constant surveillance, goes to the next sugar-camp, and marries 
the man of her choice. She will stay there until the affair has blown over. 

When a large quantity of sugar has been made, it is usual to celebrate a sugar- 
feast, which is one of their ceremonies. The medicine-men appoint a time, and all 
must come. With due solemnity, the priest gives to each his portion, and it is 
eaten. It is a good business for the doctors, and it is to their advantage to give 
them too much, for after a feast the doctor prepares himself to be called upon. His 
medicine-bag and sacred rattle are by his side ; he is soon sent for by some anxious 
relative, fee in hand ; and he goes to perform his mysterious incantations. In such 
cases, their mode of practice is successful, for as there is nothing the matter but 
that a devout Dacota has eaten too much sugar, nature is restoring him, while the 
priest, with awful noises and frightful grimaces, pretends to remove some other 
cause, which only could be done by his skill. 

There is an ancient custom of the Dacotas which is generally celebrated at this 
time. It is called the Virgin's Feast. To this all have admittance, for it is designed 
to put to the test the purity of their young maidens. 

In preparing for it, the girls put on their richest and most becoming apparel ; 
plaiting in fine braids their oiled hair, and painting their cheeks. Nothing can 
shield a woman who is guilty — neither beauty, nor rank, nor riches ; for all these 
the Indians have, according to their own ideas. 

Any of the spectators can come forward, and accuse one of the party. The 
Indians seat themselves, forming a ring, while the feast is prepared, of which the 
maidens are to partake. Maple sugar is one of the principal dainties. 

If any maiden have ventured unworthily to approach the feast, and there be a 
spectator who is acquainted with her secret, he is privileged to lead her from the 
feast, and she is, in consequence, exposed to the scorn and laughter of all present. 

This feast does not, however, accomplish its object. If the guilty can succeed in 
hiding their sin, the innocent are often most unjustly condemned. A very short 
time since, the feast was celebrated at an Indian village, near which we were 
living. The young sister of the chief had refused to marry one of the war- 
riors of her brother's band. With a light heart, nothing fearing, she arrayed 
herself for the ceremony. Her ankles and arms were burdened with the trinkets 
in use among them. On her bosom hung a heavy necklace of wampum and other 
beads — her cloth dress she had gaily embroidered. Conscious only of virtue, she 
hastened forward with her companions. 

When about to seat herself by them, the warrior, whose hand she had refused, 
haughtily stepped towards her, and seizing the hand he had coveted, led her away 


from the feast. She followed like one bewildered, and the incident occasioned great 
surprise. Her family could not interfere, and the feast proceeded. In the evening, 
however, she could not be found, and her relations sought her anxiously. They 
found her dead, in the woods. She had hung herself by the head-strap in use 
among them. Their lamentations aroused the band, and they assembled in haste 
to the scene of the catastrophe. But in vain ; her young and innocent heart had 
long ceased to beat, and all that remained was to bury her according to the customs 
of her fathers, shedding useless tears. 


The Camanche tribe of Indians wander over the northern part of Texas, going 
occasionally to the south, to capture wild horses, or to commit some such depreda- 
tion. These Indians save themselves the trouble of hunting horses thus : they 
keep a watch on the Mexicans, and when the latter have taken a large number, 
the Camanches attack them, deprive them of their property, and frequently of 
their lives. 

The Camanches belong to the Shoshonee group of Indians, and came from the 
Rocky Mountains. They are an exceedingly fierce people. The Mexicans are in 
great fear of them, and not without cause ; for they surprise them in small parties, 
kill the men, taking their women and children home with them. If there are boys 
in the party, they teach them their customs, so that the Mexican boy grows up to 
be a Camanche warrior. 

The women become their wives and servants. Many Mexicans are now in 
bondage to the Camanches. The United States government has recaptured some, 
but a number are still there. 

The Camanches have no permanent villages, but wander about throughout the 
year. They live a life of constant warfare and excitement. They are splendid 
horsemen, riding in any attitude with the utmost skill. Their women are equally 
expert, flying across the prairies, competent to control the fleetest and most fiery 

The picture represents an encampment of emigrants on the broad prairie. Rest- 
ing for the night, they were not unprepared for what has befallen them. They 
arranged their wagons in a circle, attaching many of them together by the 
wheels, forming thus a fort, which, if properly defended, is impregnable in Indian 

The emigrants, in seeking a new home, were well provided with Colt's repeaters. 
They can rise and fire, and then protect themselves from a return by properly 
arranging their wagons. The horses of the party are placed in the centre, where 
they can neither be stolen nor run away. 


A little fighting will insure the hardy adventurers a good appetite for their 
supper, and enhance the enjoyment of their journey by giving it the spice of 

The Camanches almost exclusively use the bow, arrow, and lance. They are 
rarely seen with any other weapon. In the picture, they charge furiously against 
the emigrants. The Indian in the foreground, lying on the horse, is completely 
shielded from the fire of his opponents. He is lying almost on the side of the 
animal, and firing over his neck. 

The Camanche warrior lives on horseback, and performs constantly what to 
others would appear remarkable exploits, but to him nothing more than could be 
done by any boy in the nation. 

An officer stationed among the Camanches told me that he employed as a servant 
a Mexican boy, who had been recaptured from Camanche servitude by the United 
States troops. The boy gave an interesting and minute account of his previous 

A few years before, a party of Camanches surprised the Mexican village in which 
he lived, and carried many of the people away. His father attempted to defend 
his family, fired, and killed a Camanche, and then rode off. Some of the Indians 
pursued him, and soon returned, bringing with them the horse. His father they 
had, without doubt, killed. 

The Camanches carried off, among the number, five young Mexican girls. These 
the Indians took as wives. This aroused, even to frenzy, the jealousy of the Indian 
women. In a year, they had killed three of the Mexican women, mutilating their 
bodies horribly. This their Camanche husbands did not resent, thinking it a very 
natural and proper way of avenging themselves, on the part of the Indian women. 

The females in the Camanche tribe are said to be peculiarly ferocious, delighting 
in tormenting their prisoners. When a prisoner is appointed to die, he is tied 
down during the day, and made to lie perfectly still. At evening, he is forced to 
rise and dance, while the Indians shout, and laugh, and sing, and the women, with 
cruel thongs, give blow after blow to the unhappy prisoner. Oh, Nature ! that 
woman should make such record of her sex ! It would ever be thus, had not the 
God of nature conveyed to the hearts of others, more highly favored, rays of His 
divine light and love. 

The Camanches realize all a child's ideas of Indians. Murder and blood, ruthless, 
vindictive warfare, savage ignorance, and bodily strength. They are free as the air 
that plays over the hills and vales of Texas ; apparently as unconquerable as the 
summit of their native mountains is out of the reach of cultivation. That must 
bend its brow to the lowest earth over which it has ever towered, ere the Camanches 
will change their ways. Yet will the clouds long descend and ascend upon the 
one, after the other shall be extinct. 


Rapidly are our Indian tribes thinning in population and vanishing away. The 
causes are evident, yet the red man will not stay to consider. 

He may not stay ; he must drink his enemies' blood, though a fearful vengeance 
await him in the shadow of his lodge. He must roam over the prairies, suffering 
privations, discomforts, and death. He must live as did his fathers, and, like them, 
die, and be forgotten. 


Among our northern tribes the great council-fire was always to be found burning 
in the lodge of the principal chief. Around it could be assembled in every emer- 
gency their wisest men, to decide upon affairs concerning the good of their nation, 
whether regarding their relations with other nations, or difficulties among them- 

At the present day the Indians still meet in council, though with less parade than 
formerly. They could once dictate to us ; now we propose, and they must submit. 
Yet, still as of old, they meet to deliberate, not within walls, and with secret pur- 
pose, but in the open air, under the shadow of their ancient trees, where their 
young men may be attracted by the sound of the eloquent language of the orator, 
and where, such is the decorum always observed, they must listen quietly, if not to 

The picture represents such a scene. The orator, with his gorgeous head orna- 
ment of eagle's feathers, and his robe gathered loosely about him, is not afraid of 
interruption while he is delivering to them his sentiments ; nor are they hastily 
uttered, for he has doubtless consulted the public will, as well as the best interests 
of the band, ere he assumed the prerogative of being their adviser. He has talked 
with the people, and with their leaders, and he stands armed with the authority of 
their opinions and wishes, as with energetic gestures and forcible language he 
delivers his own. For we must remember the Indians are genuine democrats, and 
would one of them be a leader, he must be guided by the people. 

Yet a great mind must always control, in a measure, the hearts and voices of its 
inferiors ; and we have many instances on record, where some Indian has recklessly 
disregarded all the opinions of his people, and has, by a gigantic effort of his 
will, swayed the hearts around him, turning them to his own views as easily as a 
powerful wind drives back the waters that were gently flowing towards some 
desired port. 

At a treaty held in 1828, one of the assembled chiefs refused to sign, as they 
had all agreed to, certain conditions imposed upon them by our commissioners. 
Wabunsee's words on this occasion are worth remembering. " An Indian," said 


he, " who will lie, is not worthy to be called a brave. He is not fit to live. If he 
refuses to sanction what we agreed to in council, I will cut his heart out." 

Recently, a council was held in the Sioux country, with the Sioux and Winne- 
bagoes. One of our officers went to the council, accompanied by some friendly 
Indians, who promised to speak in favor of the wishes entertained by the United 
States Commissioners. They did not do so, but sat, haughty and silent listeners to 
the speeches on either side. After the council, they told the officer the cause of this 
strange behavior. Behind each of them was stationed a Sioux, armed with a 
pistol. On reaching the council-scene, the friendly Sioux were told by Wabashaw, 
one of their chiefs, that if they uttered one word favorable to the United States, the 
Indians behind them would shoot them down as if they were dogs. 

The father of this chief, also called Wabashaw, was truly a great man. In 
1812, a village of French people was quite unprotected, surrounded by contending 
parties, and in the midst of different tribes of Indians. The Winnebagoes took 
their property, and threatened their lives. In despair, the frightened villagers ap- 
pealed to Wabashaw, who was a Sioux, and the Sioux were then friendly with the 
Winnebagoes. They asked his protection, knowing his influence with his own and 
the neighboring tribes of Indians. He went to the French village, attended only 
by one person. They earnestly besought his favor and protection, but he gave 
them no reply. He sent his attendant to the Winnebagoes, demanding a council, 
and appointing the time and place. He remained alone at the village, but held no 
conversation with the excited and distressed inhabitants. The chiefs of the Win- 
nebagoes assembled, and formed a circle of their most powerful men. Wabashaw 
took his seat, the only Sioux in council. There was a solemn form attending the 
scene; they waited until Wabashaw chose to inform them the cause of their 

" He arose and looked upon the chiefs with a menacing look. His countenance 
was fierce and terrible ; and cold. and stern were the faces upon which his piercing 
eye was bent. He plucked a single hair from his head, held it up before them, and 
then spoke in a grave and resolute tone, ' Winnebagoes, do you see this hair ? look 
at it. You threaten to massacre the white people at the prairie. They are your 
friends and mine. You wish to drink their blood. Is that your purpose ? Dare 
to lay a finger upon one of them, and I will blow you from the face of the earth, as 
I now,' suiting the action to the word, ' blow this hair with my breath where none 
can find it.' Not a word was uttered, not a look expressed an intention of differing 
from him, and Wabashaw, with a look of proud defiance, left the council, and 
returned home with his comrade, while the timid French villagers were undis- 

War is the purpose for which the Indian lives. The war-drum is almost always 
in use, and for war the Indian council is often convened. In the present day 


their wars are between each other, and the council rarely decides for peace. 
Yet it is a necessary form for the old to deliberate, ere the young are authorized 
to go forth to shed blood. The pipe must be offered to the Great Spirit, and their 
old men must lift up their hands, and say, " Help us to kill our enemies." 

Yet sometimes the hot blood of their young men is aroused, and it may not be 
restrained. In 1820, thirteen young Chippewa braves went out against the Sioux. 
Others of their tribe had called them cowards ; they had lived out of the way of 
the Sioux, and had not as often as the other bands been engaged in conflict with 
them. These young men determined to redeem the character of their band by the 
offering of their lives. They set forth, to sell their lives dearly, and they took with 
them a comrade, who was not to fight, but was to watch their actions, to see them 
die, and afterwards to report all that occurred, faithfully, to the tribe at home. 
They went out with brave and undaunted hearts, and only the comrade returned 
to tell all, as they desired. 

They had attacked the Sioux, and fought nobly. More than twice their number 
fell before their tomahawks, at the first ; but they were finally overcome, and died, 
tomahawk in hand, dealing out death at every blow. Their young friend succeeded 
in returning, as I have said ; and it was a melancholy pleasure to the relatives of 
the warriors, to listen as he recounted their death-scene. It is the glory of an 
Indian to pass from the battle-field to the land of souls ; the triumphant death-song, 
which, like the music of the swan, dies out with the parting breath, is renewed in 
that strange but lovely country where the billowy waves of flowers bound and 
rebound on the sea-like prairie, which as eternity itself, stretches out till the soul 
nor the mortal eye can see a limit. 

When the Indians meet in council, they adorn themselves with more than ordi- 
nary care, and the utmost parade and ostentation is shown in their motions as well 
as in their dress. 

Women have no voice in the councils of their people ; yet there have been 
exceptions to this rule. Red Jacket — "the last of the Senecas" — presented the 
wishes and views of a number of women of his tribe as worthy of consideration. 
In the Northwest, rare instances have been known of a woman coming into the 
council, in the place of her husband. Once a very aged woman came forward, and 
said her husband was old and blind, and had sent her to the council-scene to repre- 
sent him. She was old and feeble herself. Yet this is an unusual event. Woman 
has the heavier burdens to bear, while her husband plans and executes his favorite 

The light of the great council-fire — its blaze once illumined the entire country 
we now call our own — is faintly gleaming out its unsteady and dying rays. Our 
fathers were guests, and warmed themselves by its hospitable rays ; now we are 
lords, and rule with an iron hand over those who received kindly and entertained 


generously the wanderer who came from afar to worship his God according to his 
own will. The very hearth where moulder the ashes of this once never-ceasing 
fire is becoming desolate — the decaying embers sometimes starting into a brief 
brilliancy, and then fading into a gloom more sad, more silent, than ever. Soon 
will be scattered, as by the winds of heaven, the last ashes that remain. Think 
of it, legislator ! as thou standest in the Capitol — the great council-hall of thy 
country ; plead for them " upon whose pathway death's dark shadow falls." 


Mv .„-'„,„■■,■■-, 


| ^| i M||B » J»i | |W | Mj ii . l tMJ i w I , ' ) F 







.... ■ • 

! ■ 

-.l' : -