NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


Previous section

Next section

Chapter V. — Pawnee Cruelty. The Sacrifice of Haxta.

THE Pawnees have, from the earliest times, possessed the reputation of being one of the wildest and most barbarous tribes. De Soto, who encountered them in 1541, on reaching the grasslands, or prairies, west of the broad Ozark chain, calls them Apani. Three centuries appear to have produced no improvement in their manners. Living in discord with the tribes around them, they seem to have no regard for the remote affinities, which once linked the majority of the prairie tribes together, if they even have the slightest notion of such distant connection, but pursue the savage career of glory, wielding the tomahawk and the scalping knife with unrestrained fury. Their wars with the Sioux tribes have, it is asserted, continued 200 years. Their greatest ambition has ever been to scalp a Sioux, and shake the gory trophy in defiant triumph, shouting at the same time the horrid Sa-aa-quon. [
Plate IV.]

In the month of February, 1838, they captured a Sioux girl, only fourteen years of age, named Haxta. She was placed in one of their lodges, on the same terms as other members of it, and treated with even more kindness; attention being paid that she should not lack the best food, which was supplied abundantly. Offers to purchase her were made by two of the traders on the Missouri, but they were declined. After being detained as a prisoner about two months, a council of the Pawnee chiefs and war captains was convened, to deliberate on her fate. Their decision was known only to themselves, being kept secret from every person who might communicate it to her.

On the breaking up of this council, the prisoner was formally brought forth, and led from lodge to lodge, accompanied by all the Indian warriors and their leaders. The inmates of each lodge gave her a small billet of wood and some paint, which she handed to the war chief who conducted her. This course was pursued until the entire village circle had been visited, and every household had contributed its quota of tiny billets and paint.

On the 22d of April, there was a grand assemblage of all the inhabitants of the villages, to which Haxta was invited, she being ignorant of the purport of it. She was conducted by two stout Indians to a post between two trees, which grew within five

-- 496 --

feet of each other. Three small bars of wood were fastened from tree to tree, at a moderate height above the ground, so as to construct a scaffolding. A small fire was then kindled beneath, the flames of which were barely sufficient to reach, with their highest flickerings, to the feet of the victim placed on it. Not until she was conducted to this place, did she conjecture the object of her tormentors. The two savages, having lifted her on to the bars, stood beside her, holding her firmly. The little fire beneath was then increased, and, at the same time, the men held splinters of burning pine under her arm-pits. Meanwhile, the warriors and chiefs stood in a circle around her, armed with bows and arrows, and all the inhabitants of the village were spectators. When the lighted splinters were placed under her arms, a signal was given, and, in an instant, her flesh was pierced with innumerable arrows, shot with such unerring aim, that there was scarcely an inch of her body untouched: it was literally riddled with sharp arrows.

These arrows being quickly withdrawn from her still quivering frame, the flesh was all cut off in small pieces, down to the bones, and put in little wicker-baskets, which were quickly carried to an adjacent field, just planted with corn. The leader of the ceremonies then took one of these pieces of flesh, and squeezed the blood from it on a newly-planted hill of corn. His example was followed by others, until the little baskets were all emptied. Indian cruelty presents no parallel.

Was this a sacrifice to Ceres, or to Moloch?

-- 497 --

Previous section

Next section


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
Powered by PhiloLogic