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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
Section Twenty-third. Causes of Decline of the Indian Tribes. Chapter I. Conditions of Life Which Oppose the Increase of the Aboriginal Population.
THE Indian withers at the touch of civilization. Contact with it exercises a blighting influence both upon his physical and mental faculties. Naturally indolent in his habits, he is opposed to labor, improvident in his manner of living, and has extremely small foresight in providing for the future. He evinces but little care for the present and makes only slight use of the experience of the past. Taught from early infancy to revere the traditions and institutions of his fathers, he is satisfied of their value, and dreads the anger of the Great Spirit, if he departs from their teachings. Addicted to the use of ardent spirits, he abandons himself to the degrading indulgence, and may then be said to forego the means of securing prosperity and of perpetuating his race, by poisoning the very source of life.
It is a well-known fact, that the Indian tribes do not increase in the ratio of other nations; the cause of which we learn from the first principles of political economy. The want of sufficient nutriment is not the only cause that limits their increase. The entire mental constitution and habitudes of the man, his irregular life, manners, customs, and idiosyncrasies, all contribute to this end. In like circumstances, he neither acts nor thinks like other persons of the human family. Devoted in his attachment to the solitude of the forest, there would seem to be some secret principle at work akin to monasticism, repelling him from a participation in the active labors of life. Even in the Sandwich islands, where the gospel has been most successfully disseminated, the Indian population very visibly and inscrutably declines.
The inquirer into the causes of this numerical decline in the Indian tribes of the United States, is, in a measure, puzzled in the very outset of his examination; for the amplitude of the country, and the ease with which the necessaries of life can be procured, would seem to favor the increase and multiplication of the race. Nevertheless, no matter how circumscribed or extended the geographical field, the same results are everywhere apparent. The evil seems to originate in an ill-balanced mind, which grasps at present effects, without regard to the future results. This mental incapacity to realize and provide for his future necessities, is the reason why he is, at one time, destitute of food, and suffering the keenest pangs of hunger, while, at another, he feasts from a board filled to repletion with an abundance of forest game. One of the striking mutations of the chase is, that want and abundance succeed each other at irregular intervals. The time devoted to the hunting of wild animals is vastly disproportionate to that expended in the raising of cattle by well-regulated industry. A single acre of corn yields more nutriment for a family than all the wild roots, truffles,
Of all the European luxuries introduced among the Indians, nothing has been more injurious to them than the use of ardent spirits. Far in the interior of the continent, it has been observed that the taste of liquor was, at first, repulsive to the natives; but the appetite for it, once excited, became rapidly diffused. When under the influence of alcohol, the Indian appears to enjoy a state of beatitude, in which he would seem to realize the fanciful theories of his mythology, in the creation of the world of happy spirits, and of the human race.
Indian corn was planted, to a limited extent, by the Atlantic and Mississippi valley tribes; but no trader or traveller has ever noticed its cultivation among the interior and mountain tribes. On the western prairies, where it might have been profitably cultivated, the Indians lacked the necessary industry, cared little or nothing for vegetable food, and relied for subsistence on the meat of the buffalo.
There were other causes, however, operating to diminish the Indian population. The most onerous burdens of savage life fall to the share of the
Want of proper nourishment and exposure thus considerably affect the scale of population, but, in a far less degree than pestilence and Indian warfare, under the operation of that most barbarous of all savage customs, the destruction of women and children. It is accordingly noticed that, those tribes who have relinquished war, or are but seldom engaged in it, and, especially, those whose families are permanently resident in comparatively well-built and well-sheltered houses, and warmly clothed, are precisely the cases in which fecundity is the most apparent.
There is a manifest increase in the ratio of births in the tribes who have removed to the West, where they reside in good houses, surrounded by well-tilled fields and all the comforts of agricultural life.
Chapter II. Effects of Civilized Habits on Reproduction.
THE condition and future prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States are subjects of the highest moral interest to the government and people. In many respects the race and their prospects are alike peculiar, the history of the world not furnishing an exact parallel. Other races of hunters had the benefit of the intermediate pastoral condition, in progressing from the hunter to the civilized state. The wildest Arab tribes, and the nomads of Asia, reared the camel, horse, cow, or sheep. But the North American Indians possessed no domestic animals when the continent was discovered; they had formed none of the manners resulting from such cares, or from the discrimination of private rights; and the ferocity of their character was not in the least ameliorated by any such important class of duties. Nor, so far as tradition extends, does it appear to have been thus influenced in times past.
The Indian's golden age is ever the era of the chase; and to this period do all the reminiscences of the elders point, as to the age of aboriginal prosperity, and superlative happiness. The Great Spirit then smiled on him.
Agriculture was recognised only by the cultivation of limited fields of the zea maize; but this was not a reputable labor, and the supply of food relied on, from all sources, was so essentially of a spontaneous growth, that it repressed the power of reproduction, and a very sparse population spread itself over immense areas, remarkable for their natural fertility and abundant resources. There is reason to believe that the native population but little exceeded 1,000,000, on the same area that now contains 22,000,000 of the descendants of European races. The question of numbers is, however, but one section of the great investigation before us. It has been well said, in an official paper, "These remnants of the people who preceded us in the occupation of this country, and who have yielded to our destiny and their own, although greatly reduced in their numbers, have yet claims upon the United States, which their citizens seem disposed neither to deny nor conceal. Differences of opinion exist concerning the extent and nature of the aid which shall be offered to them, and of the interference which it is proper to exert in their conduct and affairs. And it is not easy to foresee how these difficulties are to be reconciled, nor to devise a plan which shall neither attempt too
much nor too little, but which shall preserve a practical medium between these habits and circumstances, and the moral and political state of improvement of which we furnish them an example. These difficulties are inherent in the subject itself. The situation of the Indians and the operation of the settlement and improvement of the country upon them, are without a parallel in the progress of human society." 713
Within the last half-century, and since our population has been freely poured into and across the Mississippi valley, from the eastern banks of which, as a consequence, the Indians have been driven, these questions have, in part, received a solution. Hunting, which, before the discovery of America, was pursued as a means of subsistence, and an incentive to manly vigor and adventurous amusement, has entirely failed. The wide areas which, in a state of nature were required for the chase, being denuded of their game, left the tribes with immense surplus territories, which were no longer valuable for hunting, and which they were not inclined, if they even possessed the ability, to employ for agricultural purposes. The consequence was, that cessions of these surplus and exhausted areas were made to the Government in consideration of annuities, the tribes only retaining enough arable land to supply their own limited need of agricultural products, or retiring into remoter regions, where the chase could still be followed.
A contest of races ensued. The struggle between civilization and barbarism, which had existed, from the first, eastward of the Alleghanies, was renewed, on a wider field, in the West. Habits so diametrically opposed as those of the European and Indian, produced a condition of society replete with difficulties, and equally adverse to each. Population, which had never been in a favorable and healthy state of reproduction, declined, and, with every decade of our history, diminished more and more. History abounds with the evidences of such conflicts of manners and opinions, the result of which, however protracted, is still seen to be the same. The higher type of race is sure to prevail; labor, laws, and arts must triumph, and this fact has been demonstrated by the settlement of the Mississippi valley. The Indian tribes have separated themselves into two distinct classes, founded on the adoption or neglect of the principles of labor and knowledge. The former have either been colonized in large masses, where the industrial arts, protected by equitable laws, could be most advantageously followed, or they have submitted to the domination of labor and law in the States. The latter are still nomadic, and pursue the business of hunting, deriving little or no permanent advantage from civic precepts and examples; while every rational man, who considers the wonderful problem of their long resistance to civilization, arrives at the same conclusion, that while this resistance lasts, the question is narrowed down to one purely relative to the time of their eventual destruction and extinction. The
wonder is, not that, under existing circumstances, the Indian population has diminished, but that the tribes have not already become extinct.
The single problem of Christianity, unconnected with field labor and domestic industry, is not alone sufficient to account for the decay of the Indian race. Labor is the common condition assigned to men, and the violation of this principle in tribes is one great cause of their numerical diminution. When the chase is totally abandoned, the most important step toward progress is taken. The female who spends days in
To the beneficial influence of instruction, the record of missionary teaching bears ample testimony. Perhaps few examples can be adduced which give a more pleasing aspect to the field of labor than that of Miss Catherine Brown, a Cherokee of Alabama. Many years have passed since this bright native female excited the liveliest hopes; and a long time has elapsed since her gentle spirit winged its flight to a better world; but her memory is yet green in the recollections of many. To the graces of person and manners she united high educational attainments. In the language of Mr. Anderson, her mind was of a delicate texture clear perception, correct judgment, intellectual economy, and good sense, being her strongest characteristics. In the acquisition of knowledge, her mind moved easily; in the communication of it to others she did so with felicity and a just appreciation of their capacities. Her delicate sensibility, her exact view of propriety and dignity, her high principles of action, and her gentleness and sweetness of manner, excited general admiration. 714 A very similar delicacy of feeling, sweetness of air and voice, propriety of expression, ease of conversation, and dignity of manner characterized Miss Jane Johnston, and Miss Madeline La Fraumbois, of Michigan, Mrs. Charlotte (Rev.) M'Murray, of Niagara, Canada, and Miss Mary
Halliday, of Syracuse, New York, who were the subjects of careful moral instruction, and may be regarded as wild flowers, transplanted from the Indian wilderness.
Whatever mitigates the evils of Indian society, adds to its permanent means of growth, and is favorable to its moral and physical development. It may be well to lay before the reader the sum of these statistics, that he may scrutinize more closely the character of the Indian mind, and determine its capacity for bearing the mental superstructure, proposed to be based on it through the medium of the Indian colonies; and, by extending this inquiry to what the aboriginal mind has done in past times, without the aid of letters, to furnish some idea of what it may, with cultivation, accomplish.
Chapter III. Who is the Indian? His Capacities for Nationality to be Deduced From His Character.
IT is not supposed that, during a long period, abounding in opportunities, any observations or researches have been made to justify a conclusive reply to the above question. Far from it. The Indian, an enigma at first, is a much greater enigma the more his history and character are examined. Like a boulder on the surface of the globe, he bears very little evidence of the parent bed from which he was separated by the flood of human tribes and nations. Whence he originally came, and whither he is going, are alike themes of absorbing interest, which, however, cannot be equally judged by the critical inquirer and the moralist. But the opportunity may be embraced to allude to what theorists, wise men, and philosophers have advanced on the subject.
Certain ancient nations stifled inquiry on a subject which would probably have developed nothing very honorable as to their descent, by affirming that they had come out of the ground, and thus were the true autochthones. Such were the renowned Phoenicians. Forster tells us that they originated from the Horites, and had lived in caves as robbers and plunderers; 715 their assertion was not, therefore, entirely hyperbolical, for every cave is, topographically, under ground.
No nation is so rude in its origin as not to desire the reputation of having had ancestors. Many of our native tribes give an account of their origin analogous to that of the ancient Phoenicians. 716 Even the nomadic Apachees and Navajoes, at this day, inform travellers that they came out of the ground; adding to the theory, however, that they are wolves, bears, raccoons, and other quadrupeds, in a state of transformation. 717
Nearly a century and a half has elapsed since the French court sent a gentleman, of great learning, acuteness, and benevolence, to America, to observe and report the state of the tribes. P. de Charlevoix personally visited all the leading nations living between Quebec and New Orleans, and, after his return to France, having devoted his attention
to the problem of the origin of this people, so dissimilar in physical and mental traits from the other known varieties of man, he declares his utter inability to subscribe to any of the theories of the migration of the race from other parts of the globe, believing, however, that such migrations had been made. "After reading almost everything," he remarks, "that has been written, on the manner in which America might have been peopled, we seem to be just where we were before this great and interesting question began to be agitated, notwithstanding a moderate volume would be requisite to relate only the various opinions of the learned on this subject. For the most part of them have given so much to the marvellous; almost all of them have built their conjectures on foundations so ruinous; or have had recourse to names, manners, customs, religion, and etymology so very frivolous; that it would, in my opinion, be as useless to refute, as it is impossible to reconcile them with, each other." 718
Indian history has ever been an anomaly. At the period of the discovery, the Indian was a mere hunter, armed only with bow and arrows, and worshipping a class of spirits, or demons, supposed to inhabit the forests. The bold mariners who first visited the coasts, had some knowledge of the Hindoo, and Tartaric types, residing on the shores of Hindostan; and, consequently, called them Indians, under the supposition that the newly discovered land formed part of the continent of Asia. Red-skinned, black-eyed, black-haired, and subtle, there was a striking coincidence in the external characteristics and features of the two races. Whenever examined, this physical resemblance has been found to hold good, however unsatisfactory the theory of origin; and so little has it varied, under the most critical observation, that a single tribe will serve very well as the type of all. They may be said to remain as unchanged to-day as they were in the days of Elizabeth. Indeed, nothing has elicited more frequent notice than that remarkable coincidence of manners and customs, physical traits, 719 and mental habitudes and idiosyncrasies, which designate them to be a peculiar people.
It has been observed, by a comprehensive and talented writer, who has closely studied the history and character of the Indian tribes, that, "from Hudson's Bay to Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, the country was possessed by numerous petty tribes, resembling each other in their general features, and separated into independent communities, always in a state of alarm and suspicion, and generally on terms of open hostility. These people were in the rudest state of society, wandering from place to place, without science, and without arts (for we cannot dignify with the name of arts the making of bows and arrows, and the dressing of skins), metallic instruments, or domestic animals; raising a little corn by the labor of their women, with the clam-shell, or the scapula of a buffalo, devouring it with savage improvidence, and subsisting, during the remainder of the year, on the precarious supply, furnished by the
chase, or by fishing. They were thinly scattered over an immense extent of country, fixing their summer residence upon some little spot of fertile land, and roaming with their families, and their mat, or skin houses, through the forests, in pursuit of the animals necessary for food and clothing. Such a state of society could not but arrest the attention of adventurers, to whom everything was new and strange.
"Of the external habits of the Indians, if we may so speak," remarks the same writer, "we have the most ample details. Their wars, their amusements, their hunting, and the more prominent facts connected with their occupations and condition, have been described with great prolixity, and, doubtless, with much fidelity, by a host of persons, whose opportunities for observation, and whose qualifications for description have been as different as the places and the eras in which they have written. Eyes have not been wanting to see, tongues to relate, nor pens to record, the incidents which, from time to time, have occurred among our aboriginal neighbors. The eating of fire, the swallowing of daggers, the escape from swathed buffalo skins, and the juggling incantations and ceremonies, by which the lost is found, the sick is healed, and the living killed, have been witnessed by many who believed what they saw, but who were grossly deceived by their own credulity, or by the skill of the Indian
"The constitution of Indian society, and the ties by which they are kept together, furnish a paradox which has never received the explanation it requires. We say they have no government, and they have none whose operation is felt, either in reward or punishment; and yet their lives and property are preserved, and their political relations among themselves, and with other tribes, are duly preserved. Have they, then, no passions to excite them to deeds of violence, or have they discovered and reduced to practice some unknown principle of action in human nature, equally efficacious as the two great principles of hope and fear, upon which all other governments have heretofore rested? Why does an Indian, who has been guilty of murder, tranquilly fold his blanket about his head, and, seating himself upon the ground, await the retributive stroke from the relation of the deceased. A white man, under similar circumstances, would flee or resist; and we can conceive of no motive which would induce him to such sacrifice.
"But, of the moral character and feelings of the Indians, of their mental discipline, of their peculiar opinions, mythological and religious, and of all that is most valuable to man in the history of man, we are about as ignorant as when Jacques Cartier first ascended the St. Lawrence." 720
Chapter IV. Some Traditionary Gleams of Ancient History.
THE inherent idiosyncracies of the Indian mind, which impel it to such extraordinary acts, are not greater, however, than his firm adherence to an ancient state of apparently nomadic society, which has long ceased to exist, but to which the mind reverts, as to a golden age, when everything was better than it now is. A respectable Algonquin on Lake Superior, of whom the writer made inquiries many years ago, in relation to this ancient epoch, replied that they had even spoken their language in greater purity.
There is one particular in which the tribes identify themselves with the general traditions of mankind. It is in relation to a general deluge, by which the races of men were destroyed. The event itself is variously related by an Algonquin, an Iroquois, a Cherokee, a Muscogee, or a Chickasaw; but all coincide in the statement that, there was a general cataclysm, and that a few persons were saved. Another feature of this traditional identification consists in the traditional recognition of the fact that their ancestors descended from those imaginative and idolatrous tribes and septs of the Mosaical epoch, who believed the earth to be a fortuitous concurrence of atoms, with deities of "stocks and stones," to whom, as new information, the great additional declaration was made, that, in the beginning, God created the world. 721 This fundamental tradition of the divine origin of the earth and heavens is a striking trait in all the Indian cosmogonies of America.
The tradition of the deluge is veiled in allegories and figures, such as a raft, a tree, a high mountain, &c., according to the genius or imagination of the various tribes. That of the Algonquins is simply this: Hiawatha, or Manabo, having incurred the enmity of the Prince of Serpents, a very Typhon in character, who held sway in the basin of Lake Superior, the spirit permitted the ice to break in during the winter season, while Chibiabos, his grandson was crossing from one point to another. The following summer, the demi-god watched along the shore to find the sandy bay, where the serpents came out to bask; and having consulted with a kingfisher as to the precise
spot, he took his station on shore, and transformed himself into the semblance of a high stump of a tree, broken off by the wind. As soon as the Prince of the Serpents and his court appeared, and had sunk into repose on the sand, he drew his bow, and shot an arrow into his enemy's heart. The serpents fled, screaming, into the depths of the sea; but, in revenge for this act, caused the waters to rise, which overflowed the forests, and pressed on, after the fleeing demi-god, until all the land was submerged. The benevolent god, who assumes in these latitudes the name of Manabo, ascended a high mountain, and climbed to the top of a tree; but the waters rose to his feet. He then commanded the tree to stretch upward, and it obeyed him. But the waters still rising to his feet, he again bade the tree to grow taller, which it did, and finally it became stationary. The waters having risen to his neck, the amphibious animals and water-fowl were playing around him; for they were his brothers. He first directed the loon to dive down for some earth; but when it rose to the surface it was dead. He then told the beaver, the otter, and the mink to attempt the same feat; but none of them found the bottom. At last he sent the muskrat; "for your ancestors," he said, "were always famous for grasping the muddy bottoms of pools with their claws." The animal succeeded in bringing up a morsel of earth in its talons; and from this new chaotic mass the Algic deity recreated the earth.
The ancient nations, who spread over the earth from the primary locations of mankind, in Asia, when they had forgotten the existence of the true God, attributed the origin and government of the world to Ba-al, Osiris, Ormusd, Chemosh, Brahm, Budd, Fohi, and other phantoms of the imagination, which varied with every climate, every territory, and every mountain, plain, and valley; while the American tribes, spread over an immense continent, have concentrated their leading beliefs on a great original Creator, who is described as possessing many attributes similar to those of the Almighty; who is not apparent to human perception as a person, but is clothed with the magnificent garniture of the sidereal heavens, and surrounded by the most sublime and startling atmospheric phenomena. In the primary conception of a supreme ruler by the earliest oriental nations, they endeavored to relieve the character of their benevolent deities by the addition of a dual power, as in the instance of Ahrirnan, Typhon, Moloch, and Beelzebub. This dualistic principle, wherever examined, marks the mythology of the Vesperic tribes, who attribute the powers of evil to a god, antagonistic to the Great Good Spirit, the universal Indian nucleus of sovereign power, ubiquity and benevolence.
The Indian mind does not generalize. It has not, from the knowledge of particular facts, derived general conclusions, although sometimes generic ideas are reached by means of metonymy, and frequently by the symbolic use of words. The globe is called Aké, which is, also, the name for any ponderable bit of earth. They consider the continent of America to be a large island, and are ignorant of the geographical divisions of the earth. It is generally called the Island of the Great Spirit.
The tribes equally failed to successfully bestow on themselves a generic name. When
questioned, they generally replied in a spirit of independence, analogous to that which characterized the Gallic and Gothic tribes during the Roman conquests, at the commencement of the Christian era. They were, in the tone of those warlike nations, Alla-manna, "all men," or Gher-mon, "war men." The Delawares, who have at least claims to geographical priority on the Atlantic shores, called themselves Lenno Lenapi, as if we should say male, or manly men, but which a free translation requires to be rendered, men who are men. The tribes living in the valley of the Illinois told the French they were mini, or men. 722 The Algonquin tribes, generally, pronounced themselves Unishinaba, the common people. The proud and conquering Iroquois pronounced themselves, as a nationality, to be Ongwi Honwi, "men excelling all others." 723
The globe has presented few races of men who afford stronger evidences of original unity with the Adamic family than the American Indians. Considerable differences of color in the skin exist, varying from the cinnamon standard to a dark red, on the one hand, and an approach to white, on the other. Climatic phenomena and peculiar habits may, agreeably to Smith, account for this. The prairie tribes are generally impressed with a russet elemental tinge of a deeper hue; while the tribes residing within the shelter of vast forests assume a lighter color. There are deeper shades in the California tribes, and still darker shades on the banks of the Orinoco. But the causes of these changes admit of a specific solution. According to Dr. Haring, a tradition is still extant, that a slave ship having entered the Orinoco, the negroes rose on the natives, and having destroyed them, seized on their women for wives, mastered the ship's officers, and redeemed themselves from bondage.
In taking a comprehensive view of the Indian tribes of the United States, and of North America, they must be regarded as a unity. Such is the opinion of the late Dr. Samuel George Morton, who, from a full and elaborate examination of their physiological traits, and scientific admeasurements of the volume of crania, derived from all quarters, regards the leading tribes as common to the continent; recognising only the distinction between skulls of semi-civilized and hunter tribes; which, as the learned physiologist observes, are "manifestly arbitrary." 724 This distinction is an important one, and should be borne in mind, although it will not fail to be observed, when the data are investigated, that the classification is established rather on effects, in the production of which, mental and moral habits of thinking, the development of arts, agriculture, and public architecture, such as the erection of teocalli and palatial edifices, are supposed to have exercised no slight influence. The skulls of the hunter class of tribes, however, particularly those of the Vesperic group, denote a greater development
of original cranial volume than those of the Aztecs and of the Peruvians, more especially those of the Atacarna period. 725 These peculiar characteristics have been described by Dr. Morton in a former volume of this work, and illustrated by finished drawings of crania. 726
Wishing to make comparisons of the cranial volume of the several generic groups of the Vesperic family, classified according to language, I requested Mr. J. S. Phillips, who had been Dr. Morton's assistant and scientific manipulator at Philadelphia, to subject the entire cabinet of skulls to a new admeasurement, together with additional specimens from the Pacific coast, deposited in the cabinet of the National Institute at Washington, by Captain Charles Wilkes, U. S. N. The results of this examination, which are very interesting, on account of the facts deduced, have been given in a preceding volume. 727
The admeasurements of Mr. Phillips make it evident that the facial angle varied but little from each other in the series of Vesperic skulls, and differed but a few degrees from the common European and American average. In his summary, he assumes the skulls of the "barbarous tribes of North America" to have 76 2/3 degrees facial angle, and 83 1/2 cubic inches internal capacity.
As to the cranial volume of the United States tribes, the admeasurements place the internal capacity of the Iroquois group at 88 1/2 cubic inches; the great central Algonquin, and the Southern, or Appalachian groups, coincide, in their mean capacity, at 83 3/4 inches; the Dakotah, or Prairie group, average 85 inches, being 1 1/4 inches greater than the milder Algonquins and Appalachians; "and these," he adds, "appear to possess more force of character, and more of the untameable violence which forms the most characteristic feature in our barbarous tribes." 728 A skull of a Winnebago, of this family, is figured in the preceding paper of Dr. Morton. 729
Of the more western groups, embracing the Rocky mountains, and extending to the Pacific, the Shoshonees are rated at 81 inches internal capacity, and the Oregonian tribes at 80; not the slightest difference existing, in this respect, between the natural and the artificially flattened heads. 730
The results of these investigations are very interesting, and are the more suggestive, as showing that the native capacity of even the rudest tribes ranges very high. They are alike interesting and suggestive, bearing testimony, as they do, to this great fact in human progress, that it is education, letters, and arts, that lead to the development of intellect. The degraded and variously developed Chinook skulls 731 are shown to have an internal capacity of 80; while the evidences of craniologic studies demonstrate that the very elongated skulls, such as those of the old Peruvians, disinterred at Lake Titicaca, denote less volume than those of the North American hunter tribes; 732 although
the testimony of Garcileso de la Vega, himself of the race, and the researches of M. Aleida D'Orbigny, Morton, and all others who have examined their history, concur to prove that these
In summing up the deductions arising from a survey of the facts adduced to prove that the tribes are varieties or links in the chain of unity of the human species, reference is made to the quotations from Lavater, Humboldt, and Latham, and to the views of the American authors, Dr. S. G. Morton, Dr. Forrey, and Dr. Thomas Smith, D. D., as set forth in the preceding volumes. 733
Section Twenty-fourth. Indicia From Their Ancient Status and Archaeology. Chapter I. Outlines of Mexican Antiquities.
PROPOSING to make some remarks on the aboriginal antiquities of the United States, it occurred to the author that it would tend to facilitate the object, and clear it of some obscurities, if the inquiry were preceded by a concise view of the characteristic monuments of Mexico, a country distinguished by a similar class of archaeological remains, and which thus furnishes a standard of comparison for a peculiar group of relics, and evidences of art and labor, which have, with perhaps too much precipitancy, been called enigmatical. These indicia are, clearly, of the same type of art, under different states of development. Less violence would appear to be done to Indian history by such a reference of the lower to the higher forms of art, in the same stocks, than by attributing them, as is commonly done, to ancient races of another species, of whom nothing is known, but who are supposed to have preceded the aborigines in the occupation of America. Meantime, such a reference leaves untouched, as a topical subject of inquiry, of subordinate importance, the particular question of intrusive European remains, in the ruins of Indian towns, guacas, or ossuaries.
If the Toltec race of North American Indians have achieved these triumphs of art, in architecture, and in the manipulation of fabrics, it would be no cause for astonishment that the Mississippi valley tribes, occupying a coterminous country, should erect mounds and teocalli, or surround their villages with a rude species of castrametation.
Having mentioned my desires on this subject to Brantz Mayer, Esq., a gentleman of close observation, who has resided in Mexico in an official capacity, and made the topic
itself his study, he furnished me with the subjoined paper, in which the question is treated in a synoptical and condensed, yet clear, comprehensive, and precise, manner. The illustrations are also from his pencil, and exhibit these monuments of art in that peculiar style, which so strikingly marks this class of American remains.
In the following memoranda upon Mexican antiquities, I propose to present a general view of all that have been discovered and noticed within the limits of the Mexican Republic, and a special notice of such as have been preserved within the district that was immediately under Aztec control; consequently, the term "Mexican" must be considered generic, in the classification of these remains.
The question of ancient civilization within that region is one of degree. If we accept as true the account of the conquerors, and especially of Bernal Diaz del Castillo, to whom eminent critics are disposed to ascribe high authority, we are obliged to regard the better classes of the Aztecs as refined, the middle classes as laborious and thrifty, the lower as submissive; while all are entitled to a respectable rank among nations in the sixteenth century, except so far as they were degraded by the cruelties of their superstitious worship and warfare.
It is not necessary, in these observations, to describe particularly the condition of Aztec society, at the period of Spanish invasion and occupation. That task has been so satisfactorily accomplished, in the history of the Conquest, by Mr. Prescott, and made so familiar to English students by the translations of Bernal Diaz del Castillo and of the Cartas de Cortéz, that nothing can be added by a new writer to these original sources. 734 Yet, as geography is illustrated by maps, so is literary description made clearer by illustrations; and, accordingly, I have collected such specimens in the annexed plates, as will convey accurate notions of the forms and arts that were familiar to the aborigines.
When I visited the city of Mexico in 1841 and 1842, I employed most of my leisure in gathering information as to the ancient remains still extant in the Republic. I found few students or collectors in Mexican archeology, and not a single work, except that of Gama, which treated the subject in a scientific or systematic way. 735 The National Museum, in the old University building, was open to strangers, and contained an ill arranged mass of materials, taken from different parts of the country, consisting chiefly of utensils and images. The ex-conde Del Peñasco, since dead, possessed, in a
spacious apartment of his dwelling, a large assemblage of ancient remains; but all these things, in both establishments, were shown rather as curiosities than as objects of historical interest or ethnological value. In literature, most of the memoranda, plans, details, drawings, and descriptions, were scattered in MSS. and magazines; and the modern city had obliterated every vestige of the past on the site of the ancient capital. Whatever information, therefore, was still to be had, could only be obtained from these unclassified sources, and without such intelligent guidance as would enable a stranger who had other occupations, to receive an accurate or connected idea of Mexican art. Accordingly, whenever it was convenient, I spent much of my time in the Museum, and in Count Peñasco's collection, where I made accurate drawings of almost every striking or important object; and, subsequently, I visited every spot of interest in the valley of Mexico, examined the remains at Chapultepec, Tezcoco, Tezcocingo, Teotihuacan, and crossed the mountains to the southern valleys of Puebla and Cuernavaca, where I saw the remarkable remains at Cholula and Xochicalco. 736
My examinations and studies of Mexican antiquities have resulted in the following classification of the remains, within the present limits of the Republic in 1857:
Remains of a National, or Municipal Character.
1. Monumental or pyramidal remains, temples, palaces, &c., &c., of stone, with or without sculpture, carving, or ornament, as at Uxmal, Palenque, &c., &c.
Remains of a Literary, or Record Character.
The Mexican picture-writing preserved at various places, and especially:
3. In the Codex Vaticanus, number 3738.
1. The gigantic idol of
Objects Carved from Obsidian.
1. Teponaztli drums carved of wood.
Miscellaneous, of Stone.
5. Miquahuitl, or obsidian club-sword.
1. The stone called the Calendar Stone, at Mexico; other similar stones, and astronomical paintings.
The Aztec government and influence did not extend, probably, over the whole region subsequently known as New Spain, a large part of which is still comprised in the Mexican Republic; but there are MONUMENTAL REMAINS of the character alluded to in the FIRST CLASS, civil, religious, and defensive, in almost every quarter of the country. These are in the form of pyramids, stone edifices, fortifications, roads, and public improvements generally, exhibiting a considerable knowledge of architecture, ornament, and the mechanic arts.
The principal of these remains, under the First Class, are to be found in the following States, as at present geographically bounded:
1. ZACATECAS. In the State of Zacatecas there are remarkable remains of aboriginal architecture, on a hill called the Cerro de los Edificios, two leagues northerly from the village of Villaneuva, twelve leagues southwest from Zacatecas, about one league north from La Quemada, at an elevation of 7406 feet above the sea, and about 22 1/2° of north latitude. These remains consist of pyramids, fortifications, walls, paved roads, and large quantities of stone edifices. They are elaborately described in the Travels in Mexico, by Captain Lyon, and are noticed, illustrated by a fine plate, in the Viaje Pintoresco y Arqueologico of Nebel.
2. TAMAULIPAS. In the State of Tamaulipas there are many relics of a curious and interesting character. They consist of mounds, pyramids, ruined edifices, tombs, images, fragments of obsidian, pottery, utensils, hewn blocks, carved in bold relief; and, in some places they are found in such quantities and connections as indicate the ancient sites of large cities. The principal information we have relative to the antiquities of Tamaulipas, is in the "Rambles by Land and Water, or Notes of Travel in Cuba and Mexico," written by Mr. B. M. Norman, of New Orleans, in 1845. As this gentleman's antiquarian researches were only episodes of his journey through the comparative wilderness of that tropical region, his work, valuable as it is, serves rather as an index than a full description of what must engage the attention of future investigators.
3. VERA CRUZ. In the State of Vera Cruz there are remains of civic architecture, pottery, images, carving, vessels, &c., &c., &c., at Panuco, Chacuaco, San Nicolas; at Papantla there is a well preserved stone pyramid, which is represented in
indicating the site of an ancient town; on the Island of Sacrificios, near the City of Vera Cruz, pottery, images,
4. YUCATAN. In the State of Yucatan, Messrs. Stephens and Catherwood found the wonderful monumental remains described and drawn by them, between 18° and 21 1/2° of north latitude, at Maxcanu, Uxmal, Sacbey, Xampon, Sanacte, Chunhuhu, Labpahk, Iturbidé, Mayapan, San Francisco, Ticul, Nochacab, Xoch, Kabah, Sabatsche, Labna, Kenick, Izamal, Saccacal, Tecax, Akil, Mani, Macoba, Becanchen, Peto, and Chichen, in the interior of the State, and at Tuloom, Tancar, and on the island of Cozumel, on its eastern coast.
5. CHIAPAS. In the State of Chiapas, the same travellers found architectural remains between 16° and 18° of north latitude, at Ocozingo and Palenque, and they state that in their long, "irregular route through these regions, they discovered the remains of fifty-four ancient cities, most of them a short distance apart, though (from the great change that has taken place in the country, and the breaking up of the old roads,) having no direct communication with each other. With but few exceptions, all were lost, buried, and unknown, and some of them, perhaps, never looked upon by the eye of a white man." The drawings of these ruins, by Mr. Catherwood, have made the public familiar with their style and character, and induce us to believe that Yucatan and Chiapas must have been the seats of quite an advanced civilization and large population.
6. PUEBLA. In the State of Puebla, the only important ancient remain is the Pyramid of Cholula, in the neighborhood of the modern city of Puebla. Humboldt gives the dimensions of this gigantic pyramid, which is built of adobes, or sun-dried brick, as follows: base, 1060 feet; elevation, 162 feet; but, during our war with Mexico, Lieutenant Beauregard, of the Engineer Corps, measured its altitude with a sextant, and found it to be 203 feet. Humboldt, it is understood, used a barometer.
7. MEXICO. In the State of Mexico, there are no architectural remains either at the capital, or in its immediate neighborhood. The modern city has entirely destroyed and displaced all traces of the ancient. But there are collections, as I have already said, of minor antiquarian objects in the museum, and in private hands; while there are monumental and architectural relics, at some distance from the capital, at Tezcoco, Tezcocingo, Teotihuacan, and Xochicalco. (See
8. OAJACA. In the State of Oajaca, there are mounds or tumuli at Tachila; mounds and pyramids at Monte Alban, and at Coyúla, San Juan de los Cués, Guengola, Quiotepec, and near Tehuantepec; while at Mitla, there are the remarkable edifices which I have described in the recent publications of the Smithsonian Institution, Vol. IX., accompanied by Mr. J. G. Sawkins's drawings.
Throughout these ruins there are specimens of sculpture, ornament, and, in some instances, apparently, of hieroglyphic records; many of the latter being copied in the illustrations of the works of Stephens and Catherwood. In Mexico, Yucatan, Chiapas, and Oajaca, there are numerous figures sculptured in stone, of various dimensions; and general resemblances of design, conception, and execution may be traced among them, with the exception of those said to be found in Oajaca, in the neighborhood of Mitla.
The style is more florid as the traveller proceeds southward and examines the remains in Yucatan and Chiapas; nor is it at all improbable, that the centre of civilization was comprised within those States, together with Mexico and Oajaca.
In illustration of the first series of this classification of monumental remains, I insert a sketch of the two
By reference to Plate XI.,
Many of the Mexican pyramids were flat-sided, like those of Teotihuacan; but the one at Papantla was built in stages or storys, like that at
and faces north, south, east, and west, in exact correspondence with the cardinal points. It measures sixty-four feet on its northern front above the plinth, and fifty-eight on its western. The distance between the plinth and frieze is about ten feet; the breadth of the frieze, three and one-half; and the height of the cornice, one foot, five inches. When it was perfect, it is said to have been five stories in elevation. The northern front is still most uninjured, and there the bold carving, between three and four inches in relief, is distinctly visible, in all its grotesqueness, as exhibited in the plate. The massive stones, some of which are seven feet eleven inches long, by two feet nine inches wide, are all laid on each other without cement, and kept together by the weight of the whole edifice.
Besides the pyramids comprised in this FIRST CLASS, or Remains of a National Character, there are all the other constructions and edifices which indicate the existence of general and municipal government, religious service, domestic elegance, civic care, defence, and luxury. Distinct types of these are to be found preeminently in the temples and palaces of Uxmal and Palenque, adorned with a singular mingling of cultivated taste and barbaric oddity; in the edifices and fortifications of Quemada, Mitla, and Misantla; in the paved roads at
The second series of remains in this classification comprises the literary antiquities of the aboriginies in this region, and is known as "picture-writing." The principal relics of this character are found in the collections mentioned in the second classification, on page 579.
The Mexican picture-writing was used only for recording facts, apart from abstract ideas. The material used as a vehicle was paper, made of the agave Mexicana; and the figures delineated on it, in profile outline, were generally colored yellow, blue, red, green, and black, without any attempt at perspective or shading. None of the designs can be said to rise to the dignity of "historical pictures," in the modern sense of that artistic phrase; while many of them, when they record particular incidents, resemble
the rude colored sketches of our North American Indians on beech-bark and buffalo-skins, though they are of a more elaborate character.
The picture-writing consisted of an arbitrary system of symbols, denoting years, months, days, seasons, the elements, and events of frequent occurrence; an effort to delineate persons and their acts; and a phonetic system, which, by means of objects, conveyed sounds that, singly or in combination, expressed the facts they were meant to record. But this appears to have been the extent of the art of perpetuating the memory of things among the Aztecs at the time of the conquest; and as the public edifices were full of these documents, which the Spaniards considered the "symbols of a pestilent superstition," nearly all the "picture-writings" were destroyed by order of the first archbishop of Mexico.
The third classification refers to remains connected with religion, or Aztec worship. This religion was a compound of spiritualism and gross idolatry; for the Aztecs believed in a Supreme Deity, whom they called "Teotl," God; or "Ipalnemoani," "He by whom we live;" or "Tloque Nahuaque," "He who has all in himself;" while their evil spirit bore the name of "Tlaleatcololotl," the "Rational Owl." These spiritual beings are surrounded by a number of lesser divinities, who were probably the ministerial agents of Teotl. These were "Huitzilopotchtli," "the god of war," and "
In Plate VIII. I have presented, in Figs. 1, 2, 3, and 4, the front, profile, top, and bottom of an Aztec statue, or idol, said to be that of
public. It is nine feet high, five and a half feet broad, and is cut from a single block of basalt. The plate shows its figure perfectly. "It is a horrid assemblage of hideous emblems. Claws, fangs, tusks, skulls, and serpents writhe and hang in garlands and fantastic forms around the shapeless mass. Four open hands rest upon the bared breasts of a female. In profile, it is not unlike a squatting toad, whose glistening eyes and broad mouth expand above the cincture of skulls and serpents. Seen in this direction, it appears to have more shape and meaning than in front. On the top of the statue there is a cavity; and as the bottom is also sculptured in relief, it is supposed that this frightful idol was suspended aloft by pillars placed under the square projections which are seen near the centre of the body." 739
The gladiatorial sacrifice, which, among the Aztecs, was reserved for noble or courageous captives, was probably performed upon this stone in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan. According to Clavigero, "a circular mass of stone, three feet high, resembling a mill-stone, was placed within the area of the great temple, upon a raised terrace, about 8 feet from the wall. The captive was bound to this stone by one foot, and armed with a sword, or miquahuitl, and shield. In this position, and thus accoutred, he was attacked by a Mexican soldier or officer, who was better armed for the deadly encounter. If the prisoner was conquered, he was immediately borne to the altar of common sacrifice; but if he overcame six assailants, he was rewarded with life and liberty, and permitted once more to return to his native land with the spoils taken from him in war." It is likely that this stone should be more properly called the Gladiatorial than the Sacrificial; but the central bowl and gutter have hitherto induced most persons to suppose it dedicated to the immolation of victims.
The Common Sacrifice was performed by a priest and six assistants in the ordinary temples, and upon ordinary victims. The sacrificer and his acolytes extended the sufferer across the curving surface of an arched stone, while an assistant kept him firmly down by the stone yokes, a specimen of which is seen in Fig. 7, of Plate VII. As soon as the victim's skin and flesh were sufficiently stretched and tightened by this process, the topiltzin cut a deep gash in the breast with an obsidian knife (Plate VII., Fig. 1),
and, thrusting his hand into the wound, tore out the palpitating heart, which he either threw at the feet of the idol, inserted in its mouth with a golden spoon, or reduced to ashes, which were sacredly preserved.
The carving or sculpture on the large stones comprised in this third classification is generally of a medium quality. It is neither very good nor very bad. It cannot be said to belong to the infancy of art, nor is it of the character, either as to design or execution, which would indicate a high stage of tasteful civilization. It is, however, very far removed from barbarism, and infinitely superior in size and finish to the remains of the northern tribes. Specimens of various kinds of carving are shown in
The FOURTH CLASS comprises objects carved from obsidian, or volcanic glass, and embraces
The foregoing figure represents a
collection. If we say that it is as smooth as if cast of glass, in a mould, and then polished with the highest art, we convey exactly the idea with which we are impressed on examining the mask itself.
Cleverly done, as are the
The one represented in the cut, from Peñasco's collection, is six-tenths of an inch high, one-tenth of an inch thick, and nine-tenths and one-twentieth of an inch in diameter. The graceful curves of the exterior and interior surfaces, and the high polish, are perfectly preserved. How did they contrive to work a brittle volcanic substance to such slender dimensions?
The arrow-heads, lance heads, and the pieces used in their miquahuitls, were not so neatly cut or trimmed, and greatly resembled the similar weapons found among the remains of our Indian tribes. Plate VII., Fig. 1, represents a sacrificial knife of obsidian.
The FIFTH CLASS comprises musical instruments, specimens of which are seen in Plate VII. Fig. 2, a flageolet; Figs. 4 and 5, rattles; and Fig. 8, the drum, or Teponaztli. In the hollow, central part, two thin pieces of wood were inserted, as seen in the plate, and beaten to produce sound. The whistles are drawn in Plate III., Figs. 7 and 8.
The SIXTH CLASS is of pottery. This is remarkable for shapes, and the fineness, in many instances, of its texture. It comprises all sorts of domestic utensils: for example, such as are represented in
or impressing-stamps, in Figs. 6 and 7 of Plate IV.; of small images, altars, and figures, in
One of the finest earthenware remains I saw in Mexico is the
There are two of these rare and beautiful objects in the national collection, found, I understood, about twenty years ago, during excavations in the northern suburb of the capital at St. Juan Tlaltelolco, in the neighborhood of the site of one of the Aztec teocallis.
The one represented in
The SEVENTH CLASS comprises miscellaneous articles of stone; as club or mace-heads, arrow-heads, dressing-tools for skins, pounding-stones, corn-grinding and mashing-stones, smoothing-stones, to be heated when used for that purpose, graining-stones grooved for moulding in lines, hatchets, &c. The forms of these articles resemble those of the similar implements used by our own North American Indians in former days; many specimens of which have been engraved in the plates of preceding volumes. In Plate I., Figs. 1 and 2, I have delineated an axe and pounder, to demonstrate this resemblance.
The EIGHTH CLASS embraces the
In order to give the student an adequate idea of these, I have grouped their headdress, coat, shield, bow, arrow, lance, dart, and miquahuitl in the following cut. Of all these weapons, the miquahuitl was the most original. It was a club, into the edges of which six fragments of sharpened obsidian were inserted, so that, when a blow descended, it not only mashed, but tore the victim's flesh.
The NINTH CLASS comprises the only monumental scientific remain with which I am acquainted in Mexico the stone called the "
This stone has been so frequently engraved, and accounts of the Aztec notation of time so often published, that it has been considered useless to present a plate of this ancient monument in our article. The best essays on it are those of Gama, in his "Description de las dos piedras," &c., &c., and in the late Mr. Gallatin's elaborate essay, in the first volume of the Transactions of the American Ethnological Society. "It appears," says Mr. Gallatin, "that the Aztecs had delineated on this stone all the dates of the principal position of the sun, and had ascertained, with considerable precision, the respective days of the two passages of the sun by the zenith of Mexico, of the two equinoxes, and of the summer and winter solstices. They had, therefore, six different means of ascertaining and verifying the length of the solar year, by counting the number of days which elapsed till the sun returned to each of these six points, the two solstices, the two equinoxes, and the two passages by the zenith."
This classification and survey of ancient remains, and the accompanying plates, cannot, in my judgment, but fortify the conqueror's account of Mexican civilization in the sixteenth century. In that age, European civilization was not what it is now. If we visit Egypt, India, Iddom, Nineveh, Asia Minor, Athens, and Rome, the relative grades of these antique states may be discerned in the monumental remains still extant on their soil; and, if we apply the same tests of opinion to the relics at Uxmal, Palenque, Mitla, and Mexico, we must admit that the population of the new world, like that of the old, was very far removed from the uncivilized character that has been ascribed to it. Savages have no cities, palaces, paved roads, extensive fortifications, aqueducts, pleasure grounds, groves, pyramids, and astronomical systems that will bear the test of scientific scrutiny. Their wandering life denies all idea of that permanence which massive and elaborate architecture proves. Their sculpture may be rough in execution; but love of graceful forms precedes sculpture itself and types the mind that conceives and the skill that executes it. Many of their implements, it is true, may be rude; but the results of their labors with such instruments are only the more remarkable, in consequence of the inadequate means by which they were produced. They who made paper and recorded events; who noted time with astronomical accuracy and constructed the Calendar stone; who raised the pyramids of
Chapter II. Notices of the Aboriginal Remains of Art and Labor in the United States.
THE Toltec and Aztec nations presented to the world the ultimate development of the Indian mind of North America, in the highest perfection of its arts and manners, after the lapse of unrecorded centuries, during which it had occupied a vast and fruitful valley, elevated 7000 feet above the surface of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and quite remote from either, enjoying a tropical and delightful climate. The semi-civilization of these tribes excited the wonder of Europe during the sixteenth century, and it has been the subject of the researches, and of the comments of the brightest minds. Any attempt to add to the actual sum of observation may be deemed a work of supereroogation; but, having taken them as a standard of comparison, an endeavor will be made to draw some conclusions therefrom, which have not hitherto been noticed. The accumulative and cumbrous character of their mythology and religion, the abundance of food, and the consequent density of population in the country, led to the building of temples in which their gods could be publicly worshipped, and the functions of their priesthood conveniently administered.
The same state of affairs did not exist among the Vesperic tribes. Though descended from the same ethnologic stock, possessing the same characteristic features, actuated by the same ideas, speaking a language of the same cumulative structure, and forming a portion of the same generic race, yet the religion of these more northerly tribes required neither temples, revenues, taxes, nor a costly priesthood. They were, it is true, impressed with a similar idea of the importance of sacrificial offerings, but they never resorted to human sacrifices. They were still in their more simple, normal state. They introduced the worship of the sun into the northern forests; but they did not attempt to graft thereupon those cruel and inhuman rites which had characterized the offerings to Huitzilapochtli, or other deities of the Mexican pantheon. There existed no necessity for it in their polity, and neither means nor power to raise such immense structures as those of Cholula, where the magnitude of the undertaking was regarded as a proof of the greatness of the sacrifice. Mounds of earth served them as altars on which to
light their sun fires; on them they sang their wild hymns, and beneath their surface they entombed their great chiefs and kings.
Recognising God in elementary forms, and believing that he appeared to them personally, or to their priests, in the character of wood-demons, or in some form of animated nature, slight and temporary structures, made of poles and bark, sufficed for a shelter, beneath which were performed the mysterious rites of their priesthood. These structures were equally suited for erection in the forests or in the valleys. The summits of isolated hills were frequently chosen for the performance of their simple rites; and when mounds of earth were erected, the invariable presumption is, that the local population was numerous. The tapping of the light hand-drum, or the quick notes of the shishiquon, was sufficient to guide the measures of the dance which preceded or followed these ceremonies; but, if it was a solemn ecclesiastical ceremony, or a periodical national assemblage, the mikwakeek, or heavy drum, was used.
The private skipetagan, or magic arcanum of each professor of the Meda society, was exhibited, and their skill in necromancy, or necromantic media, renewed on these occasions; and the lectures of the leading priests and directors, conjoined with the strict ceremonial observances, which were a feature of these convocations, strengthened and established the faith of the seers, jossakeeds, and professors of the divine arts of magic, medicine, and religion.
The doctrine of the worship of the sun was the structure upon which was based the foundation of their general system; but this luminary was regarded by the United States tribes, agreeably to the revelations of Sagitchiwäosa, as the symbol and representative of intelligence. The fumes of the sacred weed were offered to him; hymns of mystical importance were sung by the medas; and his rising was hailed with a hieratic chant by the priestly classes. No elaborate monuments of stone were needed for the practice, or the perpetuation of such a system; the apex of a mound, or the summit of a conical hill, sufficed. In a valley or on a plain, a few stout pine posts served to mark the sites devoted to those assemblages; where, as at the exhibitions of some occidental caravansera, multitudes assembled to gaze and admire.
In but few places had edifices of a more permanent kind been erected for the accommodation of these public assemblages. The Chegantualguas, at Natchez, had erected a building in which public worship was administered, even as recently as the year 1721; 740 in which, also, an eternal fire was then, though it seems not with rigorous strictness, maintained. We have no positive evidence, and can only conjecture by the apparent astronomical positions, and the enigmatical forms, of the mounds to be found in the West, that the worship of the sun, at the time of the discovery, was still maintained at Marietta, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and
Owing to the primitive simplicity of the forest rites, which were practised throughout an area extending for thousands of miles over magnificent valleys and plains, no ruins of "temples" were found by the discoverers of this part of the continent. Their rites had not degenerated into the gross systems of idolatry practised at Mexico, Cuzco, and Cholula; and the stipulated fast and feast, the sacred medicine dance, or, more properly, the medawin, was continued down to the settlement of the colonies, and is still one of their prominent institutions.
When a comparison is instituted between the religion of the Aztec tribes and these normal forest rites of the Vesperic tribes, they present the Indian mind in a suggestive point of view. We can observe in the Aztec the same physical features; the same mental traits and idiosyncracies; the same inaptitude to trace effects to their causes; the same surrender of permanent for temporary enjoyment; and the elements of the same word-building languages; but there is a great disparity in the true objects of life and enjoyment; a greater lassitude of moral force; a lack of mental independence; and a greatly diminished degree of personal and military energy. A tropical climate, abounding in fruits, and every means of subsistence, conjoined with a listless and comparatively idle life, demanding no continued exertion, and a long submission to despotic chiefs and priests, seem to have enervated the public mind, and left it a prey to the influence of ambitious rulers, who founded dynasties, exercising a prescriptive and absolute sway. In the time of Cortez, the common Aztec was a slave, who could not even protect his own domestic circle. The despotic sway over the multitude was, in a great measure, the result of the influence of the priesthood; the executive and ecclesiastical races, as we learn from Clavigero, having been either of the same family, or closely connected. The two offices were generally united in the same person, as was manifestly the case with Montezuma and Atahualpa.
The worship of the sun was still the substructure of the Mexican creed, as it was of that of the Vesperic tribes; but, at the era of Cortez, it exercised only a secondary influence. Tribes, after having attained power by following their leaders in battle, set up and worshipped an image of the god of war. Huitzilapochtli was the great idol adored at the era of the Conquest, and to him the sacrifices offered consisted of the hearts of prisoners taken in war, which were torn out of their bodies, while stretched over the sacrificial stone by the sanguinary priesthood, and the body then hurled from the top of their teocalli. (
Chapter III. Antiquities West of the Alleghanies.
FROM the preceding notices of the tribes once resident in Mexico, and in the valley of the Mississippi, we learn that there were two great ethnological families of red men in North America. Occupying different latitudes, separated by climatic barriers, and holding diverse positions in the scale of civilization, they inhabited coterminous countries, and were, in character, sui generis. They coincided in general features, character, habits, and modes of thought and action. The vocabularies of their languages differed; but the grammatical structure of them, and the philosophical principles upon which they were based, were remarkably coincident. Their arts and occupations were also dissimilar; one being an agricultural people, and the other still retaining their normal type of hunters and foresters. The picture-writing of the Aztecs was an improvement on pictography. Their cosmogonies and mythologies were rendered incongruous, and their religion converted into pure daemonology; the latter was founded on a few leading Indian principles, which, though similar to those of the North, had, however, acquired a grosser intensity of error and idolatry. In mental strength they were likewise inferior to the Indians of the North. The climates, fauna, and flora of their countries were different. The position of one people being in the tropical, and the other in the temperate, latitudes, they resorted to different means for obtaining subsistence. There was nothing, however, in which the broad line of separation was more clearly defined than in their modes of government. The American class adhered to a primitive patriarchal, or representative form, under the control of chiefs and councils; the other groaned under a fearfully despotic rule. Both cultivated the zea maize and nicotiana; both raised species of the batata, of beans, and of melons. In the northern latitudes, in lieu of the tropical fruits indigenous in those regions, the papaw, the plum, and the orange 741 offered their tempting products for the use of man. But, while the one class of tribes had not emerged from the simple hunter state, and still roamed through the vast forests of America, filled with animals and birds of every plumage, the other class had made important progress in arts, agriculture, and architecture; which, though tending to their advance in civilization, exercised a depressing
influence on their moral character, and plunged them tenfold deeper into error and mysticism.
The investigation of the antique remains of labor and art, scattered over the Indian country west of the Alleghanies, which was instituted with a view of procuring some clue to the early history of the people formerly resident on the soil, develops a general correspondence between them and those common among the Mexican tribes at the era of the occupation of the Mexican valley by the Chichimacos and Acolhuans, or Tescocans; which event Clavigero places in 1170. 742 These barbarous tribes were not conquered, nor was Tanochtitlan, or Mexico, founded, until 1324. 743 Could the veil of oblivion be lifted from the events which transpired in the Mississippi valley at that date, i. e., one hundred and ninety-five or two hundred years before the advent of the Spaniards in Mexico, it would, in all probability, be found to have been thickly inhabited by fierce, athletic, and barbarous tribes, possessing all the elements of progress known to the Chichimacoans and their associates. These tribes were worshippers of the sun, whom they propitiated by fires kindled on the apex of high hills; they erected sepulchral mounds, in which they interred the remains of their kings or rulers; and they incessantly maintained the same fierce strife with all their neighbors, which has marked the entire Indian race during three and a half centuries. If the Mississippi tribes defended a town, as the existing remains indicate, by ditches and pickets, in which there was a zig-zag gate, conforming to the Tlascalan fashion, precisely the same mode was prevalent among the barbarous tribes of Mexico at the period when our southern stocks segregated from them.
So few traces of art were observable among the Vesperic tribes along the shores of the Atlantic, from the capes of Florida to the St. Lawrence, that, when the population of the colonies began to cross the Alleghanies, and descend into the rich agricultural valleys of the Ohio and the Mississippi, surprise was expressed to find, concealed beneath a forest growth, the ruins of labor and arts, which appeared superior to any known to have been practised by the ancestors of the existing tribes.
The accounts of the fertile soil, genial climate, and natural beauty of the Ohio valley, given, about the year 1770, by hunters and adventurers, appeared, when recounted east of the mountains, like tales of some newly-found elysium, or land of promise. The desire for the acquisition of landed property was universal; America rang with the tale; and a collision of races was the consequent result. The earliest explorations of a reliable character were those which date from the generic era of Washington's youthful visit in 1754. The first, grant of land from the Indians was that made to William Trent and his associates, in 1768, and conveyed the tract situate between the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. 744 Detached tracts were located, and settlements began to be made in 1770; which is the date of the founding of Red Stone, or Brownsville, west of the mountain slope at the
foot of Laurel Hill. Some other locations were made in these valleys between the years 1770 and 1772. At the latter period, explorers reached the noted flats, covered with Indian tumuli, the stream through which hence received the name of
Marietta was, in fact, one of the locations where the antiquarian remains of prior occupancy existed, and still exist, in one of their most striking and enigmatical forms. They embraced the acute form of the ordinary Indian sepulchral mound, but were composed of a raised platform of earth, of the general form of a parallelopipedon, pierced with gates, or spaces, clearly used as public entrances; and, if the outer lines of the raised work be supposed to have been surmounted with wooden pickets, and turrets for marksmen, the whole must have presented a palatial display. The height of the level floor of this fortified establishment could not possibly, have exceeded seven or eight feet; and, though its solid cubical contents were considerable, it was not, probably, beyond the ability of the inhabitants of a populous Indian town to construct. Such a structure, raised by the Toltecs, or Aztecs, or their predecessors, would not have excited remark, either on account of the amount of labor expended on it, or of the skill evinced in its construction; but, being a deserted ruin, in the territories of tribes who possessed neither much art or industry, beyond the merest requirements of pure hunter tribes, they became a theme of conjecture, and excited wonder; the more so, as the discoverers had never seen the evidences of semi-civilization evinced by the Indian tribes of Mexico. As the country filled up with population, other remains of analogous kind were brought to light, most of which were in the form of small sepulchral mounds, or barrows, ditches, or entrenchments once surmounted by pickets; but they excited little remark, except as bearing evidence of the ordinary appearance of an Indian town. The great
the antiquarian found specimens of hammered native copper, 746 steatites for
their war clubs, 772 bows, arrows, and canoes, 773 were constructed with as much ingenuity as those of the semi-civilized tribes of Polynesia. Their musical instruments consisted of a pipe or flute, tambourine, drum, and rattles. 774 The attempts they made to sculpture objects in natural history on their pipes and vases, 775 exhibited much spirit; 776 and their braided work on pouches, as well as on the stems of their pipes of state, 777 displayed the exercise of much patient ingenuity. Had not warfare so completely engrossed their minds, they must have made rapid advances in the arts. Stones, on which were carved figures for embossing skins, or fabrics of bark, intended to be used as clothing, were manufactured with considerable skill. Specimens of two of these, one of which was found in a small mound at Cincinnati, and the other at
copper found on the Ontonagon, in early times, was one of these, which they were evidently compelled to abandon.
The Aztecs did not drive out or conquer the barbarous tribes of Anahuac, and obtain the mastery of that valley until 1325. 780 There are no reasons for believing that the useful metals were known to, or mining practised at all by the Chichimeca or Acolhuan stock; and until this branch of their arts was developed, the northern tribes were in a position to furnish them with supplies of copper, and the crude material for the manufacture of bronze. There is, likewise, ample reason to believe, that the process of mining in the northern latitudes of the region of Lake Superior was carried on, periodically, by persons who derived their sustenance from, or who permanently resided in, the genial plains south of the great lake. The exploration, for some cause, appears to have been suddenly abandoned, as if the miners were driven off by an inroad of barbarous hordes.
From an examination of the ages of trees, as disclosed by the annual deposit of vegetable fibre, the termination of the ancient mound period appears to have occurred in the twelfth, or early in the thirteenth century. There seems then to have been a general disturbance among, and breaking up of the aboriginal stocks. The late Dr. Locke, after counting the cortical rings of trees growing on the ancient work found by him in Ohio, in 1838, determined it to have existed 600 years; which would place its abandonment in 1238. 781 Mr. Tomlinson, the proprietor of the large tumulus at
General George Rogers Clark, whose opportunities for making a personal inspection of the western vestiges of the mound period were extensive, expresses the opinion that these remains do not exceed the age of 500 years; which would place the date of their abandonment about the year 1380. 783 The Kaskaskia chief, Ducoign, being interrogated on the topic, replied that great Indian wars had prevailed, in which the tribes fought desperately, and destroyed each other's strength. 784 This view of their tradition is also taken by the Iroquois, as exhibited in the curious pamphlet history of Cusic. 785
The fortifications constructed by the Mississippi valley tribes were well adapted to the particular kind of enemy to be encountered. Lines of pickets were placed around a village, situated on an eminence, or in the valley, or on the plain. Ditches formed no part of the defensive plan, at least in their technical military sense. They were sometimes located without the walls, and occasionally within. In the former case they denote a contingent state of labor in the construction in the latter, they appear to have been intended
as pits of refuge, or for heroic resistance an Indian feature in fighting. The principal artistic feature in the construction appears to have been the gate, which was, in all cases, formed according to the Tlascalan plan, though varied in sundry ways. The principal object appears to have been to lead the enemy into a labyrinth of passages, in which he would become perplexed how to proceed. Sections of curved walls produced the same effect; and a small mound-shaped redoubt was sometimes used. These various modes of constructing the gateway have been generalized and presented for study, on a single Plate. 786
The tumuli, or mounds, constituted no part of the military defence, though frequently located at or near the entrenched towns; but, being devoted exclusively to ecclesiastical or sepulchral purposes, they were under the care and control of the Indian priesthood. Some of the smaller mounds had been merely circular altars of earth, a few feet in height; but, after serving this purpose a long time, they were heaped up with loose earth into the shape of cones, and left as memorials of the Indian.
The first formal attempt made to investigate the remains of western antiquities was instituted under the auspices of the American Antiquarian Society. The primary volume of the collections of this society was published in 1820, under the title of Archaeologia Americana. In this work the descriptions, accompanied with plates, which were furnished by Mr. Atwater, comprise the earthworks and mounds at Newark, Marietta, Circleville, Paint creek, Portsmouth, in the Little Miami valley, at
flora of the north did not comprise the cotton plant, the luscious fruits, the legumes, the rich dyes and drugs, and other productions peculiar to the tropics, which had been elements of industry to the native Indians of Mexico. Its mineralogy included none of the native precious metals. The zea maize was conveyed north to about latitude 46°, and disseminated to the further shores of New England, and even to the
In 1848, some twenty-eight years subsequent to Mr. Atwater's examinations, the Smithsonian Institution published, in the first volume of its Transactions, a full and comprehensive memoir on the subject, under the caption of "Monuments of the Mississippi Valley;" the information contained therein having been derived from personal surveys, principally made by Mr. E. G. Squier and Dr. Davis. An elaborate account of these remains is given, illustrated by a large number of engravings. In this work descriptions are presented of the principal earth-works of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, from minute instrumental examinations. Whatever had been previously described, is reproduced, with much new matter respecting mounds, fortifications, altars, articles of art, and other remains of human labor and ingenuity, found scattered over those vast plains and valleys. The prominent impression produced in the minds of these writers, by a survey of this field is, that the country must have been inhabited by a population vastly more dense than any which has existed there since its discovery; or else, that these accumulated labors are the results of much longer, and more indefinite periods of occupation than is supposed. One great merit of this work is, that extravagant theories are therein avoided. There is, however, a gloss thrown over rude and enigmatical monuments, which presupposes the occupation of the valley in former ages, by a people more advanced in arts and polity than the remote ancestors of the present race of Indians. This conclusion, which is produced by the actual declension of Indian art in the north, since its first occupancy, had been the theory of Mr. Atwater in 1820; it had been entertained by General Putnam and the Ohio colonists, in 1787, and by Dr. Stiles, president of Yale college, to whom the facts were reported. Dr. Webster, the lexicographer, was of the opinion that the question of these antiquities was solved by referring them to De Soto, during his extensive explorations and semi-Quixotic marches, in the early part of the fifteenth century. Yet the most northerly point ever reached by De Soto was Coligoa, on the head-waters of the River St. Francis, in Missouri. This chivalric explorer never erected any fortifications beyond temporary shelters, and the only ditched and staked camp he constructed was the one in which he passed the winter of 1541, after crossing the Ozark range of Missouri and Arkansas. This must be located in the prairie county of the Neosho, on the Arkansas, west of Van Buren.
A prominent feature in the Smithsonian memoir is a description of the fortified
lines, erected around the escarpment of abrupt hills, which commanded a view of the valleys and plains, and gave great capacity of defence to a comparatively small body of men. This appears to have been the Indian mode of fortification, requiring but little labor and less art; yet evincing a strong natural judgment as to the best means of defence against missiles and hand to hand warfare. Possessing no metallic instruments, trees were felled by kindling fires around their trunks, and then beating off the incinerated parts. This process of girdling and ringing supplied them with pickets to erect around the brows of eminences. Gates were frequently constructed in a zig-zag style, which puzzled the enemy, and brought them unawares into labyrinths, or placed them in a position where they could be cut off by a discharge of arrows. 787
Among the peculiar earth-works of the Ohio valley, are the raised earthen platforms at Marietta, Ohio, with their geometrical lines and counter lines, and interior redoubts, which have, on account of their anomalous character, been frequently referred to. It was thought, by the early discoverers, that there must have been a subterranean passage to these works from the Muskingum river. A mound of acute conical form near the smaller platform, indicates that it was only one of the numerous specimens of the Indian architecture. The drawings made by Mr. Atwater and Mr. Squier, exhibit considerable discrepancies, which it is not attempted to reconcile, but of which the reader is left to judge from the accompanying Plate.
The whole field of antiquarian research, as represented in the Mississippi valley monuments, may be regarded as the local nucleus and highest point of development of arts and industry attained by the red race, after their segregation from the nomadic Toltec stocks. These monuments were widely scattered, but they assume the same mixed sepulchral and civic character which is apparent in those found along the Alleghany branch of the Ohio, in western New York, and in other parts of the Union. The largest mounds in the Union, and those which are truncated or terraced, bear the closest resemblance to the Mexican teocalli. They occupy the most southern portions of the Mississippi valley, and Florida. They become less in size as we progress north, and cease entirely after reaching the latitude of Lake Pepin, on the upper Mississippi, the head-waters of the Wisconsin, 788 and the mining excavations of Lake Superior.
Chapter IV. A Glance at the Pictography of the North American Indians.
IT was not alone the mechanic arts that determined the ancient status of the Indians; there was also an inscriptive art, which deserves attention: namely, their pictography, or picture-writing. Lord Kingsborough, through the medium of his magnificent royal folios, attracted special attention to the Mexican picture-writings, and gave rise to the expectation that much valuable historical information would be derived from this source. The skill displayed in the execution of the native parchment scrolls, the richness of the coloring, and the systematic method evinced in the arrangement of the devices, presented an attractive feature in the study of the history of Indian mental development; and it was confidently believed that some phonetic key to these writings would be revealed. Time has, however, fully demonstrated the fallacy of this expectation. These carefully drawn and painted scrolls are purely ideographic and representative, containing a system of signs for days and years, and an astronomical calendar, formed from a long series of observations on the sun's recessions, by means of which the true length of the solar year was determined to within the fractional part of a day. The totemic devices of clans or families, as they appear in the pictorial writings, are carefully depicted as the eagle, lotus, serpent, &c. 789 A small circle, or a congeries of circles, are the symbols of times, phases, and quantities. There is no equivalent for digits, and no device by which to denote sounds. Much of the subject matter of the drawings relates to astrological theories and horoscopes, of which a peculiar and anomalous mythology forms a prominent feature. It was, evidently, an art devised and perfected by the native priests, and constituted the employment of a class of hieroglyphists, or rude scriveners, to whom the subject was fully explained beforehand; and where the pictographic art failed, symbolic characters were substituted, when the device became wholly mnemonic. The entire scrolls could never have been read without these verbal interpretations. The Spanish missionaries who accompanied the conqueror, finding the subjects to be designed by the native priesthood to uphold a system of daemonology, promptly denounced
it, and destroyed the scrolls indiscriminately, without attempting to preserve those portions relating purely to history. It does not appear that the latter constituted any considerable part of their contents. The late Mr. Gallatin, who elaborately examined the Kingsborough collection, found it rather a barren and unfruitful field of historical research. 790 The term "picture-writing" can in truth be only hyperbolically applied to those semi-mnemonic scrolls, for they are a series of paintings, designed to represent natural objects, and not to express sounds.
The system, as it exists amongst the Vesperic tribes, has been more correctly designated pictography. No specimens of it, equalling the beauty of coloring which characterizes the Aztec drawings, have been found among the northern tribes; nor any that indicate achievements in astronomy or arts; but the scrolls of bark, the paintings on buffalo-skins, the inscriptions on trees and
This is the highest development of the pictographic art of the Indians, and is called KEKEEWIN, or instructions. The rock inscriptions are called muzzinabiks. Tabular drawings of its elements as employed in the various grades of Indian life, of which it is designed to commemorate the acts, are exhibited in preceding pages, 793 and herewith reproduced. One of the
the muzzinabik inscriptions exists on a tabular limestone rock, on an island in Lake Erie. 796
The simpler forms of pictography are shown on the Indian adjedatiks, or grave posts, which contain the hieroglyphic memorials of their dead. 797 Its application to hunting (with the magic indicia of the medas), 798 to travel, D., to topography, B., and to trade, C, are fully illustrated. 799 Superstitious traditions are evident in the serpent-guarded king, Atatarho, and in the fiery flying heads, and stonish giants. 800 Biography, or personal exploits, are thus handed down to posterity. 801 The application of it to warlike excursions is shown by a copy of a pictograph drawn on the face of a rock on Lake Superior. 802 The mystic arts of the pow-wow, or prophet, are designated. 803 The totemic uses of the art in distinguishing families and tribes, are also shown. 804
The separation of the elementary from the concrete, in language, pictography, and whatever denotes mental development in the hunter races, does not appertain to the hunter state, but is, at once, one of the proofs of the possession of a logical intellect by civilized man. Yet a modified term for the pictographic art is applied to such of their complicated drawings as imply medical, mystical, or necromantic knowledge. These blendings of mystical ideas with actual knowledge are not simply called kekeewins, but ke-kee-(no)-wins. The best-executed specimens of the kekeenowin are those which are applied by the Indians to the notation of their
The Indians possess no art which is so characteristic of their mental traits as these various forms of
The subjoined fac-simile of an ancient Indian record of a battle-scene, copied by Dr. A. C. Hamlin from the face of
Chapter V. Intrusive Elements of Art From Europe and Asia.
SCANDINAVIAN sagas and records 807 inform us that, in the year 1000, Biorn landed on the American shores of the north Atlantic, in a flat country, which he found to be covered with forests. The following year Leif, son of Eric the Red Head, followed in his track from Greenland. He first discovered a rocky and barren country which he called Helluland, now known as Newfoundland; and then, sailing in a southerly direction, arrived at some lowlands covered with evergreens and forest trees, which he named Markland, subsequently the Acadia of the French, or Nova Scotia. Continuing his voyage in the same direction during two more days, he again saw land, which presented the appearance of a finely wooded shore, with mountains in the distance. Sailing thence, he came to an island, and subsequently to a river, which he entered, and landed on its banks. This country received the name of Vinland.
It is conjectured that Vinland comprised the area at present occupied by the States of Maine and New Hampshire; and the island appears to have been that of
This new theory of the location of Vinland will not have to encounter the nautical and astronomical objections, which have been urged against the geographical position previously assigned to it in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, by the learned association of Copenhagen; a location which is farther, by several days' sail, towards the south and south-west, than the sagas indicate. It also avoids the mal-interpretation of the figures and devices on the Dighton Rock, which are not of Scandinavian origin, or of any alphabetical value whatever; but, as I have suggested in a paper read before the American Ethnological Society, in 1843, 809 and also in my Ethnological Researches, 810 are in the ordinary style of the Indian kekeewin, or mnemonic pictographs. This kekeewin is a rude ideographic mode of communicating thought, by which triumphs in war and hunting, deaths, and other subjects, are commemorated by the Indians. Chingwalk, an Algonquin, versed in this species of the peculiar knowledge of his people, pronounced it to be one of their ancient muzzinabiks, made when their internal wars were rife; and, taking figure by figure, readily explained it to be the record of a victory gained by the chief of the tribe (probably the ancestors of the Pokanokets), over their enemies. 811 A daguerreotype copy of the inscription is herewith submitted. 812
During the establishment of the settlements made in the Onondaga country, in western New York, subsequent to the close of the Revolutionary war in 1783, when settlers were enabled to enter that ancient part of the Iroquois dominions, numerous monumental traces of European occupation were discovered, which excited a local interest. Most of them, however, were found to be the result of the labors of the early French missionaries during the seventeenth century. None of these once enigmatical remains could, it is believed, date farther back than A. D. 1650. A single vestige of an earlier date was brought to light, as the agricultural laborers cut down the forest growth. This was a boulder, on which was inscribed the digits 1520, and Leo VI., which date is eight years subsequent to the discovery of Florida. This
Mr. Jefferson gives a description of an ancient Indian mound, which was opened in eastern Virginia. 815 After the settlements were extended into western Virginia, antiquities of this kind, some of which were of larger dimensions, were frequently found in the forest. At the period referred to by Mr. Jefferson, they were regarded by the Indians as merely places of honorable interment for the remains of their great men; and he states that they were, even at that time, visited by parties of Indians,
journeying through the country, for the purpose of spending a short time in pious reflection and communion with the dead, according to their beliefs. When the settlements reached the Ohio valley, where these rude mausolea of the Indians were very numerous, the changes of manners and customs brought about by the introduction of European society, had led the Indians to drop the practice. Indians of the modern generation were unacquainted with the purport of these mounds. Replies given by the older sagamores to queries propounded, were vague, and may be regarded as having been designed, in some measure, to repress that inquisitive spirit among the emigrants, which is known to be distasteful to the natives, and is calculated to arouse the suspicious character, and awaken the superstitions of the Indians.
During the process of opening the great
During a visit which Mr. Thomas Ewbank made to Brazil and South America, he had his notice directed to some antique instruments made of bronze, belonging to the
We must regard the invention of the distaff as one of the oldest forms of human art. This ancient implement, as well as the blow-pipe, were certainly employed at the period of their highest development by the semi-civilized tribes of Mexico and Peru. Among the Aztecs, the mode of forming the spools of cotton thread from their peculiar distaff, or spindle, which revolved in a bowl, appears, from the picture writings, 818 to have been a laborious art, which it was necessary for the mistress of a homestead to teach to the children at an early age. The arts of
The Rev. George Howe, of Columbia, South Carolina, has described, in previous pages, 820 what appears to be an ancient Indian crucible for melting gold, which was found in one of the present gold diggings of North Carolina, nine feet below the solid surface.
Prior to the introduction of the steel and flint, the Indians produced fire by percussion. The method employed for this purpose was to cause an upright shaft, resting in
an orifice, to revolve rapidly by means of a string and bow. Descriptions of this process have been furnished in preceding pages. 821
No trace has been discovered of that ancient and simple invention, the potter's wheel. All the pottery of America was made by hand, from the most elaborate vases of Peru and Mexico, to the rude akeeks used by the natives of the Mississippi valley, and by the hunter tribes of New England.
To this resumé of the traces of foreign art found in America, must be added the evidences regarding the mining for native copper in the basin of Lake Superior. This topic has been elaborately discussed by Charles Whittlesy, Esq., of Ohio, whose descriptions are given in prior pages. 822 The theory of foreign art is not, however, without objection. The process employed was rude, and does not appear to have been beyond the capacity of the ancestors of the present Indians, who, judging from a survey of our antiquities, possessed a higher state of art prior to the discovery of America by the Europeans. The excavations seem to have been made during short intervals in the summer, by parties who came thither for that purpose from more southerly positions, whence their food was necessarily procured. No degree of art in metallurgy was developed equalling, certainly none surpassing, that known to be possessed by the Toltecs and Aztecs. It is therefore a more rational inference to refer the mining art of the northern tribes to that source, than to indulge in speculations which would assign to it a foreign origin. 823
Chapter VI. Antiquities on the Pacific Coasts of Oregon.
A CRITICAL examination of the
He remarks: "A very interesting subject of inquiry has been pursued by Mr. Schoolcraft, in his endeavor to follow the earth-works of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys into the region west of the Rocky mountains. A careful inquiry among the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the most intelligent free-trappers of Oregon, had satisfied Mr. Gibbs that none such existed in the country. During an examination of the Lower Yakama, however, the old Indian guide who accompanied him pointed out, on the left bank, a work which may possibly be considered as belonging to the same system, although being, so far as is known, a solitary one, it is somewhat questionable. The work consists of two concentric circles of earth about three feet high, with a ditch between. Within are about twenty cellars, situated without apparent design, except economy of room. They are some thirty feet across, and three feet deep, and the whole circle eighty yards in diameter. Captain M'Clellan's party had no time to examine it more particularly, and no tools to excavate. The ground was overgrown with artemisia bushes; but, except the form of the work, there was nothing to attract particular attention, or lead to the belief that it was the remains of any other
than a Yakama village. Their guide, however, who was a great authority on such matters, declared that it was made very long ago, by men of whom his people knew nothing. He added that there was no other like it. It is well posted for defence in Indian warfare, being on the edge of a terrace about fifteen feet high, a short distance from the river, and flanked on either side by a gulley. Outside of the circle, but quite near it, are other cellars, unenclosed, and in no way differing from the remains of villages frequently met with there. The Indians also pointed out, near by, a low hill or spur, which in form might be supposed to resemble an inverted canoe, and which he had said was a ship. It deserves investigation at least whether any relation can be traced between the authors of this and of the mounds in Sacramento valley, yet occupied by existing tribes.
"In this connection may also be mentioned a couple of modern fortifications, erected by the Yakamas upon the Sunkive fork. They are situated between two small branches, upon the summits of a narrow ridge some two hundred yards long, and thirty feet in height, and are about twenty-five yards apart. The first is a square with rounded corners, formed by an earthen embankment capped with stones; the interstices between which served for loop-holes, and without any ditch. It is about thirty feet on the sides, and the wall three feet high. The other is built of adobes, in the form of a rectangle, twenty by thirty-four feet, the walls three feet high, and twelve to eighteen inches thick, with loop-holes six feet apart. Both are commanded within rifle-shot by neighboring hills. They were erected in 1847 by Skloo, as a defence against the Cayuse. We did not hear whether they were successfully maintained, accounts varying greatly in this respect. In the same neighborhood Captain M'Clellan's party noticed small piles of stones raised by the Indians on the edges of the basaltic walls which enclose these valleys, but were informed that they had no purpose; they were put up through idleness. Similar piles are, however, sometimes erected to mark the fork of a trail. At points on these walls there were also many
If the Toltecs had passed down this coast in the eleventh century, with the art which they displayed in Mexico, it appears almost impossible that they should not have left some vestiges of it along the route they pursued.
Section Twenty-fifth. Indicia From Manners and Customs. Chapter I. Value of this Species of Testimony.
PRITCHARD, who has so elaborately investigated the natural history of the races of men, places but little reliance on manners and customs, as a means of drawing a comparison between the ancient condition of a people and their modern development. Lord Bacon, speaking of civilized and refined nations, refers to their changing customs, "as if they were dead images and enigmas." An astute writer, who flourished during the early part of the seventeenth century, and had travelled extensively among the Indian tribes of this continent, speaks of their manners and customs as being fallacious sources upon which to rely for any historical proofs. "The manners very soon degenerate by means of commerce with foreigners, and by the mixture of several nations uniting in one body, and by a change of empire always accompanied with a new form of government. How much more reason is there to believe such a sensible alteration of genius and manners amongst wandering nations become savage, living without principles, laws, education, or civil government, which might serve to bring them back to the ancient manners. Customs are still more easily destroyed. A new way of living introduces new customs, and those which have been forsaken are very soon forgotten. What shall I say of the absolute want of such things as are most necessary to life? and of which, the necessity of doing without, causes their names and uses to perish together?" 826
It appears to have been too frequently the object of travellers to glean details bordering on the marvellous, and illustrations of a picturesque character, with which
to amuse, rather than instruct, the readers of their journals, and by this gloss to divert public attention as much as possible from their inability, or failure, to procure and disseminate sound and reliable information. Geographical phenomena, the means of subsistence, and the natural history of countries, exert an important influence on customs. Nations, as they are near to, or distant from, the equator, require or reject the use of clothing. A tribe living where bears and wolves abound, would acquire skill in catching those animals. Sea-coast tribes are ichthyophagi. As the arts of a rude people pass away with them, the evidences of such arts must be sought in the relics of their mounds, tumuli, and sepulchres. Thus ossuaries and places of sepulture become, as it were, evidences of osteology, and present a subject for the study of archaeologists. A wrought shell, a pipe, a wedge of copper, a bone awl, thus become evidences of some consequence. Having placed on record the various customs of the tribes, as regards hunting,
The effects of climate and geographical location on the manners and customs of the Indians must always have been considerable. Tribes living under the equator, or within the tropics, have need of but little or no dress. Where the banana, the yam, and other tropical fruits, furnished the spontaneous means of subsistence, only a small amount of labor was required. The ancient Caribs, who resided in a country possessing a delicious climate, and on a soil which produced all that was required to support existence, went almost entirely naked, and loitered away life in idleness; while the Athapascas, of the Arctic latitudes, were compelled to wrap their feet in furs, and to rely on the forests for their entire supplies of animal and vegetable food. There were no generic differences between these tribes, either mentally or physically. A Carib, transferred to the northern confines of British America, would envelop his body in warm clothing; and an Athapascan, who emigrated to St. Domingo, would throw by his elk-skin coat, coarse woollens, and moccasins, and soon fall into the effeminate manners of the subjects of Queen Anacoana.
The Spaniards introduced the horse into Mexico in 1519. In 1538, both the horse and the hog were introduced into Florida. How long did it require to diffuse these species over all the habitable parts of the continent? A drove of hogs had been driven through Florida by De Soto, to sustain his army under exigencies. Coronado adopted the same precaution in 1541, by driving flocks of sheep into New Mexico, under the protection of his army. Many of these were taken by the celebrated seven tribes of Cibola, against whom he waged war with the view of compelling them to reveal the location of treasures of gold. The information they furnished had led him thither in search of cities said to be renowned for progress in the arts; that progress, however, only existed in his own imagination, which drew largely on the traditionary fables of Tejou. 828 Thus the Navajoes and Moquis obtained the breed of sheep which have so multiplied in their hands; whence have originated the false and extravagant theories regarding their condition and origin. 829
The horse multiplied so rapidly on the plains and savannahs of Mexico, that all the tribes of Indians, east, west, and north of that province, soon supplied themselves with this efficient auxiliary to man in his journeys and labor. The predatory tribes west of the Missouri carried this animal with them to the north, and introduced it among the Dakotahs and Assinaboines, whence it found its way in to Oregon through the passes of the Rocky mountains. A singular and marked result attended the possession of the horse by the outgoing tribes of the Shoshonee stock, which is indigenous to the broad range of the Rocky mountains a barren region abounding in rugged peaks and defiles, possessing a very limited flora and fauna, and but few resources. These Indians are compelled to live on roots and larva. Driven by the Pawnees and Crows from the open country at the foot of the mountains, they at times venture down their gorges to seek the buffalo; but they have always evinced a pusillanimous character, and have been generally pronounced to be the lowest and most degraded of all the tribes. Yet, the tribes of this inferior stock, who successfully emigrated to, and made their home on, the plains of Texas, where they are known by the Spanish name of Comanches, have been improved, both in their spirit and character, by the possession of the horse; and have acquired so much skill in its management, that they are regarded as the Arabs of the plains. Those portions of the Shoshonee stock who descended the Lewis or Snake river into Oregon, have also progressed in the social scale by the use of the horse; whilst the bands and septs inhabiting the interior of California still retain their grovelling habits, are footmen, and dwell in caves and in excavations in the earth.
Nothing produces a more immediate effect upon the customs of the Indians, than the introduction of domestic animals. All the stock-raising habits of the North American tribes, as developed in their attention to the rearing of the horse, domestic cow, hog, and sheep, date back only to the period of the discovery and conquest of the country. Among the tribes of the great lake basins, extending thence to the sources
of the Mississippi, and to the forest regions east of that river, the canoe has supplied the place of the horse. The same remark applies also to the country situate north of latitude 40°. In all this part of America hay must be cut for the horse, and he must be housed during the winter. Those of the tribes living on the Atlantic coasts, at the era of the establishment of the colonies, navigated the rivers in canoes formed from solid trees, hollowed out by the alternate use of fire and stone picks. In the latitudes in which flourished the betula papyracea, sheets of the outer rind of that tree, spread over a frame-work of cedar, furnished the common facilities for conveyance and transportation. Yet, when the Shawnees and various tribes of the Algonquin stock removed from the north to the interior latitudes of Kanzas, they abandoned the art of fabricating the bark-canoe, and relied solely on horses.
The flora of the United States has also greatly affected the Indian customs. When the exploratory ships of Raleigh first visited the coasts of Virginia, they there procured the potato, which was thence introduced into Ireland and England. The Powhatanic tribes, in whose territories this valuable tuber grew, had never thought of cultivating it. The females sought it in the forests, as the Assinaboines
The tribes are much given to imitation of each others' customs. Some of the Iroquois dances have been deemed very characteristic of that family; but it is found that one of the most noted of their war dances has been derived from the Dakotahs. 831 The Algonquins of the lakes, who are forest tribes, invariably bury their dead; while the Dakotahs, of the plains of the Mississippi, place the remains of their deceased friends and relatives on scaffolds. It has been observed that, for many years past, the Chippewas of Lake Superior and the Upper Mississippi, and also the Sauks and Foxes, who anciently practised the same mode of sepulture, have adopted the Dakotah custom of placing their dead on scaffolds. The dead are placed in canoes by the Chinooks of the Pacific coast. See Plate herewith. 832
While their mental habits are remarkably permanent, many changes in the external customs of the Indian tribes are constantly occurring, in accordance with their varying positions and circumstances. Nor can it be inferred, from the constitution of hunter society, that changes which are adopted on the Mississippi, on the great lakes, and on the western prairies, may not be found to have previously existed, under the same circumstances, among affiliated nations residing on the banks of the Yenissee, Lena, and Obi, where the Mongolic and Tartaric races predominate.
Chapter II. Fluctuations of Customs Among the Mississippi Valley, and Pacific Coast Tribes.
TRIBAL changes in the mode of disposing of the dead, from interment to exposure on scaffolding, have been mentioned; and, it is believed, result from the military element in the Indian character, which seeks to preserve, by sepultural display, the memory of the brave exploits of the departed. But this is not the most important change in their sepultural customs which has taken place since the discovery of the continent. No fact is better known than the former existence of the custom of permitting the body to decay in charnel-lodges, or other situations, above ground, and of subsequently interring the bones, with public ceremony, in trenches; accompanying this duty with pious rites, in which the inhabitants of entire villages participated. In these ultimate rites, the
been placed in trenches in short piles, as on the banks of the Merrimack, in Missouri. 836 The Indians never carried stones, for sepulchral purposes, a long distance. Habit slowly altered among the tribes, but may be supposed to have been sometimes affected by density of population, or to have given way before the necessity of labor, or some prime difficulty. They placed their dead in caves where the country was cavernous: parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, affording great advantages for this mode of depositing the dead. The earth of these caverns, being strongly impregnated with nitre, frequently produced the effects of embalming. The individual enclosed in wrappings of bark, found in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, was an instance of exsiccation.
Along the shores of the Pacific, where a canoe constitutes the principal personal property of an Indian, the deceased owner is placed in it, and the vessel deposited in the forks of trees, until the flesh has resolved itself into its elements, when the bones are carefully buried. This method of depositing the dead is shown in the accompanying Plate. 837 The Indian has a peculiar regard and respect for his dead; and whatever other traits he lacks in this world, he makes important provisions, according to his creed, for the convenience of his friends in the next. The rites of sepulchre are always performed with exact and ceremonious attention. Their belief is, that the spirits of the dead, though unseen, are present on these occasions, and are very scrupulous that the rites should be duly performed. The ritual of canoe burial, as practised by the Chinooks, at the mouth of the Columbia, is given by my correspondent, Mr. James G. Swan, in the following words:
"When a chief, or person of consequence, either male or female, is taken sick of any fatal disease, recourse is had to the
The same observer, who was present at the burial of an aged female of rank, at Shoalwater Bay, in Washington Territory, gives the following graphic account of what occurred:
"She had been sick some time of liver complaint, and finding her symptoms grew more aggravated, she sent for a
"Towards night the doctor came, bringing with him his own and another family to assist in the ceremonies. After they had eaten supper, the centre of the lodge was cleaned up and fresh sand strewn over it. A bright fire of dry wood was then kindled,
and a brilliant light kept up by occasionally throwing oil upon it. I considered this to be a species of incense offered; for the same light could have been produced, if desired, by a quantity of pitch knots which were lying in the corner. The patient, well wrapped in blankets, was laid on her back, with her head slightly elevated, and her hands crossed on her breast. The doctor knelt at her feet, and commenced to sing a refrain, the subject of which was an address to the dead, asking them why they had come to take his friend and mother away, and begging them to go away and leave her. The rest of the people in the lodge then sang the chorus in a low, mournful chant, keeping time by knocking on the roof overhead with long sticks they held. The burthen of the chorus was to beg of the dead to leave them.
"As the performance proceeded, the doctor got more and more excited, singing loudly and violently, with great gesticulation, and occasionally making passes with his hands over the face and person of the patient, similar to those made by mesmeric manipulators, a constant accompaniment being kept up by the others with their low chant and knocking with sticks. The patient soon fell asleep, and the performance ceased. She slept a short time, and woke refreshed. These ceremonies were repeated several times during the night, and kept up for three days; but it was found that the patient grew no better, and another doctor was sent for, who soon came with his family (some three or four persons), the first doctor remaining, as the more persons they have to sing, the better. Old John, as the last doctor was usually called, had no sooner partaken of food, than he sat down at the feet of the patient, covering himself completely with his blanket. He remained in this position three or four hours, without moving or speaking. He was communing with his To-mah-na-was, or familiar spirit.
"When he was ready, he commenced singing in a loud and harsh manner, making the most vehement gesticulations. He then knelt, on the patient's body, pressing his hands and clenched fists into her sides and breast, till it seemed to me the woman must be killed. Every few seconds he would scoop his hands together, as if he had caught something; then turning towards the fire, would blow through his hands as though he had something in them he wished to cast into the flames. The fire was kept stirred up, so as to have plenty of coals, on which it appeared he was trying to burn the evil spirit he was exorcising. There was no oil put on the fire this time; for the Indians told me they put on the oil to light up their lodge, to let their dead friends see they had plenty, and were happy, and did not wish to go with them. But now, all they wanted was to have the fire hot enough to burn the Skookum, or devil, the doctor was trying to get out.
"The pounding and singing were kept up the same as with the first performance. Old John first sang to his To-mah-na-was to aid him. Then addressing the supposed evil spirit, he by times coaxed, cajoled, and threatened, to induce it to depart; but all was of no avail, for in two days the woman died.
"One of the best canoes belonging to the
short distance from the lodge, and prepared for the reception of the body. These canoes are carved out of a single log of cedar, and are of the most beautiful proportions. Some are of a size capable of holding a hundred persons, with all their arms and accoutrements. The canoe in question was about thirty-five feet long. It was first thoroughly washed; then two large, square holes were cut through the bottom, probably for the two-fold purpose of letting out any water that might collect in the canoe during rain storms, and also to prevent the canoe from ever again being used. Nice new mats of rushes were then placed inside, and on these the corpse, wrapped in new blankets, was laid.
"All the household implements and utensils that had been the property of the deceased were placed in the canoe beside her; care being taken to crack or break all the crockery, and to punch holes through the tin or copper utensils. Blankets, calico dresses, and trinkets, were also placed around the body, which was then covered over with more new mats; and a small canoe, that fitted into the large one, was turned bottom up over all. Four stout posts of cedar plank were then driven into the ground, and through holes, morticed near the top, were thrust two parallel bars, about four feet from the ground. The canoe was then raised up, and firmly secured on the top of the bars, and the whole covered over with mats.
"The object of elevating the canoe was, to keep the wild beasts from tearing the body, and to allow of a free circulation of air, which, by keeping the canoe dry, prevented a rapid decomposition of the wood, which would be likely to take place if the canoe was on the damp earth. Although the majority of canoes I have seen were placed on the horizontal bars, yet it is not a general rule; as, sometimes, two posts formed of forked branches are used, and the canoe rests in the fork. Neither do the coast tribes always use the canoes to bury their dead in; for I have noticed, at the mouth of the Columbia, several instances where boxes made of boards were used instead of canoes.
"After a person dies, and before the body is removed from the lodge, there are no outward signs of grief; but no sooner are the burial rites completed, than they commence singing the death-song, which is simply an address to the spirit of the departed friend or relative, bewailing their loss, and telling of their many virtues.
"The burthen of the song, in the instance just cited, was:
"‘Oh! our mother, why did you leave us?
"This song, with some slight variation, was sung every morning at sunrise, and every evening at sunset, for thirty days; at the expiration of which time, the lodge was pulled down, and the family moved to another part of the bay."
In speaking of the general customs regarding
"There are many instances where bones may be found in canoes, where they have laid for many years; but, in these cases, the immediate relatives of the deceased had either died, or gone to some other part of the coast. I endeavored to witness the ceremony of collecting and burying the bones of several Indians; but, as I found the relatives objected, I did not urge the matter. They said they were afraid to have me with them, as the dead were standing round to see the ceremony, and would be angry if a stranger was there. It was formerly the custom, and is now, among the tribes further north, to kill a favorite slave whenever a person of importance dies; or, instead of a slave, a favorite horse; but, where there are any white settlers among the Indians, this custom is abandoned. It has been stated that the Indians of Oregon and Washington always kill the doctors when they are unsuccessful. Instances have undoubtedly occurred, where the relatives of a deceased person have become exasperated with a doctor, and have killed him; but it is not a general practice, nor have I ever known of an instance of the kind from personal observation. An account was also published, of a mummy found in Washington Territory, and afterwards exhibited at San Francisco, causing much learned discussion among the scientific. The real history of that mummy is this: I was engaged, with a friend, in examining some old canoes which were on a narrow and very bluff promontory on the east side of Shoal-Water bay. As we were about to step over what we supposed was an old log, overgrown with moss and bushes, the brush gave way, and we then discovered it to be a large canoe, bottom up; and, on turning it over, we found under it a small canoe, containing the dried carcass of an Indian man, and the skeletons of two children. The body looked precisely as if it had been smoked; and my impression was, that the man was much emaciated at the time of his death, and, having probably been buried during the summer, when there is usually a clear dry atmosphere, and having been placed on this promontory, where there is always a fine breeze, had dried up: and I think I am justified in my impression, when it is recollected that, during the summer months in California and Oregon, meat, when exposed to a current of air in the sun, will dry and not putrify. The idea of any embalming process being used, or the veins being injected with a pitchy substance, as was stated, is simply absurd. The Indians in that section, like all others I ever have heard of, have the same manners
and customs as their ancestors; and, if it ever had been customary to embalm bodies at any period, it would most certainly have been perpetuated by common custom, or handed down by tradition: but, after the most diligent inquiry among the Indians, I found no evidence of such fact. Their universal opinion was, like mine, that the body had dried up. 838
"There is, however, a peculiar preservative quality in the soil around the bay. Being of a very siliceous nature, petrifactions abound; and carnelians, agates, and other precious stones, are found in abundance. I have also noticed that, where bodies have been interred in certain localities, they did not decay. An instance of this kind occurred at my own place. A young Indian, about twenty-five years old, died, and was, at my suggestion, buried by his friends in a large camphor-wood chest, such as are usually brought from China. This chest was placed in a grave about five feet deep, and covered up with sand. The following year the relatives were desirous to remove the bones to their own burying-spot across the bay; and, on opening the chest, the body was discovered to be as fresh as it was when first buried; and, probably, if it had been carried to San Francisco, would have excited the admiration of the quid nuncs quite as much as the mummy did. It is far better, when natural causes can be assigned for any novelty, to cite them, rather than attempt to mystify the minds of the public by speculative theories, which have no foundation in facts.
"When any person dies in a lodge, the family never will sleep in it again; but either burn it up, or, as in the instance I have mentioned, remove it to some other location. This, I believe, is an invariable custom. Sometimes the lodge is immediately destroyed, and at other times remains for a while and is then removed; or, if the boards are not wanted, the lodge will be deserted entirely, and suffered to remain and gradually go to decay.
"Since the whites have settled among the coast tribes, they have induced the natives, in many instances, to bury their dead in the ground; but, when left to themselves, they almost universally retain and adhere to their ancient custom, and bury their dead in canoes."
The fluctuations in the manners, customs, and condition of the Pacific coast tribes, are destined to be more abrupt and striking than they were in the settlements east of the Rocky mountains. All these settlements were, more or less, the effects of causes long operating. But the sudden rush of population to the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, was of so resistless a character, that the Indian tribes were dismayed. Driven, with little ceremony, from the permanent points first occupied by the incoming migration, they fled to the smaller valleys and mountain passes. Lacking the necessary physical power of resistance, possessing minds of but feeble capacity, and very low
in arts, mariners, and customs; living on spontaneous productions along the coasts, or in the forests; cunning, treacherous, and revengeful, their efforts to redress themselves, by sudden attacks on the towns and settlements, only involved them more deeply in misfortune, and in a few years aroused against them feelings of hatred, as deep as they were universal. Emigrant miners, who were deeply intent on digging for gold in the auriferous soils of California, could bear but little interruption in their labor; and when reprisals were made on their rapacity, blood was the price of the attempt; and war and discords soon became common along the coasts.
These sudden changes have greatly complicated the Indian affairs on that border. Mr. Palmer, the superintendent in 1854, found the tribes in a state of disturbance, alarm, and distraction, which he essayed to allay by personal conferences: "I visited several bands of the Umpquas. I found many of them wretched, sickly, and almost starving. Their habits being exceedingly improvident, and the winter unusually severe, they have been kept from perishing by the limited assistance afforded by a few humane settlers.
"Through the operation of the law, lately enacted, prohibiting the sale of fire-arms and ammunition to Indians, they can no longer procure game, rendered scarce and timid by the presence of the white man; and the cultivation of the soil, together with the grazing of large herds of domestic animals, has greatly diminished the subsistence derived from native roots and seeds.
"They said, truly, that they were once numerous and powerful, but now few and weak; that they had always been friendly to the whites, and desired them to occupy their lands; that they wanted but a small spot on which they might live in quiet. Many of their number they said had been killed by the whites, in retaliation for wrongs committed by Indians of other tribes, but that they had never offered violence in return. That they should receive the means of subsistence for the few years they will exist, they claim to be but just, in return for lands once yielding them abundant supplies. Presents were made them, and agent Martin instructed to secure them small tracts of land, on which I learn they are now cultivating potatoes, corn, peas, and other vegetables, giving promise that, under the wise and fostering care of the Government, they may become a domestic and agricultural people. The country of the Umpquas is bounded east by the Cascade mountains, west by the Umpqua mountains and the ocean, north by the Calipooia mountains, and south by
"Near the Grave creek hills reside the feeble remnant of several bands, once numerous and warlike. Their constant aggressions and treacherous conduct has brought upon them the heavy hand of vengeance, both of the whites and Indians. They
speak the Umpqua language, and, though so different in character, may be regarded as belonging to that tribe.
"I found the Indians of the Rogue river valley excited and unsettled. The hostilities of last summer had prevented the storing of the usual quantities of food; the occupation of their best root-grounds by the whites greatly abridged that resource; their scanty supplies and the unusual severity of the winter had induced disease, and death had swept away nearly one-fifth of those residing on the reserve. Consternation and dismay prevailed; many had fled, and others were preparing to fly to the mountains for security."
In no part of America have the Indian manners and customs been found in so low a condition. The tribes have no agriculture at all a fact which appears to be in part owing to the abundance of sustenance spontaneously furnished on that coast. Mr. Palmer remarks: "To a sparse, roaming, savage population, no portion of Oregon yields a greater abundance and variety of spontaneous products for their subsistence. Muscles deeply encase the rocks rising from the ocean near the coast; several species of clams abound on the beach, and crabs in the bays; while salmon, herrings, sardines, and other fish, in perpetual succession, visit the streams. The mountains yield a profusion of berries, and the lowlands, in the proper season, swarm with wild fowl."
Chapter III. Indian Theory of the Deification of the Sun.
THE idolatrous and heathen nations of the oriental world held the same views as our aborigines on the subject of the deification of animals, to whom offerings were made. Nor were they less united in their ideas with regard to the mysterious nature of fire and the sun. Both these theories infatuated the American Indians. None of the general customs of the American tribes have so greatly changed as those connected with the external ceremonies of the worship of the sun once so prevalent throughout the continent. The idea of a trinary central seat of heat, light, and life in the sun, was once the general belief of the entire Indian population of America. In Peru it had originally been the worship of the Indians of the old Atacama period, before the era of Manco Capac; but it was reinvigorated by the power and influence of the dynasty of this, apparently, Persian adventurer, or Parsee ecclesiastic, who connected his personal supremacy with the national religion. When Cortez landed in Mexico the theory was there still in vogue, and was recognised by the priesthood, who annually renewed the sacred fire, and thus secured their influence; but its vitality was sapped by a system of horrid human sacrifices to the Mexican Moloch, who was worshipped under the name of Huitzilapochtli.
In the Mississippi valley, the Natchez, or Chigantualgas of the Spaniards, one of the early groups of tribes, practised its prominent rites for at least a decade after the close of the seventeenth century. As late as the year 1721, P. de Charlevoix, the learned envoy sent by the French Court to inspect the American missions, found it in existence among the Natchez, occupying the present area of the State of Mississippi, who had a temple in which the fire was kept burning, and a regularly appointed priesthood, who enforced the system. They received the offerings, dedicated them to the sun, and exacted the fees, or tenths, whether of birds, fish, animals, or other objects.
According to this writer, 839 the Natchez, in their external appearance, did not differ from the other Indians of Louisiana or Canada. Contrary, however, to the custom of these tribes, their government was despotic. The chiefs possessed an absolute sway
over the liberty and property of the people; their manners assumed a greater degree of haughtiness and rapaciousness, founded on the theory of their descent from the sun. The effects of this had been to drive the mass of the population more from the central location, where they were subject to heavy exactions, and to cause them to found new villages. A few years earlier the military strength of the nation had been estimated at 4000 warriors, but it had dwindled to 2000. The ruling chief bore the title of the Sun, and the succession was vested in the female line; as it was with the Iroquois, among whom the son of the nearest female relation of the ruling chief succeeded. The ruling chief had a guard of men called allouez, whose office was, to dispatch or make way with any who resisted his authority, or made himself obnoxious. He required his subjects to salute him thrice every morning with a kind of salaam, and to bring him a portion of what they obtained by hunting and fishing. The Hurons, Charlevoix remarked, as well as the Natchez, believe that they descended from the sun; but they are too jealous of their personal rights to succumb to the Natchez system of external police and government.
A rustic temple, forty feet by twenty, constructed of wood, without any floor, was erected for the worship of the luminary. In this edifice a fire was kept perpetually burning, by means of three massive pieces of wood, which appointed keepers watched in turn. As in Mexico and Peru, the duties and powers of the chief executive and head ecclesiastic were united in one person. Every morning the Sun-chief stood at the door of the temple, facing the east, and addressed the rising luminary thrice; after which he prostrated himself, and then offered the incense of tobacco, by smoking a pipe appropriated to this occasion, blowing the smoke first towards the sun, and then towards the cardinal points, very much after the manner described by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, as practised among the Kenistenos and Assinaboines 840 of Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods, of the North.
The heads of families never failed to carry the first fruits of all they gathered to the door of the temple. The keeper, having first dedicated them, took them to the chief, as his prerogative. Offerings of bread were also made at every full moon; and the corn and other grains, before planting, were first brought to the temple for a benediction. Compare this theory with the blood sprinkled on the planted corn in the sacrifice of Haxta, on the Missouri, in 1838. 841
It is evident, from the description of Charlevoix, that the system was then in its wane, though it had prevailed extensively, and was yet recognised by the Appalachian group of tribes. "The greatest part of the nations of Louisiana," observes M. de Charlevoix, "had formerly the temples as well as the Natchez; and in all these temples a perpetual fire is kept up. It should seem that the Mobilians 842 enjoyed a sort of
primacy in religion over all the other nations in this part of Florida; for, when any of the fires happened to be extinguished, through chance or negligence, it was necessary to kindle them again at theirs. But the temple of the Natchez is the only one existing at present, and is held in great veneration by all the savages inhabiting this vast continent; the decrease of whose numbers is as considerable, and has been still more sudden than that of the people of Canada, without it being possible to assign a true reason for this result. Whole nations have entirely disappeared, within the space of forty years at most, and those who still remain are no more than the shadow of what they were. 843
This numerical decline of the Natchez may be ascribed to the oppressive power of the chiefs, and the consequent decline and extinction of the external rites of the sun-worship in the country. Tradition represents the last Sun of the Natchez to have been an inflated man, who, with a high notion of his descent, office, and position, appears to have neglected the means of preserving his peaceful relations with the French, with whom he waged war. The French under Louis XIV. had other notions of political power, than to yield to a forest king. They extinguished his idolatrous fire, attacked the nation with irresistible impetuosity, killed the greater number of them, and finally drove the remainder to a place of refuge on the Washita river, where monumental evidences of their residence still exist. They were compelled to take shelter in the Creek confederacy, of which they yet constitute an element.
But, although the deification of the sun had, at an early day, been a cardinal principle in the religion of all the Vesperic tribes from the Gulf of Mexico to the Kennebec, the Penobscot, and the St. Lawrence, it had sunk into secondary importance, and its worship was only acknowledged by genuflections, long before the extinguishment of its last altar-fires at Natchez. Evidences that the system had been diffused among the northern tribes, still exist in their inartistic monuments, as also in their traditions and pictographs. The essential rites performed by the Great Sun-chief, at Natchez, namely, the offering of the nicotiana in a State pipe, kindled with sacred fire, were precisely the same as those practised at all public and solemn assemblies of the tribes, from the era of the primary European emigration to Virginia, throughout all periods of our history. No public functionary resident in the Indian country has failed to notice the extraordinary importance attached to these ceremonies by the Indians. We have, personally, witnessed them in the presence of approving thousands, who believed in the sacredness of the rites, at public conferences held in Washington City, Detroit, Michilimackinac, Chicago, St. Louis, at Prairie du Chien, St. Peters, St. Marys, and on the vast steppes at the
manners and customs is ignorant of the great value they attach to the fumes of tobacco, which they regard as an acceptable offering to the Great Spirit. The plant itself is indigenous in tropical latitudes, but it has been cultivated as far north as the climate will permit. Beyond those latitudes, it is carried, as the most valued article of trade, even to the Arctic circle. 844
We have the testimony of Charlevoix, who visited all the tribes in New France, between Quebec and New Orleans, and conversed with the resident missionaries, that the sun worship had prevailed among, and was then believed in by the Hurons, and all the other tribes. 845 It is stated by the respected author of the "Notes to Ontwa," published at Boston, in 1824, that an eternal fire had formerly been kept burning on the island of Chegoimegon, in Lake Superior; and in preceding pages we have given the tradition of another person, an educated half-blood, that the Odjibwas there held stated assemblages for religious and political purposes, under the rule of a MUDJIKEWIS, or first-born son of an established dynasty. 846 The worship of the sun is also described in prior pages, as still existing among the ceremonious practices of the Dakotahs a people who trace their origin to the south. 847
In investigating the superstitious rites of the Indians, the symbol of the sun is frequently seen in their pictographic scrolls, and signs of mnemonic
No system of religion which imposed heavy stated tributes, or trenched greatly on personal liberty, would have been suited to secure the permanent favor of the American tribes, while they were free to migrate ad libitum. In Mexico and South America such systems had been connected with despotic forms of government; and, in truth, had been the veritable means by which such despotisms had been established, both in Peru and Mexico. The very magnificence of the forests, rivers, and lakes of the regions inhabited by the Vesperic tribes, had the effect, as before premised, 850 not only of multiplying tribes and dialects, and of tending to lead them into barbaric and totemic associations, but, conjoined with the vast area of the country which was at their command, it may be considered as having been unfavorable to the growth and development of the Parsaic forms of religion. The Indians, living in vast forests abounding in enormous trees, adopted the belief in wood-dryads, the daemons of the Greeks, whom they propitiate under the name of Monetos, or local spirits, regarding them as subordinate powers of the Great Spirit. As these dryads were generally
thought to be of a malignant nature, the simple offering to them, at consecrated spots, of tobacco, vermilion, red cloth, or any highly valued article, was adopted as the means of appeasing them. Giants, sorcerers, wizards, and other creations of a timid fancy, were supposed to be inspired by these wood-daemons.
Another striking feature of their system of deification was the belief that the Indian Moneto concealed himself, not only under the forms of men who mingled in society, and were familiarly conversed with, but that he frequently assumed the shape of a wolf, deer, bear, elk, bird, tortoise, amphibious animal, or even an insect. Here appears the evidence of a fruitful imagination, corresponding with the ancient forms of deification existing among the nations resident in the valleys of the Euphrates and the Nile. The scale of progression in error would seem to be precisely the same here, as there, descending regularly from the human to the brute species. Bel Amon and Osiris were succeeded by the winged bull, the winged lion, and the sphinx; and these, in turn, by the crocodile, the ibex, the cat, and the calf. The Typhon of the Nile may be said to correspond to the Vatipa of the Amazon; 851 and, agreeably to Mr. Layard, to the Nerig and Siluth, 852 and other night-monsters of the ancient necromancers of Nineveh. Of the clan of evil deities are the Kluneolux of the Iroquois; the Chepian, the Wabéno, and the Manitoosh of the Algonquins; and the Skookum of the Oregonians. Some conception may, perhaps, be formed of these creations of Indian sorcery, by a glance at the annexed plate of the Dance of the Giants. 853
Chapter IV. Existing Characteristic Customs.
IN prosecuting our inquiries regarding a people so prone to adhere to their ancient opinions, and whose mental peculiarities are so firmly rooted, we should scarcely expect to find original manners and customs, but rather experience an emotion of surprise that any fresh traits had escaped observation. Amongst the Chippewas of Lake Superior there exists a very ingenious art of
Amongst the Toltecs, whose imaginative creation comprises many of the ideas of the Vesperic tribes, Cinteotl was the goddess of corn. Our tribes have either not incorporated this personification in their nomenclature, or it has thus far escaped notice; though the inhuman tragedy perpetrated on the Missouri, in 1838 the sacrifice to the corn-power, of Haxta, a captive Sioux girl reveals the idea. 854 This is still more fully developed by the feast of Mondamin, represented in the accompanying drawing. This feast is strictly an offering of first-fruits to the power which has germinated the grain, promoted the growth, and perfected the favorite food of the aboriginal race. The ceremonies commence with the gathering of the ears from the field, which are conveyed to, and piled in heaps in, the lodge. The corn is simply boiled in water, and then served up, in the ear, to the invited guests, after having been duly offered to the Great Spirit, in thankfulness and with an appropriate address. Each guest brings his own dish, and retires backwards to the door, whence he proceeds to his own lodge with the grain he has received. This ceremony of first-fruits is called Busk by the Creeks, and has been previously described. 855
The knowledge and practice of medicine has, from the earliest date, been held in the highest respect by the Indian tribes. Muskikiwin is the term applied to their materia
medica, or to the curative properties of botanical and other remedies; and by means of a personal inflection added to this word, the class of doctors, properly so called, is designated. The curative art must be distinguished from the practices of the MEDAWIN a society of men who profess to give efficacy to their remedies by necromancy. When the office of the latter is sought, a course of ablutions, ascetisms, fasts, and ceremonies, is practised, known only to the initiated. The order consists of three degrees of progress, from the initiate or Ogima, through the Sagima to the Master Meda. Presiding persons, who form essentially a faculty, superintend the admissions and grant the awards of the society. The process of this medico-magic association has been elaborately described in antecedent pages. 856
The number of botanical remedies employed by the Indian doctors of the Muskikiwin, in complaints similar to those for which they are recommended by our physicians, is enumerated by Dr. Zina Pitcher in his valuable observations, heretofore published. 857 The pathological knowledge possessed by the Dakotahs has been described by Dr. Williamson, 858 and that of the Winnebagoes by Dr. Andros. 859 In some instances, the herb-doctors, conforming to the superstitions of the people, employ incantations and rattles, as denoted in Plate XLVI., p. 250, Vol. 1. The yokullah, or black drink, used by the Appalachian tribes, is a strong decoction of the cassina plant, imbibed periodically, and regarded as a panacea or catholicon. 860 The root of the zhigowau, a kind of turmeric, is chewed by the Chippewas, with the view of rousing their courage preparatory to war excursions, or to deaden the effects of pain. Charlevoix states that the Natchez had a "medicine of war," which was drank by them previous to their war excursions. 861
It may be observed of all the tribes, that medical services, if successful, are well rewarded; but if the patient dies, it frequently costs the unfortunate physicians their lives. 862 The responsibility of practising this profession is known to have been great in all ages of their history, and the penalty of failure is, in a great measure, in proportion to the remote position and barbarism of the tribes. A recent observer (Myor. Alvord), in the military service of the government in Oregon, remarks that the massacre of Indian doctors, who were unfortunate in their prescriptions, had taken place in the central parts of the Columbia valley within a short period. 863 It is not to be inferred, however, that equal barbarity is manifested by bereaved Indians along the entire range of the North-West coast, while the respect accorded to doctors in California, Oregon, and Washington, is equally high. In those regions, where the civil power of the chiefs is very circumscribed, and no fixed form of government at all exists, the practitioner of medicine and the Indian priest exert the principal authority.
"In all the Indian tribes," says a recent correspondent, who has spent several years
in that quarter, "the doctor, or medicine-man, holds a rank second only, and at times superior, to the chiefs. The arts they employ, the magic they use, and the varied information they must necessarily acquire, can be obtained only by persons possessing natural gifts, and after severe trials by fasting and privation. I am of opinion, from what I have observed, that the principal powers by which these doctors obtain such influence among the tribes are those of mesmerism, and the stronger the physical energies to exert the magnetic development, the greater is the person possessing them considered.
"When young men or women are approaching maturity, it is customary for them to prepare themselves for the duties of life by an ordeal of fasting, by which means they are enabled to determine their future career, and ascertain whether or not they are qualified to act as doctors (for, with these tribes, female operators are quite common). A young man, who had passed through the ceremony of the fast, thus related it to me: ‘When my father thought I was old enough to seek my To-mah-na-was (or guardian spirit), he told me his views, and wished me to prepare myself. I thought over the matter for three days, (klone sun nika wawa kopah nika tumtum; or, three days I talked with my heart). At last, when I had concluded, I took with me my axe and my wooden bowl, and getting into my canoe, I paddled up the Whilapah river to the foot of that black-looking hill which you see (pointing to a bluff hill about six miles up the river), and, having hauled up my canoe, I filled my bowl with water and went up to the top of the hill, where I built a fire. For three days and three nights I kept my fire blazing brightly, and did not sleep at all, nor did I eat. At sunrise, I washed myself all over with water from my bowl and dried myself by the fire. I kept awake by singing and calling to my To-mah-na-was, and by dancing and jumping over and through the fire. The third day I saw everything appear as if it was surrounded by the sea, and in that sea were the different kinds of To-mah-na-was. Those that we first see are not the medicine To-mah-na-was it takes many more days before they appear; but I was faint, and I only saw an inferior spirit; but he has made me a canoe-builder and a hunter. If I could have remained longer, I should have been a doctor.’ By this, it appears that it is only those that possess the requisite natural gifts who can become doctors.
"These fasts are the most sacred act of the Indian's life. Like the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains, the impressions received during these ceremonies remain fixed on the mind and are never obliterated in after life. The name of the To-mah-na-was, or guardian spirit, is never mentioned to the dearest friend. And it is only by hieroglyphic drawings of whales, lizards, porpoises, or birds, that an idea can be formed of what the image of the spirit is like, or the shape in which it was presented to the mind of the seeker. The same feeling of dread is felt at the idea of pronouncing the name of a dead friend. Years must elapse before any one is allowed to speak the name of the departed; and this feeling of respect for the dead is even carried so far, that the
survivors change their own names for fear the spirits of the dead may be attracted at hearing the familiar sounds spoken which they loved to hear while dwellers on the earth.
"As soon as a young person ascertains the fact of possessing the power of exerting the magnetic influence, instruction in various forms of the so-called magic, or power of working spells, is imparted by some old doctor, as a professor of mesmerism might instruct a pupil. As I have stated in an article on burials, this gift is of various grades. Hence we find that some are simple magnetizers, possessing the power to put their patients to sleep; others are clairvoyants, and profess not only to read the nature of internal disease by ocular inspection, but to know the forms of simples to be used to work a cure.
"The Indians draw their tropes and figures from surrounding objects. Thus the doctors on the coast, surrounded by marine productions, find in figures of whales, sharks, porpoises, seals, sea-slugs, snails, and reptiles, suitable objects with which to personify and clothe their ideas of skookums, or devils, who are supposed to be the bad spirits who prey on the vitals of the sick, causing death. The canoe among these tribes is the coffin.
"But with the interior tribes, travelling on horseback, and chasing the buffalo, deer, elk, and other animals, different ideas are associated; and with them, as with the coast tribes, familiar objects are made use of. A diseased liver, supposed by the coast Indians to be caused by a crab gnawing the afflicted part, is charged by the dweller of the interior to the malignant spirit in the shape of a frog or a turtle. These people bury their dead either in the ground, or in boxes perched on poles, or in forks of trees; while among the Digger tribes of California the funeral rites are performed by burning the corpse to ashes. A knowledge of simples seems to be pretty general, and they are always resorted to in cases of sickness, before calling in the
is a sweetish bitter, and is thought to be nearly equal to sarsaparilla. The polopody of the ancients, found upon the oak, was formerly held in high repute as a cure for madness.
"The bryonia alba, or white bryony, having a root of the most intense bitterness, is occasionally, but rarely, used in fever cases. The root of the wild celery, possessing an agreeable aromatic odor, is used as a medicine, and is in great repute as a charm to attract the salmon during the fishing season. The heads of spears and barbs of fishhooks are rubbed with this fragrant root, which is supposed to be particularly grateful to the olfactories of the dainty salmon. The roots and leaves of the cow-parsnip, and the young leaves of the yellow dock, are used both as food and for medicinal purposes. There are undoubtedly many other useful and valuable remedies, which have not come under my observation.
"The doctors have different forms of working their spells, or performing their magnetic operations; but, as all that I have seen tend to the same end, the description I have given in the form of burial used by the Chinooks, will be sufficient to illustrate their general method." 864
Section Twenty-sixth. Indicia from Mythology and Religion. Chapter I. Toltec and Aztec Mythology.
FOR the purpose of obtaining a correct idea of the mythology and polytheism of the Vesperic tribes, 865 we must take a cursory glance at the system of the Toltecs and Aztecs. These tribes continued, from age to age, to deify men, and add new names to the catalogue of their
The mental development of the Indians of America may be more readily traced, by comparison of ideas and their modes of expressing them, than by reference to words, or identities of nomenclature at least, beyond the primary radices and particles; for, in all the savage languages of this continent, names, words and expressions are mere agglomerations of dissevered syllables. Some allusions may here be made to a mythology, which embraced the traditionary history, not only of the Aztecs and
Toltecs, but, according to the best interpreters of Mexican history, 866 of anterior nations, who possessed the elements of civilization.
Tlalcol was the keeper of the dead, an important office in all the tribes, which, among those of the north, is assigned to Chibiabos. The ceremonial rites are precisely the same; the purpose of the office, and its duties, exactly alike; but the names differ. This variance applies to most of their gods; and, it may be remarked, is analogous to that general difference existing between the Indian languages of North and South America, the ideas of which are similar, but the sounds diverse. The Aztecs placed Teo 867 first in the calender of their gods; the Iroquois of the North installed Neo as their supreme divinity. After having successfully prosecuted a war, they did homage to Areouski, as the god of battle. The Aztecs sacrificed human victims to Huitzilopochtli, in the same character.
The personification of good and evil is a very striking characteristic of the savage theogony. Teo conveyed the same meaning in Toltec the formative tl being added. In the dialects of the Algonquin tribes of the North, MON is the radix, both for the words God and Devil. In the same language, edo added to this form appears to be a transitive particle; but, if the evil god be intended, the term MUDJI is prefixed, denoting an evil character. This is the literal meaning of the compound term, Mudjimonedo. Among the Toltecs there was a god of the day, and another of the night; the composite term for the latter power having been Tlacatecolototl, who was the bird of night. They believed that this spirit frequently appeared to men for the purpose of doing evil; and, theoretically, it was the Mudjimonedo of the Algonquins.
The Otomites believed that the soul died with the body; but the Aztecs, as well as all the other nations of Anahuac, deemed it to be, in its substance, immortal. They held the doctrine that beasts and birds possessed souls; which belief is common to all the North American, or Vesperic tribes. 868 They believed that soldiers who died in war, and women who died in childbirth, were transported to the house of the sun, which they called the lord of glory, where they led a life of happiness and ease; every day greeting the rising sun with music and dancing, 869 which they then accompanied to the zenith, where they met the souls of the women, and, with the same demonstrations of delight, proceeded with them to the setting of the sun. Like the Vesperic tribes, they upheld the theory of the transmigration of souls, and believed that, after leading the life just described during four years, these souls entered into, and animated, the clouds, noble beasts, and birds of beautiful plumage and sweet song possessing the privilege, while in this state, of ascending to Heaven, or of descending to the earth, there to sing
and suck sweets from flowers. The Tlascallans believed that only the souls of the nobles animated noble beasts, birds of beauteous plumage and songsters; while the souls of the lower classes entered into beetles and other meaner forms of life.
Those killed by lightning, or who were suffocated, or died of dropsy, &c., and children sacrificed to Haloc, they believed went to the home of that god, where they lived in peace and pleasure. Their creed likewise taught that these children assisted at the sacrifices to their god on ascertain day, and at a certain altar, in the large temple of Mexico. The Mixtecas believed the entrance to heaven was through a cave, which was located in a high mountain of their country. The nobles were buried near this cave, in order to be close to the place: they expected to enter. The Mexicans believed, furthermore, that all beside those enumerated, after death entered a dark abode (where reigned the god Mict-lau-teuct-li) called Mictlau, where the only evil experienced was the total darkness. This abode was supposed to be situated either in the centre of the earth, or at the North Pole.
The cosmogony of the Aztecs bears traces of trans-Atlantic, or oriental origin. They possessed an account of the creation of the world, of the deluge, and of the confusion of tongues, very similar to that given by Moses. They averred that but one man was saved from the deluge, whom they called Coxcox or Teocipactli, and one woman, called Xochiquetzal. This person corresponds with Hiawatha, Manabosho, and Atahensic, in the north. They also relate that this couple debarked on a mountain, where they became the parents of many children, all of whom were born without the faculty of speech; but that a bird had, from the branch of a tree, taught them to speak. 870 The Tlascallans say that the persons saved from the deluge had degenerated into monkeys, but in time recovered speech and reason.
The Mexicans were extreme Theists, worshipping many gods; but their system of mythology comprised only thirteen principal ones. Tez-cat-li-po-ca was their principal deity, next in order to the supreme and invisible God. His name means "the looking-glass," and his idol held one in his hand. This was the God of providence, the soul of the earth, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and Lord of all things. He was represented as a youth, to indicate that time did not interfere with him. It was believed that he conferred many benefits on the good, and afflicted the evil-disposed with infirmities and troubles. They placed stones at the corners of the streets as seats for this god, upon which it was supposed he rested when fatigued; and it was unlawful for persons to seat, themselves upon them. The principal idol of this god was made of teotetl (divine stone a black volcanic stone, taking a polish siinilar to marble), and was always dressed in court dress. In the ears were gold rings, and on the lower lip was placed a green or purple feather, inserted in a crystal tube. The hair was bound with a gold cord, to which was appended ornaments of the same metal. The breast
was covered with gold; the arms were encircled by bracelets of gold; at the navel depended an emerald; and in the left hand was held a fan of gold and feathers. At other places this god was represented seated on a bank, wrapped in a scarlet robe, upon which was figured skulls and other portions of the human skeleton; in the left hand was held a skull and four arrows, and the right was raised in the attitude of throwing a dart. The body was painted black, and the head adorned with quail feathers.
The Indian elysium was ever constructed of things most agreeable here on earth. O-me-teuct-li or Cit-lal-lo-to-nae, and O-me-ci-huatl or Cit-la-li-cue, were a god and goddess, whom they believed inhabited a glorious city in heaven, where abounded every pleasure, and whence they watched over the world, and gave to mortals their respective inclinations the former directing men, and the latter the women. The Mexicans relate that this goddess had many sons, but that finally she brought forth, in childbirth, a knife made of flint, which the sons indignantly cast to the earth, but in falling it was transformed into one thousand six hundred heroes, who had a knowledge of their noble origin. These heroes finding themselves without persons to serve them, as all the human race had been destroyed by a great calamity (the Mexicans believed that there had been three universal calamities), agreed to send to their mother, asking her to create men for their service. She refused their request, but directed them to apply to Mich-lau-teuct-li, the god of hell, for one of the bones of the dead, from which, by wetting it with their own blood, would spring a man and woman to people the earth. She warned them to guard themselves against this wicked god, as he might repent having given the bone, and work them some evil. Xolotl, one of the heroes, went to the god of hell, asked for the bone and received it; whereupon he fled toward the earth, the god pursuing him. Xolotl escaped, but, falling in his flight, broke the bone into many pieces. The fragments were placed in a barrel, and sprinkled with their blood. On the fourth day a boy appeared, and on the seventh, a girl. These two children were the means of repeopling the earth.
The character of woman shared largely in their mythology. Ci-hua-coh-uatl, or Qui-laz-tli, was supposed to be the first woman who bore twins, for which she was deified. They believed she often conveyed an extra child to some man's cradle.
Their apotheosis of the sun and moon was simply this: To-na-teuh and Miz-tli (sun and moon) were worshipped by the nations of Mexico. They relate that the earth, having been repeopled as related, was ruled by these demi-gods, each of whom had his subjects. The sun having been extinguished, they all assembled (demi-gods and men) near a great fire, or volcano, when the men were informed that he who would cast himself into the flames would have the glory of being converted into the sun. A man called Na-na-huat-zin immediately cast himself in, and went to the lower regions. Waiting to see the new sun rise, they sacrificed quails, locusts, &c., near the place wherein he cast himself. The sun soon appeared in the east, rose to the zenith, and moved towards the west. Anxious lest they should again be left in darkness, they inquired of the sun why it did not stop; when they received for answer, "that it
would not stop until all of the heroes were dead." This reply occasioned them fear and grief. One of the heroes took a bow, and with it shot three arrows at the sun. The sun, irritated, cast one arrow back, splitting the forehead of Citli, who fired the arrows. Struck with consternation, and not being able to resist the sun's power, they agreed to die by the hand of Xolotl, who killed himself after having sacrificed his brothers. Before they expired, these demi-gods bequeathed their garments to their subjects. At the period of the conquest the Mexicans exhibited robes, which they said were the garments left by these said heroes. The people being saddened by the loss of their lords, the god Tezcatlipoca sent one of them to the sun for music, to use in the celebration of their feasts or worship; whence they learned to dance and to play on musical instruments. 871 Such was the origin of the use of both in the worship of their gods. The Mexicans also say that the self-sacrifice of the demi-gods led to the adoption of the human sacrifice so common among them. The origin of the moon was accounted for by a continuation of the fable. Other men, casting themselves into the fire, were converted into the moon, which was less bright, as the fire was weaker. To the sun and moon were consecrated the two temples on the plain of Yeotilenacan.
Quetzalcoatl, a serpent covered with feathers, was regarded among all the nations of Mexico as the god of air. They related that, in times past, he was a great god of Tula, was a tall, white man, with a large forehead, large eyes, black hair, and thick beard. He was rich, wise, and industrious; and first taught them the art of working and smelting metals. He, like Hiawatha in the north, 872 taught them arts, and gave them just laws, which he obeyed himself. They relate that, in his day, everything grew to a great size, and plenty reigned throughout the land, while the country was covered with birds of beautiful plumage and sweet songsters. His was a golden age. Suddenly he left his country, saying only that it was the will of the gods that he should go to the kingdom of Tlapallan, whither he was ordered to go by Tezcatlipoca, who appeared to him as an old man, and presented him with a drink, which he quaffed, hoping to become immortal. He left his country accompanied by many of his subjects. They relate that, when he arrived at Cholula, the inhabitants deposed their rulers and placed him in power. The Cholulans say that he taught them the art of smelting, for which they were so famous, gave them laws, established religious rites, and regulated their calendar. After a sojourn of twenty years at Cholula, he continued his journey in search of the imaginary kingdom of Tlapallan, taking with him four noble youths, distinguished for their virtue. When he arrived at the coast, in the province of Coatzacoalco, he sent back these four youths, with orders to say to the Cholulans that, after a time, he would return and reign over them. The youths were invested with the government, and he was deified and constituted protector of the city by the Toltecs of Cholula; in the centre of which city they erected a high mound, and on it built a
sanctuary in his honor. A mound and temple were also erected in Tula. From Cholula his worship spread throughout all the country.
Even the enemies of the government of Cholula were allowed to visit that city to worship this god. The Yucatanos prided themselves upon a supposed descent of their nobles from this deity. Sterile women appealed to him to relieve them from that disgrace. The feasts of this god, observed in the city of Cholula, were grand, and obtained great celebrity. They were preceded by a feast of eighty days, and by the practice of dreadful austerities by the priests consecrated to his service. Sigüenza believed that Quetzalcoatl was the apostle St. Thomas. It is a general belief that these people had been visited by Christians before the Conquest.
Tlaloc, or Tla-lo-cat-euct-li, lord of paradise, was the god of water. They believed that he was charged with the duty of watering the earth, and was the protector of man's property. They believed that he resided in the high mountains, where he formed the clouds, and sent them to water the earth. They often went to the tops of mountains to implore his protection. The Acolhuans, who arrived in the reign of Xolotl, relate that they found upon Mount Thaloc an idol of this god, made of a white stone, which was in the form of a man seated upon a block, with a cup in front, filled with elastic gum and seeds. This offering of gum and seeds was renewed every year. This is believed to be the most ancient idol of Mexico. It was placed where found by the Toltecs, in the beginning of the sixteenth century. One of the kings, Alcolhuacan, wishing to please his subjects, substituted for it one made of more durable stone; but the latter being disfigured by lightning, the old one was replaced in its ancient seat, where it remained until destroyed by the vanclalic hand of the Bishop of Mexico. This idol was painted blue and green, to represent the colors of water, and held in the right hand a pointed, spiral rod of gold, to represent lightning. This god was believed to be the ruler of inferior gods, and had an altar in the large temple of Mexico.
Chal-chiuh-que-ye, or Chal-chi-huit-li-cue, was the goddess of water, and wife of Thaloc. She was known by other names, and the Tlascallans called her Mat-lal-cue-ye. Her vesture was blue, and she bore the same name as the mountain near their city on which they supposed she resided, and where they worshipped. This is the goddess called, by Torquemada, Xoch-i-quet-zal.
Guih-teuct-li, lord of the year and of planets, and the god of fire, was also called Ix-coz-auh-qui, which expressed the color of the flame, and was held in high repute in Mexico. When eating or drinking, the first mouthful was spit into the fire as an offering to this god, and, at certain hours of the day, incense was burned. Every year this god was honored by two feasts, one in the seventh, and one in the seventeenth month, 873 besides one on which the magistrates renewed their obligations of office to the crown. He had a temple in Mexico, and others at various places.
Cen-teotl, the goddess of earth and of corn, was also called To-na-ca-yo-hua, she who sustains us. In Mexico five temples were dedicated to this goddess, and three feasts were observed in her honor, in the third, the eighth, and the eleventh month. No nation venerated her so much as the Totonacas, who looked upon her as their protectress, built her a temple on a high mountain, and appointed to her service many priests. They loved her, as they believed she abhorred human sacrifice, and would in time deliver them from the oppression of the other gods, that demanded human blood. The Mexicans, however, offered human victims to her.
Mict-lau-teuc-tli, god of hell, and Mict-lau-cih-natl, his wife, were renowned in Mexico. The Mexicans believed, as before stated, that they had resided in a dark abode in the centre of the earth, or at the North Pole. A temple was erected in Mexico, and dedicated to them, where they were worshipped in the seventeenth month. The principal priest, called Tlit-lau-tle-na-ma-cae, was painted black, and performed the rites to these gods in the night.
Xoal-teuc-tli, the god of night, was, in all probability, the same as Miztli, the moon. Some believed it to be the sun; others, again, that it was a distinct deity, and was worshipped as the god of sleep.
In this development of deities, childhood was not forgotten Xoal-ti-citl was the goddess of the cradle, and protector of children through the night.
No name, however, was so much honored as the
himself upon the brothers, they were soon dispatched, their houses sacked, and the spoils given to the mother. This affair struck all men with such consternation, that they called him Tet-za-huitl, the frightful, and Tet-zauh-teotl, the frightful god. They relate that this god, charged with the protection of the Mexicans, conducted them in their journeys, and finally located them where their capital was built, and where they erected the splendid temple to his honor. They appointed to this god three solemn feasts in each year, in the fifth, the ninth, and the fifteenth months, besides those held every fourth and thirteenth year, and at the end of the century. His statue was of immense size, and was seated on a block of blue stone, from the four angles of which issued great snakes. Its forehead was blue, and the face, as well as the neck, covered with a gold mark. On the head it had a beautiful plume of feathers, formed from the crests of birds; the neck was encircled by a bracelet, made of two figures similar to the human heart; in the right hand it held a blue spiral staff; and in the left, a shield, upon which were five balls of feathers, arranged in the form of a cross; and from the upper part rose a banner of gold, with four arrows, which, according to their accounts, were sent from heaven, to be used in those glorious actions for which he was famous. The body was encircled by a great serpent, and covered with figures of many animals, &c., made of gold and precious stones, each figure having some particular significance. When the Mexicans determined upon engaging in a war, they implored the protection of this god with prayers and oblations, and to him were sacrificed most of those human beings who were constantly offered.
Tla-ca-hue-pan-aux-cot-zeu, another god of war, was a younger brother and companion of Huitzilopochtli.
Pain-al-ton, the representation of activity and velocity, was a god of war and lieutenant of Huitzilopochtli. This god was appealed to in any sudden emergency.
The Aztecs and Toltecs also had gods of commerce and the chase. Xa-ca-teuct-li, the god that directs, was the presiding deity of commerce. Feasts in honor of this god were annually held in the temple in Mexico, one in the ninth and one in the seventeenth month. Human beings were sacrificed to him.
Mix-coatl, goddess of the chase, was the principal protectress of the Otomites, who were all hunters. She had two temples in Mexico. Wild beasts were sacrificed to her.
O-pocht-li, protector of fishermen, is said to have invented the net and other fishing implements. A city located on an island in Lake Chalco had a god of fishing, which was called Ami-mitl, and was probably the same god.
Huix-to-ci-huatl, god of salt, was feasted in the seventh month.
Tza-pot-lau-te-nau, was the goddess of medicine. An annual sacrifice of human beings was made to her.
Tez-cat-zou-catl, the god of wine, had other names. A temple was consecrated, and 400 priests assigned to his service in Mexico. His feast was celebrated on the thirteenth month.
Ix-tlil-ton, a god with a black face, was probably a god of medicine, as sick boys were carried to his temple to be cured.
Coat-li-cue, or Coat-lau-lo-na, was the goddess of flowers, and had a temple in Mexico called Lopico. Flowers were offered to her, and a feast was held in her honor in the third month. Some believed her to be the mother of the principal war gods.
Tla-zat-teotl was the goddess the Mexicans asked to forgive them their sins, and to save them from the reproach attached to them. The principal worshippers of this goddess were lascivious men, who violated the rites of matrimony. Boturini says this was the lewd Venus, but a native writer says she was the goddess of wedlock.
Xipe, the protector of silversmiths, was much venerated in Mexico, as they believed that all who neglected his worship were afflicted with the itch and other vile sores. The feast to this god, characterized by cruel sacrifices, was celebrated in the second month.
Nap-pa-teuct-li, the god of the potters, had two temples in Mexico, and was worshipped in the second month.
O-ma-catl was the god of fun and frolic. An image of this god was placed in a conspicuous position at all feasts given by the Mexicans, when they considered it incumbent on them to make merry.
To-nant-zin was the goddess of mothers, and probably the same as Centeotl. Her temple was located where the church of Gaudalupe now stands. 874
Te-teoi-nan, as her name indicates, was the mother of the gods. The Mexicans believed that they also descended from her. The origin of this goddess, and the sad death of a princess of Acolhuacan, have already been related. She had a temple in Mexico, and ceremonial rites were celebrated in her honor in the eleventh month. She was the protectress of the Tlascallans. Some say that the two last mentioned are the same.
Ila-ma-teuct-li, the goddess of the women, and their protectress, was feasted on the third day of the seventh month.
Te-pi-to-ton was a general name for their household gods. The king and chiefs had six, the nobles four, and the lower classes two. They had gods for every day, after whom the day was named; and also gods for nearly everything and locality. Other nations of Mexico had the same gods, though frequently known under different names, Huitzilopochtli was called Quet-zal-coatl by the Cholulans, Heuxatzincas and Centeotl by the Totonacas, and Mixcoatl by the Otomites. The Tlascallans, rivals of the Mexicans, worshipped the same gods, which they called Huitzilopactilli and Camaxtli.
Their vocabulary is instructive. Cinteotl, the goddess of corn, was the mondamin or grain spirit of the Algonquins. Coyote, meaning primarily a fox, is also applied to a small
wolf, resembling our prairie wolf. Quequecoyote becomes one of these totemic reliances, which are rather intensified objects of the imagination, than gods to be worshipped. Ocelotl is an eagle, and Quahtli a tiger; hence the gods of these names. Xolo is a monster, and Xolotl, god of monsters. Acatl is water; Patecatl, the apotheosis of a man saved from water, is a flood. Coatl is a serpent; Quetzalcoatl, the great serpent-wise man, or teacher of arts and laws. Tonatiuh is the sun; Tonatiotl, sun-god. The juice of the mayaguil personified a female with four hundred breasts. Fire, water, love, death, rain, wind, echo, mountains, and flowers, were the subjects of these mental intensifications, and furnished names which, being preserved in the memory of the priests, or in the calendar, served, in a measure, to keep the Indian mind in subjection to his superstition by a not very onerous tax. But the most monstrous and horrific of all the gods and goddesses, statues of whom were erected, was
The Toltec, and subsequently the Aztec, imagination, appears to have rioted in these personifications of passion, caprice and crime. But there was a lack of generalization; they framed no very connected system of mythology, the parts of which were strictly dependent upon each other, and constituted a whole. Even the sun, which seems, originally, to have been the prime object of worship, eventually ceased to receive their homage, except in theory; while, at the era of the conquest, the principal deity worshipped was the god of war, to whom human sacrifices were offered. The habits and manners of the people appear, at that time, to have reached their ultimate point of degeneracy; they were reported by the Spanish clergy to be steeped in moral degradation, and conversant with every monstrosity of crime. Compared to this Mexican mythology, that of the northern tribes retained greater simplicity, and freedom from the domination of the Indian priesthood. The culminating point of the system of deification adopted by both the Toltecs and the Aztecs had, in all probability, been reached from the same common basis, viz: a totemic identification of septs, bands, and tribes, mutually contending for supremacy, who assigned to their deities a local residence in the bodies of quadrupeds, birds, insects, reptiles, and other species of animated Nature, and lastly, in the bodies of men, who, under the titles of priests, seers, and prophets, made it the business of their lives to teach this system of deification, and thus to endeavor to perpetuate and strengthen their possession of the almost unlimited power they had acquired. Thus, the first effects of emancipation from barbarism, of the development of arts, employments, and manners, and of giving freedom to the power of thought, among a people who had no knowledge of divine truth, was the deification of every object and every passion. At the era of their discovery they were completely involved
in a confusion of absurd idolatrous rites, ceremonies, and beliefs. Praise is due to the Spanish priesthood, who strove to abolish every vestige of it.
The late Mr. Gallatin, in concluding an elaborate review of the collection of Lord Kingsborough, condemns the mythological part of the picture-writings as being a barren and unprofitable historical study. "The subject," he observes, "is neither attractive, nor one of great promise. It is not probable that the interpretations of the names and attributes of the deities, represented in the several codices, could throw more light on the religious creed of the Mexicans, or on its influence on their social state, than we derive from the accounts of the conquerors, and the Indian traditions collected by early writers. Their mythology, as far as we know it, presents a great number of unconnected gods, without apparent system or unity of design. It exhibits no evidence of metaphysical research or imaginative powers. Viewed only as a development of the intellectual faculties of man, it is, in every respect, vastly inferior to the religious systems of Egypt, India, Greece, or Scandinavia. If imported, it must have been from some barbarous country, and have been brought directly from such country to Mexico, since no traces of a similar worship are found in the more northern parts of America." 875
Chapter II. Religious and Mythological Opinions of the Mississippi Valley Tribes.
THE office of the Indian seer, prophet, meda, wakon, wapiya, and of the jossakeed, or powwow, was to act as negotiants (it would be a desecration to style them mediators) between the people and the Great Spirit. Hence, the great power which they have wielded throughout all periods of their history. Whether this office was hereditary or assumed, would be a vain inquiry. It does not appear to have been inherited, but rather to have been assumed by persons possessing more than ordinary mental capacity, vigor, shrewdness, or cunning, and art in practising and concealing glaring deceptions. They were aided in their craft by the outward practice of ascetic habits and fasting; by the potent influence of dreams; and by their proficiency in the art of pictography, in which a system of mixed representative, symbolic, and arbitrary signs was employed, to strengthen the popular faith in necromancy, witchcraft, and divination.
No Indian hero, warrior, speaker, or ruler, if we except Uncas, Tahgayuta, 876 Assoyawatha, 877 Skenandoa, and Thyendanagea, 878 ever attained to distinction without an appeal to this class. When the United States have been engaged in hostilities with the tribes, this has always been the most difficult power to conquer if it can be said to have ever been conquered. Had no appeal been made to the beliefs and superstitions of the Indians, Tuscaloosa, who flourished in De Soto's era, Opechanganough, of Virginia, Sassacus and Pometacom, of New England, or Wappacomigat and Pontiac, of the north-west, could not have aroused the spirit and united the forces of their tribes. Without it, Tecumseh, Osceola, and
a canoe into the seething waters of the rapids which fill the river St. Lawrence, below Lachine. Those fearful cascades have ever since retained the name of his order, and have been called the Recollet rapids.
We must not, however, in our retrospect, confound one age with another. The last half century has yielded rich fruits in return for the labor bestowed, and has clearly demonstrated the beneficial effect of patiently teaching the Indians; of which result, tribes of each of the generic Algonquin, Iroquois, and Appalachian groups, have furnished examples. But on the minds of the native hunters, who constitute the large tribes of the Dakotah and Shoshonee stocks, roving over the plains and through the forests of the West, not to mention the vast and predatory hordes of New Mexico, California, and Oregon, subsisting on the flesh of the buffalo and deer, little or no impression has been made. The Rev. Gideon H. Pond, of Minnesota, who has had experience, describes the opinions and rites of the Dakotah tribes of the prairies and plains in the following words:
"The terms by which the medicine-men are known among the Dakotahs, suggest both their character and occupation. They are these: Wicaxta Wakan (Wee-chash-tah Wah-kon), and Taku Wakan ihamnanpi (Tah-koo Wah-kon e-ham-nan-pe). The former term signifies mysterious, supernatural, or god-men; and the latter, mysterious, supernatural, or god-dreamers inspired by the gods.
"By the term ‘medicine-man,’ or
"The questions which I propose to myself in pursuing this subject, are the following, namely, WHAT ARE THE POWERS OF THE MEDICINE-MEN? HOW DO THEY COME IN POSSESSION OF THEM? and WHAT USE DO THEY MAKE OF THEM?
"It seems to be necessary, first, to advert to the Dakotah divinities, by whom the medicine-men are inspired; while, at the same time, this is a subject into which it is next to impossible to penetrate; for little can be obtained from these men concerning it, except by stratagem; and that which they do disclose is often exceedingly confused and contradictory. One will affirm, another deny, and a third, perhaps, inform you that both the others are wrong. After a residence of eighteen years among the Dakotahs, and embracing every opportunity to acquaint myself with matters of this sort, they are still, in a great measure, involved in mystery.
"The most prominent characteristic of the Dakotah deities, is that which they express by the word wakan. This word signifies, generally, any thing which a Dakotah cannot comprehend. Whatever is wonderful, mysterious, superhuman, or supernatural, is wakan. The generic name for gods is Tahuwakan, i. e. that which is wakan. The Dakotah, therefore, sees a god in everything; to use an expression of one of their most
intelligent men, ‘There is nothing which they do not revere as God.’ The chief, and, perhaps, the only difference that exists among the ten thousands of the divinities of the Dakotahs, is, that some are wakan to a greater, and others to a less degree; some for one purpose, and some for another; but wakan expresses the chief quality of them all the only quality, I believe, which the Indians deify.
"I have never been able to discover from the Dakotahs themselves, the least degree of evidence that they divide the gods into classes of good and evil; and am persuaded that those persons who represent them as doing so, do it inconsiderately, and because it is so natural to subscribe to a long-established popular opinion. I cannot believe that the Dakotahs ever distinguished the Great Spirit, or Great Wakan, as they term it, from others of their divinities, till they learned to do so from their intercourse with white men; because they have no chants, nor feasts, nor dances, nor sacrificial rites, which have any reference to such a being; or, if they have any reference to the Great Wakan, in any religious act whatsoever, there is satisfactory evidence that it is of recent origin, and does not belong to their system of religion. The acts of worship, which Carver tells us particularly that they performed to the Great Spirit, had no reference to the Deity, though that traveller doubtless thought they had. It is, indeed, true, that the Dakotahs do sometimes appeal to the Great Spirit in council with white men, but it is always as to the being whom the white man worships.
"As specimens of the supernatural beings, who, it is believed, preside over the destinies of the Dakotahs, and whose wakan qualities are imparted to the medicine-men, I will mention more particularly three or four classes of the most respectable of them.
"The Onkteri (Onk-tay-he). The signification of the name of this class of the Dakotah gods is unknown. In their external manifestation, they resemble the ox, but are very large. They can instantaneously extend their tail and horns so as to reach the skies, and these are the seat of their power. They are male and female, and propagate their kind like animals, and are mortal; which is true of all the gods of the Dakotahs. It is believed that the earth is animated by the spirit of the Onkteri goddess, while the water, and the earth beneath the water, is the dwelling-place of the male god. Hence the Dakotahs, in their addresses to the water, in religious acts, give to it the name of Grandfather, and that of Grandmother to the earth. The Onkteri have power to issue from their bodies a mighty wakan influence, which is irresistible, and which the Dakotahs term tonwan. The signification of tonwan is quite similar to that of ‘arrow,’ where it sometimes occurs in the Bible. All the gods are armed with a similar power. One of the Onkteri gods, it is believed, dwells under the falls of
fort, was carried away, with a soldier in it, who was never afterwards heard of. It is universally believed by these Indians that the whole was caused by the Onkteri, who passed down the channel of the river at the time, and that the soldier was taken by him for food, as he feeds upon human souls. The following chant, which is much used in the medicine-dance (wakan dance), shows the character of this class of the gods, in this respect:
Decoying some souls.
Let me eat him alive.’
"The sacrifices which the Onkteri requires of his worshippers, are the down of the female of the swan and goose, dyed scarlet, white cotton cloth, deer-skins, tobacco, dogs, medicine (wakan) feast, and the medicine-dance. Subordinate to the Onkteri are the serpent, lizard, frog, leech, owl, eagle, fish, spirits of the dead, &c. These gods made the earth and men, instituted the medicine-dance, &c., prescribed the manner in which earth-paints must be applied, which have a wakan virtue to protect life, and are often worn by the warrior for this purpose on the field of carnage. Among all the myriads of the Dakotah deities, the Onkteri is the most respected; and it might be said, without much exaggeration, ‘seven times a day they worship him,’ or some of the numerous gods which are his subjects.
"The Wakinyan (Wah-keen-yon). The name of this class of the gods signifies flyer, from the verb kinyan, to fly. As the night-hawk produces a hollow, jarring sound, by a peculiar motion of the wings, so the Wakinyan produces the thunder, which the Dakotahs denominate ‘the voice of the Wakinyan.’ It is said by some that there are three varieties of the external manifestations of these gods, and others say that there are four varieties; in character, however, they are but one. One of these varieties in form is black, with a very long beak, and four joints in each pinion; another is yellow, beakless, and has also four joints in each pinion, but only six quills; the third, which is of a scarlet color, is remarkable for the length of his wings, each of which contains eight joints; and the fourth is blue, globular, and has no face, eyes, nor ears; but immediately above where the face should appear, is a semicircular line, resembling an inverted half-moon, from below which project two chains of lightning, which diverge from each other as they descend. Two plumes, like soft down, coming out just above the chains of lightning, serve for wings. Each of these varieties represents a numerous race. The Wakinyan created
bear, a reindeer at the north, and a beaver at the south. Except the head, each of these watchers is enveloped in scarlet down.
"The Wakinyan are ruthless and destructive in their character, and they ever exert their mighty power for the gratification of their ruling propensity, at the expense of whatever may come in their way. The enmity which exists among all the classes or races of the gods, is like that which is seen to exist among the different Indian tribes; but the Wakinyan and Onkteri bear a particular hatred to each other, which is hereditary and deep-rooted, like that which exists between the Dakotah and Ojibwa nations, and neither can resist the tonwan of each other's wakan. It is unsafe for either to cross the other's track. The fossil remains of the mastodon, which are sometimes found by the Dakotahs, they confidently believe to be the bones of the Onkteri; and they are preserved by them most sacredly, and are universally esteemed for their wakan qualities, being used with wonderful effect as a sanative medicine. The Wakinyan are the Dakotah's chief war-gods, from whom they have received the spear and tomahawk, and those paints which will shield them from harm when exposed to the murderous weapons of their enemies.
"Takuxkanxkan (Tah-koo-shkan-shkan). This god is invisible and ubiquitous. The name signifies ‘that which stirs.’ In cunning and passion, the Takuxkanxkan exceeds any of the other gods, and has a controlling influence over both intellect and instinct. He resides in the consecrated spear and tomahawk, in boulders (which are hence universally venerated by the Dakotahs), and in the ‘Four Winds.’ The ceremony of the ‘vapor bath’ is a sort of sacrifice to this god. He is never better pleased than when men fall in battle, or otherwise. The object of that strange ceremony of the Dakotahs, in which the performer, being bound hand and foot with the greatest care, is suddenly unbound by an invisible agent, is to obtain an interview with this object of Dakotah superstition, instead of the Great Spirit, as Carver supposed when he witnessed its performance, as related in his book of travels among the Indians. Subordinate to the Takuxkanxkan, are the buzzard, raven, fox, wolf, and some other animals of a similar nature.
"The Heyoka (Hay-o-kah). Of the Heyoka, like the Wakinyan, there are said to be four external forms; but it would be tedious to particularize. They are represented as being armed with bows and arrows, and deer-hoof rattlers, into which is infused the electric fluid; and one carries a drum, which is filled with the same. For a drum-stick a Wakinyan is used, the tail serving for a handle. One of the varieties of these gods, like the Takuxkanxkan, is invisible; it is the gentle whirlwind. By the virtue of their medicines and tonwan powers, they aid men in seeking the gratification of their libidinous passions, in the chase, in inflicting diseases, and in restoring health. The traits of the Heyoka are the opposite of nature, i. e. they express joy by sighs and groans, and sorrow by laughter; they shiver when warm, and pant and perspire when cold; they feel perfect assurance in danger, and are terrified when safe; falsehood, to them,
is truth, and truth is falsehood; good is their evil, and evil their good. I might proceed with an almost endless specification of Dakotah deities, but those already mentioned will suffice for the present purpose.
"In these, and divinities like these, as various as their imaginations can create, or their wants demand, the Dakotahs find all that they desire. The abilities and powers of the gods, combined, are the abilities and powers of the wakan-men.
"How do the medicine-men come in possession of these powers?
"Dakotah wakan-rnen do not spring into existence under the ordinary operations of natural laws, but, according to their faith, these men and women (for females too are wakan) first arouse into conscious intellectual existence in the form of winged seeds, such as the thistle, and are wafted, by the intelligent influence of the Four Winds, through the aerial regions, till eventually they are conducted to the abode of some one of the Taku Wakan, by whom they are received into intimate communion. Here they remain till they become acquainted with the character and abilities of the class of gods whose guests they happen to be, and until they have themselves imbibed their spirit, and are acquainted with all the chants, feasts, dances, and sacrificial rites which the gods deem it necessary to impose on men. In this manner some of them pass through a succession of inspirations with different classes of the divinities, till they are fully wakanized, and prepared for human incarnation. Particularly they are invested with the invisible wakan powers of the gods, their knowledge and cunning, and their omnipresent influence over mind, instinct, and passion. They are taught to inflict diseases and heal them, discover concealed causes, manufacture implements of war, and impart to them the tonwan power of the gods; and also the art of making such an application of paints, that they will protect from the powers of enemies.
"This process of inspiration is called ‘dreaming of the gods.’ Thus prepared, and retaining his primitive form, the demi-god now again rides forth, on the wings of the wind, over the length and breadth of the earth, till he has carefully observed the characters and usages of all the different tribes of men; then selecting his location, he enters one about to become a mother, and, in due time, makes his appearance among men, to fulfil the mysterious purposes for which the gods designed him. It is proper, perhaps, here to state, that when one of these wakan-men dies, he returns to the abode of his god, from whom he receives a new inspiration; after which he passes through another incarnation, as before, and serves another generation, according to the will of the gods. In this manner they pass through four incarnations (four is a sacred number), and then return to their original nothingness. Thus the
"What use does he make of it?
"It would doubtless be impossible for the wakan-man to substantiate his claims with an intelligent and enlightened people, but it is not even difficult to do it among such a people as the Dakotahs. Ignorance is emphatically the mother of credulity; and no
absurdity is too great to be heartily received by an ignorant savage, when proposed by one of artful cunning; and such the persons in question generally are, who combine their talents for the benefit of the craft.
"The blind savage finds himself in a world of mysteries, oppressed with a consciousness that he comprehends nothing. The earth on which he treads teems with life incomprehensible. It is, without doubt, wakan. In the springs which never cease to flow, and yet are always full, he recognises the ‘breathing places’ of the gods. When he raises his eyes to the heavens, he is overwhelmed with mysteries; for the sun, moon, and stars are so many gods and goddesses gazing upon him. The beast which he pursues to-day shuns him with the ability of an intelligent being, and to-morrow seems to be deprived of all power to escape from him. He beholds one man seized with a violent disease, and in a few hours expire in agony; while another almost imperceptibly wastes away through long years, and then dies. One he sees prostrated with racking pain in an instant, and then as suddenly restored to ease and vigor; while another drops away unnotified of death's approach, and without any cause which he can perceive. Pains which are excruciating will seize upon one part of the body at one moment at the next, leap to another part, and then vanish. He finds himself a creature of ten thousand wants, which he knows not how to supply; and exposed to innumerable evils, which he cannot avoid. All these, and thousands of other things like these, to the Indian are tangible facts; and under their influence his character is formed. As, therefore, the tinder is susceptible of ignition, so the Indian mind is ready for deception, and hails with joy one who claims to comprehend these mysteries, to be able to contribute to the supply of all these wants, or to successfully contend with all these intolerable evils; and we are prepared to expect that the wakan-men will put bridles into the mouths of their people. To establish their claims, these men and women cunningly lay hold of all that is strange, and turn to their own advantage every mysterious occurrence. They assume great familiarity with whatever astonishes others; they foretell future events, and often with a sufficient degree of accuracy; those at one village affect to be familiar with that which is transpiring at another village, leagues distant; persons who are almost reduced to a skeleton by disease, in a day or two are as suddenly restored to perfect soundness, by their agency. When famine pinches the helpless infant and its disconsolate mother, and even the proud hunter sits down in the gloom of despair, relief often comes suddenly, in an unlooked-for, and even improbable manner, apparently through the influence of the wakan-men; or, if their efforts are for a time unsuccessful, and the suffering is protracted, it is attributed to the sins of the people. By the mental illumination of the wakan fires, obtained by almost superhuman abstinence, watchings, and efforts, they discover the movements of an enemy, wherever he may be; of which fact no doubt remains, when the little handful of warriors are led to victory by these god-men. At times, they appear to raise the storm or calm the tempest; to converse with the lightnings and the thunder, as with familiar friends;
and if one of them happens to be injured or killed by the electric fluid, it only proves the truth of all he had said concerning the Wakinyan, and his own disobedience to their mandates. To satisfy the cravings of the gods within them, these persons frequently, with great ceremony, publicly tear off with their teeth and eat the raw and bleeding flesh of slaughtered animals, like starving beasts and birds of prey; thus devouring parts of dogs, a fish entire, not excepting bones and scales; and they even quaff considerable quantities of human blood! By the performance of thousands of wonders such as those enumerated, these pretenders triumphantly substantiate their claims to inspiration, and are believed to be ‘the great powers of the gods;’ and if some are looked upon as impostors, this fact only serves to enhance the importance of those who, being more crafty, are successful. I do not know an individual Dakotah who does not yield full credence to the claims of some of these impostors; or if there are a few solitary exceptions, it must be attributed to the introduction of Christianity among them.
"As a priest, with all the assurance of an eye-witness, the wakan-man bears testimony for the divinities reveals their characters and will dictates chants and prayers institutes dances, feasts, and sacrificial rites defines sin and its opposite imposes upon the people a system of superstition to suit his own caprices, with an air of authority which may not be resisted, and with a precision which it would be difficult to exceed; a system so artful, so well adapted to the condition of the Indian, that it weaves itself into every act, is embodied in each individual, and ensures his most obsequious surrender to its demands. Sin consists in any want of conformity to, or transgression of, the arbitrary rules prescribed by the priest, or want of respect for his person; and holiness consists in conformity to these rules, and well expressed respect for the wakan-men; while the rewards and punishments are of such a nature that they may be appreciated by the grossest senses. In the capacity of a priest, the influence of the Dakotah medicine-men is so extensive and complete, that scarce an individual can be found in the nation who is not a servile religionist.
"The wakan-man as a warrior. Every Dakotah warrior looks to the wakan-man as almost his only resource. From him he receives a spear and tomahawk, constructed after the model furnished from the armory of the gods, and painted by inspiration, containing the spirit of the gods, and also those paints which serve as an armature for his body. To obtain these things, the proud applicant is required to become a servant to the Zuya-wakan, while the latter goes through those painful and exhausting performances which are necessary preparatory to the bestowment of them; such as vapor-baths, fastings, chants, prayers, &c. The implements of destruction being thus consecrated, the person who is to receive them, wailing most piteously, approaches the war-prophet and presents the pipe to him as to a god; while in the attitude of prayer, he lays his hands upon his sacred head, and penetrated with a sense of his own impotency, sobs out his request in substance as follows: ‘Pity thou one who is poor and helpless a woman in action and bestow on me the ability to perform manly
deeds.’ The prophet then presents the weapons desired, saying, ‘Go thou, try the swing of this tomahawk and the thrust of this spear, and witness the power of the god to whom they belong; but when in victory thou shalt return, forget not to perform thy vows.’ Each warrior is required to paint himself for battle in the same manner that his arms have been painted by the prophet; and may never paint in the same manner at any other time, except it may be in the performance of extraordinary religious rites. In this mariner every young man is enlisted for life into the service of the war-prophet. These weapons are preserved as sacredly by the Dakotah warriors as was the ‘ark of the covenant,’ by the Israelites. They are carefully wrapped up in a cloth cover, together with plumes and sacred pigments, and are laid outside of the tent every day, except in the storm; and may never be touched by a female who has arrived at the age of puberty. Every warrior feels that his success, both in war and hunting, depends entirely upon the strictness with which he conforms to the rules and ceremonies imposed upon him by the wakan warrior. The ‘armor feasts’ are of almost daily occurrence in the Dakotah camp, when the fruits of the chase are sufficient to supply them, at which time these arms are always religiously exhibited. Thus the influence of the
"The wakan-man as a doctor. In the capacity of a doctor, or wapiya, the influence of the Dakotah medicine-man has scarcely any limits. Health is hardly more necessary to the happiness of the Indian than the wakan-man is for the preservation of health. It is believed that they have in their bodies animals (gods), which have great powers of suction, and which serve as suction-pumps, such as the lizard, bull-frog, leech, tortoise, garter-snake, &c. Other gods confer on them vocal powers, and their chants and prayers are the gifts of inspiration. The following, inserted here as a specimen of the chants which are used by these doctors, is evidently from the wakinyan god; and the manner of the person using it is such as to impress all present that he is conscious that it expresses his own abilities.
"‘Marpiya mibeya wakanyan awakinye;
Maka cokaya ojanjanwaye.
Tatankadan maka nabaza wanke,
Miye wan iyarpewaye.’
"‘Flying god-like, I encircle the heavens:
I enlighten the earth to its centre.
The little ox lies struggling on the earth, 879
I lay my arrow to the string.’
"If the doctors are long without practice, they suffer great inconvenience from the restlessness of the gods within them. To pacify these, they sometimes take blood from the arm of some person and drink it. When one of them, having been respectfully and reverently called upon, and liberally prepaid, is about to operate upon a suffering patient ‘a little ox struggling on the earth’ he has him placed upon a blanket on the ground, in a tent, with the body chiefly naked. He also generally strips off his own clothes, except the middle-cloth. After chants, prayers, the rattling of the gourd-shell, and innumerable other trite ceremonies, and making a variety of indescribable noises, and muttering something like the following, ‘The god told me that having this, I might approach even a skeleton and set it on its feet,’ he gets down upon his knees, and applying his mouth to the affected part of the patient, sucks with an energy which would seem to be almost superhuman; the gourd-shell still rattling violently. In this manner the god which is in the doctor pumps the disease from the sufferer. After sucking thus for a considerable time, the doctor rises on his feet in apparent agony, groaning so as to be heard a mile if the atmosphere is still, striking his sides, writhing, and striking the earth with his feet so as almost to make it tremble, and holding a dish of water to his mouth, he proceeds with a sing-song bubbling to deposit in the dish that which has been drawn from the sick person. This laborious and disgusting operation is repeated, with short intervals, for hours. The operant is thus enabled not only to relieve the sufferer, but also to discover the sin on account of which he has been afflicted, the spirit of which he sees rush into the lodge, and violently lay hold of the unfortunate sinner, as if he would rend him to atoms. The doctor now makes an image of the offended animal whose enraged spirit he saw, and causes it to be shot by three or four persons in quick succession, when the god that is in him, leaping out, falls upon, not the image, but the spirit of the animal which the image represents, and kills it. Now the sick man begins to convalesce, unless other offended spirits appear to afflict him. Sometimes the doctor is overcome by these spirits and the patient dies, unless one of greater wakan powers can be obtained; for they are wakan to different degrees, corresponding to the strength of this attribute as it exists in the gods by whom they are respectively inspired. It seems to be the general impression that there are wakan-men who are able to repel any foe to health till the superior gods order otherwise; but it is difficult to obtain their aid; for if they are not properly respected at all times, and well remunerated for their services, they let the sufferers perish without exerting their power to save them; doing their work deceitfully. It is also believed that they can inflict diseases as a punishment for sins committed against themselves, and that death is often the effect of their wakan power. When they thus kill a person, they cut off the tip of his tongue and preserve it as a memento of the fact. The people stand in great fear of these medicine-men, and when sick will give all they possess, and all they can obtain on credit, to secure their services; and will often give a horse for a single performance.
They are always treated with the greatest respect, and generally furnished with the best of everything; and if there are impostors, this fact turns decidedly to the advantage of those who are believed to be true. There are from five to twenty-five of these men and women at each of the villages, most of whom have a fair reputation and considerable employment; and that, notwithstanding these Indians are now receiving so much aid from persons of our own people who follow the medical profession. I do not believe that an individual Dakotah can be found, who does not believe that these jugglers can heal diseases without the help of vegetable or mineral medicines, except as this faith has been destroyed by the introduction among them of science and Christianity; and, even at this day, the persons who do not employ them as wakan jugglers, are very few indeed.
"Thus the Dakotah wakan-men, in their various capacities, exert an influence which flows from the centre to the circumference of Dakotah society an influence which is deeply felt by every individual of the tribe, and controls all their affairs, except as it has been partially interrupted by coming in contact with civilization and Christianity; and, for reasons too obvious to need to be mentioned, they, as a class, combine their influence to oppose the introduction of knowledge generally, and religious knowledge in particular, among their people. As wakan-men, each in particular, and all together, are not only useless, but a decided and devouring curse to their nation, on whose neck, mentally and morally, they have firmly planted the iron heel of priestly despotism: and, until they are put down by the mighty operations of the Divine Spirit, through the word of Christ, they will effectually baffle any effort to elevate and civilize the Dakotahs." 880
In these superstitions of the Dakotahs, there is much to remind the historical student of the wild and incoherent theories once common among the original tropical tribes of northern Mexico. To that quarter of the continent some of the northern traditions point, as the place of their origin; from the tropics, as we are led to infer from climatic affinities, their ancestors brought the zea maize and the tobacco plant. It would appear that the Vesperic tribes made less use of the theory of demi-gods, impersonations, dryads, or wood-daemons, and stellar magic, than did the tribes who resided on the confines, and in the heart of Mexico; and we should incline to this belief, did we not perceive in the legends and lodge stories of the northern tribes, which are frequently related as creations of imagination, that demigods, giants, wizzards, and spirit-craft, in all its wildness, constituted a prominent part of the poetic machinery of their legendary lore. 881
Chapter III. Algonquin Mythology and Superstitions.
TO convey some idea of the mythology, beliefs, and superstitions of the Algonquins, it is necessary to remark, that they (and here is a strong point of analogy between them and the ancient idol worshippers) conceive the universe to be filled with invisible spirits. This spirit-life the Indians believe bears the same relation to matter that the soul does to the body. The Algonquins regard spiritual matter as infinitesimal, and believe a soul alike pervades all animate creation, the brute as well as the human. They believe that every animal has a soul; and the necessary consequence is, as might be expected, no distinction is made by them between the impulses of instinct and the powers of reason. Every animal is supposed to be endowed with a reasoning faculty; and the movements of birds, beasts, reptiles, insects, as well as of every other class of the brute creation, are deemed to be the result, not of mere instinctive animal impulses, implanted and limited by the Creator, without power to exceed or enlarge them, but of a process of ratiocination. According to their theory, a bear reasons as well as a man. They even go a step farther, and believe that animals, particularly birds, can see into, and are familiar with, futurity, and with the vast operations progressing in the arcana of spiritual life. Hence the great respect they pay to birds, as agents of omen; and also to some quadrupeds whose souls they expect to encounter in another world. Nay, it is a settled belief among the northern Indians, that animals will fare better in another sphere, in the precise ratio that their lives and enjoyments have been curtailed in this world. Herein will be perceived what we shall, for the sake of being understood, call the sensuality of spirituality that is, material things made spiritual, and then degraded to the position of sensual accidents. The spiritual world of the Indian is not, therefore, such in a piatistic sense, but merely as opposed to materiality.
In these leading doctrines of an oral, and of course varied school, may be perceived the groundwork of their mythology, and the general motives which operate on the Indian mind, in selecting birds and beasts as personal manetos. Maneto is simply a synonyme for spirit, and there is neither a good nor a bad meaning attached to the word, when not governed by some adjective, or qualifying expression. Not only
are all animate objects regarded as endowed with the powers of spirits, but, as the language provides inflections of its words, through the use of which all inanimate objects may, by grammatical transformations, be invested with supposititious life, the whole inanimate creation comes under the rule; including, as prominent agents, the class of aerial fluids, mists, clouds, and exhalations; the rays of the sun and moon, the light of the stars, and all electric phenomena. To these must be superadded the countless creations of a fertile imagination, in order to comprehend the multiplicity and variety of objects comprised in the Indian mythology. The classification of subordinate spirits into good and bad, is remarkably vague, and as various as the minds of individuals; for, the same object which one deems to be propitious, another will consider baneful. The intention of the person by whom these objects are worshipped, or invoked, being the only rule of classification, bad men among them, who follow soothsaying, and practise the arts of the meta, the wabena, and the jossakeed, have a very wide field from which to select, and, by a little ingenuity, can so manage their resources as to bring a large circle under their influence. We learn, from the confessions of Chusco, 882 that the theory of the art practised by these men teaches, that the evil spirit imparts energy to whatever object is assumed as a personal maneto, and becomes, as he distinctly announced to us, the animating soul of that object. It could hardly be conceived that the idea of a universal spirit could be carried to a greater extreme of latitudinarianism and sensuality; yet, it may be asked, what more benign result could have been expected, or can now be anticipated, from an ignorant and wandering people, subject to innumerable external wants, and exposed to countless trials, without the guidance of the Light of Revelation? Mr. Pond remarks that the Dakotahs have no duality in the class of wakans.
Some of their mythological subjects are adapted to, and might become, the theme of poetic effusions, by that peculiar license accorded to the imagination of the ancient poets. Manabozho may be considered as a sort of terrene Jove, who, though he lived on the earth, could perform all things, and excelled particularly in feats of strength and manual dexterity, yet feared manitos. He survived a deluge, which is spoken of in their mythology; having climbed to the summit of a high mountain, where he remained until the subsidence of the waters. The four cardinal points are personified, and the winds from each of these points are each assigned a distinctive government. The west, called Kabean, is regarded as the oldest, and east, north, and south are considered to be his sons by a maid, who incautiously exposed herself to the west wind. Iagoo is the god of the marvellous, and to him is referred the paternity of many most extravagant tales concerning forest and domestic adventures. Kwasind, a counterpart of Samson, uplifted and hurled from him a huge mass of rock, such as the Cyclops cast at Mentor. Weeng, the god of sleep, is represented to have numerous small emissaries at his command. He
reminds us of Pope's creation of gnomes, wielding a tiny club, who clamber upon the foreheads of individuals and cudgel them to sleep. Paugak personifies death. It would be easy to extend this enumeration of personages; but those named will serve to indicate the character of this class of supposititious beings, who constitute the familiar personifications of conversation. There is no character of sacredness attached to them, nor are they worshipped in any manner.
Dreams they consider to be a medium of direct communication with the spiritual world; and hence the great influence which they exert over the Indian mind. They are considered as beneficent indications made to them by their personal gods. An entire army will retrace its steps if the dreams of the officiating priest are unfavorable. To give a character of greater solemnity to his office, the carved or stuffed images of animals, charms, and bones, constituting the sacred reliquoe, are placed in a sack, and never exhibited to the common gaze, except under the most imperative circumstances. To profane the medicine-sack would be like violating the altar. Dreams are objects of solicitude to every Indian youth, who assiduously seeks to produce them by fasting. These fasts are sometimes continued a great number of days, until the devotee becomes pale and emaciated. Those animals, the images of which impress themselves on the mind of the dreamer, are assumed as personal spirits, and are ever after regarded as guardians. This ceremony of fasting and dreaming is deemed as essential by them, as the observance of any religious rite whatever would be by Christians.
The naming of children has an intimate connection with this supposed mythological agency. Names are usually bestowed by some aged person, a relative or not, who acts under the presumed guidance of his favoring spirit or spirits. Names are commonly derived from aerial phenomena, or from the classes of animate creation. Little Thunder, Bright Sky, Big Cloud, Spot in the Sky, Spirit Sky, are common appellations. The names thus bestowed with ceremony in childhood are deemed sacred, and are seldom pronounced, from an apparent belief that it would be displeasing to the spirits under whose supposed influence the name had been selected. In the family circle, the children are usually called by some other name, which can be familiarly used. By the mother, a male child is usually denominated bird, or young one, or old man, as terms of endearment; or bad boy, evil doer, &c., in the way of light reproach; and these appellations frequently adhere to the individual through life. But the name solemnly bestowed at the time assigned therefor, when there is usually a family feast, is seldom or never uttered by the parents, who content themselves by saying "my son," "my elder or younger son," or "my elder or younger daughter," for which the language has separate words. When an individual is asked his name he is reluctant to mention it; a fact noticed by all writers. If pressed, his real name is stated by some third person; or, if he attempts compliance himself, he commonly gives his soubriquet.
The Indian "art of mystery," applied to hunting, is a tissue of necromantic reliances.
The personal spirits are invoked to promote success in the chase. Their images are often carved in wood, or drawn, by the metais, on tabular pieces of wood; and the mystic medicines, applied to these images, or figures, are supposed to operate in such manner on the animal sought for, that he voluntarily enters the hunter's path. When the animal has been killed, the Indian feels that, although it is an authorized and lawful prey, yet there is something like accountability, not to God, but to the animal's soul. An Indian has been known to ask the pardon of an animal he has just killed in the chase. Drumming, shaking the rattle, and dancing, are the common accompaniments of all their superstitious observances, and are not peculiar to one kind alone. In the wabena dance, which is esteemed by the Indians the most latitudinarian,
The system of maneto-worship is marked by another peculiarity, which has an intimate bearing on Indian history, as illustrative of character. During the fast, ceremonies, and dances, by which a warrior prepares himself for active participation in the toils and duties of war, everything that savors of effeminacy is discarded. The spirits which preside over bravery and war are alone relied on, and these are supposed to be offended, if the votaries pay attention to objects less stern and manly than themselves. It would be considered a complete desecration if a warrior, while engaged in war, would profess any other than Platonic love for an individual of the opposite sex. We think this principle has not been duly estimated, in the general award of praise which history bestows on the chastity of Indian warriors. It is not alone purity of thought, or an innate phlegmatic temperament, which has caused him to pursue a course of honorable respect to female character; but he has also felt a fear of offending his warlike manetos, and of exciting the ridicule of his companions. We would record the fact in his favor, and award him as full a meed of praise as has been already done.
The mental traits of the Indians constitute a topic which we do not intend to discuss; but it must be manifest that some of the fundamental peculiarities of their intellectual organization are developed by their system of mythology, and superstitious observances. War, public policy, hunting, strength, courage, abstinence, and endurance under seffering, form the principal topics of their oratorical efforts. These are deemed the appropriate themes of men and warriors. But there is also a domestic theatre for intellectual display, where the Indian mind unbends itself, and reveals some of its less obvious traits. We have had occasion to observe, that their best and most popular speakers are referred to as standards of purity in language, and models for imitation in the mode of pronunciation and intonation, so closely observed. Their public speakers cultivate a particular branch of oratory; but they appear to have an accurate ear for the rythm of a sentence, and a delight in rounding off a period: the language affords great facilities for this purpose, by its long and stately words, and multiform inflections. A current of thought, a lofty style, is observable in their public speaking, which is not
developed in private conversation. Hence it is, that those among them who excel in private conversation, are not always orators. They generally become, however, where a good memory accompanies the gift, the oral chroniclers of the tribe, and collect all their floating fables and tales. In the rehearsal of these, transformations are frequently relied upon as the groundwork of the fable; and some of them are as accurately adapted to the object of amusement, or instruction, as if Ovid himself had been consulted in their production. According to their notions, several animals had other forms, in their first stages of existence, which they lost, rather by the power of necromancy, than by transmigration. The evening star, it is fabled, was formerly a woman. A small boy became one of the planets. Three brothers, travelling in a canoe, were transformed into stars. The fox, the robin, the mouse, and numerous other animals, retain places in Indian astronomy. It is a coincidence, worthy of note, that Ursa Major is called by them the Bear. The earth is also a fruitful theatre of transformations. A shell, lying on the shore, was changed into the raccoon; the present name of which animal, aisebun, signifies shell, with the inflection indicating the past tense; for it is one of the peculiarities of the language, that nouns, as well as verbs, admit of tensal forms. The brains of an adultress were converted into the addikumaig, or white fish. This power of transformation was variously exercised, but most commonly possessed by magicians, of whom Manabosho retains much celebrity in story, as the magician of the lakes. He had a magic canoe, which would rush forward through the water, on the utterance of a charm, at a speed outstripping even that detailed in "Wacousta," in the miraculous canoe-journey. Hundreds of miles were traversed in so many minutes. The charm which he employed consisted of a monosyllable, containing one consonant, which does not belong to the language. The word has no definable meaning; so that the language of magic and daemonology has one feature in common, in all ages, and with every nation. To be at the same time a demigod and magician, was consistent with Indian ideas.
The intellectual creations of the Indians admit of the agency of giants and fairies. Their giants, termed ween-degos, were generally cannibals, who devoured men, women, and children. Their fairies comprise two classes, into which they are divided according as the location of their haunts is either on the land, or in the water. The favorite residence of their land fairies is the vicinity of promontories and water-falls, and in solemn groves. Besides furnishing a habitation for its appropriate class of fairies, the water is supposed to be the residence of an animal called nibau-auba, which has its counterpart, except as to sex, in the mermaid. The Indian word indicates a male. Ghosts are the ordinary subjects of their tales of terror and mystery. There is a glimmering of the doctrine of retributive justice, in the belief that ghosts can live in fire, and that this is one of the frequent modes of their manifestation.
As we have partially entered on the subject of Indian intellect, as influenced by popular superstition, it would be but a natural transition to an examination of some of
the considerations which their existing ceremonies and institutions furnish, to countenance the belief of their Ephraimitic origin, which is a theory of the old divines, who had not, however, access to the best means of supporting it. But the limits of this article do not admit of it. Enough has been stated regarding them to indicate their claims on the benevolent and high-minded classes of the community. We will not say these claims press exclusively on the American churches, as the tribes are objects of their strenuous efforts; although we may, in the sequel, advert to some considerations which should have great weight with them, in view of their responsibilities to the heathen tribes of our own land as distinguished from those of the Asiatic continent.
Chapter IV. Indian Theory of the Action of the Mind During Sleep.
DREAMS exert a more marked influence on the religious opinions and acts of the Indians than any other operating cause. Two terms are used to express the word "dream" in the Algonquin language. Inâbundum refers to that panorama of sensations presented to the mental vision during sleep. The apowa, as contradistinguished from this, is a vision, or sacred dream.
Dreams being generally regarded as revelations, are sought to be procured by abstinence and fasts. Among every class they are anxiously courted, and are explained by the medas and jossakeeds, wise men, who constitute, in Indian society, the learned class. Youth and age alike pay respectful deference to these nocturnal warnings; and, when the male youth attain the age of puberty, revelations of this kind are sought with much solicitude, and their advent promoted by rigorous fasts. As at this time a guardian spirit must be chosen for life, these fasts are continued for several days; no nourishment at all being taken, with the exception of water; and, as the fast constitutes a period of ceremonial and religious trial, the parents of the youth do everything in their power to encourage him to perseverance. Under the operation of these causes, some object in animate nature is usually presented to the imagination in an inviting manner. This animal is adopted as the guardian or personal maneto of the individual during life. This spirit is not, however, the Indian's totem, or symbol of the family tie, or clanship (which is also generally the figure of some bird or animal), but exclusively a personal maneto.
The jebi is a ghost or apparition, and the mind is called inaindum. Otchichaug is the soul, or semblance of the human frame or organization, after its dissolution. The three terms are, therefore, not convertible, or synonymous. But the action of the soul is inseparable from the operation of dreams. It is an opinion of the Indians I know not how universal that there are duplicate souls, one of which remains with the body, while the other is free to depart on excursions during sleep. After the death of the body, the
nightly, for four days the period allowed for the person to reach the Indian elysium. This practice, which is common, it is believed, to all the Algonquins, is of a very impressive character. The scene is represented in the accompanying plate. 883
Having requested a Chippewa Indian to explain the duality of the soul; "It is known," he replied, "that, during sleep, while the body is stationary, the soul roams over wide tracts of country, visiting scenes, persons, and places at will. Should there not be a soul, at the same time, to abide with the body, it would be as dead as earth, and could never reappear in future life." The theory of the sensations experienced by the mind during sleep, and the operation of the flitting train of active memories and fancies, has been frequently described in highly refined and imaginative language; but this ingenious mode of detailing its operation is, it is believed, the first attempt of the kind ever made by an Indian.
Chapter V. Iroquois Cosmogony.
THE interpretation of an Iroquois tradition requires a great degree of caution, there being always something concealed by metaphor, or to be explained by after investigation. The mental reservations of the Indian are numerous, and his communications always clothed in figurative language. Still greater circumspection is requisite where the object of research is confessedly mythological, or relates to mysterious agencies. Subjoined, is a copy of a written mythology of the Six Nations, from the pen of the late James Dean, Esq., of Oneida county, New York. Mr. Dean had, from the period of his boyhood, passed his life among the Oneidas, spoke their language fluently, was familiar with their manners and customs, and ever enjoyed their respect and regard. In introducing a paper which is rather marked by plain understanding than by imaginative or descriptive power, it may be observed that no effort has been made to re-construct it, and no change whatever made, which has not been deemed essential to the explanation of the Indian theory.
"An unlimited expanse of water once filled the space now occupied by the world we inhabit. Here was the abode of total darkness, which no ray of light ever penetrated. At this time the human family dwelt in a country situated in the upper regions of the creation, abounding in everything conducive to the comfort and convenience of life. The forests were full of game, the lakes and streams swarmed with fish and fowl, while the earth and fields spontaneously produced a profusion of vegetables for the use of man. An unclouded sun enlivened their days, and storms and tempests were unknown in that happy region.
"The inhabitants were strangers to death, and its harbingers, pain and disease; while their minds, freed from the corroding passions of jealousy, hatred, malice, and revenge, were perfectly happy.
"At length, however, an event occurred which interrupted their tranquillity, and introduced care and anxiety, till then unknown. A certain young man, of high position, was observed to withdraw himself from the circle of their social amusements. The solitary recesses of the grove became his favorite walks; care and chagrin were depicted
in his countenance; and his body, from long abstinence, presented to the view of his friends the mere skeleton of a man. Anxious friends again and again vainly solicited to know the cause of his grief, until, debilitated both in body and mind, he yielded to the importunities of his associates, and promised to disclose the cause of his troubles, on condition that they would dig up by the roots a certain white pine tree, lay him on his robes near the edge of the hole, and seat his wife by his side. Complying with his request, all were ready, and the fatal tree was taken up by the roots, in doing which the earth was perforated, and a passage opened to the abyss below. The robe was placed by the side of the opening, and the youth laid thereon; his wife taking her seat by his side. The multitude, eager to learn the cause of such strange and unusual conduct, pressed around; when, on a sudden, to their horror and astonishment, he seized upon the woman, then enciente, and precipitated her headlong into the darkness below; then, rising from the ground, he informed the assembly that he had for some time suspected the chastity of his wife, and that having now disposed of the cause of his mental suffering, he should soon recover his usual health and vivacity. All the birds and amphibious animals which now inhabit the earth, then occupied the watery waste, to which the woman in her fall was hastening.
"The loon first discovered her coming, and called a council to prepare for her reception. Observing that the animal which approached was a human being, they knew that earth was indispensably necessary for her accommodation. The first subject of deliberation was, who should support the burden. The sea bear first presented himself for a trial of his strength. Instantly the other animals gathered around, and seated themselves on his back; but the bear, unable to support the weight, sunk beneath the surface of the water, and was judged by the whole assembly unequal to the task of supporting her, and her prerequisite, the earth. Several others in succession presented themselves as candidates for the honor, and with similar ill-success. Last of all, the turtle modestly advanced, tendering his broad shell as the basis of the earth, now about to be formed. The beasts then made trial of its strength to bear weight, and finding their united pressure unable to sink the turtle below the surface, adjudged to him the honor of supporting the world. A foundation being thus provided, the next subject of deliberation was, how to procure earth. It was concluded that it must be obtained from the bottom of the sea. Several of the most expert divers went in quest of it; and uniformly, when they rose to the surface of the water, they were dead. The mink at length took the dangerous plunge, and, after a long absence, his carcass floated to the surface. By a critical examination, a small quantity of earth was discovered in one of his claws, which he had scratched from the bottom. This being carefully preserved, was placed on the back of the turtle. In the meantime, the woman continued falling, and at length alighted on the back of the turtle. The earth had already grown to the size of a man's foot, when she stood with one foot covering the other. Shortly after she had room for both feet, and was soon able to sit down. The
earth continued to expand, and soon formed a small island, skirted with willow, and other aquatic plants and shrubbery; and at length it stretched out into a widely-extended plain, interspersed with rivers and smaller streams, which, with gentle current, rolled forward their tributary waters to the ocean. Ataheritsic, 884 the woman, then repaired to the sea-shore, erected a habitation, and settled in her new abode. Not long after she became the mother of a daughter, and was supported by the spontaneous productions of the earth until the child arrived at adult years. She was then selected in marriage by several animals, changed into the form of young men. The loon first presented himself as a suitor, in the form of a tall, well-dressed, fine-looking young man. After due consultation with the mother, his suit was rejected. Several others presented themselves, and were rejected by the mother; until, at length, the turtle, with his short neck, short bandy legs, and humped back, offered himself as a suitor, and was received. After she had laid herself down to sleep, the turtle placed upon her abdomen two arrows in the form of a cross, one headed with a flint, the other with the rough bark of a tree, and took his leave. She, in due time, became the mother of two sons, called, in Iroquois, Yoskiki and Thoitsaron, 885 but died in giving them birth. When the time arrived that the children should be born, they consulted together about the best mode of egress from their place of confinement. The youngest determined to make his exit by the natural passage, whilst the other resolved to take the shortest route, by breaking through the walls of his prison; in effecting which he consequently destroyed his mother, thus giving the first evidence of his malignant disposition. The grandmother, enraged at her daughter's death, resolved to destroy the children, and, taking them in her arms, threw them both into the sea. Scarcely had she reached her wigwam, when the children appeared at the door. The experiment of drowning them was several times repeated, but in vain.
"Discouraged by her ill success, she determined to let them live. Then, dividing the corpse of her daughter into two parts, she threw them upwards towards the heavens, when the upper part became the sun and the lower part the moon, which is the reason why the latter has always presented the form of the human face. Then began the succession of day and night in our world. The children speedily became men, and expert archers. The elder, whose name, in Oneida, was Thau-wisk-a-lau (a term expressive of the greatest degree of malignity and cruelty), had the arrow of the turtle pointed with flint, and killed with it the largest beasts of the forest. The younger, whose name, in the same dialect, was Tau-lou-ghy-au-wan-goon (a name denoting unbounded goodness and benevolence), had the arrow headed with bark. The former was, on account of his malignant disposition, and his skill and success in hunting, a favorite with his grandmother. They lived in the midst of plenty, but would not
permit the younger brother, whose arrow was not sufficiently powerful to destroy anything but birds, to share in their abundance. As this young man was one day wandering along the shore, he saw a bird, perched upon a bough projecting over the water. He attempted to kill it; but his arrow, till that time unerring, flew wide of the mark and sank in the sea. He determined to recover it; and, swimming to the place where it fell, plunged to the bottom. Here, to his astonishment, he found himself in a small cottage. A venerable old man, who was sitting in it, received him with a smile of fraternal complacency, and thus addressed him: ‘My son, I welcome you to the habitation of your father. To obtain this interview, I have directed all the circumstances which have conspired to bring you hither. Here is your arrow, and here is an ear of corn, which you will find pleasant and wholesome food. I have watched the unkindness both of your grandmother and your brother. While he lives, the earth can never be peopled; you must, therefore, take his life. When you return home, you must traverse the whole earth; collect all the flint-stones into heaps which you find, and hang up all the bucks'-horns. These are the only things of which your brother is afraid, or which can make any impression upon his body, which is made of flint. They will furnish you with weapons, always at hand, wherever he may direct his course.’ Having received these and other instructions from his father, he returned to the world, and began immediately to obey his father's directions. This being done, the elder at length resolved on a hunting excursion. On their way to the hunting-ground, he inquired of the younger what were the objects of his greatest aversion. He informed him (falsely) that there was nothing so terrific to him as beech-boughs and bulrushes, and inquired in turn of Thau-wisk-a-lau what he most dreaded; he answered, nothing so much as flint-stones and bucks'-horns, and that nothing else could injure him; and that lately he had been much annoyed by them wherever he went. Having arrived at their place of destination, the elder went in quest of game, leaving the younger to attend to the menial occupation of erecting his hut, and preparing such other accommodations as he required. After an absence of some time, he returned exhausted with fatigue and hunger. Having taken a hearty repast, prepared by his brother, he retired to his wigwam to sleep; and when he had fallen into a profound slumber, the younger kindled a large fire at its entrance. After a time, the elder found himself extremely incommoded by the heat; and the flinty materials of his body, expanding by its intensity, were exploding in large scales from his carcass. In a great rage, and burning with revenge, he broke through the fire in front of the hut, hastened to a neighboring beech, armed himself with a large bough, and returned to chastise and destroy his brother. Finding that his repeated and violent blows had no effect upon his brother, who pelted him with flint-stones and belabored him with bucks'-horns, which caused the flinty scales to fall from his body in copious showers, he betook himself to a neighboring marsh, where he supplied himself with a bundle of bulrushes, and returned to the contest, but with the same want of success. Finding himself deceived, and failing of his purpose, he sought
safety in flight. As he fled, the earth trembled. A verdant plain, bounded by the distant ocean, lay before him; behind him, the earth sunk in deep valleys and frightful chasms, or rose into lofty mountains or stupendous precipices. The streams ceased to roll forward their waters, and, bursting their barriers, poured down the cliffs in cataracts, or foamed through their rocky channels to the ocean. The younger brother followed the fugitive with vigorous steps, and wounded him continually with his weapons. At length, in a far distant region, beyond the savannahs of the west, he breathed his last, and loaded the earth with his flinty form. 886
"The great enemy of the race of the turtle being destroyed, they came up out of the ground in human form, and for some time multiplied in peace and spread extensively over its surface. 887 Atahentsic, the grandmother, roused to furious resentment for the loss of her darling son, resolved to be revenged. For many days successively, she caused the rain to descend in torrents from the clouds, until the whole surface of the earth, and even the highest mountains, were covered. The inhabitants fled to their canoes, and escaped the impending destruction. The disappointed grandmother then caused the rains to cease, and the waters to subside, when the inhabitants returned to their former places of abode. She then determined to effect her purpose in another manner, and covered the earth with a deluge of snow. To escape this new evil they betook themselves to their snow-shoes, and thus eluded her vengeance. Chagrined at length by these disappointments, she gave up the idea of destroying the whole human race at once, and determined to wreak her vengeance upon them in a manner which, although less violent, should be more efficacious. Accordingly, she has ever since been employed in gratifying her malignant disposition, by inflicting upon mankind all those evils which are suffered in this present world. Tarenyawagon, in Oneida, Tau-lou-ghy-au-wan-goon, on the other hand, displays the infinite benevolence of his nature by bestowing on the human race the blessings they enjoy, all of which flow from his bountiful providence. This personage afterwards dwelt among his brethren under the name of Hiawatha. The name Tarenyawagon, literally translated, is ‘the Holder, or Supporter of the Heavens.’ Hiawatha was the minister of Tarenyawagon, and agent of his good will to mankind."
Section Twenty-seventh. Indicia From Language Chapter I. Principles of the Structure of the Indian Language.
LANGUAGE is one of the most reliable aids to the student of the mental organization of the Indians. The tribes had not, until the advent of the very modern Cherokee Cadmus, in 1824, made the least progress towards the invention of signs by which to express sounds, but made use of the lowest form of the hieroglyphic art. In their attempts at mnemonic pictography, their invention was tasked to its fullest extent to produce ideographic representative figures a crude method of recording inscriptions, by which some memorial of past transactions was figured on trees, bark scrolls, and rocks. No effort was made to produce a system of vocal notation. The pictographic artist made use of a series of figures, having the character of nouns in grammatical definition action being inferible from the proximity of the devices. The ancient nations of the Euphrates employed the cuneiform character in the record of their actions; and the inhabitants of the Nile possessed a phonetic system; but the American tribes, it appears, came to this continent without either alphabet, phonetic sign, or digit. Still, their languages had fixed vocabularies, and there were mental laws, older than letters, prescribing the practical bearing of one idea upon another. These vocabularies were made up from primary sounds, or particles, indicating objects and acts, which denoted affiliation. There was a mental rule, which prescribed how the nominative should be distinguished from the objective. Inflections were employed to distinguish numbers and personal plurals. Even in the least advanced tribes, the necessity of expressing an adjective sense was experienced. Black and white, red and green, were required to be denoted; the light of the sun must needs be contradistinguished from the gloom
of night; and the location of an object, whether high or low, above or beneath, within or without, called for the use of such an adjunct. Others followed. In most of the languages, the quick repetition of the same syllable implies a superlative signification; a peculiar inflection of the verb transforms it into a substantive; there are also tensal and multiplied forms of syllabification. These peculiarities of language are common among circles of tribes, and afford a clue to their history.
No column or shaft exists, to afford an evidence to posterity that the Indians of the United States were ever skilled in architectural art; no inscriptions, of a higher grade than those of primitive pictography, record the triumphs of one tribe over another. Their true monuments are comprised in their languages. The simple terms used by the child to express the names of its father and mother, of the sun and moon, of light and darkness, constitute elements in the primary material of the linguistic edifice, which must serve, for historical data, in lieu of imposing monuments of marble and brass. On this basis, one of the incontrovertible truths of ethnology reposes.
In prosecuting an inquiry into the affiliations and history of the Indian tribes of this continent, there is certainly nothing which presents so fruitful a field for research, or promises to yield so great a fund of information, as the study of their languages. Mere manners and customs must ever depend, in a great measure, on the agricultural productions, the natural history, and the geographical phenomena, of a country. The introduction of the horse, the sheep, and the hog, on this continent, but three centuries and a half since, has very greatly changed the habits and customs of many of the prairie tribes. Tribes of the Shoshonees, of the Rocky Mountains, by migrating into the plains of Texas, became possessed of the Spanish horse, and their customs have been changed by its use; they are now the bold and warlike Comanches; while the parent tribe, wandering on those bleak and elevated summits, still subsists on larvae and roots. The same effects have followed the introduction of this animal amongst the predatory bands roaming along the Upper Missouri, and over the vast steppes of Oregon; while the Chippewas, and other tribes of the Algonquin stock resident on the upper lakes, where the long and severe winters preclude the spontaneous growth of food adapted to the wants of the horse, still rely, for the means of locomotion, on their favorite canoe, and for subsistence on the products of the wide-spreading waters of the lakes and streams. These are the effects of climate, and of the fauna, on the development of a tribe.
The conquering Iroquois, whose war-cry was so long potent on this continent, adhered to their primitive mode of water conveyance, in their kaowas, and pursued their long overland marches, requiring more than Lacedaemonian endurance, during the entire epoch which witnessed the introduction of civilization on the continent. Nor did they adopt the use of the horse until a very recent period, when they discarded the tomahawk, and embarked in agricultural pursuits. A new era has been inaugurated in their history; and whoever visits their reservations in the western extreme of New York, will find the once proud and belligerent Iroquois driving oxen, following the
plough, and speaking the English language, as a necessary auxiliary to the transaction of business. The process by which such results have been produced in this nation was not, in an ethnological sense, a very long one; but it was very severe, and has been remarkably effectual. The alternative presented was, simply, to WORK or DIE; and I doubt whether any of the numerous tribes resident within the area of the United States will be released by Providence on easier terms.
These, and similar changes of manners and customs, are essentially the resultant effects of climate, geography and natural history, and afford no clue whatever to the ancient history of the Indians. The languages of the tribes, however, similate a historical chart, upon which we can trace back the tribes to the period of their original dispersion over this continent, and mark their linguistic relations. By developing those frequently obscure connections, we are enabled to perceive that a single genus or family of tribes, speaking one common language, occupied the shores of the Atlantic, from North Carolina to the mouth of the St. Lawrence thence extended westward through the great lake basins to the
In calling attention to the peculiarities of one of three leading stocks, I would have been pleased to offer more extended illustrations, than would be consistent with the space at my command. The examples offered are therefore less full than could be wished, yet more extended, it is apprehended, than may be thought interesting by the general reader.
The Algonquin language has been more cultivated than any of the North American tongues. Containing no sounds of difficult utterance, capable of an easy and clear expression, and with a copious vocabulary, it has been the favorite medium of communication, on the frontiers, from the earliest times. The French at an early period made themselves masters of it; and, from its general use, it has been sometimes called the court language of the Indian. In its various ethnological forms, as spoken by the Delaware, Mohican, Shawnee, Miami, Illinois, Chippewa, Ottowa, Pottawattamie and Kickapoo, and by many other tribes, it has been familiar to the English colonists, from the respective eras of the settlement of Virginia, New York, and New England.
The plan of thought, revealed by an examination of the Algonquin language, differs the farthest possible from that which an Englishman, or an American, employs. Its object is, not to express elementary sounds, but to combine, it would seem, as many ideas as practicable in a single expression. There is a constant tendency to accretion in the syllabification. Words are ever the representatives of associated, not simple, thought. A word grows by clothing the original idea with auxiliary and explanatory
meanings. Dr. Lieber has called these languages polyphrastic. The Indian is, at all times, a being of fears. Placed in the forest, surrounded by dangers, he fears, and is suspicious of everybody and everything. He notices with astonishing quickness every sound of the voice and of the elements. This trait is traceable even in his linguistic forms. He fears to be held to account, or to be misapprehended; and when he recites what he thinks a spirit might overhear and condemn, he omits particulars which would give offence, or invents dubitative forms. Neither does he subsequently compress or reorganize his forms of speech. As the language is not written, and he has no scholars, the redundancies of meaning, the defects and inelegancies, go on from century to century, running more into concrete forms, and, with the lapse of ages, diverging farther and farther from the primitive stock. Verbs and nouns form, as it were, but the chain of thought, into which pronouns, adjectives, and other adjuncts are interwoven, merely as the woof. But it is all of a piece all are woven together on one plan. It has been said to be polysynthetic; yet the synthesis exhibits a remarkable unity. It is, sui generis, pollysyllabic indeed, but not properly polysynthetic. It is rather unasynthetic; the plan of thought is a unity. There is a oneness of thought, by which the whole train of Indian conceptions is made to conform to the same rules of grammar; and this peculiarity in their lexicography links most of our tribes together in one generic family, more closely than mere coincidences of sound. For, wherever the structure of their language is examined, they are found to think, if they do not speak, alike. No trait is more characteristic of our Indian languages than their word-building capacity, which is very prominent in the Algonquin. They revel in the power of combination. Taking the root of a noun, or verb, they add particle to particle, until, like an edifice which has received numerous additions, it is made to cover a great space, and often to rise to a height, which rather dazzles the eye than adds to its conveniences. But, by the power of analysis, these words are readily resolved into their elements, and evidence the existence of laws of combination which are regular and philosophic. To examine these rules need occupy but a few moments' attention here.
The Indian, in any view, is no analyst. He estimates things in the gross, and hastens to unburthen his mind in the same way. If an animal or object is black, or white, or assumes any striking peculiarity, this idea must accompany, and be expressed by, the radix. Both the noun and the verb, in fact the entire vocabulary, is encumbered with these declarative and descriptive inflexions. To see, to love, to eat, are always said in an adjective sense of what is seen, loved, or eaten. The infinitive is entirely ignored. The Indian's thoughts crowd closely upon him. If he love or hate, the object, whether it be in the animate or inanimate class of creation, must at once be indicated by a transitive inflection. Inini, is man homo; and the verb saug, is the amo of the language. But an Algonquin cannot say, "I love a woman," or, "I love a pipe, or gun," without letting this principle of classification appear by transitive inflections; showing that the one object belongs to the animate, and the others to the lifeless or inanimate
class. In order to denote this principle, the entire vocabulary is divided into two classes, via: animates and inanimates. The animates terminate in the letter g, the inanimates in the letter n. If a word terminates in either of the vowels, a, e, i, o, u, the orthography of the animate class, to be precise, and conform to the Indian grammar, must be ag, eg, ig, og, or ug. But if it be of the inanimate class, the terminations become an, en, in, on, un. This is not still the sum of the inflections used to express class, for, if the vowels be long, or broad, the terminations are aig, eeg, oog, or oag, in the animate, and ain, een, oon, or oan, in the inanimate. This principle in the grammar takes the place of gender, which it at the same time destroys. There are no masculine or feminine genders; neither are there masculine or feminine pronouns. The language resembles, in this respect, what, we are told by Gesenius, the old Hebrew was in the days of the Pentateuch, viz: destitute of sexual distinctions having no separate pronouns to express he and she.
Another important function is performed by these inflections for class, which is, that they denote the number of the noun and verb, and, in the conjugations, supply the place of objective pronouns. The following tabular view will impress these principles on the mind, while the exhibit serves materially to simplify rules which, at first, assume a character of complication. Of this nature is the rule for eighteen modes of forming the plural, when it is perceived that there are, in reality, but two, and these of the simplest kind; and, while this object is attained, the gender, or class, of words is at the same time designated. "Tell me," said my instructor, "how the plural is formed, and I will tell you the class of every word in the language."
The plural being ascertained, the class is determined. But the class terminations can never be affixed indiscriminately to any given word; the final letter, g, being interchangeably an animate, and the letter, n, an inanimate.
These distinctions must be constantly observed by the speaker, and in this manner inflection is often piled on inflection, and affix and suffix added to radix, till the lexicography, graphic and descriptive as it generally is, assumes a formidable character to the eye, as well as to the ear. The accumulation of auxiliary ideas is not always, to European ears, productive of poetic sounds; but, in our geographical nomenclature, this object is so often attained, as to have ensured universal admiration. The names of Ontario and Niagara, Peoria and Missouri, Ticonderoga and Talladega, will long continue to impart a pleasing cadence of sounds in our geographical terminations, when the people who first bestowed them shall have passed away. An analysis of these names develops a singularly terse mode of combination, of which the term Ontario may be taken as an example. In this word, the syllable on is the radix for "hill" and "mountain," characteristic of some parts of its shores. Tar is from dar, the radix for "rocks standing in water;" and io, the felicitous termination of a compound term for "the beautiful in a water landscape," which is heard also in the word Ohio. These particles are Iroquois.
In tracing the principles of the Algonquin language, the oldest words are found to be substantives. Objects seen, or referred to, generally precede the ideas of motion, quality, or position. The radix, os, is the primitive for "father;" but it admits of little use in expressing personal distinctions, and is seldom or never heard, without at least the pronominal signs, n, le, w, or o rendering the word nose, or nosa, "my father;" kos, or kosa, "thy father;" os, or osun, "his or her father." In these terms, pronominal signs represent full pronouns, which is a common rule. The letters, n, k, w, and o, in these cases, are fragments of the pronouns, neen, "I ;" keen, "thou;" ween, "he," or "she;" which, in other combinations, are also employed in their segregated or elementary forms. But this is not the case with the positively inseparable pronouns, which are, in their character, strictly suffixes. Thus, aindaud signifies "a home or place of living or abiding;" aindauyaung is "my place of living;" aindauyung, "thy place of living;" aindaud, "his, or her, place of living;" and so on, throughout all the persons and numbers. In these cases, yaung, yung, &c., are the inseparable pronouns, and can only be employed as inflections of the verb.
When verbs are constructed from nouns, they have their nominative in a, as chima, "to propel," from chimaun, "a canoe;" paush-kiz-ziga, "to fire," from paush-kiz-zegun, "a gun, or firelock;" puketa, "to strike," from puketaigun, "an implement for inflicting blows." Gee, or geez, the radix for the sun, evidently preceded in origin, geez-is, the modern name for that planet, which conveys an adjunct meaning. Nod is the radix for "wind;" and the inflection in, in the modern word, nodin, merely transfers it to the inanimate class.
In conversational expressions, the substantive must generally precede the verb. "I see a man" Inini waubuma, i. e., "Man I see." "Give me apples" Mishemin meesizhin, "Apples give me." "Have you any fish? Keegoi-ke-di-a-unuh? "Fish have you any?" In converting verbs, with the infinitive or indicative present form, into substantives, the inflection win is simply subjoined.
Prepositional senses are conveyed by the inflections, aing, eeng, ing, oong, &c.
Diminutives are formed by inflections in ais, ees, os, aus. It has been said that the superlative is formed by a duplication of the first syllable, and this may be regarded also as an augmentative.
The Indian is one who, whatever may be thought by the auditor of what appears to be an undistinguishable rhapsody of words, has a quick and correct ear for his vernacular sounds, notes the ungrammatical use of the classes, and derides the imprecision of the jargon of trade. He is an adept in the use of accents, quantity, and stress of voice, which are the life of his language, and never misplaced by him, nor employed with a false utterance. The whole force of his language, its very vitality, depends on the proper use of these. The designation of the class of objects is the test
of grammatical accuracy, and constitutes the true rule for estimating a good speaker, and, it may be remarked, there is no distinction in Indian society so much appreciated as the reputation of being a good orator. Sassacus and Miontonimo, Pontiac and Tecumseh, may occupy prominent positions as warriors in Indian reminiscence, but Garrangula and Cannassatigo, Logan, and
It is doubtful whether any man, born beyond the precincts of the wigwam, or not reared under the influence of the Indian council-fire, has ever attained to perfection in speaking the Indian language, in giving it the proper accentuation and stress of utterance, or in comprehending the minute laws of its syntax, and revelling, so to say, in the exfoliation of its exuberant transpository expressions. I have witnessed the effects of its stirring appeals in the brightening eyes of an excited auditory, as the speaker directed their thoughts to themes of thrilling interest. He seemed to move their hearts with such a talismanic power, that they were ready to seize the lance and rush forth to a perilous encounter, without allowing a controlling thought to restrain them. And, what is far more remarkable, I have observed the transporting effects produced by the voice of an Indian convert to Christianity a Mongazid, or a John Sunday who, with an entirely new group of thoughts and reasoning, depicted the Great Spirit, whom they had ignorantly adored in the clouds, under the true name by which he is revealed in his Word. Such men, knowing the emptiness of their former beliefs from their own experience, subdued their hearers by a bold appeal to the power of truth, which they could not resist, and before which they bowed contritely and submissively.
Under the influence of such feelings the Indian no longer regards the Great Spirit as the mere ruler of the elements, but realizes the adaptability of his incarnation to the needs of a frail and erring humanity. Having arrived at this conviction, he raises his voice in the spirit of prayer, uttering that comprehensive petition: "Nosinaun gezhigony abiyun; Takinjinaunjigad eu kedishinikazowin. My Father in heaven abiding; hallowed be thy name." The language itself, though so long devoted to the expression of mere objects of sense, is, however, adapted to convey the leading thoughts of Christianity. It either already contains, or admits of, the formation of words, which are equivalents for sin, repentance, faith, a Saviour, and man's destitution of innate righteousness. The knowledge of this fact enables us to comprehend why Eliot and the Mayhews, in 1640, and Brainerd, in 1744, produced such amazing effects on the Indian mind, converting it completely to the principles of the gospel, and winnowing from it, as it were, the chaff of its long-cherished monetoästic and demoniac reliances. But this subject requires caution, time, and study: the work of a translator is one of vast labor.
In examining the principles of the Algonquin language, its curious pliancy of
forms, and the applicability of its syllabic power to express new ideas, there is danger of imprecision, and of committing errors in its interpretation, precisely in proportion as the subjects are of an abstract character, or have a novel or critical import. I have seen a version of the gospel in this language, in which the whole mystery of the Incarnation is nullified by the substitution of the expression "young woman," for "virgin," and by giving to some of the figurative teachings of the record a meaning utterly at variance with their import. This perversion of meaning results from the employment of interpreters, well versed, it is true, in the native tongue, so far as is required by the necessities of trade and ordinary conversation, but who, with a Bartiniean indistinctness, see gospel truths only as "trees walking."
An analysis of the forms of the language would seem to indicate that it was founded on a limited number of monosyllabic stock particles, substantive, verbal, adjective, and pronominal such as the radices for "fire, air, earth, water, father, mother, child; God, sun, moon, sky, star; cloud, rain, sound." Analogous syllabic nuclei form the verbs "to move, to grow, to see, to strike, to eat, to run, to live, to die." This rule holds good also regarding the radii of all suffixed, prefixed, or inserted syllables, expressing adjunct ideas. These still constitute, at the present day, the stock particles of the language, each having a well recognised, but generic, meaning. Thus, "motion" and "to move," are the nuclei of the verbs "to walk, to run, to strike, to wave the hand, to grow," &c. These stock particles constitute the frame-work of the word-building power, the adjuncts of the grammar surround them as a garb, and they adhere by the simplest rules of syntax. If two consonants or two vowels come in contact in these accretions, one must be dispensed with; for there is no orthographical law more generally observed in syllabification than the one which directs that, for the sake of euphony, a vowel must either precede or follow a consonant. Where two vowels coalesce, as the ultimate and penultimate, they are pronounced as open vowels, and independent members of the sentence. Hence the rhythm of the language. Such words as Ontario, Oswego, Chicago, Potomac, Alabama, and Monongahela, are examples of this peculiarity.
A more critical research into the grammatical structure of the language will develop the fact, that the mental exuvia of constructiveness, as also the pertinacious adherence of the Indians to normal forms (the scaffolding which is left after the edifice is complete), and not the results of the ratiocination of synthesis, have given rise to duplications of meaning, redundancies, and other defects, as well as to the almost innumerable accumulation of forms and inflections, which have originated what have been called agglutinations. The ear of the Indian is not only critically accurate in the appreciation of sounds, but his mind also is fascinated by them; and it is evident that, at no period in their history, has the syntax been revised, and the cumbrousness of its forms reduced to a compact system. According to the natural classification, nouns and verbs have, strictly speaking, but three personal pronouns. "I, thou," and the epicene, "he, or she."
These are changed into the plural, not by the use of such words as "we, they, them," but by the numerical inflection of the verb; for it is a rule that pronouns in the objective case are distinguished from those in the nominative by the number of the verb, which is always an inflection. So that the sense is, by comparison with the English, as if we should say, not "I love," but "I loves," or "love does;" "I runs," for "I run," &c. The pronoun is also retained in the phrase as well as the noun; as, "John, he runs," instead of "John runs," &c.; denoting that the language could not have had a refined origin.
Number is formed by adding the letter g to the final vowel of all words of the animate or vital class, and the letter n to those of the inert or inanimate class. To the learner this simple arrangement at first presents an appearance of intricacy, but, the system is soon found to be both regular and musical; for, if the singular end in a, e, i, o, u, the plural is changed to ag, eeg, ig, og, ug; and, if the word ends in the broad sound of a or e, we have two more forms, ending in aig, and oag, making seven kinds of plurals in the animate class. There are also seven kinds of plurals in the non-vital, or inanimate class, ending in an, een, in, on, un, or, for the broad vowels, in ain and oan. Thus, it will be perceived, there are fourteen modes of denoting the number which governs, as well as produces, a rythmical flow of language. This requires a thorough knowledge both of the grammar and the vocabulary.
Much of the apparent obscurity surrounding the noun is thus removed; but a much greater difficulty is encountered in the use of the verb and pronoun; for the very same vowelic rule of number pervades both parts of speech. When an Algonquin has pronounced the amo of his language, "saug" his next object is to add the person to it. This is done, at first, by prefixing the pronoun neen, "I," or its pronominal sign, n; but the verb must also denote the person beloved. He cannot speak in an infinitive sense. To do this, the particle ea is subjoined to the radix, making saug-ea a particle derived from one of the great primary roots of the language; i-e-au signifying being or existence. In this connection it is the succedaneum for you, and, of course, him or her. There remains but one step more to render the expression plural, which is effected by suffixing the common animate letter g, rendering it saugiaug.
It was a mistake of the older inquirers into the construction of our Indian languages, to suppose that these tongues possessed no word for the expression of the substantive verb. The conclusion was, doubtless, drawn from the fact, that the Indians did not employ it in their ordinary colloquial terms; never saying, "I am sick," "I am well," &c.; but, merely, "I sick," "I well," &c. Neither is it otherwise used, at this day, in the Algonquin dialect; the reason for which is, that the verb "to be" is appropriated to the deity, and it is regarded as presumptive, or disrespectful, to apply it to human passions. Iau, the generic word for existence, is the radix for the Supreme Being, in which sense it may be supposed to convey the meaning of ah and jah, in words of the same import in the Hebrew.
The Indians appear to attach a peculiar importance to the expression, in its elementary forms; but their compound words abound with particles derived from it. Inquiry also renders it clear, that their medais, wabenas, and hieratic doctors use the verb "to be," in its elementary forms, in their declarative and boasting societarian and
The radix for Great Spirit, in the numerous Algonquin tribes, is mon; in those of the Iroquois stock, nio varying to nioh and niuh. The continent is denominated Great Island, or Island of the Great Spirit.
The radix for an island, in the Natic vocabulary of the Massachusetts Indians, was menoh; in the Delaware, munah; in the Shawnee, mena; in the Chippewa, minis; and the term varied in the numerous other known Algonquin dialects. In the Iroquois group, the radix was weno; in the Mohawk dialect, kaweno; in Oneida, kahwano; in the Onondaga, kahwana; and in the Cayuga, kaweighno. Generally there is a root-form, or radical particle, on, or around which, as a nucleus, all the adjuncts or contingencies of a word are concentrated. Thus gee is the radix for an orb, or heavenly phenomenon, while gee-zis is the sun, and gee-zhig, the sky. By putting the prefix dibik, meaning dark, or night, before this term, the moon is denoted. Thus, also, the radix anu is restricted to the higher atmospheric phenomena; by adding the formative inflection, ng, the word star is expressed; and by the use of the formative ogud, we have the word cloud. It is a favorite mode with the Indian speaker, in an accumulative language, rather to use prefixes or inflexions, or fragments of disintegrated terms, in connection with a radix, than to employ another and different radix, or to attempt to form a new one. This system denotes its antiquity.
Tense is expressed as simply and regularly as number. The verbs are conjugated, not by auxiliary verbs, but by adding tensal inflections to the terms for moods, and at the same time declining the prefixed pronouns by a similar method. Thus, by prefixing the first pronominal form, ne or nen, "I," to the tensal particle ge, the sense is, "I did, or was;" by prefixing gah, "I shall or will;" and by gahgee, "I shall or will have." The addition of the inflection guh forms the imperative, and dah the potential mood. Meantime the verb has its ordinary inflections for number. It has a perfect past tense ending in bun; there is a supplicatory form of the imperative, in binuh; and an interrogative in null. There is also a declarative form in iwh, or owh, the use of which is almost entirely confined to the hieratic circle of their priesthood. Thus a
man can, by an inflection, change his personality, exclaiming, Ni-mon-i-dowh, "I am a Maneto, or deity."
After all that has been written on the subject, the root-form of the verb remains the same, in all its numerous conjugations, and additions of prefix, suffix, and inflection, except in those minor alphabetic disorganizations, required by the cohesion of letters, and the law of euphony. In four thousand and fifty changes for tense and person in the verb waub, "to see," 892 the integrity of this form is, throughout, maintained. Thus the multiplication of forms arises, not from the use of distinct tenses and persons, but from adjective or adverbial significations appended to the radix; as, "I see perfectly, imperfectly, partly, doubtfully, good, bad," &c.; or from negations, or dubitative senses. These voices of the Indian verb throw a false garb of refinement, in distinctions of person and tense, about it; but these are really crudities, and prove that the grammar has never been reformed by erudition, or systematized by logical thought.
The Algonquin language has no words for the expression of oaths; an Algonquin can neither swear nor blaspheme. The deity can be addressed, on solemn occasions, but it must be done with reverence or respect. On first beginning the study of the language, I endeavored to subject it to the test of that mystic text contained in the 14th chapter of Exodus, "I am that I am," and received this affirmed equivalent: NEEN DOW IAU WIAUN". Of this expression, the anti-penult and the penult, the syllables iau and iaun, are derivatives from the Algonquin verb "to be;" iau signifying the present and past tenses of the first person.
There is an anomalous dual in the language, used to express the word we, the object of which is to include, or exclude, the person or persons addressed. If an Algonquin should say, "We agree in what you have said," or "We dissent from it," the form of the word we, and, of course, you, they, and them, must denote whether the objective person and the speaker be of the same, or of another family, lodge, clan, or tribe. Weenawau is the inclusive, keenawau the exclusive, form of the pronoun. As neither of these terms appear to be, theoretically, applicable to the Deity, I was solicitous to ascertain, when I began to study the language, how prayer could be addressed to God, who could not be said to be of the family, clan, &c., and who would seem to lose all near personality by a rigid exclusion. Converts cut the grammatical knot by calling the Supreme Being, Nosa, "my father;" the precise term familiarly used in speaking to, or of, the father of a family.
There is a delicate mode of alluding to the dead, without mentioning the word death. It is done simply by suffixing the particle of the perfect past tense, bun, to the deceased person's name. Thus, "Pontiac;" the nominative, Pontiac-ebun, "the late Pontiac." Or, to make the rule more clear to the comprehension of an English scholar, suppose allusion is made to an honored name, fresh in our recollection, and meriting our
respect: as, "Clinton," nominative; Glinton-ebun, objective; meaning "the late Mr. Clinton." Thus, by putting a man's name in the perfect past tense, the Indian denotes his death.
We are of the number of those who think that our Indian languages possess characteristics which have been greatly overrated on the one hand, and as greatly decried on the other. They form a medium of communication admirably adapted to all the purposes of Indian life, and capable of almost unlimited application and extension. To a vocabulary not multiform in its roots, they apply a system of elimination which enables the speaker, by the formation of derivatives and compounds, to multiply and re-multiply words and expressions in a manner, of which the English language gives not the slightest conception. Not only the subject noun, but its qualities, and its position; the persons, nominative and objective; and the action of which it is the active, passive, or reflective object, are all indicated in a single expression. This concrete character of the language gives to some of its words a copiousness of expression, which a rigid, monosyllabic language, like our own, does not possess; and the meaning conveyed by some single Indian words, would, in the English language, require an entire sentence for their explanation. The great art requisite is, to seize upon the principle of combination. The objection to this process of word-making is, that the expressions are inconveniently long; which defect is not, however, apparent in an oral language, but is very strikingly developed when it comes to be written and written, as it usually is, without the aid of accents, to guide the pronunciation. Many of its concords, too, appear superfluous; such as its double indications of tense and number, and double possessives, &c., creating a rythmical flow of language, which, however, has a tendency rather to the verbose than to the poetic. One of its most objectionable features appears to us to be the extension of the principle of gender, so far as to neutralize the distinction between masculine and feminine, in its verbal forms, requiring only a concordance in animate and inanimate objects. This does not abolish the use of masculine, feminine, and even sexual nouns, i. e., words restricted in their use to males and females; but it leaves all the pronouns in the condition of mere animates. There is no distinction between he and she. The languages seem to be replete with resources when applied to the phenomena of nature. The heavens and the earth appear to constitute, in the imagination of the Indian, a symbolic volume, which even a child may read. All that relates to light and shade, to color and quality, to purity or impurity, to spirit or matter, to air or earth, are blended with the subject noun, and are indicated at one exhalation, or prolongation of the breath. In the sky, on the sky, or under the sky; in or on the water; by or on the shore; in or on the tree; black or blue clouds; clear or muddy water; deep or shallow streams; up the river, or down the river; in heaven or on earth, are but single words of a simple derivative character. But we have not space to pursue this subject, and will merely add that, unlike the modern cultivated languages, the Indian dialects are all homogeneous in their material, and
strictly philosophic, or systematic, in their principles. The general tone of conversation is more elevated in point of thought, than among any analogous class of people in civilized life. The diction is simple and pure; and hence, the most common sentences of their speakers, when literally translated, are remarkably attractive. Exalted and disinterested sentiments are frequently expressed by their sententious polysyllables with a happy effect. In attempts to unravel the intricacies of its syntax, the mind is often led to wonder where a people so literally "peeled and scattered," should have derived, not the language itself, but the principles which govern its enunciation.
NOTE. The limitation of the present volume prevents the insertion of the remaining papers on Language embracing the vocabularies, &c.
Section Twenty-eighth. Statistics, Tribal and General. Chapter I. Census of the Indian Tribes of the United States.
IN 1736 the French undertook to make an enumeration of the Indian tribes, and reported the number of warriors, or fighting-men, to be 16,403, which, at the usual ratio of computation, represented a population of 82,015 souls. 893 Subsequent to the conquest of Canada, and after returning from his western campaign, Colonel Henry Bouquet estimated their numbers at 56,500 warriors, 894 or 283,000 persons. In 1768, Thomas Hutchins, Esq., Surveyor-General of the British colonies, rated their military force more accurately, at 19,830 warriors, indicating an aggregate population of 99,150 souls. 895
The latter two of these estimates comprise the aboriginal residents of the territory included in the original thirteen British colonies. The French estimate was manifestly confined to the great valleys of the St. Lawrence and of the Mississippi, extending to the base of the Rocky mountains, and including all the region west of the Alleghanies and north of New Orleans. At the era of the origination of the American Revolution, the number of Indian warriors to be encountered, as reported to Congress, then located at Philadelphia, was 12,000, being the multiplicand of 60,000.
Variations, contradictions, and gross incertitudes, have marked the enumerations made at all periods. The present census comprehends the Indian population resident within the geographical area of the United States, as now organized, and presents a condensed view of the statistics of all the tribes, as reported to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, within a period of ten years.
To this result may be added, for tribes who are not reported by the agents, who have been solicited for desiderata, or who have vaguely reported, and for tribes who occupy unexplored parts of the interior of Texas, New Mexico, California, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, and Kanzas, 66,000.
Some of the Indians have this year cultivated their corn with the plough. The result has been such as will probably induce the general adoption of this mode of cultivation. Most of the bands have applied to be furnished with harness, wagons, and ploughs, which articles have been furnished them as far as practicable. Two wagons, ten sets of harness, ten sets of gears for ploughing, and ten ploughs, have been loaned to them. The Indians have, in all cases, furnished their own horses to use in the plough and wagon. They have this year cultivated 365 acres of land: of this, they have ploughed eighty acres themselves; 255 acres have been ploughed for them; and it is estimated that they have cultivated 30 acres without ploughing. Three additional fields have been ploughed and fenced this season for the bands who moved from the Mississippi and Root rivers, and are now located on the Iowa. They raise corn, oats, potatoes, beans, turnips, squashes, and other vegetables; they all, however, depend, in part, on hunting and
The farms have this season undergone considerable repairs. It was found necessary to repair all the fences. Some 8885 rails and stakes have been made and used on the farm at the agency. To this farm an addition of 100 acres has been made this season; this was done with very little additional fence, forty acres of the ground added having been formerly cultivated. There has been an average force of about ten hands constantly at work on the farms since the middle of last March. The number of acres cultivated by the hands employed, exclusive of the land ploughed for the Indians, as stated above, is 237 48 acres in wheat, 19 acres in oats, 2 1/2 acres in peas, 80 acres in corn, 10 acres in potatoes, 77 1/2 acres in beans and turnips. The land cultivated in beans and turnips was intended for corn, but the spring was late and the ground wet, and could not be ploughed in season. Our wheat and oats were good, and were harvested in good condition; corn and potatoes promise a fine crop.
The Menomonies are a brave and patient people, the firm friends of the government, and rely with abiding confidence on its justice and magnanimity. The greater share of them are hunters, living
exclusively by the chase and the fisheries; for the last they resort to Green Bay, and the rivers falling into it, where they take at all seasons of the year, but especially in winter, large quantities (beyond their own consumption) of trout and sturgeon. When the Menomonies shall leave the shores of Green Bay, the sturgeon fisheries will cease none but the Indians being able to endure the cold and fatigue of taking them.
Some three hundred of the Menomonies are Christians and farmers: the number is increasing, and the tribe will eve long become civilized, and abandon the chase. On a late visit to their village, I counted sixty-two log houses, erected by themselves, most of them comfortably finished and occupied. They have cleared up from the heavy timbered lands small fields, which are well fenced, and fine crops of corn and potatoes occupy every foot of ground: they will raise enough at lake Pah-way-hi-kun this year for their subsistence. The teams, farming utensils, &c., supplied them by the government, are in good order and highly prized: the quantity, annually, should be increased.
The Pawnees, since their great loss by cholera in 1828, number about 4500.
The Ottoes seem to gradually decrease, while the Omahas increase.
The Omahas arrived about the 10th ultimo from their summer hunts, having secured a sufficiency of meat and skins to do them until the approaching winter. On their return home they encountered a war party of Indians, supposed to be composed of Sioux and Poncas, with which they had an engagement of about four hours. The Omahas, having a large quantity of meat, besides being apprised of their enemy's intentions the day before, succeeded in throwing up such breastworks with it as made them amply secure before attacked by their enemies. After the loss of four or five men, together with some forty horses, they drove the enemy back, and became the victors of the field.
The Sioux and Poncas, it is supposed, had eight or nine men killed, and some ten or twelve wounded. Had the Omahas been met on the open prairie without any notice of the approach of the enemy, and without the means of fortifying themselves, they would, from the superior number of their opponents, have been almost entirely annihilated.
They have made a very good hunt; but, owing to the fearful ravages of the cholera, will make no corn.
Total number of lodges 5787, which would be a fraction over eight souls to the lodge.
The Indians have been extravagantly estimated by my predecessors in office they having estimated the Sioux alone at 50,000 souls; and I am at a loss to know from what source they derived their information, as they could not have obtained it from the Indians themselves. There are nine tribes in the agency.
The Arickarees are situated on the Missouri river, between the Gros Ventres and Sioux, and are much better Indians than they have character for being. They are inclined to treachery, are thievish and great libertines, yet they are better Indians than the Blackfeet and Assinaboines, yet not so good as the Gros Ventres, Poncas, and others above mentioned.
The Crows, Blackfeet, and Assinaboines have made no improvement whatever, tenaciously adhering to all the ferocious customs and miserable expedients of savage life.
These Indians are excessively fond of ardent spirits (with the exception of the Crows, who have never been known to drink, or use strong liquors); are also thievish, treacherous, and are only to be kept under through fear; for they still continue to despise and hate the white man, and every effort made to gain their love and friendship has been made in vain.
Among the Shoshonies there are only two bands, properly speaking. The principal or better portion are called Shoshonies, or Snakes, who are rich enough to own horses; the others, the Shoshocoes, cannot or do not own horses. The principal chiefs of the Shoshonies are Momo, about forty-five years old, so called from a wound in his face or cheek, from a ball, that disfigures him; and Wiskin, Cut-hair.
Both bands number, probably, over 100 lodges, of four persons each; of the relative portion of each band no definite account can be given. Their language, with the exception of some Patois differences, is said to be that of the Comanche tribe. Their claim of boundary is, to the east, from the Red Buttes, on the North Fork of the Platte, to its head in the Park, Decayaque, or Buffalo Bull-pen, in the Rocky mountains; to the south, across the mountains, over to the Yanpapa, till it enters Green, or Colorado river, and then across to the backbone or ridge of mountains called the Bear River mountains, running nearly due west towards the Salt Lake, so as to take in most of the Salt Lake, and thence on to the Sinks of Harry's, or Humboldt's river; thence north to the fisheries, on the Snake river, in Oregon; and thence south (their northern boundary), to the Red Buttes, including the source of Green river a territory probably 300 miles square, most of which has too high an elevation ever to be useful for cultivation of any sort. In most of these mountains and valleys it freezes every night in the year, and is, in summer, quite warm at noon, and to half-past three o'clock, P. M. Nothing whatever will grow, of grain or vegetables, but the most luxuriant and nutritious grasses grow in the greatest abundance, and the valleys are the richest of meadows.
The part of the Salt Lake valleys included in this boundary, the Cache valley, fifty by one hundred miles, and part of the valley near and beyond Fort Hall, down Snake river, can be cultivated, and with good results; but this forms a very small part of this country. How these people are to live, or even exist, for any length of time, I cannot by any means determine. Their support has, heretofore, been mostly game and certain roots, which, in their native state, are rank poison, called Tobacco root; but when put in a hole in the ground, and a large fire burned over them, become wholesome diet. The Mormon settlement in the Salt Lake valley has not only greatly diminished their formerly very great resource of obtaining fish out of the Utah lake and its sources, which, to them, was an important resource, but their settlement, with the great emigration there, and to California, has already nearly driven away all the game, and will unquestionably soon deprive them almost entirely of the only chances they have for food. This will, in a few years, produce a result not only disastrous to them, but must
inevitably engage the sympathies of the nation. How this is to be avoided is a question of much difficulty; but it is, nevertheless, the more imperative on the Government, not only to discuss, but to put in practice, some mode of relief for these unfortunate people the outside barriers, or inclosing mountains, of whose whole country are not only covered, in constant sight, with perpetual snow, but in whose lodges, every night in the year, ice is made over the water left in a basin, of near seven-eighths of an inch in thickness, except in three small places already named as exceptions; and two of these, the Salt Lake valley and the Snake river, are already taken from them by the whites, and there is little doubt but that the Cache valley will soon be so occupied.
The Utahs' claim of boundaries are all south of that of the Shoshonies, embracing the waters of the Colorado, going most probably to the Gulf of California. This is a much more fortunate location, and large portions of it are rich and fertile lands, and with a good climate. Their language is essentially Comanche, and although not technically, yet it is supposed to be substantially the same as that of the Shoshonies; for, although on first meeting they do not fully understand each other, yet, I am informed, four or five days' association enables them to converse freely together.
The general locality of the Blackfeet is understood to mean the country in which they reside or hunt, and is bounded as follows: By a line beginning on the north, where the 50th parallel crosses the Rocky mountains; thence east on said parallel to the 106th meridian; thence south to the headwaters of Milk river, down said river to the Missouri; up the Missouri to the mouth of the Judith; thence up the Judith to its source; thence to the Rocky mountains, and north along their base to the place of beginning.
The country between the Missouri and the headwaters of the Yellowstone is unoccupied. It is the great road of the Blackfeet war-parties to and from the Crows, Flatheads, and Snakes. It is also the hunting-ground of the Flatheads and the Indian tribes generally of Washington Territory east of the Cascades, who resort hither at all seasons of the year to hunt buffalo.
The Blackfeet nation is divided into four distinct tribes or bands, names, numbers, and localities.
The above numbers of the four tribes of the Blackfeet nation are taken from Mr. Doty's enumeration. It is less than that of Mr. Stanley, who visited the Piegans in September last, and whose estimate of the Piegans, Bloods, and Blackfeet, was 1330 lodges, and 13,300 souls; and it is likewise less than my enumeration, derived from consulting all reliable sources of information in the Upper Missouri, and which made the four tribes of the Gros Ventres, Bloods, Piegans, and Blackfeet, amount to 14,400, or
5230 more than the estimate of Mr. Doty. Mr. Doty has, however, had the opportunity of making an actual count of more than half these Indians.
The Bloods and the Blackfeet occupy the country upon the source of Marias and Milk rivers, and north to the 50th parallel of latitude.
The Piegans occupy the country between Milk and Marias rivers, upon Marias river and the Teton, and between the Teton and the Missouri.
The Gros Ventres occupy the country bordering upon Milk river from its mouth to the Territory of the Piegans. These Gros Ventres, although incorporated with, and now considered a part of, the Blackfoot nation, are clearly a band of Arrapahoes, who seceded from their nation some forty years since, passed over to the Crow Indians, and were plundered and killed by that nation, losing many of their women, and nearly all their horses and guns. They wandered over this country several years, plundered the forts at the north, were driven away by the Kootenais, and finally, in a destitute and most miserable condition, settled some thirty years since in the country they now occupy. The Blackfoot nation in a manner adopted them i. e., made a lasting peace, and gave them many horses. The traders supplied them with guns and ammunition; their horses increased; they made many robes, and soon became wealthy; and are now more independent, saucy, and more unfriendly to the whites, than any other band of the Blackfeet.
The Bloods, Piegans, and Blackfeet, speak the same language, peculiar to the Blackfoot nation.
The Gros Ventres speak the Arrapahoe language, which is not understood by any white man or Indian, not of their tribe, in this country. Most of the Gros Ventres, however, speak the Blackfoot sufficiently for purposes of trade.
Their character is warlike. They are warriors and horse-thieves by profession and practice, and are always at war with some, or all, of the neighbouring nations.
There has been, and still is, a great want of certain information as to the numbers and condition of the various tribes in Texas. While among these Indians I endeavoured to ascertain their exact numbers, and with this view induced the chiefs to go among their people and count them. Having no system of numbers, they enumerated only with their fingers, or by means of bundles of sticks. They brought me a bundle of sticks for each tribe.
The above is the enumeration furnished me, which I consider very accurate.
Undoubtedly a large majority of the Nez Perces are in Washington Territory; but the major part of the Cayuses, Walla-wallas, and the Dalles Indians, are in Oregon.
Gov. Lane concludes:
"Surrounded, as many of the tribes and bands now are by the whites, whose arts of civilization, by destroying the resources of the Indians, doom them to poverty, want and crime, the extinguishment of their title by purchase, and the locating them in a district removed from the settlements, is a measure of the most vital importance to them. Indeed, the cause of humanity calls loudly for their removal, from causes and influences so fatal to their existence. This measure is one of equal interest to our own people."
On the settlement of Oregon, the most considerable of the Indian tribes, spread over that portion of the country, were those stretching north of Klamath river, of California, and the northern boundary line of this State, up the Pacific coast. They consisted of thirteen bands, bearing separate names, the most considerable and prominent of which were the four bands clustering about the confluence of the river, which, from their bad faith in trade, had been called by the early French traders, Coquille, or Rogue river Indians. These four bands bore the names Nassoma, Okreletan, Yah Shutes, and Tototens; and, as the whole group of these seacoast tribes speak dialects of the same language, they may be grouped together under the name of TOTONIC. About the year 1850, they were united in a league for defensive purposes, at the head of which there was a chief of some note called Chal Nah, and the combination of tribes, it is affirmed, bore the name of Tutoten.
The principal wars have been with these Totones, who have suffered a rapid declension of their numbers, partly owing to internal discords, and partly through hostilities with the settlers. The names and numbers of the bands, with their principal chiefs and residence, is embraced in the above table.
At a census recently taken, there were seventeen hundred and fifty-four members of the tribe present, being an increase of thirty-nine over the number reported last year.
The improvements made have fallen far short of our intentions. We have only nine hundred and forty-three acres of land ploughed, in forty-two fields of different sizes, all of which are not yet enclosed. We have five thousand six hundred and forty rods of fence. Two hundred acres have been cultivated in wheat, fifty acres in oats, two hundred and thirteen acres in corn, one hundred and seventy-three acres in potatoes, one hundred and nine acres in ruta baga and white turnips, and six acres in peas, beans, and buckwheat. The Indians cultivated three hundred and eighty-seven acres of the aforesaid land after it was ploughed for them, and also cultivated numerous gardens, which they dug up with the hoe. Our crops, with the exception of a part of the corn, will be a fair average with the crops raised in the adjacent counties. The Indians used the scythes furnished them as a part of their annuity goods, and have made about one hundred and fifty tons of hay, and two hundred and seventy tons have been made by employées. A blacksmith shop, with two forges, a carpenter shop, a warehouse, fourteen dwelling-houses, a school-house, and a few stables, are the principal buildings erected. The loss of the dam at the saw-mill was a serious drawback on our means for building. The mill is now in operation; we have lumber seasoning, and the Indians will be assisted in building houses this fall.
This tribe, at their last two annuity payments, received per capita an unusually large amount of money. I was directed to observe and report the effect produced. Some few have learned to use their money with economy, but with the majority the result has been to encourage idleness and dissipation. The policy of paying annuity to Indians in money is objectionable. Necessity must be relied on mainly in effecting their civilization. They are indolent from inclination and habit, and will not work so long as they have any other dependence for a living.
Although these three tribes have been living contiguous to, and had intercourse with the whites, they unfortunately appear only to have learned their vices. The Omahas, as I have been informed by their interpreter, have given, in the last twelve months, some 30 horses for whiskey, not getting more for a pony than from two to four gallons, and that well watered. This trade has been carried on by the Pottawatamie half-breeds, on the opposite side of the river. The river was frozen over for the most part of last winter, which gave them great facilities in crossing for the article. It appears almost impossible to prevent them from getting it. I am sorry to state that there are men who live on or near the State line of Missouri, who keep whiskey, as I am told, to sell to these half-breeds and Indians. These unfortunate creatures, when spoken to about the impropriety of drinking, frequently reply, the white man makes it and sells it to us. Nothing short of divine or supernatural power will reform or cure their thirst for whiskey. I am in great hopes that the late amendment to the law in regard to making an Indian a competent witness, will have a salutary influence in the Indian country; and could it reach those base men who keep it along the line, for the purpose of selling to the Indians, it would, in a great degree, effect the desired object.
The Omahas were once a considerable tribe, but, from the ravages of cholera, smallpox, and wars, they are reduced to but little more than one thousand. At present there are a great many children among them.
This estimate is made from the best information that could be obtained from the Indians by frequent inquiry on the subject.
These Indians range promiscuously across our frontier, from Red river to the Rio Grande, during the greater portion of the year, and seek shelter during the winter in the upper cross timbers of Texas, between the head waters of the Colorado river and the Wichita mountains. They have, for the last two years, shown a disposition to establish friendly relations with the government and citizens of the United States.
With several of the bands our intercourse has been extremely limited, for the want of proper means, and a sufficient number of agents, or men, calculated to cultivate friendly intercourse. This has been particularly the case with the Kiowas, the Apaches, and the upper bands of Comanches.
The only serious misunderstanding that exists with any of the tribes is that growing out of the attacks on the Wichitas and Lipans last summer. All intercourse with them has ceased for some months past; and it will be impossible to adjust those differences satisfactorily, without money or presents to give them as indemnity, they claiming to be the aggrieved party.
Most of the tribes are disposed to cultivate the soil; and, by proper encouragement could be induced, in a short period, to settle down and turn their attention to farming. By the laws of this State, the right of soil is denied the Indians; consequently they have made but small progress in farming. The advance of the white settlements, since the annexation of Texas, has been so rapid, that the Indians were led to believe they would ultimately be driven out of the country.
This, you will remember, does not include the two Pueblos below El Paso, nor the seven Moque Pueblos.
Americans, Mexicans, and all others, 53,707.
The Indians of the Valley of the Sacramento are not a warlike people. They possess no war clubs, scalping-knife, or tomahawks, so universally used by the Indians east of the Sierra Nevada. They are mostly indolent, docile, and tractable, but many of them are thievish; they are fond of dress of almost any kind, and readily learn the more simple arts of agriculture.
The construction of their huts and villages is much the same. They are constructed by excavating the earth, the size of the room or lodge they desire, some five feet deep. This is covered over with a dome-like top several feet above the surface of the earth. In the centre of the roof, or dome, there is generally an aperture or opening, which serves the double purpose of admitting light, and letting the smoke escape. This is the only opening in the lodge, except the entrance, which is in the side, and barely large enough to admit a human body. Through this they enter, feet foremost, on their hands and knees. When once inside these lodges they are not uncomfortable. The thickness of the earth over them prevents the sun from penetrating them in the hot season, while in the colder season, they protect them from the winds.
The men and children are, in general, naked. Some of them have obtained a few articles of clothing from the whites, such as shirts, handkerchiefs, &c., of which they seem quite proud. The females are also without any covering, except what they call the "Du-ceh." This is nothing more than a bunch of grass or rushes, about one foot in length, suspended from a belt or girdle around the waist, in front and in the rear.
I could discover no distinction in their customs, habits of life, or their general language, which could induce me to think they were not originally the same people. Indeed, their customs and manner of living are in many respects almost identical. Their huts, or lodges, are constructed in the same manner. They do not scalp those whom they kill, but universally throw the dead body into water. They all burn the dead.
They all subsist on roots and grass-seed from the earth, acorns and pine seeds from the trees, and fish from the streams. Acorns, nuts, and shell-fish are gathered in great quantities, and stored in magazines prepared for the purpose. Within the short period since the occupancy of this country by the whites, the red man has been fast fading away. Many have died with disease, and others fled to the mountains, to enjoy, for a brief period, their primeval sports of hunting and
In California I have found the Indian population almost universally overrated as to numbers, and underrated as to intelligence and capacity for improvement. From information at Benicia, Sonoma, &c., I was led to expect that I should find some 2000 or 3000 Indians on Russian river, at least 3000 on Clear Lake, and 2500 or 3000 on Eel river. After passing through their country, and counting every soul in some half a dozen rancheros, to test the accuracy of their own estimates as well as those of the whites, I make the actual number less than one-half, generally about two-fifths of the number usually estimated by the settlers below.
Having as yet visited but one or two rancheros on the coast, I do not offer the above estimate with much confidence, though I think it approximates the truth, while it is only about one-third or one-fourth of the number generally estimated by the old settlers. For many years past the Indian population has been rapidly diminishing by diseases introduced by the whites, internal dissensions, and, in some cases, by want of food. At Humboldt bay, and at other places on the coast, where they depend almost wholly on fish and crabs, many sicken and die every winter; and if the benevolent designs of our Government for their preservation and improvement are not speedily set in operation, and vigorously prosecuted, the Indians, now wearing out a miserable existence along the coast, will all die off.
Back on the rivers and mountains, the Indians are generally a hale, healthy, vigorous-looking people, though of small stature. They are all docile in their habits, and evince a, great desire to learn our language and the arts of agriculture; with proper instructions, and assistance for a few years, I have entire confidence in their reclamation from ignorance, idleness, and heathenism, and their ability to maintain themselves and families.
The great and little Osages number, according to the "pay-roll" I have made out with much care, and which is believed to be correct, 4561 souls. They have no farms, except those belonging to the half-breeds, the head chief George Whitehair, and a few others. The half-breeds manage their farms well; but, owing to the drought the past summer, the corn was all ruined. Most of the Indians who had no ground enclosed, planted lots of corn along the water-courses, where they could dig the ground with hoes, and thus cultivate the corn, and that, at so great a distance from their villages, as to be out of danger from being destroyed by their horses, and what little other stock they have. These lots of corn their women cultivated, until all went on their "summer hunt," but on their return, recently, they found no corn, but all entirely ruined. I think I may safely say, that there were not (including the missionaries and half-breeds, who tended their crops well), 100 bushels of corn raised within the limits of the Osage nation this season. This is a sad affair for these Indians, and leaves them in a very destitute condition; as much so as they were in a few years since, when the flood swept their corn off. That subject then claimed the favourable attention of government, which I hope will now be the case, in this equally calamitous dispensation of Divine Providence.
The Osages have been remarkably healthy the present year, which will appear from the number of deaths, which have been ascertained and will be seen in this report.
They have drunk very little liquor in the nation, as may readily be inferred from the fact that but one murder has been committed the past year within the nation, and that was done when the parties were stupefied with whiskey.
In reference to the population of the Indian tribes within the range of this agency, I would observe that, from a careful enumeration of the Sioux bands, denominated the Ogellala and Brulé bands of the Upper Platte, by counting the lodges when they came to receive the annuity goods due under treaty stipulations, and also of the Arapahoe band of this agency, I find accurately, that the
The enumeration of the Cheyenne band was made one year ago. As to the number of persons for each lodge, I am of the opinion that a fair average will not exceed five and a half (5 1/2), making a total of 5500 souls, men, women, and children, for 1000 lodges. The number of warriors, or those capable of using the bow and arrow against their enemies, I should estimate at two for each lodge, making 2000 warriors for 1000 lodges. The population is only about one person to twenty-five square miles, which is a sparse population even for an Indian country. The white population is limited to the Indian traders and their employées, in all not exceeding 100 persons, and to the garrisons of the military posts at Fort Laramie, and the bridge crossing of the North Platte, which will average not far from 400 men. Total whites, 500.
In truth and in fact, there are no actual settlers nor settlements within the agency. The right of soil still remains with the Indian tribes.
Making in all ten thousand.
The number of Indians not connected with the reserves cannot be correctly estimated.
The following statement is made up from the most reliable information I have been able to obtain:
Making the total number of Indians within this superintendence 61,600.
At the date of my assuming the duties of superintendent of Indian affairs for this State, the system of colonizing and subsisting Indians upon reservations selected for that purpose, and instructing them in the arts of agricultural labour, &c., had been commenced, and a reservation selected at the Tejon Pass, in the northern part of the State.
This reservation is in a prosperous condition. The number of Indians who reside here is 700. The quantity of land in cultivation this year is about seven hundred acres, five hundred of which are in wheat and barley, and the remainder in corn and vegetables; most of the latter being the exclusive property of the Indians, cultivated entirely by them, and in their own way. The Indians work cheerfully, and perform all the labour upon the farm, white men being only employed as overseers and mechanics. Owing to the extraordinary drought of the past season, in that portion of the State, the product of the farm is much less than it should have been; enough, however, has been produced for the consumption of the place.
There are on the reserve eight adobe buildings the first of which is one hundred feet in length by twenty-four feet in breadth, two stories high; it is used as a granary and storehouse. The second is the residence of the agent, and is sixty feet in length by twenty feet in breadth. The remainder are residences of the Indian chiefs, and are about forty feet in length by twenty feet in breadth. All the labour of building these houses was performed by Indians, except the mechanical part of it. The mill is in complete order, and by it all the grain produced upon the place is manufactured into unbolted flour before it is issued to the Indians. The property used in conducting the farm is twenty-six horses, thirty-eight mules, seven oxen, eight wagons, and fourteen ploughs.
FRESNO AND KING'S RIVER FARMS. Owing to the difficulty of procuring a suitable location for a reservation in the central portion of the State, no permanent selection has yet been made; but, in order to provide for the Indians according to the intentions of the government, land has been rented at Fresno and King's river, and the Indians collected and subsisted at these points in the same manner as upon permanent reservations. The crops consist of 700 acres of wheat and barley, and 100 acres of corn. Owing to the drought, the wheat and barley crop was an entire failure. The corn, having been irrigated, will be an ordinary crop. This failure of the crops will be a source of serious difficulty to the superintendency. There are about three thousand Indians in the vicinity of these farms, all of whom could have been provided with food had the crops been successful. The drought having been general in this region, grain can only be purchased at exorbitant rates, such as would not be justifiable except to prevent starvation. Every precaution, however, has been taken to avoid the consequences of this misfortune. The agents have been instructed to turn the attention of the Indians to their mode of living before the care of the government had been extended over them; and parties have been sent to the mountains, in various directions, to collect acorns, berries, seeds, and such other food as they were formerly accustomed to subsist upon; and, as if to demonstrate the fact that Providence never leaves any portion of the human family entirely unprovided with the means to sustain life, the phenomenon exists that the salmon, which for several years have failed to make their appearance in the San Joaquin river in any numbers worth mentioning, are this year abundant in that stream, and the prospect seems to be that the threatened famine will be in a great degree averted by this providential supply of fish from the ocean, though it is distant from the coast, by the meandering of the stream, some three hundred miles. A portion of the Indians from the farms have been removed to and encamped upon the river, and every facility furnished them for catching and curing fish, which, should the supply continue, will enable them to provide a sufficient quantity for a great portion of the winter. Another source, which is now looked upon as of great importance, is the Tule lake, lying about fifty miles northwest of the San Joaquin river, which abounds with fish of excellent quality, and is, during the winter season, the resort of an unlimited number of wild geese and ducks, from which the Indians have heretofore, when undisturbed by the whites, obtained a comfortable subsistence. Agents Lewis and Ridley are now examining the lake country for a suitable location, to which, if found, it is intended to remove some ten or fifteen hundred of the Indians for support during the winter. Although the prospect for these Indians seems to be gloomy, yet I have great confidence that, by industry, energy, and judicious management, we shall be enabled to provide for them in such a way as to prevent starvation, and preserve the peace of the country.
Passing from the Fresno, we have a much more cheering prospect at Nome Lacke reservation, at which place there are collected about two thousand Indians. Land in cultivation, one thousand acres; estimated product of wheat, fifteen thousand bushels; corn, pumpkins, melons, turnips, and other vegetables in great abundance. Nothing in the pursuits of industry could have been more satisfactory or interesting than the harvesting of the wheat crop; it was cut entirely with small German reaping-hooks, which were used by the Indians with extraordinary dexterity. About two hundred men, furnished with these sickles, cut the wheat and threw it into bunches, and were followed by a sufficient number of women and boys to bind it into sheaves and put it into stacks ready for threshing. In this way, and at their leisure, in about ten days, taking it as it ripened, the entire harvesting was completed, all the labour having been performed by the Indians, only three or four white men being engaged as overseers. It was estimated by the white men in charge of the work, that one hundred of these Indians could be selected, who would cut and take care of as much grain as any fifty white men not regularly
accustomed to this description of labour. Considering the fact that these Indians eighteen months ago were entirely wild, and totally ignorant of everything connected with industrial habits, the labour they have performed, and the skill and dexterity with which they perform their work, is alone a sufficient answer to the question so often asked, "Can Indians be made to perform labour sufficient to provide for their support?" It is a fact, too, worthy of particular remark, that all this labour has been most cheerfully performed, no coercion or chastisement having been necessary. Attached to Nome Lacke a farm has recently been established at Nome Cult valley. This valley is located in the coast range of mountains, about forty miles east of Cape Mendocino, and there are in the vicinity about three thousand Indians. The farm is placed in charge of three of the employees from Nome Lacke. The Indians are now engaged, under the direction of the persons in charge of them, in collecting acorns, manzanito berries, and other wild food for their winter supply, of which there will be plenty for their subsistence until crops can be produced for their support. There are on the Nome Lacke reserve three adobe houses, one flouring mill, and fourteen frame houses. In addition to these improvements, there is in the course of erection an adobe building intended for a fortification. It is to be one hundred feet square, with a thick adobe wall ten feet high. In the centre will be erected a two-story substantial adobe building, which will be used as a guard-house and prison. The property used in conducting this farm are twenty-five horses, eight mules, seventy-seven oxen, twenty-one ploughs, and five wagons.
Klamath reservation is located on the river of that name, which discharges its waters into the Pacific ocean twenty miles south of Crescent city.
The Indians at this place number about two thousand. They are proud and somewhat insolent, and not inclined to labour, alleging that, as they have always heretofore lived upon the fish of the river, and the roots, berries, and seeds of their native hills, they can continue to do so if left unmolested by the whites, whose encroachments upon what they call their country they are disposed to resist. Their prejudices upon these points are fast giving way before the policy of the government, and no serious difficulty will be encountered in initiating the system of labour among them. The land on this river is peculiarly adapted to the growth of vegetables, and it is expected that potatoes and other vegetable food, which can be produced in any abundance, together with the salmon and other fish which abound plentifully in the Klamath river, shall constitute the principal food for these Indians. It is confidently expected in this way to avoid the purchase of beef, which forms so expensive an item at those places where there is no substitute for it. The establishment of the Klamath reserve has undoubtedly prevented the spread of the Indian wars of Oregon down into northern California. There are on this reserve five log houses, seven board houses, four slab houses, one smoke-house, one poultry-house, and thirty Indian huts. The property used in conducting the farming operations is two mules, thirteen oxen, and six ploughs.
Mendocino reservation is located fifty miles south of Cape Mendocino, on the Pacific coast. This reserve has been but recently established. The number of Indians at present collected there is about five hundred. They subsist almost entirely upon fish and muscles. They are furnished with boats, seines, and all the necessary tackle for
In regard to the system of colonizing and subsisting Indians on reservations, I have only to say that it has so far succeeded entirely beyond my expectations, and is, in my judgment, the only system that can be of any real benefit to the Indians. It enables the government to withdraw them from the contaminating influences of an unrestrained intercourse with the whites, and gives an opportunity to provide for them just such, and no more, assistance than their wants from time to time may actually require.
Indians should be treated as wards, and the government should act as their guardian, judging for them at all times of their real wants, and providing for them accordingly. This has been the policy pursued in the California superintendency, and I have so far found no difficulty in its application.
Chapter II. Fiscal Statistics.
THE policy of the American government respecting the Indians, is in nothing more marked than in the just and elevated tone of its financial transactions with them. Other nations, who preceded the present government, in their dealings with the Indians satisfied their sense of justice and benevolence by periodical presents and gratuities. Spain, France, and Great Britain acted upon this principle. The Revolution of 1776 put this matter on a different footing. The tribes were assembled in councils by their chiefs and principal warriors, and treated with as foreign nations. These treaties were laid before the Senate for its ratification. When so ratified they were proclaimed, as other treaties, and published to the world, with the records of our national diplomacy. Such has been the practice down to the present day. This record forms one of the most noble evidences of the national justice to the poor, ignorant, and feeble hunter tribes of America. The awards thus made to them for their lands have rapidly increased with the growth and prosperity of the States; and the system is destined to go on, in an accelerated ratio, while civilization requires lands, which the Indians can supply.
In 1820, the total sum required to meet the payment of Indian annuities was $152,575. 938 Nothing better evidences the increased demand for, and value of, the Indian lands, as also the progress of the intercourse with the tribes, than the rapid multiplication of the annuities paid to them. In 1851, the sum required to be paid in fulfilment of treaty stipulations was $868,833.04; in 1852, $1,001,201.74; in 1853, $1,472,605.58; and in 1854, $905,171.23. During the same period the aggregate of salaries and cost of management, rose from $147,033.43 to $195,550.68.
In the year 1855, the appropriation to meet the requirements of treaties was $1,505,762.76; and in 1856, $1,804,332.52. The entire appropriation, for all objects, during the XXXIst, XXXIId, and XXXIIId Congresses, was respectively, $5,556,850.36, $4,782,093.24, and $5,989,375.48. 939
The distribution of these sums amongst the different tribes, and the amounts vested in public stocks for their benefit, by the Treasury Department, are set forth in the subjoined tables, numbered I., II., III., IV., V., VI.
NOTE. The appropriations for the Indian service at the 1st session of the 34th Congress amount to $2,831,013.78, which would be distributed on the basis of the above table, as follows:
Chapter IV. Statistics of Education and Christianity. 946
THE revision by me of these topics, in contemplation two years since, when the fifth volume was submitted to the public, was found to be impracticable, owing to the accumulated labor arising from the condensations required of me. At my request, the subject has been investigated by Mr. Langdon, who has evinced therein a spirit of appreciation and research, resulting in a degree of success, believed not to have been previously attained in this department.
Whatever may be advanced respecting the manners and character of the Indians, must necessarily be of subordinate importance to the details of their moral status. However much we may deplore the Indian's decadence, hope for his reformation, and desire his restoration to the family of civilized man, it is only by reference to moral data of the kind here exhibited, that we are able to understand truly, both what he now is, and what he is destined to be. Mr. Langdon's prominent activity in the vital cause of religious associations of the young men of the country, designated him as being eminently fitted for pursuing this investigation, and the results are presented in the peculiar form of tables, in which, by a coup d'oeil, the reader will be able to grasp all the facts, as detailed in Mr. Langdon's own words and mode of illustration.
The following pages present a summary view of the efforts to civilize and evangelize the Indian which have been put forth by Christians of various creeds from the earliest days of North American colonization.
While it is manifest that, whatever amount of time were devoted to the labor, any hope of rendering complete a statement of this kind must be disappointed, the few weeks which have been allowed for the present investigation and the varied and scattered
sources from which information has of necessity been sought have confined the results attained to an approximation which, however far it may fall short of what may be desired and of what has been attempted, it is yet believed will be found more full and complete than any compilation which has heretofore been made, and will serve as a useful base for a future investigator.
Deficient however as these pages may be and are in completeness, every effort has been made to attain accuracy; and it is believed that, if they contain errors, the fault lies with the authorities upon which reliance has been placed: and that therefore while they may often prove valueless as negative testimony, their positive evidence may be accepted with confidence.
The following tables are restricted in their field to that part of North America at present possessed either by the United States or by Great Britain: and they present, the one, the comparative chronology; and the other, the statistics of the various missions within that field for nearly three hundred years. These are, in each case, grouped chronologically under the several organizations by which they were respectively established, or to which they owed a fostering care; these organizations being themselves arranged in the order of time in which they first took active part in this work although, in a few instances, this arrangement has been held subordinate to that of derivation.
There are two CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES, of which the first embraces the missions of those organizations whose labors were confined to, or have extended from, the colonial period; the second, of those whose initial labors are within the national era. The heavy lines on the chart represent the organizations themselves; the lighter lines, their several missions: in either case, their lateral extent over the lines which mark each fifth year showing the period of the active occupancy of their respective fields. The vertical lines represent transference, or the migration either of missionaries, of tribes, or of both, as the case may be. The dotted lines represent the continuance of a mission under other auspices than those in question.
Of the STATISTICAL TABLES, the one in like manner extends into the colonial, while the other is confined to the national era. The column of stations embraces "stations" and "out-stations" of all kinds; that of converts in no case, so far as known, embraces baptized infants; that of hearers is confined to the actual attendants upon public worship and the preaching of the gospel. The statistics of all abandoned missions are drawn, so far as possible, from the period of their best estate; those of existing missions, from the latest accessible reports the number of converts, of course, being aggregates. In both sets of tables the missions still in existence are italicized.
In addition to the reports and publications of the various Societies and Boards referred to and to communications from their Secretaries to whom, in a majority of cases, the statistics and data have been forwarded for verification the following have
been the principal of the works consulted (the precise reference to which has, in the case of the earlier missions, been given in a note, when the fact quoted might easily escape the search of an investigator):
Smith and Choules' History of Missions: Boston, 1832.
Chapter V. Statistics of History.
A. D. 387. According to Alva, the Toltecs reach Huehuetlalpallan, in Mexico.
498. They found Tula.
510. They begin their monarchy.
870. The Färoe Islands are known and visited about this time by the Northmen, and by the Celts from the coasts of Iceland and the British group.
875. The natives of Iceland discovered by Naddod, of Norway, who, in an attempt to reach the Färoe Islands, is driven on the coast by storms.
953. The Toltec monarchy ends in Mexico.
963. The Chichemecs and Acolhuans, or Tezcocans, occupy the Valley of Mexico; and Xolotl, their first king, begins his reign.
983. Greenland is first settled by the Northmen, under Ingolf; having been seen by their bold navigators, and recognised, a century before.
986. Leif Erickson descries parts of the North American coast, being driven this year from off the Greenland coast towards the south; but he does not land.
1000. Scandinavian America is discovered by Lief, the son of Eric the Red, in a voyage from Greenland. He lands on some part along the coast, between Nova Scotia and Massachusetts, and reaches to about latitude 41° 30' North. The country is named Vinland.
1002. The Esquimaux are about this time supposed to occupy the Vinland coasts. They are called Skroellings, or Dwarfs, but are described as fierce and courageous.
1120. Eric Upsi undertakes a Christian mission from Greenland to Vinland. Huitramannaland (Virginia,) is, at this period, reported to have a Celtic element of population.
1160. The Aztecs leave Aztalan.
1200. Welch tradition affirms that a colony of Britons, led by Prince Madoc, sailed west to America.
1216. The Toltecs arrive in the Valley of Mexico.
1324. The foundation of the Indian city of Mexico, or Tenuchtitlan, is laid.
Between the rise of the Toltec and Aztec monarchies, and the discovery of America, the Mississippi valley is supposed to have been occupied by numerous active, warlike tribes, who carried on destructive wars against each other.
A.D. 1492. St. Domingo, or Hayti, the Caribs, and the Caribbean Islands, are discovered by Columbus (October 12th, O. S.), after having confidently predicted the existence of land in this quarter, from the study of the geography and hydrography of the globe.
1497. Cabot discovers the Algonquin families of the North American coast, from Lat. 56° to 36°, and thus lays the claim of England to the country. He landed at Newfoundland, named it, and had an interview with the Indians.
1502. Montezuma II. succeeds to the head of the Mexican Indian empire.
1512. Ponce de Leon lands in Florida, and bestows this name on all North America, north of the Gulf of Mexico.
1517. Cordova discovers Yucatan and the Yucatanese.
1518. Grizalba lands on the Mexican coasts.
About this period, Vasquez D'Allyon lands on the Atlantic coast of Chicora, now South Carolina, with the commission of Atalantado traffics with the Chicora Indians, at the mouth of the Combahee river, who, in return for former treacheries in carrying off the natives to St. Domingo, massacre his crew, and he is driven, mortally wounded, on board his vessels.
1519. Mexico is invaded by Cortez, who defeats the natives in every encounter, and enters the city of Mexico, whence he is eventually expelled, after desperate fighting, and hastens back to the seacoast, where Narvaez is sent from Cuba with an army to arrest him.
1520. Cortez defeats Narvaez, founds Vera Cruz, and re-appears before the city of Mexico, which he enters by razing the buildings as he advances.
1520. Montezuma is killed by a dart, and the city falls.
1524. Verrazani visits the harbor of New York, and is visited by Algonquins.
1528. Pamphilio de Narvaez lands in Florida with an army, where he is fiercely resisted by the Appalachians, and suffers from want of provisions. He constructs boats at the mouth of the Apalachicola, and proceeds west along the Gulf coasts, whence he is driven to sea, and lost.
The mother of Hirrahagua is torn to pieces, in Florida, by Spanish bloodhounds.
1534. Cartier discovers the St. Lawrence, where he holds interviews with the Algonquins, and afterwards, on ascending the river, with the Wyandot, or Huron tribe of the Iroquois.
1535. Cartier discovers Hochelaga, or Montreal, and Canada.
1537. Caba de Vaca, who had escaped with three men from the wreck of the boats of Narvaez, after nine years' wanderings among the Indian tribes, reaches Compostella, on the Colorado coast.
1538. Ferdinand de Soto, who had distinguished himself in the wars of the conquest of Peru, lands, with a well-appointed army, in Florida. With extraordinary fortitude, he traverses the vast area which comprises the present States of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, being opposed, with courage, by the Choctaws and their confederates, who attack, and well nigh defeat him, at Mauvilla.
1539. Tuscaloosa perishes in the conflagration of Mauvilla.
1540. Francesco Vasquez Coronado is placed by Mendoza in command of an army, for the discovery and conquest of the country since called New Mexico, by which our knowledge of the Indian tribes in that quarter is much extended.
De Soto discovers the Mississippi River, on its left banks, in the country of the Chickasaws, within the present boundaries of the State of Tennessee.
1541. De Soto dies at the mouth of the Arkansas River, and his body, entombed in a tree, is sunk in the Mississippi.
1542. The expedition of Coronado, and his compeers, returns, and abandons the country.
The expedition of De Soto terminates, having suffered by hardship, disease, and death; the commander himself having fallen a victim to his intrepidity; the survivors descend the Mississippi in boats, and reach Tampico.
1562. Ribault enters the St. John's River, in Florida; then sails to, and enters Port Royal, and builds Fort Charles, at or near Beaufort, South Carolina.
1564. Laudonniere visits the River St. John's, Florida, and erects Fort Caroline. St. Augustine founded.
A.D. 1565. Admiral Coligny resumes the settlement of Florida by Protestants. Second voyage of Ribault; his capture by Melendez, under a false guise, and the treacherous massacre of Ribault and his men.
1567. Gourgues revenges the outrages perpetrated by Melendez.
1583. Indians are kidnapped on the New England coasts.
1584. Virginia is discovered, and named. The coast is occupied by Algonquin tribes, under the rule of Powhatan.
1607. The colony of Virginia is founded in the midst of the Powhatanic tribes.
1609. Hudson enters the Bay of New York, where he holds intercourse with the Mohican family of the Algonquins. He discovers it to be the receptacle of a large river, which he ascends to the boundaries of the Iroquois at Albany.
1616. Pocahontas dies in England.
1618. Powhatan dies.
1620. English ships, freighted with emigrants fleeing from ecclesiastical tyranny, land in Massachusetts bay, and find the coasts occupied by Algonquin tribes, of the Mohican sub-type. They are under the rule of Massasoit.
1622. The Indians of Virginia, undgr Opechanganough, rise, by preconcert, against the colonists, and commit an appalling massacre.
1627. The Maine and New Hampshire coasts are visited, and found to be occupied by Algonquins.
1630. Tammany, or Tamenund, is supposed to rule the Lenno Lenapees, from the Delaware River to Manhattan Island.
1631. Maryland is colonized in the territorial dominions of the Susquehannocks and Nanticokes.
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
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