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قراءة كتاب Great Indian Chief of the West; Or, Life and Adventures of Black Hawk

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‏اللغة: English
Great Indian Chief of the West; Or, Life and Adventures of Black Hawk

Great Indian Chief of the West; Or, Life and Adventures of Black Hawk

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 7

their collection. For redress of civil injuries, an appeal is usually made to some of the old men of the tribe, mutually selected by the parties concerned; and their decision is considered as binding. A murder among them is seldom punished capitally. The relatives of the deceased may take revenge in that way, but it is much more common to receive compensation in property. If the relatives cannot agree upon the amount of the compensation, the old men of the tribe interfere and settle it. The kinsfolk of the deceased say, that by killing the murderer, it will not bring the dead to life, and that it is better to take the customary presents, which often amount in value to a considerable sum. Occasionally the murderer arranges the whole matter, by marrying the widow of the man he has killed. There is but one offence that is considered of a national character, and that is of rare occurrence. It consists in aiding the enemies of the tribe, in times of war, and is punishable with death. A sentinel who has been placed on duty by a chief, but who neglects it, is publicly whipped by the women. The Sauks and Foxes have no established mode of declaring war. If injured by a neighboring tribe they wait a reasonable time for reparation to be made, and if it is not, they avail themselves of the first fitting opportunity of taking revenge. The young Indians manifest, at an early age, a love of war. They hear the old warriors recounting their exploits, and as the battle-field is the only road to distinction, they embrace the first chance of killing an enemy. When the question of going to war is under consideration, some one or a number of them, undertake to consult the Great Spirit by fasting and dreams. These latter are related by them in public, and often have their influence, being generally so interpreted as to inspire confidence in those who may join the war party. If a party is victorious in battle, the individual who killed the first enemy, leads them back, and on the way, if they have prisoners with them, it is not uncommon to kill those who are old. The young ones are generally adopted into the families of such as have lost relatives in the battle, or whose children have died a natural death. Upon the return of the victorious party to their village, a war dance is held round their captives by way of celebrating their triumph. Prisoners are sometimes held as slaves, and as such are bought and sold. If they go to war, which they are encouraged to do, and succeed in killing one of the enemy, the slave changes his name and from that time becomes a freeman. The Sauks and Foxes treat their prisoners with humanity, and if they succeed in getting to the village alive, they are safe, and their persons are held sacred. But one instance is known of their having burned a prisoner, and that was in a war with the Menominies, and in retaliation for a similar act, first committed by that tribe. The young Indians go to war generally between the age of seventeen and twenty, but sometimes as early as fifteen. Many of them at the age of forty and forty-five, look old and are broken down in their physical constitution, in consequence of the hardships which they have endured in war and the chase. In old age they are usually provided for, and live in peace at their villages. When one of them is sick, and thinks he is about to go to the land of spirits, he not unfrequently directs the manner in which he wishes to be buried, and his instructions are complied with. The Sauks and Foxes bury their dead in the ground, and have preferences for particular places of interment. The graves are not dug to any great depth, and a little bark from a tree is made to answer the purpose of a coffin. The body is usually carried to the grave by old women, who howl at intervals, during the ceremony, most piteously. Before closing the grave, one of the Indians present at the funeral will wave a stick or war-club, called "puc-ca waw-gun," saying in an audible voice, "I have killed many men in war, and I give their spirits to my dead friend who lies here, to serve him as slaves in the other world:" after which the grave is filled up with earth, and in a day or two a rude cabin or shed is made over it of rough boards or bark. If the deceased was a brave, a post is planted at the head of the grave, on which, in a rude manner, the number of scalps and prisoners he has taken in war, is represented by red paint. Upon the death of an adult, his property is usually distributed among his relatives, and his widow returns to her own family or nearest kinfolks. The widow is the principal mourner for the deceased and her grief seems to be sincere. Her countenance becomes dejected—she seldom smiles—clothes herself in rags, and with disheveled hair and spots of black paint on her cheeks, wanders about in a pensive mood, seldom shedding tears, except when alone in the woods. They generally cease mourning at the suggestion of some friend, wash, paint themselves red and put on their best clothes and ornaments. Some of the Sauks and Foxes entertain the opinion that the spirit of the deceased hovers about the village or lodge, for a few days, and then takes its flight to the land of repose. On its way, they suppose it passes over an extensive prairie, beyond which the woods appear like a blue cloud. Between this woodland and the prairie, there is a deep and rapid stream of water, across which there is a pole, kept in continual motion by the force of the current. This stream, the spirit must cross on the pole, and if it has belonged to a good person, it will get over safe and find all its good relations that have gone before it. In this woodland, game of all kinds is abundant, and there the spirits of the good live in everlasting happiness. If on the contrary, the spirit has belonged to a bad or wicked person in this world, it will fall off the pole into the stream, and the current will sweep it down to the land of evil spirits, where it will forever remain in poverty and misery. There is nothing very peculiar in the religious opinions of the Sauks and Foxes, to distinguish them from the aborigines of this country, generally. They believe in one Great and Good Spirit, who controls and governs all things, and in supernatural agents who are permitted to interfere in their concerns. They are of opinion that there is also a bad spirit, subordinate, however, to the great Manito, who is permitted to annoy and perplex the Indians, by means of bad medicines, by poisonous reptiles, and by killing their horses and sinking their canoes. All their misfortunes are attributed to the influence of this bad spirit, but they have some vague idea that it is in part permitted as a punishment for their bad deeds. They all believe in ghosts, and when they fancy that they have seen one, the friends of the deceased give a feast and hang up some clothing as an offering to appease the troubled spirit. So far as the ceremonials are concerned, the Sauks and Foxes may be called a religious people. They rarely pass any extraordinary cave, rock, hill or other object, with out leaving behind them some tobacco for the use of the spirit who they suppose lives there. They have some kind of prayers, consisting of words which they sing over in the evening and at sunrise in the morning.

Their tradition in regard to the creation of the world, the deluge and the re-peopling of the earth, is a singular mixture of truth and fiction. If anterior in its origin, to the arrival of the whites on this continent, it presents matter of curious speculation. The following account of it, entitled the Cosmogony of the Saukee and Musquakee Indians, is taken from Doctor Galland's Chronicles of the North American Savages.

"In the beginning the Gods created every living being which was intended to have life upon the face of the whole earth; and then