« AnteriorContinuar »
CHAPTER XXXVIII. INDIAN TERRITORY.
1. Boundaries and Extent. The Indian or Western Territory, as it is generally called in official papers, is an extensive region, which has been set aside by the general government as a permanent home for the Indian nations, whose removal beyond the limits of the States has been going on for several years. The tract thus appropriated, extends from the western boundary of Arkansas and Missouri to that of the United States, lying between the Red River, on the south, and the Punca and Platte or Nebraska, on the north ; it is about 600 miles in breadth, from north to south, by from 700 to 750 in extreme length; the southern part, however, not being more than one half that length. The area may be roughly stated at about 225,000 square miles.
2. Face of the Country. In the southeastern corner, between the Arkansas and Red River, the country is mountainous, being traversed by the Ozark range. Beyond this, it spreads out into wide expanses of a slightly undulating surface, or into extensive plains, over whose dead level the eye wanders to the verge of vision. In the western part of the northern belt, successive groups of isolated table-lands, or elevated platforms of no great height or extent, and regular but not lofty ranges of hills, mark the approach to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The base of these mountains is about 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, and James's Peak rises to the height of 11,500 feet ; further north, near the sources of the Platte, some points attain a much greater elevation.
This region is traversed by several large rivers, all of which rise in the Rocky Mountains, and reach the Mississippi and Missouri. They have the common character of rivers of a desert, flowing through tracts of sand, with wide but shallow beds, obstructed throughout by sand-bars and banks, sometimes so scantily furnished with water as to form merely a succession of stagnant pools, and sometimes even presenting dry channels. The Nebraska, Platte, or Shallow River, although it has a course of nearly 1,000 miles, and is in many places several miles in width, is so shoal, that it may be forded at almost any point in moderate stages of the water, and can scarcely be said to be navigable for any considerable length of time. In the
of its course, its banks and islands are covered with cotton-wood and willows, which, however, soon disappear, as you ascend, and for several hundred miles scarcely a tree or shrub is to be seen, until, on approaching the mountains, it is again lined with straggling groups of stunted trees. The Kansas, or Konzas, is also a large stream, and it receives several considerable tributaries, called the Republican Fork, Solomon's Fork, Smoky Hill Fork, and Grand Saline Fork ; in high stages of the water, it may be navigated for a distance of nearly 200 miles, but is beset with numerous shoals. The Arkansas is, however, the principal river of this region ; rising in the Rocky Mountains, near the heads of the Rio del Norte, it forms for several hundred miles the boundary between New Mexico and this Territory, which it traverses, passing into Arkansas. It affords few facilities for navigation, being shallow, and in some parts entirely disappearing. Steamboats ascend to Fort Gibson. From the north, it receives the Verdigris, the Neosho or Grand River, and the Illinois ; and from the south, the Negracka, Nesuketonga or Salt Fork, and Canadian. The last mentioned rises in the Mexican Mountains, and has a course of nearly 1,000 miles, but its channel is shallow, and sometimes quite dry, the waters being rapidly absorbed by the sands. The Red River is better supplied with water ; and since the removal of the great raft in Louisiana, steamboats come up into this Territory. Its largest tributaries from the north, are the Washita, or False Washita, Blue Water, and Kiamesha.
4. Soil. The western part of the Territory forms a portion of the Great American Desert, which extends along the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, with a breadth of about 500 miles, far beyond the limits of the Territory. The soil is arid, sterile sand, almost destitute of trees and even shrubs. Vast tracts consist of bare rocks, gravel, or sand, and others are covered only with yuccas, cactuses, grape-vines, and cucurbitaceous plants ; nearly the whole region is either destitute of water during a part of the year, or presents to the wayworn and exhausted traveler only a brackish and bitter draft ; in many places the surface is whitened by saline efflorescences, and all wears the aspect of desolation. This region is unsusceptible of cultivation, yet it does not exhibit the naked aspect of the African deserts ; in certain seasons it is traversed by full streams, and in some parts it affords pasture for large herds of bison, droves of wild horses, and other animals. It is frequented by wandering bands of savages, who roam
from place to place in pursuit of game. The eastern part of the Territory, forming a strip of about 200 miles in breadth, is in general productive, and well suited to agricultural purposes. It is mostly prairie, skirted here and there, chiefly along the river-valleys, by lines of woodland, and there are extensive fertile bottoms on the lower parts of the rivers. A portion of it is unfit for cultivation, such as the mountains and flint-hills, that are interspersed throughout the country. These, however, add to the salubrity of the climate, and afford game and a good range for stock at certain seasons. The country will produce abundantly all the varieties of grain, vegetables, and agricultural products, which are raised in the States of the same latitude east of the Mississippi. It is also admirably adapted to the raising of stock of every description. South of the Kansas River, there is no necessity to provide for them in winter, as they live in the range winter and summer. This section is the portion which is occupied by the emigrant and indigenous tribes, whom the Federal Government are aiming to fix in permanent abodes, and to educate in the arts of peace.
5. Population. The population of the Indian Territory consists of tribes of eastern origin, who have been removed thither by the United States, by their own consent; of indigenous bands and tribes, who occupy a part of their original hunting-grounds, or have merely been removed to an adjoining tract, more suitable for their residence ; and of the wild, roving bands of the western portion, who have had, until very recently, no communication or political connexion with the authorities of the Republic.
The Choctaws possess the tract lying between Arkansas and New Mexico, bounded on the south by the Red River, and on the north by the Canadian ; and the Chickasaws are setuled among them. Most of the inhabitants are now engaged in agriculture ; they have good houses and well-fenced fields ; they raise more Indian corn and cotton than is necessary for their own consumption, and own great numbers of cattle, horses, sheep, and swine. There are several
, native traders, mechanics, and teachers among them, some of whom have been educated at the Choctaw Academy, in Kentucky; and 5 saw and grist mills, and 2 cotton-gins, with numerous ploughs, looms, and spinning-wheels, give indications of their civilization. The European costume is generally adopted, and most of them enjoy the common luxuries of their white neighbors, — tea, coffee, sugar, &c. The Choctaws have a written constitution, and they have established the trial by jury ; their government is administered by 4 Principal Chiefs, elected for a term of 4 years, and a Legislative Council, of 30 members, chosen annually by the people. The Board of Foreign Missions have 5 stations here, and there are 2 Baptist and i Methodist mission in the nation. Fort Towson, a United States military post, on Red River, is within their territory.
The Creek country lies between the Canadian on the south, and the Cherokee frontier on the north. It is well watered and wooded, though containing extensive prairies. The character and condition of the Creeks or Muscogees resemble those of the Choctaws, but they are less advanced in the mechanic arts and in civilization generally than that tribe. Most of them have comfortable houses, good gardens and orchards, and raise Indian corn in large quantities, with some rice and wheat ; they have live stock enough to supply their own consumption. The Seminoles are seated within the Creek country ; they retain more of the habits of hunters. The Creek government is administered by a General Council of the nation, in accordance with the provisions of a written constitution ; and the execution of the laws is intrusted, under the direction of the Council and Judges, to executive officers, called Light Horsemen. There are 2 stations of the Baptists, 1 station of the Board of Foreign Missions, and a Methodist mission among the Creeks ; several of the missionaries are natives.
The Cherokees own the tract north and east of the Creeks. They have entirely abandoned the chase, and are more advanced in civilization than any of their neighbors. They have several saw and grist mills, and one or several ploughs to each farm. There are several native traders, one of whom owns a steamboat, which runs between their country and New Orleans ; and some of the natives have executed contracts for subsisting the garrison of Fort Gibson. The government is conducted by 3 Principal Chiefs, and the legislature, consisting of 2 houses, meets annually. Each district is also under the care of 2 Judges and two Light Horsemen, or Sheriffs. The Board of Foreign Missions have missionaries, farmers, and mechanics, with 4 schools and a printing-press, in their country; and the Methodists and Baptists have each a mission.
The Senecas, Shawnees, and Quapaws, occupy a small tract on the Neosho. The Senecas, among whom are about 50 Mohawks, and the united bands of Senecas and Shawnees, are skil
ful farmers, have comfortable cabins, and several mills. The Quapaws have made less progress, but they are peaceable and industrious. The Senecas, who removed thither from New York, have a translation of the book of Common Prayer, which many of them are able to read, and one of their number officiates at their meetings for public worship:
The Osages or Wososhes are an indigenous tribe, and are mostly dependent upon the chase. Their squaws raise some Indian corn and beans. A band on the Neosho owns some cattle and hogs, and have begun to use the plough. The others live in portable lodges, formed by inserting small poles in the ground, and bending them over so as to meet at the top, where an aperture is left for the escape of the smoke, the sides being covered with flags, or buffalo or elk skins. Their country extends along the northern boundary of the Cherokees. Further north, on the Osage River, are the small kindred bands of Piankeshaws, Weas, and Peorias of the Miami nation, and the related bands of Pottawatamies and Ottawas. They have fenced and ploughed fields, and decent cabins, and own a considerable number of cattle.' The Methodists, the Western Missionary Society, and the Baptists, have missionaries among them.
The Shawnees or Shawanees own a tract lying between the head of the Osage and the lower part of the Kansas River. They are among the most improved of the Indian tribes, having generally good houses, well fenced and ploughed fields, and a sufficient number of live stock; there is also a saw and grist mill in the country. The Methodists and Baptists have missions among them, and at the Shawanee station under the care of the latter, there is a printing-press. North of the Kansas, and southwest of the Missouri, is the Delaware country, which extends westward 200 miles, with a breadth of 10 miles; the condition of the Delawares resembles that of the Shawanees, with whom they were long politically connected ; and there are among them Methodist and Baptist missions.
The Kansas or Konzas occupy a tract on both sides of the Kansas river, between the Delaware and Shawanee lands; they are an indigenous tribe, nearly allied to the Osages, and are poor and wretched ; their lodges are partly like those of the Osages, and in part made of earth; in these last, the roof is supported by wooden props within. They follow the chase for a sub
sistence. The Kickapoo tract lies on the western side of the Missouri, on the north of the Delaware country. The Kickapoos are of kindred origin with the Illinois and Miami bands, and resemble them in their condition. One of the Kickapoo chiefs has founded a religious society ; he lays
claim to divine revelations, and inculcates 1.12.2017
abstinence from ardent spirits, flagellation for sin, and the observance of holy days. The religious ceremonies consist of a series of prayers chanted by the whole assembly, and they are solemnized four times a week. Many Pottawatamies are also seated here.
Fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri, is in Indian Village.
the Kickapoo territory. The united bands
of Sacs or Sauks and Iowas occupy a tract north of the Kickapoos, on the Missouri. They have lately removed, but are in an improving condition.
The Otoes, between the Platte or Nebraska and the Little Nemahaw; the Omahas or Mahas, between the Platte and the Missouri ; the Pawnees, * to the west of the latter ; and the Puncas, to the north, are indigenous tribes, and retain their primitive barbarous habits of life with little or no change. They pursue the buffalo, and the squaws raise Indian corn, beans, and pumpkins. In the desert regions further west, are roving tribes of Camanches, Kioways, and Towash, often called Pawnee Peets or Piquas ; and nearer to the mountains, of Arickaras or Rees, Shiennes or Cheyennes, Arrepahas, Gros Ventres, and Eutaws, who wander from place to place, on both sides of the frontier, in pursuit of game, and have had little intercourse with the whites. They are skilful horsemen ; iheir arms are chiefly the bow and arrow, lance, war-club, and buckler, and their dwellings moveable skin lodges or tents. The great caravan road from Missouri to Santa Fe, crosses the country, and there is a trader's fort on the Upper Arkansas.
* " Every hour that I spent with the Indians impressed sions have gone abroad, because the Indian, among whites, upon me the conviction, that I had taken the only method or at a garrison, trading-post, or town, is as different a of becoming acquainted with their domestic habits and man from the same Indian at home, as a Turkisk' mollah' their undisguised character. Had I judged from what I is from a French barber. Among whites, he is all dignity had been able to observe at Fort Leavenworth or other and repose; he is acting a part the whole time, and acts it frontier places where I met them, I should have known most admirably. He manifests no surprise at the most about as much of them as the generality of scribblers and wonderful effects of machinery, — is not startled if a their readers, and might, like them, have deceived myself twenty-four pounder is fired close to him, and does not and others into a belief in their high sense of honor, evince the slightest curiosity regarding the thousand things their hospitality, their openness and love of truth, and that are strange and new to him ; whereas, at home, the many other qualities which they possess, if at all, in a very same Indian chatters, jokes, and laughs among his commoderate degree; and yet it is no wonder if such impres. panions; frequently indulges in the most licentious conversation ; and his curiosity is as unbounded and irresist. person), and commenced a course of self-examination, able as that of any man, woman, or monkey on earth. such as the severest disciple of Watts, Mason, or any other Truth and honesty (making the usual exceptions to be religious moralist, never equaled. Nay, more; if I were found in all countries) are unknown or despised by them. not afraid of offending the softer sex, by venturing to A boy is taught and encouraged to steal and lie ; and the bring man in comparison with them in an occupation only blame or disgrace ever incurred thereby, is when the which is considered so peculiarly their own, I would asoffence is accompanied by detection. I never met with sert, that no female creation of the poets, from the time liars so determined, universal, or audacious. The chiefs that Eve first saw that smooth, watery image,' till the themselves have told me repeatedly the most deliberate polished toilet of the lovely Belinda, ever studied her own and gross untruths, to serve a trifling purpose, with all the reflected self with more perseverance or satisfaction than gravity of a chief-justice ; and I doubt whether Baron this Pawnee youth. I have repeatedly seen him sit, for Munchausen himself would be more than a match for the above an hour at a time, examining his face in every posgreat chief of the Pawnees. Let them not dispute the sible position and expression; now frowning like Homer'a palm; each is greatest in his peculiar line; one in inven. Jove before a thunder-storm; now like the same god, detive exaggeration, and the other in plain, unadorned false. scribed by Milton, ‘smiling with superior love; now hood."
CHAPTER XXXIX. WESTERN DISTRICT.
1. Boundaries and Extent. The vast expanse extending from the Punca and the Nebraska or Platte to lat. 49° N., and from the Missouri and the White Earth Rivers to the Rocky Mountains, over an area of about 300,000 square miles, has been but partially explored, and has received no official name. It is occupied by wild bands of independent Indian tribes, who have had little connexion with the whites, except with the traders, who have several posts and trading stations in the country. The greater portion of this region, as far as is known to us, consists of prairie, bordered and intersected here and there by patches of woodland, chiefly in the river-valleys ; but even these are often wholly destitute of trees, and in general nothing but wide, grassy expanses, or bare plains of sand and shingle, meet the eye. In approaching the mountains, the forest again makes its appearance. Much of this tract belongs to the Great Desert, and is scantily supplied with water and herbage of any kind, and portions of it are too rugged for cultivation.
slightly varying the streaks of paint upon his cheeks and The dandyism of the youthful Pawnees is superb : forehead, and then pushing or pulling .each particular
" About the age of twenty, they are allowed to hunt, hair' of his eyebrows into its most becoming place! Could and seek other opportunities for distinction. This epoch the youth have seen anything in that mirror half so dananswers to the Oxonian's first appearance in London life, gerous as the features which the glassy wave gave back after taking his B. A. degree. I have seen some dandies to the gaze of the fond Narcissus, I might have feared for in my life, - English, Scotch, French, German, ay, and his life or reason ; but, fortunately for these, they had American dandies, too; but none of them can compare only to contend with a low, receding forehead, a nose with the vanity or coxcombry of the Pawnee dandy. Lest somewhat simious, a pair of small, sharp eyes, with high any of the gentry claining this distinction, and, belonging cheek-bones, and a broad mouth well furnished with a set to the above-mentioned nations, should doubt or feel of teeth, which hud at least the merit of demolishing speeaggrieved at this assertion, I will faithfully narrate what dily everything, animal or vegetable, that came within passed constantly before my eyes in our own tent; name- their range. His toilet thus arranged to his satisfaction, ly, the manner in which Sa-ni-tsa-rish's son passed the one of the women or children led his buffalo-horse before days on which there was no buffalo-hunt. He began his the tent; and he proceeded to deck his steed by painting toilet, about eight in the morning, by greasing and smooth- his forehead, neck, and shoulders with stripes of vermilion, ing his whole person with fal, which he afterwards rubbed and sometimes twisted a few feathers into his tail. He perfectly dry, only leaving the skin sleek and glossy; he then put into his mouth an old-fashioned bridle, bought or then painted his face vermilion, with a stripe of red also stolen from the Spaniards, from the bit of which hung along the centre of the crown of the head; he then pro- some six or eight steel chains, about nine inches long; ceeded to his coiffure,' which received great attention, while some small bells, attached to the reins, contributed although the quantum of hair demanding such care was to render the movements of the steed as musical as those limited, inasmuch as the head was shaved close, except of the lovely “Sonnante' in the incomparable tales of one tuft at the top, from which hung two plaited 'tresses.' Comte Hamilton. All things being now ready for the He then filled his ears, which were bored in two or three promenade, he threw a scarlet mantle over his shoulders, places, with rings and wampum, and hung several strings thrust his mirror in below his belt, took in one hand a large of beads round his neck; then, sometimes painting stripes fan of wild-goose or turkey feathers, to shield his fair and of vermilion and yellow upon his breast and shoulders, and delicate complexion from the sun, while a whip hung from placing armlets above his elbows, and rings upon his fin. his wrist, having the handle studded with brass nails. gers, he proceeded to adorn the nether man with a pair of Thus accoutred, he mounted his jingling palfrey and ammoccasins, some scarlet cloth leggins fastened to his waist- bled through the encampment, envied by all the youths belt, and bound round below the knee with garters of less gay in attire, attracting the gaze of the unfortunate beads four inches broad. Being so far prepared, he drew drudges who represent the gentler sex, and admired suout his mirror, fitted in a small wooden frame (which he premely by himself.” – Murray's Adventures in the Far always, whether hunting or at home, carried about his
2. Mountains. The first mountain-masses met with in ascending the Nebraska and the Missouri, have received the name of the Black Hills, from the dark hue imparted to them by the stunted cedars, with which their flanks are covered. They extend from the Missouri below the Yellowstone to the Arkansas, forcing the former to make a long northerly sweep before it takes its southeasterly course toward the Mississippi. Of the height and width of this range we know nothing. On the western border tower up the lofty granitic peaks of the Rocky Mountains, in whose eastern valleys the numerous heads of the Missouri and Nebraska take their rise. These ridges are covered with perpetual snow, indicating an elevation of at least 10,000 feet, but in many places they rise much higher; the Wind Mountains are believed to be nearly 18,000 feet high ; no accurate measurements, however, have been made in these wild regions. The Black Hills consist of gneiss, mica-slate, greenstone, amygdaloid, and other igneous rocks, and the Rocky Mountains, as far as is known, are composed of granite, sienite, basalt, &c.; pumice is found in the Missouri, but it is uncertain whence it is derived, as no recent volcanic production has been found east of the mountains.
3. Rivers. The Missouri is the most remarkable natural feature of this region nearly the whole of which is drained by its numerous branches. The source of this great stream was reached by Captain Lewis and his party, on the 12th of August, 1805, about 3,100 miles by its meanders above its junction with the Mississippi, in about lat. 43° 30'. “ They had now,” says the journalist of the expedition, "reached the hidden sources of that river which had never yet been seen by civilized man, and as they sat down by the brink of that little rivulet, which yielded its distant and modest tribute, they felt themselves rewarded for all their labors and all their difficulties.” Within three quarters of a mile of this interesting spot, the party tasted the waters of Columbia River. The constituent streams of the Missouri received from these travelers the names of Jefferson, Gallatin, and Madison ; after having gathered up the waters of these mountain-valleys, the river breaks forth from the mountains, through a lofty barrier of rocks, which rise in mural precipices to the height of 1,200 feet above the water. “ Nothing can be imagined more tremendous than the frowning darkness of these rocks, which project over the river, and menace us with destruction. The river, of 150 yards in width, seems to have forced its channel down this solid mass ; but so reluctantly has it given way, that during the whole distance the water is very deep at the edges, and, for the first 3 miles, there is not a spot, except one of a few yards, in which a man could stand between the water and the towering perpendicular of the mountain ; the convulsion of the passage must have been terrible, since at its outlet there are vast columns of rock torn from the mountain, which are strewed on both sides of the river, the trophies, as it were, of the victory ;” the length of this chasm, which the travelers called the Gates of the Rocky Mountains, is 5 miles. Some distance below this point, occurs a succession of falls and rapids, where the river descends 350 feet in a distance of about 15 miles, whence it continues its course, 2,575 miles, to the Mississippi. Its channel is extremely crooked, and at the Great Bend it makes a circuit of 30 miles, in advancing only 2,000 yards in a direct distance. The Yellowstone is its greatest tributary in the upper part of its course ; its sources are in the eastern valleys of the mountains, the Bighorn, or southern branch rising near the heads of the Nebraska and the Colorado of the West, and its northern or main branch issuing from the immediate vicinity of the sources of the Missouri and Lewis's River. Soon after breaking through the mountain barriers, these branches become navigable, and below their junction there are few impediments to navigation ; steam boats have ascended the Yellowstone about 300 miles. Tongue and Powder Rivers are its principal tributaries. The Little Missouri, Wetarhoo, Sarwariamme, Shienne, Cheyenne, or Chayenne, the White River, and the Quicourt or Running River, are the most important tributaries of the Missouri, from the right, between the Yellowstone and the Nebraska. They appear to be in general rapid, shallow streams, much impeded by sand- banks, and liable to sudden rise and fall of their waters ; they flow mostly through prairies or unwooded tracts, and some of them wander through the desolate skirts of the Great Desert. From the north come in Maria's River, the North Mountain, Milk, White Earth, and other considerable streams. The Nebraska or Platte, the bounding river on the south, has been previously described ; its