« AnteriorContinuar »
THE PROSCRIBED CHIEF OF THE CHIPPEWAS.
Ir is well known to those at all conversant with Indian habits and customs, that their modes of punishment are never reformatory, but, on the contrary, of the most revengeful character. With them there is no reform, no forgiveness, no asking for mercy, no offering of pardon. It is life for life; and as this is understood by them all, no complaint of the severity of his doom is ever preferred by the culprit. If he fixes his heart upon murder, he does it with the certain knowledge that his turn will probably come next; and rarely does he escape, or even attempt it. The crime is never forgotten; and some relative of the murdered one, generally the nearest in kin, seeks the first opportunity to slay the murderer; or if he cannot succeed in this, he will take the life of some relative of the offender. This satisfies the law, and does away the necessity of calling together a council to deliberate the means of retaliation, to sit in judgement upon the guilty one, and finally to erect the tree and cross-bar for his execution. Occa
sionally, however, an occurrence of the kind seems to demand the decision of the sachems; and then there is full justice, according to their dim perceptions, meted out to the violater of the law. This punishment is summary, and to civilized nations who do the thing in a more deliberate manner, and according to more enlightened principles, seem s savage in the extreme. To a reflecting mind, there can be but little dif ference; both are repulsive to the higher and holier feelings of the soul; but to our story.
That portion of Michigan lying to the south and west of Lake Superior, was formerly owned and occupied by the Chippewa tribe of Indians. It is but a few years since it became the property of the Government by treaty with its original owners; and to this day they are found there in large numbers.
Formerly they were a powerful tribe; and though less warlike than some of the more western clans, were far from being cowardly. They did not so often go from their homes upon the war-path, but when attacked, defended their hunting grounds with true Indian tenacity. Missionaries had been sent among them to introduce the customs of the whites, but had made little impression. They followed the chase as eagerly as ever, had their pow-wows or dog feasts, war-dances and medicine men, as their fathers had for many centuries; and a warrior was known by the number of scalps that decorated his wigwam.
Among the bravest of the Chippewas at that time, was Hi-was-see, the Eagle, a young sachem, who had just returned from his second war adventure, and displayed at his belt so many scalps of the Sioux, the most powerful and warlike tribe of the West, that it was universally conceded among the braves, that Hi-was-see was fittest of the Chippewas to go on the warpath. The old warriors chanted his praises in the dance, and the maidens looked upon him with approving eyes. This last, perhaps, did more than any thing else, to stir up among the young warriors, a little envy of Hi-was-see; and when O-wee-na, the White Swan, daughter of the great Sagamore, Nee-zhi-goon-kan, gaye him her love, the young brave was regarded with no favorable eyes by others who had sought in vain the love of O-wee-na. They began to wish him out of the way; and the life of the Eagle was from that time constantly disturbed by petty annoyances from the other young men of the nation. At length he found he must rid himself of these, or be looked upon with con
tempt by the whole tribe. Besides, the White Swan would think him wanting in courage, to thus tamely submit to the continued insults of those less renowned than himself. Accordingly he determined to avenge himself of the first indignity offered him. It was not long before an opportunity presented itself.
Among those who had sued for the favor of O-wee-na, and been rejected, was Wa-wa-tu-sa, the Rattlesnake; and he felt towards Hi-was-see the most bitter hatred, on account of his more favorable reception with the White Swan. He had crossed the path of the young brave many times, in the most insulting manner, and ventured as far as he dared, without risking his own safety.
One evening just at sunset, as Hi-was-see returned from the chase, having been remarkably | successful, he saw Wa-wa-tu-sa and several other young braves standing before the lodges which were pitched according to custom very near to- | gether. Apprehending some insult, he marched sullenly along without showing any consciousness of their presence, although his fingers quivered convulsively to grasp the hilt of his hunting knife; but he strode silently on, determined to give no offence. As he came near, Wa-watu-sa presented himself directly in his path, as if he would make the young Chippewa turn aside to pass him. Hi-was-see continued to advance, but the Rattlesnake did not stir from the path. A low chuckle ran through the company, and the next instant Wa-wa-tu-sa was sent through the air many feet, striking the ground in no gentle manner. Recovering his feet, he dashed at Hi-was-see with his knife, muttering loud enough for all to hear, "The cowardly Eagle could buy the scalps of the Sioux, to make him seem a warrior. If he is a brave, let him take the scalp of a Chippewa! Wa-wa-tu-sa offers his." This was more than Hi-was-see could bear. Unsheathing his hunting knife, quick as lightning he turned upon the Rattlesnake, and giving one long, fierce yell, the next moment the scalp of Wa-wa-tu-sa swung at the belt of the angry brave. Uttering the short Indian word beware! he turned upon the others, but not one of them advanced; they dared not beset the Eagle in his wrath; and sheathing his knife, he went on his way.
Immediately summoning the chiefs and great men of the tribe, he gave himself up to be punished as they should decide. He offered no defence; vengeance was satisfied, and he was content. He sat with his head bent down, appar
ently unconscious and unconcerned, while the matter of life and death was being deliberated. At last, War-ra-war-ra, the oldest chief of the tribe, stood up and addressed him. "Hi-wassee, you have slain a brave of the Chippewas: he was a cowardly dog, but the knife of a brave warrior must not be red with the blood of his brothers; their scalps must not swing at his girdle. The Rattlesnake was but a child in the talons of the Eagle; he could easily have managed him without taking his life; but he let the Bad Spirit blind him, and now too he must die. But we will give him a chance for his life."
War-ra-war-ra then proceeded to name the punishment allotted to Hi-was-see. It was that he should be confined in a high enclosure, built of logs upon three sides, so that the inside could not be seen from without. The fourth side was to open upon the wild shore of Lake Superior, at a spot where the roughness of the waters rendered ingress or egress, in any way, apparently impossible. Here he was to be placed with twenty days provisions. When that was exhausted, he might come forth at the risk of his life. Any man of the tribe had liberty to shoot him, wherever he found him.
This was giving the Eagle but a small chance. True there were but few, comparatively, of the tribe who did not respect Hi-was-see; and from them he would experience no harm; but the kinsmen of Wa-wa-tu-sa, and some of the younger braves who envied him, would keep the keenest watch upon his motions, and though he might be starving, the first step he made in quest of sustenance might be his last. The fearfulness of his doom was all apparent to him; but not a muscle of his rigid face moved, not a glance of his dark eye bespoke the least feeling upon the subject. He took up his rifle and moved away to his lodge, as usual, to await his summons to the place of his confinement. With the dawn of day he was promptly informed that his future residence was ready, and without deigning a look of regret or even farewell to any one, he went his way alone, and took possession.
There were the dried venison and parched corn, the mug from which he was to drink, the little keg of fire-water, the pipe and weed, and the couch of skins which were to sustain his life twenty days. He surveyed them all with a look of silent contempt, and after a few minutes seated himself on the shore to watch the ever varying play of the billows, and meditate upon his chances of life. There was a fearful odds against VOL. XX.
him. He knew the friends of Wa-wa-tu-sa would keep an incessant watch upon him, with ready aim to pierce his heart at his first attempt to escape. Before him lay the stormy billows, never at rest, roaring, dashing, tearing madly close up to the beach, and forever lashed into masses of foam. He knew he could not stem them; he felt that no bark could come to his rescue. Still no shade gathered upon his dusky brow, no tear filled his dark eye. He was a true Indian warrior, and ready to meet any thing firmly. Could he have met those cowards who dogged his steps, face to face, he would have dared the odds; but he well knew that from their ambuscade they would mark him, and without giving him the least chance of defence. Yet he ate with his usual appetite, drinking sparingly of the fire-water, that he might possess all his energies; and from day to day, sitting silently on the shore of the lake, lost in thought, and immovable as an Indian always is when trouble weighs upon his mind.
The white gulls and wild ducks came near him, sailing round and round, and offering their fair breasts as tempting marks for his bullet; but he spared them, knowing that he had no means of procuring them, should he bring them down.
On the fifteenth day, when his stock of provisions began to run low, he was aroused from his apparent stupor, by the hoarse clang, clang, of wild geese; and looking upward, he saw a large flock flying very near the earth and directly towards his enclosure. Quick as thought he sprang to his feet, seized his rifle, and with glittering eye and compressed lips, awaited the favorable moment. Taking sure aim as they were flying slowly over his head, he fired, and down came a large goose close at his feet. A short, angry bark outside, warned him that his enemies were there, and in rage at his success. Rousing himself, he sent back a long, fierce yell, that made the woods and cliffs echo and re-echo again and again; after which he proceeded to strip off the feathers, and prepare his prize for eating.
This unexpected occasion helped to prolong his existence a brief period beyond the time allotted by his judges. He ate it with as good relish as though he were on the broad prairie, free as air; for severe early discipline trains the red man to meet any fate.
Day after day, the sun rose and set upon the caged Chippewa, but brought no way of escape. He determined with himself that his enemies
should never shoot him down like a dog; if he must die, they should not know how death came to him. In the deep night he would plunge into the billows and bury himself in the dark wa
At last his provisions were gone, and the young brave began to feel the strength depart from his sinews. The happy hunting grounds seemed but a short distance off. A thought of his loved O-wee-na, came often across his mind, and then his dusky brow would darken, and a sigh almost heave his swarthy breast. One day he sat in his accustomed place, upon the shore, thinking how long he should delay escaping from his suffering. Suddenly his eye was caught by the struggles of a fish-hawk that was floundering in the waters. A moment afterward, it emerged bearing in its talons a large fish, likewise struggling in its unnatural element. The hawk laid its course for the woods; but finding its load too burdensome, he alighted slowly on one corner of Hi-was-see's lodge.
It was an exciting moment for the young sachem. Stretching out his arm, which, a moment before was weak as an infant's, he drew his rifle, always loaded, to him, with a strength which excited feeling alone can lend. Steadily he raised it, and taking the surest aim, despatched the leaden messenger to stay the advances of death. Again that cry of stifled rage told him that his enemies were without; and again mustering his energies, he sent back the Chippewa war-whoop, and immediately changed it into a long, plaintive, but steady death yell. Staggering to his feet he seized his prey, and was soon satisfying the demands of his emaciated frame. A portion was spared, and placed in the sun to dry, that he might not lose a particle.
That same night, as he paced the strand by moonlight, feeling a revival of his courage in view of the two occurrences, that had prolonged his life, he beheld a small animal come up from the water and advance within the limits of his lodge. It did not perceive him, and approaching it stealthily, he dealt it a blow from the butt of his rifle, which instantly killed it. Bending over it, he saw that it was an amphibious animal of the otter kind. With much satisfaction he removed the skin with his hunting knife, cut the flesh into strips for drying, and afterwards laid himself down in his bed of skins for a good night's rest. This supplied him with food for several days, and as his enemies could not know of his good fortune, he thought he might yet outlive their watchfulness, and escape.
Again was his sustenance gone, and again did he sit moodily upon the shore meditating his death-plunge; but this time it was a glorious sunset. The beams of the departing sun tipped the foaming billows with a beautiful radiance; and a bend in the shore of the lake brought the glistening cliffs of the wild coast, all streaming with liquid gold, in full view of the young Sagamore. He eyed the same with an admiring eye; it might be the last he should behold; but the stern look was there still; and a beholder would not have divined a thought that agitated his bosom. Thus he sat, motionless, until the deep night came down over the waters, and the first beams of the rising moon fell aslant the rough bosom of the lake.
As he gazed upon the restless waves, he was startled by a dark object rising and falling upon the tumbling billows. It had the size and appearance of a canoe; but the young Chippewa could not believe a bark would live a moment in those turbulent waters. He eyed it keenly, as it seemed to approach the shore; and a feeling of superstition began to creep over him, when the voice of O-wee-na was heard above the sound of the waters: "If the Eagle lives, let him strike a light on the shore, that the White Swan may swim to his lodge." In a moment a faint light shone by the side of Hi-was-see, and instantly the canoe came bounding towards the shore. When within a short distance, O-wee-na was heard again, "If the Eagle has not gone to the happy fields, let him speak to O-wee-na." Hiwas-see answered, "The White Swan is a great swimmer, to try the rough waters. What does she seek?" "She seeks the Eagle; let him trust himself to the waters, and O-wee-na will save him. The Eagle must hasten before the braves awaken, or it will be too late. They believe he is dead, and have made themselves drunk with the fire-water, in joy that he is cut off. Let him come into the waters and escape with the White Swan where his enemies cannot find him." Hi-was-see answered, "The Eagle will be with the White Swan in a moment."
Seizing his hatchet, he clave the bark from one of the logs, and by the dim light of his torch, drew upon the inside with the quick rude skill of the Indian, the form of a canoe struggling in the waters. Perched upon one side, he placed the figure of an eagle; and swimming gracefully at its prow, with its neck laid lovingly across it, was a white swan. Fastening it quickly to the inside of the lodge, he caught his hatchet
and rifle, and leaping from the cliff several feet into the water, he struck out bravely for the canoe of O-wee-na. The White Swan was on the alert for him, and managing the canoe skilfully, Hi-was-see was soon in safety at her side.
Yet the danger was not over. With incredible bravery and skill had O-wee-na, guided by the star of love, piloted her canoe through those boisterous waters. The joy of having rescued her lover, made her hand unsteady, and it was all she and Hi-was-see himself, in his weak state, could do to keep the canoe afloat. When at a little distance from the shore, Hi-was-see raised again his shrill war-whoop in the most defying manner. A low, angry growl from the shore, told him that his enemies heard him, and had discovered his departure. Once more raising his voice, he sent forth such a shout of exultation that the cliffs rang with the echo.
Nothing was ever seen of the Eagle or White Swan among the Chippewas; but the white traders often brought news of them from a distant tribe beyond the Lakes. The enemies of the Eagle entered his deserted hut on the following morning, and discovering the piece of bark with his departing hieroglyphics upon it, saw that he was indeed gone, but baffled anger was all they had left for consolation. Hi-wassee was gone with his loved O-wee-na.
M. J. C. MANLEY.
Richfield Spa, July 4, 1851.
CONSTANTINOPLE, built by and named after Constantine the Great, was, till 1453, the residence of the Emperors of East, and since that time it has been the city of the Sultans. It lies on the Sea of Marmora, and at the southwestern opening of the Thracian Bosphorus, which separates Europe from Asia. It impresses the traveler more as a picture seen at a distance, than when its narrow, dirty and steep streets are trodden. It is an unclean beauty, and for want of any thing like sanatary arrangements, the plague is a frequent visitor. For an elegantly written work on life in Constantinople, we commend Miss Bardoe's " City of the
MRS. ANN-ELIZA THAYER.
DIED in Mexico, N. Y., January 27, 1851, Mrs. ANN-ELIZA THAYER, daughter of General BEZALEEL and MARGARET THAYER, aged 26 years.
Mrs. Thayer left her residence in Fulton, N. Y., a few days previous to her death, in apparent health, and so far as mortal knowledge could judge, under excellent prospects of a long and useful life, but arriving at her father's house, in Mexico, she was soon prostrated with what finally proved to be a disease of the heart. Although thus suddenly and unexpectedly called to part with her many devoted friends, her affectionate husband and loving parents, she was prepared to go without fear or murmuring. She was an intelligent and unwavering believer in the final happiness of all God's children; she had studied well the character of God, the blessed promises of the Gospel of Christ, and consequently, in the very bloom and beauty of life, she turned away from all the attractions of earth, and like a dutiful, confiding child, went peacefully and lovingly to the arms of her heavenly Father. Once, while her mother bent over her, adjusting her hair, or smoothing her pillow, she expressed a wish that she might fall asleep and never awake again in this world. This wish was partially gratified, for she died without a struggle or a groan, and only the still bosom and the hushed pulse, told when the spirit had departed for the
home of the angels." She had for a long time been a member of the Universalist choir in Fulton, where she sung praises to the Father she loved, and to whom she now sings anthems of sweeter and holier harmony in heaven.
J. H. T.