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idly fell into the dance with the leader. Each one, keeping time with the beat of the drum, sped in mazy circles around a common centre, until with increased numbers the whole, in movement and uproar, resembled the whirlwind. The several actors taxed their muscular energies to the utmost endurance, stamping the ground with great fury, throwing their bodies into the different attitudes of combat, distorting their faces with the frenzy of demons, and uttering the war-cry with the frightful shriek of madmen. These hideous orgies, waking up all the fire and energy of the Indian's soul, were a fitting prelude to the premeditated carnage. If a young man participated in the dance, it was tantamount to an enlistment, and he could not afterwards honorably withdraw.
The Art of Hunting not only supplied the Indian with food, but, like that of war, was a means of gratifying his love of distinction. The male children, as soon as they acquired sufficient age and strength, were furnished with a bow and arrows and taught to shoot birds and other small game. Success in killing large quad- . rupeds required years of careful study and practice, and the art was as sedulously inculcated on the minds of the rising generation as are the elements of reading, writing and arithmetic in the common schools of civilized communities. The mazes of the forest and the dense tall grass of the prairies were the best fields for the exercise of the hunter's skill. No feet could be impressed in the yielding soil but they were objects of the most rigid scrutiny, and revealed at a glance the animal that made them, the direction it was pursuing, and the time that had elapsed since it had passed. Even if the surface was too hard to adinit of indentations, such were his wonderful powers of observation, he discovered on it evidences of a trail from which, with scarcely less certainty, he derived the same information. In a forest country he selected for his places of ambush valleys, because they are most frequently the resort of game, and sallied forth at the first peep of day. In ascending the valleys he was careful to take the side of the stream which threw his shadow from it, thus leaving his view unobstructed in the opposite direction. The most easily taken, perhaps, of all the animals of the chase was the deer. It is endowed with a curiosity which prompts it to stop in its flight and look back at the approaching hunter who always avails himself of this opportunity to let fly his fatal arrow. An ingenious method of taking this animal, practiced by the Indians on the small tributaries of the Mississippi, * was the use of the torch. For this purpose they constructed their bark canoes with a place in front for the reception of a large flambeau, whose light was prevented from revealing the hunter by the interposition of a screen. As he descended the narrow streams, the deer, seeing only the light, was attracted by it to the banks and easily shot.
But by far the noblest objects of the chase which the Indian encountered on the prairies, was the buffalo. It is an animal confined to temperate latitudes, and was found in large numbers by the first explorers, roaming over the grassy plains of Illinois, Indiana, Southern Michigan and Western Ohio. It has a remarkably large chest, a heavy mane covering the whole of its neck and breast, horns turned slightly upward and large at the base, eyes red and fiery, and the whole aspect furious. In its native haunts it is a furions and formidable animal, worthy of the Indian's prowess. Like the
moose and other animals of the same family, nature has bestowed on it the most exquisite power of scent. The inexperienced hunter of the present day, unaware that the tainted breeze has revealed his presence to them, is often surprised to see them urging their rapid fight across the prairies, at a distance of two or three miles in advance, without any apparent cause of alarm. He is therefore necessitated to dismount and approach them on the leeward, under cover of the horse. When within a proper distance he vaults into the saddle and speeds forward in the direction of the prey, which commences its retreat, getting over the ground with great rapidity for animals so unwieldy. Intuitively it directs its course over the most broken and difficult ground, causing both horse and rider to frequently imperil their lives by falling. When wounded they sometimes turn with great fury upon their pursuer, and if he happens to be dismounted, nothing but the greatest coolness and dexterity can save his life.
The bow and arrow, in the hands of the tribes which formerly ranged the prairies, were said to be more formidable weapons in hunting the buffalo, than the guns subsequently introduced by Eu. ropeans. The arrows could be discharged with greater rapidity and with scarcely less precision. Such, too, was the force with which it was propelled, that the greater part of it was generally imbedded in the body of the buffalo, and sometimes protruded from the oppo. site side. Deep grooves cut in the side of the missile permitted the rapid effusion of blood, and animals, when pierced with it, survived only a short time.
One of the modes of killing the buffalo, practiced by the Illinois and other tribes of the West, was to drive them headlong over the precipitous banks of the rivers. Buffalo Rock, a large promontory rising fifty or sixty feet high, on the north side of the Illinois, six miles below Ottawa, is said to have derived its name from this practice. It was customary to select an active young man and disguise him in the skin of the buffalo, prepared for this purpose by preserving the ears, head and horns. Thus disguised, he took a position between a herd and a cliff of the river, while his companions, on the the rear and each side, put the animals in motion, following the decoy, who, on reaching the precipice, disappeared in a previously selected crevice, while the animals in front, pressed by the moving mass behind, were precipitated over the brink and crushed to death on the rocks below. The Indians also often captured large numbers of these buffalo, when the rivers were frozen over, by driving them on the ice. If the great weight of the animals broke the ice, they were usually killed in the water, but if too strong to break, its smoothness caused them to fall powerless on the surface, when they were remorselessly slaughtered, long after supplying the demands for food, merely to gratify a brutal love for the destruction of life.
Their General Councils were composed of the chiefs and old men. When in council they usually sat in concentric circles around the speaker, and each individual, notwithstanding the fiery passions that rankled within, preserved an exterior as immovable as if cast in bronze. Before commencing business, a person appeared with the sacred pipe and another with fire to kindle it. After being lighted, it was presented first to the heavens, secondly to the earth, thirdly' to the presiding spirits, and lastly to the several councilors,
each of whom took a whiff. These formalities were observed with as much scrupulous exactness as state etiquette in civilized courts. After the speaker commenced and became animated in the discussion of his subject, his statue-like auditors signified their assent to what he said by deep guttural ejaculations. These gatherings, in dignity, gravity and decorum, were scarcely equalled by the deliberative bodies of the most enlightened centres. It is said that the Indians were wont to express the greatest surprise on witnessing the levity exhibited by French officials, in their public assemblies at Fort Chartres.
The Indian council had no authority to give force and validity to its enactments. If it decided to engage in war, it had no power to enforce its enlistments, and therefore volunteers had to fight the battles. If its decrees of peace were observed, it was not the result of compulsion, but due to the confidence which the nation placed in its wisdom and integrity. When councils were convened for negotiating treaties, or terms of peace, the presentation of gifts was often a part of the proceedings. It was customary on these occasions for the orator of the interceding party to rise and present them to those of the assemblage who were to be conciliated. A particular object was assigned to each gift, which the speaker explained as he proceeded in his discourse. Corresponding with the various objects to be accomplished by negotiation, there were gifts to propitiate the Great Spirit and cause him to look with favor upon the council; to open the ears and minds of the contracting parties, that they might hear what was said and understand their duty; to inter the bones of the dead, and heal the wounds of their living friends; to bury the tomahawk, that it might not again be used in shedding blood, and to so brighten the chain of friendship that the disaffected tribes might ever afterwards be as one people.
The thoughts uttered in these councils, and on other public occasions, were frequently of a high order. 'Deeply imbued with the love of freedom and independence, their ideas on these subjects were generally of a lofty, unselfish and heroic character. Patriotism, their most cherished virtue, furnished their orators with themes for the most stirring appeals. Barrenness of language necessitated the frequent employment of metaphors, many of which were surprisingly beautiful, simple and appropriate. The frequent use of imagery made it difficult for the interpreter to follow them in their figurative vein of thought and do the orator justice. But while this was true it was much more frequently the case that the translator greatly improved the original. It may also be added that some of the most sparkling gems of what purports to be Indian eloquence are nothing but the fanciful creations of writers. Pontiac's speeches are frequently referred to as among the best specimens of aboriginal eloquence. The following retort was made by Keokuk, in answer to charges preferred against his people by the Siouxs at a convocation of chiefs in 1837, at the national capital :
“They say they would as soon make peace with a child as with us. They know better, for when they made war on us they found us men. They tell you that peace has often been made and we have broken it. How happens it then that so many of their braves have been slain in our country. I will tell you: They invaded us, we never invaded them; none of our braves have been killed in
their land. We have their scalps and we can tell you where we took them."
Black Hawk's speech to Col. Eustice, in charge of Fortress Mon. roe, when he and his fellow prisoners were set at liberty, is not only eloquent, but shows that within his chest of steel there beat a heart keenly alive to the emotions of gratitude:
“ Brother, I have come on my own part, and in behalf of my companions, to bid you farewell. Our great father has at length been pleased to permit us to return to our hunting grounds. We have buried the tomahawk, and the sound of the rifle will hereafter only bring death to the deer and the buffalo. Brother, you have treated the red 'men very kindly. Your squaws have made them presents, and you have given them plenty to eat and drink. The memory of your friendship will remain till the Great Spirit says it is time for Black Hawk to sing his death song. Brother, your houses are numerous as the leaves ou the trees, and your young warriors like the sands upon the shore of the big lake that rolls before us. The red man has but few houses, and few warriors, but the red man has a heart which throbs as warmly as the heart of his white brother. The Great Spirit has given us our hunting gronnds, and the skin of the deer which we kill there, is his favorite, for its color is white, and this is the emblem of peace. This hunting dress and these feathers of the eagle are white. Accept them, my brother; I have given one like this to the White Otter. Accept of it as a memorial of Black Hawk, When he is far away this will serve to remind you of him. May the Great Spirit bless you and your children. Farewell.”
Constitution of the Indian Family. The most important social feature of the prairie and other tribes, and that which disarmed their barbarism of much of its repulsiveness, was the family tie. The marital rite which precedes the family relations required only the consent of the parties and their parents, without any concurrent act of magistracy, to give it validity. The husband, with equal facility, might also dissolve this tie or increase the number of his wives without limit. Though the marriage compact was not very strong, the ties of consanguinity were rigidly preserved, and hereditary rights, generally traced through the female line, were handed down from the remotest ancestry. For this purpose they had the institution of the Totem, an emblem which served as a badge of distinction for different clans or families. This family surname was represented by some quadruped, bird, or other object of the animal world, as the wolf, deer, hawk, &c. Different degrees of rank and dignity were indicated by various totems, those of the bear, wolf, and turtle, being first in honor, secured the greatest respect for those who had the right to wear them. Each clansman was proud of his ensign, and if a member of the fraternity was killed, he felt called upon to avenge his death. As the different members of a clan were connected by ties of kindred, they were prohibited from intermarriage. A Bear could not marry a Bear, but might take a wife from the Wolf or Otter clan, whereby all the branches of a tribe or nation became united by bonds of consanguinity and friendship. By this simple institution, notwithstanding the wandering of tribes and their vicissitudes in war, family lineage was preserved and the hereditary rights of furnishing chiefs, accorded to certain clans, was transmitted from generation to generation.
Though in many of the most endearing relations of life the men, from immemorial custom, exhibited the most stolid indifference, yet instances were not wanting to show that in their family attachments they frequently manifested the greatest affection and sympathy. No calamity can cause more grief than the loss of a promising son, and the father has often given his life as a ransom to
save him from the stake. A striking instance of tbis kind occur. red in the war of the 17th century between the Foxes and Chippewas, near Montreal. In this war the Foxes captured the son of a celebrated and aged chief of the Chippewas, named Bi-ans-wah, while the father was absent from his wigwam. On reaching his home, the old man heard the heart-rending news, and knowing what the fate of his son would be, followed on the trail of the enemy, and, alone, reached the Fox village while they were in the act of kindling the fire to roast him alive. He stepped boldly into the arena and offered to take his son's place. “My son,” said he has seen but few winters, his feet have never trod the war path; but the hairs of my head are white; I have hung many scalps over the graves of my relations, which I have taken from the heads of your warriors. Kindle the fire about me and send my son to my lodge.” The offer was accepted and the father, without deigning to utter a groan, was burned at the stake. Such are the severities of savage warfare, amidst which the family is maintained with a heroism which has no parallel in civilized life.
The Methods of Sepulture, among the Indians, varied in different localities. It was common, among the northern forest tribes of the United States, to choose elevated spots above the reach of floods, for places of burial. Not having suitable tools for making excavations, they Interred their dead in shallow graves and placed over them trunks of trees to secure them from depredation by wild beasts. The bodies were sometimes extended at full length, in an eastern and western direction, but more frequently in a sitting posture. The Illinois and other prairie tribes frequently placed their dead on scaffolds erected on eminences commanding extensive and picturesque views. The corpse, after receiving its wrappings, was deposited in a rude coffin, fancifully painted with red colors. In this condition they were placed on scaffolds decorated with gifts of living relatives, and built sufficiently high to protect them from wolves and otheranimals of prey infesting the prairies. But judging from the remains of graves, by far the greater part of the ancient inhabitants of Illinois and the adjacent parts of the Mississippi Valley, deposited large numbers of their dead in a common tomb, and generally marked the place by the erection of a mound. The plains and alluviums of Southern Illinois, have in many places been literally sown with the dead, evincing a density of population greatly exceeding that found by the first European explorers of this region. The custom of raising heaps of earth over the graves, was perhaps practiced as a mark of distinction for the tombs of emninent personages, and for such as contained the bodies of warriors slain in battle, or were made common repositaries for the dead of whole clans and villages. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the places of sepulture raised by the ancient mound builders, and the more modern graves of the Indians. The tombs of the former were in general larger than the latter, were used as receptacles for a greater number of bodies, and contained relics of art evincing a higher degree of civilization than that attained by the present aboriginal tribes. The ancient tumuli of the mound builders have in some instances been appropriated as burial places by the Indians, but the skeletons of the latter may be distinguished from the osteological remains of the former by their greater stature.