Puslapio vaizdai

to account for this, a suggestion may be ventured. The Indian passes a life that knows no repose. His vigilance is ever on the alert. No hour of day or night is to him an hour of assured safety. In the course of years, his perceptions and apprehensions become so acute, in the presence of constant dan ger, as to render him keenly and delicately sensitive to impressions that a civilized man could scarce recognize. The Indian, in other words, has a development almost like the instinct of the fox or beaver. Upon this delicate barometer, whose basis is physical fear, impressions (moral or physical, who shall say?) act with surprising power. How this occurs, no Indian will attempt to explain. Certain conjurations will, they maintain, aid the medicine-man to receive impressions; but how or wherefore, no one pretends to know. This view of minor medicine is the one which will account for many of its manifestations. Whether sound or defective, we will not contend.

The medicine - man whom I knew best was Ma-què-a-pos (the Wolf's Word), an ignorant and unintellectual person. I knew him perfectly well. His nature was simple, innocent, and harmless, devoid of cunning, and wanting in those fierce traits that make up the Indian character. His predictions were sometimes absolutely astounding. He has, beyond question, accurately described the persons, horses, arms, and destination of a party three hundred miles distant, not one of whom he had ever seen, and of whose very existence neither he, nor any one in his camp, was before apprised.

On one occasion, a party of ten voyageurs set out from Fort Benton, the remotest post of the American Fur Company, for the purpose of finding the Kaime, or Blood Band of the Northern Blackfeet. Their route lay almost due north, crossing the British line near the Chief Mountain (Nee-na-stà-ko) and the great Lake O-màx-een (two of the grandest features of Rocky Mountain scenery, but scarce ever seen by whites), and extending indefinitely beyond the Sas

katchewan and towards the tributaries of the Coppermine and Mackenzie Rivers. The expedition was perilous from its commencement, and the danger increased with each day's journey. The war-paths, war-party fires, and similar indications of the vicinity of hostile bands, were each day found in greater abundance.

It should be borne in mind that an experienced trapper can, at a glance, pronounce what tribe made a war-trail or a camp-fire. Indications which would convey no meaning to the inexperienced are conclusive proofs to the keen-eyed mountaineer. The track of a foot, by a greater or less turning out of the toes, demonstrates from which side of the mountains a party has come. The print of a moccasin in soft earth indicates the tribe of the wearer. An arrow-head or a feather from a war-bonnet, a scrap of dressed deer-skin, or even a chance fragment of jerked buffalo-meat, furnishes data from which unerring conclusions are deduced with marvellous facility.

The party of adventurers soon found that they were in the thickest of the Cree war-party operations, and so full of danger was every day's travel that a council was called, and seven of the ten turned back. The remaining three, more through foolhardiness than for any good reason, continued their journey, until their resolution failed them, and they too determined that, after another day's travel northward, they would hasten back to their comrades.

On the afternoon of the last day, four young Indians were seen, who, after a cautious approach, made the sign of peace, laid down their arms, and came forward, announcing themselves to be Blackfeet of the Blood Band. They were sent out, they said, by Ma-quèa-pos, to find three whites mounted on horses of a peculiar color, dressed in garments accurately described to them, and armed with weapons which they, without seeing them, minutely described. The whole history of the expedition had been detailed to them by Ma-què-a-pos. The purpose of the

journey, the personnel of the party, the exact locality at which to find the three who persevered, had been detailed by him with as much fidelity as could have been done by one of the whites themselves. And so convinced were the Indians of the truth of the old man's medicine, that the four young men were sent to appoint a rendezvous, for four days later, at a spot a hundred miles distant. On arriving there, accompanied by the young Indians, the whites found the entire camp of "Rising Head," a noted war-chief, awaiting them. The objects of the expedition were speedily accomplished; and the whites, after a few days' rest, returned to safer haunts. The writer of this paper was at the head of the party of whites, and himself met the Indian messengers.

Upon questioning the chief men of the Indian camp, many of whom afterwards became my warm personal friends, and one of them my adopted brother, no suspicion of the facts, as narrated, could be sustained. Ma-quèa-pos could give no explanation beyond the general one, - that he "saw us coming, and heard us talk on our journey." He had not, during that time, been absent from the Indian camp.

A subsequent intimate acquaintance with Ma-què-a-pos disclosed a remarkable medicine faculty as accurate as it was inexplicable. He was tested in every way, and almost always stood the ordeal successfully. Yet he never claimed that the gift entitled him to any peculiar regard, except as the instrument of a power whose operations he did not pretend to understand. He had an imperfect knowledge of the Catholic worship, distorted and intermixed with the wild theogony of the red man. He would talk with passionate devotion of the Mother of God, and in the same breath tell how the Great Spirit restrains the Rain Spirits from drowning the world, by tying them with the rainbow. I have often seen him make the sign of the cross, while he recounted, in all the soberness of implicit belief, how the Old Man (the God of the Black

feet) formed the human race from the mud of the Missouri, - how he experimented before he adopted the human frame, as we now have it, how he placed his creatures in an isolated park far to the north, and there taught them the rude arts of Indian life, - how he staked the Indians on a desperate game of chance with the Spirit of Evil, — and how the whites are now his peculiar care. Ma-què-a-pos's faith could hardly stand the test of any religious creed. Yet it must be said for him, that his simplicity and innocence of life might be a model for many, better instructed than he.

The wilder tribes are accustomed to certain observances which are generally termed the tribe-medicine. Their leading men inculcate them with great care, — perhaps to perpetuate unity of tradition and purpose. In the arrangement of tribe-medicine, trivial observances are frequently intermixed with very serious doctrines. Thus, the grand war-council of the Dakotah confederacy, comprising thirteen tribes of Sioux, and more than seventeen thousand warriors, many years since promulgated a national medicine, prescribing a red stone pipe with an ashen stem for all council purposes, and (herein was the true point) an eternal hostility to the whites. The prediction may be safely ventured, that every Sioux will preserve this medicine until the nation shall cease to exist. To it may be traced the recent Indian war that devastated Minnesota; and there cannot, in the nature of things, and of the American Indian especially, be a peace kept in good faith until the confederacy of the Dakotah is in effect destroyed.

The Crows, or Upsàraukas, will not smoke in council, unless the pipe is lighted with a coal of buffalo chip, and the bowl rested on a fragment of the same substance. Their chief men have for a great while endeavored to engraft teetotalism upon their national medicine, and have succeeded better than the Indian character would have seemed to promise.

Among the Flat-Heads female chas

tity is a national medicine. With the Mandans, friendship for the whites is supposed to be the source of national and individual advantage.

Besides the varieties of medicine already alluded to, there are in use charms of almost every kind. When game is scarce, medicine is made to call back the buffalo. The Man in the Sun is invoked for fair weather, for success in war or chase, and for a cure of wounds. The spirits of the dead are appeased by medicine songs and offerings. The curiosity of some may be attracted by the following rude and literal translation of the song of a Blackfoot woman to the spirit of her son, who was killed on his first war-party. The words were written down at the time, and are not in any respect changed or smoothed.

"O my son, farewell!

You have gone beyond the great river,

Your spirit is on the other side of the Sand Buttes;
I will not see you for a hundred winters;
You will scalp the enemy in the green prairie,
Beyond the great river.

When the warriors of the Blackfeet meet,

When they smoke the medicine-pipe and dance the


They will ask, 'Where is Isthumaka? — Where is the bravest of the Mannikappi?' He fell on the war-path.

Mai-ram-bo, mai-ram-bo.

"Many scalps will be taken for your death;
The Crows will lose many horses:
Their women will weep for their braves,
They will curse the spirit of Isthumaka.

O my son ! I will come to you
And make moccasins for the war-path,
As I did when you struck the lodge
Of the Horse-Guard' with the tomahawk.
Farewell, my son ! I will see you
Beyond the broad river.

Mai-ram-bo, mai-ram-bo," etc., etc.

Sung in a plaintive minor key, and in a

wild, irregular rhythm, the dirge was far more impressive than the words would indicate.

It cannot be denied that the whites, who consort much with the ruder tribes of Indians imbibe, to a considerable degree, their veneration for medicine. The old trappers and voyageurs are, almost without exception, observers of omens and dreamers of dreams. They claim that medicine is a faculty which can in some degree be cultivated, and aspire to its possession as eagerly as does the Indian. Sometimes they acquire a reputation that is in many ways beneficial to them.

As before said, it is no object of this paper to defend or combat the Indian notion of medicine. Such a system exists as a fact; and whoever writes upon American Demonology will find many fruitful topics of investigation in the daily life of the uncontaminated Indian. There may be nothing of truth in the supposed prediction by Tecumseh, that Tuckabatchee would be destroyed by an earthquake on a day which he named; the gifts of the "Prophet" be overstated in the traditions that may yet linger in Kentucky and Indiana; the descent of the Mandans from Prince Madoc and his adventurous Welchmen, and the consideration accorded them on that account, may very possibly be altogether fanciful; but whoever will take the trouble to investigate will find in the real Indian a faith, and occasionally a power, that quite equal the faculties claimed by our civilized clairvoyants, and will approach an untrodden path of curious, if not altogether useful research.


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THOU great Wrong, that, through the slow-paced years,

Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield

The scourge that drove the laborer to the field,

And look with stony eye on human tears,
Thy cruel reign is o'er;

Thy bondmen crouch no more

In terror at the menace of thine eye;

For He who marks the bounds of guilty power, Long-suffering, hath heard the captive's cry,

And touched his shackles at the appointed hour, And lo! they fall, and he whose limbs they galled Stands in his native manhood, disenthralled.

A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent;
Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks;
Our rivers roll exulting, and their banks
Send up hosannas to the firmament.

Fields, where the bondman's toil

No more shall trench the soil,

Seem now to bask in a serener day;

The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs
Of heaven with more caressing softness play,
Welcoming man to liberty like theirs.

A glory clothes the land from sea to sea,
For the great land and all its coasts are free.

Within that land wert thou enthroned of late,

And they by whom the nation's laws were made, And they who filled its judgment-seats, obeyed Thy mandate, rigid as the will of fate.

Fierce men at thy right hand,

With gesture of command,

Gave forth the word that none might dare gainsay;
And grave and reverend ones, who loved thee not,
Shrank from thy presence, and, in blank dismay,
Choked down, unuttered, the rebellious thought;
While meaner cowards, mingling with thy train,
Proved, from the book of God, thy right to reign.

Great as thou wert, and feared from shore to shore,
The wrath of God o'ertook thee in thy pride;
Thou sitt'st a ghastly shadow; by thy side
Thy once strong arms hang nerveless evermore.
And they who quailed but now

Before thy lowering brow

Devote thy memory to scorn and shame,

And scoff at the pale, powerless thing thou art. And they who ruled in thine imperial name,

Subdued, and standing sullenly apart,

Scowl at the hands that overthrew thy reign,
And shattered at a blow the prisoner's chain.

Well was thy doom deserved; thou didst not spare
Life's tenderest ties, but cruelly didst part

Husband and wife, and from the mother's heart Didst wrest her children, deaf to shriek and prayer; Thy inner lair became

The haunt of guilty shame;

Thy lash dropped blood; the murderer, at thy side, Showed his red hands, nor feared the vengeance due. Thou didst sow earth with crimes, and, far and wide, A harvest of uncounted miseries grew,

Until the measure of thy sins at last

Was full, and then the avenging bolt was cast.

Go then, accursed of God, and take thy place
With baleful memories of the elder time,
With many a wasting pest, and nameless crime,
And bloody war that thinned the human race;
With the Black Death, whose way
Through wailing cities lay,

Worship of Moloch, tyrannies that built

The Pyramids, and cruel creeds that taught To avenge a fancied guilt by deeper guilt,

Death at the stake to those that held them not.

Lo, the foul phantoms, silent in the gloom
Of the flown ages, part to yield thee room.

I see the better years that hasten by
Carry thee back into that shadowy past,
Where, in the dusty spaces, void and vast,
The graves of those whom thou hast murdered lie.
The slave-pen, through whose door

Thy victims pass no more,

Is there, and there shall the grim block remain
At which the slave was sold; while at thy feet
Scourges and engines of restraint and pain

Moulder and rust by thine eternal seat.

There, 'mid the symbols that proclaim thy crimes,
Dwell thou, a warning to the coming times.

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