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METHOD OF WRITING.
The Indian writing consists of figures or hieroglyphics; and the following anecdote will show that sometimes it is very much to the purpose : A white man in the Indian country, met a Shawanos riding a horse which he affected to recognise for his own, and claimed it from him as his property. The Indian calmly answered, “ Friend ! after a little while, I will call on you at your house, when we shall talk of this matter." A few days afterwards, the Indian came to the white man's house, who insisting on having his horse restored, the other then told him : 6 Friend! the horse which you claim belonged to my unele who lately died; according to the Indian custom, I have become heir to all his property.” The white man not being satisfied, and renewing his demand, the Indian immediately took a coal from the fire-place, and made two striking figures on the door • of the house, the one representing the white man taking the horse, and the other, himself, in the act of scalping him; then he coolly asked the trembling claimant « whether he could read this Indian writing ?” The matter thus was settled at once, and the Indian rode off.--HECKEWELDER.
CONSTANCY OF AN INDIAN GIRL.
In passing thro’ Lake Pepin our interpréter pointed out to us a high precipice, on the east shore of the lake, from which an Indian girl, of the Sioux nation, had, many years ago, precipitated herself in a fit of disappointed love. She had given her heart, it appears, to a young chief of her own tribe, who was very
much attached to her, but the alliance was opposed by her parents, who wished her to marry an old chief, renowned for his wisdom and influence in the nation. As the union was insisted
and no other way appearing to avoid it, she determined
to sacrifice her life in preference to a violation of her former vow; and while the preparations for the marriage feast were going forward, left her father's cabin, without exciting suspicion, and before she could be overtaken threw herself from an awful precipice, and was instantly dashed to a thousand pieces. Such an instance of sentiment is rarely to be met with among barbarians, and should redeem the name of this noble-minded girl from oblivion. It was Oo-la-i-ta.-Schoolcraft's Journal.
BELIEF IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF BEasts.
I have often reflected on the curious connexion which appears to subsist in the mind of an Indian between man and the brute creation; and found much matter in it for curious observation. Although they consider themselves superior to all other animals and are very proud of that superiority; although they believe that the beasts of the forest, the birds of the air, and the fishes of the waters, were created by the Almighty Being for the use of man; yet it seeins as if they ascribe the difference between themselves and the brute kind, and the dominion which they have over them, more to their superior bodily strength and dexterity than to their immortal souls. All beings endowed by the Creator with the power of volition and self-motion, they view in a manner as a great society of which they are the head, whom they are appointed, indeed, to govern, but between whom and themselves intimate ties of connexion and relationship may exist, or at least, did exist in the beginning of time. They are, in fact, according to their opinions, only the first among equals, the legitimate hereditary sovereigns of the whole animated race, of which they are themselves a constituent part. Hence, in their languages, those inflections of their nouns which we call genders, are not, as with us, descriptive of the masculine and femenine species, but
but of the animate and inanimate kinds. Indeed, they go so far as to include trees and plants within the first of these descriptions. All animated nature, in whatever degree, is in their eyes a great whole, from which they have not yet ventured to separate themselves. They do not exclude other animals from their world of spirits, the place to which they expect to go after death.
I find it difficult to express myself clearly on this abstruse subject, which, perhaps, the Indians themselves do not very well understand, as they have no metaphysicians among them to analyze their vague notions, and perhaps confuse them still more. But I can illustrate what I have said by some characteristic anecdotes.
The Indian includes all savage beasts within the number of his enemies. This is by no means a metaphorical or figurative expression, but is used in a literal sense, as will appear from what I am going to relate.
A Delaware hunter once shot a huge bear and broke its back bone. The animal fell and set up a most plaintive cry, something like that of the panther when he is hungry. The hunter, instead of giving him another shot, stood up close to him, and addressed him in these words: “Hark ye! bear; you are a coward, and no warrior as you pretend to be. Were you a warrior, you would show it by your firmness, and not cry and whimper like an old
You know, bear, that our tribes are at war with each other, and that yours was the aggressor. You have found the Indians too powerful for you, and you have gone sneaking about in the woods, stealing their hogs; perhaps at this time you have
* Probably alluding to a tradition which the Indians have of a very ferocious kind of bear, called the naked bear, which they say once existed, but was totally destroyed by their ancestors. The last was killed in the New York state, at a place they called Hoosink, which means the Basin, or more properly the Kettle.
hog's Mesh in your belly. Had you conquered me, I would have borne it with courage and died like a brave warrior; but you, bear, sit here and cry, and disgrace your tribe by your cowardly conduct." I was present at the delivery of this curious invective : when the hunter had despatched the bear, I asked him bow he thought the poor animal could understand what he said to it?
66 Oh!" said he in answer, 56 the bear understood me very well ; did you not observe how ashamed he looked while I was upbraiding him?"
Another time I witnessed a similar scene between the falls of the Ohio and the river Wabash. white man, named William Wells,* who had been when a boy taken prisoner by a tribe of the Wabash Indians, by whom he was brought up, and had imbibed all their notions, had so wounded a large bear that he could not move from the spot, and the animal cried piteously like the one I have just mentioned. The young man went up to him, and with seemingly great earnestness, addressed him in the Wabash language, now and then giving him a slight stroke on the nose with his ram-rod. I asked him, when he had done, what he had been saying to this bear? “I have,” said be, “ upbraided him for acting the part of a coward; I told him that he knew the form tune of war, that one or the other of us must have fallen; that it was his fate to be conquered, and he ought to die like a man, like a hero, and not like an old woman; that if the case had been reversed, and I had fallen into the power of my enemy, I would not have disgraced my nation as he did, but would have died with firmness and courage, as becomes a true warrior."-HECKEWELDER.
* The same whom Mr. de Volpey speaks of in his excellent - View of the Soil and Climate of United States.” Supplement, No. VI. page 356. Philadelphia Edition, 1804.
Suicide is not considered by the Indians either as an act of herosim or of cowardice, nor is it with them a subject of praise or blame. They view this desperate act as the consequence of mental derangement, and the person who destsoys himself is to them an object of pity. Such cases do not frequently
Between the years 1771 and 1780, four Indians of my acquaintance took the root of the may-apple, which is commonly used on such occasions, in order to poison themselves, in which they all succeeded, except one. Two of them were young men, who had been disappointed in love, the girls on whom they had fixed their choice, and to whom they were engaged, having changed their minds and married other lovers. They both put an end to their existence. The two others were married men, Their stories, as pictures of Indian manners, will not, perhaps, be thought upinteresting.
One of these unfortunate men was a person excellent character, respected and esteemed by all who knew him. He had a wife whom he was very fond of and two children, and they lived very happily together at the distance of about a half a mile from the place where I resided. He often came to visit me, and as he was of a most amiable disposition, I was pleased with his visits, and always gave him a hearty welcome. When I thought he was too long without coming, I went myself to the delightful spot which he had judiciously selected for his dwelling. Here I always found the family cheerful, sociable and happy, until some time before the fatal catastrophe happened, when I observed that my friend's countenance bore the marks of deep melancholy, of which I afterwards learned the cause. His wife had received the visits of another man; he foresaw that he would soon be obliged to separate from her, and he shuddered when he thought that he must also part from his two lovely