STORIES ABOUT INDIANS.
STORIES ABOUT INDIANS.
CONCORD, N.H.: PUBLISHED BY MERRIAM & MERRILL 1854.
STORIES ABOUT INDIANS.
The Indians were formerly lords of the soil we now occupy, and obtained a subsistence principally by hunting and fishing.
They generally lived in villages, containing from fifty to five hundred families. Their houses, called wigwams, were usually constructed of poles, one end being driven into the ground, and the other bent over so as to meet another fastened in like manner; both being joined together at the top, and covered with the bark of trees. Small holes were left open for windows, which were closed in bad weather with a piece of bark. They made their fire in the centre of the wigwam, leaving a small hole for a chimney in the top of the roof.
They had no chairs, but sat upon skins, or mats, spread upon the ground, which also served them for beds. Their clothes were principally made of the skins of animals, which in winter were sewed together with the fur side turned inwards.
The Indians were very fond of trinkets and ornaments, and often decorated their heads with feathers, while fine polished shells were suspended from their ears.
A PAWNEE BRAVE.
The following anecdote is related of a Pawnee brave, or warrior, (son of Red Knife.)
At the age of twenty-one, the heroic deeds of this brave had acquired for him in his nation the rank of the bravest of the braves. The savage practice of torturing and burning to death their prisoners existed in this nation. An unfortunate female of the Paduca nation, taken in war, was destined to this horrid death.
Just when the funeral pile was to be kindled, this young warrior, having unnoticed prepared two fleet horses, with the necessary provisions, sprang from his seat, liberated the victim, seized her in his arms, placed her on one of the horses, mounted the other himself, and made the utmost speed toward the nation and friends of the captive! The multitude, dumb and nerveless, made no effort to rescue their victim from her deliverer. They viewed it as the immediate act of the Great Spirit, submitted to it without a murmur, and quietly retired to their village.
As an Indian was straying through a village on the Kennebec, he passed a gentleman standing at his store door, and begged a piece of tobacco. The person stepped back, and selected a generous piece, for which he received a gruff "tank you," and thought no more of the affair. Three or four months afterwards, he was surprised at an Indian's coming into the store and presenting him with a beautiful miniature birch canoe, painted and furnished with paddles to correspond. On asking the meaning of it, he was told, "Indian no forget; you give me tobacco; me make this for you." This man's gratitude for a trifling favor had led him to bestow more labor on his present than would have purchased him many pounds of his favorite weed.
On his return home to his hut one day, an Indian discovered that his venison, which had been hung up to dry, had been stolen. After going some distance, he met some persons, of whom he inquired if they had seen a little, old, white man, with a short gun, and accompanied by a small dog with a bob-tail. They replied in the affirmative; and upon the Indian's assuring them that the man thus described had stolen his venison, they desired to be informed how he was able to give such a minute description of a person whom he had not seen. The Indian answered thus:
"The thief I know is a little man, by his having made a pile of stones in order to reach the venison from the height I hung it standing on the ground; that he is an old man, I know by his short steps, which I have traced over the dead leaves in the woods; that he is a white man, I know by his turning out his toes when he walks, which an Indian never does; his gun I know to be short by the mark which the muzzle made by rubbing the bark of the tree on which it leaned; that his dog is small, I know by his tracks; and that he has a bob-tail I discovered by the mark of it in the dust where he was sitting at the time his master was taking down the meat."
In one of the frequent wars among the different tribes of Indians, a Pequot was pursued by a Narraganset Indian. The Pequot skulked behind a rock, and raising his hat on his gun, held it up just above the rock, so that the hat alone was visible on the other side.
The Narraganset, who was at some distance, perceiving the hat, and supposing of course that the head of the Pequot was in it, crept softly up within a few feet and fired. But directly he had the mortification to find that he had thrown away his powder. The Pequot's gun was still loaded, and he discharged it to effect upon the poor Narraganset.
It happened, during the Revolutionary war, that a treaty was held with the Indians, at which Lafayette was present. The object was to unite the various tribes in amity with America. The majority of the chiefs were friendly, but there was much opposition made to it, more especially by a young warrior, who declared that when an alliance was entered into with America, he should consider the sun of his country as set forever. In his travels through the Indian country, when lately in America, it happened at a large assemblage of chiefs that Lafayette referred to the treaty in question, and turning to Red Jacket, said, "Pray, tell me, if you can, what has become of that daring youth, who so decidedly opposed all our propositions for peace and amity? Does he still live—and what is his condition?" "I myself am the man," replied Red Jacket, "the decided enemy of the Americans as long as the hope of opposing them with success remained, but now their true and faithful ally until death."
When General Lincoln went to make peace with the Creek Indians, one of the chiefs asked him to sit down on a log. He was then desired to move, and in a few minutes to move still further. The request was repeated until the general got to the end of the log. The Indian still said, "Move further," to which the general replied, "I can move no further." "Just so it is with us," said the chief; "you have moved us back to the water, and then ask us to move further."
AN INDIAN'S JOKE.
During the time of Indian troubles, a friendly Indian visited Governor Jenks, of Rhode Island, when the governor took occasion to request him to let him know if any strange Indian should come to his wigwam. This the Indian promised to do, and the governor agreed to give him a mug of flip if he should give such information. Some time after, the Indian came again, and said, "Well, Mr. Gubernor, strange Indian come to my house last night." "Ah," said the governor, "what did he say?" "He no speak," replied the Indian. "What, not speak at all?" inquired the governor. "No, he no speak at all." "That looks suspicious," said his excellency, and inquired if he was there still. Being told that he was, the governor ordered the promised mug of flip. When this was disposed of, and the Indian was about to depart, he mildly said, "Mr. Gubernor, my squaw have child last night." The governor, finding the strange Indian was a new-born pappoose, was glad to find there was no cause for alarm.
The following striking display of Indian character occurred some years since in a town in Maine. An Indian of the Kennebec tribe, remarkable for his good conduct, received a grant of land from the state, and fixed himself in a township, where a number of families settled. Though not ill treated, yet the common prejudice against the Indians prevented any sympathy with him. This was shown at the death of his only child, when none of the people came near him. Shortly afterwards he went to some of the inhabitants, and said to them, "When white man's child die, Indian man be sorry—he help bury him: when my child die, no one speak to me—I make his grave alone—I can't live here."
He gave up his farm, dug up the body of his child, and carried it with him two hundred miles through the forest, to join the Canada Indians. What energy and depth of feeling does this specimen of Indian character exhibit!
A Spanish traveller met an Indian in the desert; they were both on horseback. The Spaniard, fearing that his horse, which was none of the best, would not hold out till the end of his journey, asked the Indian, whose horse was young, strong, and spirited, to exchange with him. This the Indian refused. The Spaniard therefore began a quarrel with him. From words they proceeded to blows. The aggressor being well armed, proved too powerful for the native. He seized his horse, mounted him, and pursued his journey.
He was closely followed to the nearest town by the Indian, who immediately complained to a judge. The Spaniard was obliged to appear, and bring the horse with him. He treated the Indian as an impostor, affirming that the horse was his property, that he had always had him in his possession, and that he had raised him from a colt.
There being no proof to the contrary, the judge was about dismissing the parties, when the Indian cried out,—"The horse is mine, and I'll prove it!" He immediately took off his mantle, and with it instantly covered the head of the animal; then addressing the judge,—"Since this man," said he, "affirms that he has raised the horse from a colt, command him to tell of which eye he is blind." The Spaniard, who would not seem to hesitate, instantly answered, "Of the right eye." "He is neither blind of the right eye," replied the Indian, "nor of the left."
The judge decreed him the horse, and the Spaniard to be punished as a robber.
The politeness of these people in conversation is indeed carried to excess; since it does not permit them to contradict or deny the truth of what is asserted in their presence. By this means they indeed avoid disputes; but then it becomes difficult to know their minds, or what impression you make upon them. When any of them come into our towns, our people are apt to crowd around them, gaze upon them, and incommode them when they desire to be private; this they esteem great rudeness, and the effect of the want of instruction in the rules of civility and good manners. "We have," say they, "as much curiosity as you, and when you come into our towns, we wish for opportunities of looking at you; but for this purpose we hide ourselves behind bushes where you are to pass, and never intrude ourselves into your company."