Pictures and Illustrations.
[Here is presented information on various topics regarding Indian society, character, and religious beliefs, which seems more appropriately grouped here than scattered through the work, especially as some of the subjects are inconveniently long or general for footnotes. These articles are chiefly taken from the Handbook of Amer. Indians, vol. ii; the exceptions are obtained, as indicated, from excellent authorities. As will be noted, they are arranged in logical sequence, as far as possible. -- ED.]
"North American tribes contained (1) subdivisions of a geographic or consanguineal character; (2) social and governmental classes or bodies, especially chiefs and councils, with particular powers and privileges; and (3) fraternities of a religious or semi-religious character, the last of which are especially treated under article ‘Secret Societies.’ Tribes may be divided broadly into those in which the organization was loose, the subdivisions being families or bands and descent being counted prevailingly from father to son; and those which were divided into clearly defined groups called gentes or clans, which were strictly exogamic and more often reckoned descent through the mother. Among the former may be placed the Eskimo," the Cree, Montagnais, and Cheyenne, of Algonquian tribes, the Kiowa, etc.; in the latter divisions are the Pueblos, Navaho, and the majority of tribes in the Atlantic and Gulf States, and some others. "Where clans exist the distinctive character of each is very strongly defined and a man can become a member only by birth, adoption, or transfer in infancy from his mother's to his father's clan, or vice versa. Each clan generally possessed some distinctive totem from which the majority of the persons belonging to it derived their names, certain rights, carvings, and ceremonies in common, and often the exclusive right to a tract of land. Although the well-defined caste system of the north Pacific coast, based on property and the institution of slavery, does not seem to have had a parallel elsewhere north of Mexico except perhaps among the
258Natchez, bravery in war, wisdom in council, oratorical, poetical, or artistic talents, real or supposed psychic powers -- in short, any variety of excellence whatever served in all Indian tribes to give one prominence among his fellows, and it is not strange that popular recognition of a man's ability sometimes reacted to the benefit of his descendants. Although it was always a position of great consequence, leadership in war was generally separate from and secondary to the civil chieftainship. Civil leadership and religious primacy were much more commonly combined. Among the Pueblos all three are united, forming a theocracy. Councils of a democratic, unconventional kind, in which wealthy persons or those of most use to the tribe had the greatest influence, were universal where no special form of council was established. . . The tribes possessing a well-defined clan system are divided into three groups -- the north Pacific, southwestern, and eastern. . . Among the Plains Indians the Omaha had a highly organized social system. The tribe was divided into ten gentes called ‘villages,’ with descent through the father, each of which had one chief. Seven of these chiefs constituted a sort of oligarchy, and two of them, representing the greatest amount of wealth, exercised superior authority. The functions of these chiefs were entirely civil; they never headed war parties. Below them were two orders of warriors, from the higher of which men were selected to act as policemen during the buffalo hunt. Under all were those who had not yet attained to eminence. During the buffalo hunts and great ceremonials the tribe encamped in a regular circle with one opening, like most other plains tribes. In it each gens and even each family had its definite position. The two halves of this circle, composed of five clans each, had different names, but they do not appear to have corresponded to the phratries of more eastern Indians. A man was not permitted to marry into the gens of his father, and marriage into that of his mother was rare and strongly disapproved. Other plains tribes of the Siouan family probably were organized in much the same manner and reckoned descent similarly. The Dakota are traditionally reputed to have been divided into seven council fires, each of which was at one time divided into two or three major and a multitude of minor bands. Whatever their original condition may have been their organization is now much looser than that of the Omaha. . . The social organization of the western and northern Algonquian tribes is not well known. The Siksika [more commonly known as Blackfeet] have numerous subdivisions which have been called gentes; they are characterized by
259descent through the father, but would appear to be more truly local groups. Each had originally its own chief, and the council composed of these chiefs selected the chief of the tribe, their choice being governed rather by the character of the person than by his descent. The head chief's authority was made effective largely through the voluntary cooperation of several societies. The Chippewa, Potawatomi, Menominee, Miami, Shawnee, and Abnaki in historic times have had gentes, with paternal descent, which Morgan believed had developed from a material stage; but this view must be taken with caution, inasmuch as there never has been a question as to the form of descent among the Delawares, who were subjected to white influences at an earlier date than most of those supposed to have changed. . . The most advanced social organization north of the Pueblo country was probably that developed by the Iroquois confederated tribes. Each tribe consisted of two or more phratries, which in turn embraced one or more clans, named after various animals or objects, while each clan consisted of one or more kinship groups called ohwachira. When the tribes combined to form the confederacy called the Five Nations they were arranged in three phratries, of two, two, and one tribes respectively. There were originally forty-eight hereditary chieftainships in the five tribes, and subsequently the number was raised to fifty. Each chieftainship was held by some one ohwachira, and the selection of a person to fill it devolved on the child-bearing women of the clan to which it belonged, more particularly those of the ohwachira which owned it. The selection had to be confirmed afterward by the tribal and league councils successively. Along with each chief a vice-chief was elected, who sat in the tribal council with the chief proper, and also acted for a leader in time of war, but the chief only sat in the grand council of the confederacy." -- J. R. SWANTON, in Handbook Amer. Indians.
"Totem" is a corruption by travelers and traders of the Chippewa nind otem or kitotem, meaning "my own family," "thy own family" --thence, by extension, "tribe," or "race." "The totem represented an emblem that was sacred in character and referred to one of the elements, a heavenly body, or some natural form. If an element, the device was symbolic; if an object, it might be represented realistically or by its known sign or symbol. An animal represented by the ‘totem’ was always generic; if a bear or an eagle, no particular bear or eagle was meant. The clan frequently took its name from the ‘totem’ and
260its members might be spoken of as Bear people, Eagle people, etc. Variants of the word ‘totem’ were used by tribes speaking languages belonging to the Algonquian stock, but to all other tribes the word was foreign and unknown." The use of this term is too often indiscriminate and incorrect, which has obscured its real meaning. "As the emblem of a family or clan, it had two aspects: (1) the religious, which concerned man's relations to the forces about him, and involved the origin of the emblem as well as the methods by which it was secured; and (2) the social, which pertained to man's relation to his fellow-men and the means by which an emblem became the hereditary mark of a family, a clan, or society. There were three classes of ‘totems:’ the individual, the society, and the clan ‘totem.’ Research indicates that the individual ‘totem’ was the fundamental." This personal "totem" was most often selected from the objects seen in dreams or visions, since there was a general belief that such an object became the medium of supernatural help in time of need, and for this purpose would furnish a man, in his dream, with a song or a peculiar call by which to summon it to his help. The religious societies were generally independent of the clan organization; but sometimes they were in close connection with the clan and the membership under its control. The influence of the "totem" idea was most developed in the clan, "where the emblem of the founder of a kinship group became the hereditary mark of the composite clan, with its fixed, obligatory duties on all members. . . The idea of supernatural power was attached to the clan ‘totem’. This power, however, was not shown, as in the personal ‘totem,’ by according help to individuals, but was manifested in the punishment of forgetfulness of kinship. . . While homage was ceremonially rendered to the special power represented by the ‘totem’ of the clan or of the society, the ‘totem’ itself was not an object of worship. Nor was the object symbolized considered as the actual ancestor of the people; the members of the Bear clan did not believe they were descended from a bear, nor were they always prohibited from hunting the animal, although they might be forbidden to eat of its flesh or to touch certain parts of its body. The unification and strength of the clan and tribal structure depended largely on the restraining fear of supernatural punishment by the ‘totemic’ powers, a fear fostered by the vital belief in the potency of the personal ‘totem.’ " -- ALICE C. FLETCHER, in Handbook Amer. Indians.
Mode of Life
It is a popular fallacy that the Indians were generally nomadic, having no fixed place of abode; "the term nomadic is not, in fact, properly applicable to any Indian tribe." With some few exceptions, every tribe or group of tribes "laid claim to and dwelt within the limits of a certain tract or region, the boundaries of which were well understood, and were handed down by tradition and not ordinarily relinquished save to a superior force." There were some debatable areas, owned by none but claimed by all, over which many disputes and intertribal wars arose. "Most or all of the tribes east of the Mississippi except in the north, and some west of it, were to a greater or less extent agricultural and depended much for food on the products of their tillage. During the hunting season such tribes or villages broke up into small parties and dispersed over their domains more or less widely in search of game; or they visited the seashore for fish and shellfish. Only in this restricted sense may they be said to be nomadic." Even the plains Indians, who wandered far in hunting the buffalo, had a certain hold on their tribal territories and recognized the rights of their neighbors. The natives of the far north, owing to environment and geographical conditions, most nearly approached the nomadic life. -- HENRY W. HENSHAW, in Handbook Amer. Indians, art. "Popular fallacies."
"Each North American tribe claimed a certain locality as its habitat, and dwelt in communities or villages about which stretched its hunting grounds. As all the inland people depended for food largely on the gathering of acorns, seeds, and roots, the catching of salmon when ascending the streams, or on hunting for meat and skin clothing, they camped in makeshift shelters or portable dwellings during a considerable part of the year. These dwellings were brush shelters, the mat house and birch-bark lodge of the forest tribes, and the skin tent of the plains. . . Hunting, visiting, or war parties were more or less organized. The leader was generally the head of a family or of a kindred group, or he was appointed to his office with certain ceremonies. He decided the length of a day's journey, and where the camp should be made at night. As all property, save a man's personal clothing, weapons, and riding horses, belonged to the woman, its care during a journey fell upon her. . . When a camping place was reached the mat houses were erected as was most convenient for the family group, but the skin tents were set up in a circle, near of kin being neighbors. If danger from enemies was apprehended, the ponies
262and other valuable possessions were kept within the space inclosed by the circle of tents. Long journeys were frequently undertaken for friendly visits or for intertribal ceremonies. . . When the tribes of the buffalo country went on their annual hunt, ceremonies attended every stage, from the initial rites (when the leader was chosen), throughout the journeyings, to the thanksgiving ceremony which closed the expedition. The long procession was escorted by warriors selected by the leader and the chiefs for their trustiness and valor. They acted as a police guard to prevent any straggling that might result in personal or tribal danger; and they prevented any private hunting, as it might stampede a herd that might be in the vicinity. When on the annual hunt the tribe camped in a circle and preserved its political divisions, and the circle was often a quarter of a mile or more in diameter. Sometimes the camp was in concentric circles, each circle representing a political group of kindred. . . The tribal circle, each segment composed of a clan, gens, or band, made a living picture of tribal organization and responsibilities. It impressed upon the beholder the relative position of kinship groups and their interdependence, both for the maintenance of order and government within and for defense against enemies from without; while the opening to the east and the position of the ceremonial tents recalled the religious rites and obligations by which the many parts were held together in a compact whole." -- ALICE C. FLETCHER, in Handbook Amer. Indians.
Mental and Moral Traits
"The mental functions of the Indian should be compared with those of whites reared and living under approximately similar circumstances. On closer observation the differences in the fundamental psychical manifestations between the two races are found to be small. No instincts not possessed by whites have developed in the Indian. His proficiency in tracking and concealment, his sense of direction, etc., are accounted for by his special training and practice, and are not found in the Indian youth who has not had such experience. The Indian lacks much of the ambition known to the white man, yet he shows more or less of the quality where his life affords a chance for it."
"The emotional life of the Indian is more moderate and ordinarily more free from extremes of nearly every nature, than that of the white person. The prevalent subjective state is that of content in well-being, with inclination to humor. Pleasurable emotions predominate, but seldom rise beyond the moderate; those of a painful nature are occasionally very pronounced. Maternal love is strong, especially during
263the earlier years of the child. Sexual love is rather simply organic, not of so intellectual an order as among whites; but this seems to be largely the result of views and customs governing sex relations and marriage. The social instinct and that of self-preservation are much like those of white people. Emotions of anger and hatred are infrequent and of normal character. Fear is rather easily aroused at all ages, in groups of children occasionally reaching a panic; but this is likewise due in large measure to peculiar beliefs and untrammeled imagination."
"Modesty, morality, and the sense of right and justice are as natural to the Indian as to the white man, but, as in other respects, are modified in the former by prevalent views and conditions of life. Transgressions of every character are less frequent in the Indian. Memory (of sense impressions as well as of mental acts proper) is generally fair. Where the faculty has been much exercised in one direction, as in religion, it acquires remarkable capacity in that particular. The young exhibit good memory for languages. The faculty of will is strongly developed. Intellectual activities proper are comparable with those of ordinary healthy whites, though on the whole, and excepting the sports, the mental processes are probably habitually slightly slower. Among many tribes lack of thrift, improvidence, absence of demonstrative manifestations, and the previously mentioned lack of ambition are observable; but these peculiarities must be charged largely, if not entirely, to differences in mental training and habits. The reasoning of the Indian and his ideation, though modified by his views, have often been shown to be excellent. His power of imitation, and even of invention, is good, as is his aptitude in several higher arts and in oratory. An Indian child reared under the care of whites, educated in the schools of civilization, and without having acquired the notions of its people, is habitually much like a white child trained in a similar degree under similar conditions." -- ALES HRDLICKA, in Handbook Amer. Indians, art. "Physiology."
"The idea of the Indian, once popular, suggests a taciturn and stolid character, who smoked his pipe in silence and stalked reserved and dignified among his fellows. Unquestionably the Indian of the Atlantic slope differed in many respects from his kinsmen farther west; it may be that the forest Indian of the north and east imbibed something of the spirit of the primeval woods which, deep and gloomy, overspread much of his region. If so, he has no counterpart in the regions west of the Mississippi. On occasions of ceremony and religion the western Indian can be both dignified and solemn, as befits
264the occasion; but his nature, if not as bright and sunny as that of the Polynesian, is at least as far removed from moroseness as his disposition is from taciturnity. The Indian of the present day has at least a fair sense of humor and is by no means a stranger to jest, laughter, and even repartee." -- HENRY W. HENSHAW, in Handbook Amer. Indians, art. "Popular fallacies."
"The specific question of psychological differences between Indians and other races is still an unsolved problem," on account of the lack of adequate data as a basis for conclusions. Some work has been done in the study and comparison of these differences, but the results are insufficient for definite general statements. Conflicting theories are in vogue among anthropologists -- one that "the existence of cultural differences necessitates the existence of psychological differences;" another, that those "cultural differences are not due to psychological differences, but to causes entirely external, or outside of the conscious life," and "considers culture as the sum of habits into which the various groups of mankind have fallen." But thus far neither theory has been satisfactorily proved. "In conclusion, it appears that we have no satisfactory knowledge of the elemental psychological activities among Indians, because they have not been made the subjects of research by trained psychologists. On the other hand, it may be said that in all the larger aspects of mental life they are qualitatively similar to other races." -- Handbook Amer. Indians, art. "Psychology."
"Religious views and actions are not primarily connected with ethical concepts. Only in so far as in his religious relations to the outer world man endeavors to follow certain rules of conduct, in order to avoid evil effects, is a relation between primitive religion and ethics established. The religious concepts of the Indians may be described in two groups -- those that concern the individual, and those that concern the social group, such as tribe and clan. The fundamental concept bearing upon the religious life of the individual is the belief in the existence of magic power, which may influence the life of man, and which in turn may be influenced by human activity. In this sense magic power must be understood as the wonderful qualities which are believed to exist in objects, animals, men, spirits, or deities, and which are superior to the natural qualities of man. This idea of magic power is one of the fundamental concepts that occurs among all Indian tribes. It is what is called manito by the Algonquian tribes; wakanda, by the Siouan tribes; orenda, by the Iroquois," etc. "The
265degree to which the magic power of nature is individualized differs considerably among various tribes. Although the belief in the powers of inanimate objects is common, we find in America that, on the whole, animals, particularly the larger ones, are most frequently considered as possessed of such magic power. Strong anthropomorphic individualization also occurs, which justifies us in calling these powers deities. It seems probable that among the majority of tribes besides the belief in the power of specific objects, a belief in a magic power that is only vaguely localized exists. In cases where this belief is pronounced, the notion sometimes approaches the concept of a deity or of a great spirit, which is hardly anthropomorphic in its character. This is the case, for instance, among the Tsimshian of British Columbia and among the Algonquian tribes of the great lakes, and also in the figure of the Tirawa of the Pawnee. . . The whole concept of the world -- or, in other words, the mythology of each tribe -- enters to a very great extent into their religious concepts and activities. The mythologies are highly specialized in different parts of North America; and, although a large number of myths are the common property of many American tribes, the general view of the world appears to be quite distinct in various parts of the continent." In the explanation of the world, the Indian view is quite different from that of the Semitic mind. The former "accepts the eternal existence of the world, and accounts for its specific form by the assumption that events which once happened in early times settled for once and all the form in which the same kind of event must continue to occur. For instance, when the bear produced the stripes of the chipmunk by scratching its back, this determined that all chipmunks were to have such stripes; or when an ancestor of a clan was taught a certain ceremony, that same ceremony must be performed by all future generations. This idea is not by any means confined to America, but is found among primitive peoples of other continents as well, and occurs even in Semitic cults."
In considering American mythologies five great areas may be distinguished: (1) The Eskimo area, its mythology characterized by many purely human hero-tales, and a very few traditions accounting for the origin of animals (and these mainly in human setting); (2) the North Pacific, "characterized by a large circle of transformer myths, in which the origin of many of the arts of man are accounted for, as well as the peculiarities of many animals; (3) the similar traditions of the western plateau and of the Mackenzie basin area, in which animal tales abound, many accounting for the present conditions
266of the world; (4) the Californian, "characterized by a stronger emphasis laid upon creation by will-power than is found in most other parts of the American continent;" and (5) the great plains, the eastern woodlands, and the arid southwest, where the tendency to "systematization of the myths under the influence of a highly developed ritual. This tendency is more sharply defined in the south than in the north and northeast," and has made most progress among the Pueblo and the Pawnee. "The religious concepts of the Indians deal largely with the relation of the individual to the magic power mentioned above, and are specialized in accordance with their general mythological concepts, which determine largely the degree to which the powers are personified as animals, spirits, or deities.
"Another group of religious concepts, which are not less important than the group heretofore discussed, refers to the relations of the individual to his internal states, so far as these are not controlled by the will, and are therefore considered as subject to external magic influences. Most important among these are dreams, sickness, and death. These may be produced by obsession, or by external forces which compel the soul to leave the body. In this sense the soul is considered by almost all the tribes as not subject to the individual will; it may be abstracted from the body by hostile forces, and it may be damaged and killed. The concept of the soul itself shows a great variety of forms. Very often the soul is identified with life, but we also find commonly the belief in a multiplicity of souls. . . The soul is also identified with the blood, the bones, the shadow, the nape of the neck. Based on these ideas is also the belief in the existence of the soul after death. Thus, in the belief of the Algonquian Indians of the great lakes, the souls of the deceased are believed to reside in the far west with the brother of the great culture-hero [Nanabozho]. Among the Kutenai the belief prevails that the souls will return at a later period, accompanying the culture-hero. Sometimes the land from which the ancestors of the tribe have sprung, which in the south is often conceived of as underground, is of equal importance.
"Since the belief in the existence of magic powers is very strong in the Indian mind, all his actions are regulated by the desire to retain the good-will of those friendly to him and to control those that are hostile." In order to secure the former, the strict observance of a great variety of proscriptions is needed, many of which fall under the designation of taboos -- especially those of food and of work; also social. There are also found, all over the continent, numerous regulations
267intended to retain the good-will of the food animals, and which are essentially signs of respect shown to them; these are especially in vogue in their hunting. "Respectful behavior toward old people and generally decent conduct are also often counted among such required acts. Here also may be included the numerous customs of purification that are required in order to avoid the ill-will of the powers. These, however, may better be considered as a means of controlling magic power, which form a very large part of the religious observances of the American Indians."
"The Indian is not satisfied with the attempt to avoid the ill-will of the powers, but he tries also to make them subservient to his own needs. This may be attained in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most characteristic of all North American methods of gaining control over supernatural powers is that of the acquisition of one of them as a personal protector. Generally this process is called the acquiring of a manito; and the most common method of acquiring it is for the young man during the period of adolescence to purify himself by fasting, bathing, and vomiting, until his body is perfectly clean and acceptable to the supernatural beings. At the same time the youth works himself by these means, by dancing, and sometimes also by means of drugs, into a trance, in which he has a vision of the guardian spirit which is to protect him through life. These means of establishing communication with the spirit world are in very general use also at other periods of life. The magic power that man thus acquires may give him special abilities; it may make him a successful hunter, warrior, or shaman; or it may give him power to acquire wealth, success in gambling, or the love of women."
Magic power may also, in the belief of many tribes, be attained by inheritance; or it may be purchased; or it may be "transmitted by teaching and by bodily contact with a person who controls such powers." Another means of controlling the powers of nature is by prayer; also may be used charms or fetishes. "The charm is either believed to be the seat of magic power, or it may be a symbol of such power, and its action may be based on its symbolic significance; of the former kind are presumably many objects contained in the sacred bundles of certain Indians, which are believed to be possessed of sacred powers." Symbolic actions and divinations are also used for the same purpose.
"Still more potent means of influencing the powers are offerings and sacrifices. On the whole, these are not as strongly developed in
268North America as they are in other parts of the world. In many regions human sacrifices were common -- for instance, in Mexico and Yucatan -- while in North America they are known only in rare instances, as among the Pawnee. However, many cases of torture, particularly of self-torture, must be reckoned here. Other bloody sacrifices are also rare in North America." On the other hand, sacrifices of tobacco smoke, of corn, and of parts of food, of small manufactured objects, and of symbolic objects, are very common."
Another method is "by incantations, which are in a way related to prayers, but which act rather through the magic influence of the words. . . In the same way that incantations are related to prayer, certain acts and charms are related to offerings. We find among almost all Indian tribes the custom of performing certain acts, which are neither symbolic nor offerings, nor other attempts to obtain the assistance of superior beings, but which are effective through their own potency. Such acts are the use of lucky objects intended to secure good fortune; or the peculiar treatment of animals, plants, and other objects, in order to bring about a change of weather. There is also found among most Indian tribes the idea that the supernatural powers, if offended by transgressions of rules of conduct, may be propitiated by punishment. Such punishment may consist in the removal of the offending individual, who may be killed by the members of the tribe, or the propitiation may be accomplished by milder forms of punishment. . . Other forms of punishment are based largely on the idea of purification by fasting, bathing, and vomiting."
Protection against disease is also sought by the help of superhuman powers. These practices have two distinct forms, according to the fundamental conception of disease. Disease is conceived of principally in two forms - either as due to the presence of a material object in the body of the patient, or as an effect of the absence of the soul from the body. The cure of disease is intrusted to the shamans or medicine-men, who obtain their powers generally by the assistance of guardian spirits, or who may be personally endowed with magic powers. It is their duty to discover the material disease which is located in the patient's body, and which they extract by sucking or pulling with the hands; or to go in pursuit of the absent soul, to recover it, and to restore it to the patient. Both of these forms of shamanism are found practically all over the continent;" but in some regions one of these theories of the cause of sickness predominates, in some the other.
"The belief that certain individuals can acquire control over the powers has also led to the opinion that they may be used to harm enemies. The possession of such control is not always beneficial, but may be used also for purposes of witchcraft. Hostile shamans may throw disease into the bodies of their enemies, or they may abduct their souls. They may do harm by sympathetic means, and control the will-power of others by the help of the supernatural means at their disposal. Witchcraft is everywhere considered as a crime, and is so punished."
"Besides those manifestations of religious belief that relate to the individual, religion has become closely associated with the social structure of the tribes; so that the ritualistic side of religion can be understood only in connection with the social organization of the Indian tribes. Even the fundamental traits of their social organization possess a religious import. This is true particularly of the clans, so far as they are characterized by totems. . . Also in cases where the clans have definite political functions, like those of the Omaha or the Iroquois, these functions are closely associated with religious concepts, partly in so far as their origin is ascribed to myths, partly in so far as the functions are associated with the performance of religious rites. The position of officials is also closely associated with definite religious concepts. Thus, the head of a clan at times is considered as the representative of the mythological ancestor of the clan, and as such is believed to be endowed with superior powers; or the position as officer in the tribe or clan entails the performance of certain definite religious functions. In this sense many of the political functions among Indian tribes are closely associated with what may be termed ‘priestly functions.’ The religious significance of social institutions is most clearly marked in cases where the tribe, or large parts of the tribe, join in the performance of certain ceremonies which are intended to serve partly a political, partly a religious end. Such acts are some of the intertribal ball-games," the sun-dance and the performances of the warrior societies of the plains, and the secret societies in so many tribes. "It is characteristic of rituals in many parts of the world that they tend to develop into a more or less dramatic representation of the myth from which the ritual is derived. For this reason the use of masks is a common feature of these rituals, in which certain individuals impersonate supernatural beings. . . It would seem that the whole system of religious beliefs and practices has developed the more systematically the more strictly the religious practices have come to be
270in the charge of priests. This tendency to systematization of religious beliefs may be observed particularly among the Pueblo and the Pawnee, but it also occurs in isolated cases in other parts of the continent; for instance, among the Bellacoola of British Columbia, and those Algonquian tribes that have the Midewiwin ceremony fully developed. In these cases we find that frequently an elaborate series of esoteric doctrines and practices exist, which are known to only a small portion of the tribe, while the mass of the people are familiar only with part of the ritual and with its exoteric features. For this reason we often find the religious beliefs and practices of the mass of a tribe rather heterogeneous as compared with the beliefs held by the priests. Among many of the tribes in which priests are found we find distinct esoteric societies, and it is not by any means rare that the doctrines of one society are not in accord with those of another. All this is clearly due to the fact that the religious ideas of the tribe are derived from many different sources, and have been brought into order at a later date by the priests charged with the keeping of the tribal rituals. . . It would seem that, on the whole, the import of the esoteric teachings decreases among the more northerly and northeasterly tribes of the continent."
"On the whole, the Indians incline strongly toward all forms of religious excitement. This is demonstrated not only by the exuberant development of ancient religious forms, but also by the frequency with which prophets have appeared among them, who taught new doctrines and new rites, based either on older religious beliefs, or on teachings partly of Christian, partly of Indian origin. Perhaps the best known of these forms of religion is the ghost-dance, which swept over a large part of the continent during the last years of the nineteenth century. But other prophets of similar type and of far-reaching influence were quite numerous. One of these was Tenskwatawa, the famous brother of Tecumseh; another, the seer Smohallah, who founded the sect of Shakers of the Pacific Coast; and even among the Eskimo such prophets have been known, particularly in Greenland." -- FRANZ BOAS, in Handbook Amer. Indians, art. "Religion."
"In their endeavors to secure the help of the supernatural powers, the Indians, as well as other peoples, hold principally three methods: (1) The powers may be coerced by the strength of a ritualistic performance; (2) their help may be purchased by gifts in the form of sacrifices and offerings; or (3) they may be approached by prayer, Frequently the coercing ritualistic performance and the sacrifice are
271accompanied by prayers; or the prayer itself may take a ritualistic form, and thus attain coercive power. In this case the prayer is called an incantation. Prayers may either be spoken words, or they may be expressed by symbolic objects, which are placed so that they convey the wishes of the worshiper to the powers. . . Very often prayers accompany sacrifices. . . Prayers of this kind very commonly accompany the sacrifice of food to the souls of the deceased, as among the Algonquian tribes, Eskimo, and N.W. coast Indians. The custom of expressing prayers by means of symbolic objects is found principally among the southwestern tribes. ["The so-called prayer stick of the Kickapoo was a mnemonic device for Christian prayer." -- WALTER HOUGH.] Prayers are often preceded by ceremonial purification, fasting, the use of emetics and purgatives, which are intended to make the person praying agreeable to the powers. Among the North American Indians the prayer cannot be considered as necessarily connected with sacrifice or as a substitute for sacrifice, since in a great many cases prayers for good luck, for success, for protection, or for the blessing of the powers, are offered quite independently of the idea of sacrifice. While naturally material benefits are the object of prayer in by far the majority of cases, prayers for an abstract blessing and for ideal objects are not by any means absent. . . The Indians pray not only to those supernatural powers which are considered the protectors of man-like the personal guardians or the powers of nature -- but also to the hostile powers who must be appeased." -- FRANZ BOAS, in Handbook Amer. Indians
Tawiskaron was "an imaginary man-being of the cosmogonic philosophy of the Iroquoian and other tribes, to whom was attributed the function of making and controlling the activities and phenomena of winter. He was the Winter God, the Ice King, since his distinctive character is clearly defined in terms of the activities and phenomena of nature peculiar to this season. As an earth-power he was one of the great primal man-beings belonging to the second cosmical period of the mythological philosophy of the Iroquoian, Algonquian, and perhaps other Indians." According to the legends, he was a grandson of AwÄn'ha'i (the Ataentsic of Huron mythology), or Mother Earth; and at his birth his body was composed of flint, and he caused the death of his mother by violently bursting through her armpit -- a fault which he cast on his twin brother, Teharonhiawagon (or Jouskeha of the Hurons), who in consequence was hated by the grandmother. Teharonhiawagon was the embodiment or personification of life; he
272was the creator and maker of the animals, birds, trees, and plants, and finally of man. From his father of mysterious origin he had learned the art of fire-making, and that of agriculture, and how to build a house; and these arts he communicated to mankind. In all his beneficent endeavors he was opposed by Awen'ha'i and Tawiskaron, who continually strove to thwart his plans; but by the counsels of his father and his superior magic power he was able to gain the ascendency over them and became (at a contest in playing the game of bowl) the ruler of the world. "The great and most important New Year ceremony among the Iroquois who still hold to their ancient faith and customs, at which is burned a purely white dog as a sacrifice, is held in honor of Teharonhiawagon for his works, blessings, and goodness, which have been enjoyed by the people." -- J. N. B. HEWITT, in Handbook Amer. Indians.
Tawiskaron is practically identical with Chakekenapok in Algonquian mythology, a younger brother of Nanabozho.
"From time to time in every great tribe and every important crisis of Indian history we find certain men rising above the positron of ordinary doctor, soothsayer, or ritual priest to take upon themselves an apostleship of reform and return to the uncorrupted ancestral belief and custom as the necessary means to save their people from impending destruction by decay or conquest. In some cases the teaching takes the form of a new Indian gospel, the revolutionary culmination of a long and silent development of the native religious thought. As the faithful disciples were usually promised the return of the earlier and happier conditions, the restoration of the diminished game, the expulsion of the alien intruder, and reunion in earthly existence with the priests who had preceded them to the spirit world -- all to be brought about by direct supernatural interposition -- the teachers have been called prophets. While all goes well with the tribe the religious feeling finds sufficient expression in the ordinary ritual forms of tribal usage, but when misfortune or destruction threaten the nation or the race, the larger emergency brings out the prophet, who strives to avert the disaster by molding his people to a common purpose through insistence upon the sacred character of his message and thus furnishes support to the chiefs in their plans for organized improvement or resistance. Thus it is found that almost every great Indian warlike combination has had its prophet messenger at the outset, and if all the
273facts could be known we should probably find the rule universal. Among the most noted of these aboriginal prophets and reformers within our area are: Pope, of the Pueblo revolt of 1680; the Delaware prophet of Pontiac's conspiracy, 1762; Tenskwatawa, the Shawnee Prophet, 1805; Kanakuk, the Kickapoo reformer, 1827; Tavibo, the Paiute, 1870; Nakaidoklini, the Apache, 1881; Smohalla, the dreamer of the Columbia, 1870-1885; and Wovoka or Jack Wilson, the Paiute prophet of the Ghost Dance, 1889 and later." (Consult Mooney, "Ghost Dance Religion," in 14th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, part ii, 1896.) -- JAMES MOONEY, in Handbook Amer. Indians.
The Shawnee Prophet
You are very well acquainted with the residence of the Shawnoe Prophet,
274settled at that place, not that I believe that his first intention was inimical to the views of the United States, but when he found, he had got such influence over the different Indians he immediately changed his discourse and from the instructions he occasionally received from the British, he was continually preaching up the necessity of the Indians to have no intercourse with the Americans; as you will see in his form of prayers that he learnt to all his followers. I was informed by a very Intelligent young man who has been often at the Prophet's village, and who has conversed with the Prophet and Tecumseh, he gave me the following history of the Prophet.
The Prophet with all his brothers are pure Indians of the Shawanoe nation, and when a boy, was a perfect vagabond and as he grew up he would not hunt and became a great drunkard. While he lived near Greenville in the State of Ohio, where spirituous liquor are plenty he was continually intoxicated; having observed some preachers
IstSpirituous liquor was not to be tasted by any Indians on any account whatever.
2nd No Indian was to take more than one wife in future, but those who now had two three or more wives might keep them, but it would please the Great Spirit if they had only one wife.
3rd No Indian was to be runing after the women; if a man was single let him take a wife. Shawnee Prophet
2774thIf any married woman was to behave ill by not paying proper attention to her work, etc., the husband had a right to punish her with a rod, and as soon as the punishment was over, both husband and wife, was to look each other in the face and laugh, and to bear no ill will to each other for what had passed.
5th All Indian women who were living with whitemen was to be brought home to their friends and relations, and their children to be left with their fathers, so that the nations might become genuine Indians.
6th All medicine bags, and all kinds of medicine dances and songs were to exist no more; the medicine bags were to be destroyed in presens of the whole of the people collected for that purpose, and at the destroying of such medicine, etc., every one was to make open
7th No Indian was to sell any of their provision to any white people, they might give a little as a present, as they were sure of getting in return the full value in something else.
8th No Indian was to eat any victuals that was cooked by a White person, or to eat any provisions raised by White people, as bread, beef, pork, fowls, etc.
9th No Indian must offer skins or furs or any thing else for sale, but ask to exchange them for such articles that they may want.
10th Every Indian was to consider the French, English, and Spaniards, as their fathers or friends, and to give them their hand, but they were not to know the Americans on any account, but to keep them at a distance.
IIth All kind of white people's dress, such as hats, coats, etc., were to be given to the first whiteman they met as also all dogs not of their own breed, and all cats were to be given back to white people.
12th The Indians were to endeavour to do without buying any merchandise as much as possible, by which means the game would become plenty, and then by means of bows and arrows, they could hunt and kill game as in former days, and live independent of all white people.
13th All Indians who refused to follow these regulations were to be considered as bad people and not worthy to live, and must be put to
278death. (A Kickapoo Indian was actually burned in the spring of the year 1809 at the old Kickapoo Town for refusing to give up his medicine bag, and another old man and old woman was very near sharing the same fate at the same time and place).
14th The Indians in their prayers prayed to the earth, to be fruitful, also to the fish to be plenty, to the fire and sun, etc., and a certain dance was introduced simply for amusement, those prayers were repeated morning and evening, and they were taught that a diviation from these duties would offend the Great Spirit. There were many more regulations but I now have forgot them, but those above mentioned are the principal ones.
The Prophet had his disciples among every nation of Indians, from Detroit in Michigan Territory, to the Indians on the Mississippi and [I] have since been informed, that, there were disciples of the Prophet, among all the Indians of the Missouri and as far north as Hudson Bay (see Tanner's narrative) always reserving the supreme authority to himself, viz, that he (the Prophet) might be considered the head of the whole of the different nations of Indians, as he only, could see and converse with the Great Spirit. As every nation was to have but one village, by which means they would be always together in case of danger. The Pottawatimie Indians in the course of one season got tired of this strict way of living, and declared off, and joined the main poque,
279"We must not leave this place" (meaning Tipicanoe)
The Kickapoo Prophet
Sometime last month (October, 1832) a party of Kicapoo Indians were encamped near the River des Peres, and about a mile from my place of residence (my farm). Curiosity led me to go and see them, as I was formerly acquainted with some of their old people. I found them to be the Prophet or Preachers
281preaching of the Prophet of the Kicapoo Indians, is the commencement of a religion which will take place among all the different Indian nations, who are, and are to be settled, in a country west of this State (Missouri) and my present impression is, that it ought to be encouraged by the government as it inculcates peace and good will to all men. I have been informed that the above party on their way to their place of destination, were seen punishing several of their people with a whip, for something they done wrong. -- THOMAS FORSYTH (memorandum at end of vol. IX of Forsyth Papers).
The Winnebago Mescal-eaters
In this connection, the following note is of especial interest. It is furnished by Mr.Thomas R. Roddy (also known as "White Buffalo" ). Among that tribe considerable progress has been made in late years by a "new religion," popularly designated as that of the "mescal-eaters," or the "mescal-button." Our readers are indeed fortunate in having this interesting account of its history and results, from so authoritative a source; it is sent to the editor by Mr. Roddy from Winnebago, Neb., under date of April 15, 1909. -- ED.
I enclose a short history of the Mescal-eaters of the Winnebago tribe, as I know them from personal experience among them, and from conversations with the leading members of the cult. The name of Mescal-eaters is generally used, and its members call themselves by it, in their talk; but it is erroneous, as these people never used the mescal-bean in any form. This is a small red bean, nearly round, and similar in shape to the common navy bean; while what the Winnebagoes and many other tribes use is called "peyote,"
282cactus growth, found in southern Texas and Mexico. It is a round, flat pod, one to two inches in diameter; it is used in their church services, being eaten and also made into tea, which is passed to the members at intervals during services. These services are usually held Saturday nights, beginning about eight o'clock, and lasting till about the same hour Sunday morning; and are of a very religious and solemn nature. God is their guide, and they use the Bible and quotations from it all through the services; they have short speeches by the members, singing of sacred songs, and playing on the small medicine drum; and they use the sacred gourd rattle, on which are traced drawings of Christ, the cross and crown, the shepherd's crook, and other religious emblems. The drawings or carvings are done with great skill and show the work of an artist. Each member on joining is presented with one of these musical gourds, which he uses during services. Speeches are usually made in their native Indian tongue, but when whites are present the speech is interpreted into the English language. On this reservation the membership is about three hundred, and they have a very comfortable church. When they visit where there is no church they erect a large cloth tepee, and hold services here for winning converts. Their altar is in the shape of a heart, about eight feet in length, and is built of cement; the members sit around this altar.
Medicine-eating can be traced back in this country about 200 years; it was first introduced by the Miskarora [I.e., Mescaleros], a tribe of old Mexico, among the Apaches and Timgas of Oklahoma -- the Apaches introducing it among the Comanches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Otoes. Twelve years ago the Otoes brought the new religion to the Winnebagoes and Omahas of Nebraska, where now about one-third of each tribe are members; and they are the most prosperous people of the tribe. In talking with Albert Hensley, one of the prominent leaders, he said: "The mescal was formerly used improperly, but since it has been used in connection with the Bible it is proving a great benefit to the Indians. Now we call our church the Union Church, instead of Mescal-eaters. Our ways may seem peculiar to
283some people, but our worship is earnest, and [we address] the same God as others do. We are doing this not to protect this medicine, but for God, as others do, and are not trying to deceive other Christian people. In doing so we would destroy ourselves and our God. Some try to stop our worshiping, but it is the work of God and cannot be stopped." Medicine-eating is praised highly by the members, and opposed as bitterly by the other faction. I have attended several of the meetings, and have also experienced the eating and drinking of the "peyote" medicine, with no bad effects. It is very surprising, the way the Indians have become familiar with the Bible, and how closely they try to follow the teachings of Jesus. By using the medicine in connection with the Bible, they are able to understand the Bible. Many members I have known twenty-five or thirty years, who formerly had been greatly addicted to the use of liquors and tobacco, and other vices; all have quit these bad habits and live for their religion. I cannot see wherein their minds have become impaired, as many talk and write, but I can see great improvements and advancement among the members. They are the best business men among this tribe, and their credit is good wherever they are known. John Rave, the leader, is one of the old-type Indians, of fine personal appearance, and has used the medicine twelve years; and any one would be pleased to engage him in conversation and hear his explanations of the Bible, and talk on the benefits and happiness enjoyed through this new religion. One wrong and misleading fact is the name "Mescal-eaters," which seems to cling to the minds of the general public. The Winnebagoes have the credit of being the first to use the Bible in conjunction with this medicine.
See note 76 for sketch of this chief -- ED.