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قراءة كتاب Legends of The Kaw: The Folk-Lore of the Indians of the Kansas River Valley

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‏اللغة: English
Legends of The Kaw: The Folk-Lore of the Indians of the Kansas River Valley

Legends of The Kaw: The Folk-Lore of the Indians of the Kansas River Valley

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

hunters, disguised as wolves, advanced in a body until within sight, then scattered, forming a large circle, which gradually became less, as they closed in upon the animals. When near enough to begin the attack, a man shouted to attract attention, and the startled buffaloes ran, some one way and some another. Wherever they turned, an Indian, casting off his wolf skin, sprang up and drove them back. At length, the Pawnees, yelling and waving blankets and shooting in the midst of the herd, wore them out. The great beasts, when too tired to run, were easily despatched.


Before the advent of the trader, all portions of the buffalo were utilized. Hoes were made from the shoulder blades, needles from bone, spoons and ladles from the horns, ropes from the hair, lariats from raw-hide, clothing from the dressed skins, and blankets and tents from the robes. Pottery was formed from clay mixed with pounded stone, moulded in hollows in stumps of trees, and baked. Wooden mortars and bowls were hollowed out by fire.

The Pawnee nation was ruled by a head chief of the Chau´-i band. The office was hereditary but became difficult to retain if the chief were unpopular. Each band was governed by four chiefs. Important affairs were discussed in council, by chiefs, head men and warriors. Personal character determined position, and the opinions of the majority prevailed. There was a servant class, composed of young men and boys, who lived in the families of men of prominence and performed menial offices.

Breech-clouts, leggings, moccasins and blankets or buffalo robes comprised the clothing of the men. Their heads were shaved, with the exception of a narrow strip extending from each forehead to the back of the head. The ridge of hair, less than an inch in length, was stiffened to stand upright. From this fell the scalp-lock. The women were accustomed to wear sleeveless shirts and skirts reaching below the knees; also robes or blankets when necessary. There was no head covering, except on great occasions, when some of the men donned chaplets of eagle feathers. Red and yellow paint were used on breasts and faces for ornament, while black paint was reserved for war. Boys were permitted to go nude until ten or twelve years of age; but girls dressed in little shirts almost as soon as they could walk. Infants were placed upon boards.

A visitor at the home of a Pawnee chief, in the village on the Kansas River, about the year 1839, described the toilet of the host's son as extremely fanciful. On days when there was no hunt, the dandy began at eight o'clock in the morning, by greasing his entire person with fat, and painting his face red. Earrings and wampum necklaces were worn, and yellow stripes adorned breast and shoulders. Armlets were placed above his elbows and rings upon his fingers. Handsomely decorated moccasins, scarlet leggings fastened to a belt, and bead garters four inches wide, formed important parts of the costume. One of the women led his horse before the tent. Its forehead and shoulders were painted red and a feather fastened in its tail. Chains of steel were attached to the bridle and bells to the reins. A scarlet mantle was thrown over the young man's shoulders, and thus arrayed, with a large turkey feather fan in one hand, and a whip upon his wrist, he ambled through the encampment, eliciting admiration on all sides.

At a social gathering, the guest sang for the entertainment of the Indians, and requested them to give him an example of their songs. The white man portrayed the result in the following language:

"All rose at once. Each singer began by strange and uncouth sounds, to work his mind and lungs up to the proper pitch of excitement; and when, at length, the shrill and terrible cry rose to its full height, its effect was astounding and sufficient to deafen a delicate ear."

The song, to which the savages kept time with heads and bodies, was allowed to fall into monotonous cadence, then burst forth into full chorus, with mingled howls and yells.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, Pawnee courtships were peculiar. The lover first went to the father's tent, uninvited, and sat in a corner of the mat for some time, then rose and departed without speaking. A few days later, he returned, wearing his buffalo robe hair side out, and sat silent. This was a regular proposal. If the father desired to reject him at once, no skin was placed for him to sit upon and no meat was offered him. If the suit met with approval, the rites of hospitality were extended and feasts were given to obtain the consent to the marriage, of the relatives of both families. The young man next presented himself to his bride at the door of her tent, turned and walked slowly toward his own. She arose and followed him. The ceremony of marriage was then complete. Presents of horses, blankets and other valuables were sent to the father of the young woman.

Plural marriage was practiced, the husband being entitled to wed the younger sisters of his first wife.

In the permanent villages on the Platte River, circular lodges were built of sod. Every house had a wall seven or eight feet in height, around which, upon the floor, the inmates slept, each bed being partitioned or curtained off. Hanging upon the wall or in the space back of the bed, were the belongings of its occupant. The center of the house was reserved for cooking, smoke escaping through an aperture in the roof. Skin lodges were used when traveling or upon the semi-annual hunt. Each family had many dogs.

After spring planting, the people abandoned their villages for the summer hunt, returning in time for harvest. Religious ceremonies, with fervent prayers to Ti-ra´-wa, the invisible yet ever-present Creator, preceded departure. The Buffalo Dance, executed by the younger warriors, came next. This continued for three days, when the line of march was taken up. Tents, cooking utensils and the entire property of the tribe having been packed on ponies and removed to the vicinity of a large herd of buffaloes, camp was established and preparations made for curing the meat when it should be brought in. Approaching to make the attack, a limited number of chosen men, led by standard-bearers with sacred poles wrapped in bright colored cloth and ornamented with bead-work and feathers, advanced first. The remainder of the hunters followed. After the slaughter, the squaws, with their sharp knives, amid much merriment, cut and bore away to the camp the most desirable portions of meat.

Ti-ra´-wa, the Pawnee deity, was not personified, being intangible and in and of everything. The nation did not adore any material substance, but, like all aboriginal people, attributed to animals an intelligence sometimes exceeding that of man. As the messengers of God, the Na-hu´-rac received miraculous power through him, hence were often implored to intercede with Ti-ra´-wa. In cases of great emergency, direct intercession became necessary. A party prayed for success and made sacrifices before starting on the war-path. Victory was acknowledged by thanksgiving offerings. War parties were made up by anyone with a grievance, if he had sufficient influence to secure followers. Frequently scalps taken from the heads of enemies were burned with much ceremony.