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Hunting Customs of the Omahas

In the life of the American Indian so much has ever depended upon the skill of the hunter that in the hazards of the chase he has sought supernatural aid to supplement his own inadequate powers; thus, in every tribe, we find rites connected with hunting carefully observed, and frequently forming an important part of the tribal ceremonies. Mention has been made, in my previous papers, of the Indian’s custom of retiring into the forest or to the mountain to fast, that there might come to him in a vision some manifestation of the powers of nature. Whatever appears in this vision,-beast or bird, or symbolic form,- the man makes diligent search for its natural counterpart, and secures it as an amulet; or, in some tribes, he makes a model in wood or stone, which he carries always with him, to bring the game near while he recruits his strength in sleep or needed rest. Songs also which come in dreams are believed to be able to beguile by their mysterious power the deer and the elk, and to entice the beaver to enter the trap; but notwithstanding this dependence upon the supernatural for aid, the Indian hunter does not neglect expedients of a very practical sort. He resorts to strategy: he covers himself with the skin of a deer, and, fastening the branching antlers upon his head, creeps among the unsuspecting herd, and sends his keen arrow with fatal precision; he entices the eagle to its prey, beneath which he lies concealed; he brings the elk within his reach by imitating the cries of its young; he spreads...

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