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Notchimine, Ioway Chief
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This individual is a village chief, or peace chief, of the Ioway, and resides at Snake Hill, on the Missouri, about five hundred miles above the confluence of that river with the Mississippi. He was about forty years of age when this portrait was taken, in 1837, His brief history, like many others contained in this series, was taken from his own recital through the medium of an interpreter, and adds another to the many evidences afforded in these volumes of the sameness of the tenor of an Indian warrior’s life. Whatever may have been his vicissitudes, his joys or his sorrows, he tells only of his warlike exploits. The touching episodes of domestic life, which, in the autobiography of a civilized man, afford such varied and agreeable pictures of human thought and experience, have scarcely a place in the narrative of the savage. He may have a relish for home, and a strong love for those who surround his camp fire friendship, and paternal love, and conjugal affection may have inter woven their tendrils with the fibers of his heart, and his bosom may have often throbbed in joy or in sorrow, but he is silent in regard to all such emotions. Whatever may have been his experience, he has not observed, attentively, the lights and shadows of domestic life, or scorns to narrate them, but delights in depicting the storms that he has braved in the chase or on the war-path.
Notchimine, or, No Heart, remembers that, when a boy, he killed squirrels and other small game with the bow and arrow, and that, when he grew to be a young man, he used a gun, and pursued the deer and the elk. While yet a youth, he joined a war-party, and went against the Otoe, but the expedition was unsuccessful. His next adventure was with a party under the Orator, when the only trophy gained was the scalp of an old Indian. Again he went against the Osages, with a large war-party, of which his father, Mauhawgaw, was leader, and Wanathurgo was second in command: they killed ten Osages, of whom Notchimine, though still a boy, scalped one. The next time, he went under his brother, the White Cloud, against the Sioux. Having discovered an encampment of the enemy, who were sleeping around four fires, they crept stealthily upon them, spending the whole night in watching and approaching the foe. At daybreak, they rushed with sudden onset and loud yells upon the encampment, Notchimine being mounted on the same horse with White Cloud. A lad about his own age struck down with a club the first of the enemy who fell. The Sioux scattered themselves over the prairie, and the fight became general. The White Cloud, abandoning his horse, dashed into the battle on foot, and took a woman prisoner. This expedition was undertaken to revenge the death of the father of White Cloud, who had been killed by the Sioux.
Notchimine now took command of a party of twenty-five warriors, and went against the Osages, but did not succeed in meeting with any of the latter. An unsuccessful war-party is always dangerous to friend or foe; disappointed in their purposes of revenge or plunder, they become more than ordinarily -ferocious, and wreak their fury upon any helpless wanderers who may fall in their way. It was so with this party. Meeting two Kansas, a man and his wife, they murdered them; the leader taking upon himself the distinguished honor of killing, with his own hand, the woman, who was very handsome. The spoil gained by this exploit was six horses, of whom they killed four, and retained the others. Nor did the gallant adventures of this courageous band end here. Five years previously, the Omaha had killed a son of the Crane, an Ioway leader, who had marched against them, and now, finding an Omaha squaw at the house of a trader, they endeavored, with pious zeal, to appease the spirit of the dead by whipping her; and again, by killing a Pawnee squaw, who was so unfortunate as to fall into their hands. These facts throw a strong light upon the principle, or, rather, impulse, of revenge, which constitutes so prominent a feature in the Indian character, and in the history and policy of the savage tribes. If it was a sense of honor, a desire to wipe out an insult, or any other feeling usually comprehended under the term chivalric, which stimulated the Indian to the pursuit of vengeance, the lives of women and children would be secure from his resentment. But we find that the Indian, when seeking revenge, and especially when foiled in an attempt upon the primary object of his hatred, becomes possessed of an insatiate and insane thirst for blood, which impels him to feed his passion, not only with the carnage of the helpless of the human race, but even by the slaughter of domes tic animals.
Still prosecuting the ancient feud with the Osages, our hero was subsequently one of a party of twelve who went against that tribe under Totanahuca, the Pelican. They captured fifty-six horses. Then he went against the Omaha, and, on this occasion, distinguished himself by rushing into a lodge, in which were horses as well as people, and capturing seven horses, three of which he carried home, leaving four that were of little value. His next expedition against the O sages was bloodless, eventuating in the capture of a few horses.
Two years ago, he endeavored, unsuccessfully, to make peace with the Omaha, whose village he visited for that purpose. He afterwards went to St. Louis to effect the same object through the intervention of General Clark, when it was arranged that he should visit Washington.
He says that the practice of his people has been, previously to going to war, to send out hunters to kill a deer, which is eaten, and a prayer for success made to the Great Spirit. On such occasions, he has had dreams, and, according to the belief of his fathers, put full faith in them. Previous to going out as leader of a party, he dreamed of taking two prisoners; in the event, one of the enemy was taken, and one killed, which he deemed a sufficient fulfillment. In some instances, possibly, the wanton cruelty of the Indians, displayed in the slaughter of women, or of chance captives not taken in battle, may be the result of a desire, or a fancied necessity, to fulfill a dream. The faculty of dreaming is, in many respects, so important to the leader of an ignorant and superstitious band, and is so frequently exerted for the purpose of quelling or directing the savage mind, that the chiefs have a strong inducement to bring about events in accordance with their real or pretended visions.
This chief has but one wife and three children living. Since killing the Pawnee woman, he has inclined to peace, and has been friendly towards the whites.
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