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Origin of the Osages

The following tradition is taken from the official records of the St. Louis Superintendency. The Osages believe that the first man of their nation came out of a shell, and that this man, when walking on earth, met with the Great Spirit, who asked him where he resided, and what he eat. The Osage answered, that he had no place of residence, and that he eat nothing. The Great Spirit gave him a bow and arrows, and told him to go a-hunting. So soon as the Great Spirit left him, he killed a deer. The Great Spirit gave him fire, and told him to cook his meat, and to eat. He also told him to take the skin and cover himself with it, and also the skins of other animals that he would kill. One day, as the Osage was hunting, he came to a small river to drink. He saw in the river a beaver hut, on which was sitting the chief of the family. He asked the Osage what he was looking for, so near his lodge. The Osage answered that, being thirsty, he was forced to come and drink at that place. The beaver then asked him who he was, and from whence he came. The Osage answered, that he had come from hunting, and that he had no place of residence. “Well, then,” said the beaver, “you appear to be a reasonable man. I wish you to come and live with me. I have a large family, consisting of many daughters, and if any of them should be agreeable to you, you may marry.” The...

Iroquois Cosmogony

Iroquois Cosmogony: The tribes who compose this group of the Indians, concur in locating the beginning of creative power in the upper regions of space. Neo, or the Great Spirit of Life, is placed there. Atahocan is the master of heaven. Tarenyawagon, who is thought to be the same as Michabou, Chiabo, Manabozho, and the Great Hare, is called the keeper of the Heavens. Agreskoe1 is the god of war. Atahentsic is the woman of heaven. The beginning of the creation, or of man, is connected with her history. One of the six of the original number of created men of heaven was enamored of her immediately after seeing her. Atahocan, having discovered this amour, cast her out headlong to the earth. She was received below on the back of a great turtle lying on the waters, and was there delivered of twins. One of them was Inigorio, or the Good Mind; the other Anti-inigorio, or the Bad Mind. The good and the evil principles were thus introduced into the world. Both were equally active, but the latter perpetually employed himself in counteracting the acts of the former. The tortoise expanded more and more, and finally became the earth. Atahentsic afterwards had a daughter, who bore two sons, YOS-KE-KA and THO-IT-SA-RON. YOS-KE-KA in the end killed his brother, and afterwards, Atahentsic, his grandmother, resigned the government of the world to him. The Iroquois affirm that Atahentsic is the same as the moon, and YOS-KE-KA, the same as the sun. These things are elements of the earliest and best authenticated relations. They appear to denote a mixture of some of the dogmas...

Algonquian Pictography

Pictorial inscriptions of the character of the Muzzinabiks of the Western Indians, particularly of those of the Algonquin type of languages, are to be traced eastward from Lake Superior and the sources of the Mississippi, on the back line of their migration, through Lake Huron, by its northern communications, to the shores of the Northern Atlantic. One of these has been previously alluded to as existing on the Straits of St. Mary’s, and it is believed that the art will be found to have been in use, and freely employed at all periods of their history, embracing the residence of then ancestors on the shores of the Atlantic. The ancient inscription existing at the mouth of the Assonet or Taunton River (Dighton Rock), between the States of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, is believed to be a record, essentially, of this symbolic character, inscribed around an old Scandinavian inscription. It is found that very few essential changes in their forest arts or character have taken place among the North American tribes for several centuries. There is scarcely anything more worthy of remark than this general fixity of character, and indisposition to change, or adopt any new traits, or abandon any old ones. The state of a society, simple and erratic, and molded together on the basis of petty predatory wars and hunting, did not demand extraordinary efforts. The arts that sufficed one gene ration sufficed the next. There was always a sanctity, in their localities, and a strong appeal to prejudice in a reference to ancestral customs, and to places of actual residence and achievements. There was never a more...

Rock Writing or Muzzinabikon

Rock Writing or Muzzinabikon: The application of picture-writing among the Native American tribes to record transactions in their daily life. From its first or simple drawings in the inscription of totems and memorials on grave-posts, through the various methods adopted to convey information on sheets of bark, scarified trees, and other substances, and through the institutions and songs of the Meda, and the Wabeno societies, the mysteries of the Jeesukawin, the business of hunting, and the incidents of war and affection. It remains only to consider their use in an historical point of view, or in recording, in a more permanent form than either of the preceding instances, such transactions in the affairs of a wandering forest life as appear to them to have demanded more labored attempts to preserve.

Skeleton In Armor

The following description of certain human skeletons, supposed to be in armor, found at Fall River, or Troy, in Massachusetts, is from the pen of George Gibbs, Esq. It is drawn with that writer’s usual caution and archaeological acumen.

Dighton Rock Inscriptions

An in-depth look at the Dighton Rock inscriptions, including a descriptive analysis of the petroglyphs by the Iroquioan Meda, Chingwauk, in 1839 at the behest of Henry Schoolcraft. Included with the article are Henry’s own deductions based on several decades of research into the early North American petroglyphic arts. Photographs of the rock, as well as drawn replications of both the petroglyph and the inscriptions upon it.

Indian Tribes of the South Pass of the Rocky Mountains

The Salt Lake Basin; The Valley Of The Great Säaptin, Or Lewis River, And The Pacific Coasts Of Oregon. By Nathaniel J. Wyeth, Esq. Synopsis. Letter I. Object of Inquiry. Period of Residence. Letter II. Question of Affinity of the Shoshonees by Language. Means of Subsistence. True Name Bonacks. Scarcity of Game. Game and Trapping. No social Organization among the Tribes. Utter Ignorance. Introduction of the Horse an Era. No Cultivation whatever. No Laws. No Ideas of Rights of Property. Foot Tribes cannot cope with Tribes possessing Horses. The Horse, therefore, the Cause of Division, and Tribal Organization. Letter III. Influence of the Introduction of the Horse on the American Tribes. Letter IV. Geography of the Säaptin River. Hydrographic Power. Salmon. Hot Springs abundant. Fossil Wood. Blue Limestone. Reddish Sandstone. Bitumen. Coal. Glauber, Epsom, and Common Salts. Obsidian. Very dry Atmosphere; consequent danger of handling Fire Arms. Extraordinary range of the Thermometer. Grazing. Scarcity of Fuel. Wood alone on the Mountains. Letter V. Implements of the Shoshonees. Root-Pot. Bows of Horn artistically made. Obsidian Arrow -Heads; their shape. Obsidian Knife. Graining Tools. Bone Awls. Fish Spears. Fish Nets. Boats or Rafts. Pipes of Fuller s Earth and Soapstone. Mats resembling the Chinese. Implement for obtaining Fire by Percussion. Letter VI. Transmitting Remarks on the Snake River Valley, &c. Letter VII. Language of the Shoshonees. Destitution; eat pounded Bones. Mildness, and unaccountable want of Moral Sense or Accountability. Murder of Abbot and De Forest. Submissive under Discipline. Origin at different Eras and from different Parts. Resemblance to Japanese. Letter VIII. Reason for not beginning Geographically. Breadth of the Inquiry. A...

Traditions of the Ante-Columbian Epoch

On this subject, we are confined to narrow limits. Three or four of the chief stocks now between the Equinox and the Arctic Circle, have preserved traditions which it is deemed proper to recite. 1. In the voyages of Sir Alexander Mackenzie among the Arctic tribes, he relates of the Chepeweyan, that ” they have a tradition that they originally came from another country, inhabited by very wicked people, and had traversed a great lake, which was narrow and shallow, and full of islands, where they had suffered great misery, it being always winter, with ice and deep snow.”1 In a subsequent passage, p. 387, he remarks ” Their progress (the great Athapasca family) is easterly, and according to their own tradition, they came from Siberia; agreeing in dress and manners with the people now found upon the coasts of Asia.” 2. The Shawanoes, an Algonquin tribe, have a tradition of a foreign origin, or a landing from a sea voyage. John Johnston, Esq., who was for many years their agent, prior to 1820, observes, in a letter of July 7th, 1819, published in the first volume of Archaeologia Americana, p. 273, that they migrated from West Florida, and parts adjacent, to Ohio and Indiana, where this tribe was then located. “The people of this nation,” he observes, “have a tradition that their ancestors crossed the sea. They are the only tribe with which I am acquainted, who admit a foreign origin. Until lately, they kept yearly sacrifices for their safe arrival in this country. From where they came, or at what period they arrived in America, they do...

Tribal Organization, History and Government

There are about seventy tribes, nearly all of whom are susceptible of being generalized into five ethnological groups, who have constituted the object of our policy and laws, during the three-fourths of a century that the Republic has exercised sovereignty over them. No tribe which was in existence in 1776 has become extinct. The wars that have been maintained on the frontiers have been purely wars of defense. They have never been wars of aggression, the object of which has been, in any sense, the acquisition of territory. Nor have the tribes in these contests suffered depopulation. The loss of numbers in battle has been light, compared with the slow, heavy, onward march of fixed and permanent causes, contravening the maxims of industry and population which have marked their long intervals of peace. National vanity; the pursuit of the false and exhausting objects of the chase; the neglect of agriculture; the pride that has kept young men from learning trades, while mechanics were employed to teach them; and the general use of distilled drinks, have at all times had a most inauspicious bearing. But, over and above all, the prolongation of the period of the maxims and customs of Indian society, as they are evinced in the disregard of thriftful housewifery by the Indian females; and the fiscal means which the tribes have so profusely reveled in, by the annual waste of their cash annuities. These have been the great means of their depression and declension in every period of our brief history. The Indian communities on our borders have not labored for to-morrow. They have languished and declined...

Tribes on the Santa Fe Trail, and at the Foot of the Rocky Mountains

The tendency of the Indian population, which stretches over the prairies east of the Rocky Mountains, is towards the south and southwest. The Cheyennes, or Chawas, who once lived on a tributary of the Red River of Hudson’s Bay, crossed the Missouri, in consequence of the arrival of the Algonquian tribes on the sources of the Mississippi. The latter went as far north as the summit of the Portage du Trait, in their progress towards Athabasca Lake. The Chawas are now found very high on the Nebraska, and pressing onwards southward, below the mountains. The Sioux, or Dacotas, of the Missouri are pressing in the same direction, occupying positions less westerly. The Dacotas of the Mississippi, who have not yet broken up their more easterly villages in Minnesota, are destined to pass in the same direction. The pres sure upon these tribes is from the north. They have receded, in the last quarter of a century, (dating from the treaty of boundaries of Prairie du Chien, in 1825,) before the military ardor of the Algonquins, and cannot now be said to have permanent or safe footing north of the river St. Peters. The Arapahoes, who infest the sources of the Platte and Arkansas, are a part of the Atsina, or Fall Indians of the Blackfoot stock, and once lived on the Assinabwoin and Saskatchiwine. The Minnatarees and Gross Venires proper, who speak the Absaroka or Crow language, are, to a great extent, mingled with the parent tribe, and occupy the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. These snowy peaks are so elevated as to prevent their being crossed at...

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