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The character of this brave is indicated by his name, which means, He that inflicts the first wound, and expresses the idea that he is foremost in battle. He is of the Yankton tribe, of the Sioux nation, and is one of two persons who officiate as a kind of conservators of order within the village or encampment of the band. This office is never executed except by warriors of high repute, who can command respect and obedience in consequence of their personal influence. Among savages, mere rank gives little authority unless it be sustained by weight of character. In each band of the Sioux several distinguished warriors are appointed, whose duty is to maintain order, and to notice every departure from the established discipline. These duties are not sufficiently well defined to enable us to describe them with any particularity; they are of a discretionary nature, and depend much upon the temper and character of the individuals who discharge them, and who, to some extent, make the rules which they enforce. As those over whom it is necessary to exert their authority are chiefly the unruly and the young, the ill trained, rapacious, and idle, who hang loosely upon the community, the women, the children, and the stranger, they usually execute summary justice upon the spot, according to their own notions of propriety, and inflict blows without scruple when they deem it necessary. In case of resistance, or refusal to obey, they do not hesitate to put the offender to death.
Tokakon and his colleague have long maintained the reputation of strict disciplinarians, and their authority is greatly respected by their people. This is especially observable on the arrival of a white man, or a party of whites, at their village. If these persons take the strangers under their protection, no one presumes to molest them: if the sword or the war club of one of them is seen at the door of the white man’s lodge, the sign is well understood, and no Indian ventures to intrude.