Collection: Archives Of Aboriginal Knowledge

Aishkun, or Bone Awl

Men’s and women’s clothes were before the discovery made of skins, or dressed leather. It was necessary to the formation of garments for the body and legs, and shoes for the feet, that some hard and sharp instrument should be employed, capable of readily penetrating the skin or leather. The method of the ancient species of sewing of our tribes resembled that of a modern cordwainer rather than of a seamstress or tailor. Leather, dressed or undressed, being the material to be put together, this was accomplished by making holes in the edges of the garment or skin, and...

Read More

Javelin, or Indian Shemagon or Spear

This antique implement was one of the most efficacious, in close encounters, before the introduction of iron weapons. A fine specimen of it was brought to me, at Michillimackinac, in (August) 1837, by a noted chief, called MUKONS E-WYON, or the Little Bear Skin, of the Manistee river of the northern peninsula. The following is a facsimile of it. (Plate 26, Figure 2.) The material is of a yellowish chert. It is seven inches long, and one and a half wide at the lower end, which is chipped thin to admit the splints by which it was fastened to...

Read More

Balista or Demon’s Head

Algonquin tradition affirms, that in ancient times during the fierce wars which the Indians carried on, they constructed a very formidable instrument of attack, by sewing up a large round boulder in a new skin. To this a long handle was tied. When the skin dried, it became very tight around the stone; and after being painted with devices, assumed the appearance and character of a solid globe upon a pole. This formidable instrument, to which the name of balista may be applied, is figured (Plate 15, Fig 2) from the description of an Algonquin chief. It was borne by several warriors, who acted as balisteers. Plunged upon a boat, or canoe, it was capable of sinking it. Brought down among a group of men on a sudden, it produced consternation and...

Read More

Coin or its Equivalent to the Indian

The discovery of America caused a total revolution in the standard of value among the Indian tribes. Exchanges among them had been adjusted to a great extent, by articles in kind. Among the northern tribes, skins appear to have been a standard. A beaver skin long continued to be the plus, or multiple of value. But however general this standard might have been, it is certain that among the tribes seated along the north Atlantic, some varieties, or parts of species of sea-shells, under the names of peag, seawan, and wampum, became a sort of currency, and had the...

Read More

Stone Bill, or Tomahawk

The pointed mace, found in the early North American graves and barrows, is uniformly of a semi-lunar form. It appears to have been the Cassetete or head-breaker, such as we can only ascribe to a very rude state of society. It was employed by warriors prior to the introduction of the agakwut and tomahawk. All the specimens examined have an orifice in the center of the curve for the insertion of a handle. Its object was to penetrate, by its sharp points, the skull of the adversary. This was not done by cutting, as with the agakwut or mace, but by perforating the cranium by its own gravity, and the superadded force of the warrior. In an attack, it must have been a powerful weapon. A specimen (Figure 1, Plate 11) obtained through the intervention of F. Follett, Esq., from a small mound on the banks of the Tonawanda, near Batavia, New York, is of the following dimensions. Length, eight inches: breadth, one and a half inches: thickness, about one and a quarter inches. The material is a neutral-colored siliceous slate, exquisitely worked and polished. Its weight is half a pound. Another specimen (Figure 2, Plate 11) from Oakland County, Michigan, has both the lunar points slightly broken off, yet it weighs six and a half ounces. It is of the same material, but striped. It is, in all respects, a stouter instrument....

Read More


This instrument was used by the aborigines of this continent, for crushing the zea maize, and for reducing quartz, feldspar, or shells, to a state, which permitted it to be mixed with the clays of which their pottery was made. The first use is best exemplified by the excavated block of stone, formerly and still employed by the Aztecs, for making tortillas. Of the mortar for pounding stones to temper their pottery, a specimen is herewith figured, (Figs. 6 and 7, Plate 27.) This ancient implement, which is double-chambered, was discovered by the writer in the Seneca country, in...

Read More

Ice Cutters

All the tribes of high northern latitudes employ, at the present day, a chisel of iron of peculiar construction, during the winter season, to perforate the ice of the lakes and rivers, for the purpose of fishing and taking beaver. This instrument replaces in the history of their customs, a horn, which their ancestors used for the same purpose. The practice prevails particularly among the lake tribes, who rely much on fish for their subsistence, and reaches so far south as north latitude 40°, and as far inland as the streams and waters become permanently frozen. The ancient horn consisted of a single prong of the antlers of the deer or elk. This was tied firmly to a handle of wood, four or five feet long. We should not know of this ancient instrument, were it not that the natives call at our government shops for an iron chisel, to perform the same...

Read More

Fleshing Tools or Stone Chisel

It is known that in skinning an animal, there will always remain some parts of the flesh and integuments to the skin. With a hunter, the operation of skinning is often done in haste, and when there is ever so much leisure, still the fear of cutting the skin, induces the flayer rather to infringe upon the carcass than endanger the value of the hide. In the hunter state of society, it becomes the duty of the women to dress and prepare the skins taken in the chase. For this purpose, the skins are stretched in the green state...

Read More

Algonquian Language

Algonquian Words 1. Substantives Spiritual and Human Existence: Terms of Consanguinity: Names of Parts of the Human Frame. 1. God Manitoo Gen. xxiv. 26 2. Devil Mannitoosh  Job i. 7.  Chepian. Life of Eliot, p. 97 3.Angel English employed. 4. Man Wosketomp 5. Woman Mittomwossis Gen. xxiv. 8. Job xxi. 9. 6. Boy Mukkutchouks Job iii. 5 7. Girl, or maid Nunksqua Gen. xvi. 24. Luke viii. 54. Ps. clviii. 12 8. Virgin 1It must be evident, that if there be no equivalent for this word as contradistinguished from No. 7, there ran be no translation of Mat. i. 18, and the parallel passages of Luke, &c., which will convey to the Indian mind the doctrine of the mystery of the incarnation. Penomp Gen. xxiv. 16. Job xxxiii. 4. Isa. vii. 14. Mat. i. 23 9. Infant, or child Mukkie Gen. xxv. 22. Job xxxiii. 25 10. Father, my Noosh Gen. xxii. 7. Luke x. 21 11. Mother Nokas Song of Sol. iii. 4 12. Husband Munumayenok Gen. xxx. 15 13. Wife Nunaumonittumwos Job xxxi. 10 14. Son Nunaumon Gen. xxiv. 6 15. Daughter Nuttanis Mat. ix. 22 16. Brother Nemetat Song of Sol. xiii. 1 17. Sister Nummissis. Netompas Song of Sol. iv. 9 18. An Indian 19. A white man 20. Head Uppuhkuk Mark xiv. 3. Song of Sol. v. 2 21. Hair Meesunk Lev. xi. 41....

Read More

The History of the Little Orphan who Carries the White Feather

A Dacota Legend There was an old man with his grandchild, whom he had taken when quite an infant, who lived in the middle of a forest. The child had no other relative. They had all been destroyed by six large giants, and he was not informed that he ever had any other parent or protector than his grandfather. The nation to whom he belonged had put up their children as a wager against those of the giants, upon a race, which the giants gained, and thus destroyed all the other children. Being the sixth child, he was called Chácopee. There was a prediction, that there would be a great man of this nation, who would wear a white feather, and who would astonish every one with his skill and bravery. The grandfather gave the child a bow and some arrows to play with. He went into the woods and saw a rabbit, but not knowing what it was, he came to his grand father and described it to him. He told him what it was, and that it was good to eat, and that if he shot one of his arrows at it, he would probably kill it. He did so; and in this manner he continued on hunting under the instructions of his grandfather, acquiring skill in killing deer and other large animals, and he became an...

Read More

The Magic Circle In The Prairie

A young hunter found a circular path one day in a prairie, without any trail leading to, or from it. It was smooth and well-beaten, and looked as if footsteps had trod in it recently. This puzzled and amazed him. He hid himself in the grass near by, to see what this wonder should betoken. After waiting a short time, he thought he heard music in the air. He listened more attentively and could clearly distinguish the sound, but nothing could be seen but a mere speck, like something almost out of sight. In a short time it became plainer and plainer, and the music sweeter and sweeter. The object descended rapidly, and when it came near it proved to be a car or basket of ozier containing twelve beautiful girls, who each had a kind of little drum which was struck with the grace of an angel. It came down in the centre of the ring, and the instant it touched the ground they leapt out and began to dance in the circle, at the same time striking a shining ball. The young hunter had seen many a dance, but none that, equaled this. The music was sweeter than ever he had heard. But nothing could equal the beauty of the girls. He admired them all, but was most struck with the youngest. He determined to seize her,...

Read More

The Fate Of The Redheaded Magician

Indian life is a life of vicissitudes the year round. As spring returns, the Indians who have been out during the winter, in the hunting grounds, come back to their villages in great numbers, and, in a short time, they have nothing to eat. Among them, however, there are always several who are willing to glean the neighboring woods for game; these remove from the large villages, and usually go off in separate families to support themselves. One of these families was composed of a man, his wife, and one son, who is called Odkshedoaph Waucheentonoah, which signifies The Child of Strong Desires. The latter was about fifteen years old. They arrived, the first day, at a place which they thought suitable to encamp at. The wife fixed the lodge the husband went to hunt. Early in the evening he returned with a deer. He and his wife being tired, he requested his son to go after some water, to the river near by. He replied that it was dark, and he dared not go. No persuasion availing, the father brought it. There was a village in the vicinity of this place, in which was a warrior of another tribe, called the Redhead, who was celebrated for his bravery and his warlike deeds. The young men of the neighboring villages had attempted, in vain, to take his scalp he...

Read More

The Island of the Blessed – or the Hunter’s Dream

There was once a beautiful girl, who died suddenly on the day she was to have been married to a handsome young hunter. He had also proved his bravery in war, so that he enjoyed the praises of his tribe, but his heart was not proof against this loss. From the hour she was buried, there was no more joy or peace for him. He went often to visit the spot where the women had buried her, and sat musing there, when, it was thought by some of his friends, he would have done better to try and amuse himself in the chase, or by diverting his thoughts in the warpath. But war and hunting had lost their charms for him. His heart was already dead within him. He wholly neglected both his war-club and his bows and arrows. He had heard the old people say that there was a path that led to the land of souls, and he determined to follow it. He accordingly set out one morning, after having completed his preparations for the journey. At first he hardly knew which way to go. He was only guided by the tradition that he must go south. For a while he could see no change in the face of the country. Forests, and hills, and valleys, and streams, had the same looks which they wore in his...

Read More

Pottawatomie Theology

It is believed by the Pottawatomies, that there are two Great Spirits, who govern the world. One is called Kitchemonedo, or the Great Spirit, the other Matchêmonedo, or the Evil Spirit. The first is good and beneficent; the other wicked. Some believe that they are equally powerful, and they offer them homage and adoration through fear. Others doubt which of the two is most powerful, and endeavor to propitiate both. The greater part, however, believe as I, Podajokeed do, that Kitchemonedo is the true Great Spirit, who made the world, and called all things into being; and that Matchêmonedo ought to be despised. When Kitchemonedo first made the world, he filled it with a class of beings who only looked like men, but they were perverse, ungrateful, wicked dogs, who never raised their eyes from the ground to thank him for anything. Seeing this, the Great Spirit plunged them, with the world itself, into a great lake, and drowned them. He then withdrew it from the water, and made a single man, a very handsome young man, who, as he was lonesome, appeared sad. Kitchemonedo took pity on him, and sent him a sister to cheer him in his loneliness. After many years the young man had a dream which he told to his sister. Five young men, said he, will come to your lodge door this night, to...

Read More

Origin of Men of Mana-Bozho

At a certain time, a great Manito came on earth, and took a wife of men. She had four sons at a birth, and died in ushering them into the world. The first was Manabozho, who is the friend of the human race. The second Chibiabos, who has the care of the dead, and presides over the country of souls. The third Wabasso, who, as soon as he saw light, fled to the North, where he was changed into a white rabbit, and, under that form, is considered as a great spirit. The fourth was Chokanipok, or the man of flint, or the firestone. The first thing Manabozho did, when he grew up, was to go to war against Chokanipok, whom he accused of his mother s death. The contests between them were frightful and long continued, and wherever they had a combat the face of nature still shows signs of it. Fragments were cut from his flesh, which were transformed into stones, and he finally destroyed Chokanipok by tearing out his entrails, which were changed into vines. All the flint-stones which are scattered over the earth were produced in this way, and they supplied men with the principle of fire. Manabozho was the author of arts and improvements. He taught men how to make agakwuts, 1Axes. lances, and arrow-points, and all implements of bone and stone, and also how...

Read More


Free Genealogy Archives

It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Pin It on Pinterest