Collection: Archives Of Aboriginal Knowledge

1837 Smallpox Epidemic

No disease which has been introduced among the tribes, has exercised so fatal an influence upon them as the smallpox. Their physicians have no remedy for it. Old and young regard it as if it were the plague, and, on its appearance among them, blindly submit to its ravages. This disease has appeared among them periodically, at irregular intervals of time. It has been one of the prominent causes of their depopulation. Ardent spirits, it is true, in its various forms, has, in the long run, carried a greater number of the tribes to their graves; but its effects have been comparatively slow, and its victims, though many, have fallen in the ordinary manner, and generally presented scenes less revolting and striking to the eye. This malady swept through the Missouri Valley in 1837. It first appeared on a steamboat, (the St. Peters) in the case of a mulatto man, a hand on board, at the Black-Snake Hills, a trading post, 60 miles above Fort Leavenworth, and about 500 miles above St. Louis. It was then supposed to be measles, but, by the time the boat reached the Council Bluffs, it was ascertained to be small-pox, and had of course been communicated to many in whom the disease was still latent. Every precaution appears to have been taken, by sending runners to the Indians, two days ahead of the...

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Songs of the Wabeno

Pictorial Signs used in the Society of the Wabeno; A Description of the Character and Objects of this Institution; Etymology of the term; The Season favorable for this, and other Ceremonial observances; Vicissitudes of Indian Life; Fallacy of the Indian Theology; Interpretation of the Pictorial Mnemonic Signs of the Wabeno, with the text of the Nuga-moon-un; Synoptical Table, showing the Ideographic value of the Symbols.

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Shoshone or Snake Indians

The various tribes and bands of Indians of the Rocky Mountains, south of latitude 43°, who are known under this general name, occupy the elevated area of the Utah basin. They embrace all the territory of the Great South Pass between the Mississippi Valley and the waters of the Columbia, by which the land or caravan communication with Oregon and California is now, and is destined hereafter to be, maintained. Traces of them, in this latitude, are first found in ascending the Sweetwater River of the north fork of the Platte, or Nebraska. They spread over the sources of...

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Population and Statistics

The aboriginal population of America was over-rated from the beginning; and the same spirit of exaggeration which actuated the early discoverers, has continued to throw its influence over every period of our history. It is not probable that, at the opening of the sixteenth century, or any other period which may be selected, the number of souls upon the Indian territory, bore any very considerable ratio to the number of square miles of country which they occupied in the shape of villages, or hunting grounds. The hunter state requires, indeed, that immense districts of forest should be left in the wilderness condition, that its objects may be properly accomplished. From some data that have been employed, it is doubtful whether an area of less than fifty thousand acres, left in the forest state, is more than sufficient to sustain by the chase a single hunter. Most of the tribes living in districts where game abounded, relied almost exclusively upon that resource for a subsistence. The zea maize was cultivated in all the southern and middle latitudes of the territory of the United States, not as furnishing the staple of life, but as a mere subsidiary means of subsistence. This can be said of the ancient Floridians, amongst whom De Soto marched, and will hold good, if the remark be applied to the Muskogees, the Choctaws and Chickasaws, and the...

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Physical Geography of the Indian Country

Geographical Memorandum Respecting The Progress Of The Discovery Of The Mississippi River, With A Map Of Its Source. 1The connection of these papers with the past and present history and condition of the Indian tribes, who are the immediate subject of these inquiries, will be recognised. 1. It appears, from the archaeological collections of Ternoux Campan, that the mouth of the Mississippi was discovered by the Spanish from Cuba, under M. Narvaez, the contemporary and antagonist of Cortes, in the month of November 1527, during an expedition made with boats to trace the Floridian coasts of the Gulf westwardly 2This fact is not, however, specially stated in the loose translations of Ternoux, which are without maps of the journey. The inference is plain. . Mexico had fallen into their hands but six years before an event by which a period was put to the Aztec empire, and a spirit of conquest and discovery awakened, which soon left no part of the continent unexplored, or unvisited. Expeditions, by land and water, were made far and wide, and it is only a matter of surprise that, while the Panuco and other minor streams were carefully searched, the Mississippi, which pours out its vast alluvion, and carries more water into the Gulf than any other stream, if not a volume equal to all the rest united, should not have been identified even...

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Native American Origin Synopsis

Where such a race can be supposed to have had their origin, history may vainly inquire. It probably broke off from one of the primary stocks of the human race, before history had dipped her pen in ink, or lifted her graver on stone

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Origin and History of the Chickasaw

The following tradition respecting the origin and history of this branch of the Chickasaw, is transmitted by their agent from the present location of the tribe, west of the Mississippi River. It has been obtained from the most authentic sources. The allegory of the dog and pole probably reveals the faith of this people in an ancient prophet, or seer, under whose guidance they migrated. The story of their old men, as it is now told, runs thus: By tradition, they say they came from the West; a part of their tribe remained in the West. When about to start eastward, they were provided with a large dog as a guard, and a pole as guide; the dog would give them notice whenever an enemy was near at hand, and thus enable them to make their arrangements to receive them. The pole they would plant in the ground every night, and the next morning they would look at it, and go in the direction it leaned. They continued their journey in this way until they crossed the great Mississippi River; and, on the waters of the Alabama River, arrived in the country about where Huntsville, Alabama, now is: there the pole was unsettled for several days; but, finally, it settled, and pointed in a south west direction. They then started on that course, planting the pole every night, until...

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1. When France ceded Louisiana to the United States, she committed the greatest geographical blunder in her history, excepting the cession of all New France by Louis XV., consequent on the fall of Quebec in 1759. These two events were essential to the United States eventually becoming a great and leading power; and their con summation was, as it is now seen, the very turning point of it. With a foreign and non-cognate race, as Frenchmen are, on our entire northern borders, from sea to sea, and the mouth of the Mississippi locked up, that great valley was as completely bound as Laöcoon in the folds of the serpent. Fortunately, the statesmen of that proud and luxurious court were not wise beyond their generation; and Bonaparte, when he completed the work by accepting three millions as an equivalent for Louisiana, thought a bird in the hand worth two in the bush. “Bush” indeed! Which has already given origin to a cluster of States, and by the dispute with Texas, (a Spanish blunder, by the way,) has brought along, in its magnificent train, California and New Mexico. Already the Mississippi River, if we include its eldest daughter, the Ohio, has thirteen States upon its waters, not counting Territories; and it furnishes an outlet to the commerce of several more. “Yet, though no rhyme thy banks to fame prolong, Beyond the...

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Notice of the Miscotins and Assigunaigs

Among the traditions which float in the minds of the Algonquin tribes who occupy the shores of the upper Lakes, are the names of the two now unknown tribes which are mentioned above. Over these they recite triumphs, in a long continued war. The residence of the Miscotins is identified with vestiges of human labor and residence at several points on the shores of Lakes Huron and Michigan. They are represented as having been driven south into the general area of the present States of Illinois and Wisconsin.

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Menomonie and Chippewa History

The originality of the following tradition is of a character which can be viewed disjunctively, and commends itself to notice. The Indian is prone to trace important events in his history to small, and apparently improbable causes. We have heard of no Indian wars of any note, of an ancient date, but those against the Foxes, in which the Menomonies figure as one of the chief actors. Their connection with the Algonquin family, and their speaking a peculiar dialect of it, lead to the supposition that they were, at an ancient period, more closely affiliated. Traditions of this kind, however mixed up with improbabilities, may enable us hereafter better to comprehend their history. That they fell out with their neighbors, relatives, and friends, for a small thing, is an event by no means novel or improbable.

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The Mental Type of the Indian Race

1. Do the traits we have been contemplating tend to establish for the Indian mind and character a type of race which may be deemed as peculiar? It may further the end in view, to examine this question by the light of their religious and psychological notions and dogmas; their mythology, and their conceptions of a Deity. They have also, in the Toltecan group, a calendar and system of astronomy, and a style of architecture, which are eminently calculated to arrest attention. More than all, the tribes over the whole continent possess a class of languages, which, by their...

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Mineralogical and Geographical Notices

Mineralogical And Geographical Notices, Denoting The Value Of Aboriginal Territory. 1. Wisconsin and Iowa Lead Ore A correspondent, engaged in the practical working of these ores, remarks: “By the box of specimens transmitted, you will be able to judge of the character of these valuable ores. The square broken mineral is taken from east and west leads; which is of the softest temperature and most easy to smelt; it also produces the most lead, yielding about 50 per cent, from the log, and about 15 from the ash furnaces. The dark smooth pieces are taken from deep clay digging hi the vicinity of Menomonie River. This mineral is less productive than the other, yielding only from 40 to 45 per cent. It is supposed to contain some silver. The thin flat pieces or what is termed sheet mineral are taken from north and south leads. It is usually found in rocky diggings, where the sheet stands perpendicular, and is struck in sinking from six to ten feet. The sheet varies in its thickness, it being in some places six or eight inches, and at other places not more than one inch thick. The average yield of the country is from 45 to 58 per cent; of which the log furnace yields 43, and the ash furnace 15 per cent.” 2. Black Oxyde Of Copper Ore Of Lake Superior This...

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Massachusetts Indians

When the English landed in Massachusetts, in 1620, there were some twenty tribes of Indians in the present area of New England, speaking cognate dialects. They were hunters and fishermen, in the lowest state of barbarism, and though they never had been, apparently, densely populous, the tribes had then; recently suffered much, from a general epidemic. In their manners and customs, forest-arts and traditions, and in their language, they did not differ in their ethnological type. They made use, in their wars, of the balista, which is shown in Plate 15, Figure 2. This antique instrument is represented several times, agreeably to Chingwauk’s interpretation, on the Dighton Rock. The Rev. Cotton Mather, in the quaint language of the times, describes the Massachusetts Indians as follows: “Know, then, that these doleful creatures are the veriest ruins of mankind which are to be found anywhere upon the face of the earth. No such estates are to be expected among them as have been the baits which the pretended converters in other countries have snapped at. One might see among them what an hard master the devil is, to the most devoted of his vassals. These abject creatures live in a country full of mines; we have already made entrance upon our iron; and in the very surface of the ground among us, there lies copper enough to supply all this world;...

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Medawin or to Meda

Medawin: The Meda, or Meda-wininee, is in all respects a (priestly) magician. He is distinct from the Muskekewininee, or medical practitioner. They assemble, not to teach the art of healing, but the art of supplicating spirits. They do not rely on physical, but supernatural power.

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