Topic: Hunting

Pamunkey Hunting Grounds

Perhaps the most striking feature of all in the natural history of the modern Pamunkey comes before us in the survival of the controlled hunting and trapping rights: the custom by which each hunter in the band controls an assigned and definitely bounded area within which he enjoys the exclusive privilege of setting his traps for fur-bearing animals.

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Powhatan Hunting Customs

The marsh and swamp area of tidewater Virginia is extensive. For many miles both banks of the rivers are bordered by lowlands, which are inundated by the tides. In nearly all the rivers this occurs as far as 60 to 70 miles from Chesapeake Bay. Some of these tracts are marshy flats covered with a growth of dock, rushes, and cattails. Others are overgrown with virgin forests of cypress, swamp oak, swamp gum, maple, and red birch. In the picturesque vernacular of the region such are called “low grounds.” In some places the swamps extend continuously from one to...

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Life and travels of Colonel James Smith – Indian Captivities

James Smith, pioneer, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1737. When he was eighteen years of age he was captured by the Indians, was adopted into one of their tribes, and lived with them as one of themselves until his escape in 1759. He became a lieutenant under General Bouquet during the expedition against the Ohio Indians in 1764, and was captain of a company of rangers in Lord Dunmore’s War. In 1775 he was promoted to major of militia. He served in the Pennsylvania convention in 1776, and in the assembly in 1776-77. In the latter year he was commissioned colonel in command on the frontiers, and performed distinguished services. Smith moved to Kentucky in 1788. He was a member of the Danville convention, and represented Bourbon county for many years in the legislature. He died in Washington county, Kentucky, in 1812. The following narrative of his experience as member of an Indian tribe is from his own book entitled “Remarkable Adventures in the Life and Travels of Colonel James Smith,” printed at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1799. It affords a striking contrast to the terrible experiences of the other captives whose stories are republished in this book; for he was well treated, and stayed so long with his red captors that he acquired expert knowledge of their arts and customs, and deep insight into their character.

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The Buffalo Camp

No one in the camp was more active than Jim Gurney, and no one half so lazy as Ellis. Between these two there was a great antipathy. Ellis never stirred in the morning until he was compelled to, but Jim was always on his feet before daybreak; and this morning as usual the sound of his voice awakened the party. “Get up, you booby! up with you now, you’re fit for nothing but eating and sleeping. Stop your grumbling and come out of that buffalo robe or I’ll pull it off for you.” Jim’s words were interspersed with numerous expletives, which gave them great additional effect. Ellis drawled out something in a nasal tone from among the folds of his buffalo robe; then slowly disengaged himself, rose into sitting posture, stretched his long arms, yawned hideously, and finally, raising his tall person erect, stood staring round him to all the four quarters of the horizon. Delorier’s fire was soon blazing, and the horses and mules, loosened from their pickets, were feeding in the neighboring meadow. When we sat down to breakfast the prairie was still in the dusky light of morning; and as the sun rose we were mounted and on our way again. “A white buffalo!” exclaimed Munroe. “I’ll have that fellow,” said Shaw, “if I run my horse to death after him.” He threw the cover of...

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Game in the Pike’s Peak Region

In telling of the great quantities of game in this region, Ruxton says: Never was there such a paradise for hunters as this lone and solitary spot. Game abounded on every hand. Bear, elk, deer, mountain sheep, antelope, and grouse were in abundance in the surrounding mountains and valleys. Of buffalo there were few except in the valleys west of Pike’s Peak and in the Bayou Salado, or South Park, as it is now known. Ruxton further says: It is a singular fact that within the last two years the prairies, extending from the mountains to one hundred miles or more down the Arkansas, have been entirely abandoned by the buffalo; indeed, in crossing from the settlements of New Mexico, the boundary of their former range is marked by skulls and bones, which appear fresher as the traveler advances westward and towards the waters of the Platte. The evidence that Ruxton here mentions were still apparent twelve or fourteen years later, when the first settlers of this region arrived. Buffalo skulls and bones were scattered everywhere over the plains, but live buffalo could seldom be found nearer than one hundred miles east of the mountains. The reason for this has been variously stated, some claiming that a contagious disease broke out among the buffalo in the early forties, which virtually exterminated those along the eastern base of the mountains....

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Yuchi Hunting

Hunting was pursued by the men either singly or in bands. While the attendance upon the crops kept them at home much of the time, there were seasons of comparative idleness during which parties set off on the hunt. The flesh of nearly all the mammals and birds of their habitat was eaten by the Yuchi with the exception of such as were sacred for ceremonial purposes or were protected by some taboo. The chief game animals hunted by them for their flesh were the deer, weeyan’, bison, wedingá, bear, sagee’, raccoon, djatyAn’, opossimi, WAtsagowAn’, rabbit, cádjwané, squirrel, cayá; while those whose skins were chiefly sought after were the panther, weiceAn’, wildcat, poci’, fox, cadeané, wolf, dalá, otter, culané, beaver, cag n’, and skunk, yuseAn’. The flesh of these was also eaten at times. Wild turkeys, wctcea’, quail, spans i’, partridge, ducks, geese and other birds were continually hunted for food. The game animals were believed to be very cunning and wise in knowing how to avoid being captured. So in order to blind their senses, and to over-come their guardian spirits, the magic power of certain song burdens was employed by hunters. Shamans held these formulas in their possession and could be induced to accompany the hunting party to the field to aid in the bewitching of the quarry. Shamans might also teach the formula to some one...

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Mace or War Club

There is no instance, it is believed, among the North American Indians, in which the war-club employed by them is made of a straight piece, or has not a recurved head. Generally, this implement consists of a shaft of heavy wood, such as the rock maple, with a ball carved at one side of the head, much in the manner of the South Sea Islander, or Polynesian war-clubs. Such is the Pug-ga-ma-gun of the Algonquins. It differs from the Polynesian club, chiefly in its possessing a tabular shaft, and in its less elaborate style of carving. Clubs exhibited at the war dance or other ceremonial exhibitions, are always larger than those intended for practical use, and partake decidedly of a symbolical character. A practice has prevailed since the introduction of iron, of combining a lance with the same implement. It is then shaped somewhat in the form of the butt end of a gun or rifle, but having more angular lines. A lance of iron, of formidable dimensions, is inserted at the intersection of the most prominent angle. This fearful weapon, which appears to be the most prominent symbol of war, is very common among the prairie tribes. No warrior is properly equipped without one. It is often elaborately ornamented with war eagles feathers, and with paints and devices. Brass tacks are sometimes used in the lance-clubs as ornaments,...

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Indian Arrowheads

A great variety of these ancient instruments was fabricated, according to the species of hunting, the size and ferocity of the animals pursued, and the ages of the persons using them. Boys were always furnished with small arrow-points, such as were expected to be spent against squirrels, or the lesser quadrupeds and birds. This was the second lesson in learning the art of hunting; the first consisted in using the blunt arrow or Beekwuk, 1This specimen is preserved in the cabinet of curiosities of Miss Crooks, of Dundas; to whose politeness I owe the favor of being permitted to...

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Indian Axe

Various stone implements of the antique period of the hunter occupancy of America, have received the name of “Indian Axe.” With what justice this term was applied, in relation to the use made of the European axe of iron, it is proposed to inquire. The ancient Indians, prior to the era of the discovery of America, had indeed no use for an axe, in the sense in which we apply the term now a days. Fire was the great agent they employed in felling trees and reducing their trunks to proper lengths. There was no cutting of trees. No...

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Blackfeet Hunting Customs

The Blackfoot country probably contained more game and in greater variety than any other part of the continent. Theirs was a land whose physical characteristics presented sharp contrasts. There were far-stretching grassy prairies, affording rich pasturage for the buffalo and the antelope; rough breaks and bad lands for the climbing mountain sheep; wooded buttes, loved by the mule deer; timbered river bottoms, where the white-tailed deer and the elk could browse and hide; narrow, swampy valleys for the moose; and snow-patched, glittering pinnacles of rock, over which the sure-footed white goat took his deliberate way. The climate varied from arid to humid; the game of the prairie, the timber, and the rocks, found places suited to their habits. Fur-bearing animals abounded. Noisy hordes of wild fowl passed north and south in their migrations, and many stopped here to breed. The Blackfoot country is especially favored by the warm Chinook winds, which insure mild winters with but little snow; and although on the plains there is usually little rain in summer, the short prairie grasses are sweet and rich. All over this vast domain, the buffalo were found in countless herds. Elk, deer, antelope, mountain sheep, and bear without number were there. In those days, sheep were to be found on every ridge, and along the rough bad lands far from the mountains. Now, except a few in the “breaks”...

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Ethnological Information Regarding the Cusabo

Ethnological information regarding the Cusabo is scanty and unsatisfactory, the interest of the colonists having been quickly attracted to those great tribes lying inland which they called “nations.” Such material as is to be had must be interpreted in the light of the fuller information to be gathered from larger southern tribes like the Creeks, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. Nevertheless it is of interest to know that certain features of the lives of these peoples were or were not shared by the ones better known. The material gathered by the Spaniards as a result of the Ayllon expedition has been given in connection with the account of that venture, and will not be considered again. The region to which it applies is too uncertain to consider it definitely under this head. From the time of the French settlement in 1562, however, we have a sufficiently clear localization, from the French, Spanish, and English narratives successively. The greater part of our information comes, however, from the French and English, the Spaniards not having been interested in the people among whom they came or not having published those papers which contained accounts of them. The following general description of the appearance of the natives, and their mental and moral characteristics, is from Alexander Hewat. It does not apply to the Cusabo alone, but Hewat was probably better acquainted with them than...

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Indian Hunting

Hunting. The pursuit of game may be divided into two sets of activities, which correspond to military strategy and tactics, the one including the whole series of traps, the other hunting weapons and processes. Beginning with the latter, the following 9 classes embrace all the hunting activities of the American Indians: Taking animals with the hand without the aid of apparatus. Examples of this are picking up marine animals on the beach to eat on the spot, robbing birds nests, and seizing birds on their roosts on dark nights. Such unskilled taking developed the utmost cunning, agility, and strength for pursuing, seizing, climbing, diving, stealing upon, and deceiving, and the same qualities were useful also in the pursuit with weapons. The climax of this first class was the communal game drive, in which a whole band or tribe would surround a herd of animals and coax or force them into a gorge, a corral, or natural cul-de-sac. Gathering with devices. To this class of activities belong substitutes for the fingers or palms, such as rakes for drawing or piling up sea food; a sharp stick for getting worms by forcing them out of the ground; nets and scoops for taking animals from the water (see Fishing, Nets); also dulls, reatas, and bolas for reaching out and grasping. This class reached its climax in the partnership or communal net, used...

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Hunting Customs of the Omahas

In the life of the American Indian so much has ever depended upon the skill of the hunter that in the hazards of the chase he has sought supernatural aid to supplement his own inadequate powers; thus, in every tribe, we find rites connected with hunting carefully observed, and frequently forming an important part of the tribal ceremonies. Mention has been made, in my previous papers, of the Indian’s custom of retiring into the forest or to the mountain to fast, that there might come to him in a vision some manifestation of the powers of nature. Whatever appears...

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