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POWER OF ENDURANCE OF THE INDIANS.
and horns being sustained by the foremost person, so that, as they walk along or dance, they look at a distance like real buffaloes; and the object of this dance is to attract the herd in the direction of the spot where it takes place. The " scalp dance" of the Sioux is among the most revolting, where women, in the centre of a large circle, suspend the bloody scalps of their enemies taken in war on poles, while the warriors of the tribe dance around them, brandishing their weapons. This, however, is exceeded in ferocity by " the dog dance" of the same tribe, at which the heart and liver of a dog are taken, raw and bleeding, and, cut into strips, placed on a stand about the height of a man's face from the ground; to this each of the warriors advances in turn, and, biting off a piece of the flesh, utters a yell of exultation at having thus swallowed a piece of the warm and bleeding heart of his enemy. It may be added, that the flesh of the dog is accounted the greatest delicacy among the Sioux; and at an Indian feast given in 1803, at a Sioux village about 1400 miles above St. Louis, to Mr. Sanford, Mr. Choteau, Mr. M*Kenzie, and Mr. Catlin, a picture of which was in the collection, dogs' flesh was the only, food served, and this was the highest honour they could confer upon strangers.
Nothing is more remarkable, however, in the character of the Indians, than their power of enduring torture, and the strength of the religious superstitions which sustain them, In one of the ceremonies of this description, represented in Mr. Catlin's pictures, several young candidates for fame were seen undergoing the various processes of pain to which they voluntarily and cheerfully submit themselves, They first lacerate the flesh with a sharp-edged but ragged flint-stone, by cutting open six or seven gashes across the muscular part of each thigh and each arm; a splint of wood, like a skewer, is then run transversely through the lips of each gash, and there they are permitted to bleed and swell, while the agonizing pain produces no sign of emo. tion on their countenances. They are then dragged around the circle of the tent on the inside, on the bare ground, sometimes by the hair of the head, and sometimes by the feet, the body trailing all the while along the rough and broken soil, and getting new lacerations at every turn. ter this the bodies of the self-torturers are hung up by the splints in the flesh, around which cords are twined, and they are thus kept suspended for hours on a pole, without food or drink, looking steadfastly on the sun, from his rising to his setting, without an interval of rest.
Another remarkable form in which their superstition develops itself is that of reverence for magic and magicians. Attached to every tribe, and often to every encampment and every village, is a person who is called the medicine man;" the "magician” would be the more appropriate term. It is believed by the rest of the tribe that he is gifted with prophetic knowledge and supernatural powers. He is consulted in all expeditions of war, on all negotiations of peace; his oracles are indisputable, and his charms are believed to be irresistible; he collects together in his wanderings all things supposed to possess any superior virtue or property: the skin, feathers, head, beak, and talons of the eagle and the hawk; the skins of serpents, lizards, and toads; the horns and hair of the buffalo; the skins of the grisly bear and the wolf; besides various animal and mineral compounds supposed to operate as charms. To each of the warriors he dispenses his talismans, which are worn with unlimited confidence in their virtues ; and when any one is ill or sick from any disease or wounds, "the medicine man" is the only person thought likely to afford relief. This.he does, not with medicine of any kind, for this is never attempted, but by coming to the tent or hut where the sufferer may be lying, and performing certain mysterious ceremonies, and administering certain charms; the “medicine man' being himself on these occasions so dis. figured with the skins of various animals placed over and around him, that he may be said to be as remote as possible from “ the likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth;"> and when Mr. Catlin presented himself to his audience so arrayed, it was difficult to suppose that anything human could be so disguised.
An additional interest was given to these lectures by the paintings and descriptions with which they were illustrated, from their reminding me so often and so forcibly as they did of the Hindus. The complexion of the Indians generally resembles that of the natives of Hindustan more than that of any other people I had seen; they have the same fondness for gold and silver ornaments, and particularly for large silver bangles on the feet, and armlets on the arms; they paint their bodies, and especially their foreheads and chins, with various coloured paints, like the Brahmins; they load the ears with ornaments, and the neck with chains; they oil their bodies to soften the skin; they sit cross-legged on the ground, and are excessively fond of smoking. The
ARRIVAL OF INDIANS AT NEW-YORK.
favourite colour for the painting of their persons is a bright scarlet; and in all the female portraits that I saw, the central seam occasioned by the parting of the hair, which is smoothed down on each side of the head, and oiled to keep it flat and glossy, was invariably painted with a bright scarlet paint, a custom almost universal among the women of Hindustan. But it is in the voluntary infliction of self-tor. ture, and the power of sustaining pain without a murmur, that the resemblance between the Indians of America and of Asia is most striking. Whoever has witnessed the selftortures of the Hindus, in their religious ceremonies of the “churruck-poojah," or festival of the wheel-where a man permits an iron hook to be passed through the fleshy mus. cles of his loins, and is thus hoisted up to a wheel and whirled around in the air with extraordinary velocity, as well as the many other descriptions of self-imposed torture prac. tised in Hindustan—could not fail to be struck with this feature of resemblance between the tribes of Asia and America, who may possibly have descended from one common stock.
Personal Visit to some Indian Chiefs at New York. The Sauks and Fores, Sioux and
Ioway Tribes.-Anecdotes of Conversation with the Indian Chiefs.-Offering of Presents to the Wife and Children of Kee-o-kuk.-Stoical Indifference manifested by each.-Black-Hawk, the celebrated Warrior, and his Son.- Pantomimic Conver. sation of Mr. Vandenhoff with an Indian.-Invitation to visit their Camps in the Far West.-Anecdotes of Life among the Indians.-Arrival of a third Tribe of Indians in New-York.-Reply of Indian Chief to General Fox:-Anecdotes of Indians respecting Interest of Money.--Belief that the Indians are descended from the Jews.-Facts and Arguments of Major Noah and others.-Striking Similarity of many of their Customs to Jewish Rites.-Retention of some of the identical Expressions of the Hebrews.-Authority of Mr. Catlin in support of this Resemblance.
It was only a few weeks after hearing the lectures and examining the collection of Mr. Catlin that several Indian chiefs of different tribes arrived at New-York from Washington, on a tour through the United States, where, after they had concluded their treaties at the Capitol, it was thought desirable they should be taken to the principal towns, to impress them with a strong idea of the power and resources of the American people. Among them were the chiefs of the Sauks and Foxes, Kee-o-kuk and BlackHawk, with the wife and younger son of the former, " the
Roaring Thunder.” There were about thirty of these, who took up their abode at the City Hotel, on the west side of Broadway; while at another hotel, the National, on the op. posite side of the way, were the chiefs of the Sioux and Io. ways, the two latter being in such deadly hostility to the two former as to make it unsafe to place them in the same building.
We went to see both parties, having the advantage of a favourable introduction to each, and were accompanied in both our visits by a skilful interpreter, who had lived among the Indians from his childhood. The Sauks and Foxes were undoubtedly the finest race of men ; they were as tall, stout, and muscular as the very best specimen of men that could be produced from the yeomanry of England, and they were as hardy and robust as they were large and well formed. Their costume was almost wholly made up of skins, furs, and feathers, with the occasional addition of a woollen blanket of a bright scarlet, saturated with the vermillion paint with which they so copiously bedaub the body. Their headdresses were mostly feathers, differently arranged. They all wore leather coverings for the legs, like long gai. ters, but loose over the foot, and with innumerable strips of leather trailing after them at considerable length behind the heel, so as to make it difficult to follow them. To these gaiters were attached a number of silver bells, and, whenever they moved or walked, it was an evident delight to them to hear the tinkling of these bells and the rattle of the various plates of metal placed at different points about their gar. ments. Their weapons were the tomahawk, the heavy. headed and spiked iron mace, and the bow and arrow; their conduct was characterized by a dignified reserve; and their great aim seemed to be, not to manifest the least feel. ing of admiration or surprise at anything they saw. They were sufficiently communicative to answer all our questions, but always briefly, and without asking others in their turn. I had taken in, as I was advised, some suitable presents for the principal personages of the party ; but they were received without the slightest symptom of satisfaction by those to whom they were offered, excepting in one instance. To the wife of the chief Kee-o-kuk I presented a very handsome string of large and beautiful beads, suitable for a necklace of great richness and fulness; but, after taking them from my hands, she placed them in her bosom, and then, rolling herself in a vermillioned blanket, lay down at her husband's feet on the floor, without mat or pillow, and sunk almost instantly to sleep. I presented to her eldest son,
MR. VANDENHOFF AND THE INDIANS.
“ The Whistling Thunder," a handsome ivory case, containing a knife, a looking-glass, and some other things, which he also received with the same indifference, and put by, as though the person presenting it was more honoured than himself by receiving it. To the younger son, a little fellow of about five years of age, I gave a silver whistle and bells, such as are commonly used by children in England, with a fine piece of red coral at the end ; and this little creature, not having yet been trained in the Indian art of restraining the expression of his natural emotions, burst out into a paroxysm of delight, sounding the whistle, ringing the bells, shrieking with pleasure, and dancing about the room, exclaiming every now and then, “A-00-A-ha-oo,” good, very good, and clasping my knees and kissing my hand, to the great chagrin of the men, who talked to him with frowning countenances, but could not repress his hilarity.
The Sioux and Ioways, whom we visited at the National Hotel, were not so fine a race of men as the Sauks and Fox. es, nor so well dressed, but they were far more communicative. Some of them, indeed, talked with us at great length. Mr. Vandenhoff, the English actor, happened to be in the room at the time, and, being struck with the appearance of scars from burns running up the arm of one of the chiefs from the wrist to the shoulder, he wished to know how it happened ; but the interpreter being in another part of the room, and engaged, he was unable to communicate with the Indian except through the language of pantomime; he accordingly pointed to the scars,
and then, by a variety of sig. nificant signs, indicated his wish to know how they occurred, upon which the chief performed these several motions : He first held his right hand horizontally before his body, as if grasping a cup or basin, while with his right he performed the motion of lifting something from the ground, out of which he poured liquid into the stationary vessel. He then lifted this vessel to his mouth, and, turning back his head and gurgling his throat, made signs of drinking copiously. His next action was to rise and reel about, as though growing gradually intoxicated, until he became unable to stand, when he described a large heap of something, with flames ascending and falling ; on this he began to roll about with agony, and rub his right arm as the part chiefly affected. Mr. Vandenhoff exclaimed, " I see it! whiskey, whiskey!" at which the old man nodded assent with a smile. The fact was, as we afterward learned, that the white people had made him drunk, as they too often do, with ardent spirits,