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And, thirdly, the New England settlers had suffered much sorer hardships than the Almighty would have permitted his special favorites to endure, had they not put themselves beyond his protection, by intruding on Satan's own soil. From all which Mr. Mede sagaciously infers, that the experiment of colonizing America with Christians was a very doubtful one, and liable at any moment to be abruptly closed by an explosion of diabolic wrath. Now, when we consider that these absurdities were believed and published by the first divine of the day, a cherished ornament of the English church, and a correspondent and friend of many distinguished Puritans, it is not too much to suppose that similar opinions had a deep root in Virginia and in New England, and that the Colonists hunted and slew Indians, not maliciously or wantonly, but from religious motives, and as an essential department of divine service.
Colonel M’Kenney has brought forward, wère it still needed, abundant evidence of the mental capacity of the Indians, and of their susceptibility of the highest moral and religious culture. Few portions of our country would present an average standard of intelligence and moral worth, that would compare with that of the Cherokees before their removal ; and they in their new homes, as well as the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks, are well organized nations, with written laws, representative assemblies, regular courts of justice, and liberal provisions for public education. We extract the following beautiful portraits of Indian piety ; and we confess that we know not where to look for a more luculent commentary on the precepts of the New Testament than in Kusick's rigid, tender, minute conscientiousness.
“ Who has not heard of the famous Oneida chief Skenandoah ? He whose pathway, for sixty years, had been marked with blood; whose war-whoop had resounded through many a terrified settlement, and until the regions of the Mohawk rang with it; and who was, in all respects, the cruel, the indomitable savage. One would suppose that habits, stiffened by so long a period of indul. gence, could not be easily, if at all, softened and remoulded ; that the spirit of the warrior, having been so long indulged in the practices so congenial to the feelings of the savage, could not be subdued, and made to conform to all that is gentle, and peaceful, and pious. But all this was effected in the person of this chief. He was awakened under the preaching of the Rev. Mr. Kirkland, and became a convert to the faith of the Christian. The tomahawk, the war-club, and the scalping-knife fell from his grasp ; the desolations which he had produced he mourned over; he saw, in his mythology, nothing but chimeras; he was penitent, — and was forgiven. Nor did he ever abandon the faith he had adopted, but continued a peaceful, faithful, and devoted Christian, until his death, which occurred when he was over a hundred years old.
“ Awhile previous to his death, a friend, calling to see him, and inquiring after his health, received this answer (which most of you, doubtless, have heard), - I am an aged hemlock. The winds of a hundred winters have whistled through my branches. I am dead at the top (referring to his blindness). Why I yet live, the great, good Spirit only knows. When I am dead, bury me by the side of my minister and friend (meaning Mr. Kirk. land), - that I may go up with him at the great resurrection!' He was accordingly so buried, and I have seen his tomb.
“ Another case was that of Kusick, chief of the Tuscaroras. He was also an Indian, and had served under La Fayette, in the army of the Revolution. It was usual for him, in company with a few of his leading men, to visit, once in every two or three years, the State of North Carolina, whence his tribe originally came, to see after some claims they had upon that State. In passing through Washington, the old chief would call at my office, for the purpose of submitting his papers, and of counselling with me. On one of these occasions, he made a call before breakfast, at my residence, accompanied by his companions. A neighbour had stepped in to see me, on his way to his office, and our conversation turned on Lady Morgan's France, which had been just then published, and was lying on my table. We spoke of La Fayette. The moment his name was mentioned, Kusick turned quick upon me his fine black eyes, and asked, with great earnestness,
“• Is he yet alive? The same La Fayette that was in the Revolutionary war?'
" • Yes, Kusick,'I answered," he is alive ; and he is the same La Fayette who was in that war. That book speaks of him as being not only alive, but looking well and hearty.'
“ He said, with deep emphasis, ' I'm glad to hear it.' " Then you knew La Fayette, Kusick?'
". O, yes,' he answered, “I knew him well; and many a time in the battle, I threw myself between him and the bullets,- for I loved him.'
" • Were you in commission ?'
“O, yes,' he replied, 'I was a lieutenant; General Washing. ton gave me a commission.'
“My friend (who was the late venerable Joseph Nourse, at that time Register of the Treasury) and myself agreed to ex. amine the records, and see if the old chief was not entitled to a pension. We (or rather he) did so. All was found to be as Kusick had reported it; when he was put on the pension list.
“Some years after, in 1827, when passing through the Tuscarora reserve, on my way to the wilderness, I stopped opposite his log cabin, and walked up to see the old chief. I found him engaged drying fish. After the usual greeting, I asked if he continued to receive his pension.
“ No,' said the old chief, no; Congress passed a law making it necessary for me to swear I cannot live without it. Now here is my little log-cabin, and it's my own; here's my patch, where I can raise corn, and beans, and pumpkins ; and there's Lake Oneida, where I can catch fish. With these I can make out to live without the pension ; and to say I could not would be to lie to the Great Spirit !'
“Here was principle, and deep piety; and a lesson for many whose advantages had far exceeded those of this poor Indian. In connection with this, I will add another anecdote, in proof of his veneration for the Deity. He breakfasted with me on the morning to which I have referred ; and knowing him to be a teacher of the Christian religion among his people,
and an interpreter for those who occasionally preached to them, I requested him to ask a blessing. He did so, and in a manner so impressive, as to make me feel that he was deeply imbued with the proper spirit. He employed in the ceremony his native Tuscarora. I asked him why, as he spoke very good English, he had asked the bless. ing in his native tongue? He said, When I speak English, I am often at a loss for a word. When, therefore, I speak to the Great Spirit, I do not like to be perplexed, or have my mind dis. tracted, to look after a word. When I use my own language, it is like my breath ; I am composed.' Kusick died an honest man and a Christian ; and though an Indian, has doubtless entered into his rest.” – Vol. 11., pp. 83 - 86.
In the series of Indian portraits published by McKenney and Hall, some of our readers have no doubt become familiar with the noble countenance of Petalesharro. His story is a long one ; but we cannot well abridge it, and it is so full, not only of romance, but of the highest moral interest, that we are unwilling to pass it over.
“The Pawnee Loups had long practised the savage rite, known to no other of the American tribes, of sacrificing human victims to the Great Star, or the planet Venus. This dreadful ceremony annually preceded the preparations for planting corn, and was supposed to be necessary to secure a fruitful season. To prevent a failure of the crop, and a consequent famine, some individual was expected to offer up a prisoner, of either sex, who had been captured in war, and some one was always found who coveted the honor of dedicating the spoil of his prowess to the national benefit. The intended victim, carefully kept in ignorance of the fate that impended, was dressed in gay attire, supplied with choicest food, and treated with every tenderness, with the view of promoting obesity, and preparing an offering the more acceptable to the deities who were to be propitiated. When, by the successful employment of those means, the unconscious victim was sufficiently fatted, a day was appointed for the sacrifice, and the whole nation assembled to witness the solemn scene.
“ You will now fancy yourselves in view of the great gathering of the Pawnees, and in sight of the multitude assembled in honor of the sacrifice. In your nearer approach you will hear their orgies. In the midst of the great circle a stake is brought, its end is sharpened, when it is driven deep in the ground. Yells and shouts are heard, and these announce that all is ready. In the distance is a company of Pawnees, — by the side of the leader is a delicate girl. She is an Itean maid. They approach nearer. He who made her captive steps proudly into the circle. Shouts welcome him. He takes the maid by the hand, and leads her to the fatal spot. Her back is placed against the stake ; cords are brought, and she is bound to it. The fagots are now collected, and placed round the victim. A hopeless expression is seen in her eye, perhaps a tear! Her bosom heaves, and her thoughts are of home. A torch is seen, coming from the woods, hard by. At that moment a young brave leaps into the circle, - rushes to the stake, -severs the cords that bind the victim to it, and springing on a horse, and throwing her upon another, and putting both to the top of their speed, is soon lost in the distance. Silence prevails, - then murmers are heard, and then the loud threats of vengeance, when all retire! The stake and the fagot are all that remain to mark the spot, on which, but for this noble deed, ashes and charred bones would have been distinguished. Who was it that intrepidly released the captive maid ? It was the young, the brave, the generous PETALESHARRO. Whether it was panic, or the dread of Letalashahou's vengeance (LETALASHAHOU was the great chief of the Pawnees, and father of Petalesharro), that operated to keep the warriors from employing their bows and arrows, and rifles, on the occasion, is not known, but certain it is, they did not use them.
“Having borne the rescued maid into the broad plains beyond the precincts of the Pawnee village, and supplied her with provisions, he admonished her to make the best of her way to her own nation, which was distant about four hundred miles, and left her. She, alive to her situation, lost no time in obeying such salutary counsel, and had the good fortune, the next day, to fall in with a war-party of her own people, by whom she was safely carried home.
“Can the records of chivalry furnish a parallel to this generous act? Can the civilized world bring forward a case demonstrating a higher order of humanity, united with greater bravery ? Whence did the youthful Petalesharro learn this lesson of refined pity? Not of civilized man. The lessons of the good had never yet reached the Pawnees, to instruct them, or to enrapture their thoughts by such beautiful illustrations of the merciful. It was the impulse of nature: -nature, cast in a more refined mould, and probably, as the sequel will show, nurtured by the blood and spirit of a noble, though untaught father.
“The rescue of the Itean maid happened a short time before Petalesharro was deputed to Washington, as one of a deputation on matters connected with the interests of the Pawnee nation. His visit to that city was in 1821. He wore a head-dress of the feathers of the war-eagle, which extended, in a double series, down his back, to his hips, narrowing as it descended. His robe was thrown gracefully, but carelessly, over his shoulders, leaving his breast, and often one arm, bare. The usual garments decorated his hips and lower limbs, these were the auzeum, the leggins, and the moccasons, -all ornamented. The youthful and feminine character of his face, and the humanity of its expression, were all remarkable. He did not appear to be older than twenty years, but his age was about twenty-tive. I had his portrait taken, which is a perfect one.
" As was most natural, the tidings of his noble deed accompa. nied Petalesharro to Washington. Both himself and his chivalry became the theme of the city. The ladies, as is their nature, hastened to do him honor. A medal was prepared, and a time appointed for conferring on him this merited gift. An assembly had collected to witness the ceremony. He was told, in substance, that the medal was given him in token of the high opinion which was entertained of his act, in the rescue of the Itean maid. He was asked by the ladies who presented it, to accept and wear it for their sake; and told, when he had another occasion to save a captive woman from torture and from the stake, to look upon the medal, think of those who gave it, and save her, as he had saved the Itean girl. With that grace which is peculiar to the