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Title: Legends of The Kaw
       The Folk-Lore of the Indians of the Kansas River Valley

Author: Carrie de Voe

Release Date: June 30, 2011 [EBook #36559]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Legends of The Kaw
Indian Folk Lore
de Voe

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Franklin Hudson Publishing Co.,

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Copyright, 1904, by
Franklin Hudson Publishing Co.,
Kansas City, Mo.

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The heroes of Kansas in the early days.—The first inhabitants.—Pathos of Indian traditions and their tragic interest.—Interpretation of myths.—Tradition of the Mississippi Valley.—Theory of a dual soul.—Ancient religion of the North American Indians.—Ideas of Divinity.—Spirits.—Communication with the unseen world.—Description of heaven, found in the diary of Rev. S. M. Irvin.—Algonquin prayer to Father Allouez.—The totem.—The folk-lore of the Indian his literature.—Myth of a prehistoric world.—The transformation.—The burning earth.—Formation of the stars.—The Water-Maiden.—The Earth-Maiden.—Michabou.—Worship of the heavenly bodies.—Sacrifices.—Relation of dogs to the moon.—The Horned Serpent.—The Prince of Rattlesnakes.—Hiawatha, the Indian Messiah.—The Red Swan.—The Pipe of Peace.—Thunder and lightning.—The Storm Giant.—Rainmakers.—The Wild Parsnip.—The Spirit of Fire.—Fire legend of the Navajos.—The Shawnee and Delaware type of life.—The imagery of the red man.—Knowledge of the fundamental truths of nature.—Earliest record of the Middle West.—Dominant tribes.—The Paducas.—The emigrant nations.


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Wanderings in Kansas and Nebraska.—Origin.—The word "Pani."—Imitation of wolves.—Bands.—Tuhk-pah-huks-taht.—Skidi-rah-ru.—Tuh-wa-hok-a-sha.—Tu-hi-'ts-pi-yet.—Hunting in ancient times.—Weapons.—Utensils.—Government.—Dress.—Lodges.—Music.—Courtship and marriage.—Religious ceremonies.—The Buffalo Dance.—Departure for semi-annual buffalo hunt.—The surround.—Ti-rá-wa, the Pawnee Deity.—The Na-hú-rac.—Sacrifices.—The wonderful horse.—Homes of the Nu-hú-rac.—The Nu-hú-rac doctors.—Medicine men and priests.—Belief in a prehistoric race.—Destruction of the giants.—Human sacrifices.—A Legend of Kansas.—Pit-a-le-shar'-u.—Hostilities against other nations.—Villages of the Iowas and Sacs.—War with the Iowas, 1839.—Battle amid the sunflowers.—Sale of Pawnee lands.—Removal to the Indian Territory.—Success in agriculture.



Early home.—Wanderings in the Mississippi Basin.—Present location.—Origin of name.—Meaning of word "Dakota."—Pantomime.—Divisions of nation.—Relation of chief to people.—Disposition of bodies of the dead.—Eagle Eye and Scarlet Dove.—Slavery of women.—Vanity of men.—Language of the feather.—Decoration of the person.—Plural [Pg 5]marriage.—Story of Anepetusa.—Belief in four souls.—A typical prayer.—Omens.—Worship.—Animals in Dakota theology.—O-an-tay-hee.—The creation.—Hay-o-kah.—Taku-shkan-shkan.—Wa-keen-yan.—Unk-tay-he.—Chah-o-ter-dah.—Whitte-kah-gah.—Wa-hun-de-dan.—Fairies.—Giants.—Giant's party.—Feasts.—The Wa-keen.—Initiation of the medicine men.—War parties.—War Dance.— Sun Dance.—Moral code.—Degree of manhood.— Incidents in the Life of Ta-ton-ka-I-o-ton-ka.—Spotted Tail and Red Cloud.—Betrothal and death of daughter of Spotted Tail.—Water Carrier, the wife of Lone Elk.—Present condition of the Sioux.



Origin.—Manners and customs.—Savage proclivities.—Village of American Chief.—Village of Fool Chief.—Removal to Council Grove.—The Victory that made Wa-hon-ga-shee a famous Chief.—The War Dance.—Paying off old scores.—Osages and Kaws on police duty.—Superstitions.—Funeral ceremonies.—Creation story of the Osages.—Territory.—Cessions.—Feasts.—Present condition.



Lineage.—Language.—The term "Lenape."—Subjugation by the Iroquois.—Peace treaty with William Penn.—Migrations.—Legends preserved by missionaries.—The virgin who fell from heaven.—Kikeron.—The tortoise in Algonquin pictography.—Symbol [Pg 6]of the earth.—The pristine age.—The earth submerged.—The ancient turtle.—Rescue of the survivors.—Land supported by a turtle.—First home of the Lenape.—Travels and conquests.—Land of giants.—Fortifications of the enemy.—Mounds.—Divisions of the nation.—Legend of the Hairless Bear.—Pictograph system.—Rafinesque.— Walam Olum.—Wanderings of the Delawares.—Tamenend.—The Lover's Leap.—Onoko.—Lenape in Kansas.—The Battle of the Plains.—Removal to the Indian Territory.



Origin.—Location at the time of the discovery of America.—Alliance with the Senecas.—Termination of peace.—Hatred of the Iroquois.—Settlement at Detroit.—Settlement in Ohio and Michigan.—Clans.—Government.—Religion.—Gods.—Prayer of the Huron.—Legend of Sayadio.—The White Panther.—Hurons leaders in the councils of nations.—Keepers of the Council Fire.—Wampum belts.—Corn Dance.—Clan names.—Visions of the Wyandot maiden.—Wyandots in the War of 1812.—Roundhead.—Warrow.—Walk-in-the-Water.—Big Tree.—War with Cherokees—Chief Splitlog.—Last religious feast and dance of the Wyandots.—William Walker.—Silas Armstrong.—Matthew Walker.—Governor Walker.—Matthias Splitlog.—Emigration to Kansas.—Intelligence and education.—-Accomplishments.—Belle of the nation.—Sense of humor.—Elder Dennison and John Grayeyes.—The Triumph of Chudaquana [Pg 7]over the Power of Witchcraft.—Romance of a Wyandot girl.—Present location of the people.—Tribal relations.—Absorption by the white race.



Descent.—Alliances.—Branches.—Location.—Part in War of 1812.—Suna-we-wone.—Treaty of peace.— Cessions.—Emigration to Kansas.—Present location.—Belief in Kitchenonedo and Matchemondo.—First inhabitants of the earth.—Submersion.—New World.—Legend of the five young men.—Menweshma.—Encounter with the Pawnees.—Wa-baun-see.—Story of the Flat-Boat.—Defeat by the Osages.—Revenge upon the Osage chief.—Wa-baun-see's journey to Washington.—Death.



First emigrant tribe in Kansas.—Ancient home of the nation.—Defeat by the Iroquois.—Flight southward.—Return.—Settlement near Cape Girardeau.—Removal to Kansas.—Removal to the Indian Territory.—Shawnees of Algonquin stock.—Gypsies of the wilderness.—Creation theory.—Doctrine of pre-natal existence.—An incident of war with the Pawnees.—Belief in descent from one of the lost tribes of Israel.—Holy of Holies.—Language.—Adventures of a trader.—Mauné, the Chippewa Girl.—A Fragment of History from the War of the Races.—Chinwa, the White Warrior.—The Tragic Death of the Son of Chief Lay-law-she-kaw.



Scene in the Kansas ValleyFrontispiece
A Pawnee Buffalo Hunt40
Ta-ton-ka-I-yo-ton-ka (Sitting Bull)80
Sioux Infant88
Wa-hon-ga-shee (No Fool)96
The Shawnee Prophet202

"Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe, that in all ages,
Every human heart is human,
That in even savage bosoms,
There are longings, yearnings, strivings,
For the good they comprehend not,
That the feeble hands and helpless,
Groping blindly in the darkness,
Touch God's right hand in that darkness,
And are lifted up and strengthened;—
Listen to this simple story."

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A legend, according to Webster, is any story, be it truth or fiction, which dates back to early days. In this connection, it may be of interest to the reader to know that the stories of adventure in this volume are founded upon real events; but, wherever it has seemed best, names have been changed. In committing to paper the histories of Maune´, the Chippewa girl, and Henry Rogers, there has been practically no deviation from the facts as related by their descendants.

The incidents described in the last story were narrated by the daughter of an Indian agent, who lived many years with the Shawnees. The writer has spent a portion of her life in the West, and having been located for a number of years in an old mission town, has witnessed the bean dance, the corn dance and the war dance. Her small strength has been exerted, more than once, to assist in beating back the edges of a great fire, which threatened to creep over the narrow strip of[Pg 12] plowed ground outside the fences enclosing a prairie home. Reliable information has been obtained through conversation with old settlers and their families. An army officer, whose long life in the Indian country renders his statements of great value, detailed many facts concerning the Sioux. Interviews with the natives and their descendants have brought out strange traditions and superstitions. The works of Henry R. Schoolcraft—regarding the habits, customs and languages of the aborigines,—the writings of George Bird Grinnell and Daniel G. Brinton have proved exceedingly helpful.

Although statistics show, within the last few years, an apparent increase of the Indian population of the United States, comparatively few included therein, are of purely Indian extraction. The red race, as a separate people, is fading from the earth; and there will come a time when the mythology of America will be almost as eagerly studied as that of Greece and Rome.[Pg 13]

The general public has an erroneous idea of the Indian of the present time. He has passed through the first period—that of wildness and barbaric splendor,—and, emerging from the second epoch—the state of drunken semi-civilization,—has entered upon a career of greater mental activity. With the exception of a few strong inherited tendencies, he now differs but little from his paler-faced brother. The prevailing notion concerning the natives has been formed from the worst class—the idle, uncleanly beggars. It is unjust to judge a whole people by the most degraded specimens. Through intermarriage, the remnants of the aborigines are rapidly becoming a part of the white race and engrafting upon it, not only their peculiarities of temperament but also their strength and determination.

It is a source of regret to those who are awake to the knowledge that there is a valuable field of literature in Indian folklore, that so little has been recorded. Even the best libraries contain few works upon the subject.[Pg 14]

Inspired with a desire to contribute an atom to this slowly accumulating literature; to preserve the stories which herein appear in print for the first time; and to awaken a deeper interest in the old, oft-recounted traditions—the author, trusting to the indulgence of the public, ventures to submit the following.[Pg 15]

Legends of the Kaw.


The history of Kansas has been of peculiar interest to the world at large, by reason of the struggles of ante-bellum days. The adventures of John Brown of Osawatomie and the achievements of General Lane, Governor Robinson, and other heroes of that period have formed the nucleus of many a story and song. All honor to the men who labored so successfully in the cause of freedom! There is another, equally brave, though less fortunate, race that wandered over the rolling prairies of the Sunflower State and camped along its rivers; a race stern, taciturn, and ever ready to do battle for home and liberty. Like the buffalo, former monarch of the plains, it has gradually diminished in numbers. Extinction or amalgamation is now a question of only a few brief years. This nation[Pg 16] furnishes a romantic background, full of rich though somber color, to the later record of the great West.

Who can say that the traditions of the red man lack pathos, or that his character is devoid of the elements of nobleness, self-sacrifice and even martyrdom? Rude, wild and imperfect though it be, his folklore tells the story of a people, barbarous, it is true, but strong in their attachments and devoted to their faith. Many Indian myths, adventures and scraps of history are full of deep—often tragic—interest to one who delves in legendary lore. Like the tales of ancient Greece, as explained by Ruskin in Queen of the Air, each weird story admits of more than one interpretation. Sometimes a great spiritual truth lies hidden in its quaint phrases—sometimes a scientific fact.

There was an idea, current among the Indians who roamed over the central portion of the United States, that at one time in the long past, the rivers of the Mississippi basin filled the entire valley, and only great elevations[Pg 17] were visible. Geology substantiates this teaching. The theory of a dual soul approached very close to the teachings of modern psychologists. While one soul was supposed to remain in the body, its companion was free to depart on excursions during sleep. After the death of the material man, it went to the Indian elysium and might, if desirous, return, in time, to earth, to be born again.

Like that of all uncivilized races, the ancient religion of the North American Indian was incoherent. Association with Europeans produced changes. Doctrines before unknown to the red man were engrafted upon his faith. Some writers maintain that it is doubtful if the idea of a single divinity had been developed previous to intercourse with missionaries. Brinton asserts that the word used by the natives to indicate God, is analogous to none in any European tongue, conveying no sense of personal unity. It has been rendered Spirit, Demon, God, Devil, Mystery and Magic. The Dakota word is Wakan (above), the Iroquois, Oki; the Algonquin, Manito. God and heaven[Pg 18] were probably linked together before there was sufficient advancement to question whether heaven were material and God spiritual; whether the Deity were one or many. Good Spirit and Great Spirit are evidently of more recent origin and were, perhaps, first suggested by missionaries, the terms being applied to the white man's God, and adopted by the Indian and applied to his own. The number of spirits was practically unlimited, communication being usually in the hands of the medicine men, although the unseen world was often heard from directly in dreams.

A description of heaven—by Wampasha, an Iowa Indian—was found in the diary of Reverend S. M. Irvin, a devoted missionary among the Iowas and Sacs. It reads:

"The Big Village (heaven) is situated near the great water, toward the sunrise, and not far from the heads of the Mississippi River. None go there until after they die. A smart person can make the journey in three or four days; if, however, his heart be not right at death, the journey will be prolonged and attended[Pg 19] with difficulties and stormy weather till he reaches the land of rest. Infants, dying, are carried by messengers sent for them; the old or infirm are borne upon horses; they have horses, plenty, and fine grass, and infirmities will all be healed in that village. The blind will receive new eyes; they have plenty of good eyes and ears there. Good people will never die again, but the bad may die three or four times and then turn into some bird."

Father Allouez, one of the first missionaries among the Algonquins, entered a village never before visited by a white man. He was invited to a council, and the old men, gathering around him, said:

"It is well, Blackrobe, that thou dost visit us; thou are a Manito; we give thee to smoke. The Iroquois are devouring us. Have mercy upon us. Hear us, O Manito! we give thee to smoke. Let the earth yield us corn; the rivers give us fish; sickness not slay us; nor hunger so torment us. Hear us, O Manito! we give thee to smoke."[Pg 20]

Birds and beasts were selected as guardians. Everyone considered his totem a protector, and refrained from killing it. Whole clans were believed to be descended from a common totem and information was conveyed by means of omens.

The character of a nation is engraven upon its literature, which, like a mirror, reflects the thoughts, emotions and progress of a people. The folklore of the North American Indians was their literature. The myth, grounded upon the unchanging laws of the universe, was conscious, however vaguely, of great principles that are forever true. Physical existence formed the basis of each important fable. The earth, air, water and other elements were personified. Every image had its moral significance.

Mythology has been said to be simply the idea of God, expressed in symbol, figure and narrative. That of primitive America was founded upon the conviction that there was, in pre-historic times, another world inhabited by a people strong and peaceable. So long as[Pg 21] harmony reigned, comfort and happiness were theirs, but when discord entered this Eden, conflict succeeded conflict, until, to punish his disobedient children, the Master of Life transformed them, one by one, into trees, plants, rocks and all the living creatures. It was said that each person became the outward embodiment of what he had previously been within himself. For instance, from the head of one sprang an owl, from another a buzzard, a third became an eagle, and in this manner was the present world with its three kingdoms, vegetable, animal and mineral, evolved.

Another tradition says that in the days of turmoil, a powerful man, or demi-god, ran to the place where the earth and sky meet, and with a lighted torch, set fire to the tall grass, igniting the earth itself. Those worthy of preservation were caught up to a place of safety. Sparks, rising from the flames, and finding lodgment high above, became the twinkling "sky-eyes," which, in the language of the white man, are called stars.[Pg 22]

After the conflagration had subsided, one whose duty in the upper sphere had been to provide water, carried it in a basket; and as she walked, drop after drop fell through upon the parched region below, causing it to revive. Awakened Nature blossomed into new beauty, and all who had escaped the terrible fire fiend, returned to take possession of the country. The Water-Maiden still carries the basket; and its contents, which never grow less, still fall in gentle showers, to refresh the land.

Among the beautiful creation myths, is that of the Earth-Maiden, who, through being looked upon by the sun, became a mother, giving birth to a wonderful being, a great benefactor. By reason of his benign influence, mankind lives and prospers. This benefactor is really the warm, wavering light, to be seen between the virgin earth, his mother, and the sun.

There are numerous narratives in which heat, cold, light and darkness appear as leading actors. A powerful god of the Algonquins[Pg 23] was the maker of the earth, Michabou (light), toward whom the Spirit of Waters was ever unfriendly.

In Mexico, the worship of the sun and other heavenly bodies was practiced, sacrifices of men and women with white faces and hair being particularly acceptable.

Almost all aboriginal people believed that dogs occupied a peculiar position with regard to the moon, possibly because of the canine habit of baying at that planet.

The bird and the serpent were especially honored. The former, no doubt, because of its power of floating through the air and the latter for its subtlety. The Hurons told the early Jesuits of a serpent with a horn capable of penetrating rocks, trees and hills—everything it encountered. The person fortunate enough to obtain a portion for his medicine bag was sure of good luck. The Hurons informed the missionaries that none of their own people had ever seen the monster; but the Algonquins occasionally sold them small portions of its horn for a very high consideration.[Pg 24] The Shawnees, who had unquestionably practiced on the credulity of their neighbors, led roving lives and had become familiar with the myths of many nations. It is not unlikely that the serpent fable originated with the Creeks and Cherokees, who thought the immense snake dwelt in the waters. Tradition says that old people stood on the shores and sang sacred songs. The creature came to the surface, showing its horns. The magicians cut one off and continued to chant. The serpent again appeared, and the other horn was secured and borne away in triumph.

These tribes asserted that in the fastnesses of their mountains was the carefully guarded palace of the Prince of Rattlesnakes. On the royal head shone a marvelous jewel. Warriors and priests endeavored in vain to get possession of the glittering trophy. Finally, one more thoughtful than the rest encased himself in leather, passed through the writhing, hissing court, unharmed by poisoned fangs; tore the coveted charm from the[Pg 25] head of the prince, and carried it home. The gem was ever preserved with great care and brought forth only on state occasions.

The story of Hiawatha (Hi-a-wat-ha), which Schoolcraft gives as an Iroquois legend, is found among the traditions of many tribes, the leading character being called by different names. In the East he was known as Glooskap, about the lakes as Manabozho, in other localities as Chiabo; but, as in certain Aryan myths—of which this may be one—the principal features of the story are the same in all nations. Their hero came to them as did Buddha to the East Indian, and Christ to those prepared to receive the gospel, bearing messages of peace, good will to men; teaching justice, patience, conformity to truth, and to the laws of the red man; instructing them in various manual arts, and destroying hideous monsters that lurked in the woods and hills, or lay concealed amid the tall prairie grass. He lived as a warrior, hunted, fished and battled for right, changing when necessary, to any animal or plant. While seated in his white[Pg 26] stone canoe on one of the Great Lakes, he was swallowed by the King of Fishes. Undaunted, he beat its heart with a stone club until it was dead, and when birds of prey had eaten the flesh, and light shone through, climbed out with the magic boat.

The struggle with fire-serpents, in order to reach the wicked Pearl Feather, whom he fought the livelong day, has been recounted again and again. How a woodpecker flew overhead, screaming "Shoot at his scalp-lock!" How, obeying this admonition, Hiawatha saw the enemy fall in the throes of death, and dipping his finger in the blood, touched the bird, and to this day a red mark is found on the head of the woodpecker. He slew the Prince of Serpents, traveled from village to village performing good works, and having wedded a beautiful Dakota woman, presented a perfect example of faithfulness and devotion. A league of thirteen nations was formed through the influence of this remarkable man; and as he stood among the assembled chiefs, addressing them with supernatural eloquence,[Pg 27] encouraging them in a voice of sweetness and power to lives of rectitude, the summons came. Promising to return at some future time, Hiawatha stepped into his white stone canoe and was lifted heavenward, the air trembling with soft music as he floated from sight. To this final pledge are attributable many ghost dances and outbreaks against the whites, notably that at Pine Ridge Agency, when the coming of the Messiah was expected with full confidence.

The well-known legend of the Red Swan was a satisfactory explanation of the crimson glow that spread over the water at sunset. Three brothers set out in different directions, upon a hunting expedition, to see who would procure the first game. They decided to kill no animal except the kind that each was in the habit of shooting. Odjibwa, the youngest, caught sight of a bear, which was exempt according to agreement. Nevertheless, in his eagerness, the hunter pursued and shot it with an arrow, taking the skin. In a moment, the air became tinged with red and a wild[Pg 28] piercing cry was audible, like and yet unlike a human voice. Odjibwa followed the sound and came to the shore of a beautiful lake, upon which rested a graceful red swan. Its plumage glittered in the last bright rays of the sinking sun. Possessed with a desire to try his skill again, the young man used every available arrow in the vain endeavor to hit the wonderful object; then remembering that in the medicine sack of his deceased father were three magic arrows, he ran home, opened the sacred pouch and secured them. The third one struck the mark; and the injured bird, rising slowly from the lake, floated away toward the western horizon. From that time forth, just at sunset, the blood of the wounded swan cast a blush, like the rich color of a maiden's cheek, over the surface of the waters.

The song of "The Peace Pipe," by Longfellow, was founded upon the belief of the Northern Indians that when the earth was still in her childhood, the Master of Life assembled the nations upon the crags of the famous Red Pipestone Quarry, and breaking a fragment[Pg 29] from the rock, moulded a huge calumet—the emblem of peace. He smoked over the people to the east, the west, the north and the south; and the great white cloud ascended until it touched heaven. Then, having told the warriors that the stone was red, like their flesh, and should be used for their pipes of peace, the spirit became enveloped in smoke and was seen no more. The rock was glazed with heat and two large ovens or caverns opened underneath. In a blaze of fire, two women entered, as guardians of the place, where, to this day, they answer the prayers of the medicine men who make pilgrimages to that locality.

The phenomena of thunder and lightning were variously explained by different tribes. Some believed every storm to be a struggle between the God of Waters and the Thunderbird. Others affirmed that thunder was the voice of the Great Spirit reminding them of the approach of corn-planting season; that lightning kindled sacred fires, and, striking,[Pg 30] penetrated the earth, forming such stones as flint, from which fire can be drawn.

Mrs. Eastman tells of the belief of the Sioux in a storm giant, to whom heat was cold and cold heat; who laughed when sad and groaned when merry; who wore horns to represent lightning and hurled meteors with his hands; he used one of the four winds as a drumstick to produce thunder.

In seasons of drought, the rainmaker of the Lenape sought a retired spot, and drawing upon the ground the figure of a cross, pointing to the cardinal points, made offerings of tobacco and other articles, to the Spirit of Rains.

The Blackfeet massed stones upon the prairies, in the form of a cross, in honor of the "Old Man who sends the wind."

The Creeks also called upon the four winds, whose duty it was to distribute showers.

The Wild Parsnip was a bad man, going around doing harmful deeds, until, by transformation, compelled to stay in one place,[Pg 31] he could no longer cause damage except by killing people when they ate him.

The Spirit of Fire was supposed to ride, bow in hand and face blackened with rage, in a cloud of smoke. When he drew the bow, quickly the flames spread over the prairie.

The Navajos thought that fire was first brought to earth through the efforts of the coyote, the bat, and the squirrel. The coyote attached some splinters to his tail, ran quickly through the fire and fled with his prize. Being pursued, he was compelled to run rapidly and became exhausted, whereupon, the bat relieved him. The squirrel assisted him at the last, to carry it to the hearths of the Navajos.

In some tribes fire was considered a type of life. The Shawnee prophet said to his followers:

"Know that the life in your body and the fire on your hearth proceed from one source."

The greatest feast of the Delawares was to their "grandfather, fire." Referring to the[Pg 32] immortality of their gods, the Algonquins said: "Their fire burns forever."

The imagery of the red man compares favorably with that of other races. The Indian lived near to the very heart of Nature and understood her fundamental truths. To him, all things were divided into the animate and inanimate. Everything endowed with life or capable of action was thought to possess intelligence and reason. There were lessons in the movements of the winds and waves; in flying clouds and in the azure skies; the countless stars had a language of their own; and even the comet, sweeping across the heavens, told a story with a strong moral.

The earliest record of the Indians of the Middle West, that of Father Marquette, has been preserved at St. Mary's College, Montreal, Canada. The document refers to the Kaws, Osages and Pawnees, as the dominant tribes. The Padoucas, of whom little is known, then dwelt near the head waters of the Kansas River. They were strong and numerous, and ranged the country southwest,[Pg 33] in Colorado and New Mexico. The nation and language were unknown in other parts of the continent; and no relationship could be traced to the four principal Indian families. The habits of the people were different from those of any other tribe. They lived in houses in villages with streets regularly laid out; but raised no grain, depending for subsistence chiefly upon the products of the chase. Certain students of ethnology have asserted that the Kiowas are their somewhat degenerate descendants.

As years went by, all was changed. The Padoucas became extinct and the Pawnees reduced in numbers; the Osages ceded nearly all of their territory in Missouri to the United States and were allowed a reservation in Kansas. A few years later, a large percentage of their lands and that of the Kaws was purchased by the Government, to be used as a home for the Eastern Indians. The Delawares, Wyandots, Pottawatomies and Shawnees were the emigrant nations of the Kansas River valley.[Pg 34]


When the Territory of Louisiana was still the property of France; when the United States was endeavoring to subdue the savages within its own domain; a wild and unsophisticated people, to whom the vices of civilization were as yet unknown, traversed the broad prairies of Kansas and Nebraska.

The Pawnees, or Pani, were, according to tradition, of southern origin. The white man found them established in villages along the Platte River, whence they sallied forth, roving over the entire region extending from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains and carrying terror to all who ventured opposition. None were more relentless in war or more ready to seek revenge. The word Pani, meaning "horn," was supposed to have reference to a peculiar custom of wearing the scalp-lock dressed to stand upright like a horn. The Pawnees were often called "wolves," on[Pg 35] account of a singular aptitude in imitating those animals. When desirous of noting the movements of the enemy without being detected in so doing, they frequently put on the skins of wolves and dropped upon hands and knees as soon as near enough to be observed. Becoming common objects of the landscape, they remained unnoticed.

The nation was composed of three bands, federated under one chief. In order of importance, they were the Chau´-i (In-the-Middle), Kit-ke-hahk´-i (On-the-Hill), and Pit-hau´-erat (Down-the-Stream). These names were given with reference to the relative position of the villages. The Ski-di, or Loups, whose history is somewhat obscure, united with the tribe at some period after it had become settled along the Platte River. Western men called the different bands the Grand, Republican, Tapage and Wolf Pawnees. The Ski-di were more intelligent and fierce than their neighbors. After they united with the tribe, there were four important villages. The Tuhk-pah-huks´-taht (Pumpkin-vine Village) derived its[Pg 36] name from the fact that once, during the absence of the people upon a long summer hunt, the pumpkin vines grew until they climbed over the lodges, almost hiding them from view. This was considered a miraculous occurrence.

One cold winter, when food was scarce, a band went into camp near the Loup River. Just below the village large numbers of buffaloes came to cross upon the ice. The Indians succeeded in killing so many of the animals that, having dried all the meat required, they preserved the skins only, leaving the bodies to be devoured by wolves. About this time a member of a starving band arrived and expressed great wonderment as to the way in which they had obtained so much meat. Taking him down to the river, his friends pointed out the spot on the ice where wolves, standing in a pool of water caused by a slight thaw, were feasting upon the buffaloes. Going back to his own band, the Ski-di told of plenty in the other camp, and when questioned as to its location, replied:[Pg 37] "Ski-di-rah´-ru" (Where the wolves stand in the water). From this incident the second village took its name. The third and fourth were Tuh-wa-hok´-a-sha (Village-on-a-Ridge) and Tu-hi-'ts-pi-yet (Village-on-a-Point).

In ancient times the Pawnees had no horses and went hunting on foot. Arrow heads were made of flint or deer horns. Until a recent date, the old stone arrow heads were believed to have supernatural power. White traders introduced those made of iron. The warriors were skillful marksmen and the bow and arrow remained the favorite weapon as long as there were buffaloes to kill. The endurance of the Pawnees, when hunting, was remarkable. In the first place, scouts were sent out to look up a herd. Having discovered one, they returned with information regarding its location. The hunters, disguised as wolves, advanced in a body until within sight, then scattered, forming a large circle, which gradually became less, as they closed in upon the animals. When near enough to[Pg 38] begin the attack, a man shouted to attract attention, and the startled buffaloes ran, some one way and some another. Wherever they turned, an Indian, casting off his wolf skin, sprang up and drove them back. At length, the Pawnees, yelling and waving blankets and shooting in the midst of the herd, wore them out. The great beasts, when too tired to run, were easily despatched.


Before the advent of the trader, all portions of the buffalo were utilized. Hoes were made from the shoulder blades, needles from bone, spoons and ladles from the horns, ropes from the hair, lariats from raw-hide, clothing from the dressed skins, and blankets and tents from the robes. Pottery was formed from clay mixed with pounded stone, moulded in hollows in stumps of trees, and baked. Wooden mortars and bowls were hollowed out by fire.

The Pawnee nation was ruled by a head chief of the Chau´-i band. The office was hereditary but became difficult to retain if the chief were unpopular. Each band was governed[Pg 39] by four chiefs. Important affairs were discussed in council, by chiefs, head men and warriors. Personal character determined position, and the opinions of the majority prevailed. There was a servant class, composed of young men and boys, who lived in the families of men of prominence and performed menial offices.

Breech-clouts, leggings, moccasins and blankets or buffalo robes comprised the clothing of the men. Their heads were shaved, with the exception of a narrow strip extending from each forehead to the back of the head. The ridge of hair, less than an inch in length, was stiffened to stand upright. From this fell the scalp-lock. The women were accustomed to wear sleeveless shirts and skirts reaching below the knees; also robes or blankets when necessary. There was no head covering, except on great occasions, when some of the men donned chaplets of eagle feathers. Red and yellow paint were used on breasts and faces for ornament, while black paint was reserved for war. Boys were[Pg 40] permitted to go nude until ten or twelve years of age; but girls dressed in little shirts almost as soon as they could walk. Infants were placed upon boards.

A visitor at the home of a Pawnee chief, in the village on the Kansas River, about the year 1839, described the toilet of the host's son as extremely fanciful. On days when there was no hunt, the dandy began at eight o'clock in the morning, by greasing his entire person with fat, and painting his face red. Earrings and wampum necklaces were worn, and yellow stripes adorned breast and shoulders. Armlets were placed above his elbows and rings upon his fingers. Handsomely decorated moccasins, scarlet leggings fastened to a belt, and bead garters four inches wide, formed important parts of the costume. One of the women led his horse before the tent. Its forehead and shoulders were painted red and a feather fastened in its tail. Chains of steel were attached to the bridle and bells to the reins. A scarlet mantle was thrown over the young man's shoulders, [Pg 41]and thus arrayed, with a large turkey feather fan in one hand, and a whip upon his wrist, he ambled through the encampment, eliciting admiration on all sides.

At a social gathering, the guest sang for the entertainment of the Indians, and requested them to give him an example of their songs. The white man portrayed the result in the following language:

"All rose at once. Each singer began by strange and uncouth sounds, to work his mind and lungs up to the proper pitch of excitement; and when, at length, the shrill and terrible cry rose to its full height, its effect was astounding and sufficient to deafen a delicate ear."

The song, to which the savages kept time with heads and bodies, was allowed to fall into monotonous cadence, then burst forth into full chorus, with mingled howls and yells.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, Pawnee courtships were peculiar. The lover first went to the father's tent, uninvited, and sat in a corner of the mat for[Pg 42] some time, then rose and departed without speaking. A few days later, he returned, wearing his buffalo robe hair side out, and sat silent. This was a regular proposal. If the father desired to reject him at once, no skin was placed for him to sit upon and no meat was offered him. If the suit met with approval, the rites of hospitality were extended and feasts were given to obtain the consent to the marriage, of the relatives of both families. The young man next presented himself to his bride at the door of her tent, turned and walked slowly toward his own. She arose and followed him. The ceremony of marriage was then complete. Presents of horses, blankets and other valuables were sent to the father of the young woman.

Plural marriage was practiced, the husband being entitled to wed the younger sisters of his first wife.

In the permanent villages on the Platte River, circular lodges were built of sod. Every house had a wall seven or eight feet in height, around which, upon the floor, the[Pg 43] inmates slept, each bed being partitioned or curtained off. Hanging upon the wall or in the space back of the bed, were the belongings of its occupant. The center of the house was reserved for cooking, smoke escaping through an aperture in the roof. Skin lodges were used when traveling or upon the semi-annual hunt. Each family had many dogs.

After spring planting, the people abandoned their villages for the summer hunt, returning in time for harvest. Religious ceremonies, with fervent prayers to Ti-ra´-wa, the invisible yet ever-present Creator, preceded departure. The Buffalo Dance, executed by the younger warriors, came next. This continued for three days, when the line of march was taken up. Tents, cooking utensils and the entire property of the tribe having been packed on ponies and removed to the vicinity of a large herd of buffaloes, camp was established and preparations made for curing the meat when it should be brought in. Approaching to make the attack, a limited number of chosen men, led by standard-bearers[Pg 44] with sacred poles wrapped in bright colored cloth and ornamented with bead-work and feathers, advanced first. The remainder of the hunters followed. After the slaughter, the squaws, with their sharp knives, amid much merriment, cut and bore away to the camp the most desirable portions of meat.

Ti-ra´-wa, the Pawnee deity, was not personified, being intangible and in and of everything. The nation did not adore any material substance, but, like all aboriginal people, attributed to animals an intelligence sometimes exceeding that of man. As the messengers of God, the Na-hu´-rac received miraculous power through him, hence were often implored to intercede with Ti-ra´-wa. In cases of great emergency, direct intercession became necessary. A party prayed for success and made sacrifices before starting on the war-path. Victory was acknowledged by thanksgiving offerings. War parties were made up by anyone with a grievance, if he had sufficient influence to secure followers.[Pg 45] Frequently scalps taken from the heads of enemies were burned with much ceremony.

One of the best-known legends, related by George Bird Grinnell, illustrates the power of animals in changing the fortunes of those who listened to their behests.

An old woman lived on the outskirts of a village located on the bank of the Platte River. At one time she had been the wife of a brave hunter and warrior. During his life there was always a comfortable lodge, as well as plenty of buffalo meat and robes. No one of the nation was more successful in stealing horses from the enemy, which was considered a highly honorable feat. He was killed in a great battle with the Sioux, and the poor woman had never ceased to mourn. Now, in old age, there remained but one relative, a grandson of sixteen years. Being reduced to poverty, they were in the habit, when the tribe moved, of following in the rear, in order to pick up anything that might have been left behind as worthless. Once, to the delight of the boy, an old dun horse was[Pg 46] abandoned by its owner. The animal was blind in one eye and had a sore back and a swollen leg; but was nevertheless valuable to the poor woman, inasmuch as it could carry the cooking utensils and the worn-out skin used for a lodge when traveling.

The village was moved to Court House Rock. Soon after arrival the young men sent out to look for buffaloes returned with information that there was a large herd in the vicinity, and among the animals was a spotted calf.

The head chief had a young and beautiful daughter. He announced that whosoever should kill the spotted calf should marry the girl. Since the buffaloes were only four miles away, it was decided that the charge should be made from the village. The one who had the fastest steed would be most likely to obtain the calf. The poor boy made preparations to ride the old dun horse. He was ridiculed to such an extent that he withdrew to the bank of a creek, nearby. The animal turned its head and said:[Pg 47]

"Plaster me all over with mud. Cover my head, neck, body and legs."

The boy obeyed and the horse then ordered that he remain where they were and make the charge from the creek. The men were drawn up in line and at the word Loo ah (go), leaned forward, yelled and galloped away. At one side, some distance away, the dun horse flew over the ground; he seemed young and strong of limb and sure of foot. As they neared the buffaloes, he dashed in among the herd and stopped beside the spotted calf. His rider killed it, and taking another arrow, shot a fat cow, then dismounting, secured the spotted skin. Cutting out certain portions of the meat, the boy packed them upon the horse. Putting the skin on top of the load, he led the animal back to camp. It pranced and curveted and showed much spirit. The warriors were filled with astonishment. A rich chief rode up to the boy and tried to buy the spotted robe, but without success.

Some of the hunters reached the village in advance and informed the old woman of[Pg 48] her grandson's triumph. She could hardly believe the story, and wondered if they were still ridiculing her boy. His appearance with the coveted robe and more meat than they had had for many a long day, ended her doubts; and there were great rejoicings in the tent.

At night the horse spoke to the boy, saying:

"To-morrow the Sioux are coming. There will be a battle. When they are drawn up in line, jump on me and ride as hard as you can up to the head chief and kill him and ride back. Ride up to them four times and kill four of the bravest Sioux; but do not go the fifth time or you will get killed or lose me."

The next morning, just at day-break, the Sioux rode over the top of the hill and drew up in line of battle. They were attired in all the trappings of war, and looked ferocious in their paint. The Pawnees had no time for decoration, but hastily seized their weapons, cut the lariats that bound their ponies, sprang upon them and rushed out of the camp, when[Pg 49] at the proper distance, forming in battle array opposite the enemy.

It was the custom of these tribes, when ready for a fight, to confront one another in two long lines. After a few moments of silence, some man, desiring to distinguish himself, rode out from the attacking party and exhorted his people, telling them of brave deeds in the past and of what he now intended to do; then, turning quickly, he dashed toward the enemy, hanging over the side of his pony and riding along in front of the foe, discharging one arrow after another, in rapid succession. If the brave were killed, his own people made no sign, until a man rode out from the other side to challenge; but if he were fiercely set upon, they united in a general attack.

The boy mounted the dun horse and joined the warriors. They looked askance but were too excited to make comment. The wonderful horse galloped out from the line and made for the head chief of the Sioux. The boy quickly despatched the leader and rode back[Pg 50] to the Pawnees. Four times he went forward, and each time killed one of the bravest of the enemy. Then, forgetting the warning, the boy charged again. An arrow struck his horse and the rider had a narrow escape from death. The Sioux cut and chopped the horse in pieces.

After a spirited conflict, the Pawnees were victorious. The following day the boy went out to where the horse lay. Gathering up the pieces of flesh, he put them in a pile, and wrapping himself in his blanket, sat on the top of a hill not far away. He drew the robe over his head and mourned. A storm arose suddenly. The wind blew and rain fell. Removing the blanket from his face, the boy saw the pieces coming together and taking form. Another storm succeeded. When it cleared away, he beheld a slight movement of the horse's tail. Then the animal lifted its head from the ground. After a fourth storm had spent its fury, the horse arose and its owner hastened down the hill and led it[Pg 51] home. It cautioned him to render perfect obedience in the future, and said:

"Lead me away from the camp, behind that hill. Leave me there to-night and come for me in the morning."

The boy did as directed and found, standing beside his old friend, a beautiful white horse.

Leaving the dun horse a second night, the owner discovered a fine black gelding in the morning. After ten nights, there were ten horses, each of a different color. The boy was now rich and married the daughter of the chief. Many years later he became the head of the nation. The old grandmother was well cared for, and the dun horse, being considered sacred, was never mounted except at a doctor's dance; but was led around with the chief wherever he went.

The Pawnees believed that the Na-hu´-rac held council in five places. At Pa-huk´ (White Island) on the south side of the Platte River, opposite Fremont, Nebraska; under an island in the Platte River, near Central City (Dark[Pg 52] Island), on the Loup Fork, opposite the mouth of Cedar River (White Bank); and on the Solomon River, Kitz-a-witz´-uk, (Water-on-a-Bank). This was a mound with a hole in the middle, through which water might be seen. Articles were thrown in, as offerings to Ti-ra´-wa. The fifth place, a hole in the side of a hill, was in Kansas. It was indicated by a rock called Pa-hur´ (Hill-that-points-the-Way).

An old story, current among the people, says that in the early days, in one of the Pawnee tribes, was a boy, smaller than others of his age. He refused to play with the children, preferring to spend much time alone. His manner was strange and the child was frequently in tears. The father and mother observed that he often pasted mud upon his head. This was the sign of a doctor and designated faith in the earth. As the boy grew to be a young man he appeared to have something constantly on his mind and would fast for days, smoking and praying to Ti-ra´-wa during that time. He doctored those who were ill, and, although rapidly becoming[Pg 53] great, was not proud. Nevertheless, the doctors of the tribe were jealous, and one of them, a member of another clan, came to visit him. They ate, talked and smoked together. The older man said:

"Now we will smoke my tobacco."

They did so, and he departed. As the summer weather came on, the young healer began to feel sick. It was evident that the doctor had poisoned him. He swelled up with a new disease and prayed almost unceasingly to Ti-ra´-wa for relief. The people went on a hunt. He ascended a hill to think and pray; and after making burnt offerings, mounted a horse which the father had left behind, and journeyed east, instead of following the tribe.

A few days later, the horse was sacrificed to Ti-ra´-wa and cut down the back, so that animals could feed upon it. The unhappy young man called upon the Na-hu´-rac to intercede for him. He traveled east to Pa-huk´ and fell asleep. A strange voice asked what he was doing there. No one was in sight. The same thing occurred next night. The sick[Pg 54] man answered the voice this time, and begged for pity, but received no reply. The fourth night something touched him and said:

"What are you doing here?"

There stood a big elk, with black eyes. It informed him that they were directly over the home of the Na-hu´-rac. One night not long afterward a bird came, saying:

"Come, let us go to the edge of the cut bank."

He obeyed, and the bird said:

"When I dive down, follow me."

Passing through the water, they soon stood at the entrance of a lodge and could see a fire within. As they entered, the Na-hu´-rac made their different noises. A bear was stationed at one side of the entrance and a snake at the other. The head doctor was a white beaver. As they sat down, the bird said:

"I have brought this man here and want you to take pity on him."

Taking the man's pipe, the bird held it out to the beaver. The white beaver hesitated, but finally took the pipe. All the animals[Pg 55] made a sound, as if to say, "Loo-ah" (good). The beaver passed the pipe to the other Na-hu´-rac and each one made a speech, saying that he had not power to heal. None had the power. The elk then took the man to another lodge but he was not cured. From there they went to the Loup River, to the island in the Platte River and at last to the lodge under Center Island; but without avail. The principal doctor said that the lodge at Pa-huk´ was the head. The bird took the man back.

The white beaver stood up and announced that he had sent the man to others in order to see if they were equal to the lodge at Pa-huk´; then going to the ground-dog, he extended the pipe. The ground-dog reached out its paws, took the pipe, smoked and commanded the Pawnee to go and sit opposite the fire. He was ordered to stand up while the Na-hu´-rac sang and the ground-dog danced. Next they told him to lie down with his feet toward the door. The head ground-dog jumped over him and was observed to have a large[Pg 56] piece of flesh in his mouth. Another dog followed, and another, each eating a piece of flesh, until all had passed over. This was kept up until they had eaten the swelling. The man seemed to be dead. The head doctor spoke to the bears; they arose and sang, then jumped on the body, shaking and pulling it around. After a while the blood began to flow and the man breathed. He was entirely restored to health and remained some time with the Na-hu´-rac, learning their medical secrets. They told of the sky-house of Ti-ra´-wa and said:

"He made us; he made everything. Blow a smoke to each of the four doctors; but blow four smokes to Ti-ra´-wa."

The man went home and got beads, pipes, tobacco and buffalo meat and taking them back, threw them into the river to be carried down to the Na-hu´-rac lodge at Pa-huk´; then he went to visit the doctor who had made him ill. He said:

"When you visited me, we smoked your tobacco. To-day we will smoke mine."[Pg 57]

After smoking, the young medicine man went down to the river and blew upon the ice, and in a moment, the river was full of blood. It was the blood of the wicked doctor, whose dead body was found in the lodge, perfectly hollow. The blood had gone into the river. The favorite of the animals eventually became one of the most famous healers ever known in the nation.

Priests and doctors were not identical. Priests were the mediums of communication with Ti-ra´-wa and knew what was inside the sacred bundles. The medicine man was called upon in case of sickness or injury. The sacred bundles, many of which were of great age, hung opposite the door of every house. On certain occasions, the contents formed a part of religious ceremonies.

The Pawnees believed that the earth was first inhabited by a race of giants, so large that they could carry buffaloes upon their backs. These people did not acknowledge Ti-ra´-wa and grew more and more wicked. He was angry and caused the water to rise and[Pg 58] the ground to become soft and the giants sank into the mud. The large bones found at different times were thought to be their skeletons. A new race was created, from which all nations sprang.

The Ski-di band offered human sacrifices to the morning star. A young captive, taken in war, was selected and fattened, being treated kindly during the days of preparation. He was permitted to know nothing of the fate in store, until the four days' feast and dance. Old men at the ends of the village called upon each male person to prepare bow and arrow and be ready for the sacrifice. When the fatal day arrived, every woman had a lance or stick, and every man held a pipe in one hand and bow and arrow in the other.

At the west side of the village, two posts with cross poles were set up, to which the captive was bound, hand and foot. Behind him came a man carrying a buffalo heart and tongue, followed by a warrior with a blazing stick, one with a bow and sacred arrow[Pg 59] of flint, and another with a stuffed owl. Wood was piled around upon the ground beneath the cross poles. The man with a blazing stick lighted the fire. When it had burned to the center of the pile, below the captive, the warrior with bow and arrow stepped forward and shot him through, under the arms, so that the blood would drip down upon the fire. The buffalo heart and tongue were then placed upon the blaze. The man with the owl seized a torch and burned the body four times, after which each male person present shot an arrow into it, and each woman struck it with a stick. The flesh was consumed by fire, while the people prayed.

John Greenleaf Whittier left, among his papers, a poem that has immortalized


Night had fallen upon the broad prairie—a moonless night. The chill air vibrated with noise of barbarous laughs and yells. The measured tramp of heavy feet and the Hoo-ah, Hi-yah of excited dancers seemed fiendish.[Pg 60] Dark, weird-looking figures might be seen, dimly, by the light of a camp-fire; and in the center of the frenzied throng was a maiden, silent and defiant. Around her feet was piled fuel for the sacrifice, for had not the wise men of the Pawnees, who hold communion with the other world, decreed that she should die by slow torture, to atone for cruelties practiced by her father, a fierce chief of the Kansas Indians? The innocent girl might not hope for pity at the hands of her nation's bitterest foes; but she could show them how fearlessly her father's daughter could face a horrid death; could shame their sons and warriors by a brave, unmoved demeanor; and even now, as a small blaze started up from the outer edge of the pile of sticks and began to creep slowly toward the captive, the clear tones could be heard above the din, chanting her own funeral hymn—the death song of her people.

Once in a while some old, decrepit squaw, with shrill and penetrating voice, would heap[Pg 61] fresh taunts upon the victim; and as the fire brightened, upon the dusky faces might be seen the gleam of savage hatred and of satisfied revenge. Wilder grew the howls; and still the mournful tones resounded above the shouts of triumph. The flames closed in around her, and they leaped up higher, toward the cross poles to which she was bound, flashes of light revealed more fully the pale set face of the doomed one. Now, she could feel the hot breath of fire. Where was the Kansas chief? Had he taken refuge in the mountains of the West and left his helpless daughter at the mercy of the enemy? Was all hope lost? No, her quick ear caught the sound of horse's hoofs, muffled by the soft prairie grass. The captors, with senses dulled by liquor, kept up their shrieks of exultation. Though her heart was beating loudly, she dared not cease the song. A moment and a brave young rider, on his father's swiftest steed, dashed in among the dancers, hurled the firebrands from around her and cut the thongs that bound the maiden. A moment[Pg 62] more, and they were safe without the startled crowd, flying over the flower-strewn prairie, toward the country of the Kaws. In the words of the great poet:

"Where the Kansas wanders free
By the willowy Siskadee
There their pictured tent is spread,
With the soft fur carpeted;
And that sweet young mother there
Smiling through her lavish hair,
Oft shall sing her hunter's glory,
Oft shall tell his daring story,
Till the listening Kansas maid,
Lying listless in the shade,
Dreams, perchance (for wild or tame
Woman's romance is the same),
Of some hero's circling arm
Shielding her from deadly harm;
And the Indian boy anear,
Leaning on his fishing spear,
Sees that same coy maiden bound
On the Pawnee's hunting ground—
He, upon his father's steed,
[Pg 63]Hurrying at her cry of need—
Feels her arms around him thrown,
Feels her heart beat with his own,
And her soft breath, quick and low,
O'er his dark cheek come and go—
Hears behind the Pawnee yell
Fainter on the breezes swell—
Sees with joy the morning's beam
Flashing from his native stream,
As he drops his courser's rein
By the Kansas tent again."

John B. Dunbar, who, in relating the story, asserts that the captive was a Comanche girl, has preserved the Indian song in honor of Pit-a-le-shar´-u, the hero. The oft recurring portion

Lu! ti-wak´-o-le

when translated, reads:

Well, he exclaimed,
You see I am come,
I, Pit-a-le-shar´-u.

Although among the fiercest of the prairie Indians, the Pawnees never carried on an organized[Pg 64] war against the Government. They were, however, always on hostile terms with the Sioux, Kaws, Osages, Iowas, Sacs and Foxes.


In a beautiful wooded region, near the Missouri River, were the villages of the Iowas and Sacs. A vast extent of prairie reached west and southward. The Indians lived in huts of bark stretched over poles. Implements for out-door work consisted of the "squaw-axe" and hoe, purchased from traders. Iron camp kettles, wooden bowls and ladles were the only utensils for domestic use. The tribes still clung to barbarous customs when the Highland mission was founded; and their teacher narrated that, at one time, a great feast was given in his honor. The principal article of food was a savory soup. He mentally congratulated himself on having been presented with a dish so pleasing to the taste that he might show due appreciation of the honor conferred upon him. Suddenly one of the hosts, in broken English, said:

[Pg 65]

"Dig deep, dig deep!" The guest did so, and dipped up a ladleful of white worms.

Missionaries found it difficult to check the wild propensities of their pupils; and the war of extermination continued until stopped by the United States Government. The diary of Father Irvin, who established the school, makes special mention of a war in 1839, and a skirmish in which nine Pawnees were slain near Arago, Nebraska. This was, doubtless, considered of great importance, inasmuch as the prowess of the Pawnees made it a difficult matter for less formidable warriors to win a victory, if the sides were equally divided as to numbers. Highland University is now located upon the war trail over which the party passed.

Like others of the Sioux family, the Iowas indulged in dances before setting forth on the war-path; and upon the return, the women executed the Scalp Dance, in which they carried, attached to poles, not only the scalps of enemies, but also fingers, toes and other mutilated portions of bodies.[Pg 66]

During the period of general, if not united, efforts against the Pawnees, there was a conflict in which a small band was besieged on all sides, supposedly by the Sioux. The weaker party took refuge in a ravine, where the sunflowers grew tall, and, protected by the thick stalks, which turned the balls aside, made a brave fight for life. After repeated attacks, the assailants withdrew, bearing the body of their leader, who had been killed in the struggle. The Pawnees regained their town without the loss of a man.

As immigration increased, settlers took possession of parts of their reservation. It was the old, pitiful tale. The tribe, reduced by war and famine, relinquished its land and reluctantly departed for the Indian Territory. Being an agricultural as well as a courageous people, the last of the Pawnees have developed into excellent farmers. Maize, which was called A-ti´-ra (mother), proved, after all, to be their best friend.[Pg 67]


Although Minnesota has been called the "Land of the Dakotas," the Sioux, as well as the Pawnees, roamed over the entire Mississippi Basin, previous to its settlement; and were found, at different times, in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. They are now located principally in South Dakota.

The word "Sioux" is of French origin. The tribes to whom it was applied called themselves "Dakotas" meaning "allied," or "joined together." The Indians in general, alluded to them as "cut-throats," drawing the hand across the throat in pantomime reference.

There were three great divisions of the nation; the I-san-ya´-ti, I-hank-ton´-wan, or Yankton, and the Ti-ton´-wan. Each division had its dialect.

Among these Arabs of America, the chiefs were not possessed of undue power. They[Pg 68] might suggest, but seldom enforced; and usually depended for influence upon popularity with the people. The Indian is by far the most ardent advocate of liberty.

If a Dakota died, his nearest friend killed an enemy. The dead were laid upon scaffolds and allowed to remain a certain length of time, after which burial took place. The grief and devotion of a savage wife are brought out in the old legend of Eagle Eye and Scarlet Dove.

Eagle Eye was the son of a famous war prophet who lived many years ago. The young brave was a bitter foe, a warm friend and a wise counsellor. Scarlet Dove, whom he chose as a wife, was distinguished for goodness as well as for beauty; and in the eyes of her father, was worth the finest of horses and blankets. Eagle Eye did not hesitate to pay the required price; and, according to custom, prepared a lodge for his bride. Only a few moons after the marriage they joined a hunting party passing down the Mississippi River.[Pg 69]

One day as the husband, watching for deer, crouched behind some bushes, a comrade accidentally shot an arrow into his heart. The lamentations of Scarlet Dove could be heard from afar. She cut and lacerated her flesh in a terrible manner; and wrapping the body of her loved one in skins, put it upon a temporary scaffold and sat beneath. The hunting party moved. She carried the dead upon her back, and at every camp erected a scaffold. At length they reached home, the sorrowing bride still bearing her precious burden. She procured forks and poles and built a strong scaffold. Hanging from this, was discovered a few days later, the body of Scarlet Dove.

Mirrors, when first introduced among the Dakotas, were regarded as sacred; and women were denied the privilege of gazing therein. As a consequence, the young men of the nation became the more remarkable for vanity, decking themselves out to an unusual degree with savage finery. An eagle feather, with a red spot, denoted the killing of an enemy.[Pg 70] A notch cut in the edges of a feather painted red indicated that the throat of an enemy had been cut. One who had seen a fight, even though he might not have participated, was allowed to mount a feather. Horses' tails, beads, wampum and a variety of paints were also used by way of decoration.

The women were hard-working and submissive. Plural marriages being fertile sources of discontent, suicides were not infrequent.

Anepetusa was an unfortunate wife, whose sad story has become a part of the traditional history of Minnesota. When young and beautiful she became the bride of a Dakota hunter. For a time all was peace and contentment in the lodge. Anepetusa was a happy wife, and her joy was increased by the birth of a child. The boy grew strong and handsome, as the years passed by; but, at length, a deep shadow fell across the threshold of the forest home. A second wife was purchased, and came to share the humble habitation. All the world seemed dark to[Pg 71] the now-neglected woman. The child was her sole remaining comfort. An expression of deep sorrow settled upon the once beautiful features, yet no murmur escaped her lips. Grieving in silence, she followed her lord and master upon a hunting expedition. He appeared utterly indifferent to this devotion. They approached the Falls of St. Anthony. Taking the child by the hand, Anepetusa walked out into rapid water and entered a canoe. As they pushed into the swift current she chanted an unearthly dirge. A moment afterward the astonished husband saw her go over the falls. His heart was stricken with terror by the wild ringing of a death song that could be plainly distinguished above the roaring of the waterfall.

From that time forth, so the Dakotas said, the spirit of an Indian wife, with a child clinging around her neck, might be seen darting into the spray; and her death song was heard in the moaning of the winds and the raging of the waters.[Pg 72]

Each Dakota was supposed to have four souls. At the extinction of physical life, one remained in or near the body, another was lodged in a bundle containing hair and clothes of the deceased, kept by relatives and thrown into the enemy's country, the third passed into the spirit land, and the fourth entered the body of a child, plant or animal.

The following petition, translated by a United States interpreter, was a typical prayer of these primitive people:

"Spirits, or ghosts, have mercy on me; and show me where I can find a bear."

All unusual occurrences were regarded as good or evil omens. In crossing a lake or other body of water, the Dakotas filled their pipes and invoked the winds to be calm. According to Schoolcraft, they did not believe in the transmigration of souls. Worship was in a natural state. There were no images of wood. A stone was picked up, placed a few rods from the lodge, an offering of tobacco or feathers was made, and an entreaty for protection from some threatened evil.[Pg 73]

O-an-tay´-hee, the supreme god, was regarded with the utmost reverence. His name, like that of Jehovah of the Israelites, was seldom spoken. He created the earth. Assembling the aquatic tribes, he commanded them to bring up dirt from beneath the water, at the same time proclaiming death to the disobedient. This would indicate that the Indian, as well as the modern scientist, realized the fact that the earth was in a liquid state at one period. The beaver and other animals forfeited their lives. At last the muskrat went down and, after a long delay, returned with some dirt, from which the earth was formed.

Taking one of his own offspring, O-an-tay´-hee ground him to powder and sprinkled it upon the earth; many worms came forth; they were collected and scattered again and matured into infants; these, having been collected and scattered, became full-grown Dakotas. The bones of the mastodon were assumed to be those of O-an-tay´-hee; and in[Pg 74] some medicine bags, small portions were preserved among the sacred articles.

Hay-o-kah was a powerful deity, who could kill anything he looked upon, with his piercing eyes. There were four persons in this godhead. The first was tall and slender, with two faces. In his hands were a bow streaked with red lightning and a rattle of deer claws. The second, a little old man with a cocked hat and large ears, held a yellow bow. The third had a flute suspended from his neck; and the fourth, invisible and mysterious, was the gentle breeze which "swayed the grass and rippled the water."

Taku-shkan-shkan, unseen but ever present, was a revengeful, dissimulating, wicked searcher of hearts. His favorite resorts were the four winds.

Wah-keen-yan, a god in the form of a huge bird whose flapping wings made thunder, lived in a tepee on a mound rising from a mountain-top in the far West. His tepee, guarded by sentinels clothed in red down, had four openings. A butterfly was stationed[Pg 75] at the east, a bear at the west, a fawn at the south and a reindeer at the north. He fashioned the first spear and tomahawk and attempted to kill the offspring of O-an-tay´-hee, his bitter enemy. When lightning struck, it was supposed that the latter was near the surface of the earth and Wah-keen-yan had fired a hot thunderbolt at him.

Captain Eastman writes of Unk-ta-he, the God of Water, and Chah-o-ter´-dah, the Forest God, who lived in a tree on a high eminence. His house was situated at its base. By a strange power of attraction, he drew birds, who performed the duties of guards.

Chah-o-ter´-dah was the relentless foe of the Thunder God. Indian fancy has pictured many a spirited battle between the two. It was said that the God of Thunder often came racing along, hurling lightning at a tree, to kill the Forest God, who, having been warned, had taken refuge in the water. Then Chah-o-ter´-dah ascended a tree and hurled his lightning at his adversary to bring him down to submission. The Forest God possessed a[Pg 76] crooked gun, with which it was possible to shoot in any direction around the earth.

The God of the Grass, Whitte-kah-gah, was formed from a weed, pa-jee-ko-tah, which had the power of causing men to have fits, as well as to give success in hunting.

Wa-hun-de-dan (Aurora Borealis, or Old Woman) was the goddess of war.

The Dakotas believed in numerous fairies of the land and water, in the shape of animals, with ability to perform various services for mankind; and in frightful giants, in whose honor were established many feasts and dances. There was a clan called the "Giant's Party." Men only participated in the ceremonies of this organization. On stated occasions, they went hopping and singing around the fire, over which kettles of meat were boiling. Every few moments, one would put in a hand and pull out a piece of meat, which he ate, scalding hot. After it was all eaten, the dancers splashed hot water on one another's backs, crying out "Oh, how cold it is!"[Pg 77]

The impression among the people was that the god would not permit his clan to be injured by these rites.

In some feasts of the Dakotas, everything was sacred. Not a morsel of meat was permitted to fall to the ground, otherwise the spirits would be displeased and some calamity might befall. Bones were gathered up and burned, or thrown into the water, out of reach of the dogs and so they could not be trampled on by the women. Sometimes a present was bestowed upon the one who ate his dishful first. This caused much haste, as soon as eating began, accompanied by a great blowing, stirring and grunting.

The Medicine Dance, instituted by O-an-tay´-hee, was conducted as the proceedings of a secret society. War prophets and medicine men, waw keen, were revered as demi-gods. They were believed to have led spiritual existences, enclosed in seeds, something like those of the thistle, which were wafted to the abode of the gods, with whom the waw keen sustained confidential relations. They received[Pg 78] instruction in the magic of the spirit-land and went out to study all nations; then, selecting a location, were born into the world.

When, at the proper time, a person signified his desire to join the priesthood, he was initiated by the Medicine Dance. First, the candidate must take a hot bath, four days in succession; then he was taught the uses of medicine and its mysteries by the old men of the society; after which, he was provided with a dish and spoon. On one side of the dish was carved the head of some animal, in which lived the spirit of Eeyah, the Glutton God. The owner always thereafter carried the dish to the Medicine Dance. He was taught the use of paints and must always appear in the dance, decorated in the same manner. The paint was supposed to have supernatural virtue and caused an object to become invisible or invulnerable. In battle, it was regarded as a life preserver.

Before beginning the dance of initiation, ten or twenty prominent members spent the night dancing and feasting. In the morning,[Pg 79] the tent was opened. The candidate, painted and nude, with the exception of breech-cloth and moccasins, was seated on a pile of blankets, an elder being stationed in the rear. The master of ceremonies, bag in hand, approached, ejaculating, "Heen, heen, heen!" and raising the bag to a painted spot upon the breast of the novice. Suddenly the latter was pushed forward and covered with blankets. The dancers collected around him. The leader, throwing off the covering, chewed a piece of the bone of O-an-tay´-hee and sprinkled it over him. Dancing around the candidate, the members patted his breast until he heaved up a shell, which had been placed in his throat. Life was now fully restored; and the shell was passed from hand to hand for examination. Ceremonies closed with more dancing, continued until four sets of singers, with gourds, drums and rattles, had been exhausted.

War parties were made up by anyone injured. The head of the party was a great medicine man or prophet, or one distinguished[Pg 80] in some way. The war chief made a dance every three or four nights, before the party marched. All who chose might join, and anyone was at liberty to return, should he so desire, after the party started. War paint was red and black in color, and the dance was executed by men.

Women performed the Scalp Dance, in which scalps, mounted upon poles, were carried. The Sun Dance was another popular festivity, and has been said to be the cause of the weak eyes, noticeable among the devotees.

When the Sioux were in a complete state of barbarism, strange as it may seem, they maintained a high standard of morality. Violation of the code was invariably followed by complete loss of rights in the tribe. At certain celebrations, maidens proclaimed their purity by joining in the dance. Coming in contact with the white race, the Indians first adopted their vices, then, as civilization advanced and the younger members of the tribes returned from schools and colleges, [Pg 81]they began to emulate the virtues of their conquerors.

Taking the Degree of Manhood was a savage custom adhered to by the Dakotas until a recent date. When youths had attained proper age, they proved a right to the degree by torturing themselves in different ways. Sometimes a skewer was driven through the arm and heavy articles hung upon the projecting ends. The flesh was cut and bruised. If an aspirant bore the pain without flinching, he was deemed worthy of all privileges accorded to men. These practices have been discontinued by order of the United States Government.

TA-TON-KA-I-YO-TON-KA. (Sitting Bull.) TA-TON-KA-I-YO-TON-KA. (Sitting Bull.)

Travelers in the Sioux country are frequently entertained with recitals of


Sitting Bull, the famous commander at the Custer massacre, was, during his prosperous years, the chief of chiefs, or supreme head of the nation. He first inherited the[Pg 82] office, and was able to retain it because of mental superiority and by reason of the fact that, until the last hope was gone, he assumed an uncompromising position in regard to the encroachment of the whites. Then, too, Ta-ton-ka-I-yo-ton-ka was a medicine man, capable of arousing religious fervor. That he was cruel toward the enemies of his people cannot be denied; but, according to the red man's philosophy, that was simple bravery and loyalty.

The authority of a leader was seldom questioned, although a petty chief was privileged to disregard orders, should he so desire.

Sitting Bull left an autobiography in pictograph. It contained a description of conflicts in which the hero had counted coup on numerous enemies, both white and Indian, and secured their scalps. There were also records of horse-stealing. The signature consisted of the picture of a buffalo in a sitting posture. Little is known of the early history of the chief; his own accounts vary; he seemed to be well educated, and could converse[Pg 83] fluently in French and English, as well as in the different Indian languages.

The Custer massacre took place in 1877. After the Sioux war had ended and the savages had surrendered, placing themselves under the protection of the Government, they were retained as prisoners at Fort Randall, South Dakota. The commandant caused a stockade to be erected, but Sitting Bull refused to enter it, selecting, in preference, a strip of bottom land close to the river, for winter quarters, in order that there might be plenty of fire-wood near at hand. In summer, a pleasant location about three hundred yards from the garrison, was chosen, where a guard, composed of one non-commissioned officer and nine men, was stationed. At that time a majority of the prisoners had not learned cleanliness, and for the purpose of improving sanitary conditions, the quarters were inspected daily by the post surgeon and the officer of the day. Every one was compelled to wash each morning. A soldier asserts that some of the Indians appeared heart-broken[Pg 84] and became sick and died. Might it not be more just to explain that daily baths in the river, in a cold climate, were the causes of mortality?

A death was followed by the customary rites. On every hill in the vicinity of the camp a woman might be seen and heard, mourning and howling, in the hope that the departed would return to make an assignment of his effects, which were few, inasmuch as the most valuable articles had been lowered into the grave. Among them were usually placed a knife, tin cup, moccasins, blanket and piece of buckskin. The ancient rule of laying the dead upon a scaffold was not permitted to be put into practice.

Burials took place in the day, and at night grand dances were held. Indians on the opposite side of the river were invited to participate. Tin cans, which had been collected and taken to the tepees, served as musical instruments. The noise and confusion were sometimes deafening, dances being kept up almost continuously. Both men and women[Pg 85] spent much time in making arrow tips from old iron hoops.

While at Fort Randall, Sitting Bull received an order from the quartermaster for three sacks of hay. Accompanied by a slave wife and a favorite, he presented the order. The large army bed sacks were calmly handed to the man in charge, who refused to fill them, telling the Indian to attend to that himself. The Sioux then turned to the slave wife, commanding her to perform the menial office. She did so with most abject humility, tying the bundle with a piece of rawhide; then the poor creature crawled beneath the huge mass, pushing her head under it first and gradually forcing the burden upon her back. This accomplished, she rose slowly upon hands and knees and at last regained her feet. Being asked, indignantly, why he did not assist the woman, the great chief answered with an expressive grunt.

An army officer, Major McLaughlin, secured several autographs of the celebrated leader, but found it impossible to induce him[Pg 86] to sit for a photograph, until he had obtained twenty-five dollars and a white shirt. The shirt proved too small, but the chief fastened it at the back of the neck with a buckskin string. Despite these weaknesses, he was dignified in behavior and apparently unmoved by curiosity, although the room of the officer contained many objects new and strange to him.

During a severe storm, lightning struck a tree near the Indian camp, forty or fifty yards from the tent of Ta-ton-ka-I-yo-ton-ka. He immediately broke camp and removed to summer quarters, saying the evil spirit was after his people. Nothing could convince him that the Great Spirit was not angry with him for leaving Canada, when he crossed to the American side and surrendered, after the Custer massacre, at the Little Big Horn. He said that all the water in the Missouri River could not wash out the white man's stains of crime.

Spotted Tail and Red Cloud were also dangerous to the peace of the northwestern country. Spotted Tail had two attractive[Pg 87] daughters, one of whom died on the way to Fort Laramie, while the Indians were going in to surrender. Thomas Dorion, the man who went out as a messenger of peace, desired to marry the girl and she expressed a willingness to become his wife. It was largely due to her influence with her father, that he and Red Cloud consented to accompany the emissary to Fort Laramie to hold council and make a treaty. Her sad life and premature death, which was, no doubt, the result of exposure and the vicissitudes of war, aroused great sympathy. The other daughter, Water Carrier, was much admired by the army officers and received many valuable presents. One of her relatives asserts that the officers seemed infatuated, but that she never manifested any reciprocity. Water Carrier was deeply attached to her father's people and became the wife of Lone Elk. They live at the Rosebud Agency, South Dakota.

The Sioux, like all tribes, are rapidly discarding their ancient beliefs. Government schools have done effective work; and while[Pg 88] the number of "squaw men," or those who marry into the nation, is less than in the tribes of the Indian Territory, there is yet a liberal infusion of white blood. The dances, in a revised form, are, of recent years, indulged in by way of recreation or for the amusement of spectators.

[Pg 89]


The Dakotas were strongly represented in the Kaw Valley and vicinity by the Kansas or Kaw Indians and the Osages. In some respects there was a similarity of manners and customs between these branches and the original stock, in others a radical difference was noted.

The practice of shaving all of the head except a small place around the crown—the scalp lock, which was reserved for the enemy, should he be able to secure it—was adhered to by the Kaws and the Osages, while the old Sioux law seems to have sanctioned scalping the entire head. However, when compelled to hurry, they took a small section from any part of the head. For the purpose of decorating themselves, many of the Kansas cut the upper and outer edge of each ear, drawing it down so as to form a large ring, reaching to the shoulder. To this circle[Pg 90] ornaments were attached. The tribe retained savage proclivities long after their neighbors had become partially or altogether reconciled to the habits of the pale-face; and were tall of stature and physically well developed, but decidedly inferior in mind and morals, being a constant source of annoyance to both the white citizens and more civilized Indians.

One day a golden-haired girl stood by the side of her father, at the door of their home in Kansas City, Kansas, (then Wyandotte) when a number of Kaws filed through the gate and up to the house. Their chief, through an interpreter, formally tendered a horse and several fine blankets in exchange for the "squaw with the hair like the rising sun." Receiving an indignant refusal, he emitted a disappointed "Ugh! ugh!" and turning slowly, rode down the street with his warriors.

A lady who resided at Westport when it was a hamlet of not more than eight or ten houses, was surprised, on entering her kitchen one morning, to see, standing before the stove warming himself, a huge Kaw, entirely nude[Pg 91] save for the blanket extended across his outspread arms. Almost in terror, the woman gasped out, "Puck-a-chee! puck-a-chee!" (go away). Deliberately, and with evident amusement at her fright, the savage took his departure.

The main village of the Kaws, that of American Chief, was situated two miles east of Manhattan, Kansas. It was composed of one hundred and twenty dirt lodges, of good size. A large portion of the tribe was located, with Fool Chief, on the north bank of the Kansas River, in and near Topeka. Later, by a treaty with the United States, this land, with the exception of a few hundred acres reserved and divided among those in whom white blood predominated, was ceded to the Government. The majority of the people removed, first, to Council Grove, and then to the Indian Territory.

WA-HON-GA-SHEE. (No Fool.) WA-HON-GA-SHEE. (No Fool.)

They delighted, for many years, to talk of[Pg 92]


There had been frequent, hard-fought battles with the Pawnees, who, being superior in numbers, had usually obtained the victory. However, the Great Spirit punished them when, at last, a small band was discovered, just at nightfall, by a strong party of Kaws.

Revenge, always sweet to the barbarian, was now assured. Surrounding the foe under cover of darkness, the Kaws, commanded by Wa-hon-ga-shee (No Fool), waited patiently for daylight.

Twenty-four hours before going on the war-path a council had been held in the celebrated grove from which the present city takes its name, and every warrior who had joined the preliminary dance, had fasted from that time until the moment of departure. Their leader, together with the medicine men, had long abstained from food, in anticipation of the event. Other matters having been arranged, the line of men rode [Pg 93]out of the village, carrying many an anxious good-speed from wives and mothers. Children, half-clothed, huddled together in awe-stricken groups, or sought maternal protection. Old men and maidens gazed with hopeful pride on sons and sweethearts.

Over the plains passed the braves, almost from view, when, by some mischance, their chief slipped and fell. Quickly recognizing an unfavorable omen, he gave the signal for return, and the entire community joined in incantations to dispel future disaster. Again the war party went forth, coming upon the Pawnees, who, all unconscious of approaching danger, lay encamped for the night. Guards had been stationed at proper intervals, and the ponies corralled, in order that they might not wander away.

All seemed quiet until near morning. Faintly the sounds of awakening Nature broke the silence of the prairie. The Kaws began to close in upon the enemy, crawling stealthily through the grass. Gray dawn appeared; then a red streak became visible in[Pg 94] the east. The assailants rose with a terrible war-whoop and rushed upon their sleeping victims. Even the guards were surprised. Reports of rifles and fierce shouts from infuriated men mingled with the shrieks of the wounded and dying. Knives struck pitilessly into the breasts of the Pawnees, who, stupefied by the sudden attack, were easily overcome. Blood flowed freely. Deftly a small circle was described upon the head of each one, the scalp torn off, and the reeking trophy attached to the belt of the slayer. Then, when destruction was complete, and death had swept the camp, leaving not a member of the little band alive, the victors gathered up the spoils and journeyed home in triumph. Ninety dead bodies, mutilated examples of the effects of savage warfare, were scattered over the field of battle.

Now, preparations for the dance were in progress. Musicians brought forth flutes and tom-toms—rude drums made from powder kegs with raw-hides stretched over the ends—while the women busied themselves in making[Pg 95] ready and cooking meat and cereals for the feast.

The warriors, in a circle, commenced the celebration with low ejaculations and slow movements not unlike a march, gradually increasing speed, and changing step until it became a wild rush of many feet, accompanied by howls of exultation. Then all was still for a moment, and two beautiful girls, dressed in almost Oriental costume, and carrying red fringed umbrellas, broke into the center of the ring and danced with the utmost grace and abandon. Next followed the process of paying debts. It was the custom for creditors to allow debtors the privilege of paying off old scores, at a dance of triumph, by standing in the center of the circle and submitting to sound beatings, at one dollar a blow.

An old squaw had tried in vain to collect the sum of twelve dollars from a young man. Desiring to end her importunities for money, he advanced and stood, the object of all eyes, in stoical forbearance, while she administered,[Pg 96] to the full extent of her power, the requisite amount of punishment.

As usual, the Kaws had buried their most valuable goods previous to undertaking the foregoing expedition. First, a large cavity had been made in the ground and the articles placed inside. These were covered with sticks and branches, earth being piled on top and stamped down. In a violent effort to bestow the last blow effectively, the old woman caused this structure to give way and sank into the chasm, to the great diversion of spectators—for the Indians, among themselves, on such a day, were prone to cast dignity to the winds.

Frequently, Osages and Kaws were employed to perform special police duty. It gave them a sense of responsibility that had a tendency to prevent mischief. Even in this capacity, they were governed by superstition. At night, when ready to give place to another watchman, each brave, before going home, went to the fire, gathered a handful of ashes[Pg 97] and rubbed it on his head to keep away the witches.

Death was mourned, not only by relatives, but by professionals, hired for a period of two weeks. Pasting the hair on top of the head with mud, they united in a series of groans and wails, dismal beyond description. These strange songs had words, probably recounting the virtues and wonderful deeds of the dead. Wrapped in his blanket and provided with food and drink, trinkets and valuables, with all that he considered most desirable, the warrior was lowered to his last resting-place, a favorite horse having been killed that the spirit might ride to the Happy Hunting Grounds.

The Osages were once the most powerful people west of the Mississippi River. They owned a vast territory and had remained in possession over three hundred years; but were forced eventually to cede the greater portion to the Government. Nevertheless they are the wealthiest of the Indians. The tribe was divided originally into three bands, the[Pg 98] Little Osages, the Grand and the Black Dog Band. They were tall and fine-looking, the young, able-bodied men being hunters and warriors, while the old men were doctors and cooks. Upon entering a village, a stranger was expected to present himself first at the lodge of the chief, and there partake of food. A general feast followed. The cook stood outside and called, in a loud voice:

"Come and eat. White Hair (or whomsoever it might be) gives a feast."

When traveling, the Osages made lodges in the shape of wagon-tops, of bent trees covered with skins or blankets.

A native orator, speaking of the good qualities of his people, said:

"Are we brave and valiant? Behold Dakota scalps drying in the smoke of our cabins. Are we strong? Here is the bow of an Osage boy—bend it. Are our women beautiful? Look at them and be convinced."

Despite the fact that civilization has penetrated even remote portions of the United States, and its effects are felt in a greater[Pg 99] or less degree by every savage nation, the Osages in the Indian Territory have returned to many of the old barbarous customs. They had a unique creation story. Old people used to talk of a man, the first of the race, who came out of a shell. They said:

"The father of our nation was a snail, who passed a quiet, happy existence on the banks of our own river. His wants were few and well supplied. He seldom hunted, going out only when driven by hunger to seek food, and taking whatever could be most easily obtained. Thus lived our great forefather, the snail."

According to the tradition, there was a storm and the river burst over its banks and swept everything before it. The snail, seated on a log, was carried along down the stream and deposited at last upon a bed of slime. He was contented and had enjoyed the travel, since it had required no exertion. Now, he found himself in a strange country. It was very warm and the sun came out and baked the earth in which he was embedded. It was[Pg 100] impossible to move. Then, feeling a change, he began to grow and developed into a man, tall, strong and perfect. At first, the new being was stupefied; but with returning memory, he realized that he had once been a snail, and immediately set out for his former home.

Arrived on the banks of the Osage River, he became faint from hunger. Game was plenty, but he knew not how to catch it. There were birds and fish, but no means of reaching them. He lay down to die. A soft voice broke the silence. The man looked up and saw, mounted on a noble, snow-white animal, a being like nothing seen on earth. It was tall and mighty, having eyes like stars. The Osage trembled. The gentle voice said:

"Why does he who is the kernel of the snail look terrified? Why is he faint and weary?"

"I tremble because I fear thy power and quail before the lightning of thine eye. I am faint because I lack food."

Then said the Great Spirit:[Pg 101] "Be composed. The Master of Breath punishes not till sin is committed. Thou hast not sinned; be calm. But art thou hungry?"

"I have eaten nothing since I ceased to be a snail."

The Great Spirit drew from under his robe a bow and arrows, and taught the man to shoot. He killed a deer and was told to cover himself with its skin. The Great Spirit made fire and told him to use it for cooking the meat.

One day, when hunting, the man went to a river to drink, and saw, in the water, a beaver hut, on which the chief of the family was sitting. The animal asked who he was and what he was looking for; and was informed that the Osage had no home and came to the river to quench his thirst. The beaver said:

"You seem to be a reasonable man. You may come and live with me. My family is large and there are many daughters. Should any of them be pleasing in your sight, you may marry."[Pg 102] The Indian accepted the offer and married one of the beaver's daughters. They had many children, from whom the Osage people are descended. To this day, the members of the tribe refrain from killing the beaver, which is regarded as sacred.

[Pg 103]


The Delaware Indians, or Lenape, as they called themselves, are of Algonquin lineage. Their language, which is soft and musical, bears a strong resemblance to that of the Shawnees and Pottawatomies, who are descended from the same people. The word Lenape has been translated "men" or "fathers of men." This bears some significance, since the early traditions of the Delawares declare them to be the parent stock. They were the natives with whom William Penn held council, on the ground occupied at the present time by the city of Philadelphia.

The nation had been subjugated by the Iroquois, and bearing the name of "women" was at peace with the world. Although the domination of the other tribes was only temporary, the famous treaty with the Quakers was never broken, during the subsequent years of warfare.[Pg 104]

The Delawares were a migratory people. Most of their legends have been preserved by missionaries. The Algonquin myth of the virgin who fell from heaven and became the mother of twins, one light and the other dark, was found among the Lenape, and may be explained as referring to the dawn, which gives birth to day and night.

The divinity Kikeron, the synonym for life, light and action, or energy, was believed to be the first factor of the universe. He originated all things, through the instrumentality of the tortoise, which, in Algonquin pictography, was the symbol of the earth. There was an unexpected depth to this native philosophy. The earth is all-producing, and from it proceeds, directly or indirectly, all animate existence. The tortoise had power to produce everything. From its back a tree had sprung, upon the branches of which grew men.

In the pristine age, the world lived at peace; but an evil spirit came and caused a great flood. The earth was submerged. A[Pg 105] few persons had taken refuge on the back of a turtle, so old that his shell had collected moss. A loon flew over their heads and was entreated to dive beneath the water and bring up land. It found only a bottomless sea. Then the bird flew far away, came back with a small portion of earth in its bill, and guided the tortoise to a place where there was a spot of dry land.

The Delawares thought the land was an island, supported by a great turtle, the one that had been their preserver. There was a tradition that many hundreds of years ago their forefathers dwelt in a distant country, far to the west. They traveled east, and at the Mississippi River encountered a race of giants. The wanderers desired to settle between the river and the mountains; but the request was refused. However, they obtained permission to pass through the country. While in the midst of the strange land they were fiercely attacked by the huge people, who were very powerful. Many battles ensued. The enemy erected fortifications; but[Pg 106] large numbers of their warriors were killed. The dead were placed in heaps and covered with earth. The giants were finally defeated, and fled, passing down the Mississippi River. The victors took possession of the country.

The nation was then divided into three tribes. One settled on the shore of the Atlantic, one remained in the conquered land, and the third lived west of the Mississippi River. The Atlantic coast Delawares were composed of three clans, the Turtle (Unâmi), the Turkey (Unalâchtgo) and the Wolf (Minsi). Other tribes, the Mohicans and Nanticokes among them, sprang from the Lenape.

The legend of the hairless bear is one of the oldest Delaware stories. It was narrated that in the past, at some remote period, the country was infested with a ferocious bear of immense size. Its skin was bare, with the exception of a single tuft of perfectly white hair on its back. The animal possessed a keen sense of smell, but its sight was defective. The heart of the bear was so small that only an expert hunter could hope[Pg 107] to strike it. The people held council and finally decided that the best plan would be to break its back. Experienced hunters formed a party to rid the earth of the monster. They discovered its retreat, made a great noise to attract attention, and scaled a high rock. The bear could not climb the rock but tore at it in a fury. The men discharged arrows and threw stones at the creature until it was dead.

Indian mothers were wont to frighten their children into obedience, by saying:

"The naked bear will eat you."

The pictograph system, which was perfectly intelligible to all tribes, was based upon gesture speech. Rafinesque, a learned but somewhat erratic Frenchman, claimed to have seen a set of wooden tablets, on which was engraved the history of the Lenape, both in picture and in song. The eccentric archeologist prepared a translation of the strange document, which is called the Walam Olum, or Painted Record. Brinton seems inclined to believe it a genuine native production, given[Pg 108] orally and written down by some one not thoroughly conversant with the Delaware language. There is a possibility that the priests or medicine men, realizing that their own downfall would come with the adoption of Christianity, were jealous of the missionaries. Having learned to read and write, from the white men, and hoping to gain new power, they may have transmitted the story to wood, in such form as to be readily understood, both by educated and uneducated Indians. The song is rhythmical, and describes the formation of the universe by the great Manito.

At first there was a fog and a watery waste; then the land and sky were formed and the heavens cleared. Each statement is accompanied by a rude drawing or picture. The first part reads:

1. At first, in that place, at all times, above the earth,

2. On the earth, an extended fog, and there the great Manito was.

3. At first, forever, lost in space, everywhere, the great Manito was.[Pg 109]

4. He made the extended land and the sky.

5. He made the sun, the moon, the stars.

6. He made them all to move evenly.

7. The wind blew violently and it cleared, and the water flowed off far and strong.

Men and animals were created, and lived peaceably until the coming of an evil spirit, in the form of a serpent, which introduced war, sickness and premature death. Strife and wanderings commenced. The evil Manito brought a flood. A few people, escaping to the back of a turtle, were preserved by Nanabush, or Manabozho. Their protector caused the water to recede and the serpent to depart.

After the deluge the race found itself in a strange northern climate. The people journeyed south, arriving at "Snakeland." They conquered the region; and a long list of chiefs, migrations and wars are recorded. Abundance followed. Then there was a division, some of the nation going south and some east to the salt sea. The three subtribes[Pg 110] of the Lenape eventually became established along the Delaware River. The song closes with the advent of the white man.

In 1683 there were six thousand Delawares. Within a century their numbers greatly diminished. In 1724 the white settlements had increased to such an extent that the former owners of the land began to seek homes in Western Pennsylvania.

It was at New Britain, Pennsylvania, that Tamenend—the Delaware chief for whom the Tammany Society, of New York, was named—committed suicide. He had become old and feeble and had been deserted by the tribe. Having failed in an attempt to stab himself, the unhappy old man threw burning leaves over his body, and in that manner, died.

A princess of the Lenape caused a cliff on Mount Tammany to be called Lover's Leap. Her affection for a European was unrequited and, in despair, the girl made the leap of death.

Not far from Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, was a clear and sparkling lake. On its bank[Pg 111] stood a village of the Delawares. Among the wigwams was one larger than the rest and more commodious. There dwelt the successful young chief, Onoko, a man of wonderful size, strength and daring. Unaided, he had destroyed the bear on Mauch Chunk (Bear Mountain). Happy was Wenonah when he sought her in marriage. Her heart swelled with pride as she entered the richly decorated lodge.

The victories of Onoko in love, in war and in the chase aroused the anger and jealousy of Mitche Manito. One day, as the young people were floating idly upon the lake in their canoe, the terrible Manito arose among the mountains, with a dark look of hatred upon his face and the thunder rolling and crashing about his head, and while lightning darted from his eyes, smote the hills with a mighty hand covered by the magic mitten. The earth shook and a great chasm opened, through which poured a volume of foaming water.[Pg 112]

At first alarm, the lovers, glancing upward, beheld the wrathful features, and seeing no hope, awaited death, clasped in a close embrace. The light canoe was swept rapidly away by the deluge; and the Manito, in gloomy satisfaction, retired to the hills. Ever since that time the Lehigh has flowed through the chasm that he made. The name of Onoko was bestowed upon a cascade and glen in the vicinity of Mauch Chunk.

The Lenape gradually drifted to the streams in Central and Eastern Ohio. The epoch of peace had passed and they were no longer "women"; but took a prominent part in the War of the Races. Removing to the valley of the White Water River, in Indiana, they founded six towns. The treaty of Vincennes guaranteed the title to the land forever, nevertheless it was "ceded" to the United States only ten years afterward. The fugitives then sought a home west of the Mississippi; and eventually received a tract at the mouth of the Kansas River. They never fought against the Government after[Pg 113] that time. Other nations arrived. The Lenape lived at peace with all except the wild prairie tribes. The old warlike spirit, strong in every Indian, whether civilized or semi-civilized, was appeased by fierce battles far beyond their reservation. Even after the territory had become the property of the white man, the Delawares took pride in detailing such victories as


Nestled among the hills, where the Kansas River empties into the Missouri, lay a village of the once prosperous Lenape, who gloried in the knowledge that, with the exception of a brief period, their people had, from time immemorial, been successful in war. Belonging to the East, they had drifted toward the setting sun, until the early part of the nineteenth century found them, still adhering to antique customs, in Eastern Kansas. Though but the shadow of its former greatness, the nation still retained sufficient numerical strength to keep up hostilities[Pg 114] with its ancient enemies, the Sioux. At times, after seasons of rest and recuperation, well-equipped parties had sallied forth, going as far as Nebraska, Colorado or Dakota, in quest of adventure. A furious renewal of the old contest succeeded emigration to the Middle West, and all was made ready for an expedition. Religious rites were performed, and the medicine men promised an easy victory.


Among the Delawares was a chief, who bade fair to equal in fame, the most distinguished of his predecessors. Not many moons before, Ni-co-man had awakened from a dream of conquest and beheld, in the pale light, a shadowy figure wrapped in a blanket of snowy white. Its bony finger motioned the chief to arise and follow. Mechanically, like one asleep, he obeyed the phantom warrior, the strange chill that crept over him increasing with each step. On they went, beyond the confines of the village, toward one of the highest points along the river that shone like silver with reflected brightness. Pausing upon a spot from where [Pg 115]the undulating prairie could be seen, reaching for miles to westward, the spirit chief stretched out a ghostly arm and addressed the awe-struck leader.

"Go thou, Ni-co-man, noblest of thy people, and lead them on to glory. Take all thy bravest warriors. Journey west; there shalt thou find, upon the distant plains, our enemies, the Sioux. Rest not until thou hast avenged my death, for by their hands was I, thy father's father, slain."

Slowly he vanished, and Ni-co-man, pondering over these words, returned to his abode. Thenceforward he agitated the question of an advance, with full assurance of meeting and overcoming the murderous Sioux.

Around the council-fire were plans perfected. The pipe of peace was passed from hand to hand. Old men led the discussion while their juniors listened in silent respect. When all the wiser heads had given advice, the youthful braves, in turn, expressed opinions. The latter being unanimously in favor of adopting extreme measures, the council[Pg 116] of Ni-co-man prevailed; and having completed arrangements, the flower of the nation, mounted upon mettlesome ponies, went forth, as did the challengers of old, to seek renown.

Over the rolling prairies, the tall grass waving in the sunlight, rode the dusky knights, heavy war-paint giving greater fierceness to faces already glowing with excitement.

The second day, a long distance from the starting place, they stopped at night beside a flowing stream. The tired ponies, relieved of their burdens, were turned out to graze, a guard being stationed nearby. After a meal of savory buffalo meat, and a quiet smoke around the camp-fire, the Delawares, drawing their blankets over their heads, threw themselves upon the ground and were soon wrapped in profound slumber.

At early dawn, ere they had proceeded many leagues, a fresh breeze started from the Southwest, and close to the horizon a faint rose color tinged the sky. This suddenly[Pg 117] changed to a lurid hue, as a sheet of flame, accompanied by volumes of smoke, swept rapidly toward them.

"Fly! Tun-dahe Wel-seet-num-et (The God of Fire)!" shouted the Indians, as, turning on the trail, they lashed the horses to the highest possible speed, while the fire made steady headway.

On rushed the fugitives, bending every energy to reach the water; but the breath of the Fire God was at their shoulders. Then the hardy little ponies made a final heroic dash and landed in the creek—safe, all but one. As the terrible cloud passed swiftly over the half suffocated band, they saw the angry spirit in the great, dark, curling chariot, bend low and smite their comrade; and when the seething whirlwind had gone by, he lay, face down, a lifeless heap, upon the blackened cinders. A hasty burial, with few of the usual ceremonies, and the party was traversing the now desolate region, in the direction of the far-away mountains.[Pg 118]

They entered what the white man calls the Great American Desert. A level country, the short-grass district, extended as far as the eye could see, on every side. Its monotony was broken by an occasional "draw," where wandering tribes often found refuge in defeat, or lay in ambush, ready to spring out at the approach of foes. These draws were caused by erosion, and may have been the beds of rivers, long since dried up.

The plains were dotted with wild flowers, for in Kansas each weed, at some season of the year, bursts forth in all the glory of rich or delicate blossoms. The fall had brought its wealth of gold and purple, and the buffalo grass, more nutritious when "cured" by the sun and hot winds of summer, had turned to a rich brown, the ruling note of color. Birds, and even the prairie dogs, barking and chattering at the entrances to their underground towns, conformed to the prevailing tint.

The "Loco" weed had gone to seed, and the Indians, well knowing its dangerous properties,[Pg 119] kept their horses, while grazing, away from the plant, which is said to cause animals to become "locoed," or insane. A similar effect is produced on human beings, by the use of certain herbs compounded by the medicine men.

Winding through the sandy territory, was the Arkansas River, in the autumn a seemingly harmless layer of reddish brown soil with apparently stagnant water here and there upon its surface. Underneath the quicksand flowed a deep stream, promising certain death to him who essayed to cross with any but the lightest of vehicles.

The travelers had reached the heart of the buffalo country, and an abundance of game was found on every hand. A buffalo hunt, according to an Indian's views, was second only to victorious battle, therefore Ni-co-man called a halt and the entire company joined in a grand slaughter.

The hunters, familiar with the habits of the animals, first arranged themselves in groups in one of the draws, at the foot of a[Pg 120] steep embankment or precipice, taking care to be well sheltered. Then a warrior, grotesquely arrayed, and astride a strangely caparisoned steed, galloped toward the herd, frantically waving a bright-hued blanket. The leader, an immense creature, scented danger and took his stand in front of the rest. However, curiosity, which is one of the characteristics of the buffalo, prompted him to draw cautiously nearer the queer figure. The herd followed. Gradually the decoy backed toward the precipice, still gesticulating violently.

At last, the animals, thoroughly frightened, stampeded, accelerating speed as they approached the embankment, over which they rolled and tumbled in the mad effort to escape. Those not injured in the fall, recovered their feet and dashed away to the opposite slope, being easily shot in attempting the toilsome ascent. Thus, the majority were at the mercy of the red men.

The wanton destruction of these beasts at the hands of both Indians and white men is to be deplored. Where, two score years[Pg 121] ago, thousands roamed the plains, now nothing remains to prove their having existed save slight depressions in the earth called "wallows," and large numbers of horns, scattered over the ranches. Once in a while the buffalo ring may be seen, still barren of grass. Here the ever watchful sentinel had tramped around and around in a circle. A feast succeeded the favorable termination of the hunt. Only the finest portions of the meat, which resembles beef in flavor, were reserved as food. Tongues were considered a great delicacy.

Up to this time, a few straggling Comanches and Arapahoes were observed, but as yet no traces of the Sioux appeared. Ni-co-man, remembering his vision, still had faith that here, upon the plains, would the enemy be vanquished.

Early one morning a scout came in with the news that, far to the north, a stray band of Sioux had encamped the previous night. In a moment all was excitement. As soon as possible the entire cavalcade, well armed and[Pg 122] ready for the fray, was galloping in the direction indicated. At sunset the Delawares halted for rest and food, waiting for darkness to make an attack. But the enemy, too, were watchful; and knowing the presence of danger almost by intuition, had prepared for encounters.

They were in a deep cut, not easily accessible. Where the natural defenses are limited, the natives learn to take advantage of every means of protection. Piling up large masses of hard earth, that had fallen from one portion of the crumbling bank, they had built a rude fortification, which extended entirely across the entrance. In the rear was a narrow pass, with a steep acclivity on either side. Guards were stationed here and on the highest ridges. These gave the alarm as the Delawares, in three divisions, came silently forward at midnight.

Ni-co-man sent a detachment of good marksmen to the top of the embankment overlooking the Sioux, the second was despatched to the rear to force a way through[Pg 123] the narrow passage, while he boldly led the remainder to attempt the low earthworks at the entrance. The war-cry of the Lenape now filled the air.

The Sioux, crouching behind the fort and before the opening at the back of the camp, fought savagely. Occasionally marksmen on the elevation picked off one of their men, though it was a somewhat difficult task in the semi-darkness.

Ni-co-man, being taller than his companions, and always at the front, was a welcome target for his wild opponents. Again and again a shadowy figure intervened as the bullets sped toward him. He bore, in truth, a charmed life. As the moon passed under a cloud, for the elements were preparing for a conflict, the Delawares rushed forward, climbing recklessly over the heaps of hardened earth, scattering great lumps right and left. Some of the braves fell, mortally wounded—some pressed upon the retreating Sioux, who found themselves in a trap. The shadowy figure, invisible to all but the chief,[Pg 124] was ever present, hewing down the enemy with his great tomahawk.

The sun rose upon a frightful scene. The carnage was over, but ghastly upturned faces, smeared with war-paint and distorted with terror, even in death, told the tale of the night's work. Ere long it sought retirement, and the day grew dark. Ni-co-man gazed at the heavens in wonder. Did the Great Spirit manifest displeasure? A storm followed. Lightning flashed and the ground seemed to shake with thunder. Rain fell in torrents, a most unusual occurrence in that locality.

When the atmosphere had cleared, and the drenched warriors again beheld the battle-field, lo! all blood was washed away. The Great Spirit had stamped with approval the triumph of his chosen people, the Lenape.

Lawrence, a town of more than ordinary historic interest, now the site of the Kansas State University, was built upon land that formerly belonged to the Kaws. At a more recent date the Delawares were established in that vicinity. Haskell Institute, a flourishing[Pg 125] Indian school, is now located there. A majority of the nation, at the time of immigration, adhered to tribal costume, and while harmless as far as their white neighbors were concerned, presented a most ferocious appearance. Many of the early settlers of Lawrence were from Eastern cities, where the red man was known by reputation only. The Indians had a fear-inspiring way of peering into the windows of houses, and in order to obtain a better view, would spread out their blankets so as to exclude the light. Not infrequently a white family, while dining, would observe that the room had become unusually dark; and glancing toward the window from which the sunlight had vanished, would behold a hideously painted face, with piercing eyes looking through the glass, in keen interest. This was not at all contrary to Indian etiquette.

The wife of a resident who had the good fortune to secure the firm friendship of White Turkey, a Delaware chief, sat sewing one day, in her rocking chair. It was a tranquil[Pg 126] morning in early summer and the air was still. Suddenly a shadow crossed the light, and to her intense fright, three huge Delawares, in all the horror of their picturesque native dress, loomed up before the window. The lady, who had recently arrived from New York City, fainted; and the disappointed visitors sought her husband, informing him that they had merely called to announce the birth of a son—the future chief—named "Solomon White Turkey" in honor of the pale-face family. Years later, the gentleman, while traveling through the Indian Territory, was approached by an aged Delaware, surrounded by his friends, and introduced to a tall, prepossessing young man, who proved to be Chief Solomon White Turkey.

Kansas had been supposed to be permanently secured to the Indians; but the emigrant ever followed in their footsteps, and again the land of the Delawares was sold to the United States, and the people, few in number, took up their abode in the Indian Territory.[Pg 127]


The Wyandots, or Hurons, are of Northern origin, and descended from a branch of the Iroquois. At the time of the discovery of America, their villages were located near the Senecas, on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. When Cartier appeared, a small band of Delawares first observed the ships of the Frenchmen on the gulf, and sent messengers to announce the presence of "great white-winged animals, spitting out fire and speaking with voices of thunder."

The Wyandots and Senecas were closely allied and lived in amity many years. It is said that the long peace terminated and hostilities began through the influence of a woman. One version of the story is that a Seneca maiden loved a young man, whose father, a powerful chief, opposed his son's taking her as a wife. Other suitors were rejected. Then it was declared that the hand[Pg 128] of the maiden would be bestowed upon him, only, who should slay the chief. A Wyandot fulfilled this condition and became her husband.

The enraged Senecas flew to arms. An interminable war followed. Their neighbors moved to the vicinity of Niagara Falls. A series of migrations succeeded. At one epoch a portion of the tribe settled near Lake Huron, which was named for them. A part of the Bear Clan always remained in Canada.

For some unknown reason, the other tribes of the Five Nations joined the enemies of the Wyandots. Cooper's novels contain numerous allusions to the undying hatred of the Iroquois toward the Hurons, as they were called by the French, although Wyandot is the proper term.

Always pursued by the Senecas, a majority of the nation became wanderers. In 1701, seeking a new home, they embarked in canoes and passed out of Lake Huron, and into and beyond Lake St. Clair. In the distance a group of white tents was visible. This[Pg 129] comprised the city of Detroit. Landing, by order of the head chief, the Indians were received kindly by the governor of the colony. Accepting the protection offered, they found a home in that locality.

After the French territory had passed into the hands of the English, some of the Wyandots settled in parts of Ohio and Michigan. They were divided into clans, named for animals, conspicuous among which were the deer, bear, turtle, porcupine, snake and wolf. The nation originally had twelve of these divisions. Two or more formed a band. It was against the law to marry in one's own clan. Children belonged to the mother's clan; and women were accorded the privilege of voting for chiefs and council.

The head chief, or king, was the highest officer. The succession belonged to the Big Turtle and Deer clans; and every heir to the throne must be of pure Wyandot blood. The last head chief, Suts-taw-ra-tse, lived in the latter part of the eighteenth century.[Pg 130]

The primitive religion of the Wyandots was somewhat similar to that of other aboriginal nations. The Great Spirit ruled supreme. There was a God of the Forest, called Sken-ri-a-taun. Once a year a night feast was held, in memory of the departed. Dancing was dispensed with, but all joined in condolence with some lately bereaved family. It was thought that after death, the soul must cross a deep, swift river, on a bridge made of a slight tree, and be compelled to defend itself, repeatedly, from the attacks of a dog. The Dakotas also believed this, but affirmed that the bridge was formed from the body of an immense snake. The prayer of the Huron to a local god—as recited verbatum by Father Brebeuf—throws some light upon the subject of their conception of Deity.

"Oki, thou who livest in this spot, I offer thee tobacco. Help us, save us from shipwreck, defend us from our enemies, give us a good trade and bring us back safe and sound to our villages."[Pg 131]

The teachings of the Jesuits were early engrafted upon the original faith.

Few of the oldest Wyandot legends have been preserved. The literary world is indebted to Schoolcraft for the narration of the experience of Sayadio, which gives a glimpse into the spirit world as pictured by Indian fancy.

The heart of Sayadio was heavy with sorrow. His young and beautiful sister had died and he refused to be comforted. Desirous of bringing her back, the young man embarked upon a long and difficult journey to the land of souls. When ready to give up in despair, after many adventures, he met an old man who gave him a magic calabash with which to dip up the spirit, when it should be found. This man, who proved to be the keeper of that part of the land where the maiden dwelt, also gave him her brains, which had been carefully kept.

On reaching the place of departed souls, Sayadio was surprised that they fled at his approach. Tarenyawgo assisted him. The[Pg 132] spirits had assembled for a dance and he attempted to embrace his sister, but she straightway vanished with the others. Tarenyawgo then provided him with a mystical rattle to call them back. The taiwaiegun, or drum, sounded, and the notes of the flute could be heard. Immediately the air was full of floating figures, and Sayadio, dipping up the damsel with the magic calabash, despite the efforts of the imprisoned soul to liberate itself, returned to earth.

Friends were invited to the lodge, and the dead body brought from its place of burial to be restored to life. Just before the moment of reanimation, a curious old woman looked into the calabash, and the spirit took flight. Sayadio gazed heavenward but could see nothing. Then, with downcast eyes, he sat in the lodge, deploring that idle curiosity had rendered of no avail his travels to the land of the departed.

Peter Clarke, a native writer, was undoubtedly one of the most reliable sources of information regarding the ancient history[Pg 133] of the Wyandots, whose descendants, absorbed by the white race, have permitted the customs and many of the traditions of their forefathers to die out. Until a comparatively recent period many firmly believed


On the shore of Lake Huron, long years ago, was a deep pool, or spring, in the midst of marshy ground. An outlet into a river allowed the discharge of surplus water. Reeds and tall grasses almost obscured the pond from view, and the scream of the loon and the cry of the reed-bird alone disclosed its presence, until the traveler found himself upon its very verge.

The Wyandots knew of this place, and had little doubt that it was inhabited by a mysterious spirit. Sometimes the water rose and fell, as if stirred by the breathing of an immense animal beneath its surface, then grew suddenly calm. A benighted hunter, passing that way, told of a wondrous light, sparkling like the glow of a thousand fireflies;[Pg 134] and of a rumbling sound that shook the earth, announcing that an evil spirit was at work.

A party of the Prairie Turtle Clan camped one day at the spring, established an altar and offered burnt offerings to the strange god. Articles of value, silver ornaments and wampum belts, were cast into the pool and Ce-zhaw-yen-hau was chosen to call up the spirit. Standing in the marsh, with a bow in one hand and a bunch of arrows in the other, he chanted a song; while his companions, in homage to the Hoo-kee, or wizard of the spring, burned tobacco. He invoked the spirit to come forth. A loon arose, screaming and flapping its wings.

"Not you," said Ce-zhaw-yen-hau, and the loon vanished. Next came an otter.

"Not you," said the Indian, "begone! Come forth, you wizard!"

The water rose, as if agitated by some huge body, and a white panther emerged, looking eastward. Piercing its side with an arrow, the conjurer quickly extended a small[Pg 135] vessel to catch the blood which trickled from the creature's side. The moment the pan filled, the wounded animal disappeared, and the air vibrated with a rumbling, muttering sound, like distant thunder. Volumes of turbid water came to the surface, indicating the course the monster had taken in passing down the river. Never again was it seen at the pool.

The Prairie Turtle Clan, which had always been considered refractory in disposition, and inclined to be rebellious toward the Good Spirit, now formed a society and deified the white panther. Anyone who divulged the secrets of the association was instantly put to death. The blood in the small vessel coagulated and became dry. This was broken into pieces and distributed among the members to be placed in their medicine bags. The medicine bag was usually made from the whole skin of an otter, a mink, or other diminutive animal. Those who had been led by fanaticism to seek new gods were repeatedly warned by the Catholic priest to renounce[Pg 136] the evil spirit, or it would cause their destruction.

"Throw away the baneful substance which came to you from the devil in the form of a panther," he said, "for just as certain as you continue to keep it among you, the time is not far distant when you will be ruined by it, body and soul."

The unmanageable society, however, persisted in worshipping the white panther; and the substance obtained from the demon of the spring, which was used in witchcraft, eventually consumed the members themselves.

Not many years after the episode at the pool, Ce-zhaw-yen-hau turned traitor to the nation, and joined the Senecas. When leading a war-party against his own people, during the absence of the men, he saw two young women working in a field adjacent to the village. In a frenzy of enthusiasm for new friends and of hatred of the old, he slew the two girls, and fled precipitately.

The warriors, returning, pursued with fury, and overtook the murderers, crossing a[Pg 137] miry creek. The entire band was destroyed, with the exception of two Senecas. Putting out the eyes of one and cutting off the thumbs of the other, the Wyandots sent them back to their nation to tell the story.

The white panther worshippers were now made objects of revenge, being hunted down and killed, if suspected of carrying the ruinous substance. The Prairie Turtle Clan finally became extinct. Its fate was considered an evidence of the evil effects of being led by superstition to adopt unknown gods.

The Hurons, keen and skeptical, became acknowledged leaders in the councils of nations. When the Ottawas, Chippewas, Pottawatomies and Wyandots formed an alliance for mutual protection, the latter were appointed keepers of the council fire, and the inter-national archives were committed to their care.

Wampum belts designated agreements. Wampum was manufactured from a species of sea-shell and was composed of tubes one-eighth of an inch in diameter and one-half[Pg 138] an inch in length. These were fastened together with strong cords or ligaments. Each belt represented a compact, the conditions of which were retained in memory by the chiefs and warriors of the tribe. The beaver belt of the Mohawk, Captain Brant, emblematic of secret enmity, was deemed a pledge, on the part of those who accepted it, to assist in exterminating the Wyandots. A dark colored bead belt, with a red tomahawk upon it, indicated, when exhibited in council, that warfare was in contemplation. These tokens, as well as parchments and other records, were taken to Kansas in 1843, but became scattered and are now the property of private parties.

The Green Corn Dance was celebrated each year, in the month of August. Festivities opened with a great banquet in which corn was the principal element. After all had partaken generously of corn soup, corn bread and meat boiled with corn, the men formed in a circle and the dance began. A wild chant, or Hoo-ah, accompanied the music[Pg 139] of the tom-tom and cedar flute; and dried deer hoofs, tied around the legs of the warriors, rattled as they kept time. The cedar flute, a much valued instrument, was composed of two cylindrical pieces of wood, tied together with buckskin thongs. At intervals a sudden change of step and outward turning of faces occurred, every movement possessing deep religious significance.

At the annual corn feast, children and those adopted into the nation, received names, bestowed by the clans instead of by the parents. Each clan had a list of names that it was required to keep in use. A Wyandot historian tells a singular story, which illustrates the belief of the tribe in the necessity of observing this law.

While living, with the rest of her people, at Lower Sandusky, a young girl, gathering strawberries a short distance from the village, was taken prisoner by a party of white scouts. On the second night of her journey in their company, a queer-looking Indian appeared in a vision, and said:[Pg 140]

"I come to tell you that to-morrow about noon these white men will meet a party of Indians on the war-path, and have a fight. Then will be your chance to escape and return home. I am not one of your race; I am a frog, although appearing in human shape. Your race has often rescued one of our kind from the jaws of the snake, therefore, it is with grateful feeling that I come to tell you of an opportunity to escape from the hands of these snoring white men, lying around here."

Next morning the march was continued. About noon, as predicted, the Indians came in view and immediately made an attack. In a moment of excitement, the prisoner was forgotten. Without waiting to learn the outcome of the struggle, she ran into the woods and was soon beyond reach of enemies. At dark, the tired and hungry maiden crept into a hollow sycamore tree, through an aperture at its base, and fell asleep. An Indian woman became visible in a dream, and said:[Pg 141]

"The day after to-morrow you will meet a party of warriors from your village. Follow their war path northward. I am not one of your race; I am a bear. Say to the people that there are three names belonging to your clan, the Bear Clan, that are not now among you. Keep these names in use hereafter."

The famishing girl spent another night in the woods, and at dawn resumed her travels, striking the war path at mid-day. When the shadows began to lengthen, she met the Wyandots upon this trail. Providing food and replacing the torn clothing and worn-out moccasins with the best that could be obtained in such an emergency, they started her toward home, where a glad welcome awaited the wanderer, and perfect willingness to heed the admonition of her dreams.

In the war of 1812, a portion of the tribe adhered to Great Britain, while the remainder espoused the American cause. Roundhead (Staw-ye-tauh), who lived at the largest Wyandot village in Michigan, and Warrow,[Pg 142] the leading chief on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, took an active part on behalf of the British, and were conspicuous in the battle of the River Raisin. Walk-in-the-Water (Mey-ye-ra), maintained strict neutrality, although in sympathy with the Americans.

Big Tree, a Wyandot whose eventful life has made his name a familiar one, warred against the Americans, beginning, when a boy, at Braddock's defeat. He belonged to the Bear Clan and was noted for strength and activity. During a war with the Southern Indians, he was taken prisoner by the Cherokees, in a battle on the Kentucky River. The contest was a bloody one, the combatants laying aside guns, bows and arrows and fighting with tomahawks. Night ended the struggle and both sides retired from the field.

Big Tree was taken from one place to another; at last to the mouth of a river, unknown to him. The Cherokees held council and concluded to burn the prisoner. Before the sentence could be executed, a woman whose sons had been killed in the battle,[Pg 143] stepped forward and claimed him. She said:

"You took all my sons with you. Now they are dead and I am left alone without any help. I claim this young man as my son. Will you pity my age and helplessness and release him to me?"

He was given to the widow, but could not forget his own people and was always looking for a chance to escape. The opportunity came while he was out hunting. For three days and nights the Cherokees pursued. The fugitive became faint from want of food. Reaching the Ohio River, he paused a moment and prayed:

"O Great Spirit, help a poor prisoner to swim this river, that he may get home to his own country." Then, tying his gun on his head, plunged into the water and succeeded in getting to the opposite shore. He killed a deer, cooked a part of the meat and rested. After three moon's traveling, the wanderer arrived home.

In his old age, Big Tree became a devout Christian, and often related how he had tried[Pg 144] to follow the advice of the old people in the worship of the Great Spirit; how he had feared the "Man in the Clouds"; and had followed, first, the Seneca Prophet, next the Shawnee Prophet, then had gone back to the religion of his fathers; and finally, through the teachings of Stewart, the colored preacher, had gone down on his knees, with the petition:

"O Homendezue, tamentare, tamentare (O Great Spirit, take pity on me, take pity on me)."

Chief Splitlog (To-oo-troon-too-ra), a brother of Roundhead, and also a Royalist, was one of the last to give up the habits of his progenitors. Although a Roman Catholic, he retained, to a great extent, the ancient beliefs of his people. One who was thoroughly familiar with the history of Splitlog, describes the last effort on the part of the chief to observe the old customs, in the following language:

"One day, a few years before he died, after the last council wigwam was demolished[Pg 145] (wigwam, or we-go-wam, is a Chippewa word for any kind of a house), and the ground on which it stood had been ploughed up, he called together at his residence, the few who still adhered to the ancient customs of the tribe. It was his last feast, and the last dance song of this feast sounded mournful to the ears of the distant passer, who knew what it was.

"Two Indians, with whole snapping turtle shells, having some hard substance inside to make a rattling sound, sat on the ground, with two folded deer skins, pelt side out, between them, on which they beat with the turtle shells, while singing for the dance. The necks of the turtles were stretched out to their utmost length and stiffened, for handles. After the dance, the musicians were allowed to walk off with the deer skins as their compensation."

Much has been said concerning the bravery and adventures of Chief Splitlog, not only in the battles against General Wayne, but also in the war of 1812.[Pg 146]

William Walker, the father of Governor Walker, was one of General Harrison's scouts at that time. Having been captured, several years before, by the Delawares, and traded to the Wyandots, he had become, both by marriage and adoption, a member of the latter nation. During the heat of battle he was taken prisoner by the British and carried along with the army, his wife, also a prisoner, being placed on board an English warship.

In 1842 Silas Armstrong and Matthew Walker, whose Indian name, translated, was "Twisting the Forest," were sent beyond the Mississippi to locate a new home, and went as far west as Salina, Kansas, with the intention of buying a large tract of land. A thorough investigation, however, resulted in their securing from the Delawares a comparatively small tract, seven or eight miles in extent, and the Wyandots established themselves at the mouth of the Kaw River.

William Walker, afterward Provisional Governor of Nebraska Territory, had previously[Pg 147] traveled west, having this removal in mind, and examined the lands. He was a man of education and great strength of character—an acknowledged leader in the nation, as well as a writer of merit.

Matthias Splitlog was identified with the early commercial interests of Kansas City. Leaving Canada about the year 1840, he resided for some time at Neosho, Missouri, and was the projector of a small railroad, now a portion of the Pittsburg & Gulf line. He removed to Wyandotte, Kansas, became interested in numerous financial ventures and was known as the wealthiest of the Indians. Shrewd business men and corporations rendered his later life a series of law suits; and much property was sacrificed.

This silent and reserved man lived, for many years, simply, in a log house. His wife was unable to converse in English. Finally, accompanying the remnant of the tribe to the Indian Territory, he built a mansion, with modern conveniences, in the reservation of the Senecas.[Pg 148]

At the time of emigration to Kansas, a majority of the people were of superior intelligence, had long adopted the arts of civilization and, through the influence of missionaries, had become converted to Methodism. They were distinguished for regularity of feature and grace of movement, keeping perfect measure in the dance. The women were adepts in the art of needle-work. At the home of a lady of Wyandot lineage, is exhibited an elaborate piece of beading, of great age, in fleur-de-lis pattern. The center of each leaf is of pale pink, encircled with dark green, skillfully shaded to delicate tints. A variety of colors were introduced, yet the whole produced a most harmonious effect.

The belle of the nation in the '40s is said to have been so beautiful and cultured that, on the occasion of a visit to New Orleans, she was supposed to be a French lady, and the most exclusive society of the city extended courtesies. The handsome young woman reigned supreme for a short period. On the[Pg 149] return trip, three or four squaws boarded the steamer, and after standing quietly back for a brief space, silent witnesses of her numerous conquests, one of them came forward and said:

"Her squaw, like me—heap big squaw."

Contrary to general opinion, the Indians possessed a keen sense of humor and thoroughly enjoyed a laugh at the expense of one of their number.

In the olden days, Elder Dennison conducted services in the Methodist Church, through an interpreter. One Sunday, owing to the illness of the latter, a well-educated Wyandot named Browneyes, was engaged as substitute. Browneyes, not being religiously inclined, had partaken too freely of firewater. However, he appeared on the scene well dressed in honor of the event. A huge cravat, faultlessly tied, and a dark green coat, resplendent with brass buttons, were prominent features of his attire. Unfortunately, a large flask protruded from his hip pocket, and it was quietly decided that Mr.[Pg 150] Armstrong should officiate. Browneyes sat down in a front seat, apparently humiliated on account of being supplanted. The sermon proceeded smoothly for a time, then he remarked, distinctly:

"Sile, you are not telling a word of truth, and you know it."

No attention was paid to the interruption, but when the discourse became more eloquent, he averred, loudly and decidedly:

"Sile, that's a lie, and you know it."

Elder Dennison, discontinuing the address, said:

"Let us pray."

Descending from the rostrum, he placed one hand in the back of Browneyes' cravat, twisted it until the man's tongue hung out, and prayed long and loudly. It is needless to say this was the last time the services were interfered with while the elder presided.

A strange story is related concerning[Pg 151]


For some reason, Chudaquana had gained the enmity of a certain old woman of the community; perhaps he had unwittingly slighted her; perhaps a family feud existed; at any rate, the evil black eyes seemed to follow him from place to place. It was reported that this woman had the faculty of changing herself into a dog. Chudaquana noticed that a stealthy-looking canine was constantly at his heels. Day after day, and week after week, the animal was to be seen skulking near. The eyes were certainly those of the witch. Fearing some great misfortune might ensue if this continued, he decided to be rid of the nuisance once and forever.

In order to kill a witch it was necessary to use silver bullets. Having procured these, Chudaquana went about his ordinary pursuits, keeping a sharp lookout, meantime, for the enemy. It could be seen in the rear, at some distance, tracing his footsteps. The man sought shelter behind a tree. On came[Pg 152] the wild-looking animal, sniffing at the ground. As it paused directly opposite, there was a sharp report, an unearthly howl, and the witch was no more. The silver bullet had fulfilled its mission. The old woman, so rumor said, carried to the day of her death, festering and sore, the mark of a bullet in her side.

Romantic courtships and marriages between Wyandot maidens and white settlers were not infrequent.

Before the entire tribe had discarded its picturesque costume, a young man of Caucasian descent located among the Wyandots for the purpose of trade. One clear October morning, looking from the door of the small frame building in which he conducted business, he saw a graceful figure approaching, and a moment later, an Indian girl of thirteen or fourteen years, arrayed in all the finery of her people, stepped lightly across the threshold and stood, glancing confusedly and with decided coquetry, at the young merchant. Her slight form was clothed with a[Pg 153] loose crimson waist, or shirt, and a short skirt ornamented with embroidery and notched ribbons. Beaded moccasins covered the little feet, and broadcloth leggings extended to the knees. Her black hair was confined by a silk handkerchief. The color came and went in the dark cheeks, and bright eyes flashed admiration from under long lashes. He hastened to respond to orders given timidly in the universal language of signs.

Again and again Markrete visited the store, purchasing brilliant hued calicoes, beads and blankets, and receiving little presents from the trader, who endeavored in this manner to win her regard. At last he was compelled to employ an interpreter, who attempted to persuade her to accept an offer of marriage.

For some time the girl turned a deaf ear to all overtures. She was too young to give up freedom; and marriage, to an Indian woman, meant slavery. She climbed fences and rode horses; on one occasion, when there[Pg 154] was no ferry, swimming her horse across the river in order to visit a relative.

However, after protracted efforts under many difficulties, the young man was victorious; and acquired rights in the nation, an Indian name, and last, but not least, pretty Markrete.

The Wyandots have been gradually absorbed by the white race, and those who maintain tribal relations are located in the Indian Territory. Many prominent residents of Kansas City are descended from the Wyandots.[Pg 155]


The Pottawatomies were of Algonquin descent and were termed "Firemakers," in reference to their secession from the Odjibwas and becoming the makers of their own fires. The Odjibwa tradition says that there were two brothers at St. Mary's Falls. The fishing-rod of the younger was taken into the rapids by the other and accidentally broken. A quarrel ensued. The elder brother went south. This was the origin of a new tribe. The Pottawatomies of the Woods, located in Wisconsin and Michigan; and the Prairie Bands, of Illinois and Indiana, formed the two principal divisions of the nation, whose homes were scattered from the shores of Lake Superior to the Illinois River. In language and customs, the Pottawatomies were similar to the Ottawas and Chippewas, with whom they were closely allied. They crowded the Miamis from the vicinity of Chicago.[Pg 156]

In the war of 1812, the Prairie Bands, under the leadership of Suna-we-wone, fought against the Americans, and were at the massacre at Fort Dearborn. The United States effected a treaty of peace with them in 1815, and afterward purchased a portion of their land. Eighteen years later, the cession known as the Platte Purchase was made, in consideration of which the Government granted 576,000 acres adjoining the Shawnees and Delawares, in Kansas. Subsequently, the tribe became widely scattered. Portions located in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and the Indian Territory.

The Pottawatomies believed in two Great Spirits, Kitchenonedo, Good Spirit, and Matchemondo, Evil Spirit. Kitchenonedo made the world and its first inhabitants; they looked like people, but were wicked ungrateful dogs that never lifted their eyes from the ground, to return thanks.

In punishment, the Creator dropped the earth, with everything upon it, into a great lake, from which it emerged only after the[Pg 157] destruction of the race. Then a handsome young man appeared, who seemed sad because of loneliness. Kitchenonedo pitied him and sent a sister to brighten his life. Many years later the young man had a dream. Telling it to his sister, he said:

"Five young men will come to your lodge door this night. The Great Spirit forbids you to answer or even look up and smile at the first four, but when the fifth comes, you may speak and laugh and show that you are pleased."

She obeyed his directions. The first who arrived was named U-sa-ma, or Tobacco, and being repelled, he fell down and died; the next, Wa-pa-ko, or Pumpkin, meeting a like reception, followed his example; the third, Esh-kos-si-min, or Melon, and the fourth, Ko-kees, or Bean, had the same misfortune; but she smiled upon the fifth, who was named Tamin, or Montamin (Maize), and opened the lodge door that he might enter. They were married; and from them are descended the North American Indians.[Pg 158]

Tamin buried his ill-fated rivals; and from their graves sprang tobacco, melons, beans and pumpkins; and the Pottawatomies said that was the way in which the Good Spirit furnished his people something to put into their a-keeks, or kettles, with the meat, and something to offer as a gift at feasts and ceremonies.

Long after a majority of the nation had become Christianized, they clung, in a great measure, to the ancient superstitions.

Not many miles distant from the place where Topeka now stands, lived a chief called Menweshma. Menweshma was a believer in the Indian doctrine of transformation, and gravely asserted that he could turn his four hundred and eighty pounds of flesh into a bird or beast. Tradition says that it was a favorite pastime of his, to assume the form of an owl.

Being an inveterate gambler, he at one time became the victim of a scheme by which he was defrauded. This so enraged the Pottawatomie that he killed the seven Indians who[Pg 159] participated in the trick, and according to the laws of the tribe, was called upon to pay a heavy ransom or submit to death. After surrendering all his possessions, Menweshma was yet indebted to the amount of five hundred dollars. This sum was borrowed from the trader, and year after year passed and the chief continued to disregard the solicitations of the white man to pay.

One night, after Menweshma had appeared particularly annoyed by these requests, the settler and his family were disturbed by the hooting of an owl. Seizing a rifle, the man shot in the darkness at what appeared to be the outline of the bird, and saw an object fall to the ground. On reaching the spot, he stooped to pick it up—and the nocturnal visitor could not be found.

At nine o'clock next morning came a messenger with the request that he go at once to Menweshma, who was dying. Entering the hut, he was left alone with the medicine man and the dying chief. The Pottawatomie, disclosing a great wound in his side, said:[Pg 160]

"Didn't you shoot an owl at your house, last night? I was that owl, and had gone there to poison your children."

Queer explanations were accepted without question, by the Indians, and often white folks were puzzled to account for strange events.

Even the most warlike tribes did not hesitate to resort to deception, if, perchance, a victory were to be gained without striking a blow.

Below the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers was a reservation of the Pottawatomies. Just without its limits, the Pawnees, always at war and straying from rightful boundaries, were wont to lie in wait for their less courageous neighbors.

On a sunny afternoon in the spring of 1856, seven or eight hunters and trappers, going westward from Fort Riley, were confronted by a panic-stricken band of several hundred Pottawatomies. The fugitives, galloping toward the reservation, shouted, "Pawnee! Pawnee!" Later in the day, the plainsmen[Pg 161] came upon the Pawnees, a party of fifty men, celebrating with great satisfaction, their success in putting the foe to flight. The latter, in the morning, had camped not far from a large hill, or bluff, behind which the enemy were holding consultation as to the best mode of attack. In order to give the impression of numerical strength, the fifty braves filed around and around the bluff, seemingly an interminable line, then, with blood-curdling war-whoops, dashed toward the camp. The Pottawatomies fled precipitately, leaving the entire supplies to fall into the hands of the strategists, who took advantage of every opportunity to intimidate the more pacific nations of eastern or southern origin, removed west by the Government.

With the exception of the Shawnee Prophet, the cruel and vindictive war-chief, Wa-baun-see, was, doubtless, the most famous Indian among the emigrant nations. His brave deeds have formed the subject of many interesting anecdotes. Notable among them is[Pg 162]


Near the close of the eighteenth century, the Americans again commenced to encroach upon Indian territory, and some of them proceeded southwestward down the Ohio River in large boats about thirty-five or forty feet in length and ten or twelve feet in breadth, with barricaded decks. The rightful owners of the soil, determined to prevent further settlement, disputed every mile of progress by all possible means.

One day the scouts, led by Wa-baun-see, watched a floating fort from the north bank of the river. An attack was feasible, since the pilot kept well to the middle of the stream, beyond reach. The Indians consulted as to the best method of overcoming this difficulty. Word was sent to the main body of warriors to conceal themselves at a certain point that jutted out into the water, at some distance below their present location. They were also instructed to be prepared for battle when the boat should go ashore. Meantime, despite all efforts to the contrary on[Pg 163] the part of the pilot, the raft showed a decided tendency to approach the river bank. The man at the helm was admonished again and again, but insisted that he had been doing all in his power to keep off from shore. The pilot then made a careful examination of the boat on the side next to land. A black object bobbed up occasionally, then disappeared. Closer scrutiny revealed a nude Indian, swimming under water and tugging away at a rope held in his teeth. The other end was fastened to the boat. Once in a while the swimmer was compelled to come to the surface for breath.

Quietly obtaining his bayonet, the pilot watched the water with interest. Again the dark head and shoulders emerged. They were those of the war-chief. Quick as a flash, the bayonet plunged downward into his back. Wa-baun-see sank out of sight, keeping under water until he reached the shore. The braves conveyed him to a place of safety and carefully dressed the dangerous wound. The daring chief recovered.[Pg 164]

When the Osages were strong and powerful, and claimed thousands of broad acres south of the Missouri River, they were frequently at war with the Pottawatomies. During a battle, Wa-baun-see was routed, in addition to losing a friend in the sally. The proud spirit of the war-chief was injured; and the humiliation caused by defeat and the death of the brave rankled in his mind after other warriors had seemingly forgotten the circumstances. He determined to seek revenge, should it ever become possible. Years passed without the gratification of his wishes. Then came the news that, at an appointed time, a delegation of Osages would visit a certain western fort. Wa-baun-see, with some of his best men, repaired to the post, and, after a formal interview, withdrew. They galloped a few miles away and waited for darkness. The Osages feared treachery and communicated their suspicions to the commandant. Permission to sleep inside the fortifications was asked and granted.[Pg 165]

In the night, when all was silent, Wa-baun-see rode quietly toward the place. He stationed his men at a safe distance and went forward to inspect the defenses. It was necessary to employ the utmost caution, in order to avoid the guards. Approaching, he threw himself upon the ground and crept around the walls, finding, at last, an embrasure, almost too small to permit the passage of a man's body. The chief was seeking revenge and was not to be daunted, therefore, after a long and painful effort, succeeded in writhing through the aperture, and warily sought out the adversaries of his people. They were sleeping soundly, feeling secure in the protection afforded by the presence of soldiers. Wrapped in a blanket, and lying upon the ground a short distance from the group, was the head chief. Crawling through the grass, the Pottawatomie reached his side. There was no disturbance, only a dull thud, as the tomahawk buried itself in the head of the slumberer. Securing the[Pg 166] scalp, Wa-baun-see retired as noiselessly as he had come.

In the morning the Osages were greatly surprised and enraged to learn that the enemy had been in their midst.

The impression that the relentless chief was the most ferocious Indian of his time, was confirmed by the frightful punishment of one of his wives, accused by another wife, probably a favorite, of cruelty to his children. Without giving the poor woman an opportunity to plead her cause, he commanded the accuser to split open her skull.

Wa-baun-see accompanied his tribe to Kansas in 1846, and during the latter part of that year, went to Washington, with other influential men, to conclude a treaty with the Government. The stage-coach, in which they passed through Missouri on the way home, overturned near Boonville, and Wa-baun-see sustained severe injuries, which ultimately resulted in death.[Pg 167]


The capital of Kansas now occupies a portion of the former hunting-grounds of the Kaw and Shawnee Indians. The Shawnees were the first emigrant tribe to arrive in the Territory. The ancient home of the nation was near the Cumberland River. Early in the Seventeenth century, the Iroquois invaded that region and vanquished its owners, who fled south and became scattered, settling in Carolina and Florida. At a later period, the divisions of the tribe reunited and returned to the vicinity of their old home, taking possession of a more extended country and founding towns in the Ohio Valley. When they were driven west, the Baron De Carondelet granted them land near Cape Girardeau.

As the white people entered Louisiana, the Shawnees sought new homes, again and again. Finally, they relinquished all claims[Pg 168] in Missouri, in consideration of a large purchase in Kansas. In 1854 a treaty was signed, disposing of all their land except two hundred thousand acres, which were divided among individuals; and in 1869 the remnant of the tribe removed to the Cherokee country, in the Indian Territory.

A migration tradition says that once, when the Shawnees lived in the far East, on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, they were surprised to see, riding along on the back of a large fish, a creature that looked like a man, although it had long green hair like weeds, a face like a porpoise and a beard the color of ooze. Around its neck were strings of sea-shells, and in its hand was a staff made from the rib of a whale; and, most astonishing of all, the strange being had the bodies of two fishes for legs. He stopped near shore and sang of the beautiful things in the depths of the sea. The people heard, in amazement, for he spoke their language.

Day after day and week after week, the Man-Fish might be seen, seated on the water,[Pg 169] with his legs curled up under him; and all the time he sang of new countries; and the people, charmed, left their work and listened. Men forgot to go hunting and the women no longer busied themselves around the wigwams, but stood on the beach and watched. Repeatedly, the creature sang: "Come, follow me"; but they refused to go. At last the supply of food in the village was exhausted. Hunters entered a boat and tried to catch fish, but without success. The Man-Fish flirted water over them with his legs, and laughed at their trouble, chanting a melody about the wonderful Spirit Island, in the midst of the Great Salt Sea. The Shawnees said:

"Can you show us anything better than we have—good wives, good children, good dogs and plenty of deer?"

But the stranger reminded them of storms in the Moon of Falling Leaves, of snow and ice, of hunger and constant danger from wild animals and painted warriors, saying:[Pg 170]

"Come with me and I will show you a land where the air is always warm and soft, and the flowers are always in bloom; where you will find as many deer as are among your icy hills, and great herds of animals called bison; where the men grow tall and the women beautiful as the stars of night."

The Shawnees were afraid, and attempted to go toward shore, but were held back by an unknown hand. They consulted among themselves. The Man-Fish bobbed up his head and sang: "Follow me." They decided to obey.

Out on the water, a mighty storm arose. The Great Spirit could be heard hissing in the depths of the ocean. The boat rocked and swayed on the billows; but the protector was near and told them not to fear. He brought food and a shell of fresh water from the bottom of the sea. Two moons passed before land appeared. It was the glittering Spirit Island, with big trees and high mountains. From some of them lightning seemed to shoot. Along the shores were seals and[Pg 171] ducks. The inhabitants fled into the woods, when they saw the Man-Fish, who went to find the Spirit of the Island. He entered a cave and soon returned, accompanied by a being as strange as himself. It had a head like a goat, with horns and beard, and moss-colored hair. Its legs and feet were covered with handsomely decorated leggings and moccasins. Speaking with the voice of a man, it said:

"I will take you, men of the Land of Snows, to a beautiful place, where you will find all that could be desired."

The Man-Fish departed, and under the guidance of their new friend, the strangers reached the interior of the Spirit Island. They married the maidens of the country and grew into a bold, strong and valiant nation, overcoming all tribes east of the River of Rivers.

The Shawnees were of Algonquin stock and were the roving clans, the gypsies of the wilderness, described by William Penn, belligerent under ill-treatment but peaceable[Pg 172] when dealt with justly. Referring to the creation, they said:

"The Master of Life made the Shawnees first, from his brain, and gave them all his knowledge. Other red people descended from them. He made the French and English from his breast, the Dutch from his feet and the Long-knives (Americans) out of his hands."

One of the most interesting legends is that which has reference to the origin of the Piqua Shawnees. The word "Piqua" signifies "Man Made from Ashes."

It seems that long ago, in the dim past, the nation made a talk against the Walkullas, who lived not far away, on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. The older men opposed a war; but Mad Buffalo and the young warriors refused to listen to their counsel.

"We are strong," said they, "and the Walkullas are weak."

A party, eager for a fight, went out from the village. Two moons passed and there were no tidings of the young men. The Walkullas were distant only six suns journey.[Pg 173] The third moon went by; and Chenos, the oldest and wisest man of the tribe, called the people together in council; he told them that the young warriors had been slain. There was a shriek of horror and the women began to lament for their husbands and sons.

"Yet," said Chenos, "there is one left, who has had vengeance on the enemy and has drunk their blood; he will soon be here."

Even as he spoke, the Mad Buffalo entered the Council Wigwam. One arm was tied up with a piece of deer skin; and there was dried blood upon his body. Attached to a pole, over his shoulder, were seven scalps. Six of them had long black hair, but the seventh was the color of sunshine, and curling. He told them how the braves had crept up to the enemy and watched them prepare a feast to the Great Spirit; then, when all was in readiness, the war-cry had been sounded. The Shawnees had killed many, but the foe had been visited by people with skins as white as the clouds, who had taught them to use thunder and lightning in battle.[Pg 174] Mad Buffalo's men had done well, but were slain, at last.

Chenos told the leader that he should not have gone at a time when the Walkullas were making sacrifices. The relatives of the dead warriors called out for vengeance. The wise men counseled as to what would most surely appease the Master of Breath. Chenos said:

"The Mad Buffalo must give up that which is most dear."

The leader, casting a fierce glance toward him, said he would offer none of his own blood, but would kill a deer. Then Chenos said:

"The Mad Buffalo has not told all. There is another, a prisoner, with trembling heart."

The warrior replied:

"Mad Buffalo never lies; he has a prisoner"; and with that, he went out of the Council Wigwam and brought in a woman. He motioned her to lift the veil that covered her face. The wild men of the forest gazed entranced. She had a skin white as snow, and cheeks, red, but not with paint, like the[Pg 175] Indian's. More beautiful than the flowers, than the sun, moon or clouds, was the maiden. The Mad Buffalo claimed her as his own, telling how he had saved her and carried her in his arms.

The relatives of the dead men cried out for blood. Chenos forbade the sacrifice, saying that perhaps she had come from the Great Spirit. Then the wicked ones left the place and sought the aid of a bad man named Sketupah. Sketupah said the beautiful woman must be sacrificed; he directed that certain religious rites be performed, with a wolf, a tortoise and a rattlesnake.

A large ball rolled up the hill and unwound itself. A queer little old man with green eyes, stepped out. The ball was made from his own hair, which was the color of moss, and so long that when blown around by the wind, it seemed like the tail of a star. The little old man, who was the Evil Spirit, commanded them to bring forth the beautiful woman and tie her to a stake. They did so, and piled sticks around her feet. As[Pg 176] the flames arose, the Mad Buffalo, giving his war-cry, ran forward against the Evil Spirit. A breath from the powerful one, and he lay stricken with death. Chenos called on the Master of Life for help. The Ruler of All came, his eyes visible from afar, shining like two great stars. The evil one grew small, and his power failed when the Great Spirit advanced. The beautiful woman was spared and the Master of Life said:

"Men of the Shawnee nation, the pale-faced people from over the Great Salt Lake are your brothers."

He told them that he had made all races; that the Indian was red because fear never entered his breast; that the heart of the white man was so chilled that the blood was scared from his cheeks; that the Shawnee had been brought from the land of the pale-face, long ago, but had lost his paleness. Then he said:

"Rake the ashes of the sacrificial fire; and when the Star of the Evening rises, put in the body of Mad Buffalo and cover it over[Pg 177] with wood; keep the fire burning for two whole moons; bring out the beautiful woman and place her near the ashes. This is the will of the Great Spirit."

The people obeyed these commands, and when the time had been fulfilled, there was a disturbance in the ashes, and a man, tall, strong and perfect, came forth. He walked up to the maiden and looked into her eyes. Chenos gave her to him as a wife; and from them were the Piquas descended.

A Shawnee religious belief, the doctrine of a pre-natal existence, bears some resemblance to that of the Buddhists, and reminds one of the fact that all nations have a common ancestor in the Aryan race. The following incident, related by an Indian agent, proves the implicit faith reposed in this particular belief.

When the United States Government removed the tribe to Kansas, the Pawnees waged incessant war against the new arrivals. Many times, ere the country became their home, had war parties of the Shawnees[Pg 178] traversed the rolling prairie, passed out upon the plains, battled with the wild Indians of the West, and returned, sometimes laden with booty, to their reservation east of the Mississippi.

The red man never forgets what he considers an indignity. The spirit of revenge is always an incentive to action; hence, the recent comers were under the necessity of keeping themselves in readiness for an encounter at any moment. Rumors of an attack by the enemy floated into the settlements, and the head chief marshaled out his men to check the advancing warriors. After a ride of one hundred miles to the northwest, the scouts, far to the front, espied in the distance, what appeared to be a great number of small black objects, outlined against the sky. A nearer view disclosed the fact that the Pawnees were approaching. Information was carried to the main body.

Both parties called a halt. Then, the war-chief of the Shawnees, accompanied by an aide, rode forward, signifying that he desired[Pg 179] a conference. He was met in the open space between the lines, by an opponent, a fierce-looking Indian, and by his side a brave of unusual size and strength. Contrary to custom, it was agreed, after a parley, that two of the most skillful warriors should meet upon the prairie, in the presence of both sides, and decide the battle by a hand-to-hand conflict.

Returning to their men, the chiefs called for volunteers. A quick response, and the chosen ones rode to the central ground, dismounted, and consigned their ponies to the waiting assistants, to be led back to the lines. There was a moment of hesitation—of suspense to the spectators. The warriors regarded one another with looks of astonishment and recognition. Then La-ma-to-the, the Shawnee, spoke:

"Know you not, Pawnee, that we have met, far back in the past, the past that appears to us now as the distant mountains when wrapped in smoke from heaven's pipe of peace?"[Pg 180]

"Yes," replied the other, "I remember the blue sky and the broad prairie, covered with sweet grasses, where the rest of our kind fed quietly, or, scenting danger, galloped wildly from place to place."

"Pawnee, we were bison, then (Puk-wah-chee-m'-tho-tho), belonging to the same herd and following the same leader. Let us go back to our people and tell them we were brothers in the other world."

They separated, and the war chiefs, understanding well, looked upward, in reverence to the Great Being who had transformed them all in the time long ago, then returned in silence to their villages.

Many Shawnees and Pottawatomies claim that they are of the lost tribes of Israel. Certain customs that have descended to them from time immemorial, seem to bear out this theory. Their Holy of Holies corresponds to the Ark of the Covenant, of the Israelites. Its contents were known only to its possessor, and, under penalty of death, all others,[Pg 181] except the medicine men, were forbidden to touch the sacred relic, which was wrapped and re-wrapped with bark until it became a good-sized bundle.

The Shawnee language is a dialect of the Algonquin, which possesses all the vowel sounds. The letters f, r, and v are wanting. X is also wanting in all Algonquin languages except the Delaware and Mohican. There is a strong affinity between the Shawnee and the Mohican dialects. Verbs are full and varied in their inflections. The meanings of whole words are concentrated upon a few syllables or upon a single letter. The prefix tah, indicates futurity. Everything is considered as divided into two classes—animate and inanimate. Terminations change accordingly. Divested of their appendages, words become monosyllables. The syllable e-bun is added to the name of one deceased. This is equivalent to the words "has been" and is a delicate way of indicating a person's demise. For instance, Tecumseh, after death, becomes Tecumseh-e-bun or "Has Been Tecumseh."[Pg 182]

A wealthy trader who married the descendant of a French officer stationed in Canada during Colonial days and the daughter of a chief of the Chippewas, passed through many strange experiences while sojourning among the Shawnees.

One moonlight night, riding from Westport, now a part of Kansas City, to Uniontown, on the present site of Valencia, he left the beaten road and took a short cut for home over a seldom used Indian trail. A ghostly stillness prevailed, which was broken, ere he had proceeded far, by a series of blood-curdling groans, sometimes clear and distinct, sometimes like the rushing of the wind, but always seeming to follow in his wake. Drawing a revolver and wheeling to confront the enemy, he found only empty air—while the pale moon still shone serenely down upon the unbroken prairie. Again the terrible sounds became audible; and the horse was urged to its highest rate of speed without avail. A sensation of horror creeping over him, the pioneer turned into a path leading to an Indian hut—the[Pg 183] noise sweeping by like the breath of a cyclone—and inquired the cause. His host, well versed in explanations of the medicine men, replied:

"Had you remained upon that trail, the route of a rambling night spirit, you would have surely died before the break of day."

Doubtless these interpretations often served to cover murderous designs.

On another occasion he was urged by a friendly Indian, a member of a secret society, not to undertake his usual journey, as, at a gulley south of Martin's Hill, danger lay in wait. True enough, at that place a large gray wolf sprang out and made a fierce lunge, inflicting deep wounds upon the horse. The traveler fired but missed the animal. Again and again the ferocious creature jumped at him, each time failing to reach the man and burying its teeth in the horse. After a furious conflict, in which the rider succeeded in beating back the wolf with the butt of his pistol, he urged forward the wounded steed and was enabled to outrun his wild adversary.[Pg 184]

A Shawnee, descended from the principal characters described, is authority for the following story, of


Near the city of Quebec, so long ago as the time of the French and Indian War, lived a dark-eyed girl of the Chippewa tribe, in whose sweet face bloomed a dusky beauty that distinguished her from other maidens of the nation and caused her to become an object of admiration to the gallant young officers who were struggling to maintain the supremacy of France. Had it not been for the brilliant victory of General Wolfe, and the noble sacrifices of the British and Colonial troops, there were no sad story to record, for with the advent of England came an exodus of the French soldiery from the Dominion, and crushing sorrow to Maune´, whose heart had been captured by the handsomest officer in the vicinity of their village.

She was the daughter of a great chief, renowned among his people for deeds of bravery in war, therefore, it had occasioned small[Pg 185] surprise when the noble Colonel Beauchamie selected la petite Maune´ as his Indian bride. In time, two fine boys brought new sunshine into the rude quarters which, in those primitive days, served as home, though to the young mother, the rich furs and blankets and pretty trinkets with which she was endowed, seemed the very acme of luxury.

Life was full of sweet contentment, until, one clear, cold morning, the French looked out in astonishment upon the army of General Wolfe, drawn up in battle array. How it had ascended the steep cliffs was a mystery to those within the walls.

General Montcalm, resting his faith in superior numbers, risked a battle outside the fortifications. The heroism and patriotism of the opposing generals, their glorious death, the celebrated victory of the English with its important results, and the final expulsion of the French from that portion of the New World, are all matters of history.

Colonel Beauchamie was ordered back to France with his regiment. The question[Pg 186] now obtruded itself, "What should be done with Maune´?" He could not present an Indian wife to friends at home, neither was he willing to leave his sons in Canada. After prolonged consultation with a few brother officers, it was quietly arranged that the children should be spirited away and placed on board a ship destined to transport the soldiers back to their native land; and the devoted woman was to be deserted.

Maune´, suspecting these designs, crept quietly behind the partition that screened the officers from view, and listened to the development of the plan. Her affectionate heart sank as she became aware of her husband's perfidy. Love, grief and determination followed in rapid succession. Sadly she stole away and prepared for flight. A canoe was stored with provisions and the sleeping children placed inside; then, with mingled feelings of affection and the hatred and resolution peculiar to her race, she bade farewell to home, happiness, country, all that made life dear, except the slumbering babes. For[Pg 187] their sakes she would struggle through the wilderness to a more favored land. Where, she knew not. The Great Spirit would guide and protect her; and the blood of fierce warriors, which flowed in the veins of this child of Nature, gave strength and courage in the hour of need.

Up the river she proceeded, keeping close to shore; when at a safe distance from pursuit, landing for rest and for the purpose of adding to their scant amount of provisions. From the river into the lakes, slowly, cautiously, Maune´ made her way, passing through untold hardships, always caring tenderly for the dependent little ones. Cold, hunger, wild beasts and the fierce storms of the Northern lakes were alike disregarded; and at last, long after English rule had been firmly established in Canada, and Quebec and Montreal converted into British headquarters; after the cruel conquerors had banished the simple Acadians from their land—Maune´, weak, emaciated and fainting with starvation,[Pg 188] was found by a wandering party of Shawnees, upon the Illinois shore.

By almost superhuman efforts, the heroic woman had preserved her children; and the hardships of the journey had produced no serious effects upon their sturdy constitutions. Adopted into the tribe, she found a habitation with the friendly Shawnees.

Though the image of her pale-faced husband was never erased entirely from the heart of the faithful Chippewa, and a lingering sadness and silence kept her in partial isolation, she lived many years in quiet and saw her sons, as they grew to manhood, regarded as the boldest and most successful of the tribe, in times of peace and war.

Advancing age brought with it the suspicion of witchcraft. Maune´ was of a strange nation; and her adherence to unknown customs aroused fear in the breasts of the ignorant Shawnees. Finally, the leading medicine man decreed that she must die. Her sons were powerless to resist the tide of superstition.[Pg 189]

A bundle of sticks was produced, and the unfortunate creature tied to a stake. Then the horrible torture commenced. Frantic Indians, chanting their weird melodies, danced round the fire, as it slowly consumed the ill-fated Chippewa. Not a sound of terror or of anguish escaped the woman in this moment of exquisite suffering. At last, a merciful breath of flame severed the thread of life, and all that remained of the bright little maiden, who had been the idol of her brave Canadian people, was a disfigured mass of charred flesh and bones.

Surely the Great Spirit whom she worshipped, and the tender Mother of Christ, whom the Jesuits had taught her to implore, looked down in pitying love, and recompensed, in the Spirit Land, this child of misfortune—Maune´ la misérable.

Tragedies were every-day occurrences among the natives, in those days, and there were times when fanaticism swept all before it; but that the great men of the Indians[Pg 190] were not unworthy of the admiration and respect of their enemies, is shown in


On a picturesque cliff overlooking the Mad River, in what is now the State of Ohio, was located, more than a century ago, the Indian village of the Piqua Shawnees.

The settlement was prosperous and fully two hundred acres of land were in cultivation. A log fort, surrounded with pickets, had been built, and the Shawnees were prepared for defense in the event of an attempt to capture the town.

This beautiful spot was the birth-place of the famous Tecumseh—Shooting Star—the most illustrious Indian that ever battled for the rights of his people. Eloquent, powerful in mind and body, and possessing the soul of a hero, the patriotic chief was, at the opening of the nineteenth century, deep in plans for the advancement of his [Pg 191]race. Is it a matter of surprise that he should oppose, with ceaseless energy, the encroachment of the white man? That his talents should be unsparingly used in the hopeless endeavor to stay the westward progress of civilization? He had seen the red man repeatedly deprived of land, under almost compulsory treaties with the Government. His independent spirit rebelled against the authority of the pale-face; and the circumstances of his father's death, during the troublous times when the celebrated Cornstalk waged war, had made a lasting impression.


The far-seeing leader realized that without a combined effort on the part of the natives, extinction was certain. Fired with determination to break the growing power of the Long-knives (as the Americans were called), he formed a federation of nations for the purpose of putting a stop to emigration, claiming that their possessions were common property and could not be transferred without the consent of all.[Pg 192]

He incited the Indians to hostilities, going from one part of the country to another, accompanied by two warriors of exceptional bravery. Sa-wa-co-ta (Yellow Cloud) and Wa-se-go-bo-ah (Stand Firm) were the sons of a Chippewa mother. Their father, a French officer, had gone back to his own land at the close of the French and Indian War. Prior to his departure, the unfortunate wife, learning of the proposed desertion, and discovering that her children were to be placed on board the ship which would soon sail across the seas, fled with the babes and found a refuge among the Shawnees, where the boys grew to manhood. Tall, straight and commanding, with all the intensity of the Latin races, and the wildness and stoicism of the aborigines, they were well fitted for positions of trust under Tecumseh.

Indian traits predominated in Sa-wa-co-ta, the older of the brothers. His dark complexion, high cheek bones and flashing eyes bespoke, to a marked degree, a savage lineage; while the open countenance of Wa-se-go-bo-ah[Pg 193] showed a stronger tendency toward the father's kindred. From early childhood, there had been in his manner, a refinement and superiority that denoted a long line of cultured ancestors from the nobility of France. Here, even in the wilds of America, was that distinction observed and respected by a barbarous people.

Young and old alike listened with quiet approval when the lips of Wa-se-go-bo-ah opened to give advice, and the sister of Tecumseh, Tecumapease, heard with trembling joy the words his eyes had long since spoken, and betrothal followed. But there was one of dark and evil face and strange demeanor, the older brother of Tecumapease, who gazed with hatred on her future lord, and would, if possible, prevent the nuptials. The prophet, Elkswatawa (Loud Voice), fearing the influence of the warrior Stand Firm might exceed his own, opposed the union.

Tecumseh, having returned from a pilgrimage to a distant tribe, was seated in his cabin, awaiting the coming of the prophet.[Pg 194] He regarded with contempt the luxuries of life, and when at home in the new Piqua village, resided in a log hut chinked with mud. The ancient town had been destroyed by white soldiers, and its namesake founded near the Great Miami River. A nose ring with three silver crosses, and a few stripes of brilliant paint gave a look of ferocity to the bright intelligent face of the chief; and a medallion of George the Third, on a wampum string, hung around his neck. Buckskin leggings, moccasins decorated with porcupine quills, a deerskin jacket and a blue breech-cloth completed the odd uniform.

Elkswatawa entered, clad in garments made from the skins of wild animals. In addition to these, a kind of turban surmounted with bunches of feathers, a nose ring, large earrings, hideously painted cheeks, and a sightless eye, the other gleaming with malignant fire, were well calculated to inspire terror. The man was an object of superstitious awe to the Northwestern Indians.[Pg 195]

In vain he sought to change the mind of him who had decided to bestow Tecumapease upon the most beloved of all the braves. The wily Prophet appealed without effect to that innate love of power, strong in persons that are born to rule. The Shooting Star looked deep beneath the surface, and discerned, within the heart of Loud Voice, envy and unfounded dread of the growing popularity of Wa-se-go-bo-ah.

The Prophet left in anger; and collecting a few followers, betook himself to a new locality, the present site of Greenville, where he established a town.

Attracted by stories of wonderful deeds, savages from different directions flocked to the place. It was rumored that the seer could make pumpkins as large as wigwams come up out of the ground, and that one ear of his corn would feed six men; that he was invulnerable, and had all knowledge of the present, past and future. Many of the Shawnees considered Elkswatawa an impostor and refused to enter into any plans against[Pg 196] the Government. Tecumseh frowned upon them, and spent much time, when not upon his travels, at the Prophet's town.

General Harrison, Governor of the Territory of Indiana, became alarmed and sent a letter to the brothers, inviting them to Vincennes, for the purpose of making known their grievances. To the intense fright of the inhabitants, they responded with an escort of four hundred fully armed warriors. At the appointed hour, on the morning of the Twelfth of August, 1808, Tecumseh advanced, with thirty chosen men, to the place of meeting in front of the Governor's residence. By his side were Stand Firm, now the husband of Tecumapease, and Yellow Cloud. An aid-de-camp pointed to a seat by General Harrison, and addressing the chief, said:

"Your father requests you to take a seat."

Drawing his blanket more closely around him, Tecumseh replied:

"The Sun is my father and the Earth is my mother; on her bosom will I repose"; and flung himself upon the ground.[Pg 197]

His speech at the council has gone down in history as one of the most remarkable on record, for native oratory. A spirited answer, with a refusal to return the lands in question, aroused the braves, who, at a signal, seized their war clubs. Tomahawks were brandished in a threatening way. Bloodshed was averted only by the coolness and tact of the Governor.

In the confusion which resulted, Wa-se-go-bo-ah fell heavily forward, stricken down, supposedly, by a white foe. The unconscious man was borne to the Indian camp. As no wound could be discovered on first examination, the Americans were accused of employing supernatural power. Then a small bruise was found at the base of the brain, similar to one produced by a missile. Gradually the favorite of the people recovered; and as he lay upon the grass, enveloped in a thick blanket, he turned, and suddenly beheld a terrible figure, with horns and one fierce gleaming eye, burning like a coal of fire, creep stealthily[Pg 198] toward him. Its hand was raised to strike, and in the claw-like fingers was clutched a glittering knife. Frozen with horror, he remained for a moment immovable, then, quick as thought, rolled under the arm of the crouching demon—evading the blade almost by miracle—and struck against its breast. A desperate struggle ensued, in which Stand Firm secured possession of the weapon. Holding it aloft, he caught at the throat of the hairy-faced monster and the mask came off, disclosing the features of the Prophet.

"Elkswatawa, N-tha-thah (my brother), why do you seek my life? Go, for the sake of her whose eyes are as the stars of heaven, unharmed. Their light shall guide me into paths of peace. Her love shall teach me to forgive your murderous wrath."

The creature slunk away; and the noble conqueror dreamed that night of the little Piqua village, where Tecumapease, with trustful heart, besought the great Master of Life to preserve him, who, even while she prayed, escaped the grasp of death. But the Mighty[Pg 199] Being who controls the destiny of humanity, from the highest even to the lowest, punished the treacherous seer, when, on the sixth of November, 1811, the Indians, in direct violation of a truce, advanced upon the United States troops under General Harrison, encamped within a mile of the Prophet's Town.

The Magic Bowl, the Sacred Torch and the Holy String of Beans were touched, and the savages, believing themselves invulnerable, rushed upon the tents of the Americans at four o'clock in the morning. Tecumseh was absent upon a visit to the Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws. The cowardly Prophet stood, at a safe distance from the battle-ground, going through religious mummeries and singing a war song.

Complete victory established the fame of General Harrison; and the Battle of Tippecanoe was one of the most important in results, of that period. The destruction of their village scattered the tribes over a large area. Elkswatawa took refuge with a few Wyandots on Wild Cat Creek. Eventually, he removed[Pg 200] to Kansas and died in Shawnee Township, Wyandotte County. His grave has no headstone, and those interested in the early history of the State have sought in vain for some distinguishing mark.

The really great Tecumseh, returning to find all his schemes defeated, became an ally of the British. Much of the trouble with the white settlers had been occasioned through their agency. The two friends of the rebellious chief faithfully followed his fortunes. If Fate dealt hardly with him, they shared the danger and disappointment. If kindly, the triumph was theirs, also.

Sa-wa-co-ta was killed at Frenchtown, by a ball intended for his superior. The Americans, closely pursued, had sought shelter behind houses and fences on the south side of the River Raisin. The Indians, by a detour, had gained the woods in the rear and were protected. Disdaining to skulk from tree to tree, the fiery warrior, with Tecumseh and a small number of brave men, pressed boldly upon the fugitives. Observing that their[Pg 201] leader was singled out by the enemy, his companions closed in around the chief to shield him, at the moment that Yellow Cloud stepped in front, for the same purpose. The latter fell, heart and brain penetrated by bullets. Thus nobly ended the life of Sa-wa-co-ta, of whose achievements, even the noted chiefs, Roundhead, Panther and Blue Jacket, might well be proud.

History has recorded the outcome of the struggle, and traced the wanderings of those who, deprived of their inheritance and driven to desperation, united with the foes of America.

General Proctor, discouraged by Perry's victory on Lake Erie, that occurred some time later, fled from Malden, where he was stationed at the time, with eight hundred soldiers and two thousand Indians. General Harrison overtook the combined forces near the River Thames. During the battle, Colonel Johnson and the Kentucky cavalry were ordered to charge. Galloping forward, they broke through the lines and formed again,[Pg 202] when the English surrendered. Tecumseh began the conflict with fury, fighting more fiercely than ever before. His voice could be heard above the din, inspiring the men to make every exertion; but the day was lost. Colonel Johnson, engaged in a hand-to-hand contest with a fine, well-built Indian, was wounded by another, as soon as he had despatched the first. The second assailant then sprang toward him with a tomahawk, when the officer drew a pistol and killed his antagonist. The rest of the savages, losing hope, gave way.

Night came on, but the heavens were dark. The Shooting Star would never more be seen. The ringing voice was silent; and Tecumapease, his sister, waited in vain for the return of her lord. Stand Firm, "faithful unto death," had fallen beside the chief. Next morning, the bodies of two warriors, with dignity of face and form, were found, not far apart, upon the bloody field.

Tecumseh was the greatest, most magnanimous, and bravest man the red race had [Pg 203]ever known. Now that his brilliant oratory no longer swayed the multitudes, organized resistance to settlement north of the Ohio River ceased. Tecumapease, to whom had been entrusted the care of her brother's child, died a few years later, and the boy, together with her son, drifted, with the Shawnees, from reservation to reservation. For many years they lived in Eastern Kansas, where the descendants of Tecumapease still reside, and relate, with pardonable pride, the exploits of their forefathers.


The tardiness of the red race in accepting civilization, has long been a subject of comment. Yet the barbarian should not be censured, in view of the fact that paler-faced youth, with all the benefits accruing from past generations of culture, have, in many instances, taken readily to aboriginal customs. It was a part of the religion of all Indian nations to increase their number by adoption. Frequently white children were spirited[Pg 204] away from home and carried from place to place, in order to evade pursuit. Almost invariably, after a lapse of time, they not only became reconciled to savage modes of living, but preferred them. A notable case was that of


In the early part of the nineteenth century, before the Shawnees had emigrated to the Valley of the Kaw, there was a famous old chief named Black Fish, who was untiring in activity against the white settlers. During one of the numerous periods of hostility, Chinwa, the only son of this warrior, was killed; and the grief-stricken father said to his braves,

"Go, go and find me a boy to replace my son."

Putting on their black paint, the Indians went over the Alleghanies into Virginia.

In a prosperous settlement in Western Virginia lived a wealthy planter named Rogers. His family consisted of himself, his[Pg 205] wife and two young sons. One quiet evening in early fall, the boys were allowed to go for the cows unaccompanied by the servant who ordinarily acted as body guard. The beautiful autumn woods were aglow with color, and the children's exuberance of spirits burst forth in shouts and other noisy demonstrations.

As little Henry lingered to seize a brilliant spray of rich-tinted foliage, two hideous black-painted savages sprang from the bushes and caught him before he had time to call for assistance. The frightened child was borne hastily away, through the forest, over the mountains, to an Indian village where Black Fish received him with open arms, saying:

"Don't be afraid; you are now my son—my Chinwa. Here, take his bow and arrows; here are his gun and knapsack. Some day you will be a great chief."

Henry was adopted into the tribe, and forgetting his former home, learned to be content with the wild life of the Shawnees. A[Pg 206] fine horse and saddle were a constant source of pleasure, and persistent practice made the boy expert in the use of bow and arrows.

As he grew older, Chinwa became a successful hunter, and was looked upon with pride and admiration by his sisters. The youngest of these, pretty little Chelatha, was sought in marriage by many braves; but old Black Fish, waiting for the day when Chinwa should declare his love, repulsed their advances with disdain. At length the young chief could no longer conceal his regard from the object of his affection, and implored her to become his bride. She replied with indignation:

"You are my brother. I could not be my brother's wife."

After a long conference with Watmeme, the mother, in which the entire circumstances were explained, Chelatha said:

"If father says so, I will marry Chinwa."

Amid great rejoicing, the pale-face took her to his habitation, and the tribe celebrated[Pg 207] the event with feasting and strange ceremonies.

Excitement prevailed in the Rogers household when Henry was captured, and a search had been prosecuted wherever a clue could be obtained. Long years after the disappearance of her younger son, sorrow still reigned in the heart of the bereaved mother; and it was with fear and trembling at last, that the older brother, receiving tidings of the lost one, traced him over the mountain ranges, into the beautiful blue-grass country, to the land of Daniel Boone.

The meeting was a happy one, though marked by some constraint—the result of years of separation and widely different surroundings. Henry was persuaded to leave his western home and repair to the aged mother, now prostrated by severe illness. Once more within the confines of civilization, he abandoned the insignia of savage life, and adopted the garb of his own people. Unusual festivities followed; the mother, recovering strength, employed every art to retain[Pg 208] him, but without success. In vain the pretty maidens of the village exerted all their power to please. Memories of a happy life in the wilderness were always present, and he said:

"Mother, I have learned to love the Indians; there I am free. I love my two children and my dark-haired wife."

The next morning the colored servant was commanded to bring his horse, and Chinwa, the warrior, in all the splendor of beads and buckskin, bade farewell to the home of his infancy. How fresh and sweet was the breath of the woods, as he dashed into her depths! The delicate blossoms of spring lifted their dainty heads and scattered perfume along the narrow trail. The cloudless sky and the distant mountains seemed to beckon him on to the loved ones who at that moment were waiting, longing for the wanderer's return.

Time sped by on rapid wings, and soon Chelatha—sitting lonely in her doorway, said to her little ones:

"Listen, I hear the voice of your father."[Pg 209]

Again the faint call was borne through the distance and reverberated in her anxious heart. Then its beatings responded to the sound of horse's hoofs, and the next moment, Chinwa, the brave, sprang to the ground and caught her in his arms, saying:

"I have come home—home to my Chelatha, never to leave her more."


All the pleasures, all the riches which the world can give are as nothing when weighed in the balance against the sincere love of one devoted heart.

The Shawnees, like other Indian tribes, were firm believers in evil spirits; and when it was thought that one had become possessed of a demon, did not hesitate to employ heroic measures to drive it out. To such superstitions may be ascribed


When the present site of the city of Topeka was the hunting-ground of the Shawnee[Pg 210] Indians there was a fierce war with the Pawnees.

Chief Lay-law-she-kaw (He Who Goes Up the River) had been successful in many battles and pursued the enemy far into their own territory. At length, in desperation, the Pawnees gathered strength, and making a final effort for the preservation of their homes, surprised the victorious Shawnees while encamped among the hills along the river.

In the thick of the fight, Pa-che-ta, the son of Lay-law-she-kaw, sprang to the side of the old chief, just as a powerful warrior raised his tomahawk to cleave his skull. In another moment the leader would have fallen, had not the young brave, with the utmost coolness, lifted his rifle, taken quick aim and fired. With a horrible yell, the Pawnee sank to the ground. Attracted by his cry, three others appeared. Again the rifle did sudden duty, while Lay-law-she-kaw engaged the nearest enemy. Two more were despatched, and now Pa-che-ta turned to face the remaining [Pg 211]Pawnee, who had approached too near for rifles, and endeavored to use the tomahawk. This was dashed from his hand. The two grappled fiercely, each striving to get the knife out of his belt. At last Pa-che-ta succeeded in holding down his adversary, and plunged the knife deep into his heart. Blinded by the blood, which spurted up into his face, the Shawnee staggered to his feet and ran forward a short distance, only to find himself in the midst of the attacking Indians. Desperately he fought his way out, striking right and left, wounded and faint. Then, seeing a gulley surrounded with bushes, he rolled into it, and creeping painfully to the edge of a pond, waded into the water.

The Pawnees lost the trail. They looked here and there while the main body pursued old Lay-law-she-kaw and his braves to the country of the Kaws. Night fell; and still Pa-che-ta lay concealed in the lake among the tall grass. At the end of the second day the search was abandoned.[Pg 212]

Then the prisoner, half starved and half demented, dragged himself slowly homeward. A few berries and roots had been his sole food, and the burning rays of the sun had beaten down upon his head, until reason tottered.

The people went wild with enthusiasm when their hero, emaciated but triumphant, appeared in the village. He was taken to Lay-law-she-kaw's habitation and provided with nourishment, but sank into a stupor from which the medicine men, with all their skill, could not arouse him.

After many days he awakened; great was the rejoicing. His father appointed a day of feasting; and the tribe gathered to do honor to him who had fought so bravely in the face of defeat. Cattle were slaughtered, fires were kindled, and strange dances were in progress when Pa-che-ta approached. Demonstrations of joy greeted his appearance.

Among the children on the outer edge of the circle, stood little N-tha-thah, gazing proudly at the big brother who would one[Pg 213] day be his chief. As the excitement increased, his heart swelled with pride, and the next moment found him, bow and arrows in hand, the center of the charmed circle.

Pa-che-ta gazed at the child with a strange look in his piercing black eyes. Then, with a stealthy movement, he turned and slowly reached for the rifle which rested against the stump of a tree.

Lay-law-she-kaw, keen witted and alert, noticed the sudden change that came over the face of his eldest son. What was the cause of that cruel, crafty expression? Had bad spirits entered the brain of Pa-che-ta, whose noble deeds would ever after be celebrated by the nation? Now the brave was creeping cautiously toward the little one, who stood motionless, in round-eyed wonder. Deliberately he placed the weapon to his shoulder and took aim—but the crack of another rifle broke the awful hush which had fallen upon the people, and when the smoke cleared away, Pa-che-ta lay in a pool of blood.[Pg 214] The father had fired in time to preserve his young child.

For many years the old women of the tribe told, in accents of awe, how evil spirits had gone into the brain of their noblest warrior and looked out of his eyes with terrible glances of murderous hatred, in the moment of his greatest triumph. How they had been driven out with a rifle ball, and Lay-law-she-kaw, O-kee-nah (the chief), sorrowing for his first born, had that day been called by the Great Spirit to enter the Happy Hunting Grounds.

The North American Indian was of a strange, somewhat contradictory character: in war, daring, cunning, boastful, ruthless; in peace, cheerful, dignified, superstitious, revengeful; clinging as far as possible, to the customs of his forefathers. Civilization came almost as a destroyer. Future generations will know him only as a dim, historic figure, around which clusters the mythology of ancient America.[Pg 215]

Whence came these legends and traditions? The children of Nature read them in the leafy woodlands, on the broad prairie, in the blue vault of heaven, the crimson sunset, the dark storm-threatening clouds, in every gentle breeze or sweeping hurricane. Each story lived in the hearts of the people, and here and there a mighty forest tree bore a quaint inscription

"Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter."
[Pg 216]

"The stars, and hills and storms are with us now, as they were with others of old; and it only needs that we look at them with the earnestness of those childish eyes, to understand the first words spoken of them by the children of men, and then, in all the most beautiful and enduring myths, we shall find, not only a literal story of a real person, not only a parallel imagery of moral principle, but an underlying worship of natural phenomena, out of which both have sprung, and in which both forever remain rooted."


Transcribers Note:
Several words in this book were inconsistently hyphenated, I have left all the hyphenation as it was written. In particular the contents tables often use different hyphenation and accents to the main text.
Some names were also spelt differently in the contents tables and in the main text. I have left these differences as they were written.

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