The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mewanee, by Belle Wiley

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Title: Mewanee
       The Little Indian Boy

Author: Belle Wiley

Illustrator: Charles D. Hubbard

Release Date: August 15, 2020 [EBook #62935]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Richard Tonsing, Tim Lindell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
book was produced from images made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library.)

Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Copyright, 1912,
By Silver, Burdett & Company


Chapter   Page
I. The People 5
II. The Home 17
III. The Hunt 25
IV. The Enemy 35
V. The Friendly Tribe 43
VI. The Council 51
VII. In the Forest 65
VIII. The Sacrifice 79
IX. The Fast 89
X. The New Home 96




Mewanee was a brave little Indian boy.

He lived in a forest of North America with his father and mother and his baby brother.

There were many other Indian people who lived in the same forest, and Mewanee’s father was chief of them all.

Mewanee was very proud to be the chief’s son, for the chief was always the bravest of all the Indians of his tribe.

6One day mother left Mewanee and baby brother in the forest at play, while she went to work in the cornfield.

Baby brother was swinging in his cradle from the branches of the tall cedar tree.

Mother had made this cradle from the bark of the linden tree. It was lined with soft rushes so that baby might be quite comfortable as he lay in it.

The little boy could not fall out of his queer cradle because he was tied in by means of strong deer sinews.

At first baby brother seemed quite contented as the gentle wind rocked the cradle to and fro.

7He was interested in watching Mewanee as he ran about near by.

How tall and slender and straight Mewanee’s body was!

Mewanee had only a small piece of deer skin thrown about his copper-colored body.

The wind tossed his coarse black hair about his face and shoulders as he played.

Suddenly Mewanee stopped running and stood very still.

He looked intently at a little hare as it scampered about the trees.

Now the hare saw Mewanee. Playfully it approached him, then slyly 8turned around and ran away as fast as its little legs could carry it.

Mewanee dashed after it, forgetting all about baby brother, who was swinging in his linden cradle.

How lightly he ran and how swiftly!

His legs went as fast as the wind.

On and on scampered the hare, in and out among the trees, seeming to enjoy the race.

Now it stopped, and Mewanee almost caught up to it.

Away it ran again, faster and faster.

Mewanee called to it by making sounds that hares understand, but the little hare did not stop.



Again and again he called, but the hare ran on and on.

Mewanee sat down on the ground for a moment to rest.

The little hare ran deep into the forest and was soon lost from sight.

Suddenly Mewanee put his ear to the ground and listened.

10Then he jumped up and ran toward his little brother.

Baby brother was crying because he had been left alone. He wished Mewanee to play with him.

Mewanee shouted to his brother as he ran along.

He shouted again and again, for he wished baby brother to know that he was coming.

Baby brother heard Mewanee’s call and stopped crying. He could not answer Mewanee because he was only a baby and could not talk.

Mewanee soon reached the tree where baby brother’s cradle hung.

11How nimbly he climbed the tall tree so that he might be very near his brother!

Mewanee peeped into the cradle and spoke to the little boy. Baby brother smiled at Mewanee. His tiny face wrinkled all up and Mewanee could hardly see his little black eyes.

Baby brother looked very much like Mewanee, but of course he was only 12a baby, and Mewanee was a big boy nearly twelve years old.

What fun the two brothers had as they watched the little grey squirrels frisk in and out among the branches of the very tree from which baby brother’s cradle hung!

Mewanee gathered some nuts, and the little squirrels hopped about him saying, “Chip, chip, chip! Please give us the nuts!”

How eagerly they took the nuts from Mewanee’s hand!

Then they sat up on their hind legs and nibbled the nuts with great glee.

13Baby brother laughed very merrily as he watched the dear little frisky creatures.

The birds, too, sang happily from their nests in the tree-tops. They seemed to be singing to Mewanee and baby brother.

Mewanee answered the song.

Indian people could talk to all the animals of the forest.

These two Indian boys were having a happy time together when their mother came from the field.

She swung her tiny papoose on her back, and away they went, Mewanee, mother and baby brother.

14Mewanee’s mother was very strong. Indian women must be strong because they have to do all of the hard work in the fields.

Mewanee’s mother looked like all of the other Indian women. She had long black hair and copper-colored skin.


She had a light weight skin wound about her waist, for it was summer time and she did not need the heavier fur skin which she wore in winter.

There were moccasins on her feet, and long chains of beads and shells about her neck.

15On and on they went, in and out among the trees, through the forest.

Mewanee wished to go more quickly, so he ran on ahead of his mother and baby brother. He was very happy and gay as he ran onward.

Finally he reached the opening in the forest where were the many wigwams which made the Indian village.

Mother and baby brother soon reached the village.

Father Sun was bidding them welcome as he shone so brightly from above.

Mother was very tired from her hard work in the field and her long walk, 16so with her tiny papoose on her back she entered the wigwam.

Mewanee stayed outside to watch some of the Indian women at work near by.

He asked if he might help them, but they laughed as they said, “You are too young, Mewanee; you could not lift these heavy poles.”



Mewanee was interested in watching these two Indian women build a wigwam. They had already set the poles in a circle in the earth and tied them together at the top with strong deer sinews.

When Mewanee came up they were wrapping the skins about the poles.

There were twelve buffalo skins which had been dried in the sun and sewed together very firmly.

18How quickly they stretched the skins about the poles and fastened them to the earth with strong pegs!

One woman drove the pegs into the earth with her stone axe while the other woman held the skin.

Mewanee watched them lace up the front of the wigwam.

Of course they left an opening for the doorway.

They must have an opening at the top also.

Mewanee knew that they must put a flap over the opening in the top, for the hole must be covered in case of rain and wind.

19Smoke was coming from the opening in the chief’s wigwam.


Mewanee’s mother had built a fire in the hole, which was in the center of the earth floor of their wigwam.

Mewanee saw the smoke and knew that his mother was cooking supper.

He rushed toward his own wigwam and quickly entered the doorway.

20The chief’s wigwam had queer looking pictures painted all over the outside. Every picture meant something to these Indian people.

They used the juice of wild berries and roots for paint.

When Mewanee entered the wigwam it was filled with smoke.


Mewanee’s mother was cooking some deer meat in a large stone jar, which she had placed on the fire.

Mewanee watched his mother stir the meat with a carved bone spoon.



Then he wandered about the room looking at the axes, knives, spears, warclubs, and bows and arrows which hung about the walls.

He picked up a tomahawk and showed it to baby brother who was 22hanging in his cradle from a peg in one of the poles of the wigwam.

Baby brother smiled as Mewanee brandished the tomahawk about, just as he had seen his father do.


Mewanee loved to handle these weapons and he longed for the day to come when he would be big and strong enough to use them. He had his own bow and arrows now, but they were not so large as his father’s.

Mewanee peeped into the stone jars and rush baskets standing about.

23Some of the jars were filled with corn, others with powdered deer and buffalo meat. Mewanee was happy to see so much food.

Mewanee soon threw himself on one of the mats and stretched himself before the fire.

He listened for his father’s footsteps which he could hear when a long distance off.

Now Mewanee quickly jumped up and ran out of the wigwam.

He stood quite still and listened.

The beautiful blue river which ran along in front of the wigwam seemed to call Mewanee to its banks.

24Mewanee loved that great, blue, peaceful river and listened to its silvery tones.

Often he would say, “O river, river, when shall I be big and strong and brave like my father?”

And the river would answer, “Have patience, Mewanee. The day will come when you will be chief of this whole tribe.”

Then Mewanee would raise up his arms and ask the Great Spirit for help, that he might be strong and brave enough some day to take his father’s place as chief of his tribe.



While Mewanee listened and waited, his father, the chief, approached.

The chief was big and brave and strong.

His copper-colored body had many strange pictures painted upon it.

His black hair hung about his neck and shoulders and was decorated with many feathers.

A short skin skirt hung about his waist. His deer-skin moccasins made his step very light and soft.

26Mewanee also wore moccasins. His mother made them from buckskin and sewed them together with a queer bone needle threaded with deer sinews.


In the winter the Indian people wore snowshoes and heavy fur skins over their bodies.

Mewanee jumped up and down for joy when he saw his father. He was very proud of being a chief’s son.

The chief carried his war club in his belt, and his bow and arrow in his hand.

He had many scalp locks dangling from his belt.

27These scalp locks showed that Mewanee’s father was a brave chief. Indians took scalp locks from the heads of the people they killed, because they thought that these showed their bravery.

Mewanee was very glad to see his father, who, he knew, had just come home from the hunt.

He gave a loud shout when he saw the buffalo which some of the Indians were bringing to the chief’s wigwam.

He looked at his father with great pride for he felt sure that the chief had killed this splendid animal.

“How fine!” said Mewanee, as he and his father entered the wigwam.

28Supper was ready and was quickly placed before the chief as he threw himself upon a mat in one corner of the wigwam.

How fast the stewed meat, corn cakes and sassafras tea disappeared! The chief used a gourd for a cup, and hollow pieces of tree trunk for dishes.

It did not take him long to eat his supper because he ate very quickly.

Now the chief took out his long-stemmed pipe from his belt.

The tobacco he took from a skin bag which he also carried in his belt.

How quickly he filled the stone bowl of his pipe with the powdered tobacco!

29Then he rubbed together two pieces of flint. Oh! he lost the first spark, but the second he caught with the thin piece of reed which he had ready.

How contented he looked as he stretched himself lengthwise on the rug and smoked his long pipe!


The chief’s pipe was very beautiful.

The stem was wonderfully carved and was beautifully ornamented with braids of porcupine quills and with beaks and tufts from woodpeckers’ heads.

30Mewanee jumped up and looked eagerly at the fine buffalo which his father had shot.


He knew that the skin would make a fine warm covering for him next winter. Mewanee’s mother would skin the buffalo with a sharp knife and stretch the skin in the sun to dry.

Now that the chief had finished his supper, Mewanee, mother and baby brother would eat.

Mewanee’s mother called to him and he hurried to the place his father had just left.



Mewanee was hungry and quickly ate the food which his mother put before him. Baby brother awakened and wanted supper too. Mother took the cradle from the peg and fed her little boy some of the corn cake which had been left.

Suddenly the chief got up from his skin mat and rushed out of the wigwam.

Mewanee rushed out also. He wondered why his father stood so silent and looked anxiously toward a hill in the distance.

32He stood by his father’s side and said nothing.

Now the chief put his ear to the ground and listened.

Indians could hear sounds miles away and they had very keen sight.

The evening was very still and peaceful. The gentle moon was just about to peep from behind the clouds.

The chief jumped up very quickly. He was silent and serious.

Yet he looked and looked into the distance.

Mewanee too was very thoughtful; he was anxious to know why his father seemed so worried.



At last he said, “What is the trouble, father? Why are you so silent and grave?”

“My son,” said the chief, “I fear our enemy, the Indians who live beyond that distant hill.

34“May the Great Spirit protect and guard us from their wrath.”

Then he sent Mewanee into the wigwam, while the stars said, “Good night, Mewanee, good night.”



The chief gave a loud call.

This call was heard by all of the Indian people in the village, but only the men responded to it because the women did not take part in warfare.

They came from all directions, running toward their chief.

How quickly they gathered the cedar logs and branches and lighted the fire! Then they sat around the fire and 36listened to the chief who spoke to them.


They were very silent and grave because they knew that trouble was upon them.

Suddenly they stretched their bodies face downward on the ground and asked for help and strength from the Great Spirit.

Their chief had told them that he feared that the enemy might be upon them at any moment. He had heard strange sounds in the distance which told him that the enemy were 37astir. He thought it wise to send men to the distant hill, which had an outlook over the surrounding country.

These watchers were to signal him by means of a fire on the top of the hill. If the signal should be a bright light it would tell them that the enemy was approaching, but if they saw smoke they would know that they were safe from the attack for the night.

The Indians knew that if they were attacked that night, and if they were not prepared for the attack, their whole village would be destroyed.

Others of the Indians stationed themselves here and there to keep watch.



Some of them in their birch-bark canoes watched from the river. How gracefully they glided to and fro on the peaceful river!

The chief approached the camp fire and threw a cedar mat upon it.

He did this so that he might more easily see the signal fire from yonder hill.

All was very quiet while the Indians waited patiently through the long night.

The kindly moon and the tiny stars looked down upon them seeming to 39say, “Be of good cheer. The Great Spirit will protect you.”


Through the long night they watched and waited. Silently they smoked their long pipes while they looked anxiously toward the distant hill.

The river looked beautiful in the still night. What a terrible thing it would be if the enemy should attack this peaceful village!

Suddenly in the early morning the chief gave a loud shout, as he raised his arms to the Great Spirit. The signal from yonder hill had told him 40that all danger from the enemy was passed.

The enemy was not approaching their village, but had gone in the opposite direction.

Wearily the Indians wandered toward their wigwams.

The men from the river had been watching also. When they saw the smoke they paddled toward the shore. How lightly and easily they pulled their canoes up on the river bank!

These bark canoes were very light and strong. The Indians made their canoes by stretching the bark from the birch tree over a frame of pine wood. 41Then they fastened the bark to the frames with the roots of the spruce tree.


Mewanee had a canoe of his own and loved to paddle along this beautiful, bright, blue river.

One by one the Indian men entered their wigwams.

42The chief was the last to leave. He still had fear of the enemy. Yet he knew that for that night there was no danger. He wondered where the enemy had gone, and if they had attacked another village.

At last all was quiet and this Indian village was at rest.




In the silence of the early morning came the distant sound of hoof beats.

Louder and louder, nearer and nearer grew the sound.

Many Indians rushed from their wigwams, put their ears to the ground and listened.

Nearer and nearer it came, while the Indians listened and waited.

Suddenly from the nearby forest dashed a beautiful black pony.

44On the pony’s back sat an Indian youth about fifteen years old.

He sat tall and straight. His eyes were bright and shining.

He had only a small skin wound about his body, though the night was cool and chilly.

Quickly he rode and at last reached the wigwam of the chief.

Then he leaped lightly to the ground and began talking in great excitement.

He had been riding hard for many hours and was tired and worn.

But he carried an important message, and must lose no time in giving it. He said, “Chief, the enemy is upon my 45people. My father, the chief of his tribe, sent me to ask for your aid.

“Our tribe is not strong enough to ward off the attack of the enemy.

“I fear that the enemy has already burned our village and destroyed our crops.”

The Indians at a signal from their chief collected about him.

They decided to go at once to the aid of this friendly tribe.

It did not take them long to get their war clubs and tomahawks. They were always ready for battle.

Some rushed off in canoes. Others, headed by their chief and the youth, 46jumped upon their horses and went galloping away as fast as the wind.

Still others remained at home to protect their village, fearing that the enemy might come that way.


On and on the Indians rushed through the forest, along the river edge.

47The canoes skimmed along the surface of the water like birds in the air.

But alas! they were too late.

When the Indians reached the village of the friendly tribe they saw a mass of flames. The enemy had gone after setting fire to all the wigwams.

The Indian women were running about, their long black hair flowing in the wind.

They were wringing their hands and calling on the Great Spirit for mercy.

They carried their babies strapped to their backs while the older children clung to their mothers, badly frightened.

48The men simply stood and looked at their burning village.


They were grateful to the other Indian tribe even though it could do nothing to help them.

These two tribes had sealed their friendship by means of a belt of wampum.

Wampum, which was the only kind of money these Indian people knew, was made from various colored shells shaped into beads and strung on deer sinews. Some Indian tribes wore the strings of wampum wound about their 49necks, while others wove them into strong belts of many colors.

When two tribes wished to seal their friendship they did so by giving a wampum belt.

Mewanee’s father felt very sorry for these Indian people. Indeed they were a very unhappy tribe of Indians. All of their wigwams were burned, and all of their food gone.

As they collected about their chief, he told them that Mewanee’s father had invited them to share his village until they could rebuild their own.

So they set out toward the neighboring village. Most of them had to walk 50because all of the horses and canoes had been destroyed by the fire.

Father Sun sent upon them his friendly light as they trudged along.

The birds chirped from the tree-tops. They seemed to understand that these people were very sad.

At last, tired and footsore, they reached the village in which Mewanee lived.

They were glad for a place to rest.

They threw themselves face downward upon the ground and gave thanks to the Great Spirit for sending this friendly tribe to their aid.



There was very little time for rest, for they must be ready to go into the forest to kill the deer and bear.

They would need many skins and much food because they were such a large party.

The women must go into the forest to cut poles for their wigwams.

Before starting on the hunt the chief called a council.

52The council was opened by a prayer to the Great Spirit thanking him for the safety of this friendly Indian tribe and asking that, with the help of the Great Spirit, they might have a fine hunt. The Indian men smoked their pipes in silence.

When the chief had finished speaking, the men arose and clasping hands, they danced in a circle, chanting a song as they danced.

It was a song of sadness, to which their feet kept perfect time.

While the Indian men were in council the squaws were getting the food ready for the hunt.

53Many corn cakes must be made so that the men need not start out hungry.

How quickly they made the corn flour into a thick paste and pressed it into cakes! Then they threw the cakes into boiling water.


Mewanee was watching some of the women get the corn ready for flour. They threw the ears of corn into the jar of boiling water. Then they took out the ears of corn and easily pulled off the skin. Mewanee was interested when they 54cut the kernels from the ear and put them in the sun to dry.


In a few days these kernels would be ready to be pounded into flour.

Mewanee had seen his mother make corn flour. He loved to watch her put the dry kernels in a hollow stone and pound them with another stone until they were ground into a fine powder.

The men were ready for the hunt. They had their stone axes, bows and skin quivers filled with arrows.



Some of the Indians carried skin bags filled with roasted corn and powdered buffalo meat, for they might be gone for several days.

Others carried bags filled with water, for they might not reach a spring where they could get fresh water.

Mewanee watched the Indians set forth. He wished to join them in the hunt, but he was too young.

Then he quietly stole toward the river. He carried his bow and quiver bag with him.

56His mother saw him go, but did not call him back. She wished her boy to become brave and strong.

Mewanee loved to do the things his father did. He could take straight aim, for he had used a bow and arrow ever since he was a little fellow.

When he was a little boy he used a tiny bow and short arrows, but as he grew taller and stronger his father made him longer arrows.

Mewanee’s bow and arrows were made just like the chief’s.

The bow was made of hickory wood, with twisted buffalo sinews stretched from end to end.



The bow string was stretched so tightly that it caused the wood to bend in a slight curve.

The arrows which Mewanee carried in his skin quiver bag were about two feet long with a pointed piece of flint fastened securely at one end.

Mewanee reached the river and quickly pulled his canoe to the edge. It was very light and Mewanee pulled it along quite easily.

How lightly he jumped into it and how swiftly he paddled down the river!

58He knew where the beavers built their lodges not far down the stream.


He should love to trap a beaver, but he knew that he must wait until winter for that. He felt sure that his father would let him go beaver hunting with him when the snow came.

Then he would wear his snowshoes and glide swiftly over the surface of the snow.

For several hours Mewanee paddled on the beautiful, peaceful river. He 59didn’t stop for rest, and he had no food with him.

Indian boys were taught that they must endure hunger and fatigue, so Mewanee was not unhappy.

How quiet he was and how eagerly he looked first this way, then that!

Suddenly he crouched down in the bottom of the canoe. His eyes were just on a level with the top edge of the side. His arms were extended to shoot.

He was very quiet, for the flock of wild geese which he saw in the distance would scatter if he made the least noise.



How gracefully they glided over the surface of the water! Soon they would be very near Mewanee.

He awaited their coming. He did not stir for he did not wish to disturb them.

Now up he sprang, rested on one knee, and took careful aim.

61First one arrow, then another and another skimmed through the air.

Each arrow had been carefully aimed, and Mewanee had three fine geese to take home.

He felt that he had been able to help in providing food for the friendly Indian tribe.

On his way home Mewanee stopped to call to the squirrels as they ran to and fro on the river’s edge.

He talked to them as he threw them acorns which he found in his quiver bag. He stopped to listen to the birds as they sang to him from their nests in the trees.

62Homeward he paddled. It was getting late, but Mewanee was not afraid.

It was twilight when Mewanee pulled his canoe up on the river bank and walked toward his wigwam.

He was very happy indeed, that he had the three fine geese which he carried over his shoulder.

Mewanee’s mother was waiting for him, and baby brother smiled a welcome.

Little brother was still in his linden cradle.

I am sure an American child would feel quite unhappy if he were bound in a cradle so much of the time, but 63Indian babies became quite accustomed to it. They must learn to endure pain and suffering. That was their first lesson.

As soon as baby brother was old enough he would be allowed to run about and care for himself.

Mewanee did not say that he was hungry but he was glad to eat the cakes and maple syrup which his mother gave him.

She was pleased when she saw the wild geese which Mewanee had shot.

While Mewanee was eating his supper the men came home from the hunt. They had decided to return to the 64village for the night and set out again early the next morning.

Mewanee rushed out of the wigwam to see what they had brought as a result of the hunt.

He wished also to show the geese which he had shot. He was most anxious that his father, the chief, should see them.

Mewanee smiled when his father said, “My brave son!”

After supper the Indians sat about smoking.

They were silent and thoughtful.



This Indian village was a very crowded one that night.

The squaws and children slept in the wigwams, while the Indian men stretched themselves on the ground outside.

A few kept watch, for fear the enemy might return and destroy their village.

The tiny stars twinkled brightly from the heavens.

66The good moon sent her protecting light upon the village.

All was very peaceful, except for the hoots of the owls which sounded through the forest.

The enemy did not return that night.

Early in the morning the Indians awoke after a good rest. They felt that they must go out again in search of more food.

Some carried long spears with them, so that they might spear the fish. Others went into the forest carrying their bows and quiver bags with them.

The women, with their babies on their backs, started out to gather poles 67for new wigwams. They must lose no time for winter was at hand, and wigwams must be built before snow came.


While the women were busy and the men hunting and fishing, the children gathered for games. Some of the boys ran to the river. What sport they had diving and swimming!

68Others jumped on their ponies and had a fine time racing.

How they did dash along, so fearless and brave!

Now one was ahead, now another!

How they laughed and shouted as they rode!

The ponies seemed to enjoy the race as much as the boys.

Some of the older boys were enjoying a game of javelins which they were playing.

They had lined up on either side of the field.

One side had bone rings, and the other side long javelins.

69Now one player threw a ring, and the opposite player tried to catch it on his javelin.

Oh! the first player caught the other’s ring.

Now the next two players tried and one caught the other’s ring.

The third player didn’t take good aim and lost his partner’s ring. He must give his javelin to the opposite side.

After all on one side have had a chance to catch the rings, the opposite side will have a chance.

When both sides have tried, the side having more javelins will win the game.

70The boys had great fun as they played. They laughed and shouted and danced for joy.

Mewanee grew tired of watching and wandered off into the forest. No one noticed his going.

He had his bow and arrow with him.

He started off in the direction the hunters had taken earlier in the day.

On and on he ran through the forest. He stopped to talk with the chipmunks or to feed the squirrels as they leaped about the ground.

The birds flitted about him in great glee. They twittered and chirped and flew about his shoulders.

71Mewanee was very happy. He had no thought of fear. He loved the birds and the wild animals of the forest and enjoyed being with them.

On and on he walked, into the dense forest.

As evening drew near he grew tired. He lay down under a tall pine tree and was soon fast asleep.

He had been sleeping very soundly, when suddenly he was awakened by a fierce howl.

He jumped up and looked about him!

Already he could see the flaming eyes of a wolf not far off.

72Quickly he sprang to the pine tree and with one bound, started to climb it.

Before even the swiftest wolf could reach him he was way up on the topmost bough.

Poor Mewanee was badly frightened now. As he looked below he saw the eyes of the hungry wolf glaring at him through the darkness.

How bright and terrible his eyes looked! Mewanee had never before been so near a wolf.

The silvery moon looked down upon the little fellow, seeming to say, “Do not fear. I will care for you.”

73The soft wind whispered to Mewanee and told him to have no fear. Still Mewanee was not comforted.

“O Great Spirit,” cried Mewanee, “protect me from this terrible wolf.”


Mewanee felt for his quiver bag. He had forgotten that he had laid his bow and arrows under the tree.

He had no way of helping himself. He thought of his father and mother and his dear little baby brother.

He knew that while he remained in the tree, the wolf could not reach him.

74He wondered if his father and the other Indians would return this way.

He did not know what to do. He did not dare to sleep for the wolf still kept watch. Now and then the wolf gave a hungry howl and looked fiercely at the little Indian boy sitting in the tree-top.

Hour after hour passed.

It was morning, and Father Sun was smiling at him with his kindly light. Mewanee loved the great bright sun and talked to him as if he were his father.

The Indian people believed that the wind, sun, moon, stars and thunder 75were good spirits which helped them care for themselves and their lands.

Mewanee felt sure that if he were patient, help would come, but he was so very tired that he did not know how much longer he could stay crouched in the tree-top.

A wild blackbird sang to him from a branch near by. He said, “Fear not, Mewanee; help is near at hand.”

Mewanee tried to be brave.

Suddenly all grew very dark within the forest.

Thunder rumbled in the distance.

Flash upon flash of lightning shot through the sky.

76Mewanee crouched lower and lower.

He felt sure that the Great Spirit had answered his prayer by sending the Thunder God to him.

As peal after peal resounded through the forest and flash upon flash burst upon him, the wolf gave a deep, angry howl. Then he turned and fled into the dense forest.

Mewanee heard him go and raised his arms in prayer.

Soon the sky became clear and the sun shone once more.

Mewanee slowly and cautiously climbed down the tree. He was stiff and cold and hungry.

77He threw himself face downward upon the ground and gave thanks to the Great Spirit for his care.

He picked up his bow and quiver bag and ran, as fast as he could, toward the opening. On and on he ran until he came to the edge of the forest, when he could see his village.

His father and the other Indians had returned from the hunt. He saw them going to and fro seeming troubled and anxious. The chief, his father, sat watching and waiting.

Mewanee ran as fast as his tired legs would let him.

“Father, father!” he shouted.

78The chief jumped up and clasped his son in his arms.

All of the Indians rushed toward them asking many questions.

When they heard the story they sang words of praise.

The chief led his son to the wigwam and bade the mother give him food and drink.

“Rest well, my son,” he said, “for you have indeed been a brave boy. I feel sure that you will be a fit warrior to take my place.

“We have had a fine hunt; you have returned unharmed; we can be at peace once more.”



It was evening, a beautiful starlight evening.

The tiny stars watched over these Indian people as they slept.

They were tired with the long chase, though they were happy with the thought of the fine deer and buffalo which they had killed.

The Indians slept soundly all of the night. When they awoke the sun was 80saying a bright “Good morning.”


They arose, stretched themselves and ran to the river for a swim.

The women were already busy getting the skins from the animals.

Some of the women stretched the skins in the sun to dry, while others made baskets.

81The Indian people dried meat in the sun and then powdered it. They stored the powdered meat in baskets and jars for the winter.

The men spent nearly every day in hunting and fishing.


Mewanee came from his wigwam looking very unhappy and sad.

Baby brother was very ill.

His mother tried to soothe her baby boy with a low, sweet lullaby, and Mewanee tried to quiet him by a soft chant. But baby brother would not be quieted.

82Mother gave him a drink made from wild roots, but this did not seem to help the little fellow.

As the day passed, his fever grew stronger and fiercer.

When the chief came home and saw how sick baby brother was he said, “The medicine man must be sent for. He will cure my son.”

The medicine man was thought to be very wise. The Indian people believed that he could cure all sickness.

They thought that the power to cure was given to the medicine man by the Great Spirit.

So the medicine man was sent for.

83While they were waiting, the Indians built a fire and gathered about it.

They sang a mournful song to the Great Spirit. As they sang they made strange gestures with their arms.

They thought that the chief’s son was ill because they had in some way offended the Great Spirit.

They hoped in this way to appease the wrath of the Great Spirit.

Suddenly a queer looking old man rushed into the circle. He made all sorts of strange noises and jumped up and down as he shouted.

This was the medicine man for whom the chief had sent.

84He motioned the chief to bring his little son to him.


Then he ordered a jar filled with water to be placed on the fire. Now the medicine man threw some herbs into the jar of water.

He danced and sang as he stirred the mixture with a carved bone which he carried in a skin bag.

This bone was supposed to have a certain charm.

The chief came from the wigwam, carrying baby brother in his linden cradle. As he came near, the medicine man raised his arms above the baby, muttering low noises. Baby brother stopped crying and lay very quiet.





All the other Indians stretched themselves face downward on the ground, praying to the Great Spirit that the chief’s baby might soon be well.

The medicine man gave baby brother a drink of the warm herbs. He used a queerly shaped wooden spoon which was carved with figures of wild animals.

Then bending low over the baby he whispered a soft song. His low tones soon quieted the little boy. The baby’s 87eyelids drooped. In a moment he had fallen fast asleep.

Mother came out and carried her little boy into the wigwam.

Then the medicine man spoke to the chief. He said that his son would not be well until a sacrifice of a red deer should be made.

This sacrifice would ward off the anger of the Great Spirit.

Fortunately the Indian people had killed a red deer in their last hunt. So the deer was brought toward the medicine man.

First the medicine man said a prayer over the body of the deer.

88All joined in with low chants.

Finally the deer was carefully placed upon the fire amid the low murmuring of all present.

Then the medicine man walked slowly away.

Mewanee had been waiting in the wigwam. He was very, very sad.

When his father told him that the medicine man had promised that baby brother would soon be well, he smiled and looked glad again.

Before another sunrise the little fellow was much better, and his mother sang a song of praise to the Great Spirit.



There was a new moon now and Mewanee was twelve years old. He would soon go hunting and fishing with his father.

Some day he would be chief of his tribe, but not before he had proved his power of endurance. He must prove this power by a long fast.

On this night when the new moon was looking down upon them, the Indians had collected about the fire.

90Mewanee was lying face downward upon the ground very near the fire.

The chief, his father, was standing above him with arms outstretched as he said these words:

“My son, the time is at hand when you must go into the forest for your long fast. You must prove to your people that you are brave and strong and ready to try the test of fasting.

“My son must show that he is strong and courageous. You need have no fear, for the Great Spirit will protect you.”

Then the Indians danced around Mewanee singing in a solemn chant.



92This was their way of saying, “Be brave. O chief’s son, be brave!”

Then the chief led his son into the dense forest and left him lying upon the ground.

Mewanee had no fear, for was he not the chief’s son?

Each day his father went to him with words of cheer.

Though Mewanee’s heart was filled with courage, each morning found him paler and weaker. Yet not once did he complain nor did he ask for food or drink.

The great chief’s heart was filled with pity when on the tenth morning 93he saw his son stretched pale and still at his feet.


“Fail not, my son,” said the chief. “Only two days more, and you will go home in the honor and glory of the brave.

“The Great Spirit will continue to protect you, and you will go home to 94your people, the victor of a great battle.”

On the twelfth day the chief went into the forest having food and drink for Mewanee.

Not a word was said. The chief looked at his son with the light of gladness in his eyes. The fast was ended and his son was the victor.

With food and drink, strength returned and Mewanee was able to walk with his father to his people.

As he walked through the forest the birds seemed to sing a song of praise. The trees seemed to nod to him and to wish him well.

95His people were awaiting his return and had prepared a feast of welcome for him.

As Mewanee entered the village, by the side of his father, all were singing and dancing. Some of the men rushed toward Mewanee and led him into the center of the merrymaking.

Then there was singing, dancing, and feasting. These Indian people were glad to honor the youth who would some day be their chief.



It was fall before the homes of the friendly tribe were done. All had been busy getting ready for the winter. Now the wigwams were finished.

Mewanee’s father had divided his dried meat and corn with this friendly tribe. He had also given them powdered tobacco. The Indian men would be unhappy without tobacco for their long pipes.

97The friendly tribe was very thankful to Mewanee’s father for his kindness to them.

They were collected around the camp fire that night. The children and women were in the wigwams. Only the men could take part in council.

All was hushed and silent, when suddenly the chief of the friendly tribe arose and all of the other Indians of this tribe followed their chief.

They danced in and out, and up and down, making queer sounds. This was their way of saying, “Thank you, O Indian Chief.”

98Then they prayed words of thankfulness.

Getting up slowly, they took their places in the circle and pulled their long pipes from their belts.

They lighted their pipes by catching sparks from the pipes of the other Indian men, who had been smoking during the dance.

They were very silent, and sat smoking their pipes until the fire died out.

Then slowly they arose and wandered toward their wigwams. The night was very cold now so all must take shelter within the wigwams.

99Early next morning the village was astir for it was the day of parting.


Children were running hither and thither. The Indian women were busy collecting the things which they were to take with them.

Baby brother was toddling along, his hand in Mewanee’s. He was able to walk now, and so need not be carried about in his cradle. He smiled at Mewanee and looked very wise, as if he knew what it was all about.

100Just as they were about to start, Mewanee’s father came out leading a beautiful gray horse.

He approached the chief of the friendly tribe and motioned him to mount the horse.

This the chief did.

Then with the chief riding at the head, the friendly tribe started toward their home.

Father Sun sent his kindly light upon these people as they wandered homeward.

Mewanee watched until he could see the friendly tribe no longer. He knew they would be glad to be home again.



Then he wandered slowly toward the beautiful river, happy in the thought that he was the chief’s son.

He stretched himself upon the river’s bank thinking of the time when he should become chief of his tribe.

  1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  2. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Mewanee, by Belle Wiley


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