For the discarded wife, life had now but one hope. The only star that shone in the blackness of her heaven, was the undefined prospect of seeing her rival's blood flow. She would greatly have preferred taking her life herself; and as she left the wigwam of the chief, she grasped the handle of her knife—how quick her heart beat! it might be now or never.
But there were too many around to protect Old Bets. The time would come—she would watch for her—she would tear her heart from her yet.
The sons of the old hag did not leave the village; they would keep a watch on their father and his Chippeway wife. They would not easily yield their right to the chieftainship. While they hunted, and smoked, and played at cards, they were ever on the look-out for revenge.
"Red Earth" sits by the door of her father's teepee; while the village is alive with cheerfulness, she does not join in any of the amusements going on, but seems to be occupied with what is passing in her own mind.
Occasionally she throws a pebble from the shore far into the river, and the copper-colored children spring after it, as if the water were their own element, striving to get it before it sinks from their view.
Had she been attentive to what is passing around her, she would not have kept her seat, for "Shining Iron," the son of Good Road's second wife, approaches her; and she loves him too little to talk with him when it can be avoided.
"Why are you not helping the women to make the teepee, Red Earth?" said the warrior. "They are laughing while they sew the buffalo-skin together, and you are sitting silent and alone. Why is it so? Are you thinking of 'Fiery Wind?'"
"There are enough women to make the teepee," replied Red Earth, "and I sit alone because I choose to do so. But if I am thinking of 'Fiery Wind' I do right—he is a great warrior!"
"Tell me if you love Fiery Wind?" said the young man, while his eyes flashed fire, and the veins in his temple swelled almost to bursting.
"I do not love you," said the girl, "and that is enough. And you need never think I will become your wife; your spells cannot make me love you. [Footnote: The Sioux have great faith in spells. A lover will take gum, and after putting some medicine in it, will induce the girl of his choice to chew it, or put it in her way so that she will take it up of her own accord. It is a long time before an Indian lover will take a refusal from the woman he has chosen for a wife.] Where are Fiery Wind and his relations? driven from the wigwam of the Chief by you and your Chippeway mother. But they do not fear you—neither do I!"
And Red Earth looked calmly at the angry face of her lover. For Shining Iron did love her, and he had loved her long. He had loaded her with presents, which she always refused; he had related his honors, his brave acts to her, but she turned a deaf ear to his words. He promised her he would always have venison in her teepee, and that he never would take another wife; she was the only woman he could ever love. But he might as well have talked to the winds. And he thought so himself, for, finding he could not gain the heart of the proud girl, he determined she should never be the wife of any other man, and he told her so.
"You may marry Fiery Wind," said the angry lover, "but if you do, I will kill him."
Red Earth heard, but did not reply to his threats; she feared not for herself, but she trembled at the prospect of danger to the man she loved. And while she turned the bracelets on her small wrists, the warrior left her to her own thoughts. They were far from being pleasant; she must warn her lover of the threats of his rival. For a while she almost determined she would not marry Fiery Wind, for then his life would be safe; but she would not break her promise. Besides, it was hard for her to destroy all the air-built castles which she had built for her happy future.
She knew Shining Iron's bravery, and she doubted not he would fulfil his promise; for a moment prudence suggested that she had better marry him to avoid his revenge. But she grasped the handle of her knife, as if she would plunge it into her own bosom for harboring the dark thought. Never should she be unfaithful; when Fiery Wind returned she would tell him all, and then she would become his wife, and she felt that her own heart was true enough to guard him, her own arm strong enough to slay his enemy.
* * * * *
All women are wilful enough, but Dahcotah women are particularly so. Slaves as they are to their husbands, they lord it over each other, and it is only when they become grandmothers that they seem to feel their dependence, and in many instances yield implicit obedience to the wills of their grandchildren.
They take great delight in watching over and instructing their children's children; giving them lessons in morality, [Footnote: The idea is ridiculed by some, that an Indian mother troubles herself about the morals of her children; but it is nevertheless true, that she talks to them, and, according to her own ideas of right and wrong, tries to instil good principles into their minds. The grandmothers take a great deal of care of their grandchildren.] and worldly wisdom. Thus while Red Earth was making her determination, her old grandmother belonging to the village was acting upon hers.
This old woman was a perfect virago—an "embodied storm." In her time she had cut off the hands and feet of some little Chippeway children, and strung them, and worn them for a necklace. And she feasted yet at the pleasant recollections this honorable exploit induced.
But so tender was she of the feelings of her own flesh and blood, that the thought of their suffering the slightest pain was death to her.
Her son ruled his household very well for a Dahcotah. He had a number of young warriors and hunters growing up around him, and he sometimes got tired of their disturbances, and would use, not the rod but a stick of wood to some purpose. Although it had the good effect of quelling the refractory spirits of the young, it invariably fired the soul of his aged mother. The old woman would cry and howl, and refuse to eat, for days; till, finding this had no effect upon her hard-hearted son, she told him she would do something that would make him sorry, the next time he struck one of his children.
But the dutiful son paid no attention to her. He had always considered women as being inferior to dogs, and he would as soon have thought of giving up smoking, as of minding his mother's threats.
But while Red Earth was thinking of her absent lover, Two Stars was beating his sons again—and when the maiden was left alone by Shining Iron after the warning he had given her, she was attracted by the cries of one of the old women of the village, who was struggling 'mid earth and heaven, while old and young were running to the spot, some to render assistance, others to see the fun.
And glorious fun it was! the grandmother had almost hung herself—that is, she seriously intended to do it. But she evidently did not expect the operation to be so painful. When her son, in defiance of her tears and threats, commenced settling his household difficulties in his own way she took her head-strap,[Footnote: The head-strap is made of buffalo skin. It is from eight to ten, or sometimes twenty-four feet long. The women fasten their heavy burdens to this strap, which goes around the forehead; the weight of the burden falls upon the head and back. This occasions the figures of the Indian women to stoop, since they necessarily lean forward in order to preserve their balance.] went to a hill just above the village, and deliberately made her preparations for hanging, as coolly too as if she had been used to being hung for a long time. But when, after having doubled the strap four times to prevent its breaking, she found herself choking, her courage gave way—she yelled frightfully; and it was well that her son and others ran so fast, for they had well nigh been too late. As it was, they carried her into the teepee, where the medicine man took charge of her case; and she was quite well again in an hour or two. Report says (but there is a sad amount of scandal in an Indian village) that the son has never offended the mother since; so, like many a wilful woman, she has gained her point.
Red Earth witnessed the cutting down of the old woman, and as she returned to her teepee, her quick ear warned her of coming footsteps. She lingered apart from the others, and soon she saw the eagle feathers of her warrior as he descended the hill towards the village. Gladly would she have gone to meet him to welcome him home, but she knew that Shining Iron was watching her motions, and she bent her steps homeward. She was quite sure that it would not be long before he would seek her, and then she would tell him what had passed, and make arrangements for their course of conduct for the future.
Fiery Wind was the nephew of Good Road, but he, like the sons, was in disgrace with the chief, and, like them, he had vowed vengeance against "Old Bets."
The gun is now generally used among the Dahcotahs as a weapon of warfare. But those bands in the neighborhood of Fort Snelling considered it as a necessary part of their war implements, before the distant bands were at all acquainted with its use.
Some time ago, one of the Mun-da-wa-kan-tons gave a gun to a Sisse-ton, who, proud of the gift, went out immediately to use it. On his return to his village he came up with a drove of buffaloes. His first impulse was to use his bow and arrow, but a moment's thought reminded him of the gift of his friend. He loaded the gun, saying at the same time to it, "Now, the Dahcotahs call you 'wah-kun' (supernatural), kill me the fattest cow in the drove." He waited a few moments to see his orders executed, but the gun was not "wah-kun" enough to fire by order alone. Seeing that it did not go off, the Sisse-ton flew into a rage and broke the gun into pieces. "I suppose," said he "that if a Mun-da-wah-can-ton had told you to kill a buffalo, you would have done it, but you do not regard what a Sisse-ton says." So he threw the pieces of the gun away, and found his bow and arrows of far more service.
However naturally the usages of warfare may come to the Indians, they are also made a part of their education.
The children are taught that it is wicked to murder without a cause; but when offence has been given, they are in duty bound to retaliate.
The day after the return of Fiery Wind, the boys of the village were to attack a hornet's nest. This is one of the ways of training their sons to warfare. One of the old warriors had seen a hornet's nest in the woods, and he returned to the village, and with the chief assembled all the boys in the village. The chief ordered the boys to take off all their clothes, and gave them each a gun. He then told them how brave their forefathers were—that they never feared pain or danger—and that they must prove themselves worthy sons of such ancestors. "One of these days you will be men, and then you will go on war parties and kill your enemies, and then you will be fit to join in the dog feast. Be brave, and do not fear the sting of the hornet, for if you do, you will be cowards instead of warriors, and the braves will call you women and laugh at you."
This was enough to animate the courage of the boys—some of them not more than five years old pushed ahead of their elder brothers, eager to show to their fathers, who accompanied them, how little they feared their enemies, as they termed the hornets. And formidable enemies they were too—for many of the little fellows returned sadly stung, with swollen limbs, and closed eyes; but they bore their wounds as well as brave men would have endured their pain on a battle-field.
After leaving their village, they entered the woods farther from the banks of the river. The guide who had seen the nest led the way, and the miniature warriors trod as lightly as if there was danger of rousing a sleeping foe. At last the old man pointed to the nest, and without a moment's hesitation, the young Dahcotahs attacked it. Out flew the hornets in every direction. Some of the little boys cried out with the pain from the stings of the hornets on their unprotected limbs—but the cries of Shame! shame! from one of the old men soon recalled them to their duty, and they marched up again not a whit discomfited. Good Road cheered them on. "Fight well, my warriors," said he; "you will carry many scalps home, you are brave men."
It was not long before the nest was quite destroyed, and then the old men said they must take a list of the killed and wounded. The boys forced a loud laugh when they replied that there were no scalps taken by the enemy, but they could not deny that the list of the wounded was quite a long one. Some of them limped, in spite of their efforts to walk upright, and one little fellow had to be assisted along by his father, for both eyes were closed; and, although stung in every direction and evidently suffering agony, the brave boy would not utter a complaint.
When they approached the village, the young warriors formed into Indian file, and entered as triumphantly as their fathers would have done, had they borne twenty Chippeway scalps with them.
The mothers first applauded the bravery of their sons; and then applied herbs to their swollen limbs, and the mimic war furnished a subject of amusement for the villages for the remainder of the day.
It would be well for the Dahcotahs if they only sought the lives of their enemies. But they are wasting in numbers far more by their internal dissensions than from other causes. Murder is so common among them, that it is even less than a nine days' wonder; all that is thought necessary is to bury the dead, and then some relative must avenge his quarrel.
Red Earth told her lover of the threat of Shining Iron, and the young man was thus put on his guard. The sons of Good Road's first wife were also told of the state of things, and they told Fiery Wind that they would take up his quarrel, glad of an opportunity to avenge their own and their mother's wrongs. It was in the month of April, or as the Dahcotahs say in "the moon that geese lay," that Red Earth took her place by the side of her husband, thus asserting her right to be mistress of his wigwam. While she occupied herself with her many duties, she never for a moment forgot the threat of Shining Iron. But her cares and anxieties for her husband's safety were soon over. She had not long been a wife before her enemy lay a corpse; his life was a forfeit to his love for her, and Red Earth had a woman's heart. Although she could but rejoice that the fears which had tormented her were now unnecessary, yet when she remembered how devotedly the dead warrior had loved her, how anxiously he had tried to please her, she could not but shed a few tears of sorrow for his death. But they were soon wiped away—not for the world would she have had her husband see them.
The oldest sons of Good Road were true to their word—and the son of Old Bets was not the only subject for their vengeance. His sister was with him at the moment that they chose to accomplish their purpose; and when an Indian commences to shed blood, there is no knowing how soon he will be satisfied. Shining Iron died instantly, but the sister's wounds were not fatal—she is slowly recovering.
It was but yesterday that we visited the grave of the dead warrior. On a hill near the St. Peters his body is buried. The Indians have enclosed the grave, and there is a "Wah-kun stone," to which they sacrifice, at his head. No one reposes near him. Alone he lies, undisturbed by aught except the winds that sigh over him. The first flowers of Spring are blooming on the spot where he played in childhood, and here, where he reposes, he often sat to mourn the unkindness of Red Earth, and vow vengeance on his successful rival.
But he is not unwatched. His spirit is ever near, and perhaps he will again live on earth. [Footnote: The Sioux believe in the transmigration of souls. Many of the Indians near Fort Snelling say they have lived before on earth. The jugglers remember many incidents that occurred during some former residence on earth, and they will tell them to you with all the gravity imaginable.] His friends believe that he may hold communion with Unk-ta-he,—that from that God he will learn the mysteries of the Earth and Water; and when he lives again in another form, he will instruct the Dahcotahs in their religion, and be a great medicine man.
Good Road is quite reconciled to his sons, for he says it was a brave deed to get rid of an enemy. In vain does Old Bets ask for vengeance on the murderers. Good Road reminds her that Shining Iron had made a threat, and it was not proper he should live; and the chief insisted more upon this, when he added that these children of her's were by a former husband, and it was natural his sons should resent their father's preference for them.
So after all Old Bets doubts whether she, or the Chief's first wife, has got the best of it; and as she dresses the wounds of her daughter, she wishes that the Dahcotahs had killed her mother instead of adopting her—lamenting, too, that she should ever have attained to the honor of being Good Road's wife.
THE VIRGIN'S FEAST.
Never did the sun shine brighter than on a cold day in December, when the Indians at "Little Crow's" village were preparing to go on a deer hunt. The Mississippi was frozen, and the girls of the village had the day before enjoyed one of their favorite amusements—a ball-play on the ice. Those who owned the bright cloths and calicoes which were hung up before their eyes, as an incentive to win the game, were still rejoicing over their treasures; while the disappointed ones were looking sullen, and muttering of partiality being shown to this one because she was beautiful, and to that, because she was the sister of the chief.
"Look at my head!" said Harpstenah; "Wenona knew that I was the swiftest runner in the band, and as I stooped to catch the ball she struck me a blow that stunned me, so that I could not run again."
But the head was so ugly, and the face too, that there was no pity felt for her; those dirty, wrinkled features bore witness to her contempt for the cleansing qualities of water. Her uncombed hair was hanging in masses about her ears and face, and her countenance expressed cruelty and passion. But Harpstenah had nothing to avenge; when she was young she was passed by, as there was nothing in her face or disposition that could attract; and now in the winter of life she was so ugly and so desolate, so cross and so forlorn, that no one deemed her worthy even of a slight. But for all that, Harpstenah could hate, and with all the intensity of her evil heart did she hate Wenona, the beautiful sister of the chief.
Yesterday had been as bright as to-day, and Grey Eagle, the medicine man, had hung on a pole the prizes that were to be given to the party that succeeded in throwing the ball into a space marked off.
The maidens of the village were all dressed in their gayest clothing, with ornaments of beads, bracelets, rings, and ribbons in profusion. They cared not half so much for the prizes, as they rejoiced at the opportunity of displaying their graceful persons. The old women were eager to commence the game, for they longed to possess the cloth for their leggins, and the calico for their "okendokendas." [Footnote "Okendokendas." This is the Sioux word for calico. It is used as the name for a kind of short gown, which is worn by the Sioux women, made generally of calico, sometimes of cloth.]
The women, young and old, were divided into two parties; but as one party threw the ball towards the space marked off, the others threw it back again far over their heads, and then all ran back, each party endeavoring to reach it first, that they might succeed in placing the ball in the position which was to decide the game.
But the ball is not thrown by the hand, each woman has a long stick with a circular frame at the end of it; this they call a bat stick, and, simple as it looks, it requires great skill to manage it.
Wenona was the swiftest runner of one party, and Harpstenah, old and ugly as she was, the best of the other. How excited they are! the snow-covered hills, majestic and silent, look coldly enough upon their sport; but what care they? the prize will soon be won.
The old medicine man cheered them on. "Run fast, Wenona! take care that Harpstenah does not win the game. Ho, Harpstenah! if you and your leggins are old, you may have the cloth yet."
Now Wenona's party is getting on bravely, but the ball has been caught and thrown back by the other party. But at last it is decided. In the struggle for the ball, Harpstenah received a blow from an old squaw as dismal looking as herself, and Wenona catches the ball and throws it into the appointed place. The game is ended, and the medicine man comes forward to distribute the prizes.
The warriors have looked on, admiring those who were beautiful and graceful, and laughing at the ugly and awkward.
But Wenona cared little for the prizes. She was a chief's sister, and she was young and beautiful. The handsomest presents were given her, and she hardly looked at the portion of the prizes which fell to her lot.
Smarting with pain from the blow she had received, (and she spoke falsely when she said Wenona had struck her,) stung with jealousy at the other party having won the game, Harpstenah determined on revenge, "If I am old," she said, "I will live long enough to bring misery on her; ugly as I may be, I will humble the proud beauty. What do I eat? the worthless heads of birds are given to the old woman for whom nobody cares, but my food will be to see the eye of Wenona fall beneath the laugh of scorn. I will revenge the wrongs of my life on her."
Commend me to a Dahcotah woman's revenge! Has she been slighted in love? blood must be shed; and if she is not able to accomplish the death of her rival, her own life will probably pay the forfeit. Has disgrace or insult been heaped upon her? a life of eighty years is not long enough to bring down vengeance on the offender. So with Harpstenah. Her life had not been a blessing to herself—she would make it a curse to others.
In the preparations for the deer hunt, the ball-play has been forgotten. The women are putting together what will be necessary for their comfort during their absence, and the men are examining their guns and bows and arrows. The young girls anticipate amusement and happiness, for they will assist their lovers to bring in the deer to the camp; and the jest and merry laugh, and the words of love are spoken too. The ball-play has been forgotten by all but Harpstenah.
But it is late in the afternoon; and as they do not start till the morning, something must be done to pass the long evening. "If this were full," said a young hunter, kicking at the same time an empty keg that had once contained whiskey, "if this were full, we would have a merry night of it."
"Yes," said Grey Iron, whose age seemed to have brought him wisdom, "the night would be merry, but where would you be the day after. Did you not, after drinking that very whiskey, strike a white woman, for which you were taken to the fort by the soldiers, and kept as a prisoner?"
The young man's look of mortification at this reproof did not save him from the contemptuous sneer of his companions, for all despise the Dahcotah who has thus been punished. No act of bravery can wipe away his disgrace.
But Wenona sat pale and sad in her brother's wigwam. The bright and happy looks of yesterday were all gone. Her sister-in-law has hushed her child to sleep, and she is resting from the fatigues of the day. Several old men, friends of Little Crow's father, are sitting round the fire; one has fallen asleep, while the others talk of the wonderful powers of their sacred medicine.
"Why are you sad, Wenona," said the chief, turning to her; "why should the eyes of a chief's sister be filled with tears, and her looks bent on the ground?"
"You need not ask why I am not happy," said Wenona: "Red Cloud brought presents to you yesterday; he laid them at the door of your wigwam. He wants to buy me, and you have received his gifts; why do you not return them? you know I do not love him."
"Red Cloud is a great warrior," replied the chief; "he wears many feathers of honor; you must marry him."
The girl wrapped herself in her blanket and lay down. For a time her sighs were heard—but at length sleep came to her relief, and her grief was forgotten in dreams. But morn has come and they are to make an early start. Was ever such confusion? Look at that old hag knocking the very senses out of her daughter's head because she is not ready! and the girl, in order to avoid the blows, stumbles over an unfortunate dog, who commences a horrible barking and whining, tempting all the dogs of the village to outbark and outwhine him.
There goes "White Buffalo" with his two wives, the first wife with the teepee on her back and her child on the top of it. No wonder she looks so cross, for the second wife walks leisurely on. Now is her time, but let her beware! for White Buffalo is thinking seriously of taking a third.
But they are all off at last. Mothers with children, and corn, and teepees, and children with dogs on their backs. They are all gone, and the village looks desolate and forsaken.
The party encamped about twenty miles from the village. The women plant the poles of their teepees firmly in the ground and cover them with a buffalo skin. A fire is soon made in the centre and the corn put on to boil. Their bread is kneaded and put in the ashes to bake, but flour is not very plenty among them.
The next day parties were out in every direction; tracks of deer were seen in the snow, and the hunters followed them up. The beautiful animal flies in terror from the death which comes surer and swifter than her own light footsteps. The hunter's knife is soon upon her, and while warmth and even life are left, the skin is drawn off.
After the fatigues of the day comes the long and pleasant evening. A bright fire burned in the wigwam of the chief, and many of the Indians were smoking around it, but Wenona was sad, and she took but little part in the laughter and merriment of the others.
Red Cloud boasted of his bravery and his deeds of valor; even the old men listened to him with respect, for they knew that his name was a terror to his enemies. But Wenona turned from him! she hated to hear the sound of his voice.
The old men talked of the mighty giant of the Dahcotahs, he who needed not to take his gun to kill the game he wanted; the glance of his eye would strike with death the deer, the buffalo, or even the bear.
The song, the jest, the legend, by turns occupied them until they separated to sleep. But as the warriors stepped into the open air, why does the light of the moon fall upon faces pale with terror? "See!" said the chief, "how flash the mysterious lights! there is danger near, some dreadful calamity is threatening us."
"We will shoot at them," said Red Cloud; "we will destroy their power." And the Indians discharged their guns in quick succession towards the northern horizon, which was brilliantly illuminated with the Aurora Borealis; thus hoping to ward off coming danger.
The brother and sister were left alone at the door of the teepee. The stern warrior's looks expressed superstitious terror, while the maiden's face was calm and fearless. "Do you not fear the power of the woman who sits in the north, Wenona? she shows those flashes of light to tell us of coming evil."
"What should I fear," said Wenona; "I, who will soon join my mother, my father, my sisters, in the land of spirits? Listen to my words, my brother: there are but two of us; strife and disease have laid low the brave, the good, the beautiful; we are the last of our family; you will soon be alone.
"Before the leaves fell from the trees, as I sat on the banks of the Mississippi, I saw the fairy of the water. The moon was rising, but it was not yet bright enough for me to see her figure distinctly. But I knew her voice; I had often heard it in my dreams. 'Wenona,' she said, (and the waves were still that they might hear her words), 'Wenona, the lands of the Dahcotah are green and beautiful—but there are fairer prairies than those on earth. In that bright country the forest trees are ever green, and the waves of the river flow on unchilled by the breath of winter. You will not long be with the children of the earth. Even now your sisters are calling you, and your mother is telling them that a few more months will bring you to their side!'
"The words were true, my brother, but I knew not that your harshness would hasten my going. You say that I shall marry Red Cloud; sooner will I plunge my knife into my heart; sooner shall the waves of the Mississippi roll over me. Brother, you will soon be alone!"
"Speak not such words, my sister," said the chief; "it shall be as you will. I have not promised Red Cloud. I thought you would be happy if you were his wife, and you shall not be forced to marry him. But why should you think of death? you saw our braves as they shot at the lights in the north. They have frightened them away. Look! they flash no more. Go in, and sleep, and to-morrow I will tell Red Cloud that you love him not."
And the cloudless moon shone on a happy face, and the bright stars, seemed more bright as Wenona gazed upon them; but as she turned to enter the wigwam, one star was seen falling in the heavens, and the light that followed it was lost in the brightness of the others. And her dreams were not happy, for the fairy of the water haunted them. "Even as that star, Wenona, thou shalt pass from all that thou lovest on earth; but weep not, thy course is upward!"
* * * * *
The hunters were so successful that they returned to their village soon. The friends of Wenona rejoiced in her happy looks, but to Harpstenah they were bitterness and gall. The angry countenance of Red Cloud found an answering chord in her own heart.
"Ha!" said she to him, as he watched Wenona and her lover talking together, "what has happened? Did you not say you would marry the chief's sister—why then are you not with her? Red Cloud is a great warrior, why should he be sad because Wenona loves him not? Are there not maidens among the Dahcotahs more beautiful than she? She never loved you; her brother, too, has treated you with contempt. Listen to my words, Red Cloud; the Virgin's Feast is soon to be celebrated, and she will enter the ring for the last time. When she comes forward, tell her she is unworthy. Is she not a disgrace to the band? Has she not shamed a brave warrior? Will you not be despised when another is preferred to you?"
The words of the tempter are in his ear—madness and hatred are in his heart.
"I said I would take her life, but my revenge will be deeper. Wenona would die rather than be disgraced." And as he spoke Harpstenah turned to leave him, for she saw that the poison had entered his soul.
Among the Dahcotahs, women are not excluded from joining in their feasts or dances; they dance the scalp dance while the men sit round and sing, and they join in celebrating many of the customs of their tribe. But the Virgin's Feast has reference to the women alone; its object is not to celebrate the deeds of the warrior, but rather to put to the test the virtue of the maiden.
Notice was given among the Indians that the Virgin's Feast was to be celebrated at Little Crow's village; the time was mentioned, and all who chose to attend were welcome to do so.
The feast was prepared in the neighborhood of the village. The boiled corn and venison were put in wooden bowls, and the Indians sat round, forming a ring. Those who were to partake of the feast were dressed in their gayest apparel; their long hair plaited and falling over their shoulders. Those who are conscious of error dare not approach the feast, for it is a part of the ceremony that they shall be exposed by any one present. Neither rank nor beauty must interpose to prevent the punishment. Nay, sometimes the power of innocence and virtue itself is not sufficient to guard the Dahcotah maiden from disgrace.
And was Wenona unworthy? The white snow that covered the hills was not more pure than she. But Red Cloud cared not for that. She had refused to be the light of his wigwam, and thus was he avenged.
Wenona advanced with the maidens of the village. Who can describe her terror and dismay when Red Cloud advances and leads her from the sacred ring? To whom shall the maiden turn for help? To her brother? his angry countenance speaks not of comfort. Her friends? the smile of scorn is on their lips. Her lover? he has left the feast.
Her determination is soon made; her form is seen as she flies to the woods. Death is the refuge of the friendless and the wronged.
But as night came on the relatives of Wenona wondered that she did not return. They sought her, and they found her lifeless body; the knife was deep in her heart. She knew she was innocent, but what did that avail her? She was accused by a warrior, and who would believe her if she denied the charge?
And why condemn her that she deprived herself of life, which she deemed worthless, when embittered by unmerited contempt. She knew not that God has said, "Thou shall do no murder." The command had never sounded in her ears.
She trusted to find a home in the House of Spirits—she may have found a heaven in the mercy of God.
The fever of the following summer spared neither age nor youth, and Red Cloud was its first victim. As the dying Harpstenah saw his body carried out to be placed upon the scaffold—"He is dead," she cried, "and Wenona was innocent! He hated her because she slighted him; I hated her because she was happy. He had his revenge, and I mine; but Wenona was falsely accused, and I told him to do it!" and the eyes were closed—the voice was hushed in death.
Wenona was innocent; and when the Virgin's Feast shall be celebrated in her native village again, how will the maidens tremble as they approach the sacred ring! Can they forget the fate of their beautiful companion?
And when the breath of summer warms to life the prairie flowers—when the long grass shall wave under the scaffold where repose the mortal remains of the chief's sister—how often will the Dahcotah maidens draw near to contrast the meanness, the treachery, the falsehood of Red Cloud, with the constancy, devotion, and firmness of Wenona!
THE DAHCOTAH CONVERT.
"Tell me," said, Hiatu-we-noken-chah, or 'woman of the night,' "the Great Spirit whom you have taught me to fear, why has he made the white woman rich and happy, and the Dahcotah poor and miserable?" She spoke with bitterness when she remembered the years of sorrow that had made up the sum of her existence.
But how with the missionary's wife? had her life been one bright dream—had her days been always full of gladness—her nights quiet and free from care? Had she never longed for the time of repose, that darkness might cover her as with a mantle—and when 'sleep forsook the wretched,' did she not pray for the breaking of the day, that she might again forget all in the performance of the duties of her station? Could it be that the Creator had balanced the happiness of one portion of his children against the wretchedness of the rest? Let her story answer.
Her home is now among the forests of the west. As a child she would tremble when she heard of the savage whose only happiness was in shedding the blood of his fellow creatures. The name of an "Indian" when uttered by her nurse would check the boisterous gayety of the day or the tedious restlessness of the night.
As she gathered flowers on the pleasant banks of the Sciota, would it not have brought paleness to her cheek to have whispered her that not many years would pass over her, before she would be far away from the scenes of her youth?
And as she uttered the marriage vow, how little did she think that soon would her broken spirit devote time, energies, life, to the good of others; as an act of duty and, but for the faith of the Christian, of despair. For several years she only wept with others when they sorrowed; fair children followed her footsteps, and it was happiness to guide their voices, as they, like the morning stars, sang together; or to listen to their evening prayer as they folded their hands in childlike devotion ere they slept.
And when the father returned from beside the bed of death, where his skill could no longer alleviate the parting agonies of the sufferer: how would he hasten to look upon the happy faces of his children, in order to forget the scene he had just witnessed. But, man of God as he was, there was not always peace in his soul; yet none could see that he had cause for care. He was followed by the blessings of those who were ready to perish. He essayed to make the sinner repent, and to turn the thoughts of the dying to Him who suffered death on the cross.
But for months the voice of the Spirit spake to his heart; he could not forget the words—"Go to the wretched Dahcotahs, their bodies are suffering, and their souls, immortal like thine, are perishing. Soothe their temporal cares, and more, tell them the triumphs of the Redeemer's love."
But it was hard to give up friends, and all the comforts with which he was surrounded: to subject his wife to the hardships of a life in the wilderness, to deprive his children of the advantages of education and good influences, and instead—to show them life as it is with those who know not God. But the voice said, "Remember the Dahcotahs." Vainly did he struggle with the conflict of duty against inclination.
The time has come when the parents must weep for themselves. No longer do the feet of their children tread among the flowers; fever has paralyzed their strength, and vainly does the mother call upon the child, whose eyes wander in delirium, who knows not her voice from a stranger's. Nor does the Destroyer depart when one has sunk into a sleep from which there is no awakening until the morn of the resurrection. He claims another, and who shall resist that claim!
As the father looks upon the still forms of his children, as he sees the compressed lips, the closed eyes of the beings who were but a few days ago full of life and happiness, the iron enters his soul; but as the Christian remembers who has afflicted him, his spirit rises above his sorrow. Nor is there now any obstacle between him and the path of duty. The one child that remains must be put in charge of those who will care for her, and he will go where God directs.
But will the mother give up the last of her children? it matters not now where she lives, but she must part with husband or child! Self has no part in her schemes; secure in her trust in God she yields up her child to her friend, and listens not to the suggestions of those who would induce her to remain where she would still enjoy the comforts of life. Nothing should separate her from her husband. "Entreat me not to leave thee; where thou goest I will go, where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried."
And as the Dahcotah woman inquires of the justice of God, the faces of her children rise up before her—first in health, with bright eyes and lips parted with smiles, and then as she last saw them—their hands white to transparency, the hue of death upon their features; the shrouds, the little coffins, the cold lips, as she pressed them for the last time.
The Dahcotah looked in astonishment at the grief which for a few moments overcame the usual calmness of her kind friend; and as she wondered why, like her, she should shed bitter tears, she heard herself thus addressed—
"Do not think that you alone have been unhappy. God afflicts all his children. There is not a spot on the earth which is secure from sorrow. Have I not told you why? This world is not your home or mine. Soon will our bodies lie down in the earth—and we would forget this, if we were always happy.
"And you should not complain though your sorrows have been great. Do not forget the crown of thorns which pressed the brow of the Saviour, the cruel nails that pierced his hands and feet, the desertion of his friends, his fear that God his Father had forsaken him. And remember that after death the power of those who hated him ceased; the grave received but could not keep his body. He rose from the dead, and went to Heaven, where he has prepared a place for all who love him; for me and mine, I trust, and for you too, if you are careful to please him by serving him yourself, and by endeavoring to induce your friends to give up their foolish and wicked superstitions, and to worship the true God who made all things."
The Dahcotahs believe in the existence of a Great Spirit, but they have very confused ideas of his attributes. Those who have lived near the missionaries, say that the Great Spirit lived forever, but their own minds would never have conceived such an idea. Some say that the Great Spirit has a wife.
They say that this being created all things but thunder and wild rice; and that he gave the earth and all animals to them, and that their feasts and customs were the laws by which they are to be governed. But they do not fear the anger of this deity after death.
Thunder is said to be a large bird; the name that they give to thunder is the generic term for all animals that fly. Near the source of the St. Peters is a place called Thunder-tracks—where the footprints of the thunder-bird are seen in the rocks, twenty-five miles apart.
The Dahcotahs believe in an evil spirit as well as a good, but they do not consider these spirits as opposed to each other; they do not think that they are tempted to do wrong by this evil spirit; their own hearts are bad. It would be impossible to put any limit to the number of spirits in whom the Dahcotahs believe; every object in nature is full of them. They attribute death as much to the power of these subordinate spirits as to the Great Spirit; but most frequently they suppose death to have been occasioned by a spell having been cast upon them by some enemy.
The sun and moon are worshipped as emblems of their deity.
Sacrifice is a religious ceremony among them; but no missionary has yet been able to find any reference to the one great Atonement made for sin; none of their customs or traditions authorize any such connection. They sacrifice to all the spirits; but they have a stone, painted red, which they call Grandfather, and on or near this, they place their most valuable articles, their buffalo robes, dogs, and even horses; and on one occasion a father killed a child as a kind of sacrifice. They frequently inflict severe bruises or cuts upon their bodies, thinking thus to propitiate their gods.
The belief in an evil spirit is said by some not to be a part of the religion of the Dahcotahs. They perhaps obtained this idea from the whites. They have a far greater fear of the spirits of the dead, especially those whom they have offended, than of Wahkon-tun-kah, the Great Spirit.
* * * * *
One of the punishments they most dread is that of the body of an animal entering theirs to make them sick. Some of the medicine men, the priests, and the doctors of the Dahcotahs, seem to have an idea of the immortality of the soul but intercourse with the whites may have originated this. They know nothing of the resurrection.
They have no custom among them that indicates the belief that man's heart should be holy. The faith in spirits, dreams, and charms, the fear that some enemy, earthly or spiritual, may be secretly working their destruction by a spell, is as much a part of their creed, as the existence of the Great Spirit.
A good dream will raise their hopes of success in whatever they may be undertaking to the highest pitch; a bad one will make them despair of accomplishing it. Their religion is a superstition, including as few elements of truth and reason as perhaps any other of which the particulars are known. They worship they "know not what," and this from the lowest motives.
When they go out to hunt, or on a war party, they pray to the Great Spirit—"Father, help us to kill the buffalo." "Let us soon see deer"—or, "Great Spirit help us to kill our enemies."
They have no hymns of praise to their Deity; they fast occasionally at the time of their dances. When they dance in honor of the sun, they refrain from eating for two days.
The Dahcotahs do not worship the work of their hands; but they consider every object that the Great Spirit has made, from the highest mountain to the smallest stone, as worthy of their idolatry.
They have a vague idea of a future state; many have dreamed of it. Some of their medicine men pretend to have had revelations from bears and other animals; and they thus learned that their future existence would be but a continuation of this. They will go on long hunts and kill many buffalo; bright fires will burn in their wigwams as they talk through the long winter's night of the traditions of their ancients; their women are to tan deer-skin for their mocassins, while their young children learn to be brave warriors by attacking and destroying wasps' or hornets' nests; they will celebrate the dog feast to show how brave they are, and sing in triumph as they dance round the scalps of their enemies. Such is the Heaven of the Dahcotahs! Almost every Indian has the image of an animal or bird tattooed on his breast or arm, which can charm away an evil spirit, or prevent his enemy from bringing trouble or death upon him by a secret shot. The power of life rests with mortals, especially with their medicine men; they believe that if an enemy be shooting secretly at them, a spell or charm must be put in requisition to counteract their power.
The medicine men or women, who are initiated into the secrets of their wonderful medicines, (which secret is as sacred with them as free-masonry is to its members) give the feast which they call the medicine feast.
Their medicine men, who profess to administer to the affairs of soul and body are nothing more than jugglers, and are the worst men of the tribe: yet from fear alone they claim the entire respect of the community.
There are numerous clans among the Dahcotahs each using a different medicine, and no one knows what this medicine is but those who are initiated into the mysteries of the medicine dance, whose celebration is attended with the utmost ceremony.
A Dahcotah would die before he would divulge the secret of his clan. All the different clans unite at the great medicine feast.
And from such errors as these must the Dahcotah turn if he would be a Christian! And the heart of the missionary would faint within him at the work which is before him, did he not remember who has said "Lo, I am with you always!"
And it was long before the Indian woman could give up the creed of her nation. The marks of the wounds in her face and arms will to the grave bear witness of her belief in the faith of her fathers, which influenced her in youth. Yet the subduing of her passions, the quiet performance of her duties, the neatness of her person, and the order of her house, tell of the influence of a better faith, which sanctifies the sorrows of this life, and rejoices her with the hope of another and a better state of existence.
But such instances are rare. These people have resisted as encroachments upon their rights the efforts that have been made for their instruction. Kindness and patience, however, have accomplished much, and during the last year they have, in several instances, expressed a desire for the aid and instructions of missionaries. They seem to wish them to live among them; though formerly the lives of those who felt it their duty to remain were in constant peril.
They depend more, too, upon what the ground yields them for food, and have sought for assistance in ploughing it.
There are four schools sustained by the Dahcotah mission; in all there are about one hundred and seventy children; the average attendance about sixty.
The missionaries feel that they have accomplished something, and they are encouraged to hope for still more. They have induced many of the Dahcotahs to be more temperate; and although few, comparatively, attend worship at the several stations, yet of those few some exhibit hopeful signs of conversion.
There are five mission stations among the Dahcotahs; at "Lac qui parle," on the St. Peter's river, in sight of the beautiful lake from which the station takes its name; at "Travers des Sioux" about eighty miles from Fort Snelling; at Xapedun, Oak-grove, and Kapoja, the last three being within a few miles of Fort Snelling.
There are many who think that the efforts of those engaged in instructing the Dahcotahs are thrown away. They cannot conceive why men of education, talent, and piety, should waste their time and attainments upon a people who cannot appreciate their efforts. If the missionaries reasoned on worldly principles, they would doubtless think so too; but they devote the energies of soul and body to Him who made them for His own service.
They are pioneers in religion; they show the path that others will walk in far more easily at some future day; they undertake what others will carry on,—what God himself will accomplish. They have willingly given up the advantages of this life, to preach the gospel to the degraded Dahcotahs. They are translating the Bible into Sioux; many of the books are translated, and to their exertions it is owing that the praise of God has been sung by the children of the forest in their own language.
However absurd may be the religion of the Dahcotahs, they are zealous in their devotion to it. Nothing is allowed to interfere with it. Are their women planting corn, which is to be in a great measure depended upon for food during the next winter? whatever be the consequences, they stop to celebrate a dance or a feast, either of which is a part of their religion. How many Christians satisfy their consciences by devoting one day of the week to God, feeling themselves thus justified in devoting the other six entirely to the world! But it is altogether different with the Dahcotahs, every act of their life is influenced by their religion, such as it is.
They believe they are a great people, that their country is unrivalled in beauty, their religion without fault. Many of the Dahcotahs, now living near Fort Snelling, say that they have lived on the earth before in some region far distant, that they died, and for a time their spirits wandered through the world seeking the most beautiful and delightful country to live in, and that after examining all parts of, the earth they fixed upon the country of the Dahcotahs.
In fact, dreams, spells and superstitious fears, constitute a large part of the belief of the Dahcotahs. But of all their superstitious notions the most curious is the one which occasions the dance called Ho-saw-kah-u-tap-pe, or Fish dance, where the fish is eaten raw.
Some days since, an Indian who lives at Shah-co-pee's village dreamed of seeing a cormorant, a bird which feeds on fish. He was very much alarmed, and directed his friend to go out and catch a fish, and to bring the first one he caught to him.
The Indian did so, and the fish, which was a large pike, was painted with blue clay. Preparations were immediately made to celebrate the Fish dance, in order to ward off any danger of which the dream might have been the omen.
A circle was formed of brush, on one side of which the Indians pitched a wigwam. The war implements were then brought inside the ring, and a pole stuck up in the centre, with the raw fish, painted blue, hung upon it.
The men then enter the ring, almost naked; their bodies painted black, excepting the breast and arms, which are varied in color according to the fancy of each individual.
Inside the ring is a bush for each dancer; in each bush a nest, made to resemble a cormorant's nest; and outside the ring is an Indian metamorphosed for the occasion into a wolf—that is, he has the skin of a wolf drawn over him, and hoops fixed to his hands to enable him to run easier on all fours; and in order to sustain the character which he has assumed, he remains outside, lurking about for food.
All being ready, the medicine men inside the wigwam commence beating a drum and singing. This is the signal for all the cormorants (Indians), inside the ring, to commence quacking and dancing and using their arms in imitation of wings, keeping up a continual flapping. Thus for some time they dance up to and around the fish—when the bravest among them will snap at the fish, and if he have good teeth will probably bite off a piece, if not, he will slip his hold and flap off again.
Another will try his luck at this delicious food, and so they continue, until they have made a beginning in the way of eating the fish. Then each cormorant flaps up and takes a bite, and then flaps off to his nest, in which the piece of fish is concealed, for fear the wolves may get it.
After a while, the wolf is seen emerging from his retreat, painted so hideously as to frighten away the Indian children. The cormorants perceive the approach of the wolf, and a general quacking and flapping takes place, each one rushing to his nest to secure his food.
This food each cormorant seizes and tries to swallow, flapping his wings and stretching out his neck as a young bird will when fed by its mother.
After the most strenuous exertions they succeed in swallowing the raw fish. While this is going on, the wolf seizes the opportunity to make a snap at the remainder of the fish, seizes it with his teeth, and makes his way out of the ring, as fast as he can, on all fours. The whole of the fish, bones and all, must be swallowed; not the smallest portion of it can be left, and the fish must only be touched by the mouth—never with the hands. This dance is performed by the men alone—their war implements must be sacred from the touch of women.
Such scenes are witnessed every day at the Dahcotah villages. The missionary sighs as he sees how determined is their belief in such a religion. Is it not a source of rejoicing to be the means of turning one fellow-creature from a faith like this?
A few years ago and every Dahcotah woman reverenced the fish-dance as holy and sacred—even too sacred for her to take a part in it. She believed the medicine women could foretell future events; and, with an injustice hardly to be accounted for, she would tell you it was lawful to beat a girl as much as you chose, but a sin to strike a boy!
She gloried in dancing the scalp dance—aye, even exulted at the idea of taking the life of an enemy herself.
But there are instances in which these things are all laid aside beneath the light of Christianity; instances in which the poor Dahcotah woman sees the folly, the wickedness of her former faith; blesses God who inclined the missionary to leave his home and take up his abode in the country of the savage; and sings to the praise of God in her own tongue as she sits by the door of her wigwam. She smiles as she tells you that her "face is dark, but that she hopes her heart has been changed; and that she will one day sing in heaven, where the voices of the white people and of the converted Dahcotahs, will mingle in a song of love to Him 'who died for the whole world.'"
Wabashaw, (or The Leaf,) is the name of one of the Dahcotah Chiefs. His village is on the Mississippi river, 1,800 miles from its mouth.
The teepees are pitched quite near the shore, and the many bluffs that rise behind them seem to be their perpetual guards.
The present chief is about thirty-five years old—as yet he has done not much to give him a reputation above the Dahcotahs about him. But his father was a man whose life and character were such as to influence his people to a great degree.
Wabashaw the elder, (for the son inherits his father's name,) is said by the Dahcotahs to have been the first chief in their tribe.
Many years ago the English claimed authority over the Dahcotahs, and an English traveller having been murdered by some Dahcotahs of the band of which Wabashaw was a warrior, the English claimed hostages to be given up until the murderer could be found.
The affairs of the nation were settled then by men who, having more mind than the others, naturally influenced their inferiors. Their bravest men, their war chief too, no doubt exercised a control over the rest.
Wabashaw was one of the hostages given up in consequence of the murder, and the Governor of Canada required that these Dahcotahs should leave the forests of the west, and remain for a time as prisoners in Canada. Little as is the regard for the feelings of the savage now, there was still less then.
Wabashaw often spoke of the ill treatment he received on his journey. It was bad enough to be a prisoner, and to be leaving home; it was far worse to be struck, for the amusement of idle men and children—to have the war eagle's feather rudely torn from his head to be trampled upon—to have the ornaments, even the pipes of the nation, taken away, and destroyed before his eyes.
But such insults often occurred during their journey, and the prisoners were even fettered when at last they reached Quebec.
Here for a long time they sighed to breathe the invigorating air of the prairies; to chase the buffalo; to celebrate the war dance. But when should they join again in the ceremonies of their tribe? When? Alas! they could not even ask their jailer when; or if they had, he would only have laughed at the strange dialect that he could not comprehend. But the Dahcotahs bore with patience their unmerited confinement, and Wabashaw excelled them all. His eye was not as bright as when he left home, and there was an unusual weakness in his limbs—but never should his enemies know that he suffered. And when those high in authority visited the prisoners, the haughty dignity of Wabashaw made them feel that the Dahcotah warrior was a man to be respected.
But freedom came at last. The murderers were given up; and an interpreter in the prison told Wabashaw that he was no longer a prisoner; that he would soon again see the Father of many waters; and that more, he had been made by the English a chief, the first chief of the Dahcotahs.
It was well nigh too late for Wabashaw. His limbs were thin, and his strength had failed for want of the fresh air of his native hills.
Little did the prisoners care to look around as they retraced their steps. They knew they were going home. But when the waters of the Mississippi again shone before them, when the well-known bluffs met their eager gaze; when the bending river gave to view their native village, then, indeed, did the new-made chief cast around him the "quiet of a loving eye." Then, too, did he realize what he had suffered.
He strained his sight—for perhaps his wife might have wearied of waiting for him—perhaps she had gone to the Land of spirits, hoping to meet him there.
His children too—the young warriors, who were wont to follow him and listen to his voice, would they welcome him home?
As he approached the village a cloud had come between him and the sun. He could see many upon the shore, but who were they? The canoe swept over the waters, keeping time to the thoughts of those who were wanderers no longer.
As they neared the shore, the cloud passed away and the brightness of the setting sun revealed the faces of their friends; their cries of joy rent the air—to the husband, the son, the brother, they spoke a welcome home!
Wabashaw, by the command of the English Governor, was acknowledged by the Dahcotahs their first chief; and his influence was unbounded. Every band has a chief, and the honor descends from father to son; but there has never been one more honored and respected than Wabashaw.
Wabashaw's village is sometimes called Keusca. This word signifies to break through, or set aside; it was given in consequence of an incident which occurred some time ago, in the village.
"Sacred Wind" was a daughter of one of the most powerful families among the Dahcotahs; for although a chief lives as the meanest of his band, still there is a great difference among the families. The number of a family constitutes its importance; where a family is small, a member of it can be injured with little fear of retaliation; but in a large family there are sure to be found some who will not let an insult pass without revenge. Sacred Wind's father was living; a stalwart old warrior, slightly bent with the weight of years. Though his face was literally seamed with wrinkles, he could endure fatigue, or face danger, with the youngest and hardiest of the band.
Her mother, a fearfully ugly old creature, still mended mocassins and scolded; bidding fair to keep up both trades for years to come. Then there were tall brothers, braving hardships and danger, as if a Dahcotah was only born to be scalped, or to scalp; uncles, cousins, too, there were, in abundance, so that Sacred Wind did belong to a powerful family.
Now, among the Dahcotahs, a cousin is looked upon as a brother; a girl would as soon think of marrying her grandfather, as a cousin. I mean an ordinary girl, but Sacred Wind was not of that stamp; she was destined to be a heroine. She had many lovers, who wore themselves out playing the flute, to as little purpose as they braided their hair, and painted their faces. Sacred Wind did not love one of them.
Her mother, was always trying to induce her to accept some one of her lovers, urging the advantages of each match; but it would not do. The girl was eighteen years old, and not yet a wife; though most of the Dahcotah women are mothers long before that.
Her friends could not imagine why she did not marry. They were wearied with arguing with her; but not one of them ever suspected the cause of her seeming coldness of heart.
Her grandmother was particularly officious. She could not do as Sacred Wind wished her,—attend to her own affairs, for she had none to attend to; and grandmothers, among the Sioux, are as loving and devoted as they are among white people; consequently, the old lady beset the unfortunate girl, day and night, about her obstinacy.
"Why are you not now the mother of warriors," she said, "and besides, who will kill game for you when you are old? The 'Bear,' has been to the traders; he has bought many things, which he offers your parents for you; marry him and then you will make your old grandmother happy."
"I will kill myself," she replied, "if you ask me to marry the Bear. Have you forgotten the Maiden's rock? I There are more high rocks than one on the banks of the Mississippi, and my heart is as strong as Wenona's. If you torment me so, to marry the Bear, I will do as she did—in the house of spirits I shall have no more trouble."
This threat silenced the grandmother for the time. But a young girl who had been sitting with them, and listening to the conversation, rose to go out; and as she passed Sacred Wind, she whispered in her ear, "Tell her why you will not marry the Bear; tell her that Sacred Wind loves her cousin; and that last night she promised him she never would marry any one but him."
Had she been struck to the earth she could not have been paler. She thought her secret was hid in her own heart. She had tried to cease thinking of "The Shield;" keeping away from him, dreading to find true what she only suspected. She did not dare acknowledge even to herself that she loved a cousin.
But when the Shield gave her his handsomest trinkets; when he followed her when she left her laughing and noisy companions to sit beside the still waters—when he told her that she was the most beautiful girl among the Dahcotahs—when he whispered her that he loved her dearly; and would marry her in spite of mothers, grandmothers, customs and religion too—then she found that her cousin was dearer to her than all the world—that she would gladly die with him—she could never live without him.
But still, she would not promise to marry him. What would her friends say? and the spirits of the dead would torment her, for infringing upon the sacred customs of her tribe. The Shield used many arguments, but all in vain. She told him she was afraid to marry him, but that she would never marry any one else. Sooner should the waves cease to beat against the shores of the spirit lakes, than she forget to think of him.
But this did not satisfy her cousin. He was determined she should be his wife; he trusted to time and his irresistible person to overcome her fears.
The Shield's name was given to him by his father's friends. Shields were formerly used by the Sioux; and the Eyanktons and Sissetons still use them. They are made of buffalo skin, of a circular form; and are used as a protection against the arrows of their enemies.
"You need not fear your family, Sacred Wind," said her cousin, "nor the medicine men, nor the spirits of the dead. We will go to one of the villages, and when we are married, we will come back. Let them be angry, I will stand between you and them, even as my father's shield did between him and the foe that sought his life."
But she was firm, and promised nothing more than that she would not marry the Bear, or any one else; and they returned to her father's teepee, little thinking that any one had overheard their conversation. But the "Swan" had heard every word of it.
She loved the Shield, and she had seen him follow his cousin. After hearing enough to know that her case was a hopeless one, she made up her mind to make Sacred Wind pay dearly for the love which she herself could not obtain.
She did not at once tell the news. She wanted to amuse herself with her victim before she destroyed her; and she had hardly yet made up her mind as to the way which she would take to inform the family of Sacred Wind of the secret she had found out.
But she could not resist the temptation of whispering to Sacred Wind her knowledge of the true reason why she would not marry the Bear. This was the first blow, and it struck to the heart; it made a wound which was long kept open by the watchful eye of jealousy.
The grandmother, however, did not hear the remark; if she had she would not have sat still smoking—not she! she would have trembled with rage that a Dahcotah maiden, and her grandchild, should be guilty of the enormous crime of loving a cousin. An eruption of Vesuvius would have given but a faint idea of her fury.
Most fortunately for herself, the venerable old medicine woman died a few days after. Had she lived to know of the fatal passion of her granddaughter, she would have longed to seize the thunderbolts of Jupiter (if she had been aware of their existence) to hurl at the offenders; or like Niobe, have wept herself to stone.
Indeed the cause of her death showed that she could not bear contradiction.
There was a war party formed to attack the Chippeways, and the "Eagle that Screams as she Flies," (for that was the name of Sacred Wind's grandmother) wanted to go along.
She wished to mutilate the bodies after they were scalped. Yes, though near ninety years old, she would go through all the fatigues of a march of three hundred miles, and think it nothing, if she could be repaid by tearing the heart from one Chippeway child.
There were, however, two old squaws who had applied first, and the Screaming Eagle was rejected.
There were no bounds to her passion. She attempted to hang herself and was cut down; she made the village resound with her lamentations; she called upon all the spirits of the lakes, rivers, and prairies, to torment the war party; nothing would pacify her. Two days after the war party left, the Eagle that Screams as she Flies expired, in a fit of rage!
When the war-party returned, the Shield was the observed of all observers; he had taken two scalps.
Sacred Wind sighed to think he was her cousin. How could she help loving the warrior who had returned the bravest in the battle?
The Swan saw that she loved in vain. She knew that she loved the Shield more in absence; why then hope that he would forget Sacred Wind when he saw her no more?
When she saw him enter the village, her heart beat fast with emotion; she pressed her hand upon it, but could not still its tumult. "He has come," she said to herself, "but will his eye seek mine? will he tell me that the time has been long since he saw me woman he loved?"
She follows his footsteps—she watches his every glance, as he meets his relations. Alas! for the Swan, the wounded bird feels not so acutely the arrow that pierces, as she that look of recognition between the cousins!
But the unhappy girl was roused from a sense of her griefs, to a recollection of her wrongs. With all the impetuosity of a loving heart, she thought she had a right to the affections of the Shield. As the water reflected her features, so should his heart give back the devoted love of hers.
But while she lived, she was determined to bring sorrow upon her rival; she would not "sing in dying." That very evening did she repeat to the family of Sacred Wind the conversation she had overheard, adding that the love of the cousins was the true cause of Sacred Wind's refusing to marry.
Time would fail me to tell of the consequent sufferings of Sacred Wind. She was scolded and watched, shamed, and even beaten. The medicine men threatened her with all their powers; no punishment was severe enough for the Dahcotah who would thus transgress the laws of their nation.
The Shield was proof against the machinations of his enemies, for he was a medicine man, and could counteract all the spells that were exerted against him. Sacred Wind bore everything in patience but the sight of the Bear. She had been bought and sold, over and over again; and the fear of her killing herself was the only reason why her friends did not force her to marry.
One evening she was missing, and the cries of her mother broke upon the silence of night; canoes were flying across the water; friends were wandering in the woods, all seeking the body of the girl.
But she was not to be found in the river, or in the woods. Sacred Wind was not dead, she was only married.
She was safe in the next village, telling the Shield how much she loved him, and how cordially she hated the Bear; and although she trembled when she spoke of the medicine men, her husband only laughed at her fears, telling her, that now that she was his wife, she need fear nothing.
But where was the Swan? Her friends were assisting, in the search for Sacred Wind. The father had forgotten his child, the brother his sister. And the mother, who would have first missed her, had gone long ago, to the land of spirits.
The Swan had known of the flight of the lovers—she watched them as their canoe passed away, until it became a speck in the distance, and in another moment the waters closed over her.
Thus were strangely blended marriage and death. The Swan feared not to take her own life. Sacred Wind, with a nobler courage, a more devoted love, broke through the customs of her nation, laid aside the superstitions of the tribe, and has thus identified her courage with the name of her native village.
"THE DAHCOTAH BRIDE."
The valley of the Upper Mississippi presents many attractions to the reflecting mind, apart from the admiration excited by its natural beauty. It is at once an old country and a new—the home of a people who are rapidly passing away—and of a nation whose strength is ever advancing. The white man treads upon the footsteps of the Dahcotah—the war dance of the warrior gives place to the march of civilization—and the saw-mill is heard where but a few years ago were sung the deeds of the Dahcotah braves.
Years ago, the Dahcotah hunted where the Mississippi takes its rise—the tribe claiming the country as far south as St. Louis. But difficulties with the neighboring tribes have diminished their numbers and driven them farther north and west; the white people have needed their lands, and their course is onward. How will it end? Will this powerful tribe cease to be a nation on the earth? Will their mysterious origin never be ascertained? And must their religion and superstitions, their customs and feasts pass away from memory as if they had never been?
Who can look upon them without interest? hardly the philosopher—surely not the Christian. The image of God is defaced in the hearts of the savage. Cain-like does the child of the forest put forth his hand and stain it with a brother's blood. But are there no deeds of darkness done in our own favored land?
But the country of the Dahcotah,—let it be new to those who fly at the beckon of gain—who would speculate in the blood of their fellow-creatures, who for gold would, aye do, sell their own souls,—it is an old country to me. What say the boundless prairies? how many generations have roamed over them? when did the buffalo first yield to the arrow of the hunter? And look at the worn bases of the rocks that are washed by the Father of waters. Hear the Dahcotah maiden as she tells of the lover's leap—and the warrior as he boasts of the victories of his forefathers over his enemies, long, long before the hated white man had intruded upon their lands, or taught them the fatal secret of intoxicating drink.
The Dahcotahs feel their own weakness—they know they cannot contend with the power of the white man. Yet there are times when the passion and vehemence of the warriors in the neighborhood of Fort Snelling can hardly be brought to yield to the necessity of control; and were there a possibility of success, how soon would the pipe of peace be thrown aside, and the yell and whoop of war be heard instead! And who would blame them? Has not the blood of our bravest and best been poured out like water for a small portion of a country—when the whole could never make up for the loss sustained by one desolate widow or fatherless child?
The sky was without a cloud when the sun rose on the Mississippi. The morning mists passed slowly away as if they loved to linger round the hills. Pilot Knob rose above them, proud to be the burial place of her warrior children, while on the opposite side of the Mine Soto [Footnote: Mine Soto, or Whitish Water, the name that the Sioux give to the St. Peter's River. The mud or clay in the water has a whitish look.] the frowning walls of Fort Snelling; told of the power of their enemies. Not a breath disturbed the repose of nature, till the voice of the song birds rose in harmony singing the praise of the Creator.
But a few hours have passed away, and how changed the scene. Numbers of canoes are seen rapidly passing over the waters, and the angry savages that spring from them as hastily ascending the hill. From the gates of the fort, hundreds of Indians are seen collecting from every direction, and all approaching the house of the interpreter. We will follow them.
Few have witnessed so wild a scene. The house of the interpreter employed by government is near the fort, and all around it were assembled the excited Indians. In front of the house is a piazza, and on it lay the body of a young Dahcotah; his black hair plaited, and falling over his swarthy face. The closed eye and compressed lips proclaimed the presence of death. Life had but recently yielded to the sway of the stern conqueror. A few hours ago Beloved Hail had eaten and drank on the very spot where his body now reposed.
Bending over his head is his wife; tears fall like rain from her eyes; and as grief has again overcome her efforts at composure, see how she plunges her knife into her arm: and as the warm blood flows from the wound calls upon the husband of her youth!
"My son! my son!" bursts from the lips of his aged mother, who weeps at his feet; while her bleeding limbs bear witness to the wounds which she had inflicted upon herself in the agony of her soul. Nor are these the only mourners. A crowd of friends are weeping round his body. But the mother has turned to the warriors as they press through the crowd; tears enough have been shed, it is time to think of revenge. "Look at your friend," she says, "look how heavily lies the strong arm, and see, he is still, though his wife and aged mother call upon him. Who has done this? who has killed the brave warrior? bring me the murderer, that I may cut him on pieces."
It needed not to call upon the warriors who stood around. They were excited enough. Bad Hail stood near, his eyes bloodshot with rage, his lip quivering, and every trembling limb telling of the tempest within. Shah-co-pee, the orator of the Dahcotahs, and "The Nest," their most famous hunter; the tall form of the aged chief "Man in the cloud" leaned against the railing, his sober countenance strangely contrasting with the fiend-like look of his wife; Grey Iron and Little Hill, with brave after brave, all crying vengeance to the foe, death to the Chippeway!
But yesterday the Dahcotahs and Chippeways, foes from time immemorial, feasted and danced together, for there was peace between them. They had promised to bury the hatchet; the Chippeways danced near the fort, and the Dahcotahs presented them with blankets and pipes, guns and powder, and all that the savage deems valuable. Afterwards, the Dahcotahs danced, and the generous Chippeways exceeded them in the number and value of their gifts. As evening approached, the bands mingled their amusements—together they contended in the foot-race, or, stretching themselves upon the grass, played at checkers.
The Chippeways had paid their annual visit of friendship at Fort Snelling, and, having spent their time happily, they were about to return to their homes. Their wise men said they rejoiced that nothing had occurred to disturb the harmony of the two tribes. But their vicinity to the Fort prevented any outbreak; had there been no such restraint upon their actions, each would have sought the life of his deadly foe.
"Hole in the Day" was the chief of the Chippeways. He owed his station to his own merit; his bravery and firmness had won the respect and admiration of the tribe when he was but a warrior, and they exalted him to the honor of being their chief. Deeds of blood marked his course, yet were his manners gentle and his voice low. There was a dignity and a courtesy about his every action that would have well befitted a courtier.
He watched with interest the trials of strength between the young men of his own tribe and the Dahcotahs. When the latter celebrated one of their national feasts, when they ate the heart of the dog while it was warm with life, just torn from the animal, with what contempt did he gaze upon them!
The amusements of the dog feast, or dance, have closed, and the Chippeway chief has signified to his warriors that they were to return home on the following day. He expressed a wish to see several of the chiefs of the Dahcotahs, and a meeting having been obtained, he thus addressed them—
"Warriors! it has been the wish of our great father that we should be friends; blood enough has been shed on both sides. But even if we preferred to continue at war, we must do as our great father says. The Indian's glory is passing away; they are as the setting sun; while the white man is as the sun rising in all his power. We are the falling leaves; the whites are the powerful horses that trample them under foot. We are about to return home, and it is well that nothing has happened to occasion strife between us. But I wish you to know that there are two young men among us who do not belong to my band. They are pillagers, belonging to another band, and they may be troublesome. I wish you to tell your young men of this, that they may be on their guard."
After smoking together, the chiefs separated. "Hole in the Day" having thus done all that he deemed proper, returned with his warriors to his teepee.
Early in the morning the Chippeways encamped near St. Anthony's falls; the women took upon themselves all the fatigue and labor of the journey, the men carrying only the implements of war and hunting. The Chippeway chief was the husband of three wives, who were sisters; and, strange to say, when an Indian fancies more than one wife, he is fortunate if he can obtain sisters, for they generally live in harmony, while wives who are not related are constantly quarreling; and the husband does not often interfere, even if words are changed to blows.
In the mean time, the two pillagers were lurking about; now remaining a short time with the camp of the Chippeways, now absenting themselves for a day or two. But while the Chippeways were preparing to leave the Falls, the pillagers were in the neighborhood of Fort Snelling. They had accompanied Hole in the Day's band, with the determination of killing an enemy. The ancient feud still rankled in their hearts; as yet they had had no opportunity of satisfying their thirst for blood; but on this morning they were concealed in the bushes, when Red Boy and Beloved Hail, two Dahcotahs, were passing on horseback. It was but a moment—and the deed was done. Both the Chippeways fired, and Beloved Hail fell.
Red Boy was wounded, but not badly; he hurried in to tell the sad news, and the two Chippeways were soon out of the power of their enemies. They fled, it is supposed, to Missouri.
The friends of the dead warrior immediately sought his body, and brought it to the house of the interpreter. There his friends came together; and as they entered one by one, on every side pressing, forward to see the still, calm, features of the young man; they threw on the body their blankets, and other presents, according to their custom of honoring the dead.
Troops are kept at Fort Snelling, not only as a protection to the whites in the neighborhood, but to prevent, if possible, difficulties between the different bands of Indians; and as every year brings the Chippeways to Fort Snelling, either to transact business with the government or on a visit of pleasure, the Chippeways and Dahcotahs must be frequently thrown together. The commanding officer of the garrison notifies the two bands, on such occasions, that no hostilities will be permitted; so there is rarely an occurrence to disturb their peace.
But now it is impossible to restrain the excited passions of the Dahcotahs. Capt. B——; who was then in command at Fort Snelling, sent word to the Chippeway chief of the murder that had been committed, and requested him to bring all his men in, as the murderer must be given up.
But this did not satisfy the Dahcotahs; they longed to raise the tomahawk which they held in their hands. They refused to wait, but insisted upon following the Chippeways and revenging themselves; the arguments of the agent and other friends of the Dahcotahs were unavailing; nothing would satisfy them but blood, The eyes, even of the women, sparkled with delight, at the prospect of the scalps they would dance round; while the mother of Beloved Hail was heard to call for the scalp of the murderer of her son!
Seeing the chiefs determined on war, Capt. B—— told them he would cease to endeavor to change their intentions; "but as soon" said he, "as you attack the Chippeways, will I send the soldiers to your villages; and who will protect your wives and children?"
This had the desired effect, and the warriors, seeing the necessity of waiting for the arrival of the Chippeways, became more calm.
Hole in the Day with his men came immediately to the Fort, where a conference was held at the gate. There were assembled about three hundred Dahcotahs and seventy Chippeways, with the officers of the garrison and the Indian agent.
It was ascertained that the murder had been committed by the two pillagers, for none of the other Chippeway warriors had been absent from the camp. Hole in the Day, however, gave up two of his men, as hostages to be kept at Fort Snelling until the murderers should be given up.
The Dahcotahs, being obliged for the time to defer the hope of revenge, returned to their village to bury their dead.
We rarely consider the Indian as a member of a family—we associate him with the tomahawk and scalping-knife. But the very strangeness of the customs of the Dahcotahs adds to their interest; and in their mourning they have all the horror of death without an attendant solemnity.
All the agony and grief that a Christian mother feels when she looks for the last time at the form which will so soon moulder in the dust, an Indian mother feels also. The Christian knows that the body will live again; that the life-giving breath of the Eternal will once more re-animate the helpless clay; that the eyes which were brilliant and beautiful in life will again look brightly from the now closed lids—when the dead shall live—when the beloved child shall "rise again."
The Dahcotah woman has no such hope. Though she believes that the soul will live forever in the "city of spirits," yet the infant she has nursed at her bosom, the child she loved and tended, the young man whose strength and beauty were her boast, will soon be ashes and dust.
And if she have not the hope of the Christian, neither has she the spirit. For as she cuts off her hair and tears her clothes, throwing them under the scaffold, what joy would it bring to her heart could she hope herself to take the life of the murderer of her son.
Beloved Hail was borne by the Indians to his native village, and the usual ceremonies attending the dead performed, but with more than usual excitement, occasioned by the circumstances of the death of their friend.
The body of a dead Dahcotah is wrapped in cloth or calico, or sometimes put in a box, if one can be obtained, and placed upon a scaffold raised a few feet from the ground. All the relations of the deceased then sit round it for about twenty-four hours; they tear their clothes; run knives through the fleshy parts of their arms, but there is no sacrifice which they can make so great as cutting off their hair.
The men go in mourning by painting themselves black and they do not wash the paint off until they take the scalp of an enemy, or give a medicine-dance.
While they sit round the scaffold, one of the nearest relations commences a doleful crying, when all the others join in, and continue their wailing for some time. Then for awhile their tears are wiped away. After smoking for a short time another of the family commences again, and the others join in. This is continued for a day and night, and then each one goes to his own wigwam.
The Dahcotahs mourned thus for Beloved Hail. In the evening the cries of his wife were heard as she called for her husband, while the rocks and the hills echoed the wail. He will return no more—and who will hunt the deer for his wife and her young children!
The murderers were never found, and the hostages, after being detained for eighteen months at Fort Snelling, were released. They bore their confinement with admirable patience, the more so as they were punished for the fault of others. When they were released, they were furnished with guns and clothing. For fear they would be killed by the Dahcotahs, their release was kept a secret, and the Dahcotahs knew not that the two Chippeways were released, until they were far on their journey home. But one of them never saw his native village again. The long confinement had destroyed his health, and being feeble when he set out, he soon found himself unequal to the journey. He died a few days before the home was reached; and the welcome that his companion received was a sad one, for he brought the intelligence of the death of his comrade.
But we will do as the Dahcotahs did—turn from the sadness and horror of an Indian's death, to the gayety and happiness of an Indian marriage. The Indians are philosophers, after all—they knew that they could not go after the Chippeways, so they made the best of it and smoked. Beloved Hail was dead, but they could not bring him to life, and they smoked again: besides, "Walking Wind" was to be married to "The War Club," whereupon they smoked harder than ever.
There are two kinds of marriages among the Dahcotahs, buying a wife and stealing one. The latter answers to our runaway matches, and in some respects the former is the ditto of one conducted as it ought to be among ourselves. So after all, I suppose, Indian marriages are much like white people's.
But among the Dahcotahs it is an understood thing that, when the young people run away, they are to be forgiven at any time they choose to return, if it should be the next day, or six months afterwards. This saves a world of trouble. It prevents the necessity of the father looking daggers at the son-in-law, and then loving him violently; the mother is spared the trial of telling her daughter that she forgives her though she has broken her heart; and, what is still better, there is not the slightest occasion whatever for the bride to say she is wretched, for having done what she certainly would do over again to-morrow, were it undone.
So that it is easy to understand why the Dahcotahs have the advantage of us in runaway matches, or as they say in "stealing a wife;" for it is the same thing, only more honestly stated.
When a young man is unable to purchase the girl he loves best, or if her parents are unwilling she should marry him, if he have gained the heart of the maiden he is safe. They appoint a time and place to meet; take whatever will be necessary for their journey; that is, the man takes his gun and powder and shot, and the girl her knife and wooden bowl to eat and drink out of; and these she intends to hide in her blanket. Sometimes they merely go to the next village to return the next day. But if they fancy a bridal tour, away they go several hundred miles with the grass for their pillow, the canopy of heaven for their curtains, and the bright stars to light and watch over them. When they return home, the bride goes at once to chopping wood, and the groom to smoking, without the least form or parade.
Sometimes a young girl dare not run away; for she has a miserly father or mother who may not like her lover because he had not enough to give them for her; and she knows they will persecute her and perhaps shoot her husband. But this does not happen often. Just as, once in a hundred years in a Christian land, if a girl will run away with a young man, her parents run after her, and in spite of religion and common sense bring her back, have her divorced, and then in either case the parties must, as a matter of course, be very miserable.
But the marriage that we are about to witness, is a "marriage in high life" among the Dahcotahs, and the bride is regularly bought, as often occurs with us.
"Walking Wind" is not pretty; even the Dahcotahs, who are far from being connoisseurs in beauty do not consider her pretty. She is, however, tall and well made, and her feet and hands (as is always the case with the Dahcotah women) are small. She has a quantity of jet-black hair, that she braids with a great deal of care. Her eyes are very black, but small, and her dark complexion is relieved by more red than is usually seen in the cheeks of the daughters of her race. Her teeth are very fine, as everybody knows—for she is always laughing, and her laugh is perfect music.
Then Walking Wind is, generally speaking, so good tempered. She was never known to be very angry but once, when Harpstenah told her she was in love with "The War Club;" she threw the girl down and tore half the hair out of her head. What made it seem very strange was, that she was over head and ears in love with "The War Club" at that very time; but she did not choose anybody should know it.
War Club was a flirt—yes, a male coquette—and he had broken the hearts of half the girls in the band. Besides being a flirt, he was a fop. He would plait his hair and put vermilion on his cheeks; and, after seeing that his leggins were properly arranged, he would put the war eagle feathers in his head, and folding his blanket round him, would walk about the village, or attitudinize with all the airs of a Broadway dandy. War Club was a great warrior too, for on his blanket was marked the Red Hand, which showed he had killed his worst enemy—for it was his father's enemy, and he had hung the scalp up at his father's grave. Besides, he was a great hunter, which most of the Dahcotahs are.
No one, then, could for a moment doubt the pretensions of War Club, or that all the girls of the village should fall in love with him; and he, like a downright flirt, was naturally very cold and cruel to the poor creatures who loved him so much.
Walking Wind, besides possessing many other accomplishments, such as tanning deer-skin, making mocassins, &c., was a capital shot. On one occasion, when the young warriors were shooting at a mark, Walking Wind was pronounced the best shot among them, and the War Club was quite subdued. He could bear everything else; but when Walking Wind beat him shooting—why—the point was settled; he must fall in love with her, and, as a natural consequence, marry her.
Walking Wind was not so easily won. She had been tormented so long herself, that she was in duty bound to pay back in the same coin. It was a Duncan Gray affair—only reversed. At last she yielded; her lover gave her so many trinkets. True, they were brass and tin; but Dahcotah maidens cannot sigh for pearls and diamonds, for they never even heard of them; and the philosophy of the thing is just the same, since everybody is outdone by somebody. Besides, her lover played the flute all night long near her father's wigwam, and, not to speak of the pity that she felt for him, Walking Wind was confident she never could sleep until that flute stopped playing, which she knew would be as soon as they were married. For all the world knows that no husband, either white or copper-colored, ever troubles himself to pay any attention of that sort to his wife, however devotedly romantic he may have been before marriage.
Sometimes the Dahcotah lover buys his wife without her consent; but the War Club was more honorable than that: he loved Walking Wind, and he wanted her to love him.
When all was settled between the young people, War Club told his parents that he wanted to marry. The old people were glad to hear it, for they like their ancient and honorable names and houses to be kept up, just as well as lords and dukes do; so they collected everything they owned for the purpose of buying Walking Wind. Guns and blankets, powder and shot, knives and trinkets, were in requisition instead of title-deeds and settlements. So, when all was ready, War Club put the presents on a horse, and carried them to the door of Walking Wind's wigwam.
He does not ask for the girl, however, as this would not be Dahcotah etiquette. He lays the presents on the ground and has a consultation, or, as the Indians say, a "talk" with the parents, concluding by asking them to give him Walking Wind for his wife.
And, what is worthy to be noticed here is, that, after having gone to so much trouble to ask a question, he never for a moment waits for an answer, but turns round, horse and all, and goes back to his wigwam.
The parents then consult for a day or two, although they from the first moment have made up their minds as to what they are going to do. In due time the presents are taken into the wigwam, which signifies to the lover that he is a happy man. And on the next day Walking Wind is to be a bride.
Early in the morning, Walking Wind commenced her toilet—and it was no light task to deck the Indian bride in all her finery.
Her mocassins were worked with porcupine, and fitted closely her small feet; the leggins were ornamented with ribbons of all colors; her cloth shawl, shaped like a mantilla, was worked with rows of bright ribbons, and the sewing did honor to her own skill in needle-work. Her breast was covered with brooches, and a quantity of beads hung round her neck. Heavy ear-rings are in her ears—and on her head is a diadem of war eagle's feathers. She has a bright spot of vermilion on each cheek, and—behold an Indian bride!