Primitive Love and Love-Stories
by Henry Theophilus Finck
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Besides their stories of love, the Maoris of New Zealand also have poems, some accompanied with (often obscene) pantomimes, others without accompaniment. Shortland (146-55), Taylor (310), and others have collected and translated some of these poems, of which the following are the best. Taylor cites this one:

The tears gush from my eyes, My eyelashes are wet with tears; But stay, my tears, within, Lest you should be called mine.

Alas! I am betrothed (literally, my hands are bound); It is for Te Maunee That my love devours me. But I may weep indeed, Beloved one, for thee, Like Tiniran's lament For his favorite pet Tutunui Which was slain by Ngae. Alas!

Shortland gives these specimens of the songs that are frequently accompanied by immodest gestures of the body. Some of them are "not sufficiently decent to bear translating." The one marked (4) is interesting as an attempt at hyperbole.


Your body is at Waitemata, But your spirit came hither And aroused me from my sleep.


Tawera is the bright star Of the morning. Not less beautiful is the Jewel of my heart.


The sun is setting in his cave, Touching as he descends (the Land) where dwells my mate, He who is whirled away To southern seas.

More utilitarian are (6) and (7), in which a woman asks "Who will marry a man too lazy to till the ground for food?" And a man wants to know "Who will marry a woman too lazy to weave garments?" Very unlover-like is the following:

I don't like the habits of woman. When she goes out— She Kuikuis She Koakoas She chatters The very ground is terrified, And the rats run away. Just so.

More poetic are the waiata, which are sung without the aid of any action. The following ode was composed by a young woman forsaken by her lover:

Look where the mist Hangs over Pukehina. There is the path By which went my love.

Turn back again hither, That may be poured out Tears from my eyes.

It was not I who first spoke of love. You it was who made advances to me When I was but a little thing.

Therefore was my heart made wild. This is my farewell of love to thee.

A young woman, who had been carried away prisoner from Tuhua, gives vent to her longing in these lines:

"My regret is not to be expressed. Tears like a spring gush from my eyes. I wonder whatever is Te Kaiuku [her lover] doing: he who deserted me. Now I climb upon the ridge of Mount Parahaki; from whence is clear the view of the island Tahua. I see with regret the lofty Taumo, where dwells Tangiteruru. If I were there, the shark's tooth would hang from my ear. How fine, how beautiful, should I look. But see whose ship is that tacking? Is it yours? O Hu! you husband of Pohiwa, sailing away on the tide to Europe.

"O Tom! pray give me some of your fine things; for beautiful are the clothes of the sea-god.

"Enough of this. I must return to my rags, and to my nothing-at-all."

In this case the loss of her finery seems to trouble the girl a good deal more than the loss of her lover. In another ode cited by Shortland a deserted girl, after referring to her tearful eyes, winds up with the light-hearted

Now that you are absent in your native land, The day of regret will, perhaps, end.

There is a suggestion of Sappho in the last of these odes I shall cite:

"Love does not torment forever. It came on me like the fire which rages sometimes at Hukanai. If this (beloved) one is near me, do not suppose, O Kiri, that my sleep is sweet. I lie awake the live-long night, for love to prey on me in secret.

"It shall never be confessed, lest it be heard of by all. The only evidence shall be seen on my cheeks.

"The plain which extends to Tauwhare: that path I trod that I might enter the house of Rawhirawhwi. Don't be angry with me, O madam [addressed to Rawhirawhwi's wife]; I am only a stranger. For you there is the body (of your husband). For me there remains only the shadow of desire."

"In the last two lines," writes Shortland, "the poetess coolly requests the wife of the person for whom she acknowledges an unlawful passion not to be angry with her, because 'she—the lawful wife—has always possession of the person of her husband; while hers is only an empty, Platonic sort of love.' This is rather a favorite sentiment, and is not unfrequently introduced similarly into love-songs of this description."


It is noticeable that these love-poems are all by females, and most frequently by deserted females. This does not speak well for the gallantry or constancy of the men. Perhaps they lacked those qualities to offset the feminine lack of coyness. In the first of our Maori stories the maiden swims to the man, who calmly awaits her, playing his horn. In the second, a man is simultaneously proposed to by two girls, before he has time to come off his perch on the tree. This arouses a suspicion which is confirmed by E. Tregear's revelations regarding Maori courtship (Journ. Anthrop. Inst., 1889):

"The girl generally began the courting. I have often seen the pretty little love-letter fall at the feet of a lover—it was a little bit of flax made into a sort of half-knot—'yes' was made by pulling the knot tight—'no' by leaving the matrimonial noose alone. Now, I am sorry to say, it is often thrown as an invitation for love-making of an improper character. Sometimes in the Whare-Matoro (the wooing-house), a building in which the young of both sexes assemble for play, songs, dances, etc., there would be at stated times a meeting; when the fires burned low a girl would stand up in the dark and say, 'I love So-and-so, I want him for my husband,' If he coughed (sign of assent), or said 'yes' it was well; if only dead silence, she covered her head with her robe and was ashamed. This was not often, as she generally had managed to ascertain (either by her own inquiry or by sending a girl friend) if the proposal was acceptable. On the other hand, sometimes a mother would attend and say 'I want So-and-so for my son.' If not acceptable there was general mocking, and she was told to let the young people have their house (the wooing-house) to themselves. Sometimes, if the unbetrothed pair had not secured the consent of the parents, a late suitor would appear on the scene, and the poor girl got almost hauled to death between them all. One would get a leg, another an arm, another the hair, etc. Girls have been injured for life in these disputes, or even murdered by the losing party."


The assertion that "the girl generally began the courting" must not mislead us into supposing that Maori women were free, as a rule, to marry the husbands of their choice. As Tregear's own remarks indicate, the advances were either of an improper character, or the girl had made sure beforehand that there was no impediment in the way of her proposal. The Maori proverb that as the fastidious Kahawai fish selects the hook which pleases it best, so a woman chooses a man out of many (on the strength of which alone Westermarck, 217, claims liberty of choice for Maori women) must also refer to such liaisons before marriage, for all the facts indicate that the original Maori customs allowed women no choice whatever in regard to marriage. Here the brother's consent had to be obtained, as Shortland remarks (118). Many of the girls were betrothed in infancy, and many others married at an age—twelve to thirteen—when the word choice could have had no rational meaning. Tregear informs us that if a couple had not been betrothed as children, everyone in the tribe claimed a right to interfere, and the only way the couple could get their own way was by eloping. Darwin was informed by Mantell "that until recently almost every girl in New Zealand who was pretty or promised to be pretty was tapu to some chief;" and we further read that

"when a chief desires to take to himself a wife, he fixes his attention upon her, and takes her, if need be, by force, without consulting her feelings and wishes or those of anyone else."

This is confirmed by William Brown, in his book on the aborigines. But the most graphic and harrowing description of Maori maltreatment of women is given by the Rev. E. Taylor:

"The ancient and most general way of obtaining a wife was for the gentleman to summon his friends and make a regular taua, or fight, to carry off the lady by force, and oftentimes with great violence.... If the girl had eloped with someone on whom she had placed her affection, then her father and brother would refuse their consent," and fight to get her back. "The unfortunate female, thus placed between two contending parties, would soon be divested of every rag of clothing, and would then be seized by her head, hair, or limbs," her "cries and shrieks would be unheeded by her savage friends. In this way the poor creature was often nearly torn to pieces. These savage contests sometimes ended in the strongest party bearing off in triumph the naked person of the bride. In some cases, after a long season of suffering, she recovered, to be given to a person for whom she had no affection, in others to die within a few hours or days from the injuries which she had received. But it was not uncommon for the weaker party, when they found they could not prevail, for one of them to put an end to the contest by suddenly plunging his spear into the woman's bosom to hinder her from becoming the property of another."

After giving this account on page 163 of the Maori's "ancient and most general way" of obtaining a wife—which puts him below the most ferocious brutes, since those at least spare their females—the same writer informs us on page 338 that "there are few races who treat their women with more deference than the Maori!" If that is so, it can only be due to the influence of the whites, since all the testimony indicates that the unadulterated Maori—with whom alone we are here concerned—did not treat them "with great respect," nor pay any deference to them whatever. The cruel method of capture described above was so general that, as Taylor himself tells us, the native term for courtship was he aru aru, literally, a following or pursuing after; and there was also a special expression for this struggling of two suitors for a girl—he puna rua. As for their "great respect" for women, they do not allow them to eat with the men. A chief, says Angas (II., 110), "will sometimes permit his favorite wife to eat with him, though not out of the same dish." Ellis relates (III., 253) that New Zealanders are "addicted to the greatest vices that stain the human character—treachery, cannibalism, infanticide, and murder." The women caught in battle, as well as the men, were, he says, enslaved or eaten. "Sometimes they chopped off the legs and arms and otherwise mangled the body before they put the victim to death." Concubines had to do service as household drudges. A man on dying would bequeath his wives to his brother. No land was bequeathed to female children. The real Maori feeling toward women is brought out in the answer given to a sister who went to her brothers to ask for a share of the lands of the family: "Why, you're only a slave to blow up your husband's fire." (Shortland, 119, 255-58.)


When Hawkesworth visited New Zealand with Captain Cook, he one day came accidentally across some women who were fishing, and who had thrown off their last garments. When they saw him they were as confused and distressed as Diana and her nymphs; they hid among the rocks and crouched down in the sea until they had made and put on girdles of seaweeds (456). "There are instances," writes William Brown (36-37), "of women committing suicide from its being said that they had been seen naked. A chief's wife took her own life because she had been hung up by the heels and beaten in the presence of the whole tribe."

Shall we conclude from this that the Maoris were genuinely modest and perhaps capable of that delicacy in regard to sexual matters which is a prerequisite of sentimental love? What is modesty? The Century Dictionary says it is "decorous feeling or behavior; purity or delicacy of thought or manner; reserve proceeding from pure or chaste character;" and the Encyclopaedic Dictionary defines it as "chastity; purity of manners; decency; freedom from lewdness or un-chastity." Now, Maori modesty, if such it maybe called, was only skin deep. Living in a colder climate than other Polynesians, it became customary among them to wear more clothing; and what custom prescribes must be obeyed to the letter among all these peoples, be the ordained dress merely a loin cloth or a necklace, or a cover for the back only, or full dress. It does not argue true modesty on the part of a Maori woman to cover those parts of her body which custom orders her to cover, any more than it argues true modesty on the part of an Oriental barbarian to cover her face only, on meeting a man, leaving the rest of her body exposed. Nor does suicide prove anything, since it is known that the lower races indulge in self-slaughter for as trivial causes as they do in the slaughter of others. True modesty, as defined above, is not a Maori characteristic. The evidence on this point is too abundant to quote in full.

Shortland (126-27) describes in detail all of the ceremonies which were in former days the pastimes of the New Zealanders, and which accompanied the singing of their haka or "love-songs," to which reference has already been made. In the front were seated three elderly ladies and behind them in rows, eight or ten in a row, and five or six ranks deep, sat "the best born young belles of the town" who supplied the poem and the music for the haka pantomime:

"The haka is not a modest exhibition, but the reverse; and, on this occasion, two of the old ladies who stood in front ... accompanied the music by movements of the arms and body, their postures being often disgustingly lascivious. However, they suited the taste of the audience, who rewarded the performers at such times with the applause they desired.... It was altogether as ungodly a scene as can well be imagined."

The same author, who lived among the natives several years, says (120) that

"before marriage the greatest license is permitted to young females. The more admirers they can attract and the greater their reputation for intrigue, the fairer is their chance of making an advantageous match."

William Brown writes (35) that "among the Maoris chastity is not deemed one of the virtues; and a lady before marriage may be as liberal of her favors as she pleased without incurring censure." "As a rule," writes E. Tregear in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute (1889),

"the girls had great license in the way of lovers. I don't think the young woman knew when she was a virgin, for she had love-affairs with the boys from the cradle. This does not apply, of course, to every individual case—some girls are born proud, and either kept to one sweetheart or had none, but this was rare."

After marriage a woman was expected to remain faithful to her husband, but of course not from any regard for chastity, but because she was his private property. Like so many other uncivilized races the Maori saw no impropriety in lending his wife to a friend. (Tregear, 104.)

The faces of Maori women were always wet with red ochre and oil. Both sexes anointed their hair (which was vermin-infested) with rancid shark's oil, so that they were as disagreeable to the smell as Hottentots. (Hawkesworth, 451-53.) They were cannibals, not from necessity, but for the love of human flesh, though they did not, like the Australians, eat their own relatives. Food, says Thompson (I., 160), affected them "as it does wild beasts." They practised infanticide, killed cripples, abandoned the sick—in a word, they displayed a coarseness, a lack of delicacy, in sexual and other matters, which makes it simply absurd to suppose they could have loved as we love, with our altruistic feeling of sympathy and affection. William Brown says (38) that mothers showed none of that doting fondness for their children common elsewhere, and that they suckled pigs and pups with "affection." "Should a husband quarrel with his wife, she would not hesitate to kill her children, merely to annoy him" (41). "They are totally devoid of natural affection." The men "appear to care little for their wives," apparently from

"a want of that sympathy between the sexes which is the source of the delicate attentions paid by the male to the female in most civilized countries. In my own experience I have seen only one instance where there was any perceptible attachment between husband and wife. To all appearance they behave to each other as if they were not at all related; and it not infrequently happens that they sleep in different places before the termination of the first week of their marriage."

Thus even in the romantic isles of the Pacific we seek in vain for true love. Let us now see whether the vast continent of North and South America will bring us any nearer to our goal.


"On the subject of love no persons have been less understood than the Indians," wrote Thomas Ashe in 1806 (271).

"It is said of them that they have no affection, and that the intercourse of the sexes is sustained by a brutal passion remote from tenderness and sensibility. This is one of the many gross errors which have been propagated to calumniate these innocent people."

Waitz remarks (III., 102):

"How much alike human nature is everywhere is evinced by the remarkable circumstance that notwithstanding the degradation of woman, cases of romantic love are not even very rare"

among Indians. "Their languages," writes Professor Brinton (R.P., 54),

"supply us with evidence that the sentiment of love was awake among them, and this is corroborated by the incidents we learn of their domestic life.... Some of the songs and stories of this race seem to reveal even a capability for romantic love such as would do credit to a modern novel. This is the more astonishing, as in the African and Mongolian races this ethereal sentiment is practically absent, the idealism of passion being something foreign to those varieties of man."

The Indians, says Catlin (N.A.I., I., 121), "are not in the least behind us in conjugal, in filial, and in paternal affection." In the preface to Mrs. Eastman's Life and Legend of the Sioux, Mrs. Kirkman exclaims that

"in spite of all that renders gross and mechanical their ordinary mode of marrying and giving in marriage, instances are not rare among them of love as true, as fiery, and as fatal as that of the most exalted hero of romance."

Let us listen to a few of the tales of Indian love, as recorded by Schoolcraft.[195]


Many years ago there lived a Chippewa warrior on the banks of Lake Superior. His name was Wawanosh and he was renowed for his ancestry and personal bravery. He had an only daughter, eighteen years old, celebrated for her gentle virtues, her slender form, her full beaming hazel eyes, and her dark and flowing hair. Her hand was sought by a young man of humble parentage, but a tall commanding form, a manly step, and an eye beaming with the tropical fires of love and youth. These were sufficient to attract the favorable notice of the daughter, but did not satisfy the father, who sternly informed the young man that before he could hope to mingle his humble blood with that of so renowned a warrior he would have to go and make a name for himself by enduring fatigue in the campaigns against enemies, by taking scalps, and proving himself a successful hunter.

The intimidated lover departed, resolved to do a deed that should render him worthy of the daughter of Wawanosh, or die in the attempt. In a few days he succeeded in getting together a band of young men all eager, like himself, to distinguish themselves in battle. Armed with bow and quiver, and ornamented with war-paint and feathers, they had their war-dance, which was continued for two days and nights. Before leaving with his companions the leader sought an interview with the daughter of Wawanosh. He disclosed to her his firm intention never to return unless he could establish his name as a warrior. He told her of the pangs he had felt at her father's implied imputation of effeminacy and cowardice. He averred that he never could be happy, either with or without her, until he had proved to the whole tribe the strength of his heart, which is the Indian term for courage. He repeated his protestations of inviolable attachment, which she returned, and, pledging vows of mutual fidelity, they parted.

She never saw him again. A warrior brought home the tidings that he had received a fatal arrow in his breast after distinguishing himself by the most heroic bravery. From that moment the young girl never smiled again. She pined away by day and by night. Deaf to entreaty and reproach, she would seek a sequestered spot, where she would sit under a shady tree, and sing her mournful laments for hours together. A small, beautiful bird, of a kind she had never seen, sat on her tree, every day, singing until dark. Her fond imagination soon led her to suppose it was the spirit of her lover, and her visits were repeated with greater frequency. She passed her time in fasting and singing her plaintive songs. Thus she pined away, until the death she so fervently desired came to her relief. After her death the bird was never more seen, and it became a popular opinion that this mysterious bird had flown away with her spirit. But bitter tears of regret fell in the lodge of Wawanosh. Too late he regretted his false pride and his harsh treatment of the noble youth.


There once lived an Ottawa woman on the shores of Lake Michigan who had a daughter as beautiful as she was modest and discreet. She was so handsome that her mother feared she would be carried off, and, to prevent it, she put her in a box on the lake, which was tied by a long string to a stake on the shore. Every morning the mother pulled the box ashore, and combed her daughter's long, shining hair, gave her food, and then put her out again on the lake.

One day a handsome young man chanced to come to the spot at the moment she was receiving her morning's attentions from her mother. He was struck with her beauty and immediately went home and told his feelings to his uncle, who was a great chief and a powerful magician. The uncle told him to go to the mother's lodge, sit down in a modest manner, and, without saying a word, think what he wanted, and he would be understood and answered. He did so; but the mother's answer was: "Give you my daughter? No, indeed, my daughter shall never marry you." This pride and haughtiness angered the uncle and the spirits of the lake, who raised a great storm on the water. The tossing waves broke the string, and the box with the girl floated off through the straits to Lake Huron. It was there cast on shore and found by an old spirit who took the beautiful girl to his lodge and married her.

The mother, when she found her daughter gone, raised loud cries, and continued her lamentations for a long time. At last, after two or three years, the spirits had pity on her and raised another storm, greater even than the first. When the water rose and encroached on the lodge where the daughter lived, she leaped into the box, and the waves carried her back to her mother's lodge. The mother was overjoyed, but when she opened the box she found that her daughter's beauty had almost all departed. However, she still loved her because she was her daughter, and she now thought of the young man who had made her the offer of marriage. She sent a formal message to him, but he had changed his mind, for he knew that she had been the wife of another. "I marry your daughter?" said he; "your daughter! No, indeed! I shall never marry her."


Bokwewa and his brother lived in a secluded part of the country. They were considered as Manitoes who had assumed mortal shapes. Bokwewa was a humpback, but had the gifts of a magician, while the brother was more like the present race of beings. One day the brother said to the humpback that he was going away to visit the habitations of men, and procure a wife. He travelled alone a long time. At length he came to a deserted camp, where he saw a corpse on a scaffold. He took it down and found it was the body of a beautiful young woman. "She shall be my wife," he exclaimed.

He took her and carried her home on his back. "Brother," he exclaimed, "cannot you restore her life? Oh! do me that favor."

The humpback said he would try, and, after performing various ceremonies, succeeded in restoring her to life. They lived very happily for some time. But one day when the humpback was home alone with the woman, her husband having gone out to hunt, a powerful Manito came and carried her off, though Bokwewa used all his strength to save her.

When the brother returned and heard what had happened he would not taste food for several days. Sometimes he would fall to weeping for a long time, and appear almost beside himself. At last he said he would go in search of her. His brother, finding that he could not dissuade him, cautioned him against the dangers of the road; he must pass by the large grape-vine and the frog's eggs that he would come across. But the young husband heeded not his advice. He started out on his journey and when he found the grapes and the frog's eggs he ate them.

At length he came to the tribe into which his wife had been stolen. Throngs of men and women, gaily dressed, came out to meet him. As he had eaten of the grapes and frog's eggs—snares laid for him—he was soon overcome by their flatteries and pleasures, and he was not long afterward seen beating corn with their women (the strongest proof of effeminacy), although his wife, for whom he had mourned so much, was in that Indian metropolis.

Meanwhile Bokwewa waited patiently for his brother, but when he did not return he set out in search of him. He avoided the allurements along the road and when he came among the luxurious people of the South he wept on seeing his brother beating corn with the women. He waited till the stolen wife came down to the river to draw water for her new husband, the Manito. He changed himself into a hair-snake, was scooped up in her bucket, and drunk by the Manito, who soon after was dead. Then the humpback resumed his human shape and tried to reclaim his brother; but the brother was so taken up with the pleasures and dissipations into which he had fallen that he refused to give them up. Finding he was past reclaiming, Bokwewa left him and disappeared forever.


Aggodagauda was an Indian who lived in the forest. Though he had accidentally lost the use of one of his two legs he was a famous hunter. But he had a great enemy in the king of buffaloes, who frequently passed over the plain with the force of a tempest. The chief object of the wily buffalo was to carry off Aggodagauda's daughter, who was very beautiful. To prevent this Aggodagauda had built a log cabin, and it was only on the roof of this that he permitted his daughter to take the open air and disport herself. Now her hair was so long that when she untied it the raven locks hung down to the ground.

One day, when her father was off on a hunt, she went out on top of the house and sat combing her long and beautiful hair, on the eaves of the lodge, when the buffalo king, coming suddenly by, caught her glossy hair, and winding it about his horns, tossed her onto his shoulders and carried her to his village. Here he paid every attention to gain her affections, but all to no purpose, for she sat pensively and disconsolate in the lodge among the other females, and scarcely ever spoke, and took no part in the domestic cares of her lover the king. He, on the contrary, did everything he could think of to please her and win her affections. He told the others in his lodge to give her everything she wanted, and to be careful not to displease her. They set before her the choicest food. They gave her the seat of honor in the lodge. The king himself went out hunting to obtain the most dainty bits of meat. And not content with these proofs of his attachment he fasted himself, and would often take his flute and sit near the lodge indulging his mind in repeating a few pensive notes:

My sweetheart, My sweetheart, Ah me! When I think of you, When I think of you, Ah me! How I love you, How I love you, Ah me! Do not hate me, Do not hate me, Ah me!

In the meantime Aggodagauda had returned from his hunt, and finding his daughter gone, determined to recover her. During her flight her long hair had caught on the branches and broken them, and it was by following these broken twigs that he tracked her. When he came to the king's lodge it was evening. He cautiously peeped in and saw his daughter sitting disconsolately. She caught his eye, and, in order to meet him, said to the king, "Give me a dipper, I will go and get you a drink of water." Delighted with this token of submission, the king allowed her to go to the river. There she met her father and escaped with him.


Leelinau was the favorite daughter of an Odjibwa hunter, living on the shore of Lake Superior. From her earliest youth she was observed to be pensive and timid, and to spend much of her time in solitude and fasting. Whenever she could leave her father's lodge she would fly to the remote haunts and recesses of the woods, or sit upon some high promontory of rock overhanging the lake. But her favorite place was a forest of pines known as the Sacred Grove. It was supposed to be inhabited by a class of fairies who love romantic scenes. This spot Leelinau visited often, gathering on the way strange flowers or plants to bring home. It was there that she fasted, supplicated, and strolled.

The effect of these visits was to make the girl melancholy and dissatisfied with the realities of life. She did not care to play with the other young people. Nor did she favor the plan of her parents to marry her to a man much her senior in years, but a reputed chief. No attention was paid to her disinclination, and the man was informed that his offer had been favorably received. The day for the marriage was fixed and the guests invited.

The girl had told her parents that she would never consent to the match. On the evening preceding the day fixed for her marriage she dressed herself in her best garments and put on all her ornaments. Then she told her parents she was going to meet her little lover, the chieftain of the green plume, who was waiting for her at the Spirit Grove. Supposing she was going to act some harmless freak, they let her go. When she did not return at sunset alarm was felt; with lighted torches the gloomy pine forest was searched, but no trace of the girl was ever found, and the parents mourned the loss of a daughter whose inclinations they had, in the end, too violently thwarted.


About the middle of the seventeenth century there lived on the shores of Lake Ontario a Wyandot girl so beautiful that she had for suitors nearly all the young men of her tribe; but while she rejected none, neither did she favor any one in particular. To prevent her from falling to someone not in their tribe the suitors held a meeting and concluded that their claims should be withdrawn and the war chief urged to woo her. He objected on account of the disparity of years, but was finally persuaded to make his advances. His practice had been confined rather to the use of stone-headed arrows than love-darts, and his dexterity in the management of hearts displayed rather in making bloody incisions than tender impressions. But after he had painted and arrayed himself as for battle and otherwise adorned his person, he paid court to her, and a few days later was accepted on condition that he would pledge his word as a warrior to do what she should ask of him. When his pledge had been given she told him to bring her the scalp of a certain Seneca chief whom she hated. He begged her to reflect that this chief was his bosom friend, whose confidence it would be an infamy to betray. But she told him either to redeem his pledge or be proclaimed for a lying dog, and then left him.

Goaded into fury, the Wyandot chief blackened his face and rushed off to the Seneca village, where he tomahawked his friend and rushed out of the lodge with his scalp. A moment later the mournful scalp-whoop of the Senecas was resounding through the village. The Wyandot camp was attacked, and after a deadly combat of three days the Senecas triumphed, avenging the murder of their chief by the death of his assailant as well as of the miserable girl who had caused the tragedy. The war thus begun lasted more than thirty years.


In 1759 great exertions were made by the French Indian Department under General Montcalm to bring a body of Indians into the valley of the lower St. Lawrence, and invitations for this purpose reached the utmost shores of Lake Superior. In one of the canoes from that quarter, which was left on the way down at the mouth of the Utawas, was a Chippewa girl named Paigwaineoshe, or the White Eagle. While the party awaited there the result of events at Quebec she formed an attachment for a young Algonquin belonging to a French mission. This attachment was mutual, and gave rise to a song of which the following is a prose translation:

I. Ah me! When I think of him—when I think of him—my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

II. As I embarked to return, he put the white wampum around my neck—a pledge of troth, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

III. I shall go with you, he said, to your native country—I shall go with you, my sweetheart—my Algonquin.

IV. Alas! I replied—my native country is far, far away—my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

V. When I looked back again—where we parted, he was still looking after me, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

VI. He was still standing on a fallen tree—that had fallen into the water, my sweetheart, my Algonquin.

VII. Alas! When I think of him—when I think of him—It is when I think of him, my Algonquin.


Here we have seven love-stories as romantic as you please and full of sentimental touches. Do they not disprove my theory that uncivilized races are incapable of feeling sentimental love? Some think they do, and Waitz is not the only anthropologist who has accepted such stories as proof that human nature, as far as love is concerned, is the same under all circumstances. The above tales are taken from the books of a man who spent much of his life among Indians and issued a number of works about them, one of which, in six volumes, was published under the auspices of the United States Government. This expert—Henry R. Schoolcraft—was member of so many learned societies that it takes twelve lines of small type to print them all. Moreover, he expressly assures us[196] that "the value of these traditionary stories appears to depend very much upon their being left, as nearly as possible, in their original forms of thought and expression," the obvious inference being an assurance that he has so left them; and he adds that in the collection and translation of these stories he enjoyed the great advantages of seventeen years' life as executive officer for the tribes, and a knowledge of their languages.

And now, having given the enemy's battle-ship every possible advantage, the reader will allow me to bring on my little torpedo-boat. In the first place Schoolcraft mentions (A.R., I., 56) twelve persons, six of them women, who helped him collect and interpret the material of the tales united in his volumes; but he does not tell us whether all or any of these collectors acted on the principle that these stories could claim absolutely no scientific value unless they were verbatim reports of aboriginal tales, without any additions and sentimental embroideries by the compilers. This omission alone is fatal to the whole collection, reducing it to the value of a mere fairy book for the entertainment of children, and allowing us to make no inferences from it regarding the quality and expression of an Indian's love.

Schoolcraft stands convicted by his own action. When I read his tales for the first time I came across numerous sentences and sentiments which I knew from my own experience among Indians were utterly foreign to Indian modes of thought and feeling, and which they could no more have uttered than they could have penned Longfellow's Hiawatha, or the essays of Emerson. In the stories of "The Red Lover," "The Buffalo King," and "The Haunted Grove,"[197] I have italicized a few of these suspicious passages. To take the last-named tale first, it is absurd to speak of Indian "fairies who love romantic scenes," or of a girl romantically sitting on a rocky promontory,[198] or "gathering strange flowers;" for Indians have no conception of the romantic side of nature—of scenery for its own sake. To them a tree is simply a grouse perch, or a source of fire-wood; a lake, a fish-pond, a mountain, the dreaded abode of evil spirits. In the tale of the "Buffalo King" we read of the chief doing a number of things to win the affection of the refractory bride—telling the others not to displease her, giving her "the seat of honor," and going so far as to fast himself, whereas in real life, under such circumstances, he would have curtly clubbed the stolen bride into submission. In the tale of the "Red Lover" the girl is admired for her "slender form," whereas a real Indian values a woman in proportion to her weight and rotundity. Indians do not make "protestations of inviolable attachment," or "pledge vows of mutual fidelity," like the lovers of our fashionable novels. As Charles A. Leland remarks of the same race of Indians (85), "When an Indian seeks a wife, he or his mutual friend makes no great ado about it, but utters two words which tell the whole story." But there is no need of citing other authors, for Schoolcraft, as I have just intimated, stands convicted by his own action. In the second edition of his Algic Researches, which appeared after an interval of seventeen years and received the title of The Myth of Hiawatha and other Oral Legends of the North American Indians, he seemed to remember what he wrote in the preface of the first regarding these stories, "that in the original there is no attempt at ornament," so he removed nearly all of the romantic embroideries, like those I have italicized and commented on, and also relegated the majority of his ludicrously sentimental interspersed poems to the appendix. In the preface to Hiawatha, he refers in connection with some of these verses to "the poetic use of aboriginal ideas." Now, a man has a perfect right to make such "poetic use" of "aboriginal ideas," but not when he has led his readers to believe that he is telling these stories "as nearly as possible in their original forms of thought and expression." It is very much as if Edward MacDowell had published the several movements of his Indian Suite as being, not only in their ideas, but in their (modern European) harmonies and orchestration, a faithful transcript of aboriginal Indian music. Schoolcraft's procedure, in other words, amounts to a sort of Ossianic mystification; and unfortunately he has had not a few imitators, to the confusion of comparative psychologists and students of the evolution of love.

It is a great pity that Schoolcraft, with his valuable opportunities for ethnological research, should not have added a critical attitude and a habit of accuracy to his great industry. The historian Parkman, a model observer and scholar, described Schoolcraft's volumes on the Indian Tribes of the United States as

"a singularly crude and illiterate production, stuffed with blunders and contradictions, giving evidence on every page of a striking unfitness for historical or scientific inquiry."[199]


A few of the tales I have cited are not marred by superadded sentimental adornments, but all of them are open to suspicion from still another point of view. They are invariably so proper and pure that they might be read to Sunday-school classes. Since one-half of Schoolcraft's assistants in the compilation of this material were women, this might have been expected, and if the collection had been issued as a Fairy Book it would have been a matter of course. But they were issued as accurate "oral legends" of wild Indians, and from the point of view of the student of the history of love the most important question to ask was, "Are Indian stories in reality as pure and refined in tone as these specimens would lead us to suspect?" I will answer that question by citing the words of one of the warmest champions of the Indians, the eminent American anthropologist, Professor D.G. Brinton _(M.N.W., 160):

"Anyone who has listened to Indian tales, not as they are recorded in books, but as they are told by the camp-fire, will bear witness to the abounding obscenity they deal in. That the same vulgarity shows itself in their arts and life, no genuine observer need doubt."

And in a footnote he gives this extremely interesting information:

"The late George Gibbs will be acknowledged as an authority here. He was at the time of his death preparing a Latin translation of the tales he had collected, as they were too erotic to print in English. He wrote me, 'Schoolcraft's legends are emasculated to a degree that they become no longer Indian.'"

No longer Indian, indeed! And these doctored stories, artfully sentimentalized at one end and expurgated at the other, are advanced as proofs that a savage Indian's love is just as refined as that of a civilized Christian! What Indian stories really are, the reader, if he can stomach such things, may find out for himself by consulting the marvellously copious and almost phonographically accurate collection of native tales which another of our most eminent anthropologists, Dr. Franz Boas, has printed.[200] And it must be borne in mind that these stories are not the secret gossip of vulgar men alone by themselves, but are national tales with which children of both sexes become familiar from their earliest years. As Colonel Dodge remarks (213): it is customary for as many as a dozen persons of both sexes to live in one room, hence there is an entire lack of privacy, either in word or act. "It is a wonder," says Powers (271), "that children grow up with any virtue whatever, for the conversation of their elders in their presence is often of the filthiest description." "One thing seems to me more than intolerable," wrote the French missionary Le Jeune in 1632 (Jesuit Relations, V., 169).

"It is their living together promiscuously, girls, women, men, and boys, in a smoky hole. And the more progress one makes in the knowledge of the language, the more vile things one hears.... I did not think that the mouth of the savage was so foul as I notice it is every day."

Elsewhere (VI., 263) the same missionary says:

"Their lips are constantly foul with these obscenities; and it is the same with the little children.... The older women go almost naked, the girls and young women are very modestly clad; but, among themselves, their language has the foul odor of the sewers."

Of the Pennsylvania Indians Colonel James Smith (who had lived among them as a captive) wrote (140): "The squaws are generally very immodest in their words and actions, and will often put the young men to the blush."


The late Dr. Brinton shot wide off the mark when he wrote (R. and P., 59) that even among the lower races the sentiment of modesty "is never absent." With some American Indians, as in the races of other parts of the world, there is often not even the appearance of modesty. Many of the Southern Indians in North America and others in Central and South America wear no clothes at all, and their actions are as unrestrained as those of animals.[201] The tribes that do wear clothes sometimes present to shallow or biassed observers the appearance of modesty. To the Mandan women Catlin (I., 93, 96) attributes "excessive modesty of demeanor."

"It was customary for hundreds of girls and women to go bathing and swimming in the Missouri every morning, while a quarter of a mile back on a terrace stood several sentinels with bows and arrows in hand to protect the bathing-place from men or boys, who had their own swimming-place elsewhere."

This, however, tells us more about the immorality of the men and their anxiety to guard their property than about the character of the women. On that point we are enlightened by Maximilian Prinz zu Wied, who found that these women were anything but prudes, having often two or three lovers at a time, while infidelity was seldom punished (I., 531). According to Gatschet (183) Creek women also "were assigned a bathing-place in the river currents at some distance below the men;" but that this, too, was a mere curiosity of pseudo-modesty becomes obvious when we read in Schoolcraft (V., 272) that among these Indians "the sexes indulge their propensities with each other promiscuously, unrestrained by law or custom, and without secrecy or shame." Powers, too, relates (55) that among the Californian Yurok "the sexes bathe apart, and the women do not go into the sea without some garment on." But Powers was not a man to be misled by specious appearances. He fully understood the philosophy of the matter, as the following shows (412):

"Notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary by false friends and weak maundering philanthropists, the California Indians are a grossly licentious race. None more so, perhaps. There is no word in all their language that I have examined which has the meaning of 'mercenary prostitute,' because such a creature is unknown to them; but among the unmarried of both sexes there is very little or no restraint; and this freedom is so much a matter of course that there is no reproach attaching to it; so that their young women are notable for their modest and innocent demeanor. This very modesty of outward deportment has deceived the hasty glance of many travellers. But what their conduct really is is shown by the Argus-eyed surveillance to which women are subjected. If a married woman is seen even walking in the forest with another man than her husband she is chastised by him. A repetition of the offence is generally punished with speedy death. Brothers and sisters scrupulously avoid living alone together. A mother-in-law is never allowed to live with her son-in-law. To the Indian's mind the opportunity of evil implies the commission of it."


Having disposed of the modesty fallacy, let us examine once more, and for the last time, the doctrine that savages owe their degradation to the whites.

In the admirable preface to his book on the Jesuit missionaries in Canada, Parkman writes concerning the Hurons (XXXIV.):

"Lafitau, whose book appeared in 1724, says that the nation was corrupt in his time, but that this was a degeneracy from their ancient manners. La Potherie and Charlevoix make a similar statement. Megapolensis, however, in 1644 says that they were then exceedingly debauched; and Greenhalgh, in 1677, gives ample evidence of a shameless license. One of their most earnest advocates of the present day admits that the passion of love among them had no other than an animal existence (Morgan, League of the Iroquois, 322). There is clear proof that the tribes of the South were equally corrupt. (See Lawson's Carolina, 34, and other early writers.)"

Another most earnest advocate of the Indians, Dr. Brinton, writes (M.N.W., 159) that promiscuous licentiousness was frequently connected with the religious ceremonies of the Indians:

"Miscellaneous congress very often terminated their dances and festivals. Such orgies were of common occurrence among the Algonkins and Iroquois at a very early date, and are often mentioned in the Jesuit Relations; Venagas describes them as frequent among the tribes of Lower California, and Oviedo refers to certain festivals of the Nicaraguans, during which the women of all ranks extended to whosoever wished just such privileges as the matrons of ancient Babylon, that mother of harlots and all abominations, used to grant even to slaves and strangers in the temple of Melitta as one of the duties of religion."

In Part I. (140-42) of the Final Report of Investigations among the Indians of the Southwestern United States,[202] A.F. Bandelier, the leading authority on the Indians of the Southwest, writes regarding the Pueblos (one of the most advanced, of all American tribes):

"Chastity was an act of penitence; to be chaste signified to do penance. Still, after a woman had once become linked to a man by the performance of certain simple rites it was unsafe for her to be caught trespassing, and her accomplice also suffered a penalty. But there was the utmost liberty, even license, as toward girls. Intercourse was almost promiscuous with members of the tribe. Toward outsiders the strictest abstinence was observed, and this fact, which has long been overlooked or misunderstood, explains the prevailing idea that before the coming of the white man the Indians were both chaste and moral, while the contrary is the truth."

Lewis and Clarke travelled a century ago among Indians that had never been visited by whites. Their observations regarding immoral practices and the means used to obviate the consequences bear out the above testimony. M'Lean (II., 59, 120) also ridicules the idea that Indians were corrupted by the whites. But the most conclusive proof of aboriginal depravity is that supplied by the discoverers of America, including Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus on his fourth voyage touched the mainland going down near Brazil. In Cariay, he writes,[203] the enchanters

"sent me immediately two girls very showily dressed. The elder could not be more than eleven years of age and the other seven, and both exhibited so much immodesty that more could not be expected from public women."

On another page (30) he writes: "The habits of these Caribbees are brutal," adding that in their attacks on neighboring islands they carry off as many women as they can, using them as concubines. "These women also say that the Caribbees use them with such cruelty as would scarcely be believed; and that they eat the children which they bear to them."

Brazil was visited in 1501 by Amerigo Vespucci. The account he gives of the dissolute practices of the natives, who certainly had never set eye on a white man, is so plain spoken that it cannot be quoted here in full. "They are not very jealous," he says, "and are immoderately libidinous, and the women much more so than the men, so that for decency I omit to tell you the ... They are so void of affection and cruel that if they be angry with their husbands they ... and they slay an infinite number of creatures by that means.... The greatest sign of friendship which they can show you is that they give you their wives and their daughters" and feel "highly honored" if they are accepted. "They eat all their enemies whom they kill or capture, as well females as males." "Their other barbarous customs are such that expression is too weak for the reality."

The ineradicable perverseness of some minds is amusingly illustrated by Southey, in his History of Brazil. After referring to Amerigo Vespucci's statements regarding the lascivious practices of the aboriginals, he exclaims, in a footnote: "This is false! Man has never yet been discovered in such a state of depravity!" What the navigators wrote regarding the cannibalism and cruelty of these savages he accepts as a matter of course; but to doubt their immaculate purity is high treason! The attitude of the sentimentalists in this matter is not only silly and ridiculous, but positively pathological. As their number is great, and seems to be growing (under the influence of such writers as Catlin, Helen Hunt Jackson, Brinton, Westermarck, etc.), it is necessary, in the interest of the truth, to paint the Indian as he really was until contact with the whites (missionaries and others) improved him somewhat.[204]


Beginning with the Californians, their utter lack of moral sense has already been described. They were no worse than the other Pacific coast tribes in Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. George Gibbs, the leading authority on the Indians of Western Oregon and Washington, says regarding them (I., 197-200):

"Prostitution is almost universal. An Indian, perhaps, will not let his favorite wife, but he looks upon his others, his sisters, daughters, female relatives, and slaves, as a legitimate source of profit.... Cohabitation of unmarried females among their own people brings no disgrace if unaccompanied with child-birth, which they take care to prevent. This commences at a very early age, perhaps ten or twelve years."

"Chastity is not considered a virtue by the Chinook women," says Ross (92),

"and their amorous propensities know no bounds. All classes, from the highest to the lowest, indulge in coarse sensuality and shameless profligacy. Even the chief would boast of obtaining a paltry toy or trifle in return for the prostitution of his virgin daughter."

Lewis and Clarke (1814) found that among the Chinooks, "as, indeed, among all Indians" they became acquainted with on their perilous pioneer trips through the Western wilds, prostitution of females was not considered criminal or improper (439).

Such revelations, illustrating not individual cases of depravity, but a whole people's attitude, show how utterly hopeless it is to expect refined and pure love of these Indians. Gibbs did not give himself up to any illusions on this subject. "A strong sensual attachment often undoubtedly exists," he wrote (198),

"which leads to marriage, and instances are not rare of young women destroying themselves on the death of a lover; but where the idea of chastity is so entirely wanting in both sexes, this cannot deserve the name of love, or it is at best of a temporary duration." The italics are mine.

In common with several other high authorities who lived many years among the Indians (as we shall see at the end of this chapter) Gibbs clearly realized the difference between red love and white love—between sensual and sentimental attachments, and failed to find the latter among the American savages.

British Columbian capacity for sexual delicacy and refined love is sufficiently indicated by the reference on a preceding page (556) to the stories collected by Dr. Boas. Turning northeastward we find M'Lean, who spent twenty-five years among the Hudson's Bay natives, declaring of the Beaver Indians (Chippewayans) that "the unmarried youth, of both sexes, are generally under no restraint whatever," and that "the lewdness of the Carrier [Taculli] Indians cannot possibly be carried to a greater excess." M'Lean, too, after observing these northern Indians for a quarter of a century, came to the conclusion that "the tender passion seems unknown to the savage breast."

"The Hurons are lascivious," wrote Le Jeune (whom I have already quoted), in 1632; and Parkman says (J.N.A., XXXIV.):

"A practice also prevailed of temporary or experimental marriage, lasting a day, a week, or more.... An attractive and enterprising damsel might, and often did, make twenty such marriages before her final establishing."

Regarding the Sioux, that shrewd observer, Burton, wrote (C. of S., 116): "If the mother takes any care of her daughter's virtue, it is only out of regard to its market value." The Sioux, or Dakotas, are indeed, sometimes lower than animals, for, as S.R. Riggs pointed out, in a government publication (U.S. Geogr. and Geol. Soc., Vol. IX.), "Girls are sometimes taken very young, before they are of marriageable age, which generally happens with a man who has a wife already." "The marriageable age," he adds, "is from fourteen years old and upward." Even the Mandans, so highly lauded by Catlin, sometimes brutally dispose of girls at the age of eleven, as do other tribes (Comanches, etc.).

Of the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Winnebagoes we read in H. Trumbull's History of the Indian Wars (168):

"It appears to have been a very prevalent custom with the Indians of this country, before they became acquainted with the Europeans, to compliment strangers with their wives;"

and "the Indian women in general are amorous, and before marriage not less esteemed for gratifying their passions."

Of the New York Indians J. Buchanan wrote (II., 104):

"that it is no offence for their married women to associate with another man, provided she acquaint her husband or some near relation therewith, but if not, it is sometimes punishable with death."

Of the Comanches it is said (Schoolcraft, V., 683) that while "the men are grossly licentious, treating female captives in a most cruel and barbarous manner," upon their women "they enforce rigid chastity;" but this is, as usual, a mere question of masculine property, for on the next page we read that they lend their wives; and Fossey (Mexique, 462) says: "Les Comanches obligent le prisonnier blanc, dont ils ont admire le valeur dans le combat, a s'unir a leurs femmes pour perpetuer sa race." Concerning the Kickapoo, Kansas, and Osage Indians we are informed by Hunter (203), who lived among them, that

"a female may become a parent out of wedlock without loss of reputation, or diminishing her chances for a subsequent matrimonial alliance, so that her paramour is of respectable standing."

Maximilian Prinz zu Weid found that the Blackfeet, though they horribly mutilated wives for secret intrigues [violation of property right], offered these wives as well as their daughters for a bottle of whiskey. "Some very young girls are offered" (I., 531). "The Navajo women are very loose, and do not look upon fornication as a crime."

"The most unfortunate thing which can befall a captive woman is to be claimed by two persons. In this case she is either shot or delivered up for indiscriminate violence" (Bancroft, I., 514).

Colonel R.I. Dodge writes of the Indians of the plains (204):

"For an unmarried Indian girl to be found away from her lodge alone is to invite outrage, consequently she is never sent out to cut and bring wood, nor to take care of the stock."

He speaks of the "Indian men who, animal-like, approach a female only to make love to her," and to whom the idea of continence is unknown (210). Among the Cheyennes and Arapahoes

"no unmarried woman considers herself dressed to meet her beau at night, to go to a dance or other gathering, unless she has tied her lower limbs with a rope.... Custom has made this an almost perfect protection against the brutality of the men. Without it she would not be safe for an instant, and even with it, an unmarried girl is not safe if found alone away from the immediate protection of the lodge" (213).

A brother does not protect his sister from insult, nor avenge outrage (220).

"Nature has no nobler specimen of man than the Indian," wrote Catlin, the sentimentalist, who is often cited as an authority. To proceed: "Prostitution is the rule among the (Yuma) women, not the exception." The Colorado River Indians "barter and sell their women into prostitution, with hardly an exception." (Bancroft, I., 514.) In his Antiquities of the Southern Indians, C.C. Jones says of the Creeks, Cherokees, Muscogulges, etc. (69):

"Comparatively little virtue existed among the unmarried women. Their chances of marriage were not diminished, but rather augmented, by the fact that they had been great favorites, provided they had avoided conception during their years of general pleasure."

The wife "was deterred, by fear of public punishment, from the commission of indiscretions." "The unmarried women among the Natchez were unusually unchaste," says McCulloh (165).

This damning list might be continued for the Central and South American Indians. We should find that the Mosquito Indians often did not wait for puberty (Bancroft, I., 729); that, according to Martius, Oviedo, and Navarette,

"in Cuba, Nicaragua,[205] and among the Caribs and Tupis, the bride yielded herself first to another, lest her husband should come to some ill-luck by exercising a priority of possession.... This jus primae noctis was exercised by the priests" (Brinton, M.N.W., 155);

that the Waraus give girls to medicine men in return for professional services (Brett, 320); that the Guaranis lend their wives and daughters for a drink (Reich, 435); that among Brazilian tribes the jus primae noctis is often enjoyed by the chief (Journ. Roy. G.S., II., 198); that in Guiana "chastity is not considered an indispensable virtue among the unmarried women" (Dalton, I., 80); that the Patagonians often pawned and sold their wives and daughters for brandy (Falkner, 97); that their licentiousness is equal to their cruelty (Bourne, 56-57), etc., etc.


A critical student will not be able, I think, to find any exceptions to this rule of Indian depravity among tribes untouched by missionary influences. Westermarck, indeed, refers (65) with satisfaction to Hearne's assertion (311) that the northern Indians he visited carefully guarded the young people. Had he consulted page 129 of the same writer he would have seen that this does not indicate a regard for chastity as a virtue, but is merely a result of their habit of regarding women as property, to which Franklin, speaking of these same Indians, refers (287); for as Hearne remarks in the place alluded to, "it is a very common custom among the men of this country to exchange a night's lodging with each other's wives." An equal lack of insight is shown by Westermarck, when he professes to find female chastity among the Apaches. For this assertion he relies on Bancroft, who does indeed say (I., 514) that "all authorities agree that the Apache women, both before and after marriage, are remarkably pure." Yet he himself adds that the Apaches will lend their wives to each other.[206] If the women are otherwise chaste, it is not from a regard for purity, but from fear of their cruel husbands and masters. United States Boundary Commissioner, Bartlett, has enlightened us on this point. "The atrocities inflicted upon an Apache woman taken in adultery baffle all description," he writes, "and the females whom they capture from their enemies are invariably doomed to the most infamous treatment." Thus they are like other Indians—the Comanches, for instance, concerning whom we read in Schoolcraft (V., 683) that "the men are grossly licentious, treating female captives in a most cruel and barbarous manner; but they enforce rigid chastity upon their women."

Among the Modocs a wife who violated her husband's property rights in her "chastity," was disembowelled in public, as Bancroft informs us (I., 350). No wonder, that, as he adds, "adultery, being attended with so much danger, is comparatively rare, but among the unmarried, who have nothing to fear, a gross licentiousness prevails."

The Peruvian sun virgins are often supposed to indicate a regard for purity; but in reality the temples in which these girls were reared and guarded were nothing but nurseries for providing a choice assortment of concubines for the licentious Incas and their friends. (Torquemada, IX., 16.)[207]

"In the earlier times of Peru the union of the sexes was voluntary, unregulated, and accompanied by barbarous usages: many of which even at the present day exist among the uncivilized nations of South America." (Tschudi's Antiquities, 184; McCulloh, 379.)

Of the Mexicans, too, it has been erroneously said that they valued purity; but Bandelier has collected facts from the old Spanish writers, in summing which up he says: "This almost establishes promiscuity among the ancient Mexicans, as a preliminary to formal marriage." Oddly enough, the crime of adultery with a married woman was considered one against a cluster of kindred, and not against the husband; for if he caught the culprits in flagrante delictu and killed the wife, he lost his own life!

Another source of error regarding exceptional virtue in an Indian tribe lies in the fact that in some few cases female captives were spared. This was due, however, not to a chivalrous regard for female virtue, but to superstition. James Adair relates of the Choktah (164) that even a certain chief noted for his cruelty

"did not attempt the virtue of his female captives lest (as he told one of them) 'it should offend the Indian's god;' though at the same time his pleasures were heightened in proportion to the shrieks and groans from prisoners of both sexes while they were under his torture. Although the Choktah are libidinous, yet I have known them to take several female prisoners without offering the least violence to their virtue, till the time of purgation was expired; then some of them forced their captives, notwithstanding their pressing entreaties and tears."

Parkman, too, was convinced (Jes. in Can., XXXIV.) that the remarkable forbearance observed by some tribes was the result of superstition; and he adds: "To make the Indian a hero of romance is mere nonsense."


Besides the atrocious punishments inflicted on women who forgot their role as private property, some of the Indians had other ways of intimidating them, while reserving for themselves the right to do as they pleased. Powers relates (156-61) that, among the California Indians in general,

"there is scarcely such an attribute known as virtue or chastity in either sex before marriage. Up to the time when they enter matrimony most of the young women are a kind of femmes incomprises, the common property of the tribe; and after they have once taken on themselves the marriage covenant, simple as it is, they are guarded with a Turkish jealousy, for even the married women are not such models as Mrs. Ford.... The one great burden of the harangues delivered by the venerable peace-chief on solemn occasions is the necessity and excellence of female virtue; all the terrors of superstitious sanction and the direst threats of the great prophet are levelled at unchastity, and all the most dreadful calamities and pains of a future state are hung suspended over the heads of those who are persistently lascivious. All the devices that savage cunning can invent, all the mysterious masquerading horrors of devil-raising, all the secret sorceries, the frightful apparitions and bugbears, which can be supposed effectual in terrifying women into virtue and preventing smock treason, are resorted to by the Pomo leaders."

Among these Pomo Indians, and Californian tribes almost universally (406), there existed secret societies whose simple purpose was to conjure up infernal terrors and render each other assistance in keeping their women in subjection. A special meeting-house was constructed for this purpose, in which these secret women-tamers held a grand devil-dance once in seven years, twenty or thirty men daubing themselves with barbaric paint and putting vessels of pitch on their heads. At night they rushed down from the mountains with these vessels of pitch flaming on their heads, and making a terrible noise. The squaws fled for dear life; hundreds of them clung screaming and fainting to their valorous protectors. Then the chief took a rattlesnake from which the fangs had been extracted, brandished it into the faces of the shuddering women, and threatened them with dire things if they did not live lives of chastity, industry, and obedience, until some of the terrified squaws shrieked aloud and fell swooning upon the ground.


We are now in a position to appreciate the unintentional humor of Ashe's indignant outcry, cited at the beginning of this chapter, against those who calumniate these innocent people "by denying that there is anything but 'brutal passion' in their love-affairs." He admits, indeed, that "no expressions of endearment or tenderness ever escape the Indian sexes toward each other," as all observers have remarked, but claims that this reserve is merely a compliance with a political and religious law which "stigmatizes youth wasting their time in female dalliance, except when covered with the veil of night and beyond the prying eye of man." Were a man to speak to a squaw of love in the daytime, he adds, she would run away from him or disdain him. He then proceeds, with astounding naivete, to describe the nocturnal love-making of "these innocent people." The Indians leave their doors open day and night, and the lovers take advantage of this when they go a-courting, or "a-calumeting," as it is called.

"A young man lights his calumet, enters the cabin of his mistress, and gently presents it to her. If she extinguishes it she admits him to her arms; but if she suffer it to burn unnoticed he softly retires with a disappointed and throbbing heart, knowing that while there was light she never could consent to his wishes. This spirit of nocturnal amour and intrigue is attended by one dreadful practice: the girls drink the juice of a certain herb which prevents conception and often renders them barren through life. They have recourse to this to avoid the shame of having a child—a circumstance in which alone the disgrace of their conduct consists, and which would be thought a thing so heinous as to deprive them forever of respect and religious marriage rites. The crime is in the discovery." "I never saw gallantry conducted with more refinement than I did during my stay with the Shawnee nation."

In brief, Ashe's idea of "refined" love consists in promiscuous immorality carefully concealed! "On the subject of love," he sums up with an injured air, "no persons have been less understood than the Indians." Yet this writer is cited seriously as a witness by Westermarck and others!

In view of the foregoing facts every candid reader must admit that to an Indian an expression like "Love hath weaned my heart from low desires," or Werther's "She is sacred to me; all desire is silent in her presence," would be as incomprehensible as Hegel's metaphysics; that, in other words, mental purity, one of the most essential and characteristic ingredients of romantic love, is always absent in the Indian's infatuation. The late Professor Brinton tried to come to the rescue by declaring (E.A., 297) that

"delicacy of sentiment bears no sort of constant relation to culture. Every man ... can name among his acquaintances men of unusual culture who are coarse voluptuaries and others of the humblest education who have the delicacy of a refined woman. So it is with families, and so it is with tribes."

Is it? That is the point to be proved. I myself have pointed out that among nations, as among individuals, intellectual culture alone does not insure a capacity for true love, because that also implies emotional and esthetic culture. Now in our civilized communities there are all sorts of individuals, many coarse, a few refined, while some civilized races, too, are more refined than others. To prove his point Dr. Brinton would have had to show that among the Indians, too, there are tribes and individuals who are morally and esthetically refined; and this he failed to do; wherefore his argument is futile. Diligent and patient search has not revealed to me a single exception to the rule of depravity above described, though I admit the possibility that among the Indians who have been for generations under missionary control such exceptions might be found. But we are here considering the wild Indian and not the missionary's garden plant.


An excellent test of the Indian's capacity for refined amorous feeling may be found in his attitude toward personal beauty. Does he admire real beauty, and does it decide his choice of a mate? That there are good-looking girls among some Indian tribes cannot be denied, though they are exceptional. Among the thousands of squaws I have seen on the Pacific Slope, from Mexico to Alaska, I can recall only one whom I could call really beautiful. She was a pupil at a Sitka Indian school, spoke English well, and I suspect had some white blood in her. Joaquin Miller, who married a Modoc girl and is given to romancing and idealizing, relates (227) how "the brown-eyed girls danced, gay and beautiful, half-nude, in their rich black hair and flowing robes." Herbert Walsh,[208] speaking of the girls at a Navajo Indian school, writes that

"among them was one little girl of striking beauty, with fine, dark eyes, regularly and delicately modelled features, and a most winning expression. Nothing could be more attractive than the unconscious grace of this child of nature."

I can find no indication, however, that the Indians ever admire such exceptional beauty, and plenty of evidence that what they admire is not beautiful. "These Indians are far from being connoisseurs in beauty," wrote Mrs. Eastman (105) of the Dakotas. Dobrizhoffer says of the Abipones (II., 139) what we read in Schoolcraft concerning the Creeks: "Beauty is of no estimation in either sex;" and I have also previously quoted Belden's testimony (302), that the men select the squaws not for their personal beauty but "their strength and ability to work;" to which he should have added, their weight; for bulk is the savage's synonym for beauty. Burton (C.S., 128) admired the pretty doll-like faces of the Sioux girls, but only up to the age of six. "When full grown the figure becomes dumpy and trapu;" and that is what attracts the Indian. The examples given in the chapter on Personal Beauty of the Indians' indifference to geological layers of dirt on their faces and bodies would alone prove beyond all possibility of dispute that they can have no esthetic appreciation of personal charms. The very highest type of Indian beauty is that described by Powers in the case of a California girl

"just gliding out of the uncomfortable obesity of youth, her complexion a soft, creamy hazel, her wide eyes dreamy and idle ... a not unattractive type of vacuous, facile, and voluptuous beauty"

—a beauty, I need not add, which may attract, but would not inspire love of the sentimental kind, even if the Indian were capable of it.


Having failed to find mental purity and admiration of personal beauty in the Indian's love-affairs, let us now see how he stands in regard to the altruistic impulses which differentiate love from self-love. Do Indians behave gallantly toward their women? Do they habitually sacrifice their comfort and, in case of need, their lives for their wives?

Dr. Brinton declares (Am. R., 48) that "the position of women in the social scheme of the American tribes has often been portrayed in darker colors than the truth admits." Another eminent American anthropologist, Horatio Hale, wrote[209] that women among the Indians and other savages are not treated with harshness or regarded as inferiors except under special circumstances. "It is entirely a question of physical comfort, and mainly of the abundance or lack of food," he maintains. For instance, among the sub-arctic Tinneh, women are "slaves," while among the Tinneh (Navajos) of sunny Arizona they are "queens." Heckewelder declares (T.A.P.S., 142) that the labors of the squaws "are no more than their fair share, under every consideration and due allowance, of the hardships attendant on savage life." This benevolent and oft-cited old writer shows indeed such an eager desire to whitewash the Indian warrior that an ignorant reader of his book might find some difficulty in restraining his indignation at the horrid, lazy squaws for not also relieving the poor, unprotected men of the only two duties which they have retained for themselves—murdering men or animals. But the most "fearless" champion of the noble red man is a woman—Rose Yawger—who writes (in The Indian and the Pioneer, 42) that "the position of the Indian woman in her nation was not greatly inferior to that enjoyed by the American woman of to-day." ... "They were treated with great respect." Let us confront these assertions with facts.

Beginning with the Pacific Coast, we are told by Powers (405) that, on the whole, California Indians did not make such slaves of women as the Indians of the Atlantic side of the continent. This, however, is merely comparative, and does not mean that they treat them kindly, for, as he himself says (23), "while on a journey the man lays far the greatest burdens on his wife." On another page (406) he remarks that while a California boy is not "taught to pierce his mother's flesh with an arrow to show him his superiority over her, as among the Apaches and Iroquois," he nevertheless afterward "slays his wife or mother-in-law, if angry, with very little compunction." Colonel McKee, in describing an expedition among California Indians (Schoolcraft, III., 127), writes:

"One of the whites here, in breaking in his squaw to her household duties, had occasion to beat her several times. She complained of this to her tribe and they informed him that he must not do so; if he was dissatisfied, let him kill her and take another!" "The men," he adds, "allow themselves the privilege of shooting any woman they are tired of."

The Pomo Indians make it a special point to slaughter the women of their enemies during or after battle. "They do this because, as they argue with the greatest sincerity, one woman destroyed is tantamount to five men killed" (Bancroft, I., 160), for without women the tribe cannot multiply. A Modoc explained why he needed several wives—one to take care of his house, a second to hunt for him, a third to dig roots (259). Bancroft cites half a dozen authorities for the assertion that among the Indians of Northern California "boys are disgraced by work" and "women work while men gamble or sleep" (I., 351). John Muir, in his recent work on The Mountains of California (80), says it is truly astonishing to see what immense loads the haggard old Pah Ute squaws make out to carry bare-footed over the rugged passes. The men, who are always with them, stride on erect and unburdened, but when they come to a difficult place they "kindly" pile stepping-stones for their patient pack-animal wives, "just as they would prepare the way for their ponies."

Among some of the Klamath and other California tribes certain women are allowed to attain the rank of priestesses. To be "supposed to have communication with the devil" and be alone "potent over cases of witchcraft and witch poisoning" (67) is, however, an honor which women elsewhere would hardly covet. Among the Yurok, Powers relates (56), when a young man cannot afford to pay the amount of shell-money without which marriage is not considered legal, he is sometimes allowed to pay half the sum and become what is termed "half-married." "Instead of bringing her to his cabin and making her his slave, he goes to live in her cabin and becomes her slave." This, however, "occurs only in case of soft uxorious fellows." Sometimes, too, a squaw will take the law in her own hands, as in a case mentioned by the same writer (199). A Wappo Indian abandoned his wife and went down the river to a ranch where he took another woman. But the lawful spouse soon discovered his whereabouts, followed him up, confronted him before his paramour, upbraided him fiercely, and then seized him by the hair and led him away triumphantly to her bed and basket. It is to check such unseemly "new-womanish" tendencies in their squaws that the Californians resorted to the bugaboo performances already referred to. The Central Californian women, says Bancroft (391), are more apt than the others to rebel against the tyranny of their masters; but the men usually manage to keep them in subjection. The Tatu and Pomo tribes intimidate them in this way:

"A man is stripped naked, painted with red and black stripes, and then at night takes a sprig of poison oak, dips it in water, and sprinkles it on the squaws, who, from its effects on their skins, are convinced of the man's satanic power, so that his object is attained." (Powers, 141.)

The pages of Bancroft contain many references besides those already quoted, showing how far the Indians of California were from treating their women with chivalrous, self-sacrificing devotion. "The principal labor falls to the lot of the women" (I., 351). Among the Gallinomeros,

"as usual, the women are treated with great contempt by the men, and forced to do all the hard and menial work; they are not even allowed to sit at the same fire or eat at the same repast with their lords" (390).

Among the Shoshones "the weaker sex of course do the hardest labor" (437), etc. With the Hupa a girl will bring in the market $15 to $50—"about half the valuation of a man." (Powers, 85.)

Nor do matters mend if we proceed northward on the Pacific coast. Thus, Gibbs says (198) of the Indians of Western Oregon and Washington, "the condition of the woman is that of slavery under any circumstances;" and similar testimony might be adduced regarding the Indians of British Columbia and Alaska.

Among the eastern neighbors of the Californians there is one Indian people—the Navajos of Arizona and New Mexico—that calls for special attention, as its women, according to Horatio Hale, are not slaves but "queens." The Navajos have lived for centuries in a rich and fertile country; their name is said to mean "large cornfields" and the Spaniards found, about the middle of the sixteenth century, that they practised irrigation. A more recent writer, E.A. Graves,[210] says that the Navajos "possess more wealth than all the wild tribes in New Mexico combined. They are rich in horses, mules, asses, goats, and sheep." Bancroft cites evidence (I., 513) that the women were the owners of the sheep; that they were allowed to take their meals with the men, and admitted to their councils; and that they were relieved of the drudgery of menial work. Major E. Backus also noted (Schoolcraft, IV., 214) that Navajo women "are treated more kindly than the squaws of the northern tribes, and perform far less of laborious work than the Sioux or Chippewa women." But when we examine the facts more closely we find that this comparative "emancipation" of the Navajo women was not a chivalrous concession on the part of the men, but proceeded simply from the lack of occasion for the exercise of their selfish propensities. No one would be so foolish as to say that even the most savage Indian would put his squaw into the treadmill merely for the fun of seeing her toil. He makes a drudge of her in order to save himself the trouble of working. Now the Navajos were rich enough to employ slaves; their labor, says Major Backus, was "mostly performed by the poor dependants, both male and female." Hence there was no reason for making slaves of their wives. Backus gives another reason why these women were treated more kindly than other squaws. After marriage they became free, for sufficient cause, to leave their husbands, who were thus put on their good behavior. Before marriage, however, they had no free choice, but were the property of their fathers. "The consent of the father is absolute, and the one so purchased assents or is taken away by force."[211]

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