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The Frontiersmen
by Charles Egbert Craddock
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As there are moot points concerning the stones themselves and the conduct of the sport, so the chungke spears differ in the accounts of the early adventurers in this region. The length is variously given as eight, ten, twelve feet. The shape is sometimes represented as a lance or pole heavy in the centre and tapering at both ends to a blunt point, and others describe an implement resembling a magnified golf club of the present day.

3. Page 114. This choice decoration, popular though it was, could not be attained without a penalty commensurate with its valuation. It is stated by early travelers among the Indian tribes that thirty days were required to properly heal an ear thus distended a la mode. The patient, if one so prideful might be so called, could only have one ear in the painful process at a time, in order that he might be able to lie in sleeping on the other side until such time as his embellished ear should be again serviceable for this prosaic purpose, and permit the like decoration of the opposite member.

4. Page 142. An illustration of how the Choctaws profited by these earnest labors may be given in the fate of a chapel erected for their benefit at Chickasaha by the French and placed in charge of a Jesuit missionary. The Choctaws so far accepted Christianity as to be able to travesty the services and mimic the priest with surprising humor and verisimilitude when the English came in, and were wont to go to the old chapel for this profane exhibition to the mingled delight and reprobation of the military new-comers. The chapel was soon afterward destroyed, but Captain Romans records that in 1771 he saw the cross still standing on the site, a melancholy memorial of futile missionary endeavor.

All the Indians, however, were temperamentally averse to the services and tenets of the Christian religion, and Timberlake gives an instance among the Cherokees in 1760 in which a missionary was balked by a unique interruption. "Mr. Martin, who having preached Scripture till both he and his audience were heartily tired, was told at last that they knew very well that if they were good they would go up; if bad, down; that he could tell no more; that he had long plagued them with what they no ways understood, and they desired that he would depart the country."

The epitome of theology thus deduced was so far a just conclusion. But doubtless the Indians labored greatly with imperfect comprehension. Humboldt describes a service among a South American tribe, in which a missionary preaching in Spanish was at his wits' end to make his audience differentiate between infierno and invierno. They persisted in shivering with horror at the picture of the hell of his warnings in which the wicked were supposed to be subjected to everlasting winter. One is tempted to think that the end might have justified the means if the good padre had fallen in with the prejudice against the rainy season and adopted, in lieu of the fire-and-brimstone of Scripture, as a future state of punishment, the icy Ninth Circle of Dante's Inferno, where

"Eran l' ombre dolenti nella ghiaccia, Mettendo i denti in nota di cicogna."

5. Page 151. The cultivation of personal pride was an essential element of training among the Indians. They held the lower ranks of white people in great contempt, and Timberlake records that in some athletic diversions at which he and other members of the Virginia regiment were present they refused to play or to hold conference with any of the troops except the officers.

6. Page 179. The primary and somewhat complex significance of the word ada-wehi is suggested by the idea of sorcery,—a man, or animal, or even element endowed with uncontrolled superlative and supernatural powers. It has been stated that since the introduction of Christianity and the printing of the New Testament in the Cherokee typographical character the word has been utilized with its subtleties of signification to express spirit or angel. In this story, however, the scene of which is laid in a period long previous to the conversion of the tribe, or even the accepted date of the invention of the Cherokee alphabet, the word is used in its early and original sense to denote a magician of special and expansive gifts of sorcery.

7. Page 186. Although this officer's name was regularly incorporated into the Cherokee vocabulary as a synonym of disaster, he seemed to revolt at the unhappy plight of the people whom in the discharge of his duty he had succeeded in reducing to so abject a condition of despair and woe, and has left on record expressions of compassion incongruous with his deeds and his position as a professed soldier of long experience. He had served in Flanders and Ireland in his youth as captain in the Royal Scots before he first came to America as major in Montgomerie's regiment of Highlanders.

Some adequate idea of the desolation and destitution of the Indians may be gleaned from the reports to the British government: "The Cherokees must certainly starve or come into terms, and even in that case Colonel Grant thinks it is hardly in the power of the provincials to save them. He proposed in a few days to send for The Great Warrior (Oconostota) and The Little Carpenter (Atta-Kulla-Kulla) to come and treat for peace, if they choose to save their nation from destruction. Till he receives their answer he will endeavor to save the small remains of the Lower Towns. In the mean time Colonel Grant intends to put Fort Prince George into repair, and to wait there or at Ninety-Six till he receives orders from Sir Jeffrey Amherst."

The idea of the pangs of hunger and the sight of starvation and deprivation may have been the more repugnant to Colonel Grant since he was himself famous as a bon vivant and gourmet. Indeed, even yet, in turning old pages we come upon records of his dinners. Bartram, the Philadelphia botanist, whom the Muscogee Indians quaintly called Puc-Puggy (the Flower Hunter) details the great size of a rattlesnake, "six feet long and as thick as the leg of an ordinary man" which he chanced to kill in his bosky researches near Fort Picolata in Florida, and not the least surprising feature of the incident was a message from the commandant inviting both combatants to dinner, "Governor Grant being very fond of rattlesnake flesh." This officer, at that time Royal Governor of East Florida, was holding a congress with the Creek Indians hard by the fort, having come from St. Augustine with a detachment of its garrison for the purpose. Bartram, dining in company with Grant that day, saw his enemy served up in several different styles,—and he, too, must turn softhearted!—he could not partake of the dish,—and "was sorry after killing the serpent, when coolly recollecting every circumstance of it." However, neither the rattlesnake nor the Cherokees were in condition to profit by these belated graces of magnanimity.

Through Grant's scattered correspondence there is a flavor of "vivers." Frederick George Mulcaster, still with the garrison of St. Augustine, in a letter addressed to Grant, then in Boston, laughingly alludes to his constant good cheer. "Captain Urquhart writes to his brother officers here that 'General Grant lives like a General!'" And later, in piteous contrast, "His Excellency (the new Royal Governor) gave a dinner yesterday to the officers of the Fourteenth and some others. It is the only dinner he has given since the one he gave to John Stuart (famous as the survivor of Fort Loudon) upon his arrival here,"—a matter of two months. He further notes as a point of interest, "Your black man, Alexander, was with me this instant to inquire after your health, and has loaded me with beaucoup de complimens. He wishes much to come to make your bread." Doubtless it was well made, for Grant, prospering, went on from dinner to dinner, from promotion to promotion, attaining the rank of General in the army and great corpulency, representing Sutherlandshire in the British Parliament many years, and dying at the age of eighty-six at his birthplace, Ballindalloch, in the north of Scotland.

8. Page 212. The "Annual Register" in giving among State Papers the text of a treaty between Governor Lyttleton of South Carolina, Captain-General, etc., and Atta-Kulla-Kulla, "deputy for the whole Cherokee Nation," dated at Fort Prince George, Dec. 26, 1759, adds in a note: "Atta-Kulla-Kulla, the Little Carpenter, who concluded this treaty in behalf of the Cherokee Indians, was in England and at court several times in the year 1730."

9. Page 215. The oratorical gifts of this Indian (under the name Chollochcullah, supposed to be a phonetic variant of Atta-Kulla-Kulla) are thus described in The Gentleman's Magazine for October, 1755, chronicling the details of an earlier diplomatic occasion: "The speaker rose up, and holding a bow in one hand and a sheaf of arrows in the other, he delivered himself in the following words, with all the distinctness imaginable, with the dignity and graceful action of a Roman or Grecian orator, and with all their ease and eloquence."

10. Page 231. Their tribal name, "men of fire," and their great veneration for that element have given rise to the conjecture that the Cherokees were originally fire-worshipers, as well as polytheistic. The interpolation of the intensative syllable "ta" is, according to Adair, a "note of magnitude," and the title of their prophets, whose functions are blended as priests, conjurers, physicians, and councilors,—the cheera-taghe,—signifies "men of divine fire." But Adair protests that the theistic ideals of the Indians were wholly spiritual, and that they had no plurality of gods. They paid their devotions merely to the "great beneficent supreme holy spirit of fire, who resides as they think above the clouds," and he argues plausibly that if they worshiped fire itself they would not have willfully extinguished the sanctified element annually on the last day of the old year throughout the nation, the invariable custom, before the cheera-taghe of each town kindled the "holy fire" anew, this being one of their exclusive functions. It may be that in their ancient rhapsodies (many of which Mr. James Mooney has collected for the Smithsonian Institution) addressed to bird or flame or beast the Indians adopted a poetic license no more significant of polytheism than the flights of fancy of many Christian poets in odes to the moon, to Fate, "to the red planet Mars," to the "wild west wind." Mere impersonation and invocation in apostrophe and paeans are not necessarily worship. Doubtless these spells and charms often arose from a superstitious half-belief, an imaginative freak, such as possesses the civilized visionary who shows a coin to the new moon to propitiate its fancied waxing influence in behalf of a balance at the banker's, or the Christianized Scotch Highlander of even the early nineteenth century who threw a piece of hasty pudding over the left shoulder on the anniversary of Bealdin (the Gaelic for no other than Baal) to appease the spirits of the mists, the winds, the ravens, the eagles, and thus protect the crops and flocks. There is a thin boundary line as difficult to define as "to distinguish and divide a hair 'twixt south and southwest side," between true belief and feigned credence.

The veneration of the ancient Cherokees for the element of fire, in addition to their name, its careful conservation throughout the year, their addresses to its spirit, Higayuli Tsunega, hatu ganiga (O Ancient White, you have drawn near to listen), is farther manifested by its traces found in the exploration of burial mounds, intimating a ceremonial introduction of the element at the remote period of interment,—if, indeed, the construction of these mounds can he ascribed to the Cherokees. Those on which their town houses were erected at a later date, the clay-covered rotunda forming a superstructure looking like a small mountain at a little distance, according to Timberlake, wherein were held the assemblies, whether for amusement or council or religious observances, served also as a substitute for the modern bulletin-board. Two stands of colors were flying, one from the top of the town house, the other at the door. These ensigns were white for peace, and exchanged for red when war impended. "The news hollow," as Timberlake phrases the cry, sounded from the summit of the mound, would occasion the assembling of all the community in the rotunda to hear the details from the lips of the chief. How much more the: "death hollow," harbinger of woe!

11. Page 323. They are hardly to be regarded as myths perhaps, rather as dislocated relics of fact. In treating of the "Origin of American Nations," Dr. Barton says: "These traditions are entitled to much consideration, for, notwithstanding the rude condition of most of the tribes, they are often perpetuated in great purity, as I have discovered by much attention to their history." It is generally accepted that the first historical mention of the Cherokees occurs under the name of Chelaque in the chronicles of De Soto's expedition in 1540 when they already occupied the Great Smoky Mountains and the contiguous region, but the Indians themselves had a tradition, according to Haywood's Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, which was recited annually at the Green Corn Dance, in which they claimed that they were the earlier mound builders on the upper Ohio, whence they had migrated at a remote date. They can be identified with the ancient Talega or Tallegwi if the records of the Walam Olum (painted sticks) may be believed, the wooden originals of which are said to have been preserved till 1822 and considered inexplicable, till their mnemonic signs and a manuscript song in the Lenni Lenape language, obtained from a remnant of the Delaware Indians, were translated by Professor C.S. Rafinesque "with deep study of the Delaware and the aid of Zeisberger's manuscript Dictionary in the library of the Philosophical Society."

In this, a dynasty of Lenni Lenape chiefs and the events of their reigns are successively named, and from the first mention of their encounter with the warlike Tallegwi or Cherokee to the discovery of Columbus there is necessarily implied the passage of many centuries. Even the time that has elapsed since the Tallegwi were overthrown by them is estimated as somewhat more than a thousand years, thus placing this defeat in the ninth century. Professor Cyrus Thomas in "The Cherokees of Pre-Columbian Times" states that he thinks it would be more nearly correct to credit the event to the eleventh or twelfth century. He quotes in support of his theory from the Walam-Olum as translated by Dr. Brinton, who giving the original in parallel pages, with the mnemonic signs, does not use in the English version the Indian names of the chiefs.

This record of the Walam-Olum is really very curious. After passing the account of the Creation, the Flood, the Migrations, and entering upon the Chronicles, the Walam-Olum reads much like a Biblical genealogy, save that in lieu of scions of a parent tree these are military successors, war-captains. The following quotations are from the version given by Squier:

47. Opekasit (East-looking) being next chief, was sad because of so much warfare.

48. Said let us go to the Sun-rising (Wapagishek) and many went east together.

49. The Great River (Messussipu) divided the land and being tired they tarried there.

50. Yagawanend (Hut-Maker) was next sakimau, and then the Tallegwi were found possessing the east.

51. Followed Chitanitis (Strong Friend), who longed for the rich east land.

52. Some went to the east but the Tallegwi killed a portion.

53. Then all of one mind exclaimed war, war!

54. The Talamatan (Not-of-themselves) and the Nitilowan all united (to the war).

55. Kinnehepend (Sharp-looking) was their leader, and they went over the river.

56. And they took all that was there and despoiled and slew the Tallegwi.

57. Pimokhasuwi (Stirring About) was next chief, and then the Tallegwi were much too strong.

58. Tenchekensit (Open Path) followed and many towns were given up to him.

59. Paganchihilla was chief,—and the Tallegwi all went southward.

After the earliest mention of the Tallegwi in verse 50 of the First Chronicle there are about fifty chieftains enumerated, and characterized with their successive reigns before the entrance of the white discoverers of the continent at the end of the Second Chronicle. In this it is stated at verse—

56. Nenachipat was chief toward the sea.

57. Now from north and south came the Wapagachik (white comers).

58. Professing to be friends, in big birds (ships). Who are they?

And with this dramatic climax the ancient picture record closes.

What is known as the Modern Chronicle, a fragment, begins with the answer, "Alas! Alas! we know now who they are, these Wapinsis (East People) who came out of the sea to rob us of our lands."

And that the modern chronicle shall be certainly correct the successor of Lekhibit (the compiler of the ancient story) is assisted by critical philologists, and Rafinesque takes issue with Holm touching a Swedish suffix in an Indian name. "Mattanikum was chief in 1645. He is called 'Mattahorn' by Holm, and 'horn' is not Lenapi!"

It is difficult to adjust one's credulity to accept as history this singular Indian picture-record. Its authenticity is supported by the great scope of the system and the reputed subtlety and close accuracy by which abstract ideas, the origin of things, the powers of nature, the elements of religion, could be expressed and read by those conversant with the mnemonic signs,—as easily, Heckewelder says, as a piece of writing. The noted antiquary Squier, however, who in this connection has lauded Rafinesque's industry, scientific attainments, and eager researches, states that since writing in this vein he has seen fit to read this author's American Nations and finds it "a singular jumble of facts and fancies," and adds that it is unfortunate that the manuscript in question should fall in this category. To praise, even with qualifications, the author without reading all his work on the subject, while certainly more amiable, is hardly more conducive to an impartial estimate than to disparage on hearsay, according to that travesty of critical judgment: "'Que dites-vous du livre d'Hermodore?' 'Qu'il est mauvais,' repond Anthime ... 'Mais l'aves-vous lu?' 'Non.' dit Anthime. Quen'ajoute-t-il que Fulvie et Melanie l'ont condamne sans l'avoir lu, et qu'il est ami de Fulvie et de Melanie?"

In contrast with this method the caution and critical scrutiny with which Dr. Brinton, in his work on "The Lenape," deliberates upon the question of the authenticity of the Walam Olum are indeed marked. He carefully examines all the details both favorable and adverse, and finally adduces the evidence of the text itself. The manuscript submitted by him to educated Indians of the Lenni Lenape is pronounced to be a genuine oral composition of a Delaware Indian in an ancient dialect, evidently dictated to one not wholly conversant with, all the terminal inflections of the words, which occasional omissions form the chief defect of the curious "Red Score."

12. Page 324. Some authorities hold that the Talamatan (Not-of-themselves) mentioned by the Walam-Olum were the Hurons who allied themselves with the Delawares against the Tallegwi, and that Heckewelder is mistaken in stating that these confederates were the Mengwe. This story, however, follows the account of the war and the subsequent subjection of the Delawares as given by Heckewelder.

THE END

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