The Project Gutenberg eBook of Indian Stories Retold From St. Nicholas

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Title: Indian Stories Retold From St. Nicholas

Author: Various

Release date: January 21, 2011 [eBook #35021]
Most recently updated: January 7, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Emmy and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at




leaf decoration
A mirror of Indian ideas, customs, and adventures.
Stirring tales of the rude frontier life of early times.
Heroic deeds, and especially children's part in them.
Thrilling stories of the great struggle, both on land and sea.
Something of their meaning and spirit.
Each about 200 pages. Full cloth, 12mo.


Drawing by Frederic Remington




NEW YORK               MCMVII




This collection of Indian stories is the first in a series of volumes of historic tales retold from "St. Nicholas."

The books do not pretend to give anything like connected history, but by means of the story that thrills and interests they impart the real spirit of the times they depict in a way no youthful reader will be likely to forget.

Most of the stories in this book a boy of eight or nine can read for himself, and these are the years of his school life when he is being taught something of our colonial history and of the myths and legends of primitive man. Thus these stories, while delighting many children and tempting them to read "out of hours," will serve a very useful [vii]purpose.


Onatoga's Sacrifice   John Dimitry1
Waukewa's Eagle   James Buckham10
A Fourth of July Among the Indians   W. P. Hooper22
A Boy's Visit To Chief Joseph   Erskine Wood43
Little Moccasin's Ride on The Thunder-Horse   Colonel Guido Ilges54
The Little First Man and the Little First Woman   William M. Cary74
Fun Among the Red Boys   Julian Ralph87
The Children of Zuñi   Maria Brace Kimball100
The Indian Girl and Her Messenger-bird   George W. Ranck112
How the Stone-age Children Played   Charles C. Abbott115
Games and Sports of the Indian Boy   Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman123
An Old-time Thanksgiving   M. Eloise Talbot136
Some Indian Dolls   Olive Thorne Miller155
The Walking Purchase   George Wheeler159
The First Americans   F. S. Dellenbaugh171





Sleep, sleep, my boy; the Chippewas
Are far away—are far away.
Sleep, sleep, my boy; prepare to meet
The foe by day—the foe by day!
The cowards will not dare to fight
Till morning break—till morning break.
Sleep, sleep, my child, while still 'tis night;
Then bravely wake—then bravely wake!




ONCE, in the long ago, before the white man had heard of the continent on which we live, red men, who were brave and knew not what fear was in battle, trembled at the mention of a great man-eating bird that had lived before the time told of in the traditions known of their oldest chiefs.

This bird, which, according to the Indian legends, ate men, was known as the Piasau.

The favorite haunt of this terrible bird was a bluff on the Mississippi River, a short distance above the site of the present city of Alton, Illinois. There it was said to lie in wait, and to keep watch over the broad, open prairies. Whenever some rash Indian ventured out alone to hunt upon this[2] fatal ground, he became the monster's prey. The legend says that the bird, swooping down with the fierce swiftness of a hawk, seized upon its victim and bore him to a gloomy cave wherein it made its horrid feasts. The monster must have had an insatiable appetite or a prolonged existence, for tradition declares that it depopulated whole villages. Then it was that the wise men began to see visions and to prophesy the speedy extinction of the tribe. Years of its ravages followed one upon another, until at length, according to the legend, was lost all reckoning of the time when first that strange, foul creature came to scourge their sunny plains. The aged men, whose youth was but a dim memory, could say only that the bird was as it had always been. None like it had ever been heard of save in vague traditions.

There was one, Onatoga, who began to ponder.


Now, Onatoga was the great leader of the Illini; one whose name was spoken with awe even in the distant wigwams north of the Great Lake. Long had he grieved and wondered over the will of the Great Spirit; that he should look upon the men of the Western prairies, not as warriors, but as deer or bison, only fit to fill the maw of so pestilent a thing as this monstrous bird! Before the[4] new moon began to grow upon the face of the sky, Onatoga's resolve was taken. He would go to some spot deep in the forest where by fasting and prayer his spirit would become so pure that the Great Master of Life would hear him and once again be kind and turn His face back, in light, upon the Illini.

Stealing away from his tribe in the night, he plunged far into the trackless forest. Then, blackening his face, for a whole moon he fasted. The moon waxed full and then waned; but no vision came to assure him that the Great Spirit had heard his prayers. Only one more night remained. Wearied and sorrow-worn, he closed his eyes. But, through the deep sleep that fell upon him, came the voice of the Great Spirit. And this is the message that came to Onatoga, as he lay sleeping in body but, in his soul, awake:

"Arise, Chief of the Illini! Thou shalt save thy race. Choose thou twenty of thy warriors; noble-hearted, strong-armed, eagle-eyed. Put in each warrior's hand a bow. Give to each an arrow dipped in the venom of the snake. Seek then the man whose heart loveth the Great Spirit. Let him not fear to look the Piasau in the face; but see that the warriors, with ready bows, stand near in the shadow of the trees."[5]

Onatoga awoke; strong, though he had fasted a month; happy, though he knew he was soon to die! Who, but he, the Great Chief of the Illini, should die for his people—for was it not death to look on the face of the Piasau?

Binding his moccasins firmly upon his feet, he washed the marks of grief from his face, and painted it with the brightest vermilion and blue. Thus, in the splendid colors of a triumphant warrior, he returned homeward. All was silent in the village when, in the gray light of early day, he entered his lodge. Soon the joyful news was known. From lodge to lodge it spread until the last wigwam was reached. Onatoga's quest was successful!

Then the warriors began to gather. Furtively, even in their gladness, they sought his lodge, for the fear of the Piasau was over all. A solemn awe fell upon them as they gathered around the chief, who, it was whispered, had heard the voice of the Great Spirit. Without, on that high bluff, they knew that the fiend-bird crouched, waiting for the morning light to reveal its prey. Within, in sorrowing silence, they heard how the people could be saved; but the hearts of the warriors were heavy. All knew the sacrifice demanded—their bravest and their best![6]


Onatoga chose his twenty warriors and appointed them their place, where the rolling prairie was broken by the edge of the forest. Then, when the sun shot its first long shafts of light across the level grasses, the chief walked slowly forth and stood alone upon the prairie. The world in the morning light was beautiful to Onatoga's eyes. The flowers beneath his feet seemed to smile, and poured forth richest perfumes; the sun was glorious in its golden breast-plate, to do him honor; while the lark and the mock-bird sang his praise in joyous songs.[7]

He had not long to wait. Soon, afar off, the dreaded Piasau was seen moving heavily through the clear morning air. Onatoga, drawing himself to the full measure of his lofty height, raised his death-song. The dull flutter of huge wings came nearer, and a great shadow came rushing over the sunlit fields. Onatoga, never ceasing his chant, faced the Piasau fearlessly. A sudden fierce swoop downward! In that very moment, twenty poisoned arrows, loosed by twenty faithful hands, sped true to their aim. With a scream that the bluffs sent rolling back in sharp and deafening echoes, the foul monster dropped dead! The Great Spirit loved the man who had been willing to sacrifice his life for his people. In the very instant when death seemed sure, he covered the heart of Onatoga with a shield; and he suffered not the wind to blow aside a single arrow from its mark,—the body of the fated Piasau.


Great were the rejoicings that followed and rich were the feasts that were held in honor of Onatoga. The Illini resolved that the story of the great deliverance and of the courageous love of Onatoga should not die, though they themselves should pass away. The cunning carvers of the tribe cut deep into the living rock of the bluff the[9] terrible form of the Piasau. And, in later years, when young children asked the meaning of this great figure, so unlike any of the birds that they knew upon their rivers and their prairies, then the fathers would tell them the story of the Piasau, and how the Great Spirit had found, in Onatoga, a warrior who loved his fellow-men better than he loved his own life.



ONE day, when the Indian boy Waukewa was hunting along the mountain-side, he found a young eagle with a broken wing, lying at the base of a cliff. The bird had fallen from an aery on a ledge high above, and being too young to fly, had fluttered down the cliff and injured itself so severely that it was likely to die. When Waukewa saw it he was about to drive one of his sharp arrows through its body, for the passion of the hunter was strong in him, and the eagle plunders many a fine fish from the Indian's drying-frame. But a gentler impulse came to him as he saw the young bird quivering with pain and fright at his feet, and he slowly unbent his bow, put the arrow in his quiver, and stooped over the panting eaglet. For fully a minute the wild eyes of the wounded bird and the eyes of the Indian boy, growing gentler and softer as he gazed, looked into one another. Then the struggling and panting of the[11] young eagle ceased; the wild, frightened look passed out of its eyes, and it suffered Waukewa to pass his hand gently over its ruffled and draggled feathers. The fierce instinct to fight, to defend its threatened life, yielded to the charm of the tenderness and pity expressed in the boy's eyes; and from that moment Waukewa and the eagle were friends.

Waukewa went slowly home to his father's lodge, bearing the wounded eaglet in his arms. He carried it so gently that the broken wing gave no twinge of pain, and the bird lay perfectly still, never offering to strike with its sharp beak the hands that clasped it.

Warming some water over the fire at the lodge, Waukewa bathed the broken wing of the eagle and bound it up with soft strips of skin. Then he made a nest of ferns and grass inside the lodge, and laid the bird in it. The boy's mother looked on with shining eyes. Her heart was very tender. From girlhood she had loved all the creatures of the woods, and it pleased her to see some of her own gentle spirit waking in the boy.

When Waukewa's father returned from hunting, he would have caught up the young eagle and wrung its neck. But the boy pleaded with him so[12] eagerly, stooping over the captive and defending it with his small hands, that the stern warrior laughed and called him his "little squaw-heart." "Keep it, then," he said, "and nurse it until it is well. But then you must let it go, for we will not raise up a thief in the lodges." So Waukewa promised that when the eagle's wing was healed and grown so that it could fly, he would carry it forth and give it its freedom.

It was a month—or, as the Indians say, a moon—before the young eagle's wing had fully mended and the bird was old enough and strong enough to fly. And in the meantime Waukewa cared for it and fed it daily, and the friendship between the boy and the bird grew very strong.


But at last the time came when the willing captive must be freed. So Waukewa carried it far away from the Indian lodges, where none of the young braves might see it hovering over and be tempted to shoot their arrows at it, and there he let it go. The young eagle rose toward the sky in great circles, rejoicing in its freedom and its strange, new power of flight. But when Waukewa began to move away from the spot, it came swooping down again; and all day long it followed him through the woods as he hunted. At[15] dusk, when Waukewa shaped his course for the Indian lodges, the eagle would have accompanied him. But the boy suddenly slipped into a hollow tree and hid, and after a long time the eagle stopped sweeping about in search of him and flew slowly and sadly away.

Summer passed, and then winter; and spring came again, with its flowers and birds and swarming fish in the lakes and streams. Then it was that all the Indians, old and young, braves and squaws, pushed their light canoes out from shore and with spear and hook waged pleasant war against the salmon and the red-spotted trout. After winter's long imprisonment, it was such joy to toss in the sunshine and the warm wind and catch savory fish to take the place of dried meats and corn!

Above the great falls of the Apahoqui the salmon sported in the cool, swinging current, darting under the lee of the rocks and leaping full length in the clear spring air. Nowhere else were such salmon to be speared as those which lay among the riffles at the head of the Apahoqui rapids. But only the most daring braves ventured to seek them there, for the current was strong, and should a light canoe once pass the danger-point[16] and get caught in the rush of the rapids, nothing could save it from going over the roaring falls.

Very early in the morning of a clear April day, just as the sun was rising splendidly over the mountains, Waukewa launched his canoe a half-mile above the rapids of the Apahoqui, and floated downward, spear in hand, among the salmon-riffles. He was the only one of the Indian lads who dared fish above the falls. But he had been there often, and never yet had his watchful eye and his strong paddle suffered the current to carry his canoe beyond the danger-point. This morning he was alone on the river, having risen long before daylight to be first at the sport.

The riffles were full of salmon, big, lusty fellows, who glided about the canoe on every side in an endless silver stream. Waukewa plunged his spear right and left, and tossed one glittering victim after another into the bark canoe. So absorbed in the sport was he that for once he did not notice when the head of the rapids was reached and the canoe began to glide more swiftly among the rocks. But suddenly he looked up, caught his paddle, and dipped it wildly in the swirling water. The canoe swung sidewise, shivered, held its own against the torrent, and then slowly, inch by inch,[17] began to creep upstream toward the shore. But suddenly there was a loud, cruel snap, and the paddle parted in the boy's hands, broken just above the blade! Waukewa gave a cry of despairing agony. Then he bent to the gunwale of his canoe and with the shattered blade fought desperately against the current. But it was useless. The racing torrent swept him downward; the hungry falls roared tauntingly in his ears.

Then the Indian boy knelt calmly upright in the canoe, facing the mist of the falls, and folded his arms. His young face was stern and lofty. He had lived like a brave hitherto—now he would die like one.

Faster and faster sped the doomed canoe toward the great cataract. The black rocks glided away on either side like phantoms. The roar of the terrible waters became like thunder in the boy's ears. But still he gazed calmly and sternly ahead, facing his fate as a brave Indian should. At last he began to chant the death-song, which he had learned from the older braves. In a few moments all would be over. But he would come before the Great Spirit with a fearless hymn upon his lips.

Suddenly a shadow fell across the canoe.[18] Waukewa lifted his eyes and saw a great eagle hovering over, with dangling legs, and a spread of wings that blotted out the sun. Once more the eyes of the Indian boy and the eagle met; and now it was the eagle who was master!


With a glad cry the Indian boy stood up in his canoe, and the eagle hovered lower. Now the canoe tossed up on that great swelling wave that climbs to the cataract's edge, and the boy lifted his hands and caught the legs of the eagle. The next moment he looked down into the awful gulf of waters from its very verge. The canoe was snatched from beneath him and plunged down the black wall of the cataract; but he and the struggling eagle were floating outward and downward through the cloud of mist. The cataract roared terribly, like a wild beast robbed of its prey. The spray beat and blinded, the air rushed upward as they fell. But the eagle struggled on with his burden. He fought his way out of the mist and the flying spray. His great wings threshed the air with a whistling sound. Down, down they sank, the boy and the eagle, but ever farther from the precipice of water and the boiling whirlpool below. At length, with a fluttering plunge, the eagle dropped on a sand-bar below the whirlpool,[21] and he and the Indian boy lay there a minute, breathless and exhausted. Then the eagle slowly lifted himself, took the air under his free wings, and soared away, while the Indian boy knelt on the sand, with shining eyes following the great bird till he faded into the gray of the cliffs.



INDIANS—real Indians—real, live Indians—were what we, like all boys, wanted to see; and this was why, after leaving the railroad on which we had been traveling for several days and nights, we found ourselves at last in a big canvas-covered wagon lumbering across the monotonous prairie.
Indian smoking pipe

We were on our way to see a celebration of the Fourth of July at a Dakota Indian agency.

It was late in the afternoon of a hot summer's day. We had been riding since early morning,[23] and had not met a living creature—not even a bird or a snake. Only those who have experienced it know how wearying to the eyes it is to gaze all day long, and see nothing but the sky and the grass.

However, an hour before sunset we did see something. At first, it looked like a mere speck against the sky; then it seemed like a bush or a shrub; but it rapidly increased in size as we approached. Then, with the aid of our field-glass, we saw it was a man on horseback. No, not exactly that, either; it was an Indian chief riding an Indian pony. Now, I have seen Indians in the East—"Dime Museum Indians." I have seen the Indians who travel with the circus—yes, and I have seen the untutored savages who sell bead-work at Niagara Falls; but this one was different—he was quite different. I felt sure that he was a genuine Indian. He was unlike the Indians I had seen in the East. The most striking difference was that this one presented a grand unwashed effect. It must have required years of patient industry in avoiding the wash-bowl, and great good luck in dodging the passing showers, for him to acquire the rich effect of color which he displayed. Though it was one of July's hottest[24] days, he had on his head an arrangement made of fur, with head trimmings and four black-tipped feathers; a long braid of his hair, wound with strips of fur, hung down in front of each ear, and strings of beads ornamented his neck. He wore a calico shirt, with tin bands on his arms above the elbow; a blanket was wrapped around his waist; his leggings had strips of beautiful bright bead-work, and his moccasins were ornamented in the same style. But in his right hand he was holding a most murderous-looking instrument. It was a long wooden club, into one end of which three sharp, shining steel knife-blades were set. Though I had been complaining of the heat, still I now felt chilly as I looked at the weapon, and saw how well it matched the expression of his cruel mouth and piercing eyes.

He passed on while we were trying to make a sketch of him. However, the next day, an interpreter brought him around, and, for a small piece of tobacco, he was glad to pose while the sketch was being finished. We learned his name was "Can-h-des-ka-wan-ji-dan" (One Hoop).


A few moments later, we passed an iron post set firmly into the ground. It marked one of the boundaries of the Indian Reservation. We were[25] now on a tract of land set aside by the United States Government as the living-ground of sixteen hundred "Santee" Sioux Indians. We soon saw more Indians, who, like us, seemed to be moving toward the little village at the Indian agency. Each group had put their belongings into a big[26] bundle, and strapped it upon long poles, which were fastened at one end to the back of a pony. In this bundle the little papooses rode in great comfort, looking like blackbirds peering from a nest. In some cases, an older child would be riding in great glee on the pony's back among the poles. The family baggage seemed about equally distributed between the pony and the squaw who led him. She was preceded by her lord and master, the noble red Indian, who carried no load except his long pipe.

The next thing of interest was what is called a Red River wagon. It was simply a cart with two large wheels, the whole vehicle made of wood. As the axles are never oiled, the Red River carry-all keeps up a most terrible squeaking. This charming music-box was drawn by one ox, and contained an Indian, who was driving with a whip. His wife and children were seated on the bottom of this jolting and shrieking cart.


As we neared the agency buildings, we passed many Indians who had settled for the night. They chose the wooded ravines, near streams, by which to put up their tents, or "tepees," which consisted of long poles covered with patched and smoke-stained canvas, with two openings, one at[28] the top for a "smoke-hole" and the other for a door, through which any one must crawl in order to enter the domestic circle of the gentle savage. We entered several tepees, making ourselves welcome by gifts of tobacco to every member of the family. That night, after reaching the agency and retiring to our beds, we dreamed of smoking great big pipes, with stems a mile long, which were passed to us by horrible-looking black witches. But morning came at last,—and such a morning!

That Fourth of July morning I shall never forget. We were awakened by the most blood-curdling yells that ever pierced the ears of three white boys. It was the Indian war-whoop. I found myself instinctively feeling for my back hair, and regretting the distance to the railroad. We lingered indoors in a rather terrified condition, until we found out that this was simply the beginning of the day's celebration. It was the "sham-fight," but it looked real enough when the Indians came tearing by, their ponies seeming to enter into the excitement as thoroughly as their riders. There were some five hundred, in full frills and war-paint, and all giving those terrible yells.

Their costumes were simple, but gay in color—paint,[29] feathers, and more paint, with an occasional shirt.

For weapons they carried guns, rifles, and long spears. Bows and arrows seemed to be out of style. A few had round shields on their left arms.

Most of the tepees had been collected together and pitched so as to form a large circle, and their wagons were placed outside this circle so as to make a sort of protection for the defending party. The attacking party, brandishing their weapons in the air with increased yells, rushed their excited and panting ponies up the slope toward the tepees, where they were met by a rapid discharge of blank cartridges and powder. Some of the ponies became frightened and unmanageable, several riders were unhorsed, and general confusion prevailed. The intrenched party, in the meantime, rushed out from behind their defenses, climbing on top of their wagons, yelling and dancing around like demons. Added to this, the sight of several riderless ponies flying wildly from the tumult made the sham-fight have a terribly realistic look.

After the excitement was over, the regular games which had been arranged for the day began.[30]



In the foot-races, the costumes were so slight that there was nothing to describe—simply paint in fancy patterns, moccasins, and a girdle of red flannel. But how they could run! I did not suppose anything on two legs could go so fast. The lacrosse costumes were bright and attractive. The leader of one side wore a shirt of soft, tanned buck-skin, bead-work and embroidery on the front, long fringe on the shoulders, bands around the arms, and deep fringe on the bottom of the skirt. The legs were bare to the knee, and from there down to the toes was one mass of fine glittering bead-work. In the game, there were a hundred Indians engaged on each side. The game was long, but exciting, being skilfully played. The grounds extended about a mile in length. The ball was the size of a common baseball, and felt almost as solid as a rock, the center being of lead. The shape of the Indian lacrosse stick is shown in the sketch.


Then came games on horseback. But the most interesting performance of the whole day, and one in which they all manifested an absorbing interest, was the dinner.

At 3 a.m. several oxen had been butchered, and from that time till the dinner was served all the[32] old squaws had their hands full. Fires were made in long lines, poles placed over them, and high black pots, kettles, and zinc pails filled with a combination of things, including beef and water, were suspended there and carefully tended by ancient Indian ladies in picturesque, witch-like costumes, who gently stirred the boiling bouillion with pieces of wood, while other seemingly more ancient and worn-out-looking squaws brought great bundles of wood from the ravines, tied up in blankets and swung over their shoulders. Think of a dinner for sixteen hundred noble chiefs and braves, stalwart head-men, young bucks, old squaws, girls, and children! And such queer-looking children—some dressed in full war costume, some in the most approved dancing dresses.


One little boy, whose name was Sha-ke-to-pa (Four Nails), had five feathers—big ones, too—in his hair. His face was painted; he wore great round ear-rings, and rows of beads and claws[33] around his neck; bands of beads on his little bare brown arms; embroidered leggings and beautiful moccasins, and a long piece of red cloth hanging from his waist. In fact, he was as gaily dressed as a grown-up Indian man, and he had a cunning little war-club, all ornamented and painted. When the dinner was nearly ready, the men began[34] to seat themselves in a long curved line. Behind them, the women and children were gathered. When everything was ready, a chief wearing a long arrangement of feathers hanging from his back hair and several bead pouches across his shoulders, with a long staff in his left hand, walked into the center of the circle. Taking a spoonful of the soup, he held it high in the air, and then, turning slowly around, chanting a song, he poured the contents of the spoon upon the ground. This, an interpreter explained to us, was done to appease the spirits of the air. After this, the old squaws limped nimbly around with the pails of soup and other food, serving the men. After they were all bountifully and repeatedly helped, the women and children, who had been patiently waiting, were allowed to gather about the fragments and half-empty pots and finish the repast, which they did with neatness and despatch.


Then the warriors lay around and smoked their long-stem pipes, while the young men prepared for the pony races.[35]

The first of the races was "open to all," and more than a hundred ponies and their riders were arranged in a row. Some of the ponies were very spirited, and seemed fully to realize what was going to take place, and they would persist in pushing ahead of the line. Then the other riders would start their ponies; then the whole line would have to be reformed. But finally they were all started, and such shouting, and such waving of whips in the air!—and how the little ponies did jump! When the race was over, how we all crowded around the winner, and how proud the pony as well as the rider seemed to feel! Now we had a better chance to examine the ponies than ever before, and some were very handsome. And such prices! Think of buying a beautiful three-year-old cream-colored pony for twenty dollars!

But as the hour of sunset approached, the interest in the races vanished, and so did most of the braves. They sought the seclusion of their bowers, to adorn themselves for the grand "grass dance," which was to begin at sunset.


What a contrast between their every-day dress and their dancing costumes! The former consists of a blanket more or less tattered and torn, while[36] the gorgeousness of the latter discourages a description in words; so I refer you to the pictures. Of course, we were eager to purchase some of the Indian finery, but it was a bad time to trade successfully with the Indians. They were too much taken up with the pleasures of the day to care to turn an honest penny by parting with any of their ornaments. However, we succeeded in buying a big war-club set with knives, some pipes with carved stems a yard long, a few knife-sheaths and pouches, glittering with beads, and several pairs of beautiful moccasins,—most of which now adorn a New York studio.

Soon the highly decorated red men silently assembled inside a large space inclosed by bushes stuck into the ground. This was their dance-hall. The squaws were again shut out, as, according to[37] Santee Sioux custom, they are not allowed to join in the dances with the men. The Indians, as they came in, sat quietly down around the sides of the inclosure. The musicians were gathered around a big drum, on which they pounded with short sticks, while they sang a sort of wild, weird chant. The effect, to an uneducated white man's ear, was rather depressing, but it seemed very pleasing to the Indians.

The ball was opened by an old chief, who, rising slowly, beckoned the others to follow him. In his right hand the leader carried a wooden gun, ornamented with eagles' feathers; in the left he held a short stick, with bells attached to it. He wore a cap of otter skin, from which hung a long train. His face was carefully painted in stripes of blue and yellow.


At first, they all moved slowly, jumping twice on each foot; then, as the musicians struck up a more lively pounding and a more inspiring song, the dancers moved with more rapidity, giving an occasional shout and waving their arms in the air. As they grew warmer and more excited, the musicians redoubled their exertions on the drum and changed their singing into prolonged howls; then one of them, dropping his drumsticks, sprang to[38] his feet, and, waving his hands over his head, he yelled till he was breathless, urging on the dancers. This seemed to be the finishing touch. The orchestra and dancers seemed to vie with each other as to who should make the greater noise. Their yells were deafening, and, brandishing their knives and tomahawks, they sprang around with wonderful agility. Of course, this intense excitement could last but a short time; the voices of the musicians began to fail, and, finally, with one last grand effort, they all gave a terrible shout, and then all was silence. The dancers crawled back to their places around the inclosure, and sank exhausted on the grass. But soon some supple brave regained enough strength to rise. The musicians slowly recommenced, other dancers came forward, and the "mad dance" was again in full blast. And thus the revels went on, hour after hour, all night, and continued even through the following day. But there was a curious fascination about it, and, tired as we were after the long day, we stood there looking on hour after hour. Finally, after midnight had passed, we gathered our Indian purchases about us, including two beautiful ponies, and began our return trip toward the railroad and civilization.[40] But the monotonous sound of the Indian drum followed us mile after mile over the prairie; in fact, it followed us much better than my new spotted pony.

My arm aches now, as I remember how that pony hung back.






[Note: The author of the sketch "A Boy's Visit to Chief Joseph" was Erskine Wood, a boy thirteen years old. He was then an expert shot with the rifle, and had brought down not only small game, but bear, wolves, and deer. A true woodsman, he was also a skilled archer and angler, having camped alone in the woods, and lived upon the game secured by shooting and fishing.

When Chief Joseph, of the Nez Percé Indians, went to the national capital, he met Erskine, and invited the young hunter to visit his camp some summer. So in July, 1892, the boy started alone from Portland, Oregon, carrying his guns, bows, rods, and blanket, and made his own way to Chief Joseph's camp on the Nespilem River.

The Indians received him hospitably, and he took part in their annual fall hunt. He was even adopted into the tribe by the chief, and, according to their custom, received an Indian name, Ishem-tux-il-pilp,—"Red Moon."

Chief Joseph's band was the remnant of the tribe which, under his leadership, fought the United States army so gallantly in 1877; they carried on a running fight of about eleven hundred miles in one summer.

When Erskine visited him, the chief was in every way most kind and hospitable to his young guest.

C. E. S. Wood.]

I   LEFT Portland on the third of July, 1892, to visit Chief Joseph, who was chief of the Nez Percé Indians. They lived on the Colville Agency, two or three hundred miles north of the city of Spokane, in the State of Washington.

I arrived at Davenport, Washington, on the fourth of July. There was no stage, so I had to stay all night. I left for Fort Spokane next day, arriving at about seven in the evening. As we did not start for Nespilem until the seventh, I went and visited Colonel Cook, commanding officer at the fort. I stayed all night, and next morning[44] I helped the soldiers load cartridges at the magazine. That afternoon I watched the soldiers shooting volleys at the target range. We started for Nespilem in a wagon at three o'clock in the morning.

The next day I went fishing in the morning, and in the afternoon I went up the creek again, fishing with Doctor Latham. He was doctor at the Indian agency. The next day I went down to Joseph's camp, where I stayed the rest of the time—about five months—alone with the Indians. The doctor and the teamster returned to the agency. During my first day in the camp, I wrote[45] a letter to my mother, and bought a beaded leather belt from one of the squaws. I stayed about camp most of the first day; but in the afternoon I went fishing, and caught a nice string of trout.

The Indian camp is usually in two or more long rows of tepees. Sometimes two or three families occupy one lodge. When they are hunting and drying meat for their winter supply, several lodges are put together, making one big lodge about thirty feet long, in which are two or three fires instead of one. They say that it dries the meat better.

When game gets scarce, camp is broken and moved to a different place. The men and boys catch the horses, and then the squaws have to put on the pack-saddles (made of bone and covered with untanned deer-hide) and pack them. The men sit around smoking and talking. When all is ready, the different families set out, driving their spare horses and pack-horses in front of them. The men generally hunt in the early morning; they get up at about two o'clock, take a vapor bath, get breakfast, and start to hunt at about three. Sometimes they hunt on horseback, and sometimes on foot. They come back at about ten or eleven o'clock, and if they have been on foot[46] and have been successful they take a horse and go and bring in the game. The meat is always divided. If Chief Joseph is there, he divides it; and if he is not there, somebody is chosen to fill his place. They believe that if the heads or horns of the slain deer are left on the ground, the other deer feel insulted and will go away, and that would spoil the hunting in that neighborhood. So the heads and horns are hung up in trees. They think, too, that when anybody dies, his spirit hovers around the spot for several days afterward, and so they always move the lodge. I was sitting with Joseph in the tepee once, when a lizard crawled in. I discovered it, and showed it to Joseph. He was very solemn, and I asked him what was the matter. "A medicine-man sent it here to do me harm. You have very good eyes to discover the tricks of the medicine-men." I was going to throw it into the fire, but he stopped me, saying: "If you burn it, it will make the medicine-men angry. You must kill it some other way."

The Indians' calendars are little square sticks of wood about eight inches long. Every day they file a little notch, and on Sunday a little hole is made. When any one dies, the notch is painted red or black. When they are home at Nespilem,[47] they all meet out on the prairie on certain days, and have horse-racing. They run for about two miles. When they are on the home-stretch, about half a mile from the goal, a lot of men get behind them and fire pistols and whip the horses.

I was out grouse-hunting with Niky Mowitz, my Indian companion, and we started a deer. We were near the camp, and he proposed to run around in front of the deer and head it for camp. So we started, and the way he got over those rocks was a wonder! If we had not had the dogs, we might have succeeded; but as soon as they caught sight of the deer, they went after it like mad, and we did not see it again. Niky Mowitz is a nephew and adopted son of Chief Joseph; his father was killed in the Nez Percé war of 1877. In the fall hunt the boys are not allowed to go grouse- or pheasant-hunting without first getting permission of the chief in command. And it is never granted to them until the boys have driven the horses to water and counted them to see if any are missing.

The game that the boys play most has to be played out in open country, where there are no sticks or underbrush. They get a little hoop, or some of them have a little iron ring, about two inches across. Then they range themselves in[48] rows, and one rolls the ring on the ground, and the others try to throw spears through it. The spears are straight sticks about three feet and a half long, with two or three little branches cut short at the end, to keep the spear from going clear through the ring.

The Indians take "Turkish," or vapor, baths. They have a little house in the shape of a half globe, made of willow sticks, covered with sods and dirt until it is about a foot thick and perfectly tight. A hole is dug in the house and filled with hot rocks. The Indians (usually about four) crowd in, and then one pours hot water on the hot rocks, making a lot of steam. They keep this up until one's back commences to burn, and then he gives a little yell, and somebody outside tilts up the door (a blanket), and they all come out and jump at once into the cold mountain-stream. This bath is taken just before going hunting, as they think that the deer cannot scent them after it.

Only the boys indulge in wrestling. They fold their hands behind each other's backs, and try to throw each other by force, or by bending the back backward. Tripping is unfair, in their opinion.

The country is full of game, and we killed many deer and a cinnamon bear. In the evening,[49] when they come home, they talk about the day's hunt, and what they saw and did. The one that killed the bear said that when he first saw the bear it was about fifteen yards off, and coming for him with open jaws, and growling and roaring like everything. He fired and wounded it. It stopped and stood on its hind legs, roaring worse than ever. While this was going on, the Indian slipped around and shot it through the heart. I cut off the claws and made a necklace out of them. The next day they dug a hole nine feet in diameter and built a big fire in it, and piled rocks all over the fire to heat them. In the meantime the squaws had cut a lot of fir-boughs and brought the bear-meat. When the fire had burned down, and the rocks were red hot, all the coals and things that would smoke were raked out, and sticks laid across the hole (it was about three feet deep). Then the fir-boughs were dipped in water and laid over the sticks. And then meat was laid on, and then more fir-boughs, and then the fat (the fat between the hide and flesh of a bear is taken off whole) is laid on, and then more fir-boughs dipped and sprinkled with water. Then come two or three blankets, and, last of all, the whole thing is covered with earth until it is perfectly tight. After about two[50] hours everything is removed, and the water that has been put on the boughs has steamed the meat thoroughly. Then Chief Joseph comes and cuts it up, and every family gets a portion. I helped the squaws cook some wild carrots once (they cook them just as they do the bear, except that they let them cook all night), and Joseph said that I must not do squaws' work: that a brave must hunt, fish, fight, and take care of the horses; but a squaw must put up the tepees, cook, sew, make moccasins and clothes, tan the hides, and take care of the household goods.

The boys take care of the horses. They catch them and drive them to and from their watering-places; and the rest of the time they hunt with bows and arrows (the boys don't have guns), and fish and play games. The Indian dogs are fine grouse- and pheasant-hunters, scenting the game from a long distance, and going and treeing them; and they will stay there and bark until the men come. The dogs are exactly like coyotes, except that they are smaller.


Many people have said that the Indian is lazy. In the summer he takes care of his horses, hunts enough to keep fresh meat, fishes, and plays games. But in the fall, when they are getting their winter[53] meat, they get up regularly every morning at two o'clock and start to hunt. And if the Indian has been successful, as he usually is, he seldom gets home before five o'clock. And the next morning it is the same thing, while hoar-frost is all over the ground. In the Fall Hunt, I was out in the mountains with them seventy-five miles from Nespilem (where Joseph's camp was, and about one hundred and fifty miles from the agency), and it was about the 15th of November; and if I had not gone home then, I would not have been able to go until spring. So Niky Mowitz brought me in to Nespilem, and we made the trip (seventy-six miles) in one day. We started at about eight o'clock in the morning, on our ponies. We had not been gone more than an hour when the dogs started a deer; we rode very fast, and tried to get a sight of it, but we couldn't.

Chief Joseph did not go to the mountains with us on this hunt, and we reached his tent in Nespilem at about ten o'clock. When we got to the tent, one of Joseph's squaws cooked us some supper; and on the third day after that, I went to Wilbur, a little town on the railroad, and from there to Portland, where papa met me at the train.



"LITTLE MOCCASIN" was, at the time we speak of, fourteen years old, and about as mischievous a boy as could be found anywhere in the Big Horn mountains. Unlike his comrades of the same age, who had already killed buffaloes and stolen horses from the white men and the Crow Indians, with whom Moccasin's tribe, the Uncapapas, were at war, he preferred to lie under a shady tree in the summer, or around the campfire in winter, listening to the conversation of the old men and women, instead of going upon expeditions with the warriors and the hunters.

The Uncapapas are a very powerful and numerous tribe of the great Sioux Nation, and before Uncle Sam's soldiers captured and removed them, and before the Northern Pacific Railroad[55] entered the territory of Montana, they occupied the beautiful valleys of the Rosebud, Big and Little Horn, Powder and Redstone rivers, all of which empty into the grand Yellowstone Valley. In those days, before the white man had set foot upon these grounds, there was plenty of game, such as buffalo, elk, antelope, deer, and bear; and, as the Uncapapas were great hunters and good shots, the camp of Indians to which Little Moccasin belonged always had plenty of meat to eat and plenty of robes and hides to sell and trade for horses and guns, for powder and ball, for sugar and coffee, and for paint and flour. Little Moccasin showed more appetite than any other Indian in camp. In fact, he was always hungry, and used to eat at all hours, day and night. Buffalo meat he liked the best, particularly the part taken from the hump, which is so tender that it almost melts in the mouth.

When Indian boys have had a hearty dinner of good meat, they generally feel very happy and very lively. When hungry, they are sad and dull.

This was probably the reason why Little Moccasin was always so full of mischief, and always inventing tricks to play upon the other boys. He was a precocious and observing youngster, full of[56] quaint and original ideas—never at a loss for expedients.

But he was once made to feel very sorry for having played a trick, and I must tell my young readers how it happened.

"Running Antelope," one of the great warriors and the most noted orator of the tribe, had returned from a hunt, and Mrs. Antelope was frying for him a nice buffalo steak—about as large as two big fists—over the coals. Little Moccasin, who lived in the next street of tents, smelled the feast, and concluded that he would have some of it. In the darkness of the night he slowly and carefully crawled toward the spot where Mistress Antelope sat holding in one hand a long stick, at the end of which the steak was frying. Little Moccasin watched her closely, and, seeing that she frequently placed her other hand upon the ground beside her and leaned upon it for support, he soon formed a plan for making her drop the steak.

He had once or twice in his life seen a pin, but he had never owned one, and he could not have known what use is sometimes made of them by bad white boys. He had noticed, however, that some of the leaves of the larger varieties of the[57] prickly-pear cactus-plant are covered with many thorns, as long and as sharp as an ordinary pin.

So when Mrs. Antelope again sat down and looked at the meat to see if it was done, he slyly placed half-a-dozen of the cactus leaves upon the very spot of ground upon which Mrs. Antelope had before rested her left hand.

Then the young mischief crawled noiselessly into the shade and waited for his opportunity, which came immediately.

When the unsuspecting Mrs. Antelope again leaned upon the ground, and felt the sharp points of the cactus leaves, she uttered a scream, and dropped from her other hand the stick and the steak, thinking only of relief from the sharp pain.

Then, on the instant, the young rascal seized the stick and tried to run away with it. But Running Antelope caught him by his long hair, and gave him a severe whipping, declaring that he was a good-for-nothing boy, and calling him a "coffee-cooler" and a "squaw."

The other boys, hearing the rumpus, came running up to see the fun, and they laughed and danced over poor Little Moccasin's distress. Often afterward they called him "coffee-cooler"; which meant that he was cowardly and faint-hearted,[58] and that he preferred staying in camp around the fire, drinking coffee, to taking part in the manly sports of hunting and stealing expeditions.

The night after the whipping, Little Moccasin could not sleep. The disgrace of the whipping and the name applied to him were too much for his vanity. He even lost his appetite, and refused some very nice prairie-dog stew which his mother offered him.

He was thinking of something else. He must do something brave—perform some great deed which no other Indian had ever performed—in order to remove this stain upon his character.

But what should it be? Should he go out alone and kill a bear? He had never fired a gun, and was afraid that the bear might eat him. Should he attack the Crow camp single-handed? No, no—not he; they would catch him and scalp him alive.

All night long he was thinking and planning; but when daylight came, he had reached no conclusion. He must wait for the Great Spirit to give him some ideas.

During the following day he refused all food and kept drawing his belt tighter and tighter[59] around his waist every hour, till, by evening, he had reached the last notch. This method of appeasing the pangs of hunger, adopted by the Indians when they have nothing to eat, is said to be very effective.

In a week's time Little Moccasin had grown almost as thin as a bean-pole, but no inspiration had yet revealed what he could do to redeem himself.

About this time a roving band of Cheyennes, who had been down to the mouth of the Little Missouri, and beyond, entered the camp upon a friendly visit. Feasting and dancing were kept up day and night, in honor of the guests; but Little Moccasin lay hidden in the woods nearly all the time.

During the night of the second day of their stay, he quietly stole to the rear of the great council-tepee, to listen to the pow-wow then going on. Perhaps he would there learn some words of wisdom which would give him an idea how to carry out his great undertaking.

After "Black Catfish," the great Cheyenne warrior, had related in the flowery language of his tribe some reminiscences of his many fights and brave deeds, "Strong Heart" spoke. Then[60] there was silence for many minutes, during which the pipe of peace made the rounds, each warrior taking two or three puffs, blowing the smoke through the nose, pointing toward heaven, and then handing the pipe to his left-hand neighbor.

"Strong Heart," "Crazy Dog," "Bow-String," "Dog-Fox," and "Smooth Elkhorn" spoke of the country they had just passed through.

Then again the pipe of peace was handed round, amid profound silence.

"Black Pipe," who was bent and withered with the wear and exposure of seventy-nine winters, and who trembled like some leafless tree shaken by the wind, but who was sound in mind and memory, then told the Uncapapas, for the first time, of the approach of a great number of white men, who were measuring the ground with long chains, and who were being followed by "Thundering Horses" and "Houses on Wheels." (He was referring to the surveying parties of the Northern Pacific Railway Company, who were just then at work on the crossing of the Little Missouri.)

With heart beating wildly, Little Moccasin listened to this strange story and then retired to his own blankets in his father's tepee.[61]

Now he had found the opportunity he so long had sought! He would go across the mountains, all by himself, look at the thundering horses and the houses on wheels. He then would know more than any one in the tribe, and return to the camp,—a hero!

At early morn, having provided himself with a bow and a quiver full of arrows, without informing any one of his plan he stole out of camp, and, running at full speed, crossed the nearest mountain to the East.

Allowing himself little time for rest, pushing forward by day and night, and after fording many of the smaller mountain-streams, on the evening of the third day of his travel he came upon what he believed to be a well-traveled road. But—how strange!—there were two endless iron rails lying side by side upon the ground. Such a curious sight he had never beheld. There were also large poles, with glass caps, and connected by wire, standing along the roadside. What could all this mean?

Poor Little Moccasin's brain became so bewildered that he hardly noticed the approach of a freight-train drawn by the "Thundering Horse."

There was a shrill, long-drawn whistle, and immense[62] clouds of black smoke; and the Thundering Horse was sniffing and snorting at a great rate, emitting from its nostrils large streams of steaming vapor. Besides all this, the earth, in the neighborhood of where Little Moccasin stood, shook and trembled as if in great fear; and to him the terrible noises the horse made were perfectly appalling.

Gradually the snorts, and the puffing, and the terrible noise lessened, until, all at once, they entirely ceased. The train had come to a stand-still at a watering tank, where the Thundering Horse was given its drink.

The rear car, or "House on Wheels," as old Black Pipe had called it, stood in close proximity to Little Moccasin,—who, in his bewilderment and fright at the sight of these strange moving houses, had been unable to move a step.

But as no harm had come to him from the terrible monster, Moccasin's heart, which had sunk down to the region of his toes, began to rise again; and the curiosity inherent in every Indian boy mastered fear.

He moved up, and down, and around the great House on Wheels; then he touched it in many places, first with the tip-end of one finger, and[63] finally with both hands. If he could only detach a small piece from the house to take back to camp with him as a trophy and as a proof of his daring achievement! But it was too solid, and all made of heavy wood and iron.

At the rear end of the train there was a ladder, which the now brave Little Moccasin ascended with the quickness of a squirrel to see what there was on top.

It was gradually growing dark, and suddenly he saw (as he really believed) the full moon approaching him. He did not know that it was the headlight of a locomotive coming from the opposite direction.

Absorbed in this new and glorious sight, he did not notice the starting of his own car, until it was too late, for, while the car moved, he dared not let go his hold upon the brake-wheel.

There he was, being carried with lightning speed into a far-off, unknown country, over bridges, by the sides of deep ravines, and along the slopes of steep mountains.

But the Thundering Horse never tired nor grew thirsty again during the entire night.

At last, soon after the break of day, there came the same shrill whistle which had frightened him[64] so much on the previous day; and, soon after, the train stopped at Miles City.

But, unfortunately for our little hero, there were a great many white people in sight; and he was compelled to lie flat upon the roof of his car, in order to escape notice. He had heard so much of the cruelty of the white men that he dared not trust himself among them.

Soon they started again, and Little Moccasin was compelled to proceed on his involuntary journey, which took him away from home and into unknown dangers.

At noon, the cars stopped on the open prairie to let Thundering Horse drink again. Quickly, and without being detected by any of the trainmen, he dropped to the ground from his high and perilous position. Then the train left him—all alone in an unknown country.

Alone? Not exactly; for, within a few minutes, half a dozen Crow Indians, mounted on swift ponies, are by his side, and are lashing him with whips and lassoes.

He has fallen into the hands of the deadliest enemies of his tribe, and has been recognized by the cut of his hair and the shape of his moccasins.

When they tired of their sport in beating poor[65] Little Moccasin so cruelly, they dismounted and tied his hands behind his back.

Then they sat down upon the ground to have a smoke and to deliberate about the treatment of the captive.

During the very severe whipping, and while they were tying his hands, though it gave him great pain, Little Moccasin never uttered a groan. Indian-like, he had made up his mind to "die game," and not to give his enemies the satisfaction of gloating over his sufferings. This, as will be seen, saved his life.

The leader of the Crows, "Iron Bull," was in favor of burning the hated Uncapapa at a stake, then and there; but "Spotted Eagle," "Blind Owl," and "Hungry Wolf" called attention to the youth and bravery of the captive, who had endured the lashing without any sign of fear. Then the two other Crows took the same view. This decided poor Moccasin's fate; and he understood it all, although he did not speak the Crow language, for he was a great sign-talker, and had watched them very closely during their council.

Blind Owl, who seemed the most kind-hearted of the party, lifted the boy upon his pony, Blind Owl himself getting up in front, and they rode at[66] full speed westward to their large encampment, where they arrived after sunset.

Little Moccasin was then relieved of his bonds, which had benumbed his hands during the long ride, and a large dish of boiled meat was given to him. This, in his famished condition, he relished very much. An old squaw, one of the wives of Blind Owl, and a Sioux captive, took pity on him, and gave him a warm place with plenty of blankets in her own tepee, where he enjoyed a good rest.

During his stay with the Crows, Little Moccasin was made to do the work, which usually falls to the lot of the squaws; and which was imposed upon him as a punishment upon a brave enemy, designed to break his proud spirit. He was treated as a slave, made to haul wood and draw water, do the cooking, and clean game. Many of the Crow boys wanted to kill him, but his foster-mother, "Old Looking-Glass," protected him; and, besides, they feared that the soldiers of Fort Custer might hear of it, if he was killed, and punish them.

Many weeks thus passed, and the poor little captive grew more despondent and weaker in body every day. Often his foster-mother would[67] talk to him in his own language, and tell him to be of good cheer; but he was terribly homesick and longed to get back to the mountains on the Rosebud, to tell the story of his daring and become the hero which he had started out to be.

One night, after everybody had gone to sleep in camp, and the fires had gone out, Old Looking-Glass, who had seemed to be soundly sleeping, approached his bed and gently touched his face. Looking up, he saw that she held a forefinger pressed against her lips, intimating that he must keep silence, and that she was beckoning him to go outside.

There she soon joined him; then, putting her arm around his neck, she hastened out of the camp and across the nearest hills.

When they had gone about five miles away from camp, they came upon a pretty little mouse-colored pony, which Old Looking-Glass had hidden there for Little Moccasin on the previous day.

She made him mount the pony, which she called "Blue Wing," and bade him fly toward the rising sun, where he would find white people who would protect and take care of him.


Old Looking-Glass then kissed Little Moccasin upon both cheeks and the forehead, while the tears[69] ran down her wrinkled face; she also folded her hands upon her breast and, looking up to the heavens, said a prayer, in which she asked the Great Spirit to protect and save the poor boy in his flight.

After she had whispered some indistinct words into the ear of Blue Wing (who seemed to understand her, for he nodded his head approvingly), she bade Little Moccasin be off, and advised him not to rest this side of the white man's settlement, as the Crows would soon discover his absence, and would follow him on their fleetest ponies.

"But Blue Wing will save you! He can outrun them all!"

These were her parting words, as he galloped away.

In a short time the sun rose over the nearest hill, and Little Moccasin then knew that he was going in the right direction. He felt very happy to be free again, although sorry to leave behind his kind-hearted foster-mother, Looking-Glass. He made up his mind that after a few years, when he had grown big and become a warrior, he would go and capture her from the hated Crows and take her to his own tepee.

He was so happy in this thought that he had[70] not noticed how swiftly time passed, and that already the sun stood over his head; neither had he urged Blue Wing to run his swiftest; but that good little animal kept up a steady dog-trot, without, as yet, showing the least sign of being tired.

But what was the sudden noise which was heard behind him? Quickly he turned his head, and, to his horror, he beheld about fifty mounted Crows coming toward him at a run, and swinging in their hands guns, pistols, clubs, and knives!

His old enemy, Iron Bull, was in advance, and under his right arm he carried a long lance, with which he intended to spear Little Moccasin.

Moccasin's heart stood still for a moment with fear; he knew that this time they would surely kill him if caught. He seemed to have lost all power of action.

Nearer and nearer came Iron Bull, shouting at the top of his voice.

But Blue Wing now seemed to understand the danger of Moccasin's situation; he pricked up his ears, snorted a few times, made several short jumps, fully to arouse Moccasin, who remained paralyzed with fear, and then, like a bird, fairly flew over the prairie, as if his little hoofs were not touching the ground.[71]

Little Moccasin, too, was now awakened to his peril, and he patted and encouraged Blue Wing; while, from time to time, he looked back over his shoulder to watch the approach of Iron Bull.

Thus they went, on and on; over ditches and streams, rocks and hills, through gulches and valleys. Blue Wing was doing nobly, but the pace could not last forever.

Iron Bull was now only about five hundred yards behind and gaining on him.

Little Moccasin felt the cold sweat pouring down his face. He had no firearm, or he would have stopped to shoot at Iron Bull.

Blue Wing's whole body seemed to tremble beneath his young rider, as if the pony was making a last desperate effort, before giving up from exhaustion.

Unfortunately, Little Moccasin did not know how to pray, or he might have found some comfort and help thereby; but in those moments, when a terrible death was so near to him, he did the next best thing: he thought of his mother and his father, of his little sisters and brothers, and also of Looking-Glass, his kind old foster-mother.

Then he felt better and was imbued with fresh courage. He again looked back, gave one loud,[72] defiant yell at Iron Bull, and then went out of sight over some high ground.

Ki-yi-yi-yi! There is the railroad station just in front, only about three hundred yards away. He sees white men around the buildings, who will protect him.

At this moment Blue Wing utters one deep groan, stumbles, and falls to the ground. Fortunately, though, Little Moccasin has received no hurt. He jumps up, and runs toward the station as fast as his weary legs can carry him.

At this very moment Iron Bull with several of his braves came in sight again, and, realizing the helpless condition of the boy, they all gave a shout of joy, thinking that in a few minutes they would capture and kill him.

But their shouting had been heard by some of the white men, who at once concluded to protect the boy, if he deserved aid.

Little Moccasin and Iron Bull reached the door of the station-building at nearly the same moment; but the former had time enough to dart inside and hide under the table of the telegraph operator.

When Iron Bull and several other Crows rushed in to pull the boy from underneath the[73] table, the operator quickly took from the table drawer a revolver, and with it drove the murderous Crows from the premises.

Then the boy had to tell his story, and he was believed. All took pity upon his forlorn condition, and his brave flight made them his friends.

In the evening Blue Wing came up to where Little Moccasin was resting and awaiting the arrival of the next train, which was to take him back to his own home.

Then they both were put aboard a lightning-express train, which took them to within a short distance of the old camp on the Rosebud.

When Little Moccasin arrived at his father's tepee, riding beautiful Blue Wing, now rested and frisky, the whole camp flocked around him; and when he told them of his great daring, of his capture and his escape, Running Antelope, the big warrior of the Uncapapas and the most noted orator of the tribe, proclaimed him a true hero, and then and there begged his pardon for having called him a "coffee-cooler." In the evening Little Moccasin was honored by a great feast, and the name of "Rushing Lightning," Wakee-wata-keepee, was bestowed upon him—and by that name he is known to this day.





[This story has been told to the children of the Dacotah Indians for very many years, having been handed down from generation to generation; and it is now listened to by Indian children with as much interest as it excited in the red-skinned boys and girls of a thousand years ago.]

ON the bank of one of the many branches of the Missouri River—or "Big Muddy," as it is called by the Indians on account of the color of its waters—there lived a little boy and a little girl. These children were very small indeed, being no bigger than a man's finger, but very handsome, well formed, and also quite strong, considering their size. There were no men and women in the world at that time, and none of the people who told the story knew how these two small folk came to be living on the banks of the river. Some persons thought that they might have been little beavers, or little turtles, who were[75] so smart that they turned into a boy and a girl; but nothing about this is known for certain. These small people lived in a tiny lodge near the river, feeding upon the berries that grew along the shore. These were of great variety and many delicious flavors. There were wild currants, raspberries, gooseberries, service-berries, wild plums and grapes; and of most of these, one was sufficient to make a meal for both of the children.

The little girl was very fond of the boy, and watched over and tended him with great care. She made him a tiny bow from a blade of grass, with arrows to match, and he hunted grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, and many other small creatures. She then made him a hunting-shirt, or coat, from the skin of a humming-bird, ornamented with brilliant little stones and tiny shells found in the sand. She loved him so dearly that no work was too much when done for him.


One day he was out hunting on the prairie; and, feeling tired from an unusually long tramp, he lay down to rest and soon fell fast asleep. The wind began to rise, after the heat of the day; but this made him sleep the sounder, and he knew nothing of the storm that was threatening. The clouds rolled over from the northwestern horizon, like an[76] army of blankets torn and ragged. With flashing lightning, the thunder-god let loose his powers, and peal after peal went echoing loudly through the cañons, up over the hills, and down into prairies where the quaking-asp shivered, the willows waved, and the tall blue-grass rolled, as[77] the wind passed over, like a tempest-tossed sea. Only the stubborn aloes, the Spanish-bayonet, and the prickly-pears kept their position. But the storm was as brief as it was violent; and, gradually subsiding, it passed to the southeast, leaving nothing but a bank of clouds behind the horizon. Everything was drenched by the heavy rain. The flowers hung their heads, or lay crushed from the weight of water on their tender petals, vainly struggling to rise and rejoice that the storm had passed away. The sage-brush looked more silvery than ever, clothed with myriads of rain-drops, which beaded its tiny leaves. Through all the storm our little hero slept, the feathers of his hunting-coat wet and flattened by the rain. When the sun came out again and shone upon him, it dried and shriveled this little coat until it cracked and fell off him like the shell of an egg from a newly hatched chicken. He soon began to feel uncomfortable, and woke up. Evening was fast approaching; the blue-jay chattered, the prairie-chicken was calling its young brood to rest under its wings for the night, the cricket had at last sung himself to sleep, and all nature seemed to be getting ready for a long rest. Our boy, however, had no thought of further sleep. His active mind[78] was thinking how he could revenge himself upon the sun for his treatment of him, in thus ruining his coat. The shadows on the plains deepened into gloom and darkness, but still he thought and planned out his revenge. Early in the morning he started for home. The little girl had been anxiously watching for him all night, and came out to meet him, much rejoiced at his safe return; but when she saw the condition of his coat, on which she had labored with so much care and love, she was very much grieved. Her tears only made him more angry with the sun, and he set himself to planning with greater determination by what means he could annoy this enemy. At last a bright idea struck him, and he at once told it to the girl. She was delighted, and admired him the more for his shrewdness. They soon put their plans into practice, and began plaiting a rope of grasses.

This was a great undertaking, as the rope had to be very long. Many moons came and went before this rope was finished, and, when the task was completed, the next thing to be considered was, how they should carry or transport it to the place where the sun rises in the morning. This question puzzled them greatly, for the rope was[79] very large and heavy, and the distance was very great.


All the animals at that time were very small tween compared to the field-mouse, which was then the largest quadruped in the whole world, twice the size of any buffalo. The horse, or, as the Indians call it, "shungatonga," meaning elk-dog, did not then exist. It was a long time before[80] the children could find a field-mouse to whom they could appeal for aid. At last they found one at home, sitting comfortably under an immense fern.

The little boy then went up to him, and, after relating his troubles, asked if he would assist in carrying the rope. Mountains had to be crossed, rivers swum or forded, according to their depth, wide expanses of prairie to be passed over, forests skirted, swamps waded, and lakes circled before the rope and its makers could reach the place where the sun rises. The field-mouse, after much consideration, agreed to help the pair, and they began their preparations by winding the rope into a great coil, which they packed on the back of the field-mouse. On the top of this the boy and girl seated themselves, and the journey began. When they came to a river which must be crossed by swimming, the rope was taken off the mouse and unwound; then he would take one end in his mouth, and swim to the other side, letting it trail out after him as he swam. This performance had to be repeated many times before the whole rope was landed on the opposite bank. When this was done, he had to swim across again and fetch the little pair, seating them on his forehead.[81]


It was hard work for the mouse, but the little boy encouraged him to his work by promises of reward and compliments on his extraordinary strength. The high mountains were crossed with great toil, and while they were on the dry plains[82] the travelers suffered for want of water. The sun had dried up everything, and it almost seemed as if he understood their object, for he poured down upon them his hottest rays. Several changes of the seasons, and many moons, had come and gone before they reached the dense forest from behind which the sun was accustomed to rise. They managed to arrive at this big forest at night, so that the sun should not see them, and then they screened themselves in the woods, resting there for several days. When, at last, they felt rested and refreshed, they began their work at nightfall, and the first thing they did was to uncoil the[83] rope. The little boy then took one end of it in his teeth, and climbed up one of the trees at the extreme edge of the woods, where he spread it out in the branches, making loops and slip-knots here and there all over, from one tree to another, until the rope looked like an immense net. Then the mouse, finding his services no longer needed, left them and wandered far away.


As morning approached, the two children quitted the wood, everything being in readiness, and retired to a distance to watch the result of their work. Soon they espied a pale light gleaming behind the forest and gradually becoming brighter and brighter. On came the sun, rolling up in all his grandeur and fast approaching the rope, while the two little hearts were beating[84] quickly down below. In a moment he had reached the network of rope, and then, before he knew it, he was entangled in its meshes, and found himself thoroughly entrapped! What a proud moment for our hero! He compared his own size with that of the sun, and his delight seemed beyond bounds as he and the little girl watched the sun struggling to free himself, getting red with fury and rage, and pouring out his burning heat on all surrounding things. The leaves shriveled and dropped from the trees, the branches could be seen to smoke, the grass curled up and withered, and at last the forest began to burn as the heat became more intense. It seemed as if all nature was on fire. The joy of the children now turned into fear. The elk, deer, and buffalo came rushing out of the woods. The birds circled, shrieking and crying, and all living things seemed wild with fear.


At last the field-mouse called the animals together for a consultation as to what was best to be done. They held a brief council, for no time could be lost. The elk spoke up and said that as the mouse had gone to so much trouble to carry the rope to entrap the sun, he was the one who ought to set him free from his entanglement.[86] This was generally agreed to, and, besides, the field-mouse was the largest animal, and had such sharp and strong teeth that it would be easy for him to gnaw through any rope.

It was getting hotter and hotter: something must be done quickly. The sun was blazing with rage! The field-mouse finally yielded to the wishes of his fellow-animals; and, rushing into the wood, through the terrible heat and smoke, he gnawed the rope, but in doing so was melted down to his present size. The sun then rapidly arose, and everything soon became all right again.

The fact of the little man trapping the sun and causing so much mischief proved his superiority over the other animals, and they have feared him ever since. And, according to the Indian belief, this little man and little woman were the father and mother of all the tribes of men.



VARIOUS as are the customs of the Indians, it is their savage, warlike natures that we are most apt to remember. Few of us, in fact, ever think of Indian children at all, except at the sight of a picture of them. Little has been told or written about the boy and girl red folk, and it would puzzle most of my readers to say what they suppose these children of nature look like, or do to amuse themselves, or how they are brought up. It will astonish most city people to hear that red children are very like white children, just as a lady who was out on the plains a few years ago was astonished to find that they had skins as smooth and soft as any lady's—no, smoother and softer than that: as delicate and lovely as any dear little baby's here in New York. This lady was visiting the Blackfeet in my company, and she was so surprised, when she happened to touch one little[88] red boy's bare arm, that she went about pinching a dozen chubby-faced boys and girls to make herself sure that all their skins were like the coats of ripe peaches to the touch.

Whether the Indians really love their children, or know what genuine love or affection is, I cannot say; but they are so proud and careful of their little ones that it amounts to the same thing so far as the youngsters are concerned. Boy babies are always most highly prized, because they will grow up into warriors.

The little that is taught to Indian boys must seem to them much more like fun than instruction. They must hear the fairy stories and the gabble of the medicine-men or conjurers, and the tales of bloody fights and brave and cunning deeds which make the histories of their tribes. They learn not to take what does not belong to them unless it belongs to an enemy. They learn not to be impudent to any one stronger and bigger than themselves; they learn how to track animals and men, how to go without food when there is not any, how to eat up all there is at once when any food is to be had, how to ride and shoot and run and paddle, and smoke very mild tobacco. As for the rest, they "just grow," like Topsy, and are as[89] emotional and fanciful and wilful as any very little white child ever was. They never get over being so. The older they grow to be, the older children they become, for they are all very much like spoiled children as long as they live.

The first Indians I ever saw, outside of a show, were boys at play. They were Onondagas, on their reservation near Syracuse, New York. They were big boys of from sixteen to twenty years old, and the game they were playing was "snow-snakes." The earth was covered with snow, and by dragging a stout log through this covering they had made a narrow gutter or trough about 500 or 700 feet long. Each youth had his snow-snake, which is a stick about eight feet long, and shaped something like a spear. All the snow-snakes were alike, less than an inch wide, half an inch thick, flat on the under side, rounded on top, and with a very slight turn upward at the point to suggest a serpent's head. The "snakes" were all smoothed and of heavy hard wood. The game was to see who could send his the farthest along the gutter in the snow. The young men grasped their snakes at the very end, ran a few steps, and shot the sticks along the trough. As one after another sped along the[90] snow, the serpent-like heads kept bobbing up and down over the rough surface of the gutter precisely like so many snakes. I bought a snow-snake, but, though I have tried again and again, I cannot get the knack of throwing it.


But I have since seen Indian boys of many tribes at play, and one time I saw more than a hundred and fifty "let loose," as our own children are in a country school-yard at recess. To be sure, theirs is a perpetual recess, and they were at home among the tents of their people, the Canada Blackfeet, on the plains, within sight of the Rocky Mountains. The smoke-browned tepees, crowned with projecting pole-ends, and painted with figures of animals and with gaudy patterns, were set around in a great circle, and the children were playing in the open, grassy space in the center. Their fathers and mothers were as wild as any Indians, except one or two tribes, on the continent, but nothing of their savage natures showed in these merry, lively, laughing, bright-faced little ragamuffins. At their play they laughed and screamed and hallooed. Some were running foot-races, some were wrestling, some were on the backs of scampering ponies; for they are sometimes put on horseback when they are no more[93] than three years old. Such were their sports, for Indian boys play games to make them sure of aim, certain of foot, quick in motion, and supple in body, so that they can shoot and fight and ride and hunt and run well. To be able to run fast is a necessary accomplishment for an Indian. What they call "runners" are important men in every tribe. They are the messenger men, and many a one among them has run a hundred miles in a day. They cultivate running by means of foot-races. In war they agree with the poet who sang:

"For he who fights and runs away
May live to fight another day";
and afterward, if they were taken prisoners, they had a chance for life, in the old days, if they could run fast enough to escape their captors and the spears and bullets of their pursuers.

A very popular game that attracted most of the Blackfeet boys was the throwing of darts, or little white hand-arrows, along the grass. The game was to see who could throw his arrow farthest in a straight line. At times the air was full of the white missiles where the boys were playing, and they fell like rain upon the grass.[94]

In another part of the field were some larger boys with rude bows with which to shoot these same darts. These boys were playing a favorite Blackfeet game. Each one had a disk or solid wheel of sheet-iron or lead, and the game was to see who could roll his disk the farthest, while all the others shot at it to tip it over and bring it to a stop. The boys made splendid shots at the swift-moving little wheels, and from greater distances than you would imagine.

They play with arrows so frequently that it is no wonder they are good marksmen; yet you would be surprised to see how frequently they bring down the birds, rabbits, and gophers which abound on the plains. The houses of these plump little drab-colored creatures are holes in the turf, and as you ride along the plains you will see them everywhere around, sitting up on their haunches with their tiny fore paws held idle and limp before them, and their bead-like, bright eyes looking at you most trustingly—until you come just so near, when pop! suddenly down goes little Mr. Gopher in his hole. You may be sure the Indian boys find great sport in shooting at these comical little creatures. But the boys take a mean advantage of the fact that the restless gophers cannot[95] stay still in one place any great length of time. When one pops into a hole it is only for a minute, and during that minute the Indian boy softly and deftly arranges a snare around the hole, so that when the gopher pops up again the snare can be jerked and the animal captured.

We gave the boys in the Blackfeet camp great sport by standing at a distance of a hundred yards from all of them and offering a silver quarter to whichever boy got to us first. You should have seen the stampede that followed the signal, "Go!" Blankets were dropped, moccasins fell off, boys stumbled and others fell atop of them, their black locks flew in the breeze, and the air was noisy with yelling and laughter.

These boys spin tops, but their "top-time" is the winter, when snow is on the ground and is crusted hard. Their tops are made of lead or some other metal, and are mere little circular plates which they cover with red flannel and ornament with tiny knots or wisps of cord all around the edges. These are spun with whips and look very pretty on the icy white playgrounds. Nearly all Indian boys play ball, but not as we do, for their only idea of the game is the girlish one of pitching and catching. All their games are the[96] simplest, and lack the rules which we lay down to make our sports difficult and exciting.

The boys of the Papago tribe in the Southwest have a game which the fellows in Harvard and Yale would form rules about, if they played it, until it became very lively indeed. These Indian boys make dumb-bells of woven buckskin or rawhide. They weave them tight and stiff, and then soak them in a sort of red mud which sticks like paint. They dry them, and then the queer toys are ready for use. To play the game they mark off goals, one for each band or "side" of players. The object of each side is to send its dumb-bells over to the goal of the enemy. The dumb-bells are tossed with sticks that are thrust under them as they lie on the ground. The perverse things will not go straight or far, and a rod is a pretty good throw for one. The sport quickly grows exciting, and the players are soon battling in a heap, almost as if they were playing at foot-ball.


These are games that will not wear out while there are Indian boys to play them. On the oldest reservations, where even the grandfathers of the Indians now alive were shut up and fed by their government, the boys still play the old games. But wherever one travels to-day, even among the[99] wildest tribes, a new era is seen to have begun as the result of the Indian schools, and Indian boys are being taught things more useful than any they ever knew before. The brightest boys in the various tribes are selected to be sent to these schools, and it is hoped that what they learn will make all the others anxious to imitate white men's ways.




"Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,
Little frosty Eskimo,
Little Turk or Japanee,
Oh, don't you wish that you were me?"

SO says the well-fed, well-dressed, well-housed little Scotchman in Robert Louis Stevenson's rhyme. But I don't believe that the small Indians of Zuñi would care at all to change places with the little "me" of Edinburgh or New York. In their village of mud and stone, on the sunny plains of New Mexico, they have lived for centuries in perfect contentment. Fine houses, green parks, and merry streets would be nothing to them; hats and parasols, candies and ice-cream would make them stare; and mere cleanliness would only astonish them. Indeed, if they saw us washing our faces and brushing our hair every[101] day, they would probably one and all cry out in Zuñi words:

"Oh, don't you wish that you were me?"

The little half-civilized children of Zuñi so aroused our curiosity that we drove through forty miles of sand and sage-brush, from the railroad at Fort Wingate, to pay them a visit. As the Indians do not provide for travelers, we took our hotel with us—tents, beds, and food—and camped just outside their village. The village looks like a huge beehive made of clay and stuck fast to the top of a sandy knoll. The hive is filled with a mass of cells—three hundred single rooms, placed side by side and piled in rows one on top of another. In each of these rooms lives a Zuñi family. There are no inside stairways leading from story to story, but if the boys and girls living in one row wish to pay a visit to a house above them, they must go outdoors and climb a ladder. On the slope between the village and the Zuñi River are a number of small vegetable-gardens, each one inclosed by a mud wall. Zuñi has no inns, no shops, no saloons, not even proper streets, but only narrow alleys that thread their way through the strange town. As we walked through the village,[102] all the world came out to see us. Girls and boys clustered on the roofs or sat on the ovens,—queer little cones of mud which seem to grow up out of the house-tops,—while fathers, mothers, and babies peered out from dark doorways, to stare at the visitors. When we had finished our tour of the roofs and alleys, we were hospitably invited indoors; even there the children followed us, and as we glanced up to a hole in the ceiling which served as a window, a girl's laughing face filled the opening. We must have looked strange enough in our hats and gloves and long skirts.

The Zuñi child spends his early days in a cradle. But a cradle in Zuñi-land does not mean down pillows, silken coverlets, and fluffy laces; it is only a flat board, just the length of the baby, with a hood like a doll's buggy-top over the head. Upon this hard bed the baby is bound like a mummy—the coverings wound round and round him until the little fellow cannot move except to open his mouth and eyes. Sometimes he is unrolled, and looks out into the bare whitewashed room, blinks at the fire burning on the hearth, and fixes his eyes earnestly on the wolf and cougar skins that serve as chairs and beds and carpets in the Zuñi home.[104]



By the time he is two or three years old, he has grown into a plump little bronze creature, with the straightest of coarse black hair and the biggest and roundest of black eyes. He is now out of the cradle, and trots about the house and the village. When the weather is bad he wears a small coarse shirt, and always a necklace of beads or turquoise.

As he grows older, he adds a pair of loose cotton trousers to his costume, and, if anything more is needed to keep him warm, he girds on his blanket, just as his forefathers have done in all the three hundred years since white men first knew the Zuñis. His long hair, either flying loosely in the wind or tied back with a band of some red stuff, serves him both as hair and as hat.

His little sister, however, has a more elaborate dress. Her mama weaves it for her, as she does her own, in a rude loom. She makes two square blankets of black cotton, finishes them neatly across top and bottom, sews them together at the sides with red yarn, and the dress is ready to try on. It always fits perfectly, as the part which forms the skirt is simply held in place by a sash, and the waist is made by drawing two corners of the blankets up over the left shoulder. The sash,[106] woven in gay colors, is also the work of Mama Zuñi. A long, narrow piece of cotton cloth is draped from the other shoulder, and swings easily about, serving as pocket, shawl, or pinafore. In cold weather, moccasins, leggings, and blankets are also worn. These articles, too, are made at home. While the mother is the dressmaker and tailor, the father is the family shoemaker. A few of the Zuñi girls have dresses like those of American girls. These clothes have come to them through the mission-school which adjoins the village.

The Zuñis have a language of their own—no very easy one for boys and girls to learn, judging from its many-syllabled, harsh-sounding words. They also speak a little Spanish, as does nearly everybody in New Mexico.

The little Zuñis amuse themselves with running, wrestling, jumping, and playing at grown folks, just as civilized children do. They have their bows and arrows, their rag-dolls,—strapped like real babies to cradles,—and their shinny sticks and balls. The children also make themselves useful at home. The older girls take care of their younger brothers and sisters, and the boys tend the goats. There are large herds of[107] goats belonging to the village, and they must be taken every morning to graze on the plain, and brought home at night to be shut up in the corrals, or folds, safe from prowling wolves.

The little children often go with their mothers to draw water from the village well, about a hundred yards from the houses. At the top of a flight of stone steps they wait, playing about in the sand, while their mothers go down to the spring. There the women fill the jars, then, poising them on their heads, climb the hill and mount the ladders to their homes. As all the water used by the village has to be brought to it in these ollas (water-jars), carried on the women's heads, it is not surprising that the boys' clothes are grimy and the girls have apparently never known what it is to wash their faces.

The ollas, which answer the purpose of family china and of kitchen-ware, are made by the Zuñi women from the clay of the river-bank. The wet earth is shaped by hand into jars of all sorts and sizes; the jars are then painted with gay colors, in queer patterns, and burned. It is a pretty sight, of an evening, to see the fires of the kilns dotted all over the terraces of the village. Each piece of pottery is shut up inside a little wall of[108] chips, which are set on fire; when the chips are burned up, the article is baked and ready for use. The Zuñi mamas make not only the jars for family use, but also clay toys for the children, curious rattles, dolls' moccasins, owls, eagles, horses, and other childish treasures.


The Zuñi has learned that American coffee and tobacco are better than Indian herb tea and willow bark. As he must have ready money in order to buy such articles, he has contrived various ways of earning a few reales (Spanish for shillings). When spring comes and the snows have melted, he collects the jars and bowls and trinkets that have been made during the winter, ties them up in the several corners of his blanket, and trudges off to market at Fort Wingate, forty miles away. Bows and arrows, and canes made from a singular cactus which grows near Zuñi, are also added to the stock in trade. If the Indian is lucky enough to own a burro, he and one of the boys mount the patient creature, while the family, big and little, with some of the neighbors, complete the party. Once in the garrison, the Zuñi family need only walk up and down to advertise their wares; the boys and girls help to carry the jars, while the babies follow. The group, with its[111] bright blankets and gay pottery, soon attracts attention and sales begin on the sidewalks and verandas. Little is said by the Zuñi merchants, but when the bargaining is finished, they stand silent, waiting with a hungry look for the usual invitation to the kitchen. There, seated in a circle on the floor, they gratefully eat and drink whatever is set before them. Their store of words does not include "Thank you," but their faces brighten, and the older people politely shake hands with a "Bueno, bueno, señora" ("Good, good, madame"), while the babies munch and crumble their cake and cry for more, just as our own white babies do. The thoughtful mamas do not forget the miles of "home stretch" before the family, and wisely tuck away in their blankets the last bits of cheese and crackers.

When they have looked over the fort, tasted its bread and coffee, and sold their cargo, they cheerfully go home to their mud village and Indian habits. Old and young, they all are children, easily pleased, contented with things as they are, and quite certain in their own minds that the Zuñi way is the right way to live.



ONCE upon a time, there was an Indian who lived in a big wood on the banks of a beautiful river, and he did nothing all day long but catch fish and hunt wild deer. Well, this Indian had two lovely little daughters, and he named one Sunbeam, because she was so bright and cheerful, and the other he called Starlight, because, he said, her sweet eyes twinkled like the stars.

Sunbeam and Starlight were as gay as butterflies, and as busy as bees, from morning till night. They ran races under the shady trees, made bouquets of wild flowers, swung on grape-vine swings, turned berries and acorns into beads, and dressed their glossy black hair with bright feathers that beautiful birds had dropped. They loved each other so much, and were so happy together, that they never knew what trouble meant[113] until, one day, Starlight got very sick, and before the big moon came over the tree-tops the sweet Indian child had closed her starry eyes in death, and rested for the last time upon her soft, little deerskin bed. And now, for the first time, Sunbeam's heart was full of grief. She could not play, for Starlight was gone, she knew not where; so she took the bright feathers out of her hair, and sat down by the river and cried and cried for Starlight to come back to her. But when her father told her that Starlight was gone to the Spirit-land of love and beauty, and would be happy for ever and ever, Sunbeam was comforted.

"Now," said she, "I know where darling Starlight is, and I can kiss her and talk to her again."

Sunbeam had heard her people say that the birds were messengers from the Spirit-land. So she hunted through the woods until she found a little song-bird, that was too young to fly, fast asleep in its nest. She carried it gently home, put it into a cage, and watched over it and fed it tenderly day after day until its wings grew strong and it filled the woods with its music. Then she carried it in her soft little hands to Starlight's grave; and after she had loaded it with kisses and messages of love for Starlight, she told it never to[114] cease its sweetest song or fold its shining wings until it had flown to the Spirit-land. She let it go, and the glad bird, as it rose above the tall green trees, poured forth a song more joyful than any that Sunbeam had ever heard. Higher and higher it flew, and sweeter and sweeter grew its song, until at last both its form and its music were lost in the floating summer clouds.

Then Sunbeam ran swiftly over the soft grass to her father, and told him, with a bright smile and a light heart, that she had talked with dear Starlight, and had kissed her sweet rosy mouth again; and Sunbeam was once more her father's bright and happy little Indian girl.



NOT long since I wandered along a pretty brook that rippled through a narrow valley. I was on the lookout for whatever birds might be wandering that way, but saw nothing of special interest. So, to while away the time, I commenced geologizing; and, as I plodded along my lonely way, I saw everywhere traces of an older time, when the sparkling rivulet that now only harbors pretty salamanders was a deep creek, tenanted by many of our larger fishes.

How fast the earth from the valley's slopes may have been loosened by frost and washed by freshet, and carried down to fill up the old bed of the stream, we will not stop to inquire; for other traces of this older time were also met with here. As I turned over the loose earth by the brook-side, and gathered here and there a pretty pebble, I chanced upon a little arrow-point.[116]

Whoever has made a collection, be it of postage stamps or birds' eggs, knows full well how securing one coveted specimen but increases eagerness for others; and so was it with me that pleasant afternoon. Just one pretty arrow-point cured me of my laziness, banished every trace of fatigue, and filled me with the interest of eager search; and I dug and sifted and washed the sandy soil for yards along the brook-side, until I had gathered at least a score of curious relics of the long-departed red men, or rather of the games and sports and pastimes of the red men's hardy and active children.


For centuries before Columbus discovered San Salvador, the red men (or Indians, as they are usually called) roamed over all the great continent of North America, and having no knowledge of iron as a metal, they were forced to make of[117] stone or bone all their weapons, hunting and household implements. From this fact they are called, when referring to those early times, a stone-age people, and so, of course, the boys and girls of that time were stone-age children.

But it is not to be supposed that, because the children of savages, they were altogether unlike the youngsters of to-day. In one respect, at least, they were quite the same—they were very fond of play.

Their play, however, was not like the games of to-day, as you may see by the pictures of their toys. We might, perhaps, call the principal game of the boys "Playing Man," for the little stone implements, here pictured, are only miniatures of the great stone axes and long spear-points of their fathers.

In one particular these old-time children were really in advance of the youngsters of to-day; they not only did, in play, what their parents did in earnest, but they realized, in part, the results of their playful labor. A good old Moravian missionary says: "Little boys are frequently seen wading in shallow brooks, shooting small fishes with their bows and arrows." Going a-fishing, then, as now, was good fun; but to shoot fishes with a bow and[118] arrow is not an easy thing to do, and this is one way these stone-age children played, and played to better advantage than most of my young readers can.

Among the stone-age children's toys that I gathered that afternoon, were those of which we have pictures. The first is a very pretty stone hatchet, very carefully shaped, and still quite sharp. It has been worked out from a porphyry pebble, and in every way, except size, it is the same as hundreds that still are to be found lying about the fields.

No red man would ever deign to use such an insignificant-looking ax, and so we must suppose it to have been a toy hatchet for some little fellow that chopped away at saplings, or, perhaps, knocked over some poor squirrel or rabbit; for our good old Moravian friend, the missionary, also tells us that "the boys learn to climb trees when very young, both to catch birds and to exercise their sight, which, by this method, is rendered so quick that in hunting they see objects at an amazing distance." Their play, then, became an excellent schooling for them; and if they did nothing but play it was not a loss of time.

The five little arrow-points figured in the second[119] picture are among those I found in the valley. The ax was not far away, and both it and they may have belonged to the same bold and active young hunter. All of these arrow-points are very neatly made.


The same missionary tells us that these young red men of the forest "exercise themselves very early with bows and arrows, and in shooting at a mark. As they grow up, they acquire a remarkable dexterity in shooting birds, squirrels, and small game."

Every boy remembers his first penknife, and, whether it had one or three blades, was proud enough of it; but how different the fortune of the[120] stone-age children, in this matter of a pocket-knife! In the third picture is shown a piece of flint that was doubtless chipped into this shape that it might be used as a knife.

I have found scores of such knives in the fields that extend along the little valley, and a few came to light in my search that afternoon in the brook-side sands and gravel. So, if this chipped flint is a knife, then, as in modern times, the children were whittlers.


Of course, our boys nowadays would be puzzled to cut a willow whistle or mend the baby's go-cart with such a knife as this; but still, it will not do to despise stone cutlery. The big canoe at the Centennial, that took up so much room in the Government Building,—a boat sixty feet long,—was made in quite recent times, and only stone knives and hatchets were used in the process.

I found too, in that afternoon walk, some curiously shaped splinters of jasper, which at first did[121] not seem very well adapted to any purpose; and yet, although mere fragments, they had every appearance of having been purposely shaped, and not of accidental resemblances to a hook or sickle blade. When I got home, I read that perfect specimens, mine being certainly pieces of the same form, had been found away off in Norway; and Professor Nilsson, who has carefully studied the whole subject, says they are fish-hooks.

Instead of my broken ones, we have in the fourth illustration some uninjured specimens of these fish-hooks from Norway. Two are made of flint, the largest one being bone; and hooks of exactly the same patterns really have been found within half a mile of the little valley I worked in that afternoon.

The fish-hooks shown in our picture have been thought to be best adapted for, and really used in, capturing cod-fish in salt water, and perch and pike in inland lakes. The broken hooks I found were fully as large; and so the little brook that now ripples down the valley, when a large stream, must have had a good many big fishes in it, or the stone-age fishermen would not have brought their fishing-hooks, and have lost them, along this remnant of a larger stream.[122]

But it must not be supposed that only children in this bygone era did the fishing for their tribe. Just as the men captured the larger game, so they took the bigger fishes; but it is scarcely probable that the boys who waded the little brooks with bows and arrows would remain content with that, and, long before they were men, doubtless they were adepts in catching the more valuable fishes that abounded, in Indian times, in all our rivers.

So, fishing, I think, was another way in which the stone-age children played.





[These are actual recollections of the wild life. The Indian boy whose experiences are described wrote them out himself many years afterward when, having graduated at Dartmouth College and the Boston University School of Medicine, he had become an educated man, and a physician among his own people.]

THE Indian boy was a prince of the wilderness. He had but very little work to do during the period of his boyhood. His principal occupation was the practising of a few simple but rigid rules in the arts of warfare and the chase. Aside from this, he was master of his time.

Whatever was required of us boys was quickly performed; then the field was clear for our games and plays. There was always keen competition between us. We felt very much as our fathers did in hunting and war—each one strove to excel all the others. It is true that our savage life was a precarious one, and full of dreadful catastrophes; however, this never prevented us from enjoying[124] our sports to the fullest extent. As we left our tepees in the morning, we were never sure that our scalps would not dangle from a pole in the afternoon! It was an uncertain life, to be sure. Yet we observed that the fawns skipped and played happily while the gray wolves might be peeping forth from behind the hills, ready to tear them limb from limb.

Our sports were molded by the life and customs of our people—indeed, we practised only what we expected to do when grown. Our games were feats with the bow and arrow, foot and pony races, wrestling, swimming, and imitations of the customs and habits of our fathers. We had sham fights with mud balls and willow wands, we played lacrosse, made war upon bees, shot winter arrows (which were used only in that season), and coasted upon ribs of animals and buffalo-robes.

Our games with bow and arrow were usually combined with hunting; but as I shall take hunting for the subject of another letter, I will speak only of such as were purely plays.

No sooner did the boys get together than they divided into squads, and chose sides; then a leading arrow was shot at random into the air. Before[125] it fell to the ground, a volley from the bows of the participants followed. Each player was quick to see the direction and speed of the leading arrow, and he tried to send his own with the same speed and at an equal height, so that when it fell it would be closer than any of the others to the first.

It was considered out of place to shoot an arrow by first sighting the object aimed at. This was usually impracticable, because the object was almost always in motion, while the hunter himself was often on the back of a pony in full gallop. Therefore, it was the offhand shot that the Indian boy sought to master. There was another game with arrows which was characterized by gambling, and was generally confined to the men.

The races were an every-day occurrence. At noon the boys were usually gathered by some pleasant sheet of water, and as soon as the ponies were watered, they were allowed to graze for an hour or two, while the boys stripped for their noonday sports. A boy might say, "I can't run, but I challenge you for fifty paces," to some other whom he considered his equal. A former hero, when beaten, would often explain his defeat by saying, "I had drunk too much water!" Boys of[126] all ages were paired for a "spin," and the little red men cheered on their favorites with spirit! As soon as this was ended, the pony races followed. All the speedy ponies were picked out, and riders chosen. If a boy said, "I cannot ride," what a shout went up! Such derision!

Last of all came the swimming. A little urchin would hang to his pony's long tail, while the latter held only his head above water and glided sportively along. Finally the animals were driven into a fine field of grass, and we turned our attention to other games.

Lacrosse was an older game, and was confined entirely to the Sisseton and Santee Sioux. Shinny, such as is enjoyed by white boys on ice, is now played by the western Sioux. The "moccasin-game," although sometimes played by the boys, was intended mainly for adults.

The "mud-and-willow" fight was rather a severe and dangerous sport. A lump of soft clay was stuck on one end of a limber and springy willow wand, to be thrown with considerable force—as boys throw apples from sticks. When there were fifty or a hundred on each side, the battle became warm; but anything to arouse the bravery of Indian boys seemed to them a good and wholesome sport.[127]

Wrestling was largely indulged in by all of us. It may seem odd, but the wrestling was by a great number of boys at once—from ten to any number on a side. It was really a battle, but each one chose his own opponent. The rule was that if a boy sat down, he was let alone; but as long as he remained standing within the field he was open to an attack. No one struck with the hand, but all manner of tripping with legs and feet and hurting with the knees was allowed; altogether it was an exhausting pastime—fully equal to the American game of foot-ball. Only the boy who was an athlete could really enjoy it.

One of our most curious sports was a war upon the nests of wild bees. We imagined ourselves about to make an attack upon the Chippewas or some other tribal foe. We all painted and stole cautiously upon the nest; then, with a rush and a war-whoop, sprang upon the object of our attack and endeavored to destroy it. But it seemed that the bees were always on the alert, and never entirely surprised; for they always raised quite as many scalps as did their bold assailants! After the onslaught upon the bees was ended, we usually followed it by a pretended scalp-dance.

On the occasion of my first experience in this[128] mode of warfare, there were two other little boys who also were novices. One of them, particularly, was too young to indulge in such an exploit. As it was the custom of the Indians, when they killed or wounded an enemy on the battle-field, to announce the act in a loud voice, we did the same. My friend Little Wound (as I will call him, for I do not remember his name), being quite small, was unable to reach the nest until it had been well trampled upon and broken, and the insects had made a counter charge with such vigor as to repulse and scatter our numbers in every direction. However, he evidently did not want to retreat without any honors; so he bravely jumped upon the nest and yelled:

"I, brave Little Wound, to-day kill the only fierce enemy!"

Scarcely was the last word uttered when he screamed as if stabbed to the heart. One of his older companions shouted:

"Dive into the water! Run! Dive into the water!" for there was a lake near by. This advice he obeyed.


When we had reassembled and were indulging in our mimic dance, Little Wound was not allowed to dance. He was considered not to be in existence—he[131] had been "killed" by our enemies, the Bee tribe. Poor little fellow! His tear-stained face was sad and ashamed, as he sat on a fallen log and watched the dance. Although he might well have styled himself one of the noble dead who had died for their country, yet he was not unmindful that he had screamed, and that this weakness would be apt to recur to him many times in the future.

We had some quiet plays which we alternated with the more severe and warlike ones. Among them were throwing wands and snow-arrows. In the winter we coasted much. We had no "double-rippers" nor toboggans, but six or seven of the long ribs of a buffalo, fastened together at the larger end, answered all practical purposes. Sometimes a strip of bass-wood bark, four feet long and half a foot wide, was used with much skill. We stood on one end and held the other, using the inside of the bark for the outside, and thus coasted down long hills with remarkable speed.

Sometimes we played "Medicine Dance." This to us was almost what "playing church" is among white children. Our people seem to think it an act of irreverence to imitate these dances, but we[132] children thought otherwise; therefore we quite frequently enjoyed in secret one of these performances. We used to observe all the important ceremonies and customs attending it, and it required something of an actor to reproduce the dramatic features of the dance. The real dances usually occupied a day and a night, and the program was long and varied, so that it was not easy to execute all the details perfectly; but the Indian children are born imitators.

I was often selected as choirmaster on these occasions, for I had happened to learn many of the medicine songs, and was quite an apt mimic. My grandmother, who was a noted medicine woman, on hearing of these sacrilegious acts (as she called them), warned me that if any of the medicine men should learn of my conduct, they would punish me terribly by shriveling my limbs with slow disease.

Occasionally we also played "white man." Our knowledge of the pale-face was limited, but we had learned that he brought goods whenever he came, and that our people exchanged furs for his merchandise. We also knew, somehow, that his complexion was white, that he wore short hair on his head and long hair on his face, and that[133] he had coat, trousers, and hat, and did not patronize blankets in the daytime. This was the picture we had formed of the white man. So we painted two or three of our number with white clay, and put on them birchen hats, which we sewed up for the occasion, fastened a piece of fur to their chins for a beard, and altered their costume as much as lay within our power. The white of the birch-bark was made to answer for their white shirts. Their merchandise consisted of sand for sugar, wild beans for coffee, dried leaves for tea, pulverized earth for gunpowder, pebbles for bullets, and clear water for dangerous "fire-water." We traded for these goods with skins of squirrels, rabbits, and small birds.

When we played "hunting buffalo" we would send a few good runners off on the open prairie with meat and other edibles; then start a few of our swiftest runners to chase them and capture the food. Once we were engaged in this sport when a real hunt by the men was going on near by; yet we did not realize that it was so close until, in the midst of our play, an immense buffalo appeared, coming at full speed directly toward us. Our mimic buffalo hunt turned into a very real "buffalo scare"! As it was near the edge of a[134] forest, we soon disappeared among the leaves like a covey of young prairie-chickens, and some hid in the bushes while others took refuge in tall trees.

In the water we always had fun. When we had no ponies, we often had swimming-matches of our own, and we sometimes made rafts with which we crossed lakes and rivers. It was a common thing to "duck" a young or timid boy, or to carry him into deep water to struggle as best he might.

I remember a perilous ride with a companion on an unmanageable log, when we both were less than seven years old. The older boys had put us on this uncertain bark and pushed us out into the swift current of the river. I cannot speak for my comrade in distress, but I can say now that I would rather ride on a wild bronco any day than try to stay on and steady a short log in a river. I never knew how we managed to prevent a shipwreck on that voyage, and to reach the shore!

We had many curious wild pets. There were young foxes, bears, wolves, fawns, raccoons, buffalo calves, and birds of all kinds, tamed by various boys. My pets were different at different times, but I particularly remember one. I once[135] had a grizzly cub for a pet, and so far as he and I were concerned our relations were charming and very close. But I hardly know whether he made more enemies for me or I for him. It was his custom to treat unmercifully every boy who injured me. He was despised for his conduct in my interest, and I was hated on account of his interference.




LITTLE PRUDENCE stood by the window, with her face pressed hard against it. She was not looking out; she could not do that, for the window-frame, instead of being filled with clear panes of glass, had oiled paper stretched tightly across it.

It was a very curious window, indeed, and it transmitted a dull light into a very curious room. The floor was of uncovered boards; the walls were built of logs of wood with the bark still clinging to them in places, and overhead were great rafters from which hung suspended many things—swords and corselets, coats, bundles of dried herbs, pots and pans.

The furniture was very simple. In the center of the room was a wooden table, scoured to whiteness, stiff-backed chairs were ranged against the wall, and a dresser, where pewter cups and platters[137] stood in shining rows, adorned the farther corner. In a wide chimney-place a royal fire was blazing, and before it stood Prudence's mother, carefully stirring some mixture in an iron pot which hung upon a crane. Within the circle of the firelight, which played upon her yellow hair and turned it to ruddy gold, Mehitable, Prudence's sister, stepped rapidly to and fro, her spinning-wheel making a humming accompaniment to the crackling of the blaze.

Prudence turned to watch her, pushing farther back a little white cap which pressed upon her short curls; for she was a little Puritan maiden, living in the town of Plymouth, and it was not the present year of our Lord, but about two hundred and eighty-four years ago. She was a very different Prudence from what she would have been if she had been living now, and it was a very different Plymouth from the pleasant town we know to-day, with its many houses climbing up the hill, and the busy people in its streets. There were only seven houses then, and they stood in one line leading to the water, and there was but one building besides—a square wooden affair with palisades, which served as a church on Sundays, a fort when enemies were feared, and a storehouse[138] all the time. Beyond these nothing could be seen but woods—trackless, unknown forests—and, away to the east, the ocean, where the waves were booming with a lonesome sound.

It was not quite a year before that Prudence's father had stood with the other brave colonists on the deck of the Mayflower, and had looked with eager eyes upon the shore of the New World. This first year in Massachusetts had on the whole been a happy one for Prudence. During the cold winter which followed their landing, she had indeed cast longing thoughts toward the home in Holland which they had left; and especially did she long for the Dutch home when she was hungry, and the provisions which had been brought on the ship were scanty; but she had forgotten all such longings in the bounty given by the summer, and now it seemed to her there was no more beautiful place in the world than this New England.

It was Prudence's father who opened the door and came in, carrying on his shoulder an ax with which he had been felling trees for the winter's fuel. Prudence never could get over the queer feeling it gave her to see her father thus employed. When they lived in Holland, he was always writing and studying in books of many[139] languages, but here he did little else than work in the fields, for it was only so that the early settlers obtained their daily bread. He leaned his ax in a corner, and came toward the fire, rubbing his hands to get out the cold.

"I have news for you, dear heart, to-night," he said to his wife. "I have just come from the granary, and indeed there is goodly store laid up of corn and rye, and game that has been shot in the forest. The children's mouths will not hunger this winter."

"Praised be the Lord!" replied his wife, fervently. "But what is your news?"

"The governor hath decided to hold a thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest, and on the appointed day is a great feast to be spread; and he hath sent a messenger to bid Massasoit to break bread with us."

"Massasoit the Indian?"

"Ay; but a friendly Indian. He will come, and many of his braves with him. You will be kept busy, my heart, with the other housewives to bake sufficient food for this company."

"Oh, mother, may I go?" cried Prudence, her eyes dancing with excitement, clutching at her mother's skirts; but her father continued:[140]

"How now, Mehitable? The news of a coming feast does not seem to make you merry as it was wont to do in Holland."

Mehitable was grave, and there was even a tear in her eye.

"I know," cried Joel, who was two years older than Prudence; "she is thinking of John Andrews, who is across the sea."

But the father frowned, and the mother said, "Peace, foolish children!" as she placed the porridge on the table.

So Prudence and Joel drew up their benches, and said no more. Chairs and conversation did not belong to children in those days; they sat on little stools and kept silence. That did not keep them from thinking. A thanksgiving feast! What could it be? The only thanksgiving they knew about meant such long prayers in church that the little people grew very tired before the end—but a feast!—that would be something new and interesting.

The feast was to be held on the following Thursday; so, during all the days between, the house was full of the stir of brewing and baking. Prudence polished the apples, and Joel pounded the corn, in eager anticipation; but when the day[141] arrived a disappointment awaited them, for their father decreed that they should remain at home.

"You are over-young, my little Prudence, and Joel is over-bold; besides which, he must stay and care for you."

"And do neither of you leave the house while your father and I are away," added the mother. "I shall not have a moment's peace of mind, if I think you are wandering outside alone."

"I will bring you back a Dutch cake, my little sister," whispered Mehitable, who looked sweeter than ever in her best attire of black silk and a lace kerchief, which with an unwilling heart she had put on in obedience to her mother's command.

But when the elders were gone the disappointment and loneliness were too much for the children. Prudence, being a girl, sat down in a corner and cried; while Joel, being a boy, got angry, and strode up and down the room with his hands in his pockets.

"It is too bad!" he burst out suddenly. "The greedy, grown-up people, I believe they want all the food themselves! It's a downright shame to keep us at home!"

"Joel!" gasped Prudence, horrified—"father and mother!"[142]

"Well, I know," admitted Joel, more mildly; "but they need not have shut us up in the house as if we were babies. Prudence, let's go out in the yard and play, if we can't do anything else."

"But mother forbade us," said Prudence.

"I know. But then, of course, she only meant we must not go into the woods for fear of wild beasts. There is no danger here by the doorsteps, and father won't care; he's not afraid!"

"I—don't—know," faltered Prudence.

"Well, I'm going, anyway," said Joel, resolutely, taking his hat from the peg. "Ah, do come too, Prudence!" he added persuasively.

So Prudence, though she knew in her heart it was a naughty thing to do, took off her cap, and tying her little Puritan bonnet under her chin, followed Joel through the door.

Once outside, I am afraid their scruples were soon forgotten. All the sunshine of the summer and the sparkling air of the winter were fused together to make a wonderful November day. The children felt like colts just loosed, and ran and shouted together till, if there had not been a good deal of noise also at the stone house where the feast was being spread, their shrill little voices must surely have been heard there.[143]

All at once Joel caught Prudence by the arm.

"Hush!" he exclaimed. "Look!"

A beautiful gray squirrel ran across the grass in front of them. It stopped, poising its little head and intently listening.

"I'm going to catch him," whispered Joel, excitedly. "Father said if I could catch one, he would make me a cage for it. Come along."

He tiptoed softly forward, but the squirrel heard and was up and away in an instant. Joel pursued, and Prudence ran after him. Such a chase as the little creature gave them—up on the fence, under the stones, across the fields, and finally straight to the woods, with the children panting and stumbling after, still keeping him in sight. Breath and patience gave out at last; but when they stopped, where were they? In the very heart of the forest, where the dead leaves rustled, and the sunlight slanted down upon them, and the squirrel, safe in the top of a tree, chattered angrily.

"Never saw—anything run—so fast," panted Joel in disgust. "I—give—him up. We had better go back, Prudence. Why—but—I don't think I know the way!"

Prudence's lip quivered, and her eyes filled.[144]

"That's just like a girl!" said Joel, harshly, "to go and cry the first thing."

"I don't care," cried Prudence, indignation burning away her tears; "you brought me into this, anyhow, Joel, and now you ought to get me out."

This was so obviously true that Joel had no retort at hand. Besides, he did not like to see Prudence unhappy. So, after a moment, he put his arm around her.

"Never mind, Prue," he said; "I think if we try together, we can find the way home."

But though they walked until their feet were weary, they could find no familiar spot.

When they came out of the woods at last, it was only to find themselves unexpectedly on the sandy beach of the ocean. They sat down on two stones, and looked at each other in silence. Joel began to feel even his bravery giving way. All at once they heard a sound of soft feet, and a low, sweet voice said:

"How do, English!"

A little Indian boy stood before them. He wore a garment of skins, and a tiny bow and quiver hung upon his back. His feet were bare, and he walked so lightly that the children could hardly[145] hear his tread. Prudence, in fright, shrank close to her brother; but Joel had seen many Indians during their year in the New World, and the stranger's eyes were so bright and soft that the white boy returned the Indian's salutation. Then, plunging his hand into his pocket, Joel brought forth a handful of nut-meats, and held them out for an offering.


The little Indian smiled delightedly, and politely took a few—not all. Having munched the kernels gravely, the new-comer began to dance.

It was a most remarkable dance. It was first[146] a stately measure, accompanied by many poisings on his toes, and liftings of his head, from which the wind blew back his straight black hair; but gradually his motions grew faster and more furious, his slow steps changed to running, he turned, he twisted his lithe body into all possible contorted shapes, he threw his arms high above his head, waving them wildly, he took great leaps into the air, and finally, when his dance had lasted about fifteen minutes, several amazing somersaults brought him breathless, but still smiling, to the children's feet.

His spectators had been shouting with delight during the whole performance, and now asked him eager questions. What was his name? How did he learn to dance? Could he not speak any more English? But to all their inquiries he only shook his head, and at last sat down beside them, motionless now as any little bronze statue, and looked steadily out to sea.

Prudence's head drooped upon her brother's shoulder.

"I'm rather tired, Joel," she said wistfully; "don't you think we could get to Plymouth pretty soon?"

"I don't know," said Joel, despondently.[147]

At the words the Indian boy sprang to his feet. He ran toward the woods, then stopped, and beckoned them to follow.

"He is going in the wrong direction, I am sure," said Joel, shaking his head.

The boy stamped on the ground with impatience, and, running back, seized Prudence's hand, and gently pulled her forward.

"Plymout'!" he said, in his strange accent.

The children looked at each other.

"We might as well try him," said Joel.

The boy clapped his hands together, and ran on before them into the forest. It was a weary journey, over bogs and fallen trees, and seemed three times as long as when they had come. A wasp once stung Prudence on the cheek, making her cry out with pain; but quick as thought the little Indian caught up a pellet of clay, and plastered it upon the wound, and, marvelous to relate, before many minutes the sharp pain had quite gone away.

The woods seemed gradually to grow a little more open, and pretty soon they heard the distant tinkle of a cow-bell. At last (Prudence held her breath for fear it might not be true) they emerged suddenly into the clearing, and home lay before them.[148]

They found they had made a complete circle since they started.

Their little guide stooped and picked up a gaudy-colored feather from the ground. He examined it closely, and then he shouted aloud, and began to run toward the storehouse as fast as his sturdy legs could carry him.

"I want to see mother," said Prudence, half crying with fatigue; so they ran all together across the clearing.

All this while the feast had been progressing. About noontime the great Massasoit, chief of the Indian tribe called the Wampanoags, had emerged from the forest with all his tallest braves in single file behind him. They wore their best beaver-skins, and their heads were gay with nodding feathers. They were received at the door of the storehouse by their English entertainers, who also wore the bravest attire that Puritan custom allowed. They gave the braves a hearty welcome.

Within, the long table fairly groaned with abundance of good cheer; for the housewives had vied with one another to provide the fattest game and the daintiest dishes that Dutch or English housewifery had taught them.

After asking a blessing, they all sat down, the[149] stalwart colonists and their fair-haired women side by side with the taciturn Indians. The white men felt that the best way to thank God for the harvest was to share it with their dark-skinned brethren, who had first taught them to plant and raise the maize which now furnished the table.

Governor Bradford sat at the head of the table. He hoped much from this feast; first, that it might cement the friendship between the colonists and their Indian neighbors, the Wampanoags; and, second, that the news of it might induce the neighboring tribes, which were still partly hostile, to live in peace with the settlers. But though food and talk passed blithely round among the other guests, the governor saw, with growing dismay, that the great Massasoit sat frowning and depressed. The governor was not long in learning the cause. The interpreter, observing the governor's uneasiness, whispered in his ear that in a recent war with the Narragansetts, Massasoit's only child, a boy, was missed and was thought to have been taken prisoner, and of course put to death, after the cruel savage custom.

Toward the end of the feast, drink was served to every guest. For the first time Massasoit[150] showed animation. He seized his cup, and lifted it in the air, and cried aloud in his native tongue, as he sprang to his feet:

"May plague and famine seize the Narragansetts!"

At that very moment the house-door opened, and a pretty group appeared upon the threshold. Two English children stood there, as fair and rosy as the May-time, and between them a dark, lithe little Indian with sparkling eyes.

Prudence ran straight to her mother.

Massasoit paused and trembled; then, as his cup fell and shivered upon the ground, he crossed the room in one stride, and caught the Indian boy in his arms, looking at him as if he could never see enough.

Governor Bradford knew in an instant that the lost child had been restored, even without the Indian warrior's shout of triumph, and Massasoit's passionate exclamation: "Light of my eyes—staff of my footsteps!—thou art come back to me—the warmth of my heart, the sunlight of my wigwam!"


The rejoicing was so great that no one thought of chiding Joel and Prudence for their disobedience.[153] The governor himself gave Joel a large slice of pudding, and Prudence told all her adventures, throned upon her father's knee, wearing around her neck a string of wampum which the grateful Massasoit had hung there.

"And, oh!" she exclaimed, "while the Indian boy was dancing for Joel and me, I looked out to sea, and I saw such a wonderful bird—a great white bird, flying along close to the water, and rising up and down. It was many times greater than the swans in Amsterdam!"

"Was it, my little maid?" said the good governor, laying his hand on her head, and then he exchanged a keen look with Prudence's father, saying nothing more. But when the guests had departed, bearing home the Indian boy in triumph, none was so early as the governor to reach the seashore; and it was his call that brought the colonists to see the good ship Fortune (Prudence's "great white bird") already rounding the point, and making ready to cast anchor in Plymouth harbor.

Ah, then indeed the great guns rang out from the shore to hail the ship, and the ship's cannon boomed a quick reply, and the whole little town was full and running over with glad welcome for[154] the second English vessel to land upon our Massachusetts coast.

In the evening a happy circle gathered round the fire in the house of Prudence's father, and there was eager talk, for all had much to learn and to tell.

"I know now," said Joel to Prudence, as they sat side by side—"I know now what Thanksgiving means. It means plenty to eat."

Prudence looked at the dear faces around her, at Mehitable's sweet smile, and at the shining eyes of John Andrews, for he had been a passenger by the Fortune.

"Perhaps," she replied; "but I think, Joel, that we have Thanksgiving because we are so glad to be all together once more."

This first Thanksgiving happened long ago, but out of it all our later ones have grown; and when we think of the glad meetings of long-parted parents and sons and daughters, of the merry frolics with brothers and sisters and cousins, which come upon Thanksgiving Day, in spite of our bountiful dinner-tables we shall agree with Prudence that it is the happy family party which makes the pleasure, after all.



AMONG the wild Indians of our country is surely the last place one would look for toys, and travelers have said they had none; but a closer look brings some to light. On the desk before me sit two dear creatures, just arrived from Dakota Territory. They were made by some loving mother of the Gros Ventre tribe of Indians. But the unfortunate little redskin girl for whom they were intended never received them after all, for they were bought by a white man, and sent to New York to sit for their picture for you.

They are a queer-looking pair, dressed in the most elegant Gros Ventre style. They are eighteen inches tall, made of cloth, with their noses sewed on, and their faces well colored; not only made red, like the skin, but with painted features. The Indian doll has a gentle expression, with mild eyes, but the squaw has a wild look, as though she[156] were very much scared to find herself in a white man's tepee. Both have long hair in a braid over each ear, but the brave has also a quantity hanging down his back, and a crest standing up on top—perhaps as "scalp-lock."


The dress of the lady resembles, in style and material, a bathing-suit. It is of blue flannel,[157] trimmed with red braid, a long blouse and leggings of the same. She has also moccasins, and a string of blue beads around her neck, besides little dots of beads all over her waist. The suit of the warrior is similar in style, but the blouse is of unbleached muslin, daubed with streaks of red paint, and trimmed with braid, also red. Across his breast he wears an elaborate ornament of white beads, gorgeous to behold.

Beside these Gros Ventre dolls stand another pair, from a Canada tribe; the squaw dragging a six-inch-long toboggan loaded with tent and poles, while the warrior carries his snow-shoes. She is dressed in red and black flannel, with calico blouse and cloth hood; tin bracelets are on her arms, and her breast bears an ornament like a dinner-plate, also of tin. Her lord and master wears a dandyish suit of white canton-flannel, fuzzy side out, a calico shirt, red necktie, and likewise a hood and tin dinner-plate. They are made of wood, with joints at hip and shoulder, and the faces are carved and painted. Wild dolls are curious and interesting. Let me tell you of a few others I have seen.

The little Moquis girls have wooden dolls of different sizes and degrees. The best have arms[158] and legs, are dressed in one garment of coarse cotton, and instead of hair have feathers sticking out of their heads, like the ends of a feather duster.

A lower grade of Moquis doll has no limbs, but is gaily painted in stripes, and wears beads as big as its fist would be, if it had one. This looks as you would with a string of oranges around your neck. The poorest of all, which has evidently been loved by some poor little Indian girl, has in place of a head a sprig of evergreen. How did the white man get hold of a treasure like this? Is the little owner grown up? Is she laid to sleep under the daisies? Or was this doll left behind in a hurried flight of the Moquis village before an enemy?

It isn't an Edison doll; it can't talk,—so we shall never know.



IN the early twilight of a September morning, more than one hundred and sixty years ago, a remarkable company might have been seen gathering about a large chestnut-tree at the cross-roads near the Friends' meeting-house in Wrightstown, Pennsylvania. It is doubtful whether any one of us could have guessed what the meeting meant. Most of the party were Quakers in wide-brimmed hats and plain dress, and if it had been First-day instead of Third-day, we might have thought they were gathering under the well-known tree for a neighborly chat before "meeting." Nor was it a warlike rendezvous; for the war-cry of the Lenni-Lenape had never yet been raised against the "Children of Mignon" (Elder Brother), as the followers of William Penn were called; and in a little group somewhat apart were a few athletic Indians in peaceful garb[160] and friendly attitude. But it evidently was an important meeting, for here were several prominent officials, including even so notable a person as Proprietor Thomas Penn.

In 1686, fifty-one years before this, William Penn bought from the Lenni-Lenape, or Delaware Indians, a section bounded on the east by the Delaware, on the west by the Neshaminy, and extending to the north from his previous purchases "as far as a man can go in a day and a half." No effort was made to fix the northern boundary until the Indians, becoming uneasy at the encroachments of the settlers, asked to have the line definitely marked. On August 25, 1737, after several conferences between the Delawares and William Penn's sons, John and Thomas, who, after their father's death, became proprietors of Pennsylvania, the treaty of 1686 was confirmed, and a day was appointed for beginning the walk. This explains why the crowd was gathering about the old chestnut-tree in the early dawn of that day, September 19, 1737.

"Ready!" called out Sheriff Smith.


At the word, James Yeates, a native of New England, "tall, slim, of much ability and speed of foot," Solomon Jennings, "a remarkably stout[163] and strong man," and Edward Marshall, a well-known hunter, over six feet tall, and noted as a walker, stepped from the crowd and placed their right hands upon the tree.

Thomas Penn had promised five pounds in money and five hundred acres of land to the walker who covered the greatest distance; and these three men were to contest for the prize. Just as the edge of the sun showed above the horizon, Sheriff Smith gave the word, and the race began.

Yeates quickly took up the lead, stepping lightly. Then came Jennings, accompanied by two Indians, who were there to see that the walking was fairly done. Closely following them were men on horseback, including the sheriff and the surveyor-general. Thomas Penn himself followed the party for some distance. Far in the rear came Marshall, walking in a careless manner, swinging a hatchet in one hand, "to balance himself," and at intervals munching a dry biscuit, of which he carried a small supply. He seemed to have forgotten a resolution he had made to "win the prize of five hundred acres of land, or lose his life in the attempt."

Thomas Penn had secretly sent out a preliminary[164] party to blaze the trees along the line of the walk for as great a distance as it was thought possible for a man to walk in eighteen hours. So, when the wilderness was reached, the walkers still had the best and most direct course clearly marked out for them. The Indians soon protested against the speed, saying over and over: "That's not fair. You run. You were to walk." But the treaty said, "As far as a man can go," and the walkers were following it in letter, if not in spirit, as they hurried along. Their protests being disregarded, the Indians endeavored to delay the progress by stopping to rest; but the white men dismounted, and allowed the Indians to ride, and thus pushed on as rapidly as ever. At last the Indians refused to go any farther, and left the party.

Before Lehigh River was reached Jennings was exhausted, gave up the race, and lagged behind in the company of followers. His health was shattered, and he lived only a few years.

That night the party slept on the north side of the Lehigh Mountains, half a mile from the Indian village of Hokendauqua. Next morning, while some of the party searched for the horses which had strayed away during the night, others[165] went to the village to request Lappawinzoe, the chief, to send other Indians to accompany the walkers. He angrily replied: "You have all the good land now, and you may as well take the bad, too." One old Indian, indignant at the stories of how the white men rushed along in their greed to get as much land as possible, remarked in a tone of deep disgust: "No sit down to smoke; no shoot squirrel; but lun, lun, lun, all day long."

Scarcely had the last half-day's walk begun before Yeates, who was a drinking man, was overcome by the tremendous exertions and intemperance of the previous day. He stumbled at the edge of Big Creek, and rolled, helpless, down the bank into the water. When rescued he was entirely blind, and his death followed within three days.

Marshall still pressed on. Passing the last of the blazed trees which had hitherto guided him, he seized a compass offered by Surveyor-General Eastburn, and by its aid still continued his onward course. At last, Sheriff Smith, who for some time had frequently looked at his watch, called, "Halt!" Marshall instantly threw himself at full length, and grasped a sapling. Here was the starting-point for the northern boundary of the[166] purchase of 1686, sixty-eight miles from the old chestnut-tree at Wrightstown, and very close to where Mauch Chunk stands to-day. The walk was twice as long as the Indians expected it to be.

Unfortunately for the Delawares, they knew too little of legal technicalities to notice that the deed did not state in what direction the northern boundary was to be drawn. They naturally expected it to be drawn to the nearest point on the Delaware. But the surveyor-general, to please Penn, decided that the line should run at right angles to the direction of the walk, which was almost exactly northwest. Draw a line from Mauch Chunk to the Delaware so that if extended it would pass through New York city, and another to the point where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania meet. The first is the Indian's idea of the just way to lay out the northern boundary; the second is the line which Surveyor-General Eastburn actually finished marking out in four days after Marshall's walk ended.

And so the three hundred thousand acres which the Indians would have given to the Penns as the result of Marshall's walk were increased to half a million by taking selfish advantage of a flaw in the deed.[167]



The Lenni-Lenape had loved and trusted William Penn because he always dealt openly and fairly with them. "We will live in love with William Penn and his children," said they, "as long as the sun and moon shall shine." But the wrongs inflicted on them in the "walking purchase" aroused the deepest indignation. "Next May," said Lappawinzoe, "we will go to Philadelphia, each one with a buckskin to repay the presents and take back our land again." It was too late, however, for this to be done.

At last, in 1741, the Indians determined to resort to arms to secure justice. But the Iroquois, to whom the Delawares had long been subject, came to the aid of the Penns, and the last hope of righting the wrong was gone forever.

There seems a sort of poetic justice in the later experiences of the principal men in the affair. Marshall never got his five hundred acres of land, and his wife was killed in an attack by the Indians. Eastburn was repudiated by Thomas Penn, and his heirs were notified that they "need not expect the least favor." Penn himself was brought before the king and forced to disown many of his acts and agents in a most humiliating manner.[170]

But all this did not repair the injury to the Delawares, and they never again owned, as a tribe, a single inch along the river from which they took their name.

A small monument, erected by the Bucks County Historical Society, marks the spot where the old chestnut-tree formerly stood. In order that this might not seem to condone an unworthy deed, the monument was dedicated, not to those who made or conducted the walk, but to the Lenni-Lenape Indians—"not to the wrong, but to the persons wronged."

The inscription on the stone reads:

September 19, 1737.



IN the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Spaniards who had followed Columbus and Cortes to the New World worked their way northward into the region that is now New Mexico and Arizona, they found to their surprise a people dwelling there in well-constructed, flat-roofed houses of stone. They gave to these people the name of Pueblos, or villagers, to distinguish them from the wild tribes; and by this name they have been known in general ever since, though each village and cluster of villages has its distinctive title.

The Pueblos, instead of roaming about, subsisting on chance game, cultivated Indian corn so largely that they ordinarily were able to store a supply to provide against the possibility of future famine; and such is still their custom. Not only had they made this progress in agriculture and architecture, but they had also done something in[172] the way of manufacturing, especially in the making of pottery and weaving of blankets. Their pottery was varied in shape and ornamentation and skilfully modeled without the aid of a wheel. Of the potter's wheel they are ignorant to this day, still following the practice of their forefathers in this matter as in many others. Their blankets of cotton were unique in their designs; and these designs are perpetuated to-day in woolen material, as well as in cotton, though the latter is now used principally in the sacred ceremonies.

Those towns nearest to Santa Fé (which itself was originally a Pueblo village and is, probably, the oldest town inhabited by white people in the United States) came most directly under the influence of the Spaniards. They made Santa Fé their seat of government, and gradually many Spanish customs prevailed among the natives in this part of the country. The Spanish priests, following the army of invasion, soon made converts, and eventually the barbarous rites of the people in the towns near Santa Fé were abolished in favor of Christianity. Churches of adobe, or sun-dried brick, were erected, and the Christian religion was in time accepted by numerous communities.[173]

The towns at a distance were not so easy of access, and hence longer maintained their independence, supporting and favoring the smoldering discontent of those in other localities whose prejudices or patriotism resented the Spanish dominion. These native patriots believed the salvation of their country demanded the expulsion of these domineering foreigners from their land. We cannot blame them for thus regarding the Spaniards, for we should certainly resent any interference by foreign powers with our affairs, and the Pueblos were, in many respects, a civilized people and had governed themselves for centuries before the Spaniards appeared in their territories. Secretly, these patriots worked to arouse their fellow-countrymen against the intruders, hoping to succeed in a revolution which should annihilate the Spanish power and restore the ancient rites and customs. Several of these conspiracies were discovered by the Spanish Governor-General, and the conspirators paid for their patriotism with their lives; but, in a few years, others took their places, and while peace seemed to smile on all the land, a volcano was seething under the very feet of the invaders.

There had been so much internal dissension[174] among the Pueblos over religion and over water-privileges (often a matter of the utmost importance in those arid lands) before the arrival of the Spaniards, that concerted action must have been difficult to bring about; but at last, near the end of the seventeenth century, there was a mighty uprising, the foreigners were driven out of the country, and retreated into Mexico, and those villages which had been under the Spanish yoke revived their native ceremonies, which had been in disuse for a full century.

Meanwhile the Spaniards were not content to let slip so easily this accession to their king's domain. Collecting a stronger army, General Vargas returned, and conquered village after village, until the rebellion was extinguished for all time. Never since that day have the Pueblos shown a warlike spirit, having accepted their subjugation as inevitable. They were made citizens by Spain, but since their territory became a portion of the United States they have ranked politically with the other Indians. The last locality to be brought under subjection was the Province of Tusayan, the home of the Mokis.


At that time this province was so difficult to[177] reach, that the horses of the Spanish general's troops were completely demoralized, and he was therefore obliged to omit a visit to Oraibi, the largest and furthest removed of the villages. He had, however, met with little resistance from the inhabitants, and, doubtless, did not deem the Mokis a warlike race. After the departure of Vargas, the Mokis continued their old ways and were seldom visited, so that even now, three and a half centuries after the first visit of the Spaniards, they remain nearly in their original condition.

Next to the Moki towns, the Pueblo of Zuñi maintained its primitive customs to the greatest extent, and from similar causes.

The illustration is from a photograph made in Zuñi by Mr. Hillers, photographer of the Bureau of Ethnology, and shows one of the natives, dressed in the costume of to-day, beside an eagle-cage. The costume is composed of simple materials, the trousers being of unbleached cotton, the shirt of calico, and the turban generally of some soft red cloth. The Mokis wear their hair cut straight across the eyebrows in a sort of "bang," then straight back even with the bottom of the ear, the rest being made up into a knob behind.[178] All are particular about their ornaments, caring little for any common sorts of beads, but treasuring coral, turquoise, and silver.

The eagle is sacred among Pueblos who have not abandoned their native religion, and the feathers are used in religious ceremonies. For this reason the eagle is protected and every feather preserved. His nesting-places are carefully watched, and often visited, so that a supply of feathers, from little downy ones no larger than a twenty-five cent piece to the stiff and long ones from the wing and tail, are preserved in every family,—the first, or downy ones, to breathe their prayers upon; the larger ones for other sacred uses. Sometimes several "prayers" are fastened to one little twig that all may proceed together to their destination. There is something very poetic in this breathing of a prayer upon a feather from the breast of an eagle—in flight the king of birds, familiar with regions which man can know only through sight.

The Navajos have no reverence for the bird. They make raids upon the nesting-places where for centuries the Mokis have obtained feathers, and these raids are a common source of trouble between the two tribes.[179]

None of the present buildings of the Pueblos are equal in masonry to the ruins common throughout the region. These were ruins even when the Spaniards arrived, and, consequently, it is supposed that a superior people once occupied the country, who may, however, have been either ancestors or kindred to the Pueblos. In time the question may be solved through the numerous legends illustrated in pottery decoration, for all the decorations have a meaning, and the legends are handed down by word of mouth from father to son. Once when the legends were being discussed, Pow-it-iwa, an old Moki, poetically remarked to a friend of mine, "Many have passed by the house of my fathers, and none has stopped to ask where they have gone; but we of our family live to-day to teach our children concerning the past."




leaf decoration
Interesting facts about animals in general.
Information and adventure.
Dealing with the cat as a pet.
Showing the dog's love and devotion to man.
Stories of adventure.
Stories of adventure.





A Series of Books of Adventure, Travel and Description,
chiefly in the Great Sections
of the United States

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Stories of the early West, full of adventure.
Niagara and our great chain of Inland Seas.
Stories of our island dependencies and of many other islands.
Descriptions of natural wonders, curious places and unusual sights.
Tales of shipwreck and adventures at sea.
Pictures, scenes and stories of our Sunny South.

Each about 200 pages. 50 illustrations.
Full cloth, 12mo.

Transcriber's Note:

Page 134, "racoons" changed to "raccoons" (fawns, raccoons, buffalo)