Indian Boyhood, by [OHIYESA] Charles Eastman

Part 1 out of 4



I: Hakadah, "The Pitiful Last"
II: Early Hardships
III: My Indian Grandmother
IV: In Indian Sugar Camp
V: A Midsummer Feast


I: Games and Sports
II: My Playmates
III: The Boy Hunter


I: A Visit to Smoky Day
II: The Stone Boy

I: Evening in the Lodge
II: Adventures of My Uncle



I: A Legend of Devil's Lake
II: Manitoshaw's Hunting

I: Life in the Woods
II: A Winter Camp
III: Wild Harvests
IV: A Meeting on the Plains
V: An Adventurous Journey



Earliest Recollections

I: Hadakah, "The Pitiful Last"

WHAT boy would not be an Indian
for a while when he thinks of the
freest life in the world? This life
was mine. Every day there was
a real hunt. There was real game.
Occasionally there was a medicine
dance away off in the woods where no one could
disturb us, in which the boys impersonated their
elders, Brave Bull, Standing Elk, High Hawk,
Medicine Bear, and the rest. They painted and
imitated their fathers and grandfathers to the
minutest detail, and accurately too, because they
had seen the real thing all their lives.

We were not only good mimics but we were
close students of nature. We studied the habits
of animals just as you study your books. We
watched the men of our people and represented
them in our play; then learned to emulate them in
our lives.

No people have a better use of their five senses
than the children of the wilderness. We could
smell as well as hear and see. We could feel and
taste as well as we could see and hear. Nowhere
has the memory been more fully developed than in
the wild life, and I can still see wherein I owe
much to my early training.

Of course I myself do not remember when I
first saw the day, but my brothers have often
recalled the event with much mirth; for it was
a custom of the Sioux that when a boy was born
his brother must plunge into the water, or roll in
the snow naked if it was winter time; and if he
was not big enough to do either of these himself,
water was thrown on him. If the new-born had a
sister, she must be immersed. The idea was that
a warrior had come to camp, and the other chil-
dren must display some act of hardihood.

I was so unfortunate as to be the youngest of five
children who, soon after I was born, were left
motherless. I had to bear the humiliating name
"Hakadah," meaning "the pitiful last," until I
should earn a more dignified and appropriate
name. I was regarded as little more than a play-
thing by the rest of the children.

My mother, who was known as the handsomest
woman of all the Spirit Lake and Leaf Dweller
Sioux, was dangerously ill, and one of the medi-
cine men who attended her said: "Another
medicine man has come into existence, but the
mother must die. Therefore let him bear the name
'Mysterious Medicine.'" But one of the by-
standers hastily interfered, saying that an uncle of
the child already bore that name, so, for the time,
I was only "Hakadah."

My beautiful mother, sometimes called the
"Demi-Goddess" of the Sioux, who tradition
says had every feature of a Caucasian descent with
the exception of her luxuriant black hair and deep
black eyes, held me tightly to her bosom upon
her death-bed, while she whispered a few words to
her mother-in-law. She said: "I give you this
boy for your own. I cannot trust my own
mother with him; she will neglect him and he will
surely die."

The woman to whom these words were spoken
was below the average in stature, remarkably ac-
tive for her age (she was then fully sixty), and
possessed of as much goodness as intelligence. My
mother's judgment concerning her own mother
was well founded, for soon after her death that
old lady appeared, and declared that Hakadah
was too young to live without a mother. She
offered to keep me until I died, and then she
would put me in my mother's grave. Of course
my other grandmother denounced the sugges-
tion as a very wicked one, and refused to give
me up.

The babe was done up as usual in a movable
cradle made from an oak board two and a half
feet long and one and a half feet wide. On one
side of it was nailed with brass-headed tacks the
richly-embroidered sack, which was open in front
and laced up and down with buckskin strings.
Over the arms of the infant was a wooden bow,
the ends of which were firmly attached to the
board, so that if the cradle should fall the child's
head and face would be protected. On this bow
were hung curious playthings--strings of artis-
tically carved bones and hoofs of deer, which
rattled when the little hands moved them.

In this upright cradle I lived, played and slept
the greater part of the time during the first few
months of my life. Whether I was made to lean
against a lodge pole or was suspended from a
bough of a tree, while my grandmother cut wood,
or whether I was carried on her back, or con-
veniently balanced by another child in a similar
cradle hung on the opposite side of a pony, I was
still in my oaken bed.

This grandmother, who had already lived
through sixty years of hardships, was a wonder to
the young maidens of the tribe. She showed no
less enthusiasm over Hakadah than she had done
when she held her first-born, the boy's father, in
her arms. Every little attention that is due to a
loved child she performed with much skill and de-
votion. She made all my scanty garments and my
tiny moccasins with a great deal of taste. It was
said by all that I could not have had more atten-
tion had my mother been living.

Uncheedah (grandmother) was a great singer.
Sometimes, when Hakadah wakened too early in
the morning, she would sing to him something like
the following lullaby:

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!

The Dakota women were wont to cut and bring
their fuel from the woods and, in fact, to perform
most of the drudgery of the camp. This of neces-
sity fell to their lot, because the men must follow
the game during the day. Very often my grand-
mother carried me with her on these excursions;
and while she worked it was her habit to suspend
me from a wild grape vine or a springy bough, so
that the least breeze would swing the cradle to
and fro.

She has told me that when I had grown old
enough to take notice, I was apparently capable of
holding extended conversations in an unknown
dialect with birds and red squirrels. Once I fell
asleep in my cradle, suspended five or six feet
from the ground, while Uncheedah was some dis-
tance away, gathering birch bark for a canoe. A
squirrel had found it convenient to come upon the
bow of my cradle and nibble his hickory nut, until
he awoke me by dropping the crumbs of his meal.
My disapproval of his intrusion was so decided
that he had to take a sudden and quick flight to
another bough, and from there he began to pour
out his wrath upon me, while I continued my ob-
jections to his presence so audibly that Uncheedah
soon came to my rescue, and compelled the bold
intruder to go away. It was a common thing for
birds to alight on my cradle in the woods.

My food was, at first, a troublesome question for
my kind foster-mother. She cooked some wild rice
and strained it, and mixed it with broth made from
choice venison. She also pounded dried venison
almost to a flour, and kept it in water till the
nourishing juices were extracted, then mixed with
it some pounded maize, which was browned before
pounding. This soup of wild rice, pounded veni-
son and maize was my main-stay. But soon my
teeth came--much earlier than the white children
usually cut theirs; and then my good nurse gave
me a little more varied food, and I did all my own

After I left my cradle, I almost walked away
from it, she told me. She then began calling my
attention to natural objects. Whenever I heard
the song of a bird, she would tell me what bird it
came from, something after this fashion:

"Hakadah, listen to Shechoka (the robin) call-
ing his mate. He says he has just found some-
think good to eat." Or "Listen to Oopehanska
(the thrush); he is singing for his little wife. He
will sing his best." When in the evening the
whippoorwill started his song with vim, no further
than a stone's throw from our tent in the woods,
she would say to me:

"Hush! It may be an Ojibway scout!"

Again, when I waked at midnight, she would

"Do not cry! Hinakaga (the owl) is watch-
ing you from the tree-top."

I usually covered up my head, for I had perfect
faith in my grandmother's admonitions, and she
had given me a dreadful idea of this bird. It was
one of her legends that a little boy was once stand-
ing just outside of the teepee (tent), crying vigor-
ously for his mother, when Hinakaga swooped
down in the darkness and carried the poor little
fellow up into the trees. It was well known that
the hoot of the owl was commonly imitated by
Indian scouts when on the war-path. There had
been dreadful massacres immediately following this
call. Therefore it was deemed wise to impress
the sound early upon the mind of the child.

Indian children were trained so that they hardly
ever cried much in the night. This was very ex-
pedient and necessary in their exposed life. In my
infancy it was my grandmother's custom to put me
to sleep, as she said, with the birds, and to waken
me with them, until it became a habit. She did
this with an object in view. An Indian must al-
ways rise early. In the first place, as a hunter, he
finds his game best at daybreak. Secondly, other
tribes, when on the war-path, usually make their
attack very early in the morning. Even when our
people are moving about leisurely, we like to rise
before daybreak, in order to travel when the air is
cool, and unobserved, perchance, by our enemies.

As a little child, it was instilled into me to be
silent and reticent. This was one of the most im-
portant traits to form in the character of the Indian.
As a hunter and warrior it was considered abso-
lutely necessary to him, and was thought to lay the
foundations of patience and self-control. There
are times when boisterous mirth is indulged in by
our people, but the rule is gravity and decorum.

After all, my babyhood was full of interest and
the beginnings of life's realities. The spirit of
daring was already whispered into my ears. The
value of the eagle feather as worn by the warrior
had caught my eye. One day, when I was left
alone, at scarcely two years of age, I took my
uncle's war bonnet and plucked out all its eagle
feathers to decorate my dog and myself. So soon
the life that was about me had made its impress,
and already I desired intensely to comply with all
of its demands.

II: Early Hardships

ONE of the earliest recollections of
my adventurous childhood is
the ride I had on a pony's side.
I was passive in the whole mat-
ter. A little girl cousin of mine
was put in a bag and suspended
from the horn of an Indian saddle; but her
weight must be balanced or the saddle would not
remain on the animal's back. Accordingly, I was
put into another sack and made to keep the
saddle and the girl in position! I did not object
at all, for I had a very pleasant game of peek-a-
boo with the little girl, until we came to a big
snow-drift, where the poor beast was stuck fast
and began to lie down. Then it was not so nice!

This was the convenient and primitive way in
which some mothers packed their children for
winter journeys. However cold the weather
might be, the inmate of the fur-lined sack was
usually very comfortable--at least I used to think
so. I believe I was accustomed to all the pre-
carious Indian conveyances, and, as a boy, I en-
joyed the dog-travaux ride as much as any. The
travaux consisted of a set of rawhide strips secure-
ly lashed to the tent-poles, which were harnessed
to the sides of the animal as if he stood between
shafts, while the free ends were allowed to drag on
the ground. Both ponies and large dogs were
used as beasts of burden, and they carried
in this way the smaller children as well as the

This mode of travelling for children was possi-
ble only in the summer, and as the dogs were some-
times unreliable, the little ones were exposed to a
certain amount of danger. For instance, when-
ever a train of dogs had been travelling for a long
time, almost perishing with the heat and their
heavy loads, a glimpse of water would cause
them to forget all their responsibilities. Some of
them, in spite of the screams of the women, would
swim with their burdens into the cooling stream,
and I was thus, on more than one occasion, made
to partake of an unwilling bath.

I was a little over four years old at the time of
the "Sioux massacre" in Minnesota. In the
general turmoil, we took flight into British
Columbia, and the journey is still vividly remem-
bered by all our family. A yoke of oxen and a
lumber-wagon were taken from some white farmer
and brought home for our conveyance.

How delighted I was when I learned that we
were to ride behind those wise-looking animals
and in that gorgeously painted wagon! It seemed
almost like a living creature to me, this new
vehicle with four legs, and the more so when we
got out of axle-grease and the wheels went along
squealing like pigs!

The boys found a great deal of innocent fun in
jumping from the high wagon while the oxen
were leisurely moving along. My elder brothers
soon became experts. At last, I mustered up
courage enough to join them in this sport. I was
sure they stepped on the wheel, so I cautiously
placed my moccasined foot upon it. Alas! before
I could realize what had happened, I was under
the wheels, and had it not been for the neighbor
immediately behind us, I might have been run
over by the next team as well.

This was my first experience with a civilized
vehicle. I cried out all possible reproaches on
the white man's team and concluded that a dog-
travaux was good enough for me. I was really
rejoiced that we were moving away from the
people who made the wagon that had almost
ended my life, and it did not occur to me that I
alone was to blame. I could not be persuaded to
ride in that wagon again and was glad when we
finally left it beside the Missouri river.

The summer after the "Minnesota massacre,"
General Sibley pursued our people across this
river. Now the Missouri is considered one of
the most treacherous rivers in the world. Even
a good modern boat is not safe upon its uncertain
current. We were forced to cross in buffalo-skin
boats--as round as tubs!

The Washechu (white men) were coming in
great numbers with their big guns, and while
most of our men were fighting them to gain time,
the women and the old men made and equipped
the temporary boats, braced with ribs of willow.
Some of these were towed by two or three women
or men swimming in the water and some by ponies.
It was not an easy matter to keep them right side
up, with their helpless freight of little children
and such goods as we possessed.

In our flight, we little folks were strapped in
the saddles or held in front of an older person, and
in the long night marches to get away from the
soldiers, we suffered from loss of sleep and insuf-
ficient food. Our meals were eaten hastily, and
sometimes in the saddle. Water was not always
to be found. The people carried it with them in
bags formed of tripe or the dried pericardium of

Now we were compelled to trespass upon the
country of hostile tribes and were harassed by them
almost daily and nightly. Only the strictest
vigilance saved us.

One day we met with another enemy near the
British lines. It was a prairie fire. We were sur-
rounded. Another fire was quickly made, which
saved our lives.

One of the most thrilling experiences of the
following winter was a blizzard, which overtook us
in our wanderings. Here and there, a family lay
down in the snow, selecting a place where it was
not likely to drift much. For a day and a night
we lay under the snow. Uncle stuck a long pole
beside us to tell us when the storm was over.
We had plenty of buffalo robes and the snow
kept us warm, but we found it heavy. After a
time, it became packed and hollowed out around
our bodies, so that we were as comfortable as one
can be under those circumstances.

The next day the storm ceased, and we dis-
covered a large herd of buffaloes almost upon us.
We dug our way out, shot some of the buffaloes,
made a fire and enjoyed a good dinner.

I was now an exile as well as motherless; yet I
was not unhappy. Our wanderings from place to
place afforded us many pleasant experiences and
quite as many hardships and misfortunes. There
were times of plenty and times of scarcity, and we
had several narrow escapes from death. In sav-
age life, the early spring is the most trying time
and almost all the famines occurred at this period
of the year.

The Indians are a patient and a clannish people;
their love for one another is stronger than that of
any civilized people I know. If this were not so,
I believe there would have been tribes of cannibals
among them. White people have been known to
kill and eat their companions in preference to
starving; but Indians--never!

In times of famine, the adults often denied
themselves in order to make the food last as long
as possible for the children, who were not able to
bear hunger as well as the old. As a people, they
can live without food much longer than any other

I once passed through one of these hard springs
when we had nothing to eat for several days. I
well remember the six small birds which consti-
tuted the breakfast for six families one morning;
and then we had no dinner or supper to follow!
What a relief that was to me--although I had only
a small wing of a small bird for my share! Soon
after this, we came into a region where buffaloes
were plenty, and hunger and scarcity were for-

Such was the Indian's wild life! When game was
to be had and the sun shone, they easily forgot the
bitter experiences of the winter before. Little
preparation was made for the future. They are
children of Nature, and occasionally she whips
them with the lashes of experience, yet they are
forgetful and careless. Much of their suffering
might have been prevented by a little calculation.

During the summer, when Nature is at her best,
and provides abundantly for the savage, it seems to
me that no life is happier than his! Food is
free--lodging free--everything free! All were
alike rich in the summer, and, again, all were alike
poor in the winter and early spring. However,
their diseases were fewer and not so destructive as
now, and the Indian's health was generally good.
The Indian boy enjoyed such a life as almost all
boys dream of and would choose for themselves if
they were permitted to do so.

The raids made upon our people by other tribes
were frequent, and we had to be constantly on the
watch. I remember at one time a night attack was
made upon our camp and all our ponies stam-
peded. Only a few of them were recovered, and
our journeys after this misfortune were effected
mostly by means of the dog-travaux.

The second winter after the massacre, my father
and my two older brothers, with several others,
were betrayed by a half-breed at Winnipeg to the
United States authorities. As I was then living
with my uncle in another part of the country, I be-
came separated from them for ten years. During
all this time we believed that they had been
killed by the whites, and I was taught that I must
avenge their deaths as soon as I was able to go
upon the war-path.

I must say a word in regard to the character of
this uncle, my father's brother, who was my ad-
viser and teacher for many years. He was a man
about six feet two inches in height, very erect and
broad-shouldered. He was known at that time
as one of the best hunters and bravest warriors
among the Sioux in British America, where he
still lives, for to this day we have failed to persuade
him to return to the United States.

He is a typical Indian--not handsome, but
truthful and brave. He had a few simple princi-
ples from which he hardly ever departed. Some
of these I shall describe when I speak of my early

It is wonderful that any children grew up
through all the exposures and hardships that we
suffered in those days! The frail teepee pitched
anywhere, in the winter as well as in the summer,
was all the protection that we had against cold and
storms. I can recall times when we were snowed
in and it was very difficult to get fuel. We were
once three days without much fire and all of this
time it stormed violently. There seemed to be no
special anxiety on the part of our people; they
rather looked upon all this as a matter of course,
knowing that the storm would cease when the
time came.

I could once endure as much cold and hunger
as any of them; but now if I miss one meal or
accidentally wet my feet, I feel it as much as if I
had never lived in the manner I have described,
when it was a matter of course to get myself soak-
ing wet many a time. Even if there was plenty
to eat, it was thought better for us to practice fast-
ing sometimes; and hard exercise was kept up
continually, both for the sake of health and to
prepare the body for the extraordinary exertions
that it might, at any moment, be required
to undergo. In my own remembrance, my
uncle used often to bring home a deer on his
shoulder. The distance was sometimes con-
siderable; yet he did not consider it any sort of
a feat.

The usual custom with us was to eat only two
meals a day and these were served at each end
of the day. This rule was not invariable, how-
ever, for if there should be any callers, it was
Indian etiquette to offer either tobacco or food, or
both. The rule of two meals a day was more
closely observed by the men--especially the
younger men--than by the women and children.
This was when the Indians recognized that a true
manhood, one of physical activity and endurance,
depends upon dieting and regular exercise. No
such system is practised by the reservation Indians
of to-day.

III: My Indian Grandmother

AS a motherless child, I always re-
garded my good grandmother as
the wisest of guides and the best
of protectors. It was not long
before I began to realize her su-
periority to most of her contempo-
raries. This idea was not gained entirely from my
own observation, but also from a knowledge of
the high regard in which she was held by other wo-
men. Aside from her native talent and ingenuity,
she was endowed with a truly wonderful memory.
No other midwife in her day and tribe could com-
pete with her in skill and judgment. Her obser-
vations in practice were all preserved in her mind
for reference, as systematically as if they had been
written upon the pages of a note-book.

I distinctly recall one occasion when she took
me with her into the woods in search of certain
medicinal roots.

"Why do you not use all kinds of roots for
medicines?" said I.

"Because," she replied, in her quick, charac-
teristic manner, the Great Mystery does not will
us to find things too easily. In that case every-
body would be a medicine-giver, and Ohiyesa
must learn that there are many secrets which the
Great Mystery will disclose only to the most
worthy. Only those who seek him fasting and
in solitude will receive his signs."

With this and many similar explanations she
wrought in my soul wonderful and lively concep-
tions of the "Great Mystery" and of the effects
of prayer and solitude. I continued my childish

"But why did you not dig those plants that we
saw in the woods, of the same kind that you are
digging now?"

"For the same reason that we do not like the
berries we find in the shadow of deep woods as
well as the ones which grow in sunny places. The
latter have more sweetness and flavor. Those
herbs which have medicinal virtues should be
sought in a place that is neither too wet nor too
dry, and where they have a generous amount of
sunshine to maintain their vigor.

"Some day Ohiyesa will be old enough to know
the secrets of medicine; then I will tell him all.
But if you should grow up to be a bad man, I
must withhold these treasures from you and give
them to your brother, for a medicine man must be
a good and wise man. I hope Ohiyesa will be a
great medicine man when he grows up. To be
a great warrior is a noble ambition; but to be
a mighty medicine man is a nobler!"

She said these things so thoughtfully and im-
pressively that I cannot but feel and remember
them even to this day.

Our native women gathered all the wild rice,
roots, berries and fruits which formed an impor-
tant part of our food. This was distinctively a
woman's work. Uncheedah (grandmother) under-
stood these matters perfectly, and it became a kind
of instinct with her to know just where to look
for each edible variety and at what season of the
year. This sort of labor gave the Indian women
every opportunity to observe and study Nature
after their fashion; and in this Uncheedah was
more acute than most of the men. The abilities
of her boys were not all inherited from their
father; indeed, the stronger family traits came
obviously from her. She was a leader among the
native women, and they came to her, not only for
medical aid, but for advice in all their affairs.

In bravery she equaled any of the men. This
trait, together with her ingenuity and alertness of
mind, more than once saved her and her people
from destruction. Once, when we were roaming
over a region occupied by other tribes, and on a
day when most of the men were out upon the
hunt, a party of hostile Indians suddenly ap-
peared. Although there were a few men left at
home, they were taken by surprise at first and
scarcely knew what to do, when this woman came
forward and advanced alone to meet our foes.
She had gone some distance when some of the
men followed her. She met the strangers and
offered her hand to them. They accepted her
friendly greeting; and as a result of her brave act
we were left unmolested and at peace.

Another story of her was related to me by my
father. My grandfather, who was a noted hunter,
often wandered away from his band in search of
game. In this instance he had with him only his
own family of three boys and his wife. One
evening,when he returned from the chase, he found
to his surprise that she had built a stockade
around her teepee.

She had discovered the danger-sign in a single
foot-print, which she saw at a glance was not that
of her husband, and she was also convinced that it
was not the foot-print of a Sioux, from the shape
of the moccasin. This ability to recognize foot-
prints is general among the Indians, but more
marked in certain individuals.

This courageous woman had driven away a
party of five Ojibway warriors. They approached
the lodge cautiously, but her dog gave timely
warning, and she poured into them from behind
her defences the contents of a double-barrelled
gun, with such good effect that the astonished
braves thought it wise to retreat.

I was not more than five or six years old when
the Indian soldiers came one day and destroyed our
large buffalo-skin teepee. It was charged that my
uncle had hunted alone a large herd of buffaloes.
This was not exactly true. He had unfortunately
frightened a large herd while shooting a deer in
the edge of the woods. However, it was custom-
ary to punish such an act severely, even though
the offense was accidental.

When we were attacked by the police, I was play-
ing in the teepee, and the only other person at
home was Uncheedah. I had not noticed their
approach, and when the war-cry was given by
thirty or forty Indians with strong lungs, I thought
my little world was coming to an end. Instantly
innumerable knives and tomahawks penetrated our
frail home, while bullets went through the poles
and tent-fastenings up above our heads.

I hardly know what I did, but I imagine it was
just what any other little fellow would have done
under like circumstances. My first clear realiza-
tion of the situation was when Uncheedah had a
dispute with the leader, claiming that the matter
had not been properly investigated, and that none
of the policemen had attained to a reputation in
war which would justify them in touching her son's
teepee. But alas! our poor dwelling was already
an unrecognizable ruin; even the poles were
broken into splinters.

The Indian women, after reaching middle age,
are usually heavy and lack agility, but my grand-
mother was in this also an exception. She was
fully sixty when I was born; and when I was
seven years old she swam across a swift and wide
stream, carrying me on her back, because she did
not wish to expose me to accident in one of the
clumsy round boats of bull-hide which were rigged
up to cross the rivers which impeded our way,
especially in the springtime. Her strength and
endurance were remarkable. Even after she had
attained the age of eighty-two, she one day walked
twenty-five miles without appearing much fa-

I marvel now at the purity and elevated senti-
ment possessed by this woman, when I consider
the customs and habits of her people at the time.
When her husband died she was still compara-
tively a young woman--still active, clever and
industrious. She was descended from a haughty
chieftain of the "Dwellers among the Leaves."
Although women of her age and position were
held to be eligible to re-marriage, and she had
several persistent suitors who were men of her own
age and chiefs, yet she preferred to cherish in
solitude the memory of her husband.

I was very small when my uncle brought home
two Ojibway young women. In the fight in which
they were captured, none of the Sioux war party
had been killed; therefore they were sympathized
with and tenderly treated by the Sioux women.
They were apparently happy, although of course
they felt deeply the losses sustained at the time of
their capture, and they did not fail to show their
appreciation of the kindnesses received at our

As I recall now the remarks made by one of
them at the time of their final release, they ap-
pear to me quite remarkable. They lived in my
grandmother's family for two years, and were
then returned to their people at a great peace
council of the two nations. When they were
about to leave my grandmother, the elder of the
two sisters first embraced her, and then spoke
somewhat as follows:

"You are a brave woman and a true mother.
I understand now why your son so bravely con-
quered our band, and took my sister and myself
captive. I hated him at first, but now I admire
him, because he did just what my father, my
brother or my husband would have done had
they opportunity. He did even more. He
saved us from the tomahawks of his fellow-war-
riors, and brought us to his home to know a
noble and a brave woman.

"I shall never forget your many favors shown
to us. But I must go. I belong to my tribe
and I shall return to them. I will endeavor to be
a true woman also, and to teach my boys to be
generous warriors like your son."

Her sister chose to remain among the Sioux all
her life, and she married one of our young men.

"I shall make the Sioux and the Ojibways,"
she said, "to be as brothers."

There are many other instances of intermar-
riage with captive women. The mother of the
well-known Sioux chieftain, Wabashaw, was an
Ojibway woman. I once knew a woman who
was said to be a white captive. She was married
to a noted warrior, and had a fine family of five
boys. She was well accustomed to the Indian
ways, and as a child I should not have suspected
that she was white. The skins of these people be-
came so sunburned and full of paint that it re-
quired a keen eye to distinguish them from the
real Indians.

IV: An Indian Sugar Camp

WITH the first March thaw the
thoughts of the Indian women
of my childhood days turned
promptly to the annual sugar-
making. This industry was
chiefly followed by the old men
and women and the children. The rest of the
tribe went out upon the spring fur-hunt at this sea-
son, leaving us at home to make the sugar.

The first and most important of the necessary
utensils were the huge iron and brass kettles for
boiling. Everything else could be made, but
these must be bought, begged or borrowed. A
maple tree was felled and a log canoe hollowed
out, into which the sap was to be gathered. Little
troughs of basswood and birchen basins were also
made to receive the sweet drops as they trickled
from the tree.

As soon as these labors were accomplished, we all
proceeded to the bark sugar house, which stood in
the midst of a fine grove of maples on the bank of
the Minnesota river. We found this hut partially
filled with the snows of winter and the withered
leaves of the preceding autumn, and it must be
cleared for our use. In the meantime a tent was
pitched outside for a few days' occupancy. The
snow was still deep in the woods, with a solid crust
upon which we could easily walk; for we usually
moved to the sugar house before the sap had act-
ually started, the better to complete our prepara-

My grandmother worked like a beaver in these
days (or rather like a muskrat, as the Indians say;
for this industrious little animal sometimes collects
as many as six or eight bushels of edible roots for
the winter, only to be robbed of his store by some
of our people). If there was prospect of a good
sugaring season, she now made a second and even
a third canoe to contain the sap. These canoes
were afterward utilized by the hunters for their
proper purpose.

During our last sugar-making in Minnesota, be-
fore the "outbreak," my grandmother was at work
upon a canoe with her axe, while a young aunt of
mine stood by. We boys were congregated with-
in the large, oval sugar house, busily engaged in
making arrows for the destruction of the rabbits
and chipmunks which we knew would come in
numbers to drink the sap. The birds also were
beginning to return, and the cold storms of March
would drive them to our door. I was then too
young to do much except look on; but I fully en-
tered into the spirit of the occasion, and rejoiced
to see the bigger boys industriously sharpen their
arrows, resting them against the ends of the long
sticks which were burning in the fire, and occasion-
ally cutting a chip from the stick. In their eager-
ness they paid little attention to this circumstance,
although they well knew that it was strictly for-
bidden to touch a knife to a burning ember.

Suddenly loud screams were heard from without
and we all rushed out to see what was the matter.
It was a serious affair. My grandmother's axe
had slipped, and by an upward stroke nearly sev-
ered three of the fingers of my aunt, who stood
looking on, with her hands folded upon her waist.
As we ran out the old lady, who had already no-
ticed and reproved our carelessness in regard to the
burning embers, pursued us with loud reproaches
and threats of a whipping. This will seem mys-
terious to my readers, but is easily explained by the
Indian superstition, which holds that such an
offense as we had committed is invariably punished
by the accidental cutting of some one of the family.

My grandmother did not confine herself to
canoe-making. She also collected a good supply
of fuel for the fires, for she would not have much
time to gather wood when the sap began to flow.
Presently the weather moderated and the snow be-
gan to melt. The month of April brought show-
ers which carried most of it off into the Minnesota
river. Now the women began to test the trees--
moving leisurely among them, axe in hand, and
striking a single quick blow, to see if the sap would
appear. The trees, like people, have their indi-
vidual characters; some were ready to yield up their
life-blood, while others were more reluctant. Now
one of the birchen basins was set under each tree,
and a hardwood chip driven deep into the cut
which the axe had made. From the corners of this
chip--at first drop by drop, then more freely--
the sap trickled into the little dishes.

It is usual to make sugar from maples, but sev-
eral other trees were also tapped by the Indians.
From the birch and ash was made a dark-colored
sugar, with a somewhat bitter taste, which was used
for medicinal purposes. The box-elder yielded a
beautiful white sugar, whose only fault was that
there was never enough of it!

A long fire was now made in the sugar house,
and a row of brass kettles suspended over the
blaze. The sap was collected by the women in
tin or birchen buckets and poured into the canoes,
from which the kettles were kept filled. The
hearts of the boys beat high with pleasant antici-
pations when they heard the welcome hissing sound
of the boiling sap! Each boy claimed one kettle
for his especial charge. It was his duty to see that
the fire was kept up under it, to watch lest it boil
over, and finally, when the sap became sirup, to
test it upon the snow, dipping it out with a
wooden paddle. So frequent were these tests
that for the first day or two we consumed nearly
all that could be made; and it was not until the
sweetness began to pall that my grandmother set
herself in earnest to store up sugar for future use.
She made it into cakes of various forms, in birch-
en molds, and sometimes in hollow canes or reeds,
and the bills of ducks and geese. Some of it was
pulverized and packed in rawhide cases. Being
a prudent woman, she did not give it to us after
the first month or so, except upon special occa-
sions, and it was thus made to last almost the
year around. The smaller candies were reserved
as an occasional treat for the little fellows, and the
sugar was eaten at feasts with wild rice or parched
corn, and also with pounded dried meat. Coffee
and tea, with their substitutes, were all unknown
to us in those days.

Every pursuit has its trials and anxieties. My
grandmother's special tribulations, during the
sugaring season, were the upsetting and gnawing
of holes in her birch-bark pans. The transgres-
sors were the rabbit and squirrel tribes, and we
little boys for once became useful, in shooting
them with our bows and arrows. We hunted all
over the sugar camp, until the little creatures
were fairly driven out of the neighborhood. Oc-
casionally one of my older brothers brought home
a rabbit or two, and then we had a feast.

The sugaring season extended well into April,
and the returning birds made the precincts of our
camp joyful with their songs. I often followed
my older brothers into the woods, although I was
then but four or five years old. Upon one of
these excursions they went so far that I ventured
back alone. When within sight of our hut, I saw
a chipmunk sitting upon a log, and uttering the
sound he makes when he calls to his mate. How
glorious it would be, I thought, if I could shoot
him with my tiny bow and arrows! Stealthily
and cautiously I approached, keeping my eyes
upon the pretty little animal, and just as I was
about to let fly my shaft, I heard a hissing noise
at my feet. There lay a horrid snake, coiled and
ready to spring! Forgetful that I was a warrior,
I gave a loud scream and started backward; but
soon recollecting myself, looked down with shame,
although no one was near. However, I retreated
to the inclined trunk of a fallen tree, and there, as
I have often been told, was overheard soliloquiz-
ing in the following words: "I wonder if a snake
can climb a tree!"

I remember on this occasion of our last sugar
bush in Minnesota, that I stood one day outside
of our hut and watched the approach of a visitor
--a bent old man, his hair almost white, and
carrying on his back a large bundle of red willow,
or kinnikinick, which the Indians use for smoking.
He threw down his load at the door and thus
saluted us: "You have indeed perfect weather for

It was my great-grandfather, Cloud Man,
whose original village was on the shores of Lakes
Calhoun and Harriet, now in the suburbs of the
city of Minneapolis. He was the first Sioux chief
to welcome the Protestant missionaries among his
people, and a well-known character in those pio-
neer days. He brought us word that some of
the peaceful sugar-makers near us on the river
had been attacked and murdered by roving Ojib-
ways. This news disturbed us not a little, for we
realized that we too might become the victims of
an Ojibway war party. Therefore we all felt
some uneasiness from this time until we returned
heavy laden to our village.

V: A Midsummer Feast
IT was midsummer. Everything
that the Santee Sioux had under-
taken during the year had been un-
usually successful. The spring
fur-hunters had been fortunate,
and the heavy winter had proved
productive of much maple sugar. The women's
patches of maize and potatoes were already suffic-
iently advanced to use. The Wahpetonwan band
of Sioux, the "Dwellers among the Leaves," were
fully awakened to the fact that it was almost time
for the midsummer festivities of the old, wild

The invitations were bundles of tobacco, and
acceptances were sent back from the various bands
--the "Light Lodges", "Dwellers back from
the River," and many others, in similar fashion.
Blue Earth, chief of the "Dwellers among the
Leaves," was the host.

There were to be many different kinds of ath-
letic games; indeed, the festival was something
like a State fair, in that there were many side
shows and competitive events. For instance, sup-
posing that (Miss) White Rabbit should desire to
give a "maidens' feast," she would employ a crier
to go among the different bands announcing the
fact in a sing-song manner:

"Miss White Rabbit will receive her maiden
friends to-day at noon, inside of the circular en-
campment of the Kaposia band."

Again, should (Mr.) Sleepy Eye wish to have
his child's ears pierced publicly, he would have to
give away a great deal of savage wealth--namely,
otter, bear and beaver skins and ponies--or the
child would not be considered as belonging to a
family in good standing.

But the one all-important event of the occasion
was the lacrosse game, for which it had been cus-
tomary to select those two bands which could
boast the greater number of fast runners.

The Wahpetonwan village on the banks of the
Minnesota river was alive with the newly-arrived
guests and the preparations for the coming event.
Meat of wild game had been put away with much
care during the previous fall in anticipation of this
feast. There was wild rice and the choicest of
dried venison that had been kept all winter, as
well as freshly dug turnips, ripe berries and an
abundance of fresh meat.

Along the edge of the woods the teepees were
pitched in groups or semi-circles, each band dis-
tinct from the others. The teepee of Mankato or
Blue Earth was pitched in a conspicuous spot.
Just over the entrance was painted in red and yel-
low a picture of a pipe, and directly opposite this
the rising sun. The painting was symbolic of
welcome and good will to men under the bright

A meeting was held to appoint some "medi-
cine man" to make the balls that were to be used
in the lacrosse contest; and presently the herald
announced that this honor had been conferred
upon old Chankpee-yuhah, or "Keeps the Club,"
while every other man of his profession was dis-
appointed. He was a powerful man physically,
who had apparently won the confidence of the
people by his fine personal appearance and by
working upon superstitious minds.

Towards evening he appeared in the circle,
leading by the hand a boy about four years old.
Closely the little fellow observed every motion of
the man; nothing escaped his vigilant black eyes,
which seemed constantly to grow brighter and
larger, while his exuberant glossy black hair was
plaited and wound around his head like that of
a Celestial. He wore a bit of swan's down in
each ear, which formed a striking contrast with
the child's complexion. Further than this, the
boy was painted according to the fashion of the
age. He held in his hands a miniature bow and

The medicine man drew himself up in an ad-
mirable attitude, and proceeded to make his short

"Wahpetonwans, you boast that you run down
the elk; you can outrun the Ojibways. Before
you all, I dedicate to you this red ball. Kaposias,
you claim that no one has a lighter foot than you;
you declare that you can endure running a whole
day without water. To you I dedicate this black
ball. Either you or the Leaf-Dwellers will have
to drop your eyes and bow your head when the
game is over. I wish to announce that if the
Wahpetonwans should win, this little warrior shall
bear the name Ohiyesa (winner) through life; but
if the Light Lodges should win, let the name be
given to any child appointed by them."

The ground selected for the great final game
was on a narrow strip of land between a lake and
the river. It was about three quarters of a mile
long and a quarter of a mile in width. The spec-
tators had already ranged themselves all along the
two sides, as well as at the two ends, which were
somewhat higher than the middle. The soldiers
appointed to keep order furnished much of the
entertainment of the day. They painted artistically
and tastefully, according to the Indian fashion, not
only their bodies but also their ponies and clubs.
They were so strict in enforcing the laws that no
one could venture with safety within a few feet of
the limits of the field.

Now all of the minor events and feasts, occupy-
ing several days' time, had been observed. Her-
alds on ponies' backs announced that all who in-
tended to participate in the final game were re-
quested to repair to the ground; also that if any
one bore a grudge against another, he was im-
plored to forget his ill-feeling until the contest
should be over.

The most powerful men were stationed at the
half-way ground, while the fast runners were as-
signed to the back. It was an impressive spectacle
--a fine collection of agile forms, almost stripped
of garments and painted in wild imitation of the
rainbow and sunset sky on human canvas. Some
had undertaken to depict the Milky Way across
their tawny bodies, and one or two made a bold
attempt to reproduce the lightning. Others con-
tented themselves with painting the figure of some
fleet animal or swift bird on their muscular chests.

The coiffure of the Sioux lacrosse player has
often been unconsciously imitated by the fashion-
able hair-dressers of modern times. Some banged
and singed their hair; others did a little more
by adding powder. The Grecian knot was lo-
cated on the wrong side of the head, being tied
tightly over the forehead. A great many simply
brushed back their long locks and tied them with
a strip of otter skin.

At the middle of the ground were stationed four
immense men, magnificently formed. A fifth ap-
proached this group, paused a moment, and then
threw his head back, gazed up into the sky in the
manner of a cock and gave a smooth, clear oper-
atic tone. Instantly the little black ball went up
between the two middle rushers, in the midst of
yells, cheers and war-whoops. Both men en-
deavored to catch it in the air; but alas! each in-
terfered with the other; then the guards on each
side rushed upon them. For a time, a hundred
lacrosse sticks vied with each other, and the wrig-
gling human flesh and paint were all one could see
through the cloud of dust. Suddenly there shot
swiftly through the air toward the south, toward the
Kaposias' goal, the ball. There was a general cheer
from their adherents, which echoed back from the
white cliff on the opposite side of the Minnesota.

As the ball flew through the air, two adver-
saries were ready to receive it. The Kaposia
quickly met the ball, but failed to catch it in his
netted bag, for the other had swung his up like a
flash. Thus it struck the ground, but had no op-
portunity to bound up when a Wahpeton pounced
upon it like a cat and slipped out of the grasp of
his opponents. A mighty cheer thundered through
the air.

The warrior who had undertaken to pilot the
little sphere was risking much, for he must dodge
a host of Kaposias before he could gain any ground.
He was alert and agile; now springing like a
panther, now leaping like a deer over a stooping
opponent who tried to seize him around the waist.
Every opposing player was upon his heels, while
those of his own side did all in their power to
clear the way for him. But it was all in vain.
He only gained fifty paces.

Thus the game went. First one side, then the
other would gain an advantage, and then it was lost,
until the herald proclaimed that it was time to change
the ball. No victory was in sight for either side.

After a few minutes' rest, the game was resumed.
The red ball was now tossed in the air in the usual
way. No sooner had it descended than one of the
rushers caught it and away it went northward;

again it was fortunate, for it was advanced by one
of the same side. The scene was now one of the
wildest excitement and confusion. At last, the
northward flight of the ball was checked for a
moment and a desperate struggle ensued. Cheers
and war-whoops became general, such as were
never equaled in any concourse of savages, and
possibly nowhere except at a college game of foot-

The ball had not been allowed to come to the
surface since it reached this point, for there were
more than a hundred men who scrambled for it.
Suddenly a warrior shot out of the throng like the
ball itself! Then some of the players shouted:
"Look out for Antelope! Look out for Antelope!"
But it was too late. The little sphere had already
nestled into Antelope's palm and that fleetest of
Wahpetons had thrown down his lacrosse stick and
set a determined eye upon the northern goal.

Such a speed! He had cleared almost all the
opponents' guards--there were but two more.
These were exceptional runners of the Kaposias.
As he approached them in his almost irresistible
speed, every savage heart thumped louder in the
Indian's dusky bosom. In another moment there
would be a defeat for the Kaposias or a prolonga-
tion of the game. The two men, with a determined
look approached their foe like two panthers pre-
pared to spring; yet he neither slackened his speed
nor deviated from his course. A crash--a mighty
shout!--the two Kaposias collided, and the swift
Antelope had won the laurels!

The turmoil and commotion at the victors'
camp were indescribable. A few beats of a drum
were heard, after which the criers hurried along
the lines, announcing the last act to be performed
at the camp of the "Leaf Dwellers."

The day had been a perfect one. Every event
had been a success; and, as a matter of course, the
old people were happy, for they largely profited
by these occasions. Within the circle formed by
the general assembly sat in a group the members
of the common council. Blue Earth arose, and
in a few appropriate and courteous remarks as-
sured his guests that it was not selfishness that led
his braves to carry off the honors of the last event,
but that this was a friendly contest in which each
band must assert its prowess. In memory of this
victory, the boy would now receive his name. A
loud "Ho-o-o" of approbation reverberated from
the edge of the forest upon the Minnesota's

Half frightened, the little fellow was now
brought into the circle, looking very much as if he
were about to be executed. Cheer after cheer
went up for the awe-stricken boy. Chankpee-yuhah,
the medicine man, proceeded to confer the name.

"Ohiyesa (or Winner) shall be thy name hence-
forth. Be brave, be patient and thou shalt always
win! Thy name is Ohivesa."

An Indian Boy's Training

IT is commonly supposed that there
is no systematic education of their
children among the aborigines of
this country. Nothing could be
farther from the truth. All the cus-
toms of this primitive people were
held to be divinely instituted, and those in connec-
tion with the training of children were scrupulously
adhered to and transmitted from one generation to

The expectant parents conjointly bent all their
efforts to the task of giving the new-comer the best
they could gather from a long line of ancestors. A
pregnant Indian woman would often choose one of
the greatest characters of her family and tribe as a
model for her child. This hero was daily called
to mind. She would gather from tradition all of
his noted deeds and daring exploits, rehearsing them
to herself when alone. In order that the impres-
sion might be more distinct, she avoided company.
She isolated herself as much as possible, and wan-
dered in solitude, not thoughtlessly, but with an
eye to the impress given by grand and beautiful

The Indians believed, also, that certain kinds of
animals would confer peculiar gifts upon the un-
born, while others would leave so strong an adverse
impression that the child might become a monstros-
ity. A case of hare-lip was commonly attributed
to the rabbit. It was said that a rabbit had charmed
the mother and given to the babe its own features.
Even the meat of certain animals was denied the
pregnant woman, because it was supposed to influ-
ence the disposition or features of the child.

Scarcely was the embyro warrior ushered into the
world, when he was met by lullabies that speak of
wonderful exploits in hunting and war. Those
ideas which so fully occupied his mother's mind
before his birth are now put into words by all about
the child, who is as yet quite unresponsive to their
appeals to his honor and ambition. He is called
the future defender of his people, whose lives may
depend upon his courage and skill. If the child
is a girl, she is at once addressed as the future
mother of a noble race.

In hunting songs, the leading animals are intro-
duced; they come to the boy to offer their bodies
for the sustenance of his tribe. The animals are
regarded as his friends, and spoken of almost as
tribes of people, or as his cousins, grandfathers and
grandmothers. The songs of wooing, adapted as
lullabies, were equally imaginative, and the suitors
were often animals personified, while pretty maid-
ens were represented by the mink and the doe.

Very early, the Indian boy assumed the task of
preserving and transmitting the legends of his an-
cestors and his race. Almost every evening a
myth, or a true story of some deed done in the
past, was narrated by one of the parents or grand-
parents, while the boy listened with parted lips and
glistening eyes. On the following evening, he was
usually required to repeat it. If he was not an apt
scholar, he struggled long with his task; but, as a
rule, the Indian boy is a good listener and has a good
memory, so that the stories were tolerably well mas-
tered. The household became his audience,
by which he was alternately criticized and ap-

This sort of teaching at once enlightens the boy's
mind and stimulates his ambition. His concep-
tion of his own future career becomes a vivid and
irresistible force. Whatever there is for him to
learn must be learned; whatever qualifications are
necessary to a truly great man he must seek at any
expense of danger and hardship. Such was the
feeling of the imaginative and brave young Indian.
It became apparent to him in early life that he
must accustom himself to rove alone and not
to fear or dislike the impression of solitude.

It seems to be a popular idea that all the char-
acteristic skill of the Indian is instinctive and
hereditary. This is a mistake. All the stoicism
and patience of the Indian are acquired traits, and
continual practice alone makes him master of the art
of wood-craft. Physical training and dieting were not
neglected. I remember that I was not allowed to
have beef soup or any warm drink. The soup
was for the old men. General rules for the young
were never to take their food very hot, nor to
drink much water.

My uncle, who educated me up to the age
of fifteen years, was a strict disciplinarian and a
good teacher. When I left the teepee in the
morning, he would say: "Hakadah, look closely
to everything you see"; and at evening, on my re-
turn, he used often to catechize me for an hour
or so.

"On which side of the trees is the lighter-col-
ored bark? On which side do they have most
regular branches?"

It was his custom to let me name all the
new birds that I had seen during the day. I
would name them according to the color or
the shape of the bill or their song or the appearance
and locality of the nest--in fact, anything about
the bird that impressed me as characteristic. I
made many ridiculous errors, I must admit. He
then usually informed me of the correct name.
Occasionally I made a hit and this he would warm-
ly commend.

He went much deeper into this science when I
was a little older, that is, about the age of eight or
nine years. He would say, for instance:

"How do you know that there are fish in
yonder lake?"

"Because they jump out of the water for flies
at mid-day."

He would smile at my prompt but superficial

"What do you think of the little pebbles
grouped together under the shallow water? and
what made the pretty curved marks in the
sandy bottom and the little sand-banks? Where
do you find the fish-eating birds? Have the in-
let and the outlet of a lake anything to do with the

He did not expect a correct reply at once to all
the voluminous questions that he put to me on
these occasions, but he meant to make me observ-
ant and a good student of nature.

"Hakadah," he would say to me, "you ought
to follow the example of the shunktokecha (wolf).
Even when he is surprised and runs for his life, he
will pause to take one more look at you before he
enters his final retreat. So you must take a sec-
ond look at everything you see.

"It is better to view animals unobserved. I
have been a witness to their courtships and their
quarrels and have learned many of their secrets in
this way. I was once the unseen spectator of a
thrilling battle between a pair of grizzly bears and
three buffaloes--a rash act for the bears, for it was
in the moon of strawberries, when the buffaloes
sharpen and polish their horns for bloody con-
tests among themselves.

"I advise you, my boy, never to approach a
grizzly's den from the front, but to steal up be-
hind and throw your blanket or a stone in front of
the hole. He does not usually rush for it, but
first puts his head out and listens and then comes
out very indifferently and sits on his haunches on
the mound in front of the hole before he makes any
attack. While he is exposing himself in this
fashion, aim at his heart. Always be as cool as the
animal himself." Thus he armed me against the
cunning of savage beasts by teaching me how to
outwit them.

"In hunting," he would resume, "you will be
guided by the habits of the animal you seek. Re-
member that a moose stays in swampy or low land
or between high mountains near a spring or lake,
for thirty to sixty days at a time. Most large game
moves about continually, except the doe in the
spring; it is then a very easy matter to find her
with the fawn. Conceal yourself in a convenient
place as soon as you observe any signs of the
presence of either, and then call with your birchen

"Whichever one hears you first will soon appear
in your neighborhood. But you must be very
watchful, or you may be made a fawn of by a large
wild-cat. They understand the characteristic call
of the doe perfectly well.

"When you have any difficulty with a bear or
a wild-cat--that is, if the creature shows signs of
attacking you--you must make him fully under-
stand that you have seen him and are aware of his
intentions. If you are not well equipped for a
pitched battle, the only way to make him retreat is
to take a long sharp-pointed pole for a spear and
rush toward him. No wild beast will face this un-
less he is cornered and already wounded, These
fierce beasts are generally afraid of the common
weapon of the larger animals--the horns, and if
these are very long and sharp, they dare not risk
an open fight.

"There is one exception to this rule--the grey
wolf will attack fiercely when very hungry. But
their courage depends upon their numbers; in this
they are like white men. One wolf or two will
never attack a man. They will stampede a herd
of buffaloes in order to get at the calves; they will
rush upon a herd of antelopes, for these are help-
less; but they are always careful about attacking

Of this nature were the instructions of my
uncle, who was widely known at that time as
among the greatest hunters of his tribe.

All boys were expected to endure hardship
without complaint. In savage warfare, a young
man must, of course, be an athlete and used to
undergoing all sorts of privations. He must be
able to go without food and water for two or three
days without displaying any weakness, or to run
for a day and a night without any rest. He must
be able to traverse a pathless and wild country
without losing his way either in the day or night
time. He cannot refuse to do any of these things
if he aspires to be a warrior.

Sometimes my uncle would waken me very
early in the morning and challenge me to fast
with him all day. I had to accept the challenge.
We blackened our faces with charcoal, so that
every boy in the village would know that I was
fasting for the day. Then the little tempters
would make my life a misery until the merci-
ful sun hid behind the western hills.

I can scarcely recall the time when my stern
teacher began to give sudden war-whoops over
my head in the morning while I was sound asleep.
He expected me to leap up with perfect presence
of mind, always ready to grasp a weapon of some
sort and to give a shrill whoop in reply. If I
was sleepy or startled and hardly knew what I
was about, he would ridicule me and say that I
need never expect to sell my scalp dear. Often
he would vary these tactics by shooting off his
gun just outside of the lodge while I was yet
asleep, at the same time giving blood-curdling
yells. After a time I became used to this.

When Indians went upon the war-path, it was
their custom to try the new warriors thoroughly
before coming to an engagement. For instance,
when they were near a hostile camp, they would
select the novices to go after the water and make
them do all sorts of things to prove their cour-
age. In accordance with this idea, my uncle used
to send me off after water when we camped after
dark in a strange place. Perhaps the country
was full of wild beasts, and, for aught I knew,
there might be scouts from hostile bands of In-
dians lurking in that very neighborhood.

Yet I never objected, for that would show cow-
ardice. I picked my way through the woods,
dipped my pail in the water and hurried back,
always careful to make as little noise as a cat.
Being only a boy, my heart would leap at every
crackling of a dry twig or distant hooting of an
owl, until, at last, I reached our teepee. Then my
uncle would perhaps say: "Ah, Hakadah, you
are a thorough warrior," empty out the precious
contents of the pail, and order me to go a second

Imagine how I felt! But I wished to be a
brave man as much as a white boy desires to be a
great lawyer or even President of the United
States. Silently I would take the pail and en-
deavor to retrace my footsteps in the dark.

With all this, our manners and morals were
not neglected. I was made to respect the adults
and especially the aged. I was not allowed to
join in their discussions, nor even to speak in
their presence, unless requested to do so. In-
dian etiquette was very strict, and among the re-
quirements was that of avoiding the direct address.
A term of relationship or some title of courtesy
was commonly used instead of the personal name
by those who wished to show respect. We were
taught generosity to the poor and reverence for the
"Great Mystery." Religion was the basis of all
Indian training.

I recall to the present day some of the kind
warnings and reproofs that my good grandmother
was wont to give me. "Be strong of heart--be
patient!" she used to say. She told me of a
young chief who was noted for his uncontrollable
temper. While in one of his rages he attempted
to kill a woman, for which he was slain by his
own band and left unburied as a mark of disgrace
--his body was simply covered with green grass.
If I ever lost my temper, she would say:

"Hakadah, control yourself, or you will be
like that young man I told you of, and lie under
a green blanket!"

In the old days, no young man was allowed to
use tobacco in any form until he had become an
acknowledged warrior and had achieved a record.
If a youth should seek a wife before he had
reached the age of twenty-two or twenty-three,
and been recognized as a brave man, he was
sneered at and considered an ill-bred Indian. He
must also be a skillful hunter. An Indian cannot
be a good husband unless he brings home plenty
of game.

These precepts were in the line of our training
for the wild life.

My Plays and Playmates

I: Games and Sports

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 practice of a
few simple arts in warfare and the
chase. Aside from this, he was master of his

Whatever was required of us boys was quickly
performed: then the field was clear for our games
and plays. There was always keen competition
among 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 our sports
to the fullest extent. As we left our teepees 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 ob-
served 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 cus-
toms of our people; indeed, we practiced only
what we expected to do when grown. Our games
were feats with the bow and arrow, foot and pony
races, wrestling, swimming and imitation 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 the ribs of animals and buffalo robes.

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

It was considered out of place to shoot by first
sighting the object aimed at. This was usually
impracticable in actual life, because the object was
almost always in motion, while the hunter himself
was often upon the back of a pony at full gallop.
Therefore, it was the off-hand shot that the Indian
boy sought to master. There was another game
with arrows that 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 to some other
whom he considered his equal:

"I can't run; but I will challenge you to fifty

A former hero, when beaten, would often ex-
plain his defeat by saying: " I drank too much

Boys of all ages were paired for a "spin," and
the little red men cheered on their favorites with

As soon as this was ended, the pony races fol-
lowed. All the speedy ponies were picked out
and riders chosen. If a boy declined to ride, there
would be shouts of derision.

Last of all came the swimming. A little urchin
would hang to his pony's long tail, while the lat-
ter, with only his head above water, glided spor-
tively along. Finally the animals were driven in-
to a fine field of grass and we turned our attention
to other games.

Lacrosse was an older game and was confined en-
tirely to the Sisseton and Santee Sioux. Shinny, such
as is enjoyed by white boys on the ice, is still played
on the open prairie 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 the end of a limber and springy wil-
low wand and thrown as boys throw apples from
sticks, with considerable force. When there were
fifty or a hundred players on each side, the battle
became warm; but anything to arouse the bravery
of Indian boys seemed to them a good and whole-
some diversion.

Wrestling was largely indulged in by us all. It
may seem odd,, but wrestling was done by a great
many boys at once--from ten to any number on
a side. It was really a battle, in which each one
chose his opponent. The rule was that if a boy
sat down, he was let alone, but as long as he re-
mained 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 butting
with the knees was allowed. Altogether it was an
exhausting pastime--fully equal to the American
game of football and only the young 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 Ojibways or
some tribal foe. We all painted and stole cau-
tiously upon the nest; then, with a rush and 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 on-
slaught upon the nest was ended, we usually fol-
lowed it by a pretended scalp dance.

On the occasion of my first experience in this
mode of warfare, there were two other little boys
who were also novices. One of them particularly
was really too young to indulge in an exploit of
that kind. As it was the custom of our people,
when they killed or wounded an enemy on the bat-
tle 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 di-
rection. However, he evidently did not want to
retreat without any honors; so he bravely jumped
upon the nest and yelled:

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

Scarcely were the last words 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 ad-
vice 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 ex-
istence--he had been killed by our enemies, the
Bee tribe. Poor little fellow! His swollen 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 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 "dou-
ble-rippers" or toboggans, but six or seven of the
long ribs of a buffalo, fastened together at the
larger end, answered all practical purposes. Some-
times a strip of bass-wood bark, four feet long and
about six inches wide, was used with considerable
skill. We stood on one end and held the other,
using the slippery inside of the bark for the out-
side, and thus coasting down long hills with re-
markable speed.

The spinning of tops was one of the all-ab-
sorbing winter sports. We made our tops heart-
shaped of wood, horn or bone. We whipped
them with a long thong of buckskin. The handle
was a stick about a foot long and sometimes we
whittled the stick to make it spoon-shaped at one

We played games with these tops--two to fifty
boys at one time. Each whips his top until it
hums; then one takes the lead and the rest fol-
low in a sort of obstacle race. The top must spin
all the way through. There were bars of snow
over which we must pilot our top in the spoon
end of our whip; then again we would toss it in the
air on to another open spot of ice or smooth snow-
crust from twenty to fifty paces away. The top
that holds out the longest is the winner.

Sometimes we played "medicine dance." This,
to us, was almost what "playing church" is among
white children, but our people seemed to think it
an act of irreverence to imitate these dances,
therefore performances of this kind were always
enjoyed in secret. We used to observe all the im-
portant ceremonies and it required something of an
actor to reproduce the dramatic features of the
dance. The real dances 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 imi-

The boys built an arbor of pine boughs in some
out-of-the-way place and at one end of it was a
rude lodge. This was the medicine lodge or head-
quarters. All the initiates were there. At the
further end or entrance were the door-keepers or
soldiers, as we called them. The members of
each lodge entered in a body, standing in single
file and facing the headquarters. Each stretched
out his right hand and a prayer was offered by the
leader, after which they took the places assigned
to them.

When the preliminaries had been completed,
our leader sounded the big drum and we all said
"A-ho-ho-ho!" as a sort of amen. Then the choir
began their song and whenever they ended a verse,
we all said again "A-ho-ho-ho!" At last they
struck up the chorus and we all got upon our feet
and began to dance, by simply lifting up one foot
and then the other, with a slight swing to the

Each boy was representing or imitating some
one of the medicine men. We painted and decor-
ated ourselves just as they did and carried bird
or squirrel skins, or occasionally live birds and
chipmunks as our medicine bags and small white
shells or pebbles for medicine charms.

Then the persons to be initiated were brought
in and seated, with much ceremony, upon a blanket
or buffalo robe. Directly in front of them the
ground was levelled smooth and here we laid an
old pipe filled with dried leaves for tobacco.
Around it we placed the variously colored feathers
of the birds we had killed, and cedar and sweet-
grass we burned for incense.

Finally those of us who had been selected to per-
form this ceremony stretched out our arms at full
length, holding the sacred medicine bags and aiming
them at the new members. After swinging them four
times, we shot them suddenly forward, but did not
let go. The novices then fell forward on their
faces as if dead. Quickly a chorus was struck up
and we all joined in a lively dance around the sup-
posed bodies. The girls covered them up with
their blankets, thus burying the dead. At last we
resurrected them with our charms and led them to
their places among the audience. Then came the
last general dance and the final feast.

I was often selected as choir-master on these oc-
casions, 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 of
the Turtle lodge, on hearing of these sacrilegious
acts (as she called them) warned me that if any of
the medicine men should discover them, 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 mer-
chandise. We also knew that his complexion was
pale, that he had short hair on his head and long
hair on his face and that he wore coat, trousers,
and hat, and did not patronize blankets in the day-
time. 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 cos-
tumes 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 gun-powder, pebbles
for bullets and clear water for the dangerous "spirit
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 a supply of meat; then start a few equally
swift boys to chase them and capture the food.
Once we were engaged in this sport when a real
hunt by the men was in progress; yet we did not
realize that it was so near until, in the midst of our
play, we saw an immense buffalo coming at full
speed directly toward us. Our mimic buffalo hunt
turned into a very real buffalo scare. Fortunately,
we were near the edge of the woods and we soon
disappeared among the leaves like a covey of young
prairie-chickens and some hid in the bushes while


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