The History of Virginia, In Four Parts. III. The Native Indians, Their Religions, Laws and Customs, In War and Peace.10th of June 1720. by Robert Beverley, A native and inhabitant of the place.
BOOK III. OF THE INDIANS, THEIR RELIGION, LAWS AND CUSTOMS, IN WAR AND PEACE.
CHAPTER I. OF THE INDIANS AND THEIR DRESS.
The Indians are of the middling and largest stature of the English. They are straight and well proportioned, having the cleanest and most exact limbs in the world. They are so perfect in their outward frame, that I never heard of one single Indian that was either dwarfish, crooked, bandy-legged, or otherwise misshapen. But if they have any such practice among them as the Romans had, of exposing such children till they died, as were weak and misshapen at their birth, they are very shy of confessing it, and I could never yet learn that they had.
Their color, when they are grown up, is a chestnut brown and tawny; but much clearer in their infancy. Their skin comes afterwards to harden and grow blacker by greasing and sunning themselves. They have generally coal black hair, and very black eyes, which are most commonly graced with that sort of squint which many of the Jews are observed to have. their women are generally beautiful, possessing shape and features agreeable enough, and wanting no charm but that of education and a fair complexion.Of the Indians and Their Dress.
The men wear their hair cut after several fanciful fashions, sometimes greased, and sometimes painted. The great men, or better sort, preserve a long lock behind for distinction. They pull their beards up by the roots with mussel shells, and both men and women do the same by the other parts of their body for cleanliness sake. The women wear the hair of the head very long, either hanging at their backs, or brought before in a single lock, bound up with a fillet of peak, or beads; sometimes also they wear it neatly tied up in a knot behind. It is commonly greased, and shining black, but never painted.
The people of condition, of both sexes, wear a sort of coronet on their heads, from four to six inches broad, open at the top, and composed of peak, or beads, or else of both interwoven together, and worked into figures, made by a nice mixture of the colors. Sometimes they wear a wreath of died furs, as likewise bracelets on their necks and arms. The common people go bare-headed, only sticking large shining feathers about their heads, as their fancies lead them.
3. Their clothes are a large mantle, carelessly wrapped about their bodies, and sometimes girt close in the middle with a girdle. The upper part of this mantle is drawn close upon the shoulders, and the other hangs below their knees. When that's thrown off, they have only for modesty sake a piece of cloth, or a small skin tied round their waist, which reaches down to the middle of the thigh. The common sort tie only a string round their middle, and pass a piece of cloth or skin round between their thighs, which they turn at each end over the string.
Their shoes, when they wear any, are made of an entire piece of buckskin, except when they sew a piece to the bottom to thicken the sole. They are fastened on with running strings, the skin being drawn together like a purse on the top of the foot, and tied round the ankle. The Indian name of this kind of shoe is moccasin.
But because a draught of these things will inform the
Tab: 2 Book: 3 Pag: 129 Lith of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va.
Indian male in summer dress, along with several lettered arrows and Indians hunting deer in the background.
Lith of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va. Fig 2 Fig 1 Tab 3 Book 3 Pag. 129
Two Indians in winter dress, with Indians spearing fish in the background.
Of Indians and Their Dress.
reader more at first view than a description in many words, I shall present him with the following prints drawn by the life.
TAB. II. is an Indian man in his summer dress. The upper part of his hair is cut short to make a ridge, which stands up like the comb of a cock, the rest is either shorn off, or knotted behind his ear. On his head are stuck three feathers of the wild turkey, pheasant, hawk, or such like. At his ear is hung a fine shell with pearl drops. At his breast is a tablet, or fine shell, smooth as polished marble, which sometimes also hath etched on it a star, half moon, or other figure, according to the maker's fancy. Upon his neck and wrists hang strings of beads, peak and roenoke. His apron is made of a deer skin, gashed round the edges, which hang like tassels or fringe; at the upper end of the fringe is an edging of peak, to make it finer. His quiver is of a thin bark; but sometimes they make it of the shin of a fox, or young wolf, with the head hanging to it, which has a wild sort of terror in it; and to make it yet more warlike, they tie it on with the tail of a panther, buffalo, or such like, letting the end hang down between their legs. The pricked lines on his shoulders, breast and legs, represent the figures painted thereon. In his left hand he holds a bow, and in his right an arrow. the mark upon his shoulder blade is a distinction used by the Indians in traveling, to show the nation they are of; and perhaps is the same with that which Baron Lahontan calls the arms and heraldry of the Indians. Thus the several lettered marks are used by several other nations about Virginia, when they make a journey to their friends and allies.
The landscape is a natural representation of an Indian field.
TAB. III is two Indian men in their winter dress. Seldom any but the elder people wore the winter cloaks (which they call match-coats) till they got a supply ofOf the Indians and Their Dress.
European goods; and now most have them of one sort or other in the cold winter weather. Fig. 1 wears the proper Indian match-coat, which is made of skins, dressed with the fur on, sewed together, and worn with the fur inwards, having the edges also gashed for beauty sake. On his feet are moccasins. By him stand some Indian cabins on the banks of the river. Fig. 2 wears the Duffield match-coat bought of the English; on his head is a coronet of peak, on his legs are stockings made of Duffields: that is, they take a length to reach from the ankle to the knee, so broad as to wrap round the leg; this they sew together, letting the edges stand out at an inch beyond the seam. When this is on, they garter below knee, and fasten the lower end in the moccasin.
I don't find that the Indians have any other distinction in their dress, or the fashion of their hair, than only what a greater degree of riches enables them to make, except it be their religious persons, who are known by the particular cut of the hair and the unusual figure of their garments; as our clergy are distinguished by their canonical habit.
The habit of the Indian priest is a cloak made in the form of a woman's petticoat; but instead of tying it about their middle, they fasten the gatherings about their neck and tie it upon the right shoulder, always keeping one arm out to us upon occasion. This cloak hangs even at the bottom, but reaches no lower than the middle of the thigh; but what is most particular in it is, hat it is constantly made of a skin dressed soft, with the pelt or fur on the outside, and reversed; insomuch, that when the cloak has been a little worn the hair falls down in flakes, and looks very shagged and frightful.
The cut of their hair is likewise peculiar to their function; for 'tis all shaven close except a thin crest, like a cock's comb, which stands bristling up, and runs in a semicircle from the forehead up along the crown to the nape of the neck. They likewise have a border of hair over the
Lith. of Ritchie & Dunnavant, Richmond Fig 2 a Priest a Conjurer Fig. 1 Tab 4 Book 3 Pag 131
Two Indians, a Priest and a Conjurer. In the background is an object labelled "a Huskanaw pen."
Lith of Ritchie & Dunnavant, Richmond Fig 2 Fig 1 Tab 5 Book 3 Pag. 131
Two Indian women in typical Indian dress, with a third in the background making a basket.
Of Indians and Their Dress.
forehead, which by its own natural strength, and by the stiffening it receives from grease and paint, will stand out like the peak of a bonnet.
TAB. IV. Is a priest and a conjurer in their proper habits. The priest's habit is sufficiently described above. The conjurer shaves all his hair off, except the crest on the crown; upon his ear he wears the skin of some dark colored bird; he, as well as the priest, is commonly grimed with soot or the like; to save his modesty he hangs an otter skin at his girdle, fastening the tail between his legs; upon his thigh hangs his pocket, which is fastened by tucking it under his girdle, the bottom of this is likewise fringed with tassels for ornament sake. In the middle between them is the Huskanawpen spoken of '32.
The dress of the women is little different from that of the men, except in the tying of their hair. The women of distinction wear deep necklaces, pendants and bracelets, made of small cylinders of the conch shell, which they call peak: they likewise keep their skin clean and shining with oil, while the men are commonly bedaubed all over with paint.
They are remarkable for having small round breasts, and so firm, that they are hardly ever observed to hang down, even in old women. They commonly go naked as far as the navel downward, and upward to the middle of the thigh, by which means they have the advantage of discovering their fine limbs and complete shape.
TAB. VI. Is a couple of young women. The first wearing a coronet, necklace and bracelet of peak; the second a wreath of furs on her head, and her hair is bound with a fillet of peak and beads. Between the two is a woman under a tree making a basket of silk grass after their own manner.
TAB. VI. Is a woman and a boy running after her. One of her hands rests in her necklace of peak, and the other holds a gourd, in which they put water or other liquid.Of Indians and Their Dress.
The boy wears a necklace of runtees, in his right hand is an Indian rattle, and in his left a roasting ear of corn. Round his waist is a small string, and another brought cross through his crotch, and for decency a soft skin is fastened before.
Runtees are made of the conch shell as the peak is, only the shape is flat and round like a cheese, and drilled edge ways.
Tab. 6 Book 5 Pag. 132 Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va
Indian woman and boy. In the background is several images of Indians paddling in canoes, which are labelled "a Birchen Canoe or Canoe of Bark". There is also a drawing of 2 peace pipes, labelled "Pipe of peace which I have Seen." and "Lahontans Calumet of peace."
CHAPTER II. OF THE MARRIAGES AMONGST THE INDIANS, AND MANAGEMENT OF THEIR CHILDREN.
The Indians have their solemnities of marriage, and esteem the vows made at that time as most sacred and inviolable. Notwithstanding they allow both the man and the wife to part upon disagreement, yet so great is the disreputation of a divorce, that married people, to avoid the character of inconstant and ungenerous, very rarely let their quarrels proceed to a separation. However, when it does so happen, they reckon all the ties of matrimony dissolved, and each hath the liberty of marrying another. But infidelity is accounted the most unpardonable of all crimes in either of the parties, as long as the contract continues.
In these separations, the children go, according to the affection of the parent, with the one or the other; for children are not reckoned a charge among them, but rather riches, according to the blessing of the Old Testament; and if they happen to differ about dividing their children, their method is then to part them equally, allowing the man the first choice.
Though the young Indian women are said to prostitute their bodies for wampom peak, runtees, beads, and other such like fineries; yet I never could find any ground for the accusation, and believe it only to be an unjust scandal upon them. This I know, that if ever they have a child while they are single, it is such a disgrace to them that they never after get husbands. Besides, I must do them the justice to say, I never heard of a child any of them had before marriage, and the Indians themselves disownOf Marriages and Children.
any such custom; though they acknowledge, at the same time, that the maidens are entirely at their own disposal, and may manage their persons as they think fit.
The manner of the Indians treating their young children is very strange; for instead of keeping them warm, at their first entry into the world, and wrapping them up, with I don't know how many clothes, according to our fond custom, the first thing they do is to dip the child over head and ears in cold water, and then to bind it naked to a convenient boards, having a hole fitly placed for evacuation; but they always put cotton, wool, fur, or other soft things, for the body to rest easy on, between the child and the board. In this posture they keep it several months, till the bones begin to harden, the joints to knit, and the limbs to grow strong; and then they let it loose from the board, suffering it to crawl about, except when they are feeding or playing with it.
While the child is thus at the board, they either lay it flat on its back, or set it leaning on one end, or else hang it up by a string fastened to the upper end of the board for that purpose; the child and board being all this while carried about together. As our women undress their children to clean and shift their linen, so they do theirs to wash and grease them.
The method the women have of carrying their children after they are suffered to crawl about, is very particular; they carry them at their backs in summer, taking one leg of the child under their arm, and the counter-arm of the child in their hand over their shoulder; the other leg hanging down, and the child all the while holding fast with its other hand; but in winter they carry them in the hollow of their match-coat at their back, leaving nothing but the child's head out, as appears by the figure.
Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va Fig: 2. Fig: 3. Fig: 1. Tab: 7. Book 3. Pag: 134.
Three figures. Figure 1 is of an Indian woman with a naked child on her back. Figure 2 is of a woman with a child on her back wrapped in a large cloth. Figure 3 is of a child in a backboard hanging from a tree.
Tab. 8 Book 3 Pag. 135 Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va
Indian town. On the left is an enclosed settlement, and on the right are a number of scattered buildings.
CHAPTER III. OF THE TOWNS, BUILDINGS AND FORTIFICATIONS OF THE INDIANS.
The method of the Indian settlements is altogether by cohabitation, in townships, from fifty to five hundred families in a town, and each of these towns is commonly a kingdom. Sometimes one king has the command of several of these towns, when they happen to be united in his hands by descent or conquest; but in such cases there is always a viceregent appointed in the dependent town, who is at once governor, judge, chancellor, and has the same power and authority which the king himself has in the town where he resides. This viceroy is obliged to pay his principal some small tribute, as an acknowledgment of his submission, as likewise to follow him to this wars whenever he is required.
The manner the Indians have of building their houses is very slight and cheap. When they would erect a wigwam, which is the Indian name for a house, they stick saplings into the ground by one end, and bend the other at the top, fastening them together by strings made of fibrous roots, the rind of trees, or of the green wood of the white oak, which will rive into thongs. The smallest sort of these cabins are conical like a bee-hive; but the larger are built in an oblong form, and both are covered with the bark of trees, which will rive off into great flakes. Their windows are little holes left open for the passage of the light, which in bad weather they stop with shutters of the same bark, opening the leeward windows for air and light. Their chimney, among the true born Irish, is a little hole on the top of the house, to let out the smoke, havingOf the Towns, Buildings and Fortifications.
no sort of funnel, or any thing within, to confine the smoke from ranging through the whole roof of the cabin, if the vent will not let it out fast enough. The fire is always made in the middle of the cabin. Their door is a pendent mat, when they are near home; but when they go abroad they barricade it with great logs of wood set against the mat, which are sufficient to keep out wild beasts. There's never more than one room in a house, except in some houses of state, religion, where the partition is made only by mats and loose poles.
Their houses, or cabins, as we call them, are by this move ill method of building continually smoky when they have fire in them, but to ease that inconvenience, and to make the smoke less troublesome o their eyes, they generally burn pine or lightwood, (that is, the fat knots of dead pine,) the smoke of which does not offend the eyes, but smuts the skin exceedingly, and is perhaps another occasion of the darkness of their complexion.
Their seats, like those in the eastern part of the world, are the round itself; and as the people of distinction amongst those used carpets, so cleanliness has taught the better sort of these to spread match-coats and mats to sit on.
They take up their lodging in the sides of their cabins upon a couch made of boards, sticks, or reeds, which are raised from the ground upon forks, and covered with mats or skins. Sometimes they lie upon a bear skin, or other thick pelt dressed with the hair on, and laid upon the ground near a fire, covering themselves with their match-coats. In warm weather a single mat is their only bed, and another rolled up their pillow. In their travels, a grass plat under the covert of a shady tree, is all the lodging they require, and is a pleasant and refreshing to them as a down bed and fine Holland sheets are to us.
Their fortifications consist only of a palisade, of about then or twelve feet high; and when they would make themselves very safe, they treble the pale. They often encompassOf the Towns, Buildings and Fortifications.
their whole town; but for the most part only their king's houses, and as many others as they judge sufficient to harbor all their people when an enemy comes against them. They never fail to secure within their palisade all their religious relics, and the remains of their princes. Within this inclosure, they likewise take care to have a supply of water, and to make a place for a fire, which they frequently dance round with great solemnity.
CHAPTER IV. OF THEIR COOKERY AND FOOD.
Their cookery has nothing commendable in it, but that it is performed with little trouble. They have no other sauce but a good stomach, which they seldom want. They boil, broil, or toast all the meat they eat, and it is very common with them to boil fish as well as flesh with their homony; this is Indian corn soaked, broken in a mortar, husked, and then boiled in water over a gentle fire for ten or twelve hours, to the consistence of frumenty: the thin of this is what my Lord **Bacon calls cream of maise, and highly commends for an excellent sort of nutriment.
They have two ways of broiling, vis. one by laying the meat itself upon the coals, the other by laying it upon sticks raised upon forks at some distance above the live coals, which heats more gently, and dries up the gravy; this they, and we also from them, call barbecuing.
They skin and paunch all sorts of quadrupeds; they draw and pluck their fowl; but their fish they dress with their scales on, without gutting; but in eating they leave the scales, entrails and bones to be thrown away. They also roast their fish upon a hot hearth, covering them with hot ashes and coats, then take them out, the scales and skin they strip clean off, so they eat the flesh, leaving the bones and entrails to be thrown away.
They never serve up different sorts of victuals in one dish; as roast and boiled fish and flesh; but always serve them up in several vessels.
They bake their bread either in cakes before the fire, or in loaves on a warm hearth, covering the loaf first with leaves, then with warm ashes, and afterwards with coals over all.
Tab. 9 Book 3 Pag 139. Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va
Two Indians preparing fish over a fire. The Indian on the left is carrying a basket of fish on his back, and the Indian on the right is stoking the fire with a two-pronged stick.
Of Their Cookery and Food.
TAB. IX. Represents the manner of their roasting and barbecuing, with the form of their baskets for common uses, and carrying fish.
Their food is fish and flesh of all sorts, and that which participates of both; as the beaver, a small kind of turtle, or terrapins, (as we call them,) and several species of snakes. They likewise eat grubs, the nymphae of wasps, some kinds of scarabaei, cicadae, &c. These last are such as are sold in the markets of Fess, and such as the Arabians, Libyans, Parthians and Ethiopians commonly eat; so that these are not a new diet, though a very slender one; and we are informed that St. John was dieted upon locusts and wild honey.
They make excellent broth of the head and umbels of a deer, which they put into the pot all bloody. The seems resemble the jus nigrum of the Spartans, made with the blood and bowels of a hare. They eat not the brains with the head, but dry them and reserve them to dress their leather with.
They eat all sorts of peas, beans, and other pulse, both parched and boiled. They make their bread of the Indian corn, wild oats, or the seed of the sunflower. But when they eat their bread, they eat it alone, and not with their meat.
They have no salt among them, but for seasoning se the ashes of hickory, stickweed, or some other wood or plant affording a salt ash.
They delight much to feed on roasting ears; that is, the Indian corn, gathered green and milky, before it is grown to its full bigness, and roasted before the fire in the ear. For the sake of this diet, which they love exceedingly, they are very careful to procure all the several sorts of Indian corn before mentioned, by which means they contrive to prolong their season. And indeed this is a very sweet and pleasing food.
They have growing near their towns, peaches, strawberries, cushaws, melons, pompions, macocks, &c. The cushawsOf Their Cookery and Food.
and pompions they lay by, which will keep several months good after they are gathered; the peaches they save by drying them in the sun; they have likewise several sorts of the phaseoli.
In the woods, they gather chinkapins, chestnuts, hickories and walnuts. The kernels of the hickories they bent in a mortar with water, and make a white liquor like milk, from whence they call our milk hickory. Hazelnuts they will not meddle with, though they make a shift with acorns sometimes, and eat all the other fruits mentioned before, but they never eat any sort of herbs or leaves.
They make food of another fruit called cuttanimmons, the fruit of a kind of arum, growing in the marshes: they are like boiled peas or capers to look on, but of an insipid earthy taste. Captain Smith in his History of Virginia calls them ocaughtanamnis, and Theod. de Bry in his translation, sacquenummener.
Out of the ground they dig trubs, earth nuts, wild onions, and a tuberous root they call tuckahoe, which while crude is os a very hot and virulent quality: but they can manage it so, as in case of necessity, to make bread of it, just as the East Indians and those of Egypt are said to do of colocassia, or the West Indians of cassava. It grows like a flag in the miry marshes, having roots of the magnitude and taste of Irish potatoes, which are easy to be dug up.
They accustom themselves to no set meals, but eat night and day, when they have plenty of provisions, or if they have got any thing that is a rarity. They are very patient of hunger, when by any accident they happen to have nothing to eat; which they make more easy to themselves by girding up their bellies, just as the wild Arabs are said to do in their long marches; by which means they are less sensible of the impressions of hunger.
Among all this variety of food, nature hath not taught them the use of nay other drink than water; which though they have in cool and pleasant springs every where, yet they will not drink that if they can get pond water, or
Tab. 10 Book 3 Pag. 141 Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va
Indian male and female eating a meal. There are several numbered objects, which are described in the accompanying text.
Of Their Cookery and Food.
such as has been warmed by the sun and weather. Caron Lahontan tells of a sweet juice of maple, which the Indians to the northward gave him, mingled with water; but our Indians use no such drink. For their strong drink they are altogether beholden to us, and are so greedy of it, that most of them will be drunk as often as they find an opportunity; notwithstanding which it is a prevailing humor among them, not to taste any strong drink at all, unless they can get enough to make them quite drunk, and then they go as solemnly about it as if it were part of their religion.
Their fashion of sitting at meals is on a mat spread on the ground, with their legs lying out at length before them, and the dish between their legs; for which reason they seldom or never sit more than two together at a dish, who may with convenience mix their legs together and have the dish stand commodiously to them both, as appears by the figure.
The spoons which they eat with do generally hold half a pint; and they laugh at the English for using small ones, which they must be forced to carry so often to their mouths that their arms are in danger of being tired before their belly.
TAB. X. Is a man and his wife at dinner.
No. 1. Is their pot boiling with homony and fish in it.
2. Is a bowl of corn, which they gather up in their fingers, to feed themselves.
3. The tomahawk, which he lays by at dinner.
4. His pocket, which is likewise stripped off, that he may be at full liberty.
5. A fish.
6. A heap of roasting ears.
} Both ready for dressing.
7. The gourd of water.
8. A cockle shell, which they sometimes use instead of a spoon.
9. The mat they sit on.
All other matters in this figure are understood by the foregoing and following descriptions.
CHAPTER V. OF THE TRAVELING, RECEPTION AND ENTERTAINMENT OF THE INDIANS.
Their travels they perform altogether on foot, the fatigue of which they endure to admiration. They make no other provision for their journey but their gun or bow, to supply them with food for many hundred miles together. If they carry any flesh in their marches, they barbecue it, or rather dry it by degrees, at some distance over the clear coals of a wood fire; just as the Charibees are said to preserve the bodies of their kings and great men from corruption. Their sauce to this dry meat, (if they have any besides a good stomach,) is only a little bear's oil, or oil of acorns; which last they force out by boiling the acorns in a strong lye. Sometimes also in their travels each man takes with him a pint or quart of rackahomonie, that is the finest Indian corn parched and beaten to powder. When they find their stomach empty, (and cannot stay for the tedious cookery of other things,) they put about a spoonful of this into their mouths and drink a draught of water upon it, which stays their stomachs, and enables them to pursue their journey without delay. But their main dependence is upon the game they kill by the way, and the natural fruits of the earth. They take no car about lodging in these journeys, but content themselves with the shade of a tree or a little high grass.
When they fear being discovered or followed by an enemy in their marches, they every morning, having first agreed where they shall rendezvous at night, disperse themselves into the woods, and each takes a several way, that so the grass or leaves being but singly pressed, may rise againTraveling, Reception and Entertainment.
and not betray them. For the Indians are very artful in following a track, even where the impressions are not visible to other people, especially if they have any advantage from the looseness of the earth, from the stiffness of the grass, or the stirring of the leaves, which in the winter season lie very think upon the ground; and likewise afterwards, if they do not happen to be burned.
When in their travels they meet with any waters which are not fordable, they make canoes of birch bark, by slipping it whole off the tree in this manner: First, they gash the bark quite round the tree, at the length they would have the canoe off, then slit down the length from end to end; when that is done, they with their tomahawks easily open the bark and strip it whole off. They they force it open with sticks in the middle, slope the under side of the ends and sow them up, which helps to keep the belly open; or if the birch trees happen to be small they sow the bark of two together. The seams they daub with clay or mud, and then pass over in these canoes, by two three, or more at a time, according as they are in bigness. By reason of the lightness of these boats, they can easily carry them over land, if they foresee that they are like to meet with any more waters that may impede their march; or else they leave them at the water side, making no farther account of them, except it be to repass the same waters in their return. See the resemblance, Tab. 6.
They have a peculiar way of receiving strangers, and distinguishing whether they come as friends or enemies, though they do not understand each other's language: and that is by a singular method of smoking tobacco, in which these things are always observed:
1. They take a pipe much larger and bigger than the common tobacco pipe, expressly made for that purpose, with which all towns are plentifully provided; they call them the pipes of peace.
2. This pipe they always fill with tobacco, before the face of the strangers, and light it.
3. The chief man of the Indians, to whom the strangers come, takes two or three whiffs, and then hands it to the chief of the strangers.
4. If the stranger refuses to smoke in it, 'tis a sign of war.
5. If it be peace, the chief of the strangers takes a whiff or two in the pipe, and presents it to the next great man of the town they come to visit; he, after taking two or three whiffs, gives it back to the next of the strangers, and so on alternately, until they have past all the persons of not on each side, and then the ceremony is ended.
After a little discourse, they march together in a friendly manner into the town, and then proceed to explain the business upon which they came. This method is as general a rule among all the Indians of those parts of America as the flag of truce is among Europeans. And though the fashion of the pipe differ, as well as the ornaments of it, according to the humor of the several nations, yet 'tis a general rule to make these pipes remarkable bigger than those for common use, and to adorn them with beautiful wings and feathers of birds, as likewise with peak, beads, or other such foppery. Father Lewis Henepin gives a particular description of one that he took notice of among the Indians upon the lakes wherein he traveled. He describes it by the name of the calumet of peace, and his words are these, Book I., chap. 24:
"This calumet is the most mysterious thing in the world among the savages of the continent of the Northern America; for it is used in all their important transactions: however, it is nothing else but a large tobacco pipe, made of red, balck or white marble; the head is finely polished, and the quill, which is commonly two feet and a half long, is made of a pretty strong reed or cane, adorned with feathers of all colors, interlaced with locks of women's hair. They tie it to two wings of the most curious birds they can find, which makes their calumet not much unlike Mercury's wand, or that staff ambassadors did formerly carry when they wentTraveling, Reception and Entertainment.
to treat of peace. They sheath that reed into the neck of birds they call huars, which are as big as our geese, and spotted with black and white; or else of a sort of ducks, which make their nests upon trees, though the water be their ordinary element, and whose feathers be of many different colors. However, every nation adorns their calumet as they think fit, according to their own genius, and the birds they have in their country.
Such a pipe is a pass and safe conduct among all the allies of the nation who has given it. And in all embassies, the ambassador carries that calumet, as the symbol of peace, which is always respected: for the savages are generally persuaded, that a great misfortune would befall them, if they violated the public faith of the calumet.
"All their enterprises, declarations of war, or conclusions of peace, as well as all the rest of their ceremonies, are sealed, (if I may be permitted to say so,) with this calumet: They fill that pipe with the best tobacco they have, and then present it to those with whom they have concluded any great affair, and smoke out of the same after them."
In tab. 6. is seen the calumet of peace, drawn by Lahontan, and one of the sort which I have seen.
They have a remarkable way of entertaining all strangers of condition, which is performed after the following manner: First, the king or queen, with a guard and a great retinue, march out of the town, a quarter or half a mile, and carry mats for their accommodation. When they meet the strangers, they invite them to sit down upon those mats. Then they pass the ceremony of the pipe, and afterwards, having spent about half an hour in grave discourse, they get up, all together, and march into the town. Here the first compliment is to wash the courteous traveler's feet; then he is treated at a plentiful entertainment, served up by a great number of attendants; after which he is diverted with antique Indian dances, performed both by men and women, and accompanied with great variety of wild music. At this rate he is regaled till bedtime, whenTraveling, Reception and Entertainment.
a brace of young, beautiful virgins are chosen to wait upon him that night for his particular refreshment. The damsels are to undress this happy gentleman, and as soon as he is in bed, they gently lay themselves down by him, one on one side of him, and the other on the other. They esteem it a breach of hospitality, not to submit to everything he desires of them. This kind of ceremony is used only to men of great distinction--and the young women are so far from suffering in their reputation for this civility, that they are envied for it by all the other girls, as having had the greatest honor done them in the world.
After this manner, perhaps, many of the heroes were begotten in old time, who boasted themselves to be the sons of some wayfaring god.
CHAPTER VI. OF THE LEARNING AND LANGUAGES OF THE INDIANS.
These Indians have no sort of letters to express their words by; but when they would communicate anything that cannot be delivered by message, they do it by a sort of hieroglyphic, or representation of birds, beasts, or other things, showing their different meaning by the various forms described, and by te different position of the figures.
Baron Lahontan, in his second volume of New Voyages, has two extraordinary chapters concerning the heraldry and hieroglyphics of the Indians; but I, having had no opportunity of conversing with our Indians since that book came to my hands, nor having ever suspected them to be acquainted with heraldry, I am not able to say anything upon that subject.
The Indians, when they travel ever so small a way, being much embroiled in war one with another, use several marks painted upon their shoulders to distinguish themselves by, and show what nation they are of. The usual mark is one, two, or three arrows. One nation paints these arrows upwards, another downwards, a third sideways--and others again use other distinctions, as in tab. 2, from whence it comes to pass, that the Virginia assembly took up the humor of making badges of silver, copper or brass, of which they gave a sufficient number to each nation in amity with the English, and then made a law, that the Indians should not travel among the English plantations without one of these badges in their company, to show that they are friends. And this is all the heraldry that I know is practiced among the Indians.Learning and Languages of the Indians.
Their languages differ very much, as anciently in the several parts of Britain; so that nations at a moderate distance do not understand one another. However, they have a sort of general language, like what ***Lahontan calls the Algonkine, which is understood by the chief men of many nations, as Latin is in most parts of Europe, and Lingua Franca quite through the Levant.
The general language here used is said to be that of the Occaneeches, though they have been but a small nation ever since those parts were known to the English; but in what this language may differ from that of the Algonkines, I am not able to determine.
CHAPTER VII. OF THE WAR, AND PEACE OF THE INDIANS.
When they are about to undertake any war or other solemn enterprise, the king summons a convention of his great men to assist at a grand council, which, in their language, is called a Matchacomoco. At these assemblies, 'tis the custom, especially when a war is expected, for the young men to paint themselves irregularly with black, red, white, and several other motley colors, making one-half of their face red, (for instance,) and the other black or white, with great circles of a different hue round their eyes, with monstrous mustaches, and a thousand fantastical figures, all over the rest of their body; and to make themselves appear yet more ugly and frightful, they strew feathers, down, or the hear of beasts upon the paint while it is still moist and capable of making those light substances stick fast on. When they are thus formidable equipped, they rush into the Matchacomoco, and instantly begin some very grotesque dance, holding their arrows or tomahawks in their hands, and all the while singing the ancient glories of their nation, and especially of their own families--threatening and making signs with their tomahawk what a dreadful havoc they intend to make amongst their enemies.
Notwithstanding these terrible airs they give themselves, they are very timorous when they come to action, and rarely perform any open or bold feats; but the execution they do, is chiefly by surprise and ambuscade.
The fearfulness of their nature makes them very jealous and implacable. Hence it is, that when they getOf the War, and Peace of the Indians.
a victory, they destroy man, woman and child, to prevent all future resentments.
I can't think it anything but their jealousy that makes them exclude the lineal issue from succeeding immediately to the crown. Thus, if a king have several legitimate children, the crown does not descend in a direct line to his children, but to his brother by the same mother, if he have any, and for want of such, to the children of his eldest sister, always respecting the descent by the female, as the surer side. But the crown goes to the male heir (if any be) in equal degree, and for want of such, to the female, preferable to any male that is more distant.
As in the beginning of a war, they have assemblies for consultation, so, upon any victory or other great success, they have public meetings again for processions and triumphs. I never saw one of these, but have heard that they are accompanied with all the marks of a wild and extravagant joy.
Captain Smith gives the particulars of one that was made upon his being taken prisoner, and carried to their town. These are his words, vol. 1, page 159:
"Drawing themselves all in file, the king in the midst had all their pieces and swords borne before him. Captain Smith was led after him by three great savages, holding him fast by each arm, and on each side six went in file, with their arrows nocked; but arriving at the town, (which was but thirty or forty hunting houses made of mats, which they remove as often as they please, as we our tents,) all the women and children staring to behold him, the soldiers first, all in the file, performed the form of a bissom as well as could be, and on each flank officers as sergeants to see them keep their order. A good time they continued this exercise, and then cast themselves in a ring, dancing in such several postures, and singing and yelling out such hellish notes and screeches, being strangely painted, every one his quiver of arrows, and at his back a club, on his arm a fox or an otter's skin, or some such matter for his vambrace;Of the War, and Peace of the Indians.
their heads and shoulders painted red, with oil and puccoons mingled together, which scarlet-like color made an exceeding handsome show; his bow in his hand, and the shin of a bird with the sings abroad dried, tied on his head; a piece of copper, a white shell, a long feather, with a small rattle growing at the tails of their snakes, tied to it, or some such like toy. All this, while Smith and the king stood in the midst guarded, as before is said, and after three dances they all departed."
I suppose here is something omitted, and that the conjurer should have been introduced in his proper dress, as the sequel of the story seems to mean.
They use formal embassies for treating, and very ceremonious ways in concluding of peace, or else some other memorable action, such as burying a tomahawk, and raising a heap of stones thereon, as the Hebrews were wont to do; or of planting a tree, in token that all enmity is buried with the tomahawk; that all the desolations of war are at an end, and that friendship shall flourish among them like a tree.
CHAPTER VIII. CONCERNING THE RELIGION, WORSHIP, AND SUPERSTITIOUS CUSTOMS OF THE INDIANS.
I don't pretend to have dived into all the mysteries of the Indian religion, nor have I had such opportunities of learning them as father Henepin and Baron Lahontan had, by living much among the Indians in their towns; and because my rule is to say nothing but what I know to be truth, I shall be very brief upon this head.
In the writings of those two gentlemen, I cannot but observe direct contradictions, although they traveled the same country, and the accounts they pretend to give are of the same Indians. One makes them have very refined notions of a Deity, and the other don't allow them so much as the name of a God. For which reason, I think myself obliged sincerely to deliver what I can warrant to be true upon my own knowledge; it being neither my interest, nor any part of my vanity, to impose upon the world.
I have been at several of the Indian towns, and conversed with some of the most sensible of them in Virginia; but I could learn little from them, it being reckoned sacrilege to divulge the principles of their religion. However, the following adventure discovered something of it. As I was ranging the woods, with some other friends, we fell upon their quioccosan, (which is their house of religious worship,) at a time when the whole town were gathered together in another place, to consult about the bounds of the land given them by the English.
Thus finding ourselves masters of so fair an opportunity, (because we knew the Indians were engaged,) we resolved to make use of it, and to examine their quioccosan, the insideReligion, Worship and Customs.
of which they never suffer any Englishmen to see; and having removed about fourteen logs from the door, with which it was barricaded, we went in, and at first found nothing but naked walls, and a fireplace in the middle. This house was about eighteen feet wide, and thirty feet long, built after the manner of their other cabins, but larger, with a hole in the middle of the roof to vent the smoke, the door being at one end. Round about the house, at some distance from it, were set up posts, with faces carved on them, and painted. We did not observe any window or passage for the light, except the door and the vent of the chimney. At last we observed, that at the farther end, about ten feet of the room was cut off by a partition of very close mats, and it was dismal dark behind that partition. We were at first scrupulous to enter this obscure place, but at last we ventured, and, groping about, we felt some posts in the middle; then reaching our hands up those posts, we found large shelves, and upon these shelves three mats, each of which was rolled up, and sowed fast. These we handed down to the light, and to save time in unlacing the seams, we made use of a knife, and ripped them, without doing any damage to the mats. In one of these we found some vast bones, which we judged to be the bones of men--particularly we measured one thighbone, and found it two feet nine inches long. In another that we found some Indian tomahawks finely craved and painted. These resembled the wooden falchion used by the prize-fighters in England, except that they have no guard to save the fingers. They were made of a rough, heavy wood, and the shaped of them is represented in the tab. 10, No. 3. Among these tomahawks, was the largest that ever I saw. There was fastened to it a wild turkey's beard painted red, and two of the longest feathers of his wings hung dangling at it, by a string of about six inches long, tied to the end of the tomahawk. In the third mat there was something which we took to be their idol, though of an underling sort, and wanted putting together. The pieces wereReligion, Worship and Customs.
these--first, a board three feet and a half long, with one indenture at the upper end like a fork, to fasten the head upon. From thence half way down, were half hoops nailed to the edges of the board, at about four inches' distance, which were bowed out, to represent the breast and belly; on the lower half was another board of half the length of the other, fastened to it by joints of pieces of wood, which being set on each side stood out about fourteen inches from the body, and half as high. We supposed to use of these to be for the bowing out of the knees, when the image was set up. There were packed up with these things, red and blue pieces of cotton cloth, rolls made up for arms, thighs and legs, bent too at the knees, as is represented in the figure of their idol, which was taken by an exact drawer in the first discovery of the country. It would be difficult to see one of these images at this day, because the Indians are extreme shy of exposing them. We put the clothes upon the hoops for the body, and fastened on the arms and legs to have a view of the representation; but the head and rich bracelets, which it is usually adorned with, were not there, or at least we did not find them. We had not leisure to make a very narrow search, for having spent about an hour in this enquiry, we feared the business of the Indians might be near over, and that if we staid longer, we might be caught offering an affront to their superstition. For this reason, we wrapped up those holy materials in their several mats again, and laid them on the shelf where we found them. This image, when dressed up, might look very venerable in that dark place where 'tis not possible to see it, but by the glimmering light that is let in by lifting up a piece of the matting, which we observed to be conveniently hung for that purpose; for when the light of the door and chimney glance in several directions upon the image through that little passage, it must needs make a strange representation, which those poor people are taught to worship with a devout ignorance. There are other things that contribute towards carrying on this imposture. first, the chief conjurer
Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va.Idol called, OKEE, QUIOCCOS, or KIWASA.Tab. 11 Book 3 Pag. 155
Indian Idol sitting on a platform above a fire in an Indian hut.
Religion, Worship and Customs.
enters within the partition in the dark, and may undiscerned move the image as he pleases. Secondly, a priest of authority stands in the room with the people, to keep them from being too inquisitive, under the penalty of the deity's displeasure and his own censure.
Their idol bears several names in every nation, as Okee, Quioccos, Kiwasa. They do not look upon it as one single being, but reckon there are many of the same nature; they likewise believe that there are tutelar deities in every town.
TAB. II. Their idol in his tabernacle.
The dark edging shows the sides and roof of the house, which consists of saplings and bark. The paler edging shows the mats, by which they made a partition of about ten feet at the end of the house for the idol's abode. The idol is set upon his seat of mats within a dark recess above the people's heads, and the curtain is drawn up before him.
Father Henepin, in his continuation, page 60, will not allow that the Indians have any belief of a Deity, nor that they are capable of the arguments and reasonings that are common to the rest of mankind. He farther says, that they have not any outward ceremony to denote their worship of a Deity, nor have any word to express God by-- that there's no sacrifice, priest, temple, or any other token of religion among them. Baron Lahontan, on the other hand, makes them have such refined notions, as seem almost to confute his own belief of Christianity.
The first I cannot believe, though written by the pen of that pious father; because, to my own knowledge, all the Indians in these parts are a superstitious and idolatrous people; and because all other authors, who have written of the American Indians, are against him. As to the other account of the just thoughts the Indians have of religion, I must humbly entreat the baron's pardon; because I am very sure they have some unworthy conceptions of God and another world. Therefore, what that gentleman tells the public concerning them, is rather to show his own opinions, than those of the Indians.Religion, Worship and Customs.
Once in my travels, in very cold weather, I met at an Englishman's house with an Indian, of whom an extraordinary character had been given me for his ingenuity and understanding. When I saw he had no other Indian with him, I thought I might be the more free; and therefore I made much of him, seating him close by a large fire, and giving him plenty of strong cider, which I hoped would make him good company and open-hearted. After I found him well warmed, (for unless they be surprised some way or other, they will not talk freely of their religion,) I asked him concerning their god, and what their notions of him were? He freely told me, they believed God was universally beneficent, that his dwelling was in the heavens above, and that the influences of his goodness reached to the earth beneath. That he was incomprehensible in his excellence, and enjoyed all possible felicity; that his duration was eternal, his perfection boundless, and that he possesses everlasting indolence and ease. I told him I had heard that they worshiped the devil, and asked why they did not rather worship God, whom they had so high an opinion of, and who would give them all good things, and protect them from any mischief that the devil could do them? To this his answer was that, 'tis true God is the giver of all good things, but they flow naturally and promiscuously from him; that they are showered down upon all men indifferently without distinction; that God does not trouble himself with the impertinent affairs of men, nor is concerned at what they do; but leaves them to make the most of their free will, and to secure as many as they can of the good things that flow from him; that therefore it was to no purpose either to fear or worship him. But on the contrary, if they did not pacify the evil spirit, and make him propitious, he would take away or spoil all those good things that God had given, and ruin their health, their peace, and their plenty, by sending war, plague and famine among them; for, said he, this evil spirit is always busying himself with our affairs, and frequently visiting us, being present in the air inReligion, Worship and Customs.
the thunder, and in the storms. He told me farther, that he expected adoration and sacrifice from them, on pain of his displeasure, and that therefore they thought it convenient to make their court to him. I then asked him concerning the image which they worship in their quioccasan, and assured him that it was a dead, insensible Iog, equipped with a bundle of clouts, a mere helpless thing made by men, that could neither hear, see nor speak, and that such a stupid thing could no ways hurt or help them. To this he answered very unwillingly, and with much hesitation; however, he at last delivered himself in these broken and imperfect sentences: It is the priests -- they make the people believe, and --. Here he paused a little, and then repeated to me, that it was the priests --, and then gave me hopes that he would have said something more; but a qualm crossed his conscience, and hindered him from making any farther confession.
The priests and conjurers have a great sway in every nation. Their words are looked upon as oracles, and consequently are of great weight among the common people. They perform their adorations and conjurations in the general language before spoken of, as the catholics of all nations do their mass in the Latin. They teach that the souls of men survive their bodies, and that those who have done well here, enjoy most transporting pleasures in their alyssum hereafter; that this alyssum is stored with the highest perfection of all their earthly6 pleasures; namely, with plenty of all sorts of game for hunting, fishing and fowling; that it is blest with the most charming women, who enjoy an eternal bloom, and have an universal desire to please; that it is delivered from excesses of cold or heat, and flourishes with an everlasting spring. But that, on the contrary, those who are wicked and live scandalously here, are condemned to a filthy, stinking lake after death, that continually burns with flames that never extinguish; where they are persecuted and tormented day and night, with furies in the shape of old women.Religion, Worship and Customs.
They use many divinations and enchantments, and frequently offer burnt sacrifice to the evil spirit. The people annually present their first fruits of every season and kind, namely, of birds, beasts, fish, fruits, plants, roots, and of all other things, which they esteem either of profit or pleasure to themselves. They repeat their offerings as frequently as they have great successes in their wars, or their fishing, fowling or hunting.
Captain Smith describes the particular manner of conjuration that was made about him, while he was a prisoner among the Indians at the Pamunky town, in the first settlement of the country; and after that I'll tell you of another of a more modern date, which I had from a very good hand. Smith's word's are these: vol. 1, p. 160.
Early in the morning, a great fire was made in a long house, and a mat spread on he one side and on the other. On the one they caused him to sit, and all the guard went out of the house, and presently there came skipping in a great grim fellow, all painted over with coal mingled with oil, and many snakes and weasel skins stuffed with moss, and all their tails tied together, so as they met in the crown of his head, like a tassel, and round about the tassel was a coronet of feathers, the skins hanging round about head back and shoulders, and in a manner covering his face; with a hellish voice, and a rattle in his hand, with most strange gestures and postures, he began his invocation, and environed the fire with a circle of meal; which done, three much such like devils came rushing in with the like antic tricks, painted half black, half red; but all their eyes along their cheeks. Round about him these fiends danced a pretty while; and then came in three more as ugly as the rest, with red eyes and white strokes over their black faces. At last they all sat down right against him, three of them on one hand of the chief priest and three on the other. Then all of them with their rattles began a song; which ended, the chief priest laid down five wheat corns; thenReligion, Worship and Customs.
straining his arms and hands with such violence that he sweat, and his veins swelled, he began a short oration. At the conclusion they gave a short groan, and then laid down three grains more; after that, began their song again, and then another oration, ever laying down so many corns as before, till they had twice encircled the fire. That done, they took a bunch of little sticks prepared for that purpose, continuing still their devotion, and at the end of every song and oration, they laid down a stick betwixt the divisions of corn. Till night neither he nor they did eat or drink, and then they feasted merrily with the provisions they could make. Three days they used this ceremony, the meaning whereof they told him was to know if he intended them well or no. The circle of meal signified their country, the circles of corn the bounds of the sea, and the sticks his country. They imagined the world to be flat and round like a trencher, and they in the midst."
Thus far is Smith's story of conjuration concerning himself; but when he says they encircled the fire with wheat, I am apt to believe he means their Indian corn, which some, contrary to the custom of the rest of mankind will still call by the name of Indian wheat.
The latter story of conjuration is this: Some few years ago, there happened a very dry time towards the heads of the rivers, and especially on the upper parts of James river, where Col. Byrd had several quarters of Negroes. This gentleman has been for a long time extremely respected and feared by all the Indians round about, who, without knowing the name of any governor, have ever been kept in order by him. During this drought, an Indian, well known to one of the Colonel's overseers, came to him, and asked if his tobacco was not like to be spoiled? The overseer answered yes, if they had not rain very suddenly. The Indian, who pretended great kindness for his master, told the overseer if he would promise to give him two bottles of rum, he would bring him rain enough. The overseer did not believe anything of the matter, not seeingReligion, Worship and Customs.
at that time the least appearance of rain, nor so much as a cloud in the sky; however, he promised to give him the rum when his master came thither, if he would be as good as his word. Upon this, the Indian went immediately a pauwawing as they call it, and in about half an hour, there came up a black cloud into the sky that showered down rain enough upon this gentleman's corn and tobacco, but none at all upon any of the neighbors, except a few drops of the skirts of the shower. The Indian for that time went away without returning to the overseer again, till he heard of his master's arrival at the falls, and then he came to him and demanded two bottles of rum. The Colonel at first seemed to know nothing of the matter, and asked the Indian for what reason he made that demand? (Although his overseer had been so overjoyed at what had happened that he could not rest till he had taken a horse and rode near forty miles to tell his master the story.) The Indian answered with some concern, that he hoped the overseer had let him know the service he had done him, by bringing a shower of rain to save his crop. At this time the Colonel, not being apt to believe such stories, smiled, and told him he was a cheat, and had seen the cloud coming, otherwise he could neither have brought the rain nor so much as foretold it. The Indian at this, seeming much troubled, replied, why then had not such a one, and such a one, (naming the next neighbor,) rain, as well as your overseer? for they lost their crops, but I loved you and therefore I saved yours. The Colonel made sport with him a little while, but in the end ordered him the two bottles of rum, letting him understand, however, that it was a free gift, and not the consequence of any bargain with his overseer.
The Indians have their altars and places of sacrifice. Some say they now and then sacrifice young children; but they deny it, and assure us, that when they withdraw their children, it is not to sacrifice them, but to consecrate them to the service of their god. Smith tellsReligion, Worship and Custom.
of one of these sacrifices in his time, from the testimony of some people who had been eye-witnesses. His words are these, (vol. 1, p. 140):
"Fifteen of the properest young boys, between ten and fifteen years of age, they painted white; having brought them forth, the people spent the forenoon in dancing and singing about them with rattles. In the afternoon, they put these children to the root of a tree. By them all the men stood in a guard, every one having a bastinado in his hand made of reeds bound together. They made a lane between them all along, though which there were appointed five young men to fetch these children: so every one of the five went through the guard to fetch a child each after other by turns; the guard fiercely beating them with their bastinadoes, and they patiently enduring and receiving all, defending the children with their naked bodies from the unmerciful blows, that pay them soundly, though the children escape. All this while the women weep and cry out very passionately, providing mats, skins, moss and dry wood, as things fitting for their children's funeral. After the children were thus past the guard, the guards tore down the tree, branches and boughs with such violence, that they rent the body, made wreaths for their heads, and bedecked their hair with the leaves.
"What else was done with the children was not seen; but they were all cast on a heap in a valley as dead, where they made a great feast for all the company.
"The Werowance being demanded the meaning of this sacrifice, answered, that the children were not dead, but that the Okee or devil did suck the blood from the left breast of those, who chanced to be his by lot, till they were dead; but the rest were kept in the wilderness by the young men, till nine months were expired, during which time they must not converse with any; and of these were made their priests and conjurers."
How far Captain Smith might be misinformed in this account, I can't say, or whether their Okee's sucking theReligion, Worship and Customs.
breast, be only a delusion or pretense of the physician, (or priest, who is always a physician,) to prevent all reflection on his skill when any happened to die under his discipline. This I choose rather to believe, than those religious romances concerning their Okee. For I take this story of Smith's to be only an example of huskanawing, which being a ceremony then altogether unknown to him, he might easily mistake some of the circumstances of it.
The solemnity of huskanawing is commonly practiced once every fourteen or sixteen years, or oftener, as their young men happen to grow up. It is an institution or discipline which all young men must pass before they can be admitted to be of the number of the great men, officers, or cockarouses of the nation; whereas, by Capt. Smith's relation, they were only set apart to supply the priesthood. The whole ceremony of huskanawing is performed after the following manner:
The choicest and briskest young men of the town, and such only as have acquired some treasure by their travels and hunting, are chosen out by the rulers to be huskanawed; and whoever refuses to undergo this process dares not remain among them. Several of those odd preparatory fopperies are premised in the beginning, which have been before related; but the principal part of the business is, to carry them into the woods, and there keep them under confinement, and destitute of all society for several months, giving them no other sustenance but the infusion, or decoction, of some poisonous, intoxicating roots; by virtue of which physic, and by the severity of the discipline which they undergo, they became stark, staring mad; in which raving condition, they are kept eighteen or twenty days. During these extremities, they are shut up, night and day, in a strong inclosure, made on purpose; one of which I saw belonging to the Pamunky Indians, in the year 1694. It was in shape like a sugar loaf, and every way open like a lattice for the air to pass through, as in tab. 4, fig. 3. In this cage, thirteen young men had been huskanawed, and hadReligion, Worship and Customs.
not been a month set at liberty when I saw it. Upon this occasion, it is pretended that these poor creatures drink so much of that water of Lethe, that they perfectly lose the remembrance of all former things, even of their parents, their treasure, and their language. When the doctors find that they have drank sufficiently of the wysoccan, (so they call this mad potion,) they gradually restore them to their senses again, by lessening the intoxication of their diet; but before they are perfectly well, they bring them back into their towns, while they are still wild and crazy, though the violence of the medicine. After this, they are very fearful of discovering anything of their former remembrance; for if such a thing should happen to any of them, they must immediately be huskanawed again; and the second time, the usage is so severe, that seldom any one escapes with life. Thus they must pretend to have forgot the very use of their tongues, so as not to be able to speak, nor understand anything that is spoken, till they learn it again. Now, whether this be real or counterfeit, I don't know; but certain it is, that they will not for some time take notice of any body, nor anything with which they were before acquainted, being still under the guard of their keepers, who constantly wait upon them everywhere till they have learnt all things perfectly over again. Thus they unlive their former lives, and commence men by forgetting that they ever have been boys. If, under this exercise, any one should die, I suppose the story of Okee, mentioned by Smith, is the salvo for it; for, (says he) Okee was to have such as were his by lot, and such were said to be sacrificed.
Now this conjecture is the more probable, because we know that Okee has not a share in every huskanawing; for though two young men happened to come short home, in that of the Pamunky Indians, which was performed in the year 1694, yet the Appomattoxs, formerly a great nation, though now an inconsiderable people, made a huskanaw in the year 1690, and brought home the same number they carried out.Religion, Worship and Customs.
I can account no other way for the great pains and secrecy of the keepers, during the whole process of this discipline, but by assuring you, that it is the most meritorious thing in the world to discharge that trust well, in order to their preferment to the greatest posts in the nation, which they claim as their undoubted right, in the next promotion. On the other hand, they are sure of a speedy passport into the other world, if they should, by their levity or neglect, shew themselves in the least unfaithful.
Those which I have observed to have been huskanawed, were lively, handsome, well timbered young men, from fifteen to twenty years of age, or upward, and such as were generally reputed rich.
I confess, I judged it at the first sight to be only an invention of the seniors, to engross the young men's riches to themselves; for, after suffering this operation, they never pretended to call to mind anything of their former property; but their goods were either shared by the old men, or brought to some public use; and so those younkers were obliged to begin the world again.
But the Indians detest this opinion, and pretend that this violent method of taking away the memory, is to release the youth from all their childish impressions, and from that strong partiality to persons and things, which is contracted before reason comes to take place. They hope by this proceeding, to root out all the prepossessions and unreasonable prejudices which are fixed in the minds of children. So that, when the young men come to themselves again, their reason may act freely, without being biased by the cheats of custom and education. Thus, also, they become discharged from the remembrance of any ties by blood, and are established in a state of equality and perfect freedom, to order their actions, and dispose of their persons, as they think fit, without any other control than that of the law of nature. By this means also they become qualified, when they have any public office, equally and impartially to administer justice, without having respect either to friendReligion, Worship and Customs.
or relation. Puffend. p. 7, book I. A proselyte of justice of the Jews had a new soul.
The Indians offer sacrifice almost upon every new occasion; as when they travel of begin a long journey, they burn tobacco instead of incense, to the sun, to bribe him to send them fair weather, and a prosperous voyage. When they cross any great water, or violent fresh, or torrent, they throw in tobacco, puccoon, peak, or some other valuable thing, that they happen to have about htem, to intreat the spirit presiding there to grant them a safe passage. It is called a fresh, when after very great rains, or (as we suppose) after a great thaw of the snow and ice lying upon the mountains to the westward, the water descends in such abundance into the rivers, that htye overflow the banks, which bound their streams at other times.
Likewise, when the Indians return from war, from hunting, from great journeys or the like, they offer some proportion of their spoils, of their chiefest tobacco, furs and paint, as also the fat, and choice bits of their game.
I never could learn that thye had any certain time of set days for their solemnities; but they have appointed feasts that happen according to the several seasons. They solemnize a day for the plentiful coming of their wild fowl, such as geese, ducks, teal, &c., for the returns of their hunting seasons, and for the ripening of certain fruits; but the greatest annual feast they have, is at the time of their corn-gathering, at which they revel several days together. To these they universally contribute, as they do to the gathering in the corn. On this occasion, they have their greatest variety of pastimes, and more especially of their war-dances and heroic songs; in which they boast, that their corn being now gathered, they have store enough for their women and children, and have nothing to do, but to go to war, travel, and to seek out for new adventures.
They make their account by units, tens, hundreds, &c., as we do; but they reckon the years by theReligion, Worship and Customs.
winters, or cobonks, as they call them; which is a name taken from the note of the wild-geese coming to them, which is every winter. They distinguish the several parts of the year, by five seasons, viz: the budding or blossoming of the spring; the earing of the corn, or roasting-ear time; the summer, or highest sun; the corn-gathering or fall of the leaf, and the winter, or cobonks. They count the months likewise by the moons, though not with any relation to so many in a year, as we do; but they make them return again by the same name, as the moon of stags, the corn moon, the first and second moon of cobonks, &c. They have no distinction of the hours of the day, but divide it only into three parts, the rise, power, and lowering of the sun. And they keep their account by knots on a string, or notches on a stick, not unlike the Peruvian quippoes.
In this state of nature, one would think they should be as pure from superstition, and overdoing matters in religion, as they are in other things; but I find it is quite the contrary; for this simplicity gives the cunning priest a greater advantage over them, according to the Romish maxim, "Ignorance is the mother of devotion." For, no bigoted pilgrim appears more zealous, or strain his devotion more at the shrine, than these believing Indians do, in their idolatrous adorations. Neither do the most refined Catholics undergo their penance with so much submission, as these poor Pagans do the severities which their priests inflict upon them.
They have likewise in other cases many fond and idle superstitions, as for the purpose. By the falls of James river upon Colonel Byrd's land, there lies a rock which I have seen, about a mile from the river, wherein are fairly impressed several marks like the footsteps of a gigantic man, each step being about five feet asunder. These they aver to be the track of their God.
This is not unlike what the father of the RomishReligion, Worship and Customs.
Church tell us, that our Lord left the print of His feet on the shore, whereon he stood while he talked with St. Peter; which stone was afterward preserved as a very sacred relic; and after several translations, was at last fixed in the Church of St. Sebastian, the martyr, where it is kept, and visited with great expressions of devotion. So that the Indians, as well as these, are not without their pious frauds.
As the people have a great reverence for the priest, so the priest very oddly endeavors to preserve their respect, by being as hideously ugly as he can, especially when he appears in public; for besides, that the cut of his hair is peculiar to his function, as in tab. 4, book 3, and the hanging of his cloak, with the fur reversed and falling down in flakes, looks horridly shagged, he likewise bedaubs himself in that frightful manner with paint, that he terrifies the people into a veneration for him.
The conjuror is a partner with the priest, not only in the cheat, but in the advantages o fit, and sometimes they officiate for one another. When this artist is in the act of conjuration, or of pauwawing, as they term it, he always appears with an air of haste, or else in some convulsive posture, that seems to strain all the faculties, like the Sybils, when they appeared to be under the power of inspiration. At these times, he has a black bird with expanded wings fastened to his ear, differing in nothing but color, from Mahomet's pigeon. He has no clothing but a small skin before, and a pocket at his girdle, as in tab. 4, book 3.
The Indians never go about any considerable enterprise, without first consulting their priests and conjurers; for the most ingenious amongst them are brought up to those functions, and by that means become better instructed in their histories, than the rest of the people. They likewise engross to themselves all the knowledge of nature, which is handed to them by tradition from their forefathers; by which means they are able to make a truer judgment of things, and consequently are more capable of advising those thatReligion, Worship and Customs.
consult them upon all occasions, These reverend gentlemen are not so entirely given up to their religious austerities, but they sometimes take their pleasure (as well as the laity) in fishing, fowling and hunting.
The Indians have posts fixed round their Quioccassan, which have men's faces carved upon them, and are painted. They are likewise set up round some of their other celebrated places, and make a circle for them to dance about on certain solemn occasions. They very often set up pyramidal stones and pillars, which they color with puccoon, and other sorts of paint, and which they adorn with peak, roenoke, &c. To these they pay all outward signs of worship and devotion, not as to God, but as they are hieroglyphics of the permanency and immutability of the Deity; because these, both for figure and substance, are of all sublunary bodies, the least subject to decay or change; they also, for the same reason, keep baskets of stones in their cabins. Upon this account too, they offer sacrifice to running streams, which by the perpetuity of their motion, typify the eternity of God.
They erect altars wherever they have any remarkable occasion, and because their principal devotion consists in sacrifice, they have a profound respect for these altars. They have one particular altar, to which, for some mystical reason, many of their nations pay an extraordinary veneration; of this sort was the crystal cube, mentioned book II, chap. 3, § 9. The Indians call this by the name of pawcorance, from whence proceeds the great reverence they have for a small bird that uses the woods, and in their note continually sound that name. This bird flies alone, and is only heard in the twilight. They say, this is the soul of one of their princes; and on that score, they would not hurt it for the world. But there was once a profane Indian in the upper parts of James river, who, after abundance of fears and scruples, was at last bribed to kill one of them with his gun; but the Indians say he paid dear for his presumption;Religion, Worship and Customs.
for in a few days after he was taken away, and never more heard of. I have young birds of this kind.
When they travel by any of these altars, they take great care to instruct their children and young people in the particular occasion and time of their erection, and recommend the respect which they ought to have for them; so that their careful observance of these traditions proves almost as good a memorial of such antiquities as written records, especially for so long as the same people continue to inhabit in or near the same place.
I can't understand that their women ever pretended to intermeddle with any offices that relate to the priesthood or conjuration.
The Indians are religious in preserving the corpses of their kings and rulers after death, which they order in the following manner: First, they neatly flay off the skin as entire as they can, slitting it only in the back; then they pick all the flesh off from the bones as clean as possible, leaving the sinews fastened to the bones, that they may preserve the joints together; then they dry the bones in the sun, and put them into the skin again, which , in he meantime, has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the bones are placed right in the skin, they nicely fill up the vacuities with a very fine white sand. After this they sew up the skin again, and body looks as if the flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep the skin from shrinking, by the help of a little oil or grease, which saves it also from corruption. The skin being thus prepared, they lay it in a an apartment for that purpose, upon a large shelf raised above the floor. This shelf is spread with mats, for the corpse to rest easy on, and screened with the same, to keep it from the dust. The flesh they lay upon hurdles in the sun to dry, and when it is thoroughly dried, it is sewed up in a basket, and set at the feet of the corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they set up a quioccos, or idol, which they believe will be a guard to the corpse. Here night and dayReligion, Worship and Customs.
one or other of the priests must give his attendance, to take care of the dead bodies. So great an honor and veneration have these ignorant and unpolished people for their princes, even after they are dead.
The mat is supposed to be turned up in the figure, that the inside may be viewed.
TAB. 12. Represents the burial of the kings.
Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond.Tab 12 Book 3 Pag. 170
Indian charnal house. Bodies are laid on a platform above a fire, with an idol on the left watching over them. An Indian priest is tending the fire.
CHAPTER IX. OF THE DISEASES AND CURES OF THE INDIANS.
The Indians are not subject to many diseases; and such as they have, generally come from excessive heats and sudden colds, which they as suddenly get away by sweating. But if the humor happens to fix, and make a pain in any particular joint, or limb, their general cure then is by burning, if it be in any part that will bear it; their method of doing this is by little sticks of lightwood, the coal they run into the flesh, and having made a sore, keep it running till the humor be drawn off; or else they take punk, (which is sort of soft touchwood, cut out of the knots of oak or hickory trees, but the hickory affords the best,) this they shape like a cone, (as the Japanese do their moxa for the gout,) and apply the basis of it to the place affected. Then they set fire to it, letting hit burn out upon the part, which makes a running sore effectually.
They use sucking in sores frequently, and scarifying, which, like the Mexicans, they preform with a rattlesnake's tooth. They seldom cut deeper than the epidermis, by which means they give passage to those sharp waterfish humors that lie between the two skirts, and cause inflammations. Sometimes they make use of reeds for cauterizing, which they heat over the fire, till they are ready to flame, and then apply them upon a piece of this wet leather to the place aggrieved, which makes the heat more piercing.
Their priests are always physicians, and by the method of their education in the priesthood, are made very knowing in the hidden qualifies of plants and other naturalDiseases and Cures of the Indians.
things, which they count a part of their religion to conceal from everybody, but from those that are to succeed them in their holy function. They tell us their god will be angry with them if they should discover that part of their knowlede; so they suffer only the rattlesnake root to be known, and such other antidotes, as must be immediately applied, becasue their doctors can't be always at hand to remedy those sudden misfortunes which generally happen in their hunting or traveling.
They call their physic wisoccan, not from the name of any particular root or plant, but as it signifies medicine in general. So that Heriot, De Bry, Smith, Purchass and De Laet, seem all to be mistaken in the meaning of this word wighsacan, which they make to be the name of a particular root; and so is Parkingson in the word woghsacan, which he will have to be the name of a plant. Nor do I think there is better authority for applying the word wisank to the plant vincetoxicum indianum germanicum, or winank to the sassafras tree.
The physic of the Indians consists for the most part in the roots and barks of trees, they very rearely using the leaves either of herbs or trees; what they give inwardly, they infuse in water, and what they apply outwardly, they stamp or bruise, adding water to it, if it has not moisture enough of itself; with the thin of this they bath th epart affected, then lay on the think, after the manner of a poultice, and commonly dress round, leaving the sore place bare.
They take great delight in sweating, and therefore in every town they have a sweating house, and a doctor is paid by the public to attend it. They commonly use this to refresh themselves, after they have been fatigued with hunting, travel, or the like, or else when they are troubled with agues, aches, or pains in their limbs. Their method is thus: the doctor takes three or four large stones, which after having heated red hot, he places them in the middle of the stove, laying on them some of the inner barkDiseases and Cures of the Indians.
of oak beaten in a mortar, to keep them from burning. This being done, they creep in six or eight at a time, or as many as the place will hold, and then close up the mouth of the stove, which is usually made like an oven, in some bank near the water side. In the meanwhile the doctor to raise a steam, after they have been stewing a little while, pours cold water on the stones, and now and then sprinkles the men to keep them from fainting. After they have sweat as long as they can well endure it, they sally out, and (though it be in the depth of winter) forthwith plunge themselves over head and ears in cold water, which instantly closes up the pores, and preserves them from taking cold. The heat being thus suddenly driven from the extreme parts to the heart, makes them a little feeble for the present, but their spirits rally again, and they instantly recover their strength, and find their joints as supple and vigorous as if they never had traveled, or been indisposed. So that I may say as **Bellonius does in his observations on the Turkish bagnio's, all the crudities contracted in their bodies are by this means evaporated and carried off. The Muscovites and Finlanders are said to use this way of sweating also. "It is almost a miracle,' says Olearius, "to see how their bodies, accustomed to and hardened by cold, can endure so intense a heat, and how that when they are not able to endure it longer, they come out of the stoves as naked as they were born, both men and women, and plunge into cold water, or cause it to be poured on them." Trav. into Musc., 1, 3, page 67.
The Indians also pulverize the roots of a kind of anchuse, or yellow alkanet, which they call puccoon, and of a sort of wild angelica, and mixing them together with bear's oil, make a yellow ointment, with which, after they have bathed, they anoint themselves Capapee; this supples the skin, renders them nimble and active, and withal so closes up the pores, that they lose but few of their spirits by perspiration. Piso relates the same of the Brazilians; and my Lord Bacon asserts, that oil and fat things do no lessDiseases and Cures of the Indians.
conserve the substance of the body, then oil-colors and varnish do that of the wood.
They have also a farther advantage of this ointment; for it keeps all lice, fleas, and other troublesome vermin from coming near them; which otherwise, by reason of the nastiness of their cabins, they would be very much infested with.
Smith talks of this puccoon, as if it only grew on the mountains, whereas it is common to all the plantations of the English, now on the land frontiers.
CHAPTER X. OF THE SPORTS AND PASTIMES OF THE INDIANS.
Their sports and pastimes are singing, dancing, instrumental music, and some boisterous plays, which are performed by running, catching and leaping upon one another; they have also one great diversion, to the practicing of which are requisite whole handfuls of little sticks or hard straws, which they know how to count as fast as they can cast their eyes upon them, and can handle with a surprising dexterity.
Their singing is not the most charming that I have heard; it consists much in exalting the voice, and is full of slow melancholy accents. However, I must allow even this music to contain some wild notes that are agreeable.
Their dancing is performed either by few or a great company, but without much regard either to time or figure. The first of these is by one or two persons, or at most by three. In the meanwhile, the company sit about them in a ring upon the ground, singing outrageously and shaking their rattles. The dancers sometimes sing, and sometimes look menacing and terrible, beating their feet furiously against the ground, and showing ten thousand grimaces and distortions. The other is performed by a great number of people, the dancers themselves forming a ring, and moving round a circle of carved posts, that are set up for that purpose; or else round a fire, made in a convenient part of the town; and then each has his rattle in his hand, or what other thing he fancies most, as his bow and arrows, or his tomahawk. They also dress themselves up with branches of trees, or some other strange accouterment. Thus theySports and Pastimes of the Indians.
proceed, dancing and singing, with all the antic postures they can invent; and he's the bravest fellow that has the most prodigious gestures. Sometimes they place three young women in the middle of the circle, as you may see in the figure.
TAB. 13. Represents a solemn festival dance of the Indians round their carved posts.
Those which on each side are hopping upon their hams, take that way of coming up to the ring, and when they find an opportunity strike in among the rest.
Captain Smith relates the particulars of a dance made for his entertainment, by Pocahontas, daughter of the emperor Powhatan, to divert him till her father came, who happened not to be at home when Smith arrived at his town. Gen. Hist., p. 194.
"In a fair plain field they made a fire, before which he sat down upon a mat, when suddenly amongst the woods was heard such a hideous noise and shrieking, that the English betook themselves to their arms, and seized on two or three old men by them, supposing Powhatan with all his power was coming to surprise them. But presently **Pocahontas came, willing him to kill her, if any hurt were intended; and the beholders, which were men, women and children, satisfied the captain that there was no such matter. Then presently they were presented with this antic; thirty young women came naked out of the woods, only covered behind and before with a few green leaves, their bodies all painted, some of one color, some of another, but all differing; their leader had a fair pair of buck's horns on her head, an otter's skin at her girdle, another at her arm, a quiver of arrows at her back, and a bow and arrows in her hand. The next had in her hand a sword, another a club, another a potstick; all of them being horned alike: The rest were all set out with their several devices. These fiends, with most hellish shouts and cries, rushing from among the trees, cast themselves in a ring about the fire, singing and dancing with most excellent ill variety, oft
Lith. of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond Va. Tab. 13 Book 3 Pag. 176
Indians dancing around a ring of posts.
Sports and Pastimes of the Indians.
falling into their infernal passions, and then solemnly betaking themselves again to sing and dance; having spent an hour in this mascarado, as they entered, in like manner they departed."
They have a fire made constantly every night, at a convenient place in the town, whither all that have a mind to be merry, at the public dance or music, resort in the evening.
Their musical instruments are chiefly drums and rattles: their drums are made of a skin, stretched over an earthen pot half full of water. Their rattles are the shell of a small gourd, or macock of the creeping kind, and not of those called callibaches, which grow upon trees; of which the Brazilians make their maraka, or tamaraka, a sort of rattle also, as **Clusius seems to intimate.
CHAPTER XI. OF THE LAWS, AND AUTHORITY OF THE INDIANS AMONG ONE ANOTHER.
The Indians having no sort of letters among them, as has been before observed, they can have no written laws; nor did the constitution in which we found them seem to need many. Nature and their own convenience having taught them to obey one chief, who is arbiter of all things among them. They claim no property in lands, but they are common to a whole nation. Every one hunts and fishes, and gathers fruits in all places. Their labor in tending corn, pompions, melons, &c., is not so great, that they need quarrel for room, where the land is so fertile, and where so much lies uncultivated.
They bred no sort of cattle, nor had anything that could be called riches. They valued skins and furs for use, and peak and roenoke for ornament.
They are very severe in punishing ill breeding, of which every Werowance is undisputed judge, who never fails to lay a rigorous penalty upon it: an example whereof I had from a gentleman that was an eye-witness; which was this:
In the time of Bacon's rebellion, one of these Werowances, attended by several others of his nation, was treating with the English in New Kent county about a peace; and during the time of his speech, one of his attendants presumed to interrupt him, which he resented as the most unpardonable affront that could be offered him; and therefore he instantly took his tomahawk from his girdle and split the fellow's head for his presumption. The poor fellow dying immediately upon the spot, he commanded some of his menLaws and Authority of the Indians.
to carry him out, and went on again with his speech where he left off, as unconcerned as if nothing had happened.
The Indians never forget nor forgive an injury, till satisfaction be given, be it national or personal: but it becomes the business of their whole lives; and even after that, the revenge is entailed upon their posterity, till full reparatiohappened be made.
The titles of honor that I have observed among them peculiar to themselves, are only Cockarouse and Werowance, besides that of the king and queen; but of late they have borrowed some titles from us, which they bestow among themselves. A Cockarouse is one that has the honor to be of the king or queen's council, with relation to the affairs of the government, and has a great share in the administration. A Werowance is a military officer, who of course takes upon him the command of all parties, either of hunting, traveling, warring, or the like, and the word signifies a war-captain.
The priests and conjurers are also of great authority, the people having recourse to them for counsel and direction upon all occasions; by which means, and by help of the first fruits and frequent offerings, they riot in the fat of the land, and grow rich upon the spoils of their ignorant countrymen.
They have also people of a rank inferior to the commons, a sort of servants among them. These are called black boys, and are attendant upon the gentry, to do their servile offices, which, in their state of nature, are not many. For they live barely up to the present relief of their necessities, and make all things easy and comfortable to themselves, by the indulgence of a kind climate, without toiling and perplexing their minds for riches, which other people often trouble themselves to provide for uncertain and ungrateful heirs. In short, they seem as possessing nothing, and yet enjoying all things.
CHAPTER XII. OF THE TREASURE OR RICHES OF THE INDIANS.
The Indians had nothing which they reckoned riches, before the English went among them, except peak, roenoke, and such like trifles made out of the conch shell. These past with them instead of gold and silver, and served them both for money and ornament. I t was the English alone that taught them first to put a value on their skins and furs, and to make a trade of them.
Peak is of two sorts, or rather of two colors, for both are made of one shell, though of different parts; one is a dark purple cylinder, and the other a white; they are both made in size and figure alike, and commonly much resembling the English bugles, but not so transparent nor so brittle. They are wrought as smooth as glass, being one third of an inch long, and about a quarter diameter, strung by a hole drilled through the center. The dark color is the dearest, and distinguished by the name of wampOm peak. The Englishmen that are called Indian traders, value the wampom peak at eighteen pence per yard, and the white peak at nine pence. The Indians also make pipes of this, two or three inches long, and thicker than ordinary, which are much more valuable. They also make runtees of the small shell, and grind them as smooth as peak. These are either large like an oval bead, and drilled the length of the oval, or else they are circular and flat, almost an inch over, and one third of an inch thick, and drilled edgeways. Of this shell they also make round tablets of about four inches diameter, which they polish as smooth as the other, and sometimes they etch or grave thereon circles, stars, a halfTreasures or Riches of the Indians.
moon, or any other figure suitable to their fancy. These they wear instead of medals before or behind their neck, and use the peak, runtees and pipes for coronets, bracelets, belts, or long strings hanging down before the breast, or else they lace their garments with them, and adorn their tomahawks, and every other thing that they value.
They have also another sort which is as current among them, but of far less value; and this is made of the cockle shell, broken into small bits with rough edges, drilled through in the same manner as beads, and this they call roenoke, and use it as the peak.
These sorts of money have their rates set upon them as unalterable, and current as the values of our money are.
The Indians have likewise some pearl amongst them, and formerly had many more, but where they got them is uncertain, except they found them in the oyster banks, which are frequent in this country.
CHAPTER XIII. OF THE HANDICRAFTS OF THE INDIANS.
Before I finish my account of the Indians, it will not be amiss to inform you, that when the English went first among them, they had no sort of iron or steel instruments; but their knives were either sharpened reeds or shells, and their axes sharp stones, bound to the end of a stick, and glued in with turpentine. By the help of these they made their bows of the locust tree, an excessive hard wood when it is dry, but much more easily cut when it is green, of which they always took the advantage. They made their arrows of reeds or small wands, which need no other cutting, but in the length, being otherwise ready for notching, feathering and heading, They fledged their arrows with turkey feathers, which they fastened with glue made of the velvet horns of a deer; but it has not that quality it's said to have, of holding against all weathers; they armed the heads with a white transparent stone, like that of Mexico mentioned by Peter **Martyr, of which they have many rocks; they also headed them with the spurs of the wild turkey cock.
They rubbed fire out of particular sort of wood (as the ancients did out of the ivy and bays) by turning the end of a hard piece upon the side of a piece that is soft and dry, like a spindle on its inke, by which it heats, and at length burns; to this they put sometimes also rotten wood and dry leaves, to hasten the work.
Under the disadvantage of such tools they made a shift to fell vast great trees, and clear the land of wood in places where they had occasion.
They bring down a great tree by making a small fire
Tab: 14. Book: 3. Pag: 183 Lith of Ritchies & Dunnavant Richmond, Va.
Two Indians burning out the interior of a canoe. There are also several other fires burning in the background to bring down other trees.
round the root, and keeping the flame from running upward, until they burn away so much of the basis, that the least puff of wind throws it down. When it is prostrate, they burn it off to what length they would have it, and with their stone tomahawks break off all the bark, which when the sap runs will easily strip, and at other times also, if it be well warmed with fire. When it is brought to a due length, they raise it upon a bed to a convenient height for their working, and then begin by gentle fires to hollow it, and with scrapers rake the trunk, and turn away the fire from one place to another, till they have deepened the belly of it to their desire. Thus also they shape the ends, till they have made it a fit vessel for crossing the water, and this they call a canoe, one of which I have seen thirty feet long.
When they wanted any land to be cleared of the woods, they chopped a notch round the trees quite through the bark with their stone hatchets or tomahawks, and that deadened the trees, so that they sprouted no more, but in a few years fell down. However, the ground was plantable, and would produce immediately upon the withering of the trees. But now for all these uses they employ axes and little hatchets, which they buy of the English. The occasions aforementioned, and the building of their cabins, are still the greatest use they have for these utensils, because they trouble not themselves with any other sort of handicraft, to which such tools are necessary. Their household utensils are baskets made of silk grass, gourds, which grow to the shapes they desire them, and earthen pots to boil victuals in, which they make of clay.
TAB. 14. Shows their manner of felling great trees (before they had iron instruments) by firing the root, and bringing them to fit lengths, and shaping them for use by fire alone.
The Indians of Virginia are almost wasted, but such towns or people as retain their names and live in bodies are hereunder set down, all which together can't raise fiveHandicrafts of the Indians.
hundred fighting men. They live poorly, and much in fear of the neighboring Indians. Each town, by the articles of peace, 1677, pays three Indians arrows for their land, and twenty beaver skins for protection every year.
In Accomac are eight towns, viz:
Metomkin is much decreased of late by the small pox, that was carried thither.
Gingoteague. The few remains of this town are joined with a nation of the Maryland Indians.
Kiequotank is reduced to very few men.
Matchopungo has a small number yet living.
Occahanock has a small number yet living.
Pungoteague. Governed by a queen, but a small nation.
Onancock has but four or five families.
Chiconessex has very few, who just keep the name.
Nanduye. A seat of the empress. Not above twenty families, but she hath all the nations of this shore under tribute.
In Northampton, Gangascoe, which is almost as numerous as all the foregoing nations put together.
In Prince George Wyanoke is extinct.
In Charles City Appomattox is extinct.
In Surry. Nottawayes, which are about a hundred bowmen, of late a thriving and increasing people.
By Nansemond. Meherrin has about thirty bowmen, who keep at a stand.
Nansemond. About thirty bowmen. They have increased much of late.
In King William's county two. Pamunky has about forty bowmen, who decrease.
Chickahominy, which had about sixteen bowmen, but lately increased.
In Essex. Rappahannock extinct.
In Richmond. Port Tobacco extinct.
In Northumberland. Wiccomocca has but few men living, which yet keep up their kingdom and retain their fashion, yet live by themselves, separate from all other Indians, and from the English.Handicrafts of the Indians.
Thus I have given a succinct account of the Indians; happy, I think, in their simple state of nature, and in their enjoyment of plenty, without the curse of labor. They have on several accounts reason to lament the arrival of the Europeans, by whose means they seem to have lost their felicity as well as their innocence. The English have taken away a great part of their country, and consequently made everything less plentiful amongst them. They have introduced drunkenness and luxury amongst them, which have multiplied their wants, and put them upon desiring a thousand things they never dreamt of before. I have been the more concise in my account of this harmless people, because I have inserted several figures, which I hope have both supplied the defect of words, and rendered the descriptions more clear.
For all 4 books, see Virtual Jamestown - The History of Virginia, In Four Parts. I. The History of the First Settlement of Virginia, and the Government Thereof, to the Year 1706. II. The Natural Productions and Conveniences of the Country, Suited to Trade and Improvement. III. The Native Indians, Their Religions, Laws and Customs, In War and Peace. IV. The Present State of the Country, As to the Polity of the Government, and the Improvements of the Land the 10th of June 1720.