« ПредишнаНапред »
Shawnees, except on their western borders. It is no part of our purpose to consider these tribes, as, over and above the influence of contiguous examples, they constitute no part of the evidence affecting the general question of the plan of removal.
That this evidence, as now briefly sketched, is favorable, and indeed highly favorable, to the general condition and prosperity of the removed tribes, is, we apprehend, clearly manifest. Not only have they been placed beyond the wasting influence of causes which oppressed them, within the circle of the State communities; but they have received in exchange for their eastern lands, a territory which, as a whole, is highly fertile and salubrious. It is a territory which has required little comparative labor to cultivate, made up as it is of mixed forests and prairies. It is also, viewed in extenso, well watered, having those noble streams, the Red River, the Arkansas, the Konza, the Platte, and the Missouri, with their tributaries, running through it. The range which it affords for cattle and stock, and the abundance of wild hay, of a nutritious quality, has proved very favorable to an incipient agricultural population, and greatly mitigated the ordinary labors of farming in northern climates. There are no latitudes in North America more favorable to the growth of corn. The cotton plant has been introduced by the Choctaws and Chickasaws, on the banks of Red river. It is a region abounding in salt springs and gypsum beds, both which must hereafter be fully developed, and will prove highly advantageous. It is above the first or principal rapids of the great streams running down the plateau of the Rocky Mountains, and consequently affords sites for water-mills, which are scarce and almost unknown on the lower Arkansas. There is, indeed, a combination of circumstances, which are calculated to favor the General Government plan, and foster the Indians in a general attempt at civilisation and self-government. And we look with interest, and not without
anxiety, at the result of the experiment.
We are aware that there are trials before them, arising from great diversity of feelings and opinions, and states of civilisation. Some of the tribes are powerful, advanced, and wealthy; some feeble and poor. Education has very unequally affected them. Laws are in their embryo state. The Gospel has been but partially introduced. In clothing the native councils with some of the powers of a congress, and regulating their action by constitutional fixity, there is great care and deliberation required, not, at once, to grasp too much. There is perhaps yet greater danger in enlarging the authority of the chiefs and sagamores into something like presidential dimensions. The natives have great powers of imitation; and it is to be feared that they will content themselves by imitating things which they do not fully understand or appreciate. The national character of the Indians is eminently suspicious. There is a fear to trust others, even themselves. Delegated power is narrowly
watched, and often begrudged when given. The acts of their public men are uniformly impugned. The thought seems hardly to be entertained by the common Indians, that an officer may be guided by right and honest motives. The principle of suspicion has, so to say, eaten out the Indian heart. The jealousy with which he has watched the white man, in all periods of his history, is but of a piece with that with which he watches his chiefs, his neighbors, and his very family. Exaltation of feeling, berality of sentiment, justness of reasoning, a spirit of concession, and that noble faith and trust which arise from purity and virtue, are the characteristics of civilisation; and we should not be disappointed if they do not, all at once, grow and flourish in these nascent communities. Still, our hopes predominate over our fears. Where so much has been accomplished as we see by the Cherokees, the Choctaws, and Chickasaws, and our most advanced northern tribes, we expect more. From the tree that bears blossoms, we expect fruit.
We have no expectation, however, that without some principles of general political association, the tribes can permanently advance. To assume the character and receive the respect of a commonwealth, they must have the political bonds of a commonwealth. Our Indian tribes have never possessed any of these bonds. They are indeed the apparent remnants of old races, which have been shivered into fragments, and never found the capacity to re-unite. The constant tendency of all things, in a state of nature, has been to divide. The very immensity of the continent, its varied fertility and resources, and its grand and wild features, led to this. Hitherto, the removed tribes in the West have opposed an associated government. They have stoutly and effectually resisted and rejected this part of the government scheme. They fear, the agents say, it is some plan to bring them under the civil yoke. Time, reflection, and education must tend to correct this. More than all, their civil dissensions must tend to show the necessity of a more enlarged and general frame of government, in which some individual rights must be yielded to the public, to secure the enjoyment of the rest. We think there is some evidence of the acknowledgment of this want, in their occasional general councils, at which all the tribes have been invited to be present. During the last year (1843) such a convocation was held at Tahlequah, the seat of the Cherokee government. At this, there were delegates present from the Creeks, Chickasaws, Delawares, Shawnees, Piankashaws, Weas, Osages, Senecas, Stockbridges, Ottowas, Chippewas, Peorias, Pottowattomies, and Seminoles. The result of these deliberations, we are informed, was a compact in which it was agreed :— 1. To maintain peace and friendship among each other.
2. To abstain from the law of retaliation for offences.
3. To provide for improvements in agriculture, the arts, and manufactures.
4. To provide against any cession of their territory, in any form. 5. To punish crimes, committed by one tribe, in the bounds of another.
6. To provide for a general citizenship among the contracting parties. 7. To suppress the use or introduction of ardent spirits.
These are very mixed principles, containing no basis of a government; yet, futile as they are, we apprehend they contain no effective power for their enforcement. A law without a penalty is like a rope of sand. Any of these parties might nullify either of these acts, by neglecting to enforce it. It is, we apprehend, the mere expression of the popular will, in a council, without any binding obligation of the whole, or a majority of the tribes, to compel obedience from the delinquent members. It may, however, lead to further deliberations; and we cannot but regard the movement as one which betokens political forethought and purpose. Our greatest apprehensions, we must confess, before closing this paper, arise from the peculiar geographical position of the Indian territory with relation to our own. And this could not, perhaps, have been anticipated twenty years ago, when the plan was formed. Our population is on the broad move west. Nothing, it is evident, will now repress them this side of the Pacific. The snowy heights of the Rocky Mountains are already scaled; and we but apply the results of the past to the future, in saying that the path which has been trod by a few, will be trod by many. Now, the removed tribes are precisely in the centre of this path. From the mouth of the Platte, or the Konza, the great highway to the Oregon must run west. Whether this new tide of emigration will be successful or unsuccessful, will those who compose it spare to trample on the red Will they suddenly become kind to him, to whom they have. been unkind? Will they cease to desire the lands which their children want? Will they consent to see the nation separated by an Indian state? Will they award honors, nay, justice, to that state? Twenty years will answer these questions.
CHOCTAWS.-An appropriation of $113,000 has been made by Congress for the removal and subsistence of the Choctaws now in Mississippi. There are upwards of six thousand in our state, comprising about eleven hundred families. These are under Colonels Johnson and Fisher. The half of the money due the Indians, and to be paid after their landing in their new homes in the West, is to be funded. This will effectually prevent all speculation, and enable the Indians to obtain and hold what is due them. Those now in the state are guarded against all coercive measures for their removal, and left free to go West or remain in their homes in Mississippi.—Southern Reformer.
NURSERY AND CRADLE SONGS OF THE FOREST.
The tickenagun, or Indian cradle, is an ubject of great pride with an Indian mother. She gets the finest kind of broad cloth she possibly can to make an outer swathing band for it, and spares no pains in ornamenting it with beads and ribbons, worked in various figures. In the lodges of those who can afford it, there is no article more showy and pretty than the full bound cradle. The frame of the cradle itself is a curiosity. It consists of three pieces. The vertebral board, which supports the back, the hoop or foot-board, which extends tapering up each side, and the arch or bow, which springs from each side, and protects the face and head. These are tied together with deer's sinews or pegged. The whole structure is very light, and is carved with a knife by the men, out of the linden or maple tree.
Moss constitutes the bed of the infant, and is also put between the child's feet to keep them apart and adjust the shape of them, according to custom. A one-point blanket of the trade, is the general and immediate wrapper of the infant, within the hoop, and the ornamented swathing band is wound around the whole, and gives it no little resemblance to the case of a small mummy. As the bow passes directly above the face and cyes, trinkets are often hung upon this, to amuse it, and the child gets its first ideas of ornament from these. The hands are generally bound down with the body, and only let out occasionally, the head and neck being the only part which is actually free. So bound and laced, hooped and bowed, the little fabric, with its inmate, is capable of being swung on its mother's back, and carried through the thickest forest without injury. Should it even fall no injury can happen. The bow protects the only exposed part of the frame. And when she stops to rest, or enters the lodge, it can be set aside like any other household article, or hung up by the cradle strap on a peg. Nothing, indeed, could be better adapted to the exigencies of the forest life. And in such tiny fabrics, so cramped and bound, and bedecked and trinketed, their famous Pontiacs and King Philips, and other prime warriors, were once carried, notwithstanding the skill they afterwards acquired in wielding the lance and war club.
The Indian child, in truth, takes its first lesson in the art of endurance, in the cradle. When it cries it need not be unbound to nurse it. If the mother be young, she must put it to sleep herself. If she have younger sisters or daughters they share this care with her. If the lodge be roomy and high, as lodges sometimes are, the cradle is suspended to the top poles
to be swung. If not, or the weather be fine, it is tied to the limb of a tree, with small cords made from the inner bark of the linden, and a vibratory motion given to it from head to foot by the mother or some attendant. The motion thus communicated, is that of the pendulum or common swing, and may be supposed to be the easiest and most agreeable possible to the child. It is from this motion that the leading idea of the cradle song is taken.
I have often seen the red mother, or perhaps a sister of the child, leisurely swinging a pretty ornamented cradle to and fro in this way, in order to put the child to sleep, or simply to amuse it. The following spe cimens of these wild-wood chaunts, or wigwam lullabys, are taken from my notes upon this subject, during many years of familiar intercourse with the aboriginals. If they are neither numerous nor attractive, placed side by side with the rich nursery stores of more refined life, it is yet a pleasant fact to have found such things even existing at all amongst a people supposed to possess so few of the amenities of life, and to have so little versatility of character.
Mengre as these specimens seem, they yet involve no small degree of philological diligence, as nothing can be more delicate than the inflexions of these pretty chaunts, and the Indian woman, like her white sister, gives a delicacy of intonation to the roughest words of her language. The term wa wa often introduced denotes a wave of the air, or the circle described by the motion of an object through it, as we say, swing, swing, a term never applied to a wave of water. The latter is called tegoo, or if it be crowned with foam, beta.
In introducing the subjoined specimens of these simple see saws of the lodge and forest chaunts, the writer felt, that they were almost too frail of structure to be trusted, without a gentle hand, amidst his rougher materials. He is permitted to say, in regard to them, that they have been exhibited to Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, herself a refined enthusiast of the woods, and that the versions from the original given, are from her chaste and truthful pen.
In the following arch little song, the reader has only to imagine a playful girl trying to put a restless child to sleep, who pokes its little head, with black hair and keen eyes over the side of the cradle, and the girl sings, imitating its own piping tones.